Friday, 3 December 2010

Book, Part 2

Part Two: Essential Skills

I agree, most of what is in this section is essential knowledge. Things like exposure, how to read the light for your shot, and how to adapt to it, depth of field, motion effects and dominance. I use this information every time I take a picture.

Exposure: One can read exposure by using a histogram, which shows where the light is concentrated throughout the photo. There are different modes on DSLR’s like the one I own, but the most important ones, I think, are manual, where you can adjust both shutter speed and aperture, aperture priority, where you pick the aperture and the camera adjusts shutter speed to compensate, and shutter priority, where you set the shutter speed and the camera chooses the appropriate aperture. The book says it is of little use to nature photographers, and maybe they do things differently than I do, but I think it is a great tool. I can slow down exposures to soften water, or get a blur from a moving object without having to think about aperture.

Reading the Light: There are three different types of light discussed, or more accurately, where the light comes from. Front, side, and back light all have an effect on how the picture comes out. Front light is good for subject photos, where one thing is in the center and is well light. Side lighting is great for casting shadows, making for moody shots. Back light is good for silhouettes, color enhancement and dramatic shots. I think about the amount of light and where the light is coming from every time I focus on something. Twilight and early morning are good for soft and often red colored light, which throws a quiet mood over the entire picture.

Depth of Field: As simply as I can put it, depth of field is the part of the picture that is most in focus. This can be changed by adjusting the aperture; the smaller the aperture, the larger the depth of field. A high depth of field is good for landscape pictures. Smaller depth of field can be used for shots closer in without much background.

Motion effects: As I said earlier, I enjoy using shutter priority to show motion effects. May it be a blur as a creek tumbles over rocks, or a sharp speed shot of a hummingbird frozen in time, slowing down or speeding up shutter speed is the main way to manipulate motion effects. The other way is camera movement, for example panning with a moving object as it passes by. I use all the above information when I’m shooting, and like the book says, part 2 contains the most essential information.

Book, Part 1

"The Right Equipment"

After buying a 35mm DSLR, which I have one, the book gives a list of what to buy next: from a tripod to a ball head to a cable shutter release, to a 5 or 600 mm telephoto zoom for far off wildlife.  Now, I don't personally agree with the list.  I made it through the entire semester without any of the items on the list; just my D3000 and a 18-55mm wide angle that it came with.  However, the semester would have been a lot easier had I had some of the items on the list.  A tripod, a cable shutter release, and a bigger lens would be my first purchases if I had the money.  

Tripods:  After a semester's shooting, I can understand why one is necessary.  Its another hand, and a steady one at that.  Any shot with an exposure time slower than half a second can be made much easier with a tripod.  I could have gotten some neat shots of leaves on the Yellowstone this year had I had a tripod.  It can also give me new perspectives: I could get my lens right down on the water for a shot of a duck.  

Super Telephoto Lens:  I cant recall the number of times just in one semester that I was lamenting that I did not have a bigger lens.  A f/2.8 @ 400 mm would do me nicely, except it comes with a $9500 price tag.  That is too much lens for my camera, and my shooting style.  I don’t plan to make a profit from photography, I just do it for the memories. So, If I I really wanted to purchase another lens, I’d probably try to find a f/4 300 mm lens, that retails around $1500.  I could justify buying this lens, because it’s a lot cheaper than others in its family, while doing essentially the same job.  I’m not a serious enough photographer, nor do I ever envision myself becoming one, to justify a $9500 lens.

Working in the field:  This section of the book, like others, does not apply to me as it does to other, more serious photographers.  The first sentence reads “For about six months a year I’m in the field shooting”.  Photography is not my life, it is just a past time.  I do realize, however, that the information presented here is useful to others who are more involved in photography.  Tips on easier tripod carrying, is useful, but I refuse to cross the line and buy a vest specifically for photography.  My Carhartt will handle that task just fine, thank you. On the other hand, I appreciate the small tricks and tips that seem common sense, like extra memory cards and batteries, duct tape and plastic bags. 

