A portrait starts with the eyes. My cats are cooperative in illustrating my point. Hooded eyes need a bit of flash. Black cats are particularly difficult. Their black fur is hard to highlight and contrast. And, who figured dust would show too! Then again, cat nip shows, as well. Focus on the eyes is a key component. Gazing directly into the lens is helpful. For cats, put the camera in front of the cat; don’t wait for them to look your way. The icicle is a non sequitur. And, Colleen’s initials are CAT, once upon a time when she was a maiden.
New, old, discontinued, obsolete, incompatible. Tech is all of this. They upgrade the iPhone and Macbook Pro every year so that I will have envy and soon be obsoletely completely behind. Nikon flash? The technology has changed little. The connector remains the same. I can use my trusty old flash since forever (>10yrs old) even though it is outdated and discontinued. Huh!?! Anyway, the darned flash still works atop my spiffy new camera. I fully expected to be buying a new one. eBay – cheap <$100. Amazon – new, $499. Or, used – about $120. A bargain! But, I have a flash (already)! And, it works! How fortunate am I? All they had to do was change the connection, and, I’m upgrading – see (for example) Apple! They (Apple) change connectors and the whole world has to follow them.
Depth of field
I did a composite of three images, it is obvious if you know what to look for. Or, it is obvious if you notice something is not quite right. I will explain. Look closely and you will see three distinct levels of focus: front, middle, and rear. And in between each zone, the flower is out of focus: soft. It’s subtle but distinct. It gives the full view of the flower. If you didn’t notice then my manipulation was successful in illustrating the flower. Me? I noticed it was unnatural right away. Then it took a moment to realize the explanation. The macro lens I used has no depth of field whatsoever. It is the nature of the lens. And, in this case, it illustrates the concept of depth of field nicely. Confused? No worries. You can appreciate the image without understanding the technical details.
You know – if you get lemons, you make…. Peering into the picture not many viewers are particularly interested – I daresay, none – to see two Nikon slide scanners. It’s not a good pic. One is lying on its side and the other is upright with a bulk loader, Oh boy! We’re going downhill and losing audience fast! My spiffy loader was making more noise than a blender on “smoothie” setting. It’s ok for a smoothie but for hours on end… even my cat objected. I started with one scanner and one bulk loader. One bulk loader failed – noisy. So I bid on eBay and won another scanner and bulk loader. Bidding is brutal. These things are in demand! I intended to ditch/sell the scanner but…. two scanners scan faster than one. I eventually bid on another bulk loader and won. Now I had two complete scanning systems with two laptops running simultaneously. You can see the new battery box in the background. That battery change meant following 99 steps. Amazing in itself, that darn thing turned on and worked – not quite right, but eventually. I’m pretty pleased. It saved me a lot of time. Hey! I’m retired. But, I was saved a lot of time. I did waste a lot of time getting to be efficient. Alas, I will promptly have forgotten when and if I ever scan again.
I was in the closet. Don’t ask. We have a window in a closet. Would that make it a room? The window faces northwest in the direction of the Comet Neowise that was in the news. A challenge. I don’t do astrophotography. I still don’t. The weather was cloudy on most nights. Hey! It was the steamy hot part of summer. Nada! Nothing! Nuthin’! I never knew for sure if I was looking in the correct part of the sky. Urban light pollution was abundant. The effort was a miserable failure. Scary? I was in the closet and couldn’t hear Colleen calling. She nearly had a heart attack looking for me. Sorry. I came out of the closet with moon shots. (poor choice of words? Don’t ask.) Discovery?! There is a man in the moon. I have seen him. The ancients were right. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ with it.
I got a picture of the morning star. It’s the tiny white dot in the lower right quadrant. Shooting the moon was the challenge. The dynamic range of the image overexposed the moon. I went to manual exposure, got the moon’s detail, and tried to blend it back into the photo. It’s complicated and not perfect but closer to what I saw. … sort of.
