Shutter Bug Hunger

Introduction:

You can conjure pictures out of thin air, if you have that rare appetite to invent a theme, when the weather does not so co-operate: say, in winter, when most outdoor shots look pretty much the same.  They are mostly white with most interest buried in snow!  As in my case, this posses a significant problem when you are far enough north that the cold can actually damage your camera…

If it were not for your persistent ‘Shutter Bug Hunger’, the situation would appear insurmountable.  So last winter, I began to consider my options for indoor pictures that fall under the category of: ‘Still Life’…  And quite naturally, it requires a considerable imagination to stir up interest in non-living every day objects, scattered about your house in their various hiding places.  I came up with three sets of shots to kill the boredom of winter: the first of which, I present to you now, in trust that you will glean inspiration, bring life to the stories behind how objects about us, help to define who we are!

How to Conqure The Impossible…

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I was first given to consider, what if someone doesn’t have a fancy, wide-angle lens?  Then my eyes fell on Leslie’s dusty Crystal ball.  She may claim to see the future, yet I saw a way to cram a large area into a small space, using a simple 50 mm. macro lens.  What Leslie finds interesting to collect, also defines her character, taste and beliefs…

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Another glass object shows elegance in form and simplicity of design.  The would make for an excellent still life for defining light and shadow, and how they may co-exist to animate what one might mistake for lifelessness.  I think the designer was shooting for movement within the piece, when light reflects through it.

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Or, one might hover above an object that still reflects light from the window, yet rest on a homogenous background, giving all attention to the a single object, strategically placed as a desktop wallpaper, with plenty of room for icons on the left…

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This is a cup from one of Leslie’s ‘Royal Dalton’ collection…  They come from England, are quite expensive, and surprisingly tiny.  This is actually a macro shot!  The mistake I made, was not to place something beside it that you’d know the size of, like a bag of milk or something.  LOL!  You may be surprised to know that she finds these things in Thrift shops for 50 cents each!  Delicate, with excellent craftmanship that describes an eye for beauty that many would over-look…

The upside is that I clean everything spotless so it shines and provides for less ‘clone stamp’ processing work later in Photoshop.  Enjoy the slide show, and keep in mind that this represents less than a third of what I found just laying about the house screaming: ‘PICK ME!!’  as an excellent opportunity to challenge your own imagination, in the dead of night perhaps: for one seldom knows when shutter bug hunger may strike :O)

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Techniques for Blooming, Young, Photographers

Rigg The Game In Your Favor!

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You can’t improve upon perfection.  The only thing you CAN do, is accentuate features…  These Pansies are from Leslie’s garden.  That’s usless to you.  What you do need to know, is that all of her flowers are in pots!  That means I can transport them from outside, to inside, on a table near a window, to catch some outside light.  There, the plant is free from the swaying effect that wind can have on flowers.

If you’re taking a macro shot like the one above, any movement is greatly magnified, often resulting in blurry images.  Too much color can be bad for jpgs. over time, causing uneven, and unsightly discoloration.  In the case of flowers, the field is shallow, so depth of field is not so important.  This is an excellent opportunity to use: ‘contrast’ to bring out color instead!  I sometimes use a little spray bottle before I take the shot, to add interest.  Perks up the flower too!  And since pansies are small, and the droplets are big, they make a good candidate for that: ‘Fresh rain’ feeling…

Go for Lens Effects!

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Here are some pansies, using a 24 mm wide angle lens from about 5 feet away…

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Look at what happens to the perspective when you are only 1 foot away…  All proportions are exaggerated!  Now, they look like an angry mob!  Even if you’re out standing in your field because: ‘There’s a Nuke Hid in Town!’, if you love what you’re doing, and are willing to experiment, the results are bound to be good! 

A Labor of Love:

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You would not believe how small this flower is.  However, at full size, the picture is a foot by a foot and a half.  So this little guy looks enormous at that size.  And it came covered in dirt specs less than a pin head in size, so quite invisable in the sun: where I was standing when I took this shot.

All you can do, is find the larges clear spot, and adjust your clone tool to that size, and start clicking away…  It took me a full hour to get it all!  I look at it this way.  Though the task seems enormous, with patience, it can be accomplished!  Some of the others were just as bad.  Like I always say: ‘It’s what you don’t see that brings on the perfection flowers so richly deserve! 

