Photography Shopping

Looking for photography equipment? What is your intended purpose with the photographs?

Understanding the equipment and what it will do for you is an important part of shopping. rebel_xTiBuying the best piece of equipment on the market will not do you any good if its capabilities do not exceed your expectations. Each manufacturer has technical and general specifics on each camera they make for your convenience in research.

Do you want sharpness in each photo?

Looking for large format ability?

Want to shoot great photos in low-lit surroundings?

It is important to know what you will do with your equipment. The key to sharp images is good “glass” (or lenses in other words). Good “glass” meaning the quality and design of the lens and its parts. Research is important, especially for lenses because the manufacturer will not put these lenses on the market for no cost. All of that time in material gathering and manufacturing a lens does not come cheap so your equipment cost is going to grow. There is no good way of compromising on price for a lens of this quality. So I suggest that you do not go cheap on your lens for sharp images.

The large format issue begins a new line of questions; “How large is your project?” The smaller SLR camera image sensors can handle image sizes up to 20 x 30 inches. If you want to screen print vehicle window clings or prints for the full side of vehicles, you are looking for camera with a very large image sensor. Now you will be looking at spending the same amount of money on a camera as the lens spoken of above.

Shooting in low-lit situations means you will be looking for camera that does not create a lot of “digital noise” when the ISO is raised above 100.

I hope these “bench marks” are helpful to you as you search for the right camera and lens for you. Enjoy and do not feel obligated to buy from a store. The customer service employees are paid to help you find the right product, so ask them for advice and take their “sales pitch” with a grain of salt. Enjoy!

Photography; Art, Science & Fun

We have spent a lot of time discussing specific parts of photography and different aspects of art and science; but now I would like to take some time and step back for a moment to say “Do not forget to have fun!” If photography has become “a job”, “a chore” or “the daily grind” then change things up. Find something you are passionate about. Research its details, study it and find a way to capture what you learn in photo.

For instance, I love history. So when I get stuck on the routine tasks I begun reading about a century of time past; researching the pieces of equipment used in that time, learning their manufacturing process and where I might find a replica or historic artifact of the time today. If all I can do is find it in a museum that will do, but it is even better if I can capture it in the surroundings of the period!

Have you ever considered going to Mid-evil or Renascence re-enactments? What about finding a re-enactment group in your area who practice sword fighting or falconry? They do things up to the “Nth degree” and more than likely would give you an intriguing perspective of this period from their own studies of history.

If you focus on portraiture, you will have plenty of opportunity to get portraits from that time period, or you may find a member of the re-enactment group willing to suit-up your family/children in period costume for portraits! How fun that would be! If you descend from European familial ties, you may be able to connections to your family crest, Scottish Clan or Irish Clan. That would be the ultimate vacation or photography experience to be able to record family ties at the same time as studying the surrounding events of their day!

Remember, Photography is a skilled Art and it ought to be fun, so work to keep it fun!

Construction Zone – Part 2

As I continued thinking about the post “Construction Zone“, I realized that some of it may not have made sense. Safety is also a rather obvious subject in regards to “photo ops” inside a Construction Zones, but a time wherein we each would be wise to heed these reminders.

It is not my desire to list shots for you. Creativity has its place in your work as it does mine. However, I want to play the salesman and in a friendly way “demonstrate” to you that such a style of photo are great for portraits. Ready?

Construction Zones provide you with a unique opportunity to see a physical transition from  a natural landscape to intentionally designed architecture which into it has had many hours of labor and planning invested. Does this sound like a graduate, or engagement, perhaps a wedding? These also are relationships which are being constructed in individual people. This is to set the subject of you photography within a pictorial statement of what is happening in their life.

To illustrate setting your subject in a pictorial setting of their life happenings, I will find in my archives of photos a picture I set-up and took while in college. My college time was a time of testing and maturing, so within this picture you see a few statements such as I suggested for Construction Zones.

Now there is more to this photo than just the setting, but let us first address the surrounding settings. Since I am the subject in the photo above, the photo setting I was in reminds me of being isolated from distraction. This isolation for me was beneficial so that I could focus on course work but also provided an aspect of quiet reflection.

This quiet reflection is part of the maturing process I mentioned earlier. I was able to consider my motivations and match them against the standard for living a quiet and peaceable life. This is the other part of this photo. My actions in each pose speak to my attitudes because of my choice motivation. As I questioned my motivations and looking to understand where attitudes came from, the very foundation of my beliefs were settled, suitable for building.

This is the same purpose that your stock images taken from Construction Zones can serve as portrait backgrounds.

I will leave the rest to your fertile imagination!

Snap shots

Snap shots are one of most rewarding and irritating events in photography. Allow me to explain.

Say I am on vacation and I take my camera along because anticipating you will see is impossible (even while planning your itinerary). Besides, who does not take a camera when planning to do so many fun things? I mean, that is a given. Even if it is the old Polaroid camera!

I carry my camera with me every where I go, so that means; hiking, flying, driving, activities (especially so), reading a book on the patio, camp fire, dinner meetings, museums, parks, monuments…I think you get the idea. In fact I carry my camera with me so often that in some department stores have asked me to keep my camera in my bag or leave the store. *Sheepish grin* (In addition I suggest never to make a scene in a store. It is not good for your business nor theirs and may even destroy possible future business relations.)

The main thing is to always have you camera so that you can capture that ever so rare moment!

Next: Learn to anticipate things. A parent is an expert at seeing possible dangers their children can walk into, mostly from experience. So, if you miss a snap shot because you lack this anticipatory experience, avoid condemning or punishing yourself! No one likes a “grumpy” photographer (parental or professional). Smile, laugh and enjoy the moment!

