Technically Challenged

In my last post I promised an article on the technical aspects of the photography in my next post. Well this is my next post and I have thought better of getting too technical.

I have not created a new image in over two years. When I work on pictures to share with you, if I work on them, I use antiquated software programs. Much of my camera gear is old. It has been about a year since I have investigated what’s new in photography, be it cameras, lenses, other peripheral items.

I guess, for the first time in my photographic life, I am among the technically challenged.

While much changes in photography, the principals remain the same.

One of the great challenges in sunrise/sunset photography has always been how to balance sky and foreground. The graduated neutral density filter was born to hold back the exposure in the bright sky area. The filter was clear (0 stops of light) on one side, darkened (2 stops) on the other, with the blending area getting darker (or lighter) gradually. When I used them, two stops of light was the maximum. You could of course stack more than one filter, but that increases the amount of extra glass, or plastic/resin between you sensor or film, and your subject. Today they go to at least ten stops of light. It wasn’t long before enterprising photographers (yes like myself) figured out that under certain circumstances we could turn them upside down, or even sideways to accomplish what we wanted.

High dynamic range (HDR) image making was created where the photographer could bracket a series of images, and then layer them one over another in an HDR software program. I have such software but it needs to be used carefully otherwise high color portions of a scene will become over saturated. All those layers of those areas of the picture, simply build more color with every section. Care needs to be taken to keep control. Lessening the saturation in those areas while editing is one thing I have done in the past.

The image below is old, but it is a digital original. It was created from Brockington Mountain in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I was pointed towards Copper Harbor (Lake Superior is over the rise) to the north and east at sunrise. I wanted exactly what you see here, but of course in real life, I could focus my eyes to see some detail around the small lake. I wanted, the brilliant sky to keep that natural saturation. I wanted the area of sky between the fiery sky and the land and lake to be warm and powerful, but not quite overpowering. I wanted the land to be a silhouette. I used one single two stop graduated neutral filter. I actually made some images with the dark part of the filter at the top, as you see here, and some shots with it flipped the other way. I did know what I was doing, and my first pictures were the keepers.

When I got home, I was able to take away some exposure on the foreground in the editing process. That left the area around the little lake absent of any detail. Just like I had envisioned it.1Egrets, fall 184

Graduated filters and HDR imaging are often overused. Tools are just that, tools. If you need to press a thumb tack into a cork-board, you don’t employ a hammer. If you need to drive ten nails into a two by four board, a hammer is a pretty good tool.

Noise, especially in wildlife photography, was a major issue in much of my digital days.

You can’t get a more enticing late winter’s day than the one I experienced the time I had an encounter with about 15 Short-eared Owls. A bright but pretty sun, and a clear blue sky for a background. I still needed ISO 400 to accomplish my goal. At that, the winter sidelight (great for detail), limited me to an F stop of 6.3. More than enough to get an in focus picture on a few key areas, but not enough for the entire bird. Today there are photographers shooting at 5,000 ISO under the same circumstances. They could shoot higher. With that perfectly clear background (no worry of bothersome objects in the picture frame), shooting a f 22 and catching every fraction of an inch of the bird in focus, with a reasonably high shutter speed, is not only possible, but is done every day now.

By the way, at 400 ISO, that blue sky was full of noise that needed to be removed.2DSC_4576


Next we have another owl, a Snowy on a mid-winter’s day. The conditions were similar yet very different.

Another sunny day, but this was made early and the subject is in the shadow of the one lone cloud that was in the sky. In some respects, because the Snowy Owl is a more mystical creature than the Short-eared, and because the pose is so special, the lack of direct sun aids in the ethereal feeling we get. It is however a very flat picture, and without sunlight it was necessary to once again use ISO 400. Not a big deal with the latest cameras but bordering on being a deal breaker with this Nikon D70. This time, an aperture of f 5.6 was needed. Once again I removed as much noise as possible from the sky in the editing process.4DSC_1134

I am sure I have never shown this close-up that I made of some moss growing around the base of a tree, before today. It is unremarkable in every way. I used to make a lot of pictures and they were certainly not all art, nor were they intended to be. Just the same, this close-up is a true macro, and that serves my purpose for this part of today’s post.

It was made with my Nikon Micro 105 lens focused to down to its full extension at its maximum (or minimum depending on your philosophy) aperture of f 32. There were a lot of stems of moss to cover with sharpness. Actually, the exif data shows f 40 for an aperture. When you are at maximum close focus with a true macro lens, you lose light do to lens extension. As you slow down your shutter speed (½ second) to compensate, the meter shows a smaller (larger number) aperture. The lesson is, don’t worry about what your camera shows as long as you are performing your functions properly, and of course you can review the image on the back of your camera.5DSC_5449

I love photographing turtles and most of my images of them are made with medium to short lenses from a very close vantage point. I make my pictures, and get out so they can resume their lives.

This Snapping Turtle was crossing the road when I grabbed my camera and 500mm f 4 lens, and photographed her from my car. I was able to use ISO 200 At 1/200 sec., and f 7.1. I was also able to make sharp pictures but I needed to make sure that my focus was on her face. I knew that the sharpness would fade quickly as we looked beyond the point of focus.   6Bong14Snapper 054 - Copy

I of course moved my car, and watched for auto traffic as she finished crossing the road ever so slowly. My subjects were always more important to me than any picture I made.

Photography tech articles are not a priority for me on this blog. I do not consider myself to be the proper vehicle for explaining current technology. That said, there are some things that remain universal, and when I write about those things, newer photographers may still find a blessing of sorts buried somewhere in my ramblings.



13: Enter you in at the straight gate (Jesus is the straight gate), for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go through it (This gate is that of false religion and non-believers. Most people will enter here)

14. Because straight is the gate and narrow is the way (Jesus), which leads unto life, and there are few that find it.

The straight and narrow gate, leads not only everlasting life, but to everlasting joy.

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