See how this leaves a clear space on the left for peoples icons: a good idea to keep in mind, if you like desktop pictures.  Some peole do and some don’t.  So, once in a while is all that’s necessary.  These shots would all still be clear at 18″ x 24″.  If you intend to make any hard copies, be sure and convert the file from RGB to CMYK.

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Here’s the orchid from afar…  Beautiful isn’t it?  Orchids are very fussy and hard to grow!  Most people just over water them and they die from root rot.  You should water them once every three weeks, give them indirect sun, and never spray them!  This does well as an indoor plant.  Expensive though.  This one cost me $22, plus thumb tax!

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Be sure and view all these at full size!  They are perfect macros: I’m using a half life size, Canon 50 mm. lens in conjuction with tubing, to give me up to twice life size, which is pretty close!  I prefere tubbing because having no added glass between you and your subject, hence means, no degregation in quality.  Enjoy!

The: ‘Eat Flab’ Miricle Diet…

Hi Friends! 

Are you tired of grazing on your front lawn, digging for grubs, weeds, and roots, when you just know, that somewhere, someone, is sinking their milk-teeth into a cow?  Have you dashed out the door for exercise at 6am., only to wind up on a park bench, sleeping until the sun goes down?  Does the dial on your bathroom scale read ‘0’ when you try to weigh yourself?  Do you look like this?

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Well worry no more!  Our Scientists have been working now for 15 years without sleep, and have found a previous unheard of way to put some meat on your bones.  Through intensive, sloppy observations of real, glutinous, pigs, we have finally found a way of having you look like ‘The Blob’ in not time!

Step One:

Overweight guy on couch, in front of the TV,  drinking beer and eating popcorn

Our Scientists (all graduates from Holy Cross Public School!) went to real, fat people’s homes, studying their inactivity for 15 years without sleep, and concluded that drinking beer while watching TV, is an excellent way to heap on valuable flab within the span of a football game!  Isn’t that amazing!

Step Two:

As a valuable consumer of everything, we’ll send you this authentic beached whale!  Actually, it’s just a shot of a sardine in a tin, through a macro lens, but the two look very similar!  All you pay, is shipping and handling… Eat 40 lbs. of nutritious flab a day to achieve desired results… Our Scientists, still sleepless in Seattle, have conclusively proven that a healthy 6 inches of blubber shields one from the cold, and readily absorbs high impact projectiles!

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Step: Three:

Enjoy the new you!  The envious will call you rude names like: ‘Slim’ and ‘Gorgeous’…  That’s why, if you act later, we’ll double our offer of absolutely FREE! That’s two FREE’S for the price of one!  Don’t be a gaunt, nothing, forging for plant life, when our fatty deposits are linning supermarket freezers, just waiting for you to gorge on, including the packaging!  Why exercise when it only makes you hungry anyway?  Help keep our planet in a stable orbit!  Join the millions who’ve already joined The: ‘Eat Flab’ Miricle Diet!  Comes with optional fibralator and oxygen tank.  Don’t be skinny and sickly looking a moment longer!  Get flab today!

Directly to you, from our team of advanced Scientists at Country Style Donuts…

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Why We Shouldn’t Legalize Mary Jane…

Now that I have your attention, LOL, I just thought I’d report in on why I’m not reporting in.  We’ll get to the topic later.  For now though, you must endure this stupid, report:  I’m not here (I’m not here?), because I’m busy painfully processing images for you,  Highlighting (highlighting?), ‘Compositing Images by Creatively Using Beach Front Cottages to Store Desktop Icons…’  I know!  exceptionally long title.  I did that,  to cleverly disguise myself as someone who can think…This is followed by actual titles! : ‘More Picturesque DSLR Cameras at 1600 ISO Using a 50 mm. Macro Lens…’  This will be capped off with a segment on: ‘Macro Captures of Tiny Flowers…’ and ‘A Memorable Sunset Featuring Freaky, Cloud Patterns…  Expect to hear from me again in, oh, I dunno…  LOL! 16 months?  LOL!

One lesson I learned while taking telephoto shots (300 mm), was that I should have cleaned my lens!  There are lots of specks and blobs I have to take out of all my sky shots.  Plus, space shots need to be edited as well because spherical abrasion too far from the center of the photos, make stars look like footballs, plus I found out that shooting stars at more than 185 mm, and getting pin point sharpness required for star shots beyond the cameras auto focus.  It’s impossible for me because that particular lens (70mm to 300mm zoom lens), doesn’t come into infinity focus at its farthest point of travel.  And for the money,  I really expected better workmanship from Canon…  I may just return it for one that works!

