Word and Image

Posts tagged “Techincal Tips

Comparable

Blood moon – lunar eclipse. I am a failed Astro photographer. My attempt with a telescope ended in a return package to Amazon. It has rained for more than a week straight. Fog was present the past several days. A miracle occurred and the clouds parted at the appointed hour. I actually had fair detail of the moon in my camera. I was deceived. I thought I saw partial cloud cover as the eclipse covered part of the moon in the lower left quadrant. Then?!?!! My exposures showed the “blood moon!!”

Hey! It ain’t great. But I got an image (s). I shot at ISO 51200, 1/15, f6.3 400mm. Do you care? Do you understand the settings? I was surprised at the image quality myself. I was surprised to have anything on the sensor to review after I pressed the shutter. Cloud cover? Nope?! I did it! I can say that I did. My image was comparable to those in a casual internet search. The best news, this was my image. May 15.


Context

Lessons! Really! Don’t want ‘em. Don’t need ‘em. I don’t care.

Three views same flower. Two are easy. Point down. Point from the side. But, tilting the camera? It goes against the rules of making your “horizon” wonky! Don’t do it! Oh! Yeah! Sure! The only thing I will add is that it is counter intuitive. Counter intuitive!? That’s for me!

Posing a cat – ?! Huh?! No silly, you don’t pose a cat. They don’t pose, either. You put the camera lens in front of their eyes. Yup! Like salting a bird’s tail. Make sense? When you try it, all sorts of things happen… some good. Or, a goofy pose. Poor Elle! Sorry, kitty. Willow has hooded eyes and requires flash to show his pearly greens. Big, wide open, eyes helps a lot.

Then, there are those cats, who refuse to cooperate. They never look in the camera. They never let me close in front of their face. I am so happy to get the eyes that distractions like the plastic in front is ok! Yes, sometimes, you just gotta settle for what is there.


Here to there

How’d I get here? In the absence of anything else, I shoot cat portraits. Simple. They pose?!? Nope. I put the camera in their face and point the lens straight at their eyes. It works.

Finally, a new oven! The old one – dead. Built-in obsolescence. Better one? It had to fit the hole of the old one. Pain!!! Major pain, supply chain issues, we snagged a clearance model at less than half price from retail. Lucky! You bet!! It clearly said on the box – in big black and white letters – the oven was too large for the hole – ¾ inches too large. Really!! So, it fit right into the hole of the old oven. Go figure.

And, within moments – carrot cake. I add (my mom did it) a cup of grated carrots; the cake rises…. And, a few days later… a sour cream apple walnut pie. We wasted no time in making up for lost time.

Pizza? Well, I gotta say, “Who doesn’t like pizza?” Gluten free crust. ??? Oh! Well, Colleen is also vegetarian (off and on), so, two pies – mine had sausage. It was a good pie! Yeah, it’s good to have an oven again.

One more step – to product. I spin – wool. We process. … ‘cause I don’t wash. The one and only time I washed, I felted. (If you don’t spin, the joke went right over your head.) Straight off the sheep, the fleece is polluted – grass, dirt, poop, etc. The fleece is opened up – picked. Then, it is washed, carded and prepared into bats, ready to spin. Spin, spun, it looks rather fine and refined, ready to go – cloth, shawl, scarf, and so forth. This would be here to there. Yarn!


Get closer

Unrelated shots. My aunt compiled my family tree shortly after Jules was born. I forgot. I came across the pics I took when Jules sent this to me. My immediate family is small and scattered. We have not gathered in a long time. It’s Eric and I. We don’t see each other because his dog does not get along with my cats. Silly reason. Yup, it all makes about as much sense as me reading Chinese. I got the shots. The paper? That would be the debate – book vs pdf? Pixel or paper? Closer – there are so many levels of discussion up for grabs here.

