Word and Image

Posts tagged “Technical tips

Crab

IMG_9861Never put your camera away early. Another rule I follow. As we were headed home to shore, I looked in one more hole. There was a brightly colored crab. One shot only, and the exposure and focus were kind. There’s no name in the guidebook. I chased to get one more shot. The other side of the hole had two spiny urchins guarding. I could glimpse the crab, but no shot, no way. I’ve been spiked by an urchin. Once was more than enough. The crab was very shy and never put in a new appearance.


I Shot What He Shot

IMG_7346I was without a dive buddy. I can’t/don’t dive alone. Rules! So I fortunately hooked up with three photographers. At least everyone had a camera. The guy with the ‘big rig’ had excellent air management. We were down together for 91 minutes. That’s long. He wasn’t too communicative. Usually it’s courtesy to point out interesting things. He has a major big ‘mother’ macro lens attachment with some expensive glass. After he paused I followed and just stuck the camera up and took an image. Yeah, definitely just blind luck. Some days my mask has not cleared well and all the images look blurred and not white balanced. Some days are better. And sometimes it’s blind luck. No, kids, glasses won’t help. Actually these fish are out and about right now, perhaps because of mating season. I’ve got a better shot somewhere. IMG_7478After all this time in the water I can say I’m beginning to understand symbiotic relationships underwater. This fish and this coral like to stick together, most of the time. The human eye is trained (survival) to detect motion. What my eye can see, often cannot be captured by a camera. This enlarged detail shows a small fish resting before it darts away from my camera.


Camera Shy

IMG_6514I dove at a place I haven’t visited in a while. This blue fish is hard to photograph. I’m usually in a backlight position so the deep blue black fish has no detail. Though they are very common on the reef they are also very camera shy. I might see a school of them or a few. No matter the exposure is usually poor and the fish swim away so the best I get is tail view. It seems there are often exceptions to all rules. I had this guy challenge me. He knew I was there. IMG_6511I was shooting and he wasn’t going to budge and give up his position. I didn’t see any reason for him to guard this piece of reef. But he would circle and circle. So I got the exposure corrected and then I got the head on shot. Head on is the hardest. Nobody swims toward a larger object blowing bubbles and I can imagine how intimidating I must look to these fish.IMG_6508


Unfinished Story

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A few posts ago, I gave a long rambling recitation of detective work or early dementia. I have been having a recent series of camera mishaps. Briefly, I lost one and then another camera (due to stupidity). I’m usually OCD, but lately…. Well, (don’t ask), I’ve been experimenting. I have decided that, of my two used Canon G12 cameras, that I have tested, the newer is fine and that the older (first) is now having some serious focus issues. I told you Canon service said, “Send the camera, pay $189, and we’ll tell you what’s wrong, fix it, and charge you more as we decide what’s wrong. It’s not a very good deal. I figured to send the first camera in anyway. But the logistics of getting it to and from the US is a problem. Canon has a repair center here in Jeddah. It is not too inspiring. I’ve been there. It shares space as a luggage company. And if they can’t get parts…. I gave it a try. What can you lose? It doesn’t work already. I have the other camera to compare and the broken one is ‘broke.’ IMG_6010

Then for some silly reason, I took an image after I got a hair cut. They say, “Be careful what you wish for.” On one image (and it is reproducible), there is a single line of pixel errors (see vertical line; medial right eyeglasses). It is on the image/sensor. It doesn’t show on every image depending on the subject , but the defect is definitely real. This is a problem for me, especially as it is my primary dive camera. There is a workaround. I use Photoshop and heal the pixel defect – press ‘shift’ and then draw down the repair brush. Voila! The damage I magically repaired. The repair guy said it might be possible to repair this problem also, or maybe not. Or maybe you need a new optical (expensive) system. But if you saw the squid, the newer Canon G12 is sharp! I’m thinking I’ll wait a while. I’d rather have mostly sharply captured images than to introduce another variable. When I finally get all the troubles solved I will be so happy to just worry about technically getting a properly exposed image. Anyway, having a backup plan is always good.


Crazy

IMG_8235I have to admit that I’m in a quandary. Sometimes you look at something … and then it’s like you really ‘look’ or you just discover you’re seeing it for the first time. I did try to notice when Lisa cut her hair. It’s very annoying even dangerous (for me) when she changes things and I don’t take note.

My Canon G12 was acting a bit funny. Don’t ask; we don’t have enough space here. Canon’s repair website feedback was no help. They just sent back a series of generic answers. No prob, what could they really do? My paranoia is worse because this was purchased as a used camera. The images were soft almost unfocused. It was not consistently bad. But it was noticeable when we rode and saw the Pepsi sign.