Winter Photography:  I rolled my eyes and skimmed through the sections telling me how to dress.  I’ve been hunting in winter for the last quarter of my life, hauling heavy things from rifles to animals in and out of the forest, so I know the dangers of being outdoors in the cold.  As for the Nature Photography year, I think the information is valuable, but as I said earlier, I’m not a serious photographer, so I won’t be making any trips just to take pictures. 

Monday, 29 November 2010

Semester's 30 Best

All these pictures except two were taken with a Nikon D-3000 with an 18-55 wide angle lens.

Settings:  f/18  1/60  ISO-200  55mm zoom
I like this shot because the colors draw my eyes from the bottom to the top.  Because red is more attractive than yellow, and yellow more than green, my eyes follow the color gradient to the top.
I adjusted Hue and Saturation in this picture to get the fall colors to pop  bit more.

 Settings:  f/9  1/160  ISO-200  55mm zoom
This was a "Hail Marry" shot, as I took it without aiming directly at the bird.  My settings were already set to capture the tree, and the slow shutter speed perfectly showed movement against a still object.
I adjusted hue and saturation to bring out the blue background more, and in hopes that the bird would stand out just a little bit more.  

Settings:  f/10  1/200  ISO-200  55mm zoom
I like the shadows on the leaves with the layer of leaves out of focus behind. I like the clarity and the sharpness of the picture.
No editing was done to this picture.

Settings:   f/10  1/200  ISO-200  18mm zoom
I tried to set this picture up, and incorporate several components into it; movement against fixed, sharpness against blurred, and the progression from dark to lightness.  I think it would have worked better had I gotten the picture with more of a color change in it.
I cropped the picture so that darkness would frame the light subject, and I also photo-shopped a nasty brush out from the right side of the screen.  Evidence can be seen from this blurriness in the tree I think.  

Settings:  f/10  1/250  ISO-160  55mm zoom
I adjusted the hue in this picture in Elements to get more red out of the veins in the leaf.  I left the contrast as it was, because nature did a good job with shadows in the background and and light on the subject.  
I changed the light in this photo; the leaf was more green than is shown, and I did my best to change it to brown.

Settings:  f/5.6   1/200  ISO-200  55mm zoom
Reddish colors attract the most attention, and so focus is brought to the flower in the center of the picture.
I messed with the Hue and Saturation on this photo, to try to make the colors pop a bit more.  I also cropped in to make the flower the subject.  

 Settings:  f/5.3  1/100  ISO-200  40mm zoom
The contrast between the yellow and the brown bring attention to the "L" shape made naturally by falling leaves.
Nothing was done to edit this photo besides cropping.  

Settings:   f/7.1  1/200  ISO-100  36mm zoom
I liked the light on the leaves, in front of the dull background.  
Nothing was done to edit this photo besides cropping.

 f/8  1/250  ISO-100  44mm zoom
One of my few attempted macro shots.  It was the only thing of interest on the rock, so I took a picture of it.  
No editing was done to this photo.

f/9  1/320  ISO-100  55mm zoom
I wanted to find another photo to edit on Elements, so I took this one. I liked how the tree stood up into the sky from the rocks.  
I erased a fence post that stood in front of the rock and tree in the bottom right hand side.  I also went over the sky with a soft light in blue to get rid of the grey haze that stood in the way.  I did crop out another tree to the right.

Settings:   f/11  1/250  ISO-200  18mm zoom
Instead of the tree being framed, now I used the tree to try and frame the rims.  I really liked how the tree started on the left hand side, and worked its way into the center, made a loop and continued to the top.  it gave a path my eyes could follow all the way through. 
I had to edit my mom out of this picture, she was to to the right of the tree trunk and in front of the rock.  