Silly? How about a $6,500 camera lens? Envy? Craving? Desire? Ummm… you just have to walk up closer and the subject gets bigger. Ok, there are some subjects that won’t come closer. The moon? But, sorry, for the money $$$, I can live without the lens. The weight and $$ of the lens vs walking (closer to the subject). Oh boy…


Church

We are in churches a lot. We don’t “go” to church. Which, church? Dunno, give me a few shots… ah! It’s Santa Fe. Passing thru. Sights, sound, food…  The ristra was the clue. Vertical or horizontal? ?? Do you shoot vertical or horizontal photo composition? Holding an iPhone vertically answers that question. Most of you hold your phone vertically. A camera, real camera, lends itself to horizonal composition >90% of the time. I shoot mostly horizontal. I don’t make much effort at vertical composition. Why? My computer screen is horizontal. So, it fits, screensavers are mainly horizontal. It’s better use and fills the computer screen easier/better. Oh! Back to church, horizontal or vertical? Me? I go both ways. Ha ha. Colleen? She likes to look inside churches.


Background

Focus would be helpful. I learn from imperfection. The background is often ignored in favor of the subject. Distracting elements will sink you every time. The last thing I check before pressing the shutter is my background. Simply moving a few degrees will change the mood. And, it would help if the camera focused on my main subject. Autofocus is too easy. And, I remain ever hopeful it will compensate for my laziness. Eh?! Otherwise it wouldn’t be lessons to learn.


Worthy…?

… to post? There is a fine line in editing. I see things and cannot quite get it into my camera. At least there is something. Good? Almost? I’m just feeling ok to have anything? The moon at dawn was a challenge. The clouds covered up the moon almost as soon as I got my camera out. I like the pink glow. Close, but not quite exquisite. Sometimes, things look good and then in the edit you realize that focus was not dead on. Or, the color was not quite what you had hoped. The moon was out again a couple days later. What a difference. And … not in such a good way. Maybe I should leave nature alone and go back to people for a while.


Speaking of … still tryn’

I tried to illustrate wide angle distortion in an iPhone  portrait of a child the other day. Everyone liked how cute she was and ignored the forehead distortion. Ok!? So, here is a loaf of challah right out of the oven. Smells great, butter glazed, good enough to eat!! Colleen made a braided proportional loaf. That is to say, it was a parallel loaf!? I intentionally moved in close and distorted the lines. Do you see? It doesn’t matter when it comes to bread. But a child?

Ok. I didn’t want to do a formal portrait of my son. Shy?! I don’t mind sticking my camera into Colleen’s face. She is used to me by now. But, “the boy?” So, I sneak/snuck a few grab shots. The lighting was not helpful. It would help if we got the right situation before he is on the road again. Yes, they (the images) are a good representation. But it’s not what I am trying to achieve. … another day, another opportunity.  


More lessons

I fear I may have lost family after correcting angle distortion the other day. No angle distortion here. Secret: get the camera down at the level of your (cat) subject. Hence, use the angled screen to take the picture at the subject’s eye level. Pretty easy. Most people don’t do it.

Flash has never been my forte. I use it very sparingly. The more recent cameras I use have better exposure than ever before. Flash will certainly help to brighten hooded eyes. Portraits? It is the eyes. Focus on the eyes. And, to be more effective, I think the subject should be looking right at you. … my opinion. After that, breaking the rules is what gives you something different. Better, worse, “keepers” are pretty easy to spot. There are so many bad shots….


Distorted

The original image transmitted was #4. I used ‘transform’ in Lightroom to make some quick changes.

1. Transform and crop – it’s better. But, see the sleeve and arm? They are disproportionately large.

2. Another try – crop and elongate the face, slightly. Without any other reference the distortion from the first pic is hidden.

3. Once more – I rounded the face slightly. Subtly. This is hard. Because of Covid I have not seen the child in person in more than two years. So the shape of her face is not quite known to me.

4. Angle distortion – it occurs when you stand above the subject and aim down with your spiffy iphone. The head is disproportionately larger than the feet. Can you see this? (My hydrocephalic patients had overly large foreheads.)

