I had been taking the same path to work for the past ten years. Sure, there were minor variations - I could turn this way a block earlier, go that way a block later - but essentially the walk was the same. I started recognizing the people I’d see on the street (and secretly naming them in my head), the doors on buildings, and even the various imperfections on walls and on sidewalks. I am an amateur photographer and, in a word, I was bored. On a typical walk to and from work, I could look at anything and feel I knew every visual facet of it. Leisurely photo walks were always different, but were few and far between. And then, I moved to a new job.
Remember what I said a few days ago about fitness? “Just show up”? Today is such a day with this blog for me. I’m tired, I have a headache and I would rather not write. But I’ve shown up, with the idea that a small, helpful blog post is better than nothing. So, here goes. I’m gonna talk about taking better pictures.
When you’re a beginner learning a new skill, it’s okay to try to recreate the Masters’ works as practice (in private). With that in mind, when I was learning to use external flashes with the Fuji X100S I gave myself the task of recreating David Hobby‘s iconic profile picture. I asked David for his permission to blog about it and he graciously granted it. There are serious ethical issues involved with publishing this sort of practice work. To jump directly to that discussion, go here.
I attended the Glendale Heights SummerFest fireworks display last night. As the fireworks started I tried to take a video of them on my iPhone. I must have placed my finger in front of the lens because the focus locked on a short distance (as opposed to the infinity needed in such situations). The resulting bokeh was unexpected but very beautiful.
I’m currently in the last 48 hours of my first ever visit to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Just hours before setting out to see the Canyon for the first time, I realized that I couldn’t recharge my camera’s battery. I had 80% of a full charge, and four more days of vacation to go. Time to panic?
In a previous blog post we learned what a histogram is. In today’s post we’ll see how to use histograms to help take properly-exposed photographs. If you haven’t read the previous post, or are not familiar with histograms, I would recommend you read that post before continuing with this one.
A key aspect of good photography is exposure - the amount of light that enters the lens. One of the most useful tools a digital cameras has to help you measure a photograph’s exposure is the histogram. In order to learn how to use it, you must first learn understand what a histogram is.
Let’s pretend I teach a class of 20 students. One day I decide to give the students a test in which they can score anywhere from 0 to 100 points. After grading the tests I want to see how the population of students did. So I graph the scores in a histogram. A histogram displays the distribution of measured values across a population. Let’s make one now.
I’m not a professional photographer. I’m merely an student of the art and science of photography. Sometimes I think of submitting my pictures to contests or for use by others - not for the money, but for the personal satisfaction. Now after reading this post by Bob Krist, I’ll make sure to pay attention to photographers’ rights when I submit my pictures anywhere. I will also refuse to buy any product from Frommer’s Travel Guides, and urge you to do the same.
I recently discovered David duChemin’s blog. I’d like to share a couple of his posts with you. In ‘Just?’ he offers advice to people who consider themselves ‘just an amateur photographer.’ In his follow-up piece ‘Confessions of a So-Called PRO’ he serves up an ‘anti-pep-talk’ that demonstrates that professional photographers aren’t necessarily that different from amateurs like you and me.
I had this dilemma a few days ago: I had taken almost 4,000 pictures during a vacation 12 months ago. The vacation was in Asia (two continents over), and the time on my camera was wrong. I was importing the pictures into Adobe’s Lightroom, and wanted them to have the correct time just in case I wanted to know when in the day certain pictures were taken. I thought of looking for pictures taken during sunset, and then using solar calendars to figure out when sunset was at a certain landmark on a certain day of the year. But then I had a better idea:
In a previous article we looked at how lenses work. We learned about the focal length. Today we’ll focus on camera lenses and what the term f-stop means.
The term f-stop is a ratio. It has no dimensions. You don’t measure an f-stop in meters, inches, kilograms or even degrees Fahrenheit. An f-stop is the ratio of two distances. It’s the ratio of the focal length of a lens to its diameter. In figure 1, the f-stop is f/d _where _f is the focal length and _d _is the diameter.
I’m interested in tinkering with High Dynamic Range photography, but before I get Photomatix, the software that’s recommended most often, I thought I’d try out a technique that’s a very crude approximation of HDR. It involves taking one image that’s underexposed, and one that’s overexposed, and merging them in Photoshop. The technique is described in this article at luminous-landscape.com. Essentially, you put the underexposed image in a layer above the overexposed one. Create a layer mask on the darker layer, and copy the brighter image to the layer mask. Apply a Gaussian blur to the layer mask, and you have your blended image.
This is the first in a series of blog entries on photography. Today we look at one of the most critical parts of any camera - the lens.
Have you ever noticed that people can run faster on flat ground than on sand or water? It’s the same way with light. Light travels faster in air than in glass.