Word and Image

Posts tagged “Technical tips

Caveat!

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Available light has a soft appearance different than the look of a strobe. The majority of professional style images are all done with strobe lighting. Smartphone photos by far are the most dominant images posted to Flickr. This was a throwback day.

Sometimes things go to hell. I have had all sorts of problems underwater. The first worry is that salt water will leak into and damage your gear. Yup! Been there done that. Fried two cameras and counting… one strobe…. Fortunately, the strobe main body is waterproofed. So, the batteries fried not the $400 strobe. Dive computer – o ring failure – check, yes. Forgot my memory card on one dive… yes, stupid!

Things breakdown. It will happen. Be prepared. Have a backup plan. My buddy forgot to charge his batteries. I had spares to loan him.

The latest calamity? The wire that connects my strobe to the camera sheared. It’s a fiber optic system that simply broke apart. At the beginning of the dive…it’s always right when you are in the water and at the beginning of the dive. I even have a back-up camera – (did not have it that day).

So? There has been only one dive I recall when I did not have a camera. Otherwise, you improvise. I love it when my advice rhymes. I went available natural light. I haven’t done this in ages. You have to white balance every ten feet deeper you go. And there are a bunch of settings to adjust. I did it on the fly and it only took a minute to recall all that I needed to do. Saved! Well, it was enough for me to come away with images. You know? Make lemonade when they give you lemons. I tested and experimented. It’s a learning experience when things breakdown. Yes! I could take a sharp highly magnified image. The main difference is that your odds are better when everything is working. But you can still get something. So it was not a wasted dive. I learned something today.

So? What caveat? It’s about backup storage. It’s enough to strike fear. Do you worry about losing all your images on your phone? Have you heard of the cloud? Do you remember floppy disks? Or VHS tape. Did you ever see a Betamax player. 8 track tape?

The New York Times published a very earnest article by a so called expert who advised – use Google cloud. It’s advice. And therein lies the caveat. All that other technology became obsolete and discarded. Floppy disks are coasters. There are no readers, so they are toast. Companies come and go. Kodak! Did you ever think that the great “Yellow father” would be an historical footnote? Ever hear of a platinum print?

Pardon me Mr NYT. Fine and dandy, but at least let me have redundant back up on an external drive that I own and control. Google forever?! Do/did you Yahoo? I zen too, but I want my photos to be preserved. Zen will live on; will my photos? They say my blog will be on the net forever. I’ve got my posts on word and the images on my hard drive. Paradoxically, anything you wish would go away will follow you forever too. Like old girl friends…did I say that?


Red

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Stonefish are not bright red. They are bright red. How? Well, the light is filtered and red color fades as you go deeper under the sea. A flash will bring out what would otherwise be a dull colored fish and make it really stand out. Under the sea it actually looks pretty dull.

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Sometimes the stonefish is really pretty ugly. And color can do it no improvement. This guy was posturing. He lifted his head as I took his pic. So I got a bit of pink. He did not intentionally pose for me. He wasn’t warning me off. Stonefish are pretty mellow. Both fish are very easy to miss. They don’t move. The human eye is sensitive to movement. It’s about survival. Something moving is a potential threat. These fish just lie still and blend into the surrounding coral. It’s worth a picture anytime we see one. It’s so nice that they pose for me.


Too Much – TMI

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TMI – too much information – too close. I sent this image to my daughter. She commented, “What is it? Show me the whole thing.” There’s a balance. You need context. But I’d like to just publish a single image. Choose. Which one? Ah! Well, that becomes a matter of choice. But which? I guess consider the difference between a snapshot versus a photograph. I’m still a camera person. Right tool? There’s no argument that most of all images are smart phone productions – too easy and convenient to ignore. I’m a long way from point and shoot. Set up takes time. I moved up along the scale. And yet there is a large group above me who finds my set up to be inadequate. There’s always someone better. Meanwhile, I like what I’m doing. I’ll stick to my day job for a bit longer. It’s still a hobby for me.

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With digital you are not limited to shooting a single image. Fire away. Memory card and battery power are your limiting factors. You can shoot hundreds of images and discard them later. The point is not quantity; it’s quality. Lately I don’t press the shutter as I think to myself, “It’s not a picture.”


Fish!

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Blennies like to hide in holes. In this case the hideout is an abandoned pipe. He’s brave in the tube. He boldly challenged us when we moved in for a shot. Amr shot the profile and I moved in from the front.You can see the teeth in his shots!

My shots would not focus. I don’t know why. It is a function of the diver and his gear. That would be me. I did get a serviceable shot. But the deal it to get a good shot. How is it that the good shot is usually the last one you shoot? In this case, no, I never did get the shot I wanted. When you dive with a buddy you are at the mercy of his patience. Amr is patient. But I’m OCD. Sometime you have to settle. I’m better than I once was and not as good as I’m gonna be…

IMG_0459It’s been a while since I did fish. The past couple weekends the waves were too rough to safely enter the water to dive. And everyone agrees, safety first.


Green Eyes

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Green eyed dancing shrimp. Hard to photograph. Yup. It’s a fact. Everyone loves to eat shrimp and they seem to know this. So they hide all day and come out only at night and even then they hide under the coral. Their eyes reflect your flashlight. So it’s easy to find them. They are small. And so the auto focus on my camera hunts. It does not often deliver the desired results. So when it happens, that is bliss. Wow. Perfect. He stayed around for me to get his picture. There were many shrimp this night. But this was the guy who made my night and my album. Details. Everything has to come together just so. And if not, then there is a blank space waiting to be filled when I finally find the right subject.


