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Posts tagged “Technical tips

Fireworks for Christmas!

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Manhattan Beach does their annual firework display at Xmas. They don’t compete with the neighboring beach community that does it in July. It’s a very large beach. You have to get a good seat. And so we did. The traffic was horrible. But we were already parked. I guess that was the limiting factor.

We sat alone with no one nearby and had the best seats in the house. It was chilly! And I got fireworks! Next July I’ll look for fireworks images. For now we got some great ones. How do you know he’s going up? He was. I suggested it would be easier to pull than push. But the image? It could be more likely he’s going downhill with the stroller…except he’s not.

On the technical side: I shot the fireworks handheld. This meant I could not use an extended exposure. Ideally: Use a tripod. Set the shutter speed to 3-4 seconds. Adjust your ISO and aperture accordingly. You get sharp trails of light and even multiple bursts. Handheld? Hey, it works too if you set up correctly. It’s what I did when I started. It’s not what I’d do now. But one adapts to the conditions provided. No, it’s not worth buying a tripod special for this occasion. I’m not OCD. Ha!

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Jump

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The kids taught me to do this silly pose. I’m too old and can’t jump too high any more. But here’s the secret. Bend your knees under you. Even a few inches of elevation will look effectively dangerous scary. The trick is to look like you are hovering in air without the ground beneath. Someone thought of this. Who? And, I did it. The significant other in my life is afraid of heights. She took this.

Did I mention that visiting the Grand Canyon was on my bucket list too? As with most things it/this happened spontaneously. I don’t recall ever going somewhere specifically because of a such a desire that I planned it. Mostly, I fit life into what is happening at the moment. We were on a cross country trip. You have to cross over somewhere? See the hat? Gloves? It’s was da** cold! I got mittens which allow my fingers to hold/feel the camera controls. And for those who know me, this is probably the last photo of my beloved pair of jeans. Kaput, three years, alas, poor jeans.


Timing

Here’s a non-sequitur. At the average of 1/100 sec per image for 100,000 images over three years that would be about 160 minutes or 2 ½ hours. Therefore, I have recorded/documented about a scant two hours of my life during that time. Since I shoot a lot of doubles, it would be a far smaller representation. Video? You shoot a lot more “nothing worth saving.”

Here’s an exercise I struggle with. Timing. Get that breaking wave sharply focused as it rolls showing maximum curl. Of course, it should also be a big wave. I frequently miss. …try again. Usually the camera is in my pocket as I see a large wave break. And another won’t come along till I have the camera tucked back in my pocket again. Insanity! Or, Murphy’s law?


Focus

The challenge here was in focusing. The camera doesn’t want to do it. It would rather focus upon the background. Yes, I bet you wanted to hear me say it was hard. You don’t care….’cause I got the shot. Ha! Otherwise there’d be no post. We don’t show misses. But to get these, I took a lot of pics that were not good. If I had stopped after shooting one, we would not have anything but a lament.


Chasing the Sun

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We are due for a solar eclipse on August 21. The path is across the USA and will be partial where I am in Delaware. No, I’m not going to NC to get the total effect. And who knows? Maybe it will be cloudy and rainy? There is advice for those who may get to see it happen. Do not look at the sun directly! Do not point your naked camera/lens at the sun. Use proper protection (your eyes and the camera). You can get this protective gear from many sources. Get it or don’t look at the sun/eclipse directly. Me? I got glasses, a binocular, and a lens filter for my big 400mm zoom lens. The stuff was cheap. I spent about $20 for the lens filter. One trick pony, one time use. You could use a telescope or a mega zoom lens and dedicated filters = megabucks. Nope. I’m casual. One and done. Shoot the moon – super moon, blue moon – I get it when I can.

Technical specs: This image was enlarged from 400mm zoom on a full frame Nikon D610. I used: ISO 100 f10 1/250 sec. I bracketed. I can make out a sun spot at 8 o’clock. Otherwise the sun is just an orange disc to me. I’ll see what shakes when the solar eclipse passes me. Or not – if it rains. I am relatively prepared. I won’t be disappointed. Good luck to us all.


Blackwater Falls

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I visited Blackwater Falls again. I’m lazy. I did not bring a tripod for a long exposure to get the water falling in a blur. It’s a nice effect. I shot two images bracing my camera for a long exposure. It wasn’t long enough. But I got motion blur. Then I used Photoshop and cloned the blur onto my sharply focused image. That is about as much patience as I have. As I said, I’m fairly lazy. I like to get it in one shot and I do not care to do a lot of post processing. Hey, it’s natural.


Challenged – Tiny!

 

 

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I love a challenge. I like to go to the edge technically and have to struggle to get the image. You would think that point and shoot. Anyone can press the shutter and get whatever. You do it with your iPhone all the time. Right place right time, it’s mostly about being in position. Having a phone makes it easy to catch breaking news. But what if you actually had to work to get the image. It’s not as simple to press the shutter. I had about thirty tries. And, I was inadequate to the task.

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The first image is not my shot. Amr. Suffice to say that my effort was lacking. I had two tries in two dives. I was at the limit of my present skill. I’ll get better, just not today. Remember, the current is pushing, breathing makes you shake, the subject is too small to really see, and no one is patiently letting you just shoot. Hey, we have a limit to air and bottom time! If you can imagine a tiny piece of lint, then this nudibranch was about that size. I could not see the details of it with my bare vision. Any movement and you have a focus problem. And I did. A lot! So it is Amr’s image that shows up my technical learning curve. I can get better. There is always a higher bar. Steadying your hand is easy. Just rest it on the coral. Then try not to let your body sway in the current. It helps if you can hold your breath too. Try to put it all together. There’s the trick!


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.”