Below, are some beautiful star images featuring: ‘The Orion Nebula’, and even shows the nebula using a 50 mm lens, and 1600 ISO under conditions a little bit: out-of-town: away from town lights!  I plan to go even further out of town soon…The constellation of Orion, beautiful in and of itself, hovers over sleeping lights on the other side of Lake Simcoe.  The water is still frozen in placeses further down the inlet.

As always, to see these shots revealing all-stars, full magnification is required:  So look at them at full size…

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The other two are previews of the sunset photos…

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This is a picture of Orion shot with a 50 mm lens.  Just below: ‘Orion’s Belt’ (The tree bright stars in a row…  They are respectively. from left to right, Alnitak, Alnalam, and Mintaka).  See that what looks like a string of stars pointing downward on a guantie angle?  The brightest fuzzy patch, is the Orion Nebular: a birthing place for new stars.  You can get a better view in the slide show coming up shortly…  It also includes a couple of pictures of beach front cottages…  Click the first picture on your far left to get into The Gallery below.

Editing Info.

The star pictures, although edited at 1600 ISO, can be blown up to: 19″ by 13″, and must be in that ratio, or your star points will all be football shaped and blurry.  I suggest the Stylus R2000 Ink-jet Printer for graphics retailing at around $700 Canadian, plus 13% tax.  It has 8 different color inks and special: ‘Piezo Electric’ nozzles to distribute more exacting tone transitions…  I shall return with more in a couple of days.  Salutations!  Live long and Prosper!  May you be forever young!

:Pot is Miraculous

Surly Pot can stop seizures, fight cancer, and Depression and a host of other ailments.  I’m not disputing that.  I’m just saying, it should all be kept underground or funding for these treatments may not be available!  LOL!  i.e. some parents are feeding it to their children, so they don’t want THC in it.  I’m saying Pot shouldn’t be legalized so it can remain relatively inexpensive.  If it’s legalized, its price will be maybe as high as $8 a joint…  To start…  Then it would go up!  And it would be more expensive according to THC content!  Of corpse you’re going to want 13% content as opposed to 3%…  Shirley you don’t want this because Medical Mariquana will cost you even more!  Wanna do something constructive?  Lower the price of running shoes :O)

I’m out standing in my field

Photography

Seeing as how there are amateur and professional Photographers all over the word, it begins to show as something obviously, that people just like to do.  There’s just so much to consider before you snap that shutter button, that I thought this little primer might be helpful under some conditions, if you remember.  Don’t get me wrong, much of this stuff I’m sure most of us already know; a grid based focusing screen for instance will keep your horizons straight.  Yet has it crossed your mind yet that you can also use it to more accurately apply: The Law of Thirds.  Your subject of interest should always be either top right or bottom left if you like, but never dead center.  Instead you want to be in control and draw the eye to the subject of interest by strategic placement.  That grid should also remind you to place your horizon either a little up or a little down, but never directly in the middle or it tends to look like you’ve chopped your picture in half.  So not meaning to be puny, there’s more to this than meets the eye.

Amateur vs. Professional

Pocket cameras are great, iPhones etc..  I’ve used them myself, and nothing can beat them for convenience and simplistic, easy to find menu items.  Yet this is where the problems arise.  It’s point and shoot capabilities leave you high and dry when it comes down to little matters such as arranging your composition first, or clearing the area of any miscellaneous debris, considering where the sun is and so on.  It rushes you so you just wanna get the shot, without considering all the little nuances involved.

With a professional set-up though, you have to set up a tripod, giving you time to consider what you need from your camera bag.  What lens should I use?  Is a sun-shade attachment necessary?  Do I want a portrait view here or landscape?  What height should I be at?  Is there something in the foreground I want to emphasize by crouching down low?  Would I prefer a macro lens for finite detail?  What about a shutter release so there’s absolutely no jitter?  Automatic or manual focus?  You’ll need auto-focus if say a boat is moving quickly toward or away from you.  Do you want all the settings on your camera at work, or do you plan to work on them on your computer?  After all that involvement, you’re now willing to skirt a treacherous shoreline, or be at the edge of a cliff unafraid;  It’s because of the power and versatility you now have that spurs you on to get those great shots just out of reach.