IMG_8738The example provided here shows that the center of the image is in focus with definite blurring at the edges. I panicked. This is my primary dive camera. And if it’s broken, I have no way to conveniently or reliably get it repaired or replaced here in Saudi. Then I wondered if I was simply crazy. Was this just a function of the camera and lens? You can also see wide angle distortion at close focus as well. To cut to the chase, I took the G12, S100 and my trusty Nikon D200 to the field – soccer practice with Farid’s kids. I shot comparable images. What I can say: the Nikon has better images. Larger and better glass (lens) appears to win every time. The G12 is okay at the center but it was definitely soft on the edges. My problem is that I am shooting wide angle and close up while diving. Shutter speed is slow and the f stop is wide open, not a good combination. (I did have reasonable shots underwater in California, before I noticed the problem.) The S100 is actually pretty good with reasonable edge to edge sharpness.

Has the Canon G12 been like this all along and is it only now that I noticed the edge blurring?

IMG_8132Solving my problem is not going to be simple or easy. I’m locked into the G12 because I have the underwater housing and don’t really want to upgrade and get (spend for) another housing. So I made a compromise and got another used G12 from a reputable camera store. I’ll try to see whether the first camera is really broken. I can go back to the S100 but the battery life is terrible – too small battery for multiple dives. I don’t want to change batteries and risk getting the camera wet/fried.

And then logistically, this all happened just before I returned to Saudi. Now the trick is getting the newly acquired G12 into my hands in Jeddah. Mail it? A US postal package can take more than a month. And Saudi customs is very much a problem. They x-ray and examine everything for contraband. Things like bibles are illegal and confiscated. I have been told that someone with a magic marker blots out magazine pictures with inappropriate pictures. (Maybe not.) Someone has told me that the customs people may take what they want and a camera is certainly something that can be easily “lost in transit.” Insurance is no consolation. I also had medication renewals that did not arrive before I left. A perusal of the website states that medication cannot be sent without obtaining some certificate from the Saudi government. Good luck. The good old internet is no particular help; there is too much conflicting info.

In a wild/frantic/hopeful series of emails, I tracked down my neighbor Wissam, a neurologist, who had casually mentioned he would be in Pennsylvania this week. Great! I found him! He graciously agreed to carry camera and meds with his hand luggage back to Saudi. David FedEx’ed the package. David did me a big favor to find and go to FedEx just as he was headed out the door on an evening out. We needed delivery the next day. I had to send it to a hotel. I double checked and made sure Wissam was a registered guest and that the hotel would accept a FedEx package in his name. As I write, the final story is not complete but it does look like I’ve got a solution going. I had no past problems with medication coming into Jeddah. I’d hate for Wissam to be in trouble.


Take It Out, Use It

IMG_5285Guilty! There are folks who have expensive cameras, (not too many any longer), who have them stored in that camera bag or camera case until the moment comes for taking that ‘picture.’ Not so many bags any more, but I do see people walking around with lens caps on their camera lenses. In the time it takes to get the camera ready, the ‘moment’ is often gone. Digital has freed us. We don’t have to sparingly conserve film. And the smartphone, iPhone, has made it pretty convenient to shoot an image, and video too. I don’t shoot much video. With all the video I’ve shot, it’s now on DVD’s and no one much looks at them. So I’m comfortably sticking to images.

But my point, IMG_8495Grandpa Bill had some pretty nice camera stuff. And he kept it in pristine condition. The used camera market would list the stuff 9+, almost new condition. And Uncle Pete (Bill’s brother), was the same way. He kept a lot of treasures in pristine condition and well protected. IMG_5282Pete’s old Exakta was given to me in a large leather case along with its accessories. Nowadays film is dead and these old cameras are ‘art.’ It doesn’t make sense to have art and not be able to see it. So they are out now rather than wait for the kids or grand kids to discover the dusty cases. And my old Nikon SLR bodies are out on the shelf collecting dust. I look at them and realize that as I moved up through the Nikon line with better and better camera bodies, I never went back much and shot again with the old bodies. The kids did a few times. It’s kind of like feeling guilty about old girl friends I never stayed in touch with. I do have regrets but the future and history shows I was pushed forward._DSC7274 As for my cameras, DSLR, point and shoots, iTouch, and now iPhone, all are in readiness for action at the ‘drop of the hat.’ I carry one in my pants pocket. I hang a camera on my neck riding a bicycle. I went to Iguazu waterfalls in the pouring rain (umbrella blowing) and soaked myself and my Nikon DSLR. We both survived. I have not been bulletproof and I did fry a couple of Nikons (one film, one digital). Hey, it’s ‘living.’ You can live sheltered and never take a chance, or, you can ‘go for it.’ Everyone has a line where they think they won’t cross, a risk benefit continuum so to speak. Meanwhile all my cameras sit out getting dusty and ready to shoot.