Subtlety & persistence
There is a fine line between taste and tasteless. Good and better are subtle. It helps to have something to compare otherwise you are out of luck. I have my favorite. And then there is persistence. I shot three times – three sittings – and finally got something I was satisfied with. It’s like ending a sentence with a preposition. You can but it’s tasteless, mostly. Ha! … ended in an adverb.
I am limited by technology and laziness. We have a birdfeeder. It has not been particularly productive to see many interesting birds this year. Mostly it has been LBJ’s. It’s term Colleen uses. Her mother used it before her and it does not mean LBJ, the president. It’s “little brown jobs.” I did not bother (lazy) to remove the window screen this year. Then, a cardinal – male and female – and a woodpecker showed up. My bad, there is definite image degradation due to the window screen. And I was further limited by the camera at hand. The lens was simply not strong enough to pull in the bird. The little image in the corner was due to the limited (Canon) lens. Even at 150mm the bird was tiny in the image. The electronic (Sony) telephoto did a much nicer job. Both camera’s images were degraded by the (window) screen. But, as always there is something to see. Any camera is better than none. Otherwise, this would not be an illustrated post.
..idea? Nope. Selfie, selfie stick? Not new either. New camera… new opportunity. I can pair my camera to my phone and have a remote trigger. I can use a monopod and extend my reach. The idea? …take a pic and not really look like you are the photographer. Ha ha. I got a tolerant spouse. And, I got a messy kitchen. Hey! We eat well. It’s all on the counter to remind me that I shouldn’t buy anything else and the inventory reminds me to use it. The new selfie? It’s a go.
It’s a term. Light has color. Tungsten and daylight, remember the lesson from a few days back? Here’s another example. Color corrected for ambient lamp light the flowers look decidedly different. And, it is especially so because these are silk flowers. Maybe not silk, but realistic enough looking, I am recently impressed to feel they are no longer to be ignored. Oh, light? The light is the same. The camera corrected for the color difference between room lights and daylight, Photoshop in the camera if you will.
Here’s a lesson. Light has color. Daylight is one color while light bulbs give you a different color. Confused? Or, don’t care? But evening light in your living room tends toward yellow. We hardly notice. Don’t mention fluorescent! Ever! It’s, by far, the worst light to shoot with color film or digital sensor. Meanwhile, here are examples. And, if you are keen to correct things, the camera will adjust by custom white balance. It’s work. Mostly, we/I won’t bother. But if you do, it does/can dramatically change the tint of your image. I only ever cared when I started diving and red is lost as you go deeper under water. But, it’s good to know. That way it’s your choice. At least it’s my choice to be lazy. Of course, you could always – flash. But that’s a whole ‘nother lesson. And, I was lazy and didn’t caption to label the different light. If you care, you would know the differences. Or, if not, be sure to ask me. 🙂
Hint: (The top picture was white balance – corrected.)
Light is everything. It creates the mood and tension in an image. Clouds are the intermediate palette upon which to base your background. Clouds can bring tension. Or they can direct light toward your subject. It is often fleeting to have the right light. Blink and it’s gone. I try to pay attention and take advantage whenever I can.
Still life. I think I don’t sit around long enough to really have interest in non-moving objects. My interest is more photojournalism. Or, sunset. So still life is an occasional subject. But I am always on the lookout for good light. And still life is more patient than humans – sometimes. When it works, it’s a good thing. Right!
An sign of early spring, the pansy comes in all colors. It’s a delightful photo op. no complaints. I find them plentiful and in full color. How can you resist? I don’t.
Super blood wolf moon
Closest point to the earth, eclipse, Indian lore – first full moon in January. Super – when the moon and earth are closest to one another. Blood – the appearance when the earth has eclipsed the moon. Wolf – Indian tribes refer to the first full moon in January. I probably most likely have some of this mixed up enough to confuse you. No matter. It was a full moon with a lunar eclipse during the time when the earth and moon were closest to one another. I might add the temperature dropped and it was windy – bitter cold standing there to get images.
