Friday, November 23, 2012

This Blog Is Really Screwed Up

I really haven't given this Blog the maintenance that it needs over the last several months.
Fast Freight - Cajon Pass, California
This is an images that was somehow removed from the Blog.
I just realized that a lot of the earlier photographs posted here got removed for whatever reason. To make matters worse, some of these photographs were used in multiple posts.
Mist Triangles - Glendale, Arizona
Another image that was missing.
I could have re-added the images, but that would have taken many hours of work. Instead, I deleted about 40% of the posts from March 2011 (when I started this Blog) through November 2011, and about 15% of the posts from December 2011 through March 2012.
Foggy Mountain Road - Tehachapi, California
This photograph was gone, too.
I have no idea why these photographs disappeared (or even when they disappeared), but the problem is only found within the first year of the Blog.
Floor Lines - Scottsdale, Arizona
This image was nowhere to be found on this Blog.
Also, there are some posts that I didn't delete that have missing images. I thought those posts were still OK even without the images. If you find one of those posts, I do apologize.
Horse At Fence - Onyx, California
This was captured using a Holga camera. Every Holga images was missing.
Hopefully I won't have a similar issue in the future. I wish I knew the "why" so that I could ensure that it doesn't happen again.
Sunrise Over Vishnu Temple - Grand Canyon, Arizona
One post that I deleted was How To Make Unique Photographs of The Grand Canyon. That was my third most viewed post from the first six months of this Blog.
Because of all this, I decided to do some much needed maintenance work on this Blog. It will take a couple of weeks to complete. I will still try to post here and there, but expect updates to be much less frequent through the end of the year.

First Snow - Tehachapi, Ca

I love living in the mountains. It snows! That may not sound so amazing, but after spending the last decade almost entirely in the Arizona desert, it is a great change of scenery (pun intended) to be in the snow.

I captured these two weeks ago using a Samsung NX210. There were some autumn colors hanging on, and that always makes for interesting images.
Dusting Snow #1 - Tehachapi, California
Dusting Snow #2 - Tehachapi, California
White Road - Tehachapi, California
Frozen Leaf - Tehachapi, California
Snow On Branch - Tehachapi, California
Winter Path - Tehachapi, California
Early Winter - Tehachapi, California
Snow Branches - Tehachapi, California
Winter Bridge - Tehachapi, California
Snowy Pine - Tehachapi, California

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Photograph Into The Sun (Back-Lit Photography)

When I was much younger and first learning photography, someone gave me a piece of bad advice. He said to always have the sun behind you, and really avoid having the sun in front of you. Now this was someone who had photographs published multiple times in a top magazine.
Dandelion Sunset - Stallion Springs, California
I listened to this advice for a number of years. Eventually I figured out that it was complete nonsense (photography "rules" are often nonsense that should be ignored). In photography, back-lit objects are often the most eye-catching--your eyes naturally will gravitate to areas of high-contrast.
Summer Mow - Tehachapi, California
If the sun is at your back, you'll have flat, even light (which may be good or bad, depending on the situation and what you are creating). If the sun is in front of you, you'll have dramatic, contrasty light (which may also be good or bad).
The Silver Lining - Tehachapi, California
It's important to understand that you are not photographing objects, you are capturing light. It is light that matters most. You must have quality light in order to create a quality image.
Wheat Grass - Tehachapi, California
Digital cameras have a difficult time capturing the sun. There are quick transitions of light intensities that digital capture struggles with, and you can get rings or halos in your photographs that you don't want. Film does a much better job with this. Even so, all of the images here are from digital cameras.
Sunrise At Cadillac Ranch - Amarillo, Texas
One way to minimize the digital disadvantage is to partially or completely block the sun in your photographs. This often will reduce the highlights and light transitions to just within the camera's capabilities.
Old Life, New Life - Victorville, California
Another method for reducing the contrast and light transitions is to photograph on hazy days and when the sun is very low to the horizon. The additional atmosphere will diffuse the light, often bringing the dynamic range more within the digital camera's capabilities.
Hazy Canyon - Grand Canyon, Arizona
Something to consider is lens flare. Some people love lens flare and some people hate it. You may want it or you may not want it, depending on what exactly you are trying to achieve.
Fast Slide - Tehachapi, California
You can use lens flare to reduce contrast and add a hazy appearance to your images. Lens flare can also add interesting shapes and color to a photograph, but be very careful and thoughtful of the lens flare placement.
Shadows On Brick - Goodyear, Arizona
Use a lens hood if you don't want lens flare. While a lens hood won't always eliminate lens flare, it often will--especially if the sun is at an angle to the lens. Objects partially blocking the sun in your images can also reduce some lens flare.
Sunset Through Broken Glass - Victorville, California
Pointing your lens towards the sun is a good way to create dramatic, high-impact photographs. If someone says you should follow this photography "rule" or that photography "rule" just ignore that person. You need vision to create great photographs and nothing else.
Contrast Grass - Goodyear, Arizona

Monday, November 19, 2012

Southwest Road Trip, Part 6: Texas, Part 1

The destination of last month's vacation was Texas--the Dallas area, to be more specific. I have family out there that I wanted to visit. We had a good time and a great (but too short) visit.

