Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunset over the Bow

Week 24

The sunset was really pretty this evening, and actually the sunrise was as well. This shot was taken from our balcony and I've tried it many times before and have always struggled to get the shot. I have Cokin graduated filters but to be honest I don't really like using them.

Everybody likes sunsets - I just wish they were easier to photograph. I actually do better either just after sunset like this shot in Brisbane towards Story Bridge off Kangaroo Point, or this blog posting about Modern Architecture. I really like late afternoon directional light too, but usually I'm shooting away from the sun or at least at an angle like here (also taken in Brisbane with Kangaroo Point in view).

The camera is my D3 mounted on a tripod in aperture priority at f/5.6. The camera is set to give a minimum shutter speed of 1/30 second and determined on it's own that ISO should be 250. I bracketed this shot but I used the one with no offset. The lens is a AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm 1:2.8G ED zoomed to 38mm.

I pulled this up as a raw file and fooled with it a while - in the end I just took the jpg straight from the camera and posted it with a bit of straightening and cropping (you shouldn't have to straighten if you use a tripod :-). The camera was set in my custom "vivid" mode which adds some saturation to the jpg files. The main decision for me here was whether I wanted more detail in the shadow area - I decided not to and it is almost a silhouette. To get more detail I would have used the overexposed shot in a layer or HDR. I don't think the graduated filter would give me what I was looking for.

Idea based on Last Light, pages 62-64 in the book 50 Photo Projects by Lee Frost.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stormy Day

Week 23

We were in Seattle this last weekend and it rained every day except the last afternoon when the sun broke through as we were heading back to Seattle on the ferry. It is a busy photograph but it has a lot of interesting things about Seattle in it - the needle, a seaplane, the wharfs, and skyline.

The lens is a AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm 1:4.5-5.6G VR that was hand held. The vibration reduction (gotta love it) was in active mode since I was on a moving boat. The camera is a D3 at ISO 200, focal length of 125mm, aperture of f/9, and shutter speed at 1/320 to keep things sharp.

Light has broken through the cloud and is behind me and low in the afternoon sky.

Idea based on Storm Chaser, pages 124-127 in the book 50 Photo Projects by Lee Frost.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pinhole Silliness

Week 22

This really is silliness. The subject is an earthenware vessel I bought in Papua New Guinea and I've photographed it with two very different lenses. The version on the left was made with an AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm 1:2.8G ED and the version on the right from a plastic cup bottom with a pinhole punched in it (with of all things a pin).

I made the lens from a Nikon PK-13 extension ring that mates the plastic cup to the camera. The silliness is because I've attached a piece of plastic with a hole in it to one of the better cameras on the market today. I couldn't stand the thought of buying a decent pinhole camera and I didn't have my tools available to build a better one myself. An interesting thing about pinhole cameras is that they hold focus from front to back but aren't very sharp, especially if enlarged. People do use them for artistic purposes, and Lee Frost has some in his book I like. But they really aren't my cup of tea which is why I haven't gone any further than a plastic cup.

The subject is lit the same for both pictures. It is on a curved piece of poster paper to give a smooth background and surrounded with styroform slabs to reflect the light evenly from a single daylight balanced fluorescent bulb.

The photo has a blue cast to it because the cup bottom was blue and some of that light has seeped in. The exposure was in manual mode at 1.3 seconds with ISO set at 200. By back calculating from the other exposure I guesstimate the aperture of the pinhole is f/500 or so. The focal length might be around 35mm or so, just guessing. My hypothesis is that there is an optimal aperture, which would be an interesting experiment. I also think a pinhole with a sharp edge and no burr would make a better picture.

To make it a somewhat better shot I increased contrast in Photoshop by moving the sliders in on Levels. There is no post to the picture shot with the Nikkor lens other than some sharpening after I downsized.

I probably could have found a better subject too but I ran out of time this week. Anyway, after this experiment I am ready to go back to my better lenses....

Idea based on Pin Sharp, pages 88 to 91, in the book 50 Photo Projects, by Lee Frost.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Modern Architecture

Week 21

I took this photograph on the way home this evening. With a few exceptions, when I photograph architecture it is historic or classical in nature. Among the exceptions are the Sydney Opera House .

Actually, I've photographed this location on Stephen Avenue in Calgary before and posted it here on my other blog. Modern architecture, like all architecture, is art in it's own right. Curves and free flowing shapes seem to be in vogue now. I think they tend to photograph well at night.

This shot was made with a Nikon D3 and AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8G ED lens. The camera was in aperture priority mode at f/3.5 and the ISO fixed at 800. The D3 has very little noise at ISO 800. I probably could have opened the lens all the way up to 2.8 but there was enough light to stop it down a little. It was right after the sun set but there was enough light in the sky to make it electric blue. I bracketed the exposure plus and minus one stop off of what the meter indicated. The one that I selected was right where the camera thought would be best at 1/20 second. Focal length is 15mm to capture everything and focus is on the giant Christmas decoration. I braced on a barricade to keep the camera steady as I didn't have a tripod with me.

In post I cropped to 8x10 and used the lab mode to increase contrast and saturation.

Idea based on Architecture with Attitude, pages 10-13, in the book 50 Photo Projects, by Lee Frost.