The moon is made of cheese and the mouse took a bite from the lower part until it ate/covered the moon. At that point I could see but not photograph the orange (red) moon. Tripod! And then long exposure, with the wind howling, it was near impossible. I could not get a sharp clear image of the moon.
Aha! Let the camera do the work. Darn! I let the ISO go to 6400, f 5.3, 1/4 second. It’s not sharp and there’s plenty of noise. But, I do have detail and color. Blood moon! Let me tell you it was cold! But then again there was little haze. That’s all good? Right?
To the new baby granddaughter (as yet unnamed on the night this was shot), this was the moon on the night you were born.
Scene at the beach – redux
Here’s something I learned. The Sony RX100 does a better job focusing than the Canon. This is critical at the beach when I was trying to catch a wave. The autofocus was way better. The zoom has a longer reach. Bottom line: good wave detail. It is still dependent upon the photographer to get the right moment. I didn’t quite (do it). My bad. User error… Ok!?
So, a swimmer in the heavy sea and waves – his glasses are on his forehead. Intentional? Lifeguard – sexism? – she’s in a bikini, the men are in trunks. Waves bigger than your head – is it perspective or real – real! Portrait of a gull – he really did walk right up to pick food up right next to our beach chair.
Follow-up: Maybe I spoke too soon. Or, maybe I have not mastered the focus algorithm. But the Sony does hunt and frequently fails to focus on the subject at hand. It could be user error. I have to pay attention way more. The Nikon D610 has closest focus setting that gets the subject closest to the camera. That works for the most part. I can think faster than the camera can focus. And, I am frequently in too much of hurry to worry about focus until it’s too late. So, there have been some missed shots. Sometimes there is a do over and many times not.
Pemaquid lighthouse. Everyone comes with camera or iPhone to get a photograph of the lighthouse. I sit and watch them scramble all over the rocks up and down, every which way. They take their shots and move on. Only a few will see the reflection in the tidal pool. Virtually no one will point out this shot. One kind Englishman in all the times I have been here actually took the time to point (I already knew) down at the pool for me. And in all the others I have tried on occasion to point out the quintessential image to some passersby. Largely unnoticed is a gem at their feet. Move on, next attraction, , . look mom, see where I’ve been. Look down at your feet.
I got a new camera (last September)– Sony RX100VI. It’s touted as the best travel camera. It’s been raved over as a dive camera for years. I succumbed to the hype. I have buyer’s remorse. It’s good! But the Canon G7X is good too. And it cost a lot less. The Canon G7 Mark II is probably good too. I did need a new camera. Ha! I’ve got a case of camera envy. Actually, I justify the acquisition in the name of protecting and preserving the G7X. My dive housing is dedicated and if the G7X goes, then there will be a very expensive dive housing sitting without a place to go. Yeah! That does seal the argument?? The Sony is good. I’m just putting it through rigorous field tests. It’s good. I miss the G7X already. I’ll transition and everything will be okay. It happened with my Canon G12. That was a sweet camera until the G7X. And my Canon S100? What about the trusty Nikon D610? Ok, ok, don’t laugh. I’ve got cameras like… ladies have shoes (some not all). I have some test images. There are limitations in focusing and speed and … overall, the camera does well. It and I are still getting to know each other. There are advantages over an iPhone… and not. Mostly I’m a camera guy. I want to take a picture with a real camera and control certain elements that the iPhone doesn’t allow. Remember, I like to make the rules … not be ruled. Judge from the samples. I need a haircut.
Follow-up: Since there is considerable delay in my posts lately, it’s been two trips since I got the RX100. I have not shot a frame from the G7X. There are limitations. Focusing, touted as excellent, has been a problem with the RX100. Like anything else, you work with the limitations and adapt to the quirks. Looking back, the RX100 is easily an all in one travel camera for compact size and convenience. I still think and visualize faster than the camera can respond. And, I still see lots of pictures that the camera was not quick enough to respond to capture the image I saw.
