Almost, not quite… I leaned over a squash blossom to photograph the pistil and stamen. Aha! A caterpillar! And then a bee? Landed. My focus was not quite dead on. I got shots. They were okay but not quite …. Oh well, you can see…pollen all over the bee. Unfortunately, there are no do-overs.
Speaking of…. We have a beach cam. I monitor it from my Mac from home. Too lazy to go to the beach for sunrise? Not every day is guaranteed a great sunrise. I am lazy. The moment of truth? Things start off slow and always go forward. So timing is the key. You miss the moment and you cannot go backward. This particular morning I started early. Sunrise is always different – in so many ways. Folks gather to watch. There is always someone down on the sand. The glow builds until the sun crests the horizon. Voila. Another sunrise. Another day. Good morning!
What works? At least there are choices to choose from. Ummm, never end a sentence with a preposition. English, seventh grade, Miss Digman. Oh boy… I can hear her admonishment now.
Smile, focus, gaze directly into my lens…. I wish. As I shoot a way, I create choices in my edit process. It’s good to have choices to choose from. (yeah, yeah, another proposition)
Composition. I had a friend Charlie. He loved the pictures to show the whole thing (child). But focus (take a couple meanings) can cut different ways. No matter what, it is critical. Looking into my lens has it’s advantages too. No complaint. It’s good to have choices. Maybe the title should have been “choices?”
How many more?
148 shots. It ain’t Audobon worthy but the Sony RX100 does zoom in. It gets as close as my Nikon 80-400mm zoom. The image quality is lacking by comparison. But it got the shots. This is for fun not money or glory. I am better than average and less than great. No worries. I am not in competition except with myself. The heron was in stunning plain sight on my pond and then hidden by trees and branches. Eventually it moved. Great! I kept on shooting. There were a few keepers. There was no doubt of my subject. I was not dead on sharp on the eyes. There was no fish caught. It was a rare glimpse of a heron from far away. No apologies. I could have done better. I was lazy. And the heron was not hanging around for an encore.
I go with what strikes me as I edit. No overthinking. I just go with the gut. One star – ok, but not quite. Two star – good solid technically good. Three star – rare, it just stands out. Four and five – hardly ever.
Water is always good in a flower shot. It’s above ordinary. I don’t get water too often. Cats – my black cat is hard to image and she is hard to pin down for a focused shot of her eyes. You’d think it’s easy. I get the eyes on all my other cats. Nope! And getting texture on the fur is a challenge too. But the eyes… except, it’s nice to see the tongue. Cats do not stick out their tongue. It’s different. Worms and bugs – not so easy. I got this caterpillar by chance. I nearly missed it. It was so tiny. Focus! It’s critical. Otherwise, it’s not a shot. And the moth? Not so simple, this one was all over skittering from blossom to blossom. I stood still and just waited to shoot when it landed again. Focus, otherwise, it’s not a shot. There were a lot of “not” shots. Among thousands of shots there are only a very few rated three stars.
I got good! Better?! New baby! This was my first try with our brand-new granddaughter. Photographically it was a success. I have learned. Hey! It’s not too late to learn. What? There are so many things to keep in mind – exposure, focus, composition, timing, etc. Whatever. As in, whatever makes you smile, is a “keeper,” a “winner.” You gotta shoot a lot of pictures to get a “keeper.”
Cats. What I learned from my cats helped me get better shots of newborn babies. ?? Cats do not pose or follow instructions. They – cats – do not smile on demand. And most importantly I learned to position my camera lens in front of the eyes instead of waiting for the cat to look at me when I called. Eye contact! Aha! Simple, ain’t it?
Do you see…
…what I see. Ha ha. Christmas in July? August? Macro is a counter-intuitive term to me. It should be macro. So?! Whatever. I see detail. I cannot see it (fine detail) without that macro lens, and only after post-processing. Do you?
Here’s how it goes: The detail of the (hairy) pistil is only evident when you enlarge the image by about 10X. Oh! Ah! There’s a fine line between ooooh and ah!
Dammit! (an aside) All of this posting ain’t free. You run out of storage space and pay WordPress an annual fee. Damn! So, I’m outta space. Just now! Just this very post! And, I gotta pay – more! I almost stopped publishing. Oh, well, I guess the show will go on. Send money please….
At the end of the day, it’s all macro, through my macro lens. But, some things are enlarged further. I could do it all with normal lens – mostly, but not all. Technology?! Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Colleen, the credit card bill went up again.
You can lead a horse…
… to water, but, you can’t make him drink. Dave regretted not having a camera the other day! He was on a tiger safari in India. And, Disney was there with photo video and mega large lenses to capture the tigers with real telephoto close-ups. Right tools for the right job, eh?! For the first time his trusy iPhone was not quite up to the task. I readily admit Dave has shot some fantastic photos with iPhone. He is constrained by weight and bulk in his travels.
Consider, his iPhone shots are better than many of my most great shots from my spiffy mirrorless camera with a mega telephoto lens. I sh*t you not! There is technique and there is art. Dave has that “je ne sais quoi.” I applaud him. It’ nice that his deft touch is so much better than me. Remember the movie “Amadeus” in which Salieri never quite got it?
Dave got a very nice tiger shot. But he knew he could have done more with a real camera. Hmmm… imagine what he could do with better equipment? I have seen lots of poor iPhone shots from other family and friends. A good/better piece of equipment does not a photographer make.
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.
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!
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…
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.
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.
… 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.
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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.