A few simple tips and tricks

If you do your field work with a major set-up, chances are, you’re gonna wanna do all your editing in a “Raw Utility” to save any loss of quality before you give your file a proper extension. mine are downloaded as Cr2 files.  Always set your exposure one full stop to the plus.  Your pictures will look a little washed out when they first come in, yet they now have far more information, giving you more latitude to work with them.

Giving your images extra punch

HD 32 bit pictures are not difficult to create; just take three pictures of the same thing without moving the camera.  One is to be under-exposed by one stop, one perfectly exposed, and one that is one stop over exposed.  Photoshop can then easily combine them for you to work on.  32 bit pictures can’t be saved as a jpg.  However, you can save them as PDF files that WordPress will take.  There are tremendous editing possibilities when you use this method.

Taking pictures indoors can be a pain because of the different color temperature of indoor lighting, so don’t forget to adjust the color temperature toward the blue until the orange cast is gone.  Corner vignatting occurs when you set a wide-angle lens to its very widest coverage.  Just tweak your lens a tad away from the end of its travel and you won’t have that problem anymore. Photoshop’s “Bridge” picture browser, has an excellent utility for removing those shadows at corners.  Use it!  It will save the day for you…

With all those lenses and tubes and camera, field book, tripod etc.. can weigh in at a hefty 50 lbs. or more.  When you’re walking a distance and need to take pictures along the way, it may not be necessary to bring your whole kit and caboodle with you and can leave most of it in the car…  Hears what you’ll need: camera body, cable release, your widest lens, preferably zoom; at least 24mm to 70 mm, tripod and lens brush.  And carry it already set up and all attached.  Then when you see a good scene along the way, all you have to do is spread your legs.  LOL!  That’s figuratively speaking of corpse.

I know it’s daytime, but with a good camera, you’ll have very little grain show, even at 1600 ISO.  You know how when a boat is going sideways to your position, it will always turn out blurry if you don’t pan?  If you do, then the background will be blurred and the boat will be clear, giving the illusion of speed.  What if it just came upon you so fast, you really don’t have time to catch it?  Here’s what you can try.  Try setting your ISO to 800.  That way, the lens will open and close faster, set your fastest shutter speed, and you’ll have removed some if not all the blur.

Macro shots

Everything is emphasized when taking a macro shot, even the wind…  You should always stop your camera down to its widest aperture when taking macro shots, to let in as much light as possible, and again, step up your ISO so you can get that lens to close as soon as possible, using your fastest speed.  You can see the problem here is the wind under great magnification.  If I can, I will bring my subject home where there’s no wind, and use a flash for light.  Else-wise, no kidding, you have to set up a retaining wall to block the wind…

Extension tubes usually come in sets of three that can be used singularly or in any combination.  Experiment to find a good combination because your depth of field will be very shallow and you might have trouble focusing in on all of your subject, half blurred and have not etc..  Use your “recovery” control in Photoshop’s Camera Raw utility to bring out more detail and further soften the background, if there is any.

Night shots

As the sun slowly sinks below the horizon, I find myself gradually pushing up the ISO settings until by nightfall, I’m at 1600 ISO.  Don’t let the camera automatically take the picture or all your lights will be greatly over-exposed and all your shadows will be pitch black.  Setting it for around a quarter to a half second usually works at that speed.  That’s a good setting for the moon too.  Stars move, so unless you have a sidereal motor attached to your hip, star shots can be no more than 2 seconds long or they will begin to show trails…

And so in Contusion

Above all, have a good time with it.  Don’t get frustrated or you’ll just feel like packing up and going home.  Take the time to consider, you are involved in one of the most pleasant recreations of all time; capturing life before our eyes, for all to see and admire!  Patience is absolutely necessary!  Be brave, and think out-side of the box.  Take pictures from the ground looking up at people or things to extend their tallness.  Bring them close-up to a wide-angle lens to distort their face.  Take pictures from high up, looking down on something.  It will have a flattening appearance but give you a whole new perspective on your subject.  I hope this helps a little.  Now get out there and start taking pictures…  Especially just after a rain, colors are more saturated.  Just don’t get your camera wet.  On cloudy days, bring along a small bag with a hole cut out for the lens to fit through and, cover the camera.

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