Settings:  f/10  1/250  ISO-180  55mm zoom
I tried to frame the tree with the two stalks of grass.  It almost worked, but for the one that got in the way.  I need to get a clamp to help set up pictures like this better.  
I edited this photo by cropping, and adjusting the Hue and Saturation to make it a darker picture.

Settings:  f/10  1/200  ISO-200  34mm zoom
I cropped in a lot to get the yellow leaves in front of a gray natural background. I like how clear the picture turned out.

Settings:   f/7.1  1/200  ISO-100  20mm zoom
Deciduous trees in fall make for some good pictures because of the lighting on the turning leaves.
I edited a lamp post out of this picture, and adjusted Hue and Saturation.

 Settings:  f/10  1/250  ISO-160  38mm zoom
The slightly higher ISO and the slow shutter speed helped bring out the contrast between the colors.  More light equals more color, at least in this case.  I wanted a picture of trees with and without clouds in the sky, and I think I like the one without clouds better, because I have nothing to distract me from the colors.
Nothing was done to edit this picture.

  Settings:  f/9  1/320  ISO-100  32mm zoom
This picture was taken in the morning just inside Yellowstone, and it captures the day's light just breaking through a cloud and falling over the hills.  The high shutter speed and relatively high aperture make for a darker picture.
Nothing was done to edit this picture.

Settings:  f/10  1/250  ISO-160  32mm
I felt like this would make a good landscape because of the amount of layers it has.  I count two in the foreground, the water, the hills, the mountains, and then the sky make 7.  
In Elements,  I darkened the picture a hair using a mixture of Hue/Saturation, contrast, and a soft light layer of black at 10% opacity. 

Settings:  f/22  1/5  ISO-100  36mm zoom
The slow shutter speed captured the white movement of the water and the camera boosted the aperture to compensate.  
I went over the calm water with a soft layer of white at low opacity to bring out the color of the rocks on the river bottom.  A brush with a soft layer of dark at low opacity took the bright edge off the white water, and balanced the photo out.

Settings:  f/7.1  1/200  ISO-100  24mm zoom
I combined several ideas into this photo; that a good portrait has between 5-7 layers, and that diagonal lines draw more attention than horizontal ones.  
 Nothing was done to edit this photo.

Settings:   f/9  1/320  ISO-100  18mm zoom
I like this landscape because it reflects the clouds, and it shows the wind moving the water.  
Nothing was done to edit this photo.

Settings:  f/8  1/250  ISO-100  55mm zoom
This picture was taken from the car, so that and the medium shutter speed explain the blur of the trees. 
I turned it black and white because as a color picture, it was dark and not very impressive. 
Turning the saturation down all the way turned it black and white.

Settings:  f/10  1/320  ISO-100  55mm zoom
This was the only other picture I turned the saturation down so far.  I used the medium shutter speed to catch the water in mid-air.  After turning the saturation down, I came back on a different layer and used Elements to re-paint the water color in.  I'm not sure as to why the colors are different.

Settings:  f/9  1/125  ISO-200  55mm zoom
One of my only macro shots.  I zoomed in enough to get the fly on his island and took the picture.  
I played with the Hue only on this, and turned the plant from green to red because red is more attractive.

Settings:  f/6.3  1/160  ISO-100  46mm zoom
I liked this shot because the choked looking tree seemed so baron out in the middle of the chemical deposits from the hot springs.  It was a colorless photo when I took it, so I tried to add some red, to simulate the sunset shining on it, but I think I had too much.  I used a red filter in Elements, and I think I should have turned the opacity up more, so less red and more real light would have gotten through.

Settings:  f/5.6  1/30  ISO-200  55mm zoom
Oddly I did no color adjusting to this picture at all.  I only darkened the areas between the branches with a soft light layer. I think I should have had a faster shutter speed, because there is so much light coming off some parts that it turns them blue.

Settings:  f/5.6  1/30  ISO-200  55mm zoom
One of my few animal shots. 
I increased the sharpness in Elements, and put a dark layer over the water to get it a deeper hue. 