Lunar Eclipse

109-0944_IMGI got this one in digital with the Canon G3. It sure helps when the image can be checked immediately instead of guessing without feedback. Yes, you must use a tripod. And there are all sorts of technical details about night shooting. But the easiest part is in knowing you’ve got something for your efforts. And, no, I did not delete all the other shots. Did I mention that all my digital files are in a hard drive the size of a brick? 109-0919_IMGAnd did I tell you that I currently have about twelve bricks with redundant backups of my image files…and there was only one drive that had my G3 images… these images that I have posted today. Things can sure get confusing sometimes. Susan swears by Carbonite and ‘the cloud.’ I say, what happens if they go away. Companies can fold and your stuff is lost. Of course it also helps if your stuff is stored in multiple sites, which mine isn’t. 108-0891_IMGBack to my topic, mounting your camera to a tripod also allows you to do night shots. Bright lights will actually let you get a decent shot handheld. And I do his all the time when I don’t have a tripod handy. Still…


Old Cameras

IMG_5277No more film… well, yes, if you are persistent. As I have said in the past, my last roll of film was shot on David’s graduation from high school. He recently proctored the SAT at his old school; he was at least ten years older than the test takers. My digital cross over came with the Canon G3, point and shoot. It was fairly advanced and given as a birthday present by Lisa. She did treat me well in those days. Digital was not on my radar at the time. Prices were too expensive and I was too snobbish to use anything but an SLR. The Nikon D70 changed all that. Suddenly there was a DSLR and it was the right price point. The D70 was retired as I shot the US Tennis Open and discovered that the high end Canon DSLR’s were eating Nikon’s lunch. But that is another story covered elsewhere.IMG_5273

The first camera I handled in the ’60’s was an Argus C3, affectionately known as the brick. There are so many still around that the ebay price is as low as $5. No one shoots film, remember? My mother had it and she let me take it to Charleston, West Virginia, when I won the Golden Horseshoe award. Clueless, I shot that camera with a roll of BxW and came away with essentially nothing. Later a Kodak Instamatic 100 allowed me to shoot the tail end of the Worlds Fair in Flushing.IMG_5282

When I made college I was advised by Chi Ming Pang a fellow Merit Student’s Encyclopedia salesman to buy an Exakta even though I lusted for a Nikon F. The Exakta has since been lost when it was stolen from John. But Uncle Pete (Lisa’s) gave me his Exakta. It really is a great camera. Mine was almost exclusively BxW, Tri-X film. After I made my fortune in selling encyclopedias, my father traveled to Hong Kong and with specific orders returned with my Nikon FTn.

Alas this was also stolen at the same time as the Exakta. I was given Bill’s (Grandpa) Nikon F.IMG_5288

He kept it in pristine condition. And a little while (many years) later I was at a flea market and picked up a Nikon FTn. Yeah! I felt restored. The seller threw in the roll of film (undeveloped) in the camera and gave me a view camera for free instead of lowering the price of about $150. Okay!IMG_5284

I’ve been a help to Susan in developing her photo skill. I must say she’s pretty terrific (photographer) right now. I mean to say some of the photos she shares with me are simply great. In appreciation, just before I left for Saudi, she presented me with her Dad’s old Argus. It was very sweet of her.IMG_5276

J’s Nikon D60 sits on the shelf.IMG_5281 She’s gone over to her iPhone and a Canon G12 since she returned from Africa. There’s a Polaroid in the mix somewhere. Mostly I kept to the Nikon line and went F2, F3, and later the F100. The Spartus was a toy camera (plastic) I got from Maggie Sherman. She was a well known photographer, friend of Lila (Grandma), whose houseboat mounted upon a floating barge, was where we (Lisa) were married. She was evicted from her pier mooring and called the Captain of the Intrepid (aircraft carrier) to see if there was room at his pier. Yes, she admits she was clueless about aircraft carriers.IMG_5283

Grandpa had two other treasures. He did work professionally for a short time. He was unsuccessful but did leave some great cameras to me. His pride was a Leica. They’re still valuable on ebay but to me it’s priceless. It’s hidden and not on the shelf.IMG_5285

IMG_5287 Then there is the 5×7 view camera complete with wooden tripod. It had been in the basement storage closet when I discovered it in Grandma’s house. It, too, was pristine. I set it up and it sits in front of Yvonne Chang’s work…both works of art. There’s video new and old as well as some odd point and shoots. Except for the gifts, I used one and all pretty extensively.IMG_8495

I travel pretty lean these days. No film to claim space, but suddenly there are three digital cameras and an underwater housing. I thought things were simpler but it looks like I have not succeeded. Oh, and there’s the iTouch for the emergency image when nothing else is at hand.IMG_5279


NYC Skyline – View From Home

_DSC2800-1 copyI am not a fan of tripods. I have one and use it very infrequently. I suppose I should use it more. However, it does have its moments and uses especially on long night shots. I used a slow tele and long exposure (seconds). Times Square is well lit and colorful. But it is still a challenge to get a properly exposed image. Still, there is a certain charm to a well exposed night shot of the city.


Statue of Liberty

IMG_7157 copyGot this shot? We rode the dinner cruise on World Yacht. One buys tickets and signs on for dinner. The route takes you down the Hudson River past the “Lady.” The challenge is that the boat is moving and the shutter speeds are slow. But you can do it. Just shoot a few extra shots to be sure one comes out sharp. Alternatively you can take the Staten Island ferry for free. Yup, free. And you pass close enough to the Statue of Liberty to get the shot also. You could even bring a sandwich.


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