Of course, the easiest solution is for dad to get lower, more or less eye level with his kid. Because dad is tall, the distortion is more noticeable. Alas, I have lost many a friend due to constructive comments about their photographic technique. This is family. There’s nowhere to go or hide. I like the kid and think she deserves better preserved memories.

Epilogue: Since I texted the image corrections, not a peep from the parents. I guess I am/will refrain from further comment about their perfect child.


Remember

Sometimes, many times, I am humbled by my lack of photographic skill and how it has grown as I grew older. Ego?! I was born perfect. I lived in a bubble. Not, nope, nada. But, in the looking back, I am amazed at my ego and ignorance. I did get a good camera early on. It would be a long long time before I overcame mistakes to be a better photographer. I believe volume (many photos later) has saved me. if you take enough pictures, there is bound to be one among the clutter that is serviceable. This follows the theory – eventually, even a blind squirrel gets a nut. Thankfully, there are bad images in my collection. Some people do not have a collection to cull. This is remembrance and happy birthday. At least there are choices that I have. When your birthday falls so close to Christmas, it is so unfortunate. You have nothing to look forward to, for the rest of the year. Furthermore, you get one present to cover both events. Cheated! John was born on December 19.


Technical

Light. It is the essential element of photography. Without it, there is no image. Controlling it: therein lies the key. Most people don’t see it. Rhetorically speaking, most people don’t pay attention. Light has color. And, it behaves to thwart the efforts of the causal photographer. iPhone has enabled the feeble to be stars by anticipating the mistakes and correcting them for you. Oh boy! Our selfies (not one and the same) – one was taken with flash, the other was natural light. Can you tell? I was bedeviled to get a wave shot. The answer: pan the camera as the wave broke. Duh! Backlight? A bright sky will make the foreground subject dark. See it, correct for it. Morning light? Meter the foreground darkness to bring out the color of the sky. Simple. It’s even simpler in iPhone. It will do all this for you and it comes with a stack of enhancements, so you look like Monet or Adams. If you made it this far, you have interest in photography. Otherwise, you are interested in photographs. I’m, just being crotchety today.


Dinner for eight

Just fun. I did it with a tripod. I ran around and used a flash to get all seven of me on one picture. Sure. Right! I am pretty fast – at running around a table. For sure! It was fun. Colleen? Late for dinner, again. Ha! I can count. She would be number eight. If she’s late again, I shall still be beside myself.


Help

We usually do our selfies without assistance. That’s me, my modus operandi. I take a shot of Colleen. Then Colleen takes one of me in the same spot while I sit in the next chair over. It works well. A helpful wife urged her photographer husband to shoot the two of us. Oddly, I could not reciprocate. Ok! There was an old lady in black who was in the background in all the shots. That was a pain. I simply blotted her out. More work? Which method was better? Hey! We got a selfie. Do I need help? … more than you know.


Posed

I don’t work too much with a pose. But I get them. My key? Aim the lens – point the lens into the eyes. Nothing formal. It’s all done on the go. Ha ha. More lessons. Good light helps, especially the glow of an evening sunset. Ha, again. We are never up for dawn’s early light.


Serendipity

We were turned away at Cadillac mountain. No ride to the top. There is a new toll instituted this year to limit cars in the parking lot there. The gatekeeper turned us away and bade us down the hill to a turnout for the sunset. It was extremely fortuitous. We arrived and claimed the last spot by the roadside. Soon after the two lane access road was clogged with double parked cars. Ha ha, the problem had shifted downhill. We had a ringside seat. It was chilly! I worked the scene until one minute after. That is to say, you know, when the moment passes its peak. We cleared. Someone slipped into our parking spot and we beat the crowd down the hill. I am glad we were there for the critical moment. Equipment? I would have had a better “selfie” with a flash to compensate for a dark foreground. Yeah, yeah, lazy me, no flash. The new mirrorless does not have one in the camera. We’re fine. Yeah, panorama, too? iPhone? No, I considered the moment (watching the sunset) with Colleen, held her closer, and kept the phone in my pocket.