Settings:  f/5.6  1/60  ISO-220  55mm zoom
It was the only flower for a few square feet, surrounded by grass and rock.  
I added blue and yellow to the flower using the paintbrush.

Settings:  f/6.3  1/125  ISO-200  340mm zoom
One of the two photos that I did not use my 18-55mm on.  The slow shutter speed caught the beard of the cow in motion as she was swinging her head about.  
I cropped in a lot, and put a soft light layer over it all. 

Settings:  f/4.8  1/500  ISO-280  340mm zoom
The other shot without my original lens.  Its easy to see how the coyote blends into the grass with its colored legs.  I think I'll invest in a new lens soon.  
I adjusted Hue and Saturation, and nothing else.

Settings:  f/13  1/800  ISO-100  20mm zoom
The last shot of the Yellowstone trip as a high pressure system pushes the clouds in. 
Nothing was done to edit this photo.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Magazine Articales

After being introduced to the photo software that Rocky has on their computers, I opened the magazine I was given and found one article right off: "Raw Fixes" in Popular Photography.  It went over some of what we had just learned when we were introduced to the software. The article focuses on how to sharpen up a file and how to reduce noise. 

The Steps:  1:  Open the image and process as usual - make any adjustments to exposure, contrast and color you want, then go for the clarity and noise reduction.  Use the slider bars in the program to adjust everything. 
                  2:  Use the Amount and Radius tools to add Sharpness.  Start by increasing the Amount, which controls the intensity of Sharpness. 
                  3:  Turn down the Detail slider to get rid of ugly halos if you're starting to see them, or crank it up to bring out the fine detail
                  4:  To hold back Sharpness in areas you don't want it, like a background, use the masking slider. Hold down the ALT key and move the slider to to view in gray-scale.
                  5:  To reduce noise and graininess, remove almost all the luminance slider, since it most likely wont be noticeable in print.  Use the Luminance Contrast slider to balance it out.

This is just one of the ways when using one of the programs available to edit pictures.  When you follow all these steps, your pictures become more focused, less grainy, and more in depth.  Not all photos should be processed like this.  Sometimes noise and an unfocused subject are what make a picture.

The second article I found was one about Photo Impressionism.  The example the article used was flowers, and to create an Impressionism look, they moved the focus off of the flowers, onto something before or behind the flowers. 
                  1:  Find a subject: the best flowers have bold color and large well shaped blossoms. 
                  2:  Get a clear glass pane.  it should be about 8x10 inches, and use a few studio clamps to help hold it steady.
                  3:  Create condensation.  Fill a spray bottle with water, and add a drop of glycerin for every 8 oz of water to increase the viscosity.  Spray the glass pane until the droplets of water are large and hold their shape.  Add more glycerin if need be. 
                  4:  Build your set: place a vase of flowers in front of a black background.  place the glass far enough from the flowers so that at maximum Aperture, the pane is sharp in focus and the flowers soft and out of focus.  Consider a polarizer to cut down on glare from the glass.
                  5:  Crop tightly with a tele macro lens to have the flowers fill the frame.  Take the picture, and be weary of any reflections off the glass pane.

In my opinion, it might be interesting to try and use an old dusty window pane, to see what effect the dirt will have, in contrast with the clean bright flowers.  Then, I'd be prepared to use some software on my computer to edit to perfection. 

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Franz Foto

Found a new site for wildlife/landscape photography:  Many of the pictures I saw were ones that were "in the moment" shots, by which I mean another second, and the subject would have moved and therefor made the picture lack the power that many of these do.  A few show predators with their prey in their mouths...a quick shot with a camera helped the photographers catch these moments.  I hope I'm lucky enough one day to be able to snap shots like these.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Three of the Seven

Light is more attractive than Dark  :
Large draws more attention than small:
Diagonal Lines are more attractive than Vertical ones: