Friday, August 20, 2010

Tree silhouette, Monhegan Island

At 4:30am, I hiked out to the coastal headlands and arrived at White Head shortly before sunrise.  Although the weather was hazy, the light in the sky was interesting and beautiful.  As the sun rose above the horizon, the colors begain to fade and I believed the show was over, so abandoned my perch 160 feet above the sea and hiked north along the coast. 
Perhaps twenty minutes later, I spied this oddly shaped tree atop an exposed cliff and made the first image shown here.

The hike to the north had brought me down to sea level and the cliffs now loomed above me. Unexpectedly, just to the left of the tree, the sun was beginning to rise behind the cliff.  The show wasn't over yet.
Scrambling along the coastal rocks, I quickly positioned myself such that the tree was in front of the rising sun.

(70-200 zoom at 200mm , f\11, 1/500sec)

Click on an image for a larger view.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

WorldWide PhotoWalk

Today was the third annual WorldWide PhotoWalk, sponsored by Scott Kelby.  Although I volunteered to lead a walk in Rockport, someone else beat me to it.  So, instead, I joined someone else's walk in Boston.

Because we walked through the streets of Beacon Hill in Boston, there were a lot of architectural photographs.  One image I am including here is a wide angle, tight crop, and at an odd angle in order to completely fill the frame.

Click the image for a larger view.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Art Wolfe seminar

Art Wolfe is one of the most famous photographers working today, in part because of his television series Travels to the Edge. I had the opportunity to attend his recent tour as he visited the Boston area.

Art formally studied painting. Interestingly, he draws inspiration from many painters, such as Hopper, Manet, Escher, etc. In numerous examples, Art showed an image by one of these famous painters and then showed some of his photo images which he created specifically because he saw echoes of these painters. Quite interesting really. I have never seen this from any other photographer.

Art readily admits to being technically challenged. He uses Lightroom, but does not know anything about the computer he is using. He has assistants for that sort of stuff. If Art Wolfe was forced to listen to Scott Kelby or George Lepp for ten minutes ... well, let's just say it would not be pretty.

Apart from "My Favorite Lenses", he did not talk much about equipment. Mostly spoke about composition, patterns, color, light, etc. Different than most seminars. I enjoyed it.

Art often feeds on numerous themes filed in his head. Animal migrations, tribal body painting, etc. Surprisingly, his next book is about dogs. While this may seem a bit trite, it is not quite what you might think. He is drawing from his thousands of existing photos ... Burma, Chile, Tibet, even the Yanomamo tribe. (Does not include your Aunt Millie and her groomed Pekinese.) For the first time in his life, four different publishers were bidding for this project; he had to beat them off with a stick.

On my bookshelf, I have one book by Wolfe: Light On The Land. Fabulous.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Photographing a live drama performance

In the past, I have photographed drama productions using high-speed 35mm film. The results were prone to a great deal of grain and visual noise. Last week, I shot a drama production using the Canon 5D mk II DSLR and the results far exceed anything I could do with film.

During the actual performance I used ISO 12800 with no flash. During dress rehearsal, I had freedom to use electronic flash and shoot from different angles not possible during the live performance. I setup a remote flash bounced off of a 36" reflector; this provides a larger and softer light source. Because the flash was being bounced off a reflector, I configured the flash for higher intensity output than normal/default.

The images shown here provide comparison of shooting with flash and without. The primary light source is always the spotlight. The flash provides fill-light in the shadow areas.

Notice the shadows cast on the wall. Both the spotlight and the flash create shadows. (Here, the shadow from the spotlight appears low on the wall because the spotlight is mounted near the ceiling, probably eighteen feet above the floor.) The shadow from the flash has a soft edge while the shadow from the spotlight has a hard edge. This difference is due to the differing sizes of the two light sources. The bounce flash is giving me a light source 36 inches in diameter at a distance of 25 to 40 feet. The Spotlight is maybe 10 inches in diameter at a distance of 25 feet. Both size and distance of a light source directly effect the hardness/softness of the light.

