Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Show and tell.

I want to thank Bobskoot for his excellent comment in my last post. Your comment is quite informative and very useful at the stage where I find myself. For years and years I have shared my riding skills and knowledge with any riders who would listen. I'm very grateful that the folks here are so generous with doing the same for me photographically speaking. Like iron sharpens iron, so the face of one human sharpens the other. So says the proverb.

Bobskoot, first off, this is for you.

You are a fountain of knowledge. I'm at that point where I am trying to master exposure the first time. I would hate, for example, to have returned from Phoenix only to find my photos did not turn out well. That has happened to me in my previous photographic life. Some things happen so seldom, or only once, that it has to be good right off the bat. In this case, I'm pleased to say that almost every single photo turned out good. At least to my standards. Which are getting higher, by the way.

I think I've already found that f /8 is proving to be a great setting. Looking back on my pictures from Arizona, I find I shot with that setting a lot on the G11. With the Nikon I use the AV priority, do what you suggested and get a reading, and sometimes go into manual mode with a few tweaks. It's knowing what to tweak and how much that is the hard part. Which is one reason why I value your comment so much. Especially with using the flash for fill.

Thus I wanted to share a few photos and ask for feedback on improvement or tips. I would really appreciate honesty, you all. Blowing smoke for the sake of "feeling good" isn't my style. All of these are exactly how they came out of the G11. There has been no touchup of any sort.

For the photo of the fountain, it was on the way back to my room after Lucky dropped me off. Probably 8:30 PM. These were all shot in aperature priority. What I tweaked was the ISO in order to get the desired shutter speeds. I know that sounds like I actually know what I'm doing. Believe me, it is still hit and miss.

Aperature was f / 8, but I had to crank the ISO to 1600. Luckily, the noise seems to be okay at that ISO level. The goal was to get a shutter speed slow enough to smooth out the water but allow me to hold the camera in my arms. I seem to have this thing about proving I can do these water shots, lately. I think it was Bobskoot who shared how to make myself into a human tripod. It worked this time. With the higher ISO, and locked into place, I was able to shoot the fountain at 1/6 second handheld.

Shot at f / 8, ISO 80, shutter of 1/100 second.

This was the view from my balcony. Late afternoon magical sunshine. I've read that one should put the horizon at the lower third or upper third depending on how interesting the sky is. Here the sky was interesting, plus, going any lower with the camera would have included the balcony railing. There's a bit of dark along the top of the photo. That is the lower edge of the curtain, it seems. Normally I would crop that out, but I am trying to be credible by saying there has been no touchup performed. Consider the dark strip documentation which otherwise would have been cropped out.

f /4.5 ISO 80, shutter 1/60 second.

This was tougher. The water was such a pretty blue that I wanted to preserve the color. So I spot metered on the water close to me which left the sky overexposed. With spot metering the camera told me to use a wider aperature. I probably should have tightened the aperature just a bit. I could use feedback on this one.

f /3.2, ISO 1600, shutter 1/5 second.

This is a couple of the guys from our company sitting around a firepit. In this case I cranked open the aperature to let in more light and to keep the depth of field more shallow. As it was, I had to dial the ISO up in order to get a shutter speed where I could hold the camera still while getting a decent exposure. It might not be a great photo, per se, but this is something I would not even had a clue how to do a year ago. Again, I would normally have done some judicious cropping but I left it as it came out of the camera for credibility.

f/4.5, ISO 1600, 1/640 second.

I chose the aperature and the G11 did the rest. I thought the photo has a sort of neat quality to it.

f/ 8, ISO 800, 1/8 second.

Interestingly, this is one where I wanted a smaller aperature but couldn't get it out of the G11. It wouldn't let me dial in anything smaller than f/8. I wanted to focus farther down the row between the moving sidewalks and "tell more of a story" so to speak. It would have been nice to be able to see more of the depth of field. This is where the Nikon with the other lenses would have done nicely. Although, it was sure nice to simply tuck the Canon into a pants pocket.

I was able to get by with just a backpack for the two days. For its size and portability, the G11 is one awesome little camera. Thanks for reminding me of the built-in ND filter, by the way, Bobskoot. I'd forgotten about it. I have a screw on filter for the Nikon.

Yes, the ultimate answer is to shoot in raw. Which means I have to learn more about Photoshop to process the pictures properly. It never ends, does it?

Miles and smiles,

Dan



10 comments:

Charlie6 said...

those are some great shots Dan, loved the first one of the fountain!

bobskoot said...

Dan:

Aw Shucks, now my helmet is too small and the buttons on my shirt just popped off.

That fountain shot is great ! I think the G11 is better at higher ISOs than the G10, I hardly go over ISO 400.

The compromise by using small P&S cameras, even the "G" series, is lack of full manual control. If you have time to window shop check out the Panasonic GF1 and GH1 models. With adapters they can use lenses from other manufacturers. (Note to Katie: I did NOT tell Dan to buy one, but merely to hold one). A lot of my professional photog friends have them. I think if you hold one in you hands, your fingers won't let go

One thing about photography, it is a tool to bring back memories and something you can do at any age.

bob
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Chuck Pefley said...

A nice set of images, Dan. And, as you surmise, raw will solve many of the compromises you are currently encountering.

You asked for feedback, so I'll give just a tiny bit ... not criticism, by the way.

You're responsible for every pixel in the frame and you choose what to include and what to exclude. The fountain would have been better if the right side were all inside the frame ...

Aperture is relative to sensor size. F8 with a full frame 35mm sensor will not yield the same depth of field as F8 with a medium (2-1/4 in )or large format (4x5 inch) film camera. The smaller the film or sensor size, the larger the aperture for the same apparent depth of field. So, with the G-11, f4.5 or so will give similar results as f8 on your nikon.

Regarding "horizon" rules, yes and now. Let your own sensibilities guide you. Rules are meant to be guides, not absolutes.

Keep working ... you're on the right path!

Chuck Pefley said...

oops ... I meant to say "left" side. Sorry -:)

Orin said...

Keep in mind there are entire books and classes devoted to the subject of camera RAW files, and you might have to spring for a full version of Photoshop to explore that realm.

Very nice shots. As Chuck said, rules are merely guidelines...

__Orin
Scootin' Old Skool

Krysta in MKE said...

"Yes, the ultimate answer is to shoot in raw."

Bad mental image, Dan.
Katie might appreciate it, though.

I like the shot of the waterfall w/ boulders.

irondad said...

Charlie6,

Thank you for the positive feedback!

Bobskoot,

As long as you don't grow out of the pink crocs the world will be right. I want to go check out the other cameras but now I'm getting a bit nervous about it. :)

Take care,

Dan

irondad said...

Chuck,

Thank you for the comment. It's those little details that make or break things. I get so involved in the large items I tend to miss the small ones.

Interesting explanation of the aperature versus cropped sensor relationship.

Orin,

I guess one has to at least learn the rules in order to know how to constructively break them, eh?

Krysta,

I think shooting in Raw would be more fun in warmer weather. We won't even talk about camera BUFFers!

Take care,

Dan

Lance said...

Dan, these are great shots! I thought the perspective from the top of the escalators was a very cool touch! Keep it going.

Riders Discount said...

Dan,

Love the blog - content and images. Would you be interested in sponsorship? Shoot me an email; we'd love to support the blog.
-RD