Indulgence

No one could accuse me of holding back nowadays. I just don’t go all out too often. I apologize for the slang given that there are a good many people from around the world who look in. But, once in a while I… Certainly, I spoil Colleen. In this moment, not too often at all, I indulged a whim. I discovered after my recent purchase of the Nikon Z5, that the Nikon zoom 80-400mm lens (I own) did not autofocus when attached the new model body Z5. Long story short, I went to eBay. Of course, they have the Nikon model G that does the job. It is at these times that I have been extremely lucky to get (used) just what I wanted at half price compared to new. The lens arrived in pristine condition. Damn. I was so lucky. My old lens was soft now. ??? I cannot explain except to say that the images were slightly less than tack sharp. Now, the problem is solved. Yeah, it cost $$$. But then, when do I indulge? Don’t answer. Colleen is getting a new spinning wheel… Are pictures better with the new lens? Ah? Sort of. A poor workman blames his tools. I have the tool to become a better workman. Had I but taken a few moments, my trigger happy shots would have been much better. I know this and you would too if you know what I know about fixing things. For instance, the moon is over-exposed; go to manual exposure. I was just too excited (lazy) to make the adjustments. Flog me. My bad. (more slang) I was just being indulgent. Now! I can’t wait to get back to the powwow.


Beauty

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. There are so many people in this world. I see people (together) with others and wonder, “How did he/she get with her/him?”

I suppose people think the same of we/us. Ha! The thing is – I don’t care. I love my wife. (Cue: Frank Sinatra.) She’s a very good sport about it all. When she constantly has a camera pointed at her, I think it must wear down Colleen’s resistance to my constant “clicking.” The light was perfect and in this case the focus was soft. How? What? Me? I do not know except to realize that the light was flattering and “good!” So? Done! No adjustment, just right out of the box. I could tweak and do a lot. No need. The waitress passed at that moment with a look of puzzlement and humor as I “clicked” away. Even I was surprised at how successfully the elements all came together. My wife, she’s beautiful. That’s my story, And, I’m stickin’ with it.


Throwback

The internet is grand. It allowed me to peruse and find a Canon G3 camera, my first digital camera. It was gifted on my birthday (decades ago) by Lisa, who consulted the gurus at B&H Photo. Great! It’s laughable. The camera is so clunky. It is so retro – about 20 yrs old now.

Oh! The backstory – an article reviewing the original Canon G1. It was never on my radar (back in 2000). I was waiting for a DSLR – Nikon. The (then) current Kodak digital with a Nikon body was about $10K. Yes, that was $10, 000 (in 2000). My! My! Needless to say I had fun (with the G3) but it was not my main camera. I was using whatever Nikon DSLR of the day reigned in 2000.

Present day – a used Canon G3 is about $30. Retail, in 2000 ~ $1,000. Hey! It was not exorbitant ($30). Click! Ordered. But. You need a memory card, card reader, and a battery. That alone exceeded the cost of the camera. Ha ha. And then the camera arrived with a memory card, and battery, and a charger. Returns! Oh! I saved money!

The file size is < 1mb. The image is soft, most likely user driven (error). (A comparable Nikon Z5 image is seen above.) Fun! It’s a whole lot easier than dipping back into the film pond. Meanwhile… to find my old Nikon D70. If you are a camera nut – you probably aren’t – I once shot the US (Tennis) Open with a Sports Illustrated photographer. I had the spiffy Nikon D70 while the professionals were using the latest Canon Mark III D whatever heavies. They toted 25-pound tele lenses. I was a rank amateur and didn’t know how badly outgunned I was. Still, I got great images and an even greater experience.

The Canon G3 – two memories: 1. I lost some images of Jules at a college track meet. They just went missing from the memory card.  2. I shot some of Susan’s daughter’s wedding with it. But, the critical images went to film on my Nikon.


It’s late

But, it’s never too late to learn a new trick. I discovered beefsteak tomatoes. Ha ha! Everyone else knows them. I am late to the party as usual. Colleen bought one. I just about let it go bad on the counter. Then, we got mozzarella. I added olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Voila! Instant revelation! I was stunned. I don’t think I ever ate a beefsteak tomato before? Or if I did, it was not a true tomato?