Here and there I did some photographing, but not nearly as much as I thought I would. I used a Pentax K-30 to capture each of these images.
Some Red Leaves - Princeton, Texas
Autumn Tree - Princeton, Texas
Three Old Tree Trunks In The Lake - Princeton, Texas
Stump In The Water - Princeton, Texas
Lake And Dead Tree - Princeton, Texas
Old Tracks - McKinney, Texas
Red Chair At Lake - Princeton, Texas
Frog In The Grass - Princeton, Texas
Three Stripes - Allen, Texas
Green Grass Glass - Allen, Texas

Sunday, November 18, 2012

How To Stop Motion In Your Photographs

Here is a quick follow up to How To Show Motion In Your Photographs. Instead of showing the movement, I will explain how to freeze movement. This is a very basic photographic principal.
Ball Defying Gravity - Hesperia, California
Just like with showing motion, stopping motion depends on the shutter speed. You need a quick shutter speed to freeze the motion onto the image. How fast the shutter needs to be depends on how fast the object you are photographing is moving and how close you are to it.
What Lies Ahead - Tehachapi, California
You either need bright light (such as normal daylight) or you need a flash. It is difficult to stop motion in dim light. The faster and closer the object is, the more light you will need.
Crossing The Tracks - Flagstaff, Arizona
Discovering just how quick the shutter needs to be will take practice since each situation will be different. In some cases you may find that 1/125 shutter is plenty fast. Other times 1/1000 may be required. Experiment, and learn from each try.
Red Ball Throw - Tehachapi, California
In most situations, it is easier to freeze the movement than to show the movement. In the majority of cases, you will naturally stop the motion because you are typically dealing with bright-light (daytime) situations. Even if you didn't know why, most likely you already have many such photographs in your possession.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fun With Double Exposures

I just started experimenting with double exposure photography. My Pentax K-30 is capable of multiple exposures, and I've been meaning to play around with this feature for the last couple of months. Over the last few days I finally got around to it.
D Container - Tehachapi, California
Double exposures can be interesting because it is different than tradition photography: you are capturing two moments on one image. You are bending reality.
Returning To Nature - Tehachapi, California
Two random images combined together are rarely interesting. Multiple exposures require thought. You must have vision in order to make a successful double exposure photograph.
Death of Mother Nature Suite - Tehachapi, California
It's important to consider what you want together on one image. These things should make a statement that is stronger together than if they were separate. Objects that don't seem like they should be together--industry and nature, for example--can be commentary when placed on one image.
The Nature of Rail Lines - Tehachapi, California
Once you know what you want together, then comes the hard part: figuring out how to best make a double exposure. Similar tones will become muddy on top of each other. Light tones will wash out. Dark tones will become transparent. You really have to think about shades of light and what it will mean for the finished photograph.
Wired Ears - Tehachapi, California
If one of the digital captures are silhouetted or high-contrast, that can make for a dramatic double exposure photograph. Consider shapes that are easily recognized, even with most of the details lost. Consider where you want to retain details and where you wish to lose details.
Reaching For A Book - Tehachapi, California
Experiment with different ideas. See what happens when you do this or that. Be creative! But, most of all, have fun.

Part 2
Part 3

Thursday, November 15, 2012

How To Show Motion In Your Photographs

I've been asked a few times how I'm able to show motion (or movement) in my photographs. This seems like a basic photography principal, but, since some don't know, I'm happy to explain it.
Two Trains - Tehachapi, California
The ability to freeze motion or show motion has to do with the shutter speed of the camera. When you press the shutter release button, you are capturing a very small moment in time, usually a very tiny fraction of a second. Because the time that light is exposed to the sensor (or film) is so short (a fraction of a second), there is little or no movement of the objects that you are photographing during that extremely short moment.
Circle K - Tehachapi, California
In order to show motion in your photographs, the shutter speed has to be long enough that whatever you are photographing has a chance to move during the time that the shutter is open. In other words, a slow shutter speed is required to show movement.
Fireworks Over Lake #2 - Lake Isabella, California
How long the shutter needs to stay open depends on how fast (or slow) whatever you are photographing is moving, and how much movement you wish to capture. The shutter may need to remain open for several minutes, or it may need to be open for 1/30th of a second. It will be different for each situation.
Fast Slide - Tehachapi, California
One method to achieve a slow shutter speed is to use a small aperture (such as f22). That will reduce the light into the camera. By using a small aperture you increase depth-of-field, which may or may not be what you want. You also reduce sharpness because diffraction typically starts to show up after f8.
Train Underpass - Tehachapi, California
Another method is to use shade. There is overall less light in shaded areas, allowing for slower shutter speeds. Heavily overcast days and immediately after sundown are two other times to take advantage of.
Quick Train - Tehachapi, California
Night is ripe for using slow shutter speeds. If you are interested in exposures of several minutes, this is the time to do so.
Train And Full Moon - Tehachapi, California
Using a neutral density filter is another method for achieving slow shutter speeds. These filters screw onto the front of the lens and reduce the light into the camera. These filters will reduce the light anywhere from one f-stop to 13 f-stops, depending on the filter.
Rock And River - Kernville, California
Any time that you have bright light, such as typical outdoor daytime lighting, you will have trouble showing the motion in your photographs. You will need to find a way to reduce the light, such as with the methods mentioned above. The one exception to this is if the object that is moving is doing so very quickly. A fast car on the highway, for example.
Steadfast Movement - Mojave, California
Anytime that the exposure is less than 1/15th of a second (and sometimes as quick as 1/30th of a second), you will want to use a tripod. Anytime that you are dealing with slow shutter speeds, you've got an increased risk for camera shake and blurry images. If you don't own a tripod, you will want to purchase one. Or, place the camera on a flat and sturdy surface and use the camera's self-timer.
Blue And Yellow River - Kernville, California
By showing motion in your images, you are increasing the drama and visual interest. You are capturing energy and conveying that to the viewer. It can be a powerful tool for the photographer.
Ties That Bind - Tehachapi, California