I think of snap shots as an art form all their own! Snap shots have no preparatory time, meaning you cannot clean up the living room before the moment passes, or that large field of uncut grass cannot be manicured. Take heart! You need not document the unkempt living room or the uncut field.

Friday, we will talk about some solutions in avoiding distracting backgrounds.

Camera Troubles – Part 6

What can I see that my camera does not?

There is not an easy way to answer this question, although I will say to say that our visual capability can not be directly and equally compared to the output of film or digital cameras.

Our sight is taken in motion whereas photographs are still images possibly showing movement by blur or subtle indications of motion. So while we may remember a certain pose, facial expression or scenery of a person or place we appreciate as if the memory were a still photograph does not mean our Eye and Brain receives these memories in just such a way.

Video recorders are truly much like cameras in this way that they capture motion or movement in 72 still frames a second or more. A video recorder more closely resembles our vision in that it records motion in so many frames.

Beyond multiple frames to give the illusion of complete motion, our vision is affected by the ability to change so quickly between seeing detail in the shadows from previously inspecting the details lit by broad daylight.

From observing myself and questioning what I see and how I see it, I believe now to better understand the difference of what I see and how I can operate my camera to photograph a scene as I see it.

I see: the bright sunlight streaming through the ceiling of tree leaves, illuminating the grass and garden floor in a brilliant array of color. As I continue to observe and breathe in the wonder of the contrast and illuminated detail, I begin to notice more detail which remained hidden until I had gotten close enough to notice for the first time.

This is done in photography in several ways. Let me begin with the best and quickest being the first.

  1. Simplicity – Photography studios will set-up the portrait studio with solid color backdrop and lighting to evenly light the subject while still allowing some shadow to remain but lighting enough to see detail in both shadowed and lit areas. This is the effect of many additional flashes.
  2. Specific detail – Scenery which cannot be reproduced or moved in-studio must be shot as is. This requires additional flashes or shooting 3 or more photos  from the same place and position of varying shutter lengths and putting them together in HDR format. (For more on HDR, please see our blog posts “High Dynamic Range” and “The Make-up Of An HDR Photo“.)

So it is not that our cameras cannot reproduce something similar to what we see, but that we have some understanding of how we can enable it to see. There are no quick and simple steps to follow for every camera to shoot fantastic photos. I wish there were! Though if this were the case I believe we would have lost some of the adventure in photography.

It can be this simple though, to know that the camera does not as quickly adjust its Lens Diaphragm and Sensor to see detail in shadow and light as do our Iris and Retina. Thus we seek to separate detail we want captured per photo by the varying amounts of light in its surroundings.

Photography truly is an amazing art. The amazement is not intrinsic to itself, but because it is base off of our visual ability which we are blessed to have received from the kind Providence who created us and the world we love to photograph.

Thank you for reading! I pray you have learned and enjoyed reading as much as I have in writing!

Camera Troubles – Part 5

There is one more part of the human Eye and camera that we have not covered. This is the process of the Data Transfer from the Sensor to the Storage media via the Processor.

The Data Transfer:

The human capability for vision is amazing because we think we understand it enough to duplicate the process, only to realize our duplication is much less efficient than our inspiration.

As soon as our Retina receives the light of our surroundings, beginning to send the neurological impulses to the Optic Nerve there is a process of Data Transfer initiated. The amazing thing about this Data Transfer is the amount of detail that can be recalled, or amounts of certain information which one can be trained to receive and recall.

Illustration of information recall: Military branches train their personnel to acquire a target and discern in an instant if it is friendly or hostile. After an operation, begin the reports from each member and with it the lists of information that is most important; number of personnel on the operation, enemy patrols encountered, branches to which the patrols are affiliated, shots fired, number of injuries…etc. There is a lot of information to take in with precious little time to do so. This information is primarily accumulated by sight and secondarily with the other 4 human senses.

The same for public servants. Police officers require the use of sight in making reports besides assessing the threat to the public and their own safety. Paramedics make reports with vital statistics of a patient from many different senses at the same time. Firemen and women are trained to take verbal queues before getting to the scene of an emergency to take their own assessment of the situation.

This is all gathering data. These mentioned public servants and military are trained not just to gather information but to recall it for the purpose of reporting the events as they happened. This Data is what I draw upon in likening it to the Data a camera receives.

When the sequence in a camera is initiated, the light received by the Sensor is converted into Data which is transferred  across thin metal conductors. However, here is where Data loss becomes a problem. The Sensor is made up of millions of little pixels which receive light. There is not adequate space to give each pixel its own dedicated metal conductor for Data Transfer, so there ends up being about 100,000 or more pixels attached to 1 metal conductor lead.

Even still it is incredible that with so much Data being Transferred there is not more Data loss in digital cameras.

In the next and last post for the “Camera Troubles” series, we will discuss the specifics of the digital camera limitations so that we can learn to capture the detail we want.

Color Obsession

I take so many things for granted. Then when is lost something I frequently use, I pretend to myself that everything has ended!

I believe that creativity comes from looking at our surroundings with a different view while still maintaining those tangible means to define the different perspective.

Take for instance, vision or sight; “the ability to see.” What would change had I not the ability to distinguish color because of monochrome sight? Photographers call this a style of art, formed in “Black and White”.

Perhaps you have previously seen “Black and White” images, never noticing before that they were “colorless”. I continue to be amazed how our brains will add color to something with which we are familiar when there is not any such information being given by our eyes!

This actually is another option in our discussion of “creativity rejuvenation”.

There are a great number of things that are typically one color. For instance in the United Kingdom police cars are, in majority, colored with blue and yellow squares. Fire engines in the United States of America are almost always red. Quite often universally, taxi cabs are yellow.

Shoot your favorite color until your creativity is once again filled and be amazed at what you find in the process!