An aside? I shoot macro images. Sometimes it feels as though I cannot see the details the lens captures until I start editing. The details! Water droplets? Subtle and not noticeable until I enlarge the image. Yes, I feel like some images were shot with my eyes closed.

Focus? Dead on accurate – the cat (Peas) – or, it’s not a shot. You aspire to a different standard.

And that beefsteak? A simple recipe. Good lighting. Luscious color. Mmmmm….


Learning curve

Hey! Look how close I got to the dragonflies. They were all over my yard. They land on a point and rest. They move away when you approach but tend to circle around and alight on the same spot. They get used to you, hence, I was able to get in close. I presume the western wildfires may be responsible for the spectacular clouds blowing in from my west. And, what else is there to add to the fact that my spiffy macro lens catches great flower details. Yes, enlarging the images in Lightroom lets me appreciate things I might never otherwise notice. (Double click the image, it will enlarge somewhat.) I’ve been at photography a long time. … and still learning.


Focus

The camera does what it will. The difference between great and ho-hum is making the camera do your bidding. Unfortunately for me, it doesn’t work out as I’d like, most of the time. Good? Bad? It’s mixed. The detail in the dragonfly eye is stunning, especially enlarged and up-close. You can see “hairs” in the flowers. But, though there be motion and blur and reflections, other images still work. For my cats, I find that sharp focus on the eyes is key. Maybe it’s not for you, but, I’m ok with the surprises I find when editing. It’s fun. I’m not shooting for money. Fun would be work. Nope. Strictly amateur, I get a free reign to shoot for the pleasure of good images amongst the lot.


Just about anything will do

Fireworks! I have shot them for many a year, in many a year, even in the rain. I evolved. Pointing a camera at the sky will only get you so far. I got the 411 late. You need a tripod. But, you also need a long exposure. Three seconds or so will get you bursts of fireworks trailing in the night sky. It’s a bit more dramatic. You are committed. There’s not enough time to switch around techniques; the show is fleeting. This year – I hadn’t shot fireworks in many years, and with a new camera no less – I attended fireworks with the family. They were casual viewers for whom any burst of fire was a treat. Therefore, I was out of position by more than a mile – sitting by a road side with traffic, lights, and with houses and trees in my horizon. Plus, fireworks vary depending upon the budget. Home bought (fireworks) stuff – don’t bother. This stuff? It was too low on the horizon and did not have much variation, imagination, or pop. Oh well, fireworks is fireworks. But, once upon a time I shot them from my deck in Manhattan and saw the Macy’s annual big doo. It doesn’t get much better than that. I did not caption: Macy’s; Maine (hand held); beach. You will know the beach shot by the trees. Lemon? Make lemonade. Colleen was thrilled to see my pics. She’s so kind to me. For you: tripod, long exposure – ISO 600, f8, manual, 3 seconds; start there and adjust on the fly.


Astro what

Okay! So, Colleen tried to buy me a telescope for Xmas. She spent big $$$$ and ordered a special camera ready telescope after much research, much angst, and after consulting with Liz, our family astronomer. I have dabbled, miserably, in some astrophotography. With anticipation and then great disappointment (Colleen’s), the telescope never shipped, never arrived. We saved big $$$$. Colleen cried inconsolably. Everyone knows it is impossible to get me a present. I tend to buy whatever I want. So, there is no wont in my house.

Amazon prime came to our house – inadvertently. Amazon prime day had a sale on beginner telescopes. The rest, as they say, is history. The learning curve is high. First and foremost is light pollution. I discovered the technical limitations of attaching a Nikon camera to a Celestron telescope. Focus in the dark was dismal. The earth moves at about 400 meters/sec. I thought diving was challenging? The stars are dots of light – pinholes in black paper.

My point and shoot Canon got better focus of the moon than the spiffy telescope. Risk/benefit, or, bang for your buck?; I chose the camera. The stars are not a subject I will pursue. Amazon gave me a refund. End of story.