No Cropping

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Another day, another Christmas tree worm. That’s what it’s called. It does look like an inverted pine. And this allows the worm to retract into the coral and be eaten. Hey! I’m not harassing the thing. But it will retract. No rhyme or reason. Some are more skittish than others. But here two things occurred. I got this beautiful background. And the worm is almost full frame. Huh? It means that I was able to macro image and this is pretty much full frame and uncropped. This is the only acceptable shot of ten that I got. It’s hard to focus. Remember? Everything is moving. I would like to say that I don’t shake. But it wouldn’t matter if my hand did or not. Either you are sharp or you aren’t. There are no excuses. Meanwhile great images accumulate and only a few are posted. I just use random choice to pick and choose. But this worm always makes me smile.


Detail

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Nothing new here. I take pictures of everything. Fish when they are there. Food when it’s in front of me. It’s a learning process. I look. Then I wonder how it is different. We see things. But do I look at them. Too much. Too many things. Details. I would never move on. I just look and sometimes things strike me. So here is the latest. A plant from the nursery that I just planted. Actually, I think it was Lowe’s. I just randomly pick things that will be colorful and grow with not too much fuss over the summer. I’m pretty much with a camera all the time. Or an iPhone. I prefer a camera. If it’s worth shooting I should be serious. The exception is in the hospital. I have my smartphone always. And the image is good enough for Powerpoint. I shoot images of the x-rays I see. Interesting cases. And then use them for teaching.

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But here, the macro capability of the camera shines. Stamens. Focused. Detail. I daresay it’s better than the other images of the whole flower. Do I really need to show you the whole thing. Sure, if it’s a catalog. No, if it’s to draw your eye to a detail you might otherwise not appreciate. I’m good. Not great. Got a shot you might not have taken. But I didn’t get out a true macro lens and set this shot up with pinpoint detail. Nope, sorry. That would be work. And this is all fun for me. I watch my kids roll their eyes and stop listening. Then I know I have gone from fun to work. I’m not working right now.

IMG_4805However, I do take play seriously. The funny thing is that I  pull out my phone to show pictures and the same rolled eyes start.


Shoot glass

IMG_7736 aIt’s not a misprint. I did not say shot glass – although that would be technically correct…

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If you have ever tried to shoot an image through a window or worse yet through a screen window, then you have encountered the problem with auto focus. Auto focus saves me about 99 out of 100 times. But even the computer can be fooled.

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So here you see the screen though it be out of focus it is still discernable. Ok! Now try focusing on a moving jellyfish. My buddy was suddenly looking up at the sun while we were near the end of the dive. I thought he’d gone mad from the cold water. I looked up and saw what else? The sun! Ah! Aha! A jellyfish. They are rare to see around here. And even more difficult is trying to shoot an image near the surface. Everything is moving in 3D. Does that make it 6D if the subject and the photographer are both moving? Do you count the camera too? And I’m dizzy. Yes, the motion is making me dizzy! Shoot! Keep shooting and hope for the best. Nope, it ain’t gonna happen today. Some days you lose. The autofocus does not work on things so translucent. Blind luck. I shot enough. But nope, not a single keeper. Yes, yes, National Geographic comes back with the shot. We were at the end of the dive. I was cold. Now I was dizzy. And I could not see the darned thing well enough to focus. Nope, it wasn’t happening on this day.

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Another rule: never put your gear to sleep till you leave the water. As we swam to the stairs I swam over a collector sea urchin. Yup, broad daylight. Usually they are seen only at night. Surprise! And the waves tossed me but I got a shot. This might not seem to special either. But it is something we don’t see frequently. I’m still happy to say it is something different. Yeah, been there, done that…..


School

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I’ve posted about these fish in the past. The swim in loose schools. Seemingly ubiquitous to the reef I hardly take notice of them. About once a year now they school in a tight bunch. And even more amazingly they swim in circles with their mouths open. They look spooky like monsters out to eat everything in their path. Then they slow down, close their mouths, and dissemble peacefully once more. Shooting tips: With my strobe setup I am not prepared for a ambient light image. I have settings ready to go. But it takes seconds. This school waits for no one. The water was not exactly crystal clear which made for another problem. And then the fish are not close nor would they come to close to me. So as they call it, aim the camera, point, and shoot. And I do and I did.

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Next trick is in Photoshop. On the camera the image is washed out and barely discernable. I know what’s there but anyone else would be less than impressed. The trick: Jules taught me when we were editing our dives together. On a Mac: command- shift-L, it is auto level. Magic. Color correction and bringing up detail is done magically. Hey, I’m not into complex layers and nuances. I just want to admire something in a few seconds. Maximize your effect in the least amount of time.I cannot adjust levels the way that autolevel does its magic. I’ve tried; it doesn’t work fast for me.

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I provided a before after shoot. And the others are here because I was too undecided to just pick one image. Fascinating fish behavior made graphic by the luck of being on site and with the help of Photoshop. It all happens infrequently.

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I was happy to be there when the school went round. There’s a rule. Don’t swim with anything bigger that has potential to eat you. The big school swirling around with mouths open is intimidating.

IMG_6433In case you were wondering it’s done by opening your mouth and spreading your gills. Don’t try this at home.


Red Fish Same Fish

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A quandary? Digital allows you to shoot multiple images of the same subject. Memory is limitless; batteries are rechargeable; you can experiment and not hoard resources. Frequently I may shoot more than a hundred images in a dive. I shot way more than that before. But lately I ask the question, “Is this a photograph?” Then I stop and don’t shoot a fish tail swimming away from my lens. A lot has to do with taste. But even so the same settings can give different results.

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Therein lies the decision to keep one or the other. Can you imagine discarding images? Some do so ruthlessly. They discard all images in a first pass. I hoard. No discards. Hey, it’s ok. Memory prices are inexpensive. The bottom line – this guy waited around for me to take two images. The actual situation is that he circled and came back to the same position. This made me shoot twice and I was surprised that difference I got.