This was a product of my newfound knowledge about bounce flash. You can easily read about the technique so I won’t extend this post to explain. The lighting is even. There are no shadows. We are used to light in all color. But this is more or less daylight balanced. The light is less blue than the snow light you can see thru the window. Flash is specular and harsh associated with sharp shadows. The overall result is pleasing with bounce flash. It works. I’ve done it. There are limitations to using the technique. When it works the result is great. It’s part of my knowledge. Use at your discretion. I add a dig against iPhone; you can’t bounce flash. As for me, I don’t use a big flash on my camera much any more. But you can be sure that professionals do.
In the days before digital it was darned hard to do night shots as an amateur. Flash won’t light the Eiffel Tower. You used the film that was in the camera. Lights are bright but will not be sufficient to light up everything in your picture. Digital makes hash of all of that worry. The mini computer can compensate on the fly. ISO adjusts automatically as the light changes. The processor will adapt to artificial light.
Then – You accept noise in your image. Basically, you are thankful for a shot. Now – The shots are so exceptionally better that you don’t realize how easy it all is today. I’m amazed. I take it in stride and even shot the stars (recently) in the night sky without a tripod. I’m not bragging. I can only say that you can push the envelope and it often will give you something better than expected.
The Tour de France is a bicycle race of 2000 miles in three weeks. I have no desire to photograph it. Some people wait/camp along the route for weeks before the bikers pass. Then 100 riders go by at 28 miles an hour and it’s over. Too little bang for your buck. A British royal wedding? I’m not related. So, I would be among millions lining a street for a glimpse. If I lived there overlooking the parade route… My good buddy, Charlie (Bell 47 helicopter), loves the whole picture. Get the whole thing (ship). But, if you include the whole ship (helicopter) with its rotors, you lose detail.
There are times when detail (close-up) is better. It means you were there. You saw the finer details. And the whole (ship) can be discerned from its part. It’s a fine point. And, it’s an opinion. When film was limited, I shot frugally. I did not shoot well. Now that digital is plentiful, I shoot lots. I still don’t always shoot well. More is not more. Nor is more less. I find that I shoot more. I shoot wide angle and telephoto. It takes a second. But, lately I find that zooming in I utilize the camera’s capability to fulfill my vision better. No, Photoshop will not save you if you are lazy. You can crop the hell out of a poor image and get something. How about getting it without thinking you have a ready crutch to fall upon. I like to mix metaphors. Get the point?
An image is two dimensional on the page. Telephoto perspective can crowd what you see by its depth of field. Perspective is something that has many meanings. It all depends on you. Technical or philosophical?
I used to hold the camera to my eye, look through the viewfinder, compose, adjust the settings, and shoot. Point and shoot has liberated me. Autofocus, auto exposure, and auto ISO have made it a virtual breeze. There are a high percentage of misses and out of focus shots. But, the payoff is good too. Forget straight horizons. The image is way more interesting if the picture is angled. Break the rules. You still have to know the rules to break them wisely. I do get some interesting shots. The good news is that I am not static and am still learning. Are you?
What was I thinking when I included this trio? Not much to see or admire. Useless shots abound. They don’t look good when I shoot them and rarely surprise me when I reject them. There’s no point of interest and the color is monotonous. It is a view of the back yard only a mother would love.
What’s been working
It’s not so much that you take pictures. I take the same ones. Not really. Confused? What I’m trying to say is that I take pictures that work for me. The subject may change. But, there are poses that work. I experiment. Digital allows me to do this relatively easily. Lately, what I realize is that I zoom a little closer. I pay attention to distracting backgrounds. Mostly, what I have posted of late are images that are straight from the camera without too much manipulation. That’s pretty good. I kind of plan it out that way. It’s been working.