Neither approach is better than the other. Sometimes you want hard light. Sometimes you want soft light. It can be nice to have both.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pixels (part 2)

With the information in my blog post entitled Pixels (part 1) [how-many-pixels-part-1], you may conclude that 8x10 inch prints call for a 5 megapixel camera. That's generally true, but not entirely. It is possible to use computer software to artificially increase the number of pixels. Different software programs may perform differently. The general rule of thumb is you can double the number of pixels. So, you might print very good 8x10 prints though your camera only records 3 megapixels.

Maybe you just bought a new DSLR that records images up to 15 megapixels. Those 15 megapixel images may require three times more storage than 5 megapixel images. If you shoot
some pictures on Tuesday, intended for 11x14 prints, set your camera to record large size. If you shoot some pictures on Wedensday, intended for computer screens only, set your camera to record small size.

Pixels get a little weird when you move to television display. Pixels on a computer are square. A digital image that is 400x400 pixels will display square on your computer monitor. Not so on a television screen. Television pixels (defined by either NTSC or PAL standards) are not square.

Consider an picture aspect ratio of 4:3, meaning the picture is 25% wider than it is tall. Standard television (not HD) has a 4:3 picture aspect ratio. Yet the resolution is 720x480 pixels, which numerically seems to be 50% wider than it is tall. But rest assured it is 4:3 because each television pixel is taller than it is wide. (Take a very close look at a television and you can see this is so. It is more difficult to see on a HD television.) While pixels in a computer or in your camera are equally wide as they are tall (often called square pixels), pixels in television are taller than they are wide.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fir branch under ice

Hiking in the white mountains of NH on Dec.1, there was no snow at the trail head, but eventually became a foot deep. Having made such a mistake once before (several years ago), I kicked myself for doing it again.

It was a long cold day, but there were rewards. In particular there were a few little streams that crossed the trail with small waterfalls only a few inches in height. The spray of water caused some interesting ice formations, including the one shown here. The fir branch was covered in ice, but the mossy rock beneath it was not, presumably because the movement of the water was enough to prevent freezing.

In retrospect, the choice of aperature plays an important role in the success of this image. Both the extreme foreground and the extreme background are slightly out of focus. However, I wish I had framed the image a bit more to the left to avoid the ice touching the left edge of the frame.

Click on the image for a larger view.

Canon EOS 5D mk II, 70-200mm (@ 170), ISO 800, f/7.1, 1/200 sec

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunrise and Fog

You might think this is a difficult exposure to make; it really is not. There are some really dark areas; there are some really bright areas; but neither is really dominant and so does not cause a problem for the camera's meter. Trust the camera with this scene and it will probably do a decent job.

There are two subtle things I would like to point out. First, I intentionally positioned myself such that the full sun was not beaming directly into the camera. The sun is partially obscured. Second, given a choice between the highlights and the shadows, the highlights are more important. So, to be safe, I under-exposed by maybe 2/3 stop to insure that detail in the fog is retained.

Olympus C5060, ISO 80, f/4.8, 1/640 sec

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Third Sheep

Often, I will plan to be at a certain place at sunrise in order to photograph with the warm sunrise light. However, on this particular day, the weather forecast called for cloudy and cold. So I did not leave my motel room until 7:30am and only then found that some sun was dodging through the cloud cover.

Looking at a map, I chose some back roads to explore. The first road followed a river, but I saw nothing that caught my photographic intentions. Then I drove off through some farmland and stumbled upon these sheep, grazing on a hillside covered with frost. Atop the hill, the sun was catching the orange leaves of autumn maple trees. At the bottom of the hill was a still pool catching reflections.

Just a bit of sunlight on the trees, combined with general cloud cover, the conditions were fleeting and did not last. I captured about a dozen images; this is one of my favorites.

Where is the third sheep? Uphill, further toward the trees, out of frame ... but appears in the reflection.

Canon EOS 5D mkII; 70-200mm @ 200; ISO 800, 1/320, f/10