Curling rose

While I do mostly landscapes and seascapes, I could not resist taking this shot.

Everybody has a preference as to what type of subjects we prefer to photograph. I like landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes. But is there anybody that hates to take a beautiful picture? Even if that means stepping outside of your preferred genre or stepping outside of your comfort zone?

Canon 7D
Canon EF-S 60 mm USM
8 sec at F22
ISO 400

The rose was lit with only the soft light that came from a window (that itself was in a shadow). I had to stop down to f22 to get enough depth of field. This explains the relatively long exposure.

The composition is easy to explain. In the rose I was seeing a line that kind of resembled a Golden Spiral/Fabonacci Spiral. While to a mathematician a Golden Spiral is different than a Fabonacci Spiral, to a photographer concerned with composition, and I mean to me, they look identical.

Here’s a picture of a Fabonacci Spiral. Can you see what I saw when I took the picture of the rose?

Copyright © 2012 Elgin Zeppenfeldt. All rights reserved.

The Fabonacci Spiral was copied off of Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia it belongs to the public domain.

Splash in Malmok, Aruba

This was shot right off of Malmokweg, Aruba, when Hurricane Sandy was in the Caribbean. While Aruba did not experience Hurricane conditions, we did get lots of rain and some rough surf all around the island.

This part of the Aruban coastline, located in the upscale residential area of Malmok, is known for its calm seas, year round. But not on this day. To the delight of the local surfers, Hurricane Sandy gave rise to gigantic waves, that eventually came smashing and crashing down on the rocky shoreline. A photographer’s delight.

From a technical point of view, I exposed for the sky. There was too much salt spray in the air to try to use a graduated ND filter to hold back the bright sky.  From experience I also knew that HDR was not an option as the ghosting that the splash would cause against the bright sky, would be a  headache to clean up. That is why I decided to simply expose for the sky and attempt  to recover the shadow detail in the raw conversion process. While exposing for the highlights is contrary to what most photographers recommend,  a blown out sky would totally ruin the image. As it turned out the Canon 7D did a very good job in capturing shadow detail.

Canon 7D
Canon EF-S 10-22 mm USM
1/40 sec at F9
ISO 200

Copyright © 2012 Elgin Zeppenfeldt. All rights reserved.

The star that stood still

 

Shot in the California Lighthouse area of Aruba, under a waxing gibbous Moon. This is from the same night photography shoot as my previous upload. The star appearing not to move is Polaris a.k.a. the North Pole Star a.k.a. the Pole Star. It does not appear to move, as the axis around which the Earth turns, is pointed right at it.

At 863 seconds (more than 14 minutes), this is probably my longest exposure to date. With such a long exposure noise does become an issue.  

See this image on Flickr

Canon 7D
Canon EF-S 10-22 mm USM
863 seconds at F8
ISO 100

Processed in CS5.

Please do not use this image without my explicit written permission. © 2012 Elgin Zeppenfeldt. All rights reserved.

Night photography: Venus setting

Venus setting

I did some more night photography last week. This was shot in the Califormia Lighthouse area of Aruba. Marlon was also on this shoot. Check out one of the photo’s he got on this shoot here.

It was pretty dark out there even though there was a waxing gibbous Moon high in the sky. Our torches/flashlights were not of much use this time. The torches/flashlights could only really reach the rocks in the foreground. The entire image is mostly lit by Moon light. The exposure was almost 10 minutes long (599 seconds).

If you are wondering, Venus is the brightest star trail in this image. I also captured 2 airplanes. The one to the right (the horizontal light trail) was coming in from the North of the island. To the left of the image there is a light trail made by an airplane that had made a turn to its left.

Canon 7D
Canon EF-S 10-22 mm USM
599 sec. at F8
ISO 100

Processed in CS5.

See this image on Flickr.

Please do not use this image without my explicit written permission. © 2012 Elgin Zeppenfeldt. All rights reserved.

DIY guide to improving your photography, part 3

Nowadays just about everyone owns and uses a digital camera. So in essence (almost) everybody is a photographer. However, some of us consistently take better pictures than others. This is not necessarily because some are more talented than others, but simply because some folks have acquired more knowledge and better skills. For those who want to improve their photography, I have put together a list of 12 tips that have made a positive impact on my development as a photographer. 

I previously posted part 1 and part 2 of my DIY guide to improving your photography. This is part 3 of that guide. It contains tips #9 to #12. 

9. Be an active member of the Flickr.com community. This is a recommendation of Trey Ratcliff of www.stuckincustoms.com with which I wholeheartedly agree (even though Trey is not very active anymore on Flickr). On Flickr you’ll interact with other  photographers. By comparing your work to the work of other photographers on Flickr, you’ll get a good idea of just where you are in your development as a photographer. Being exposed to so much great and diverse photography, will play an important role in the development of your own unique and personal photography style.

10. Shoot and process pictures on a regular basis. Photography is something you do. The only way to perfect your skills is to actually shoot pictures and process them on a regular basis.

11. Immerse yourself in photography culture. This might sound strange, but simply put: read photography magazines, visit popular photography websites, read popular photography blogs, follow photography news, keep track of photography rumors (i.e. gear rumors), read gear reviews, follow the career’s and work of photographers you admire etcetera. It comes down to this: when photography is an important part of your life, you cannot help but grow as a photographer.

12. Have fun learning photography. Not all aspects of learning are fun, but if you are not having enough fun learning photography, chances are you will give up. Because of this, you should try to have as much fun as reasonably possible. So for example, if you don’t like a particular instructional photography book you are reading, try getting another one by a different author; you might like it better and as a consequence actually get through the whole book.

Let me know what you think of this guide. If you have any other valuable tip that I have not mentioned, please leave a comment.

DIY guide to improving your photography, part 1.
DIY guide to improving your photography, part 2.

 © 2009-2011Elgin Zeppenfeldt. All rights reserved.

DIY guide to improving your photography, part 2

Nowadays just about everyone owns and uses a digital camera. So in essence (almost) everybody is a photographer. However, some of us consistently take better pictures than others. This is not necessarily because some are more talented than others, but simply because some folks have acquired more knowledge and better skills. For those who want to improve their photography, I have put together a list of 12 tips that have made a positive impact on my development as a photographer. 

I previously posted part 1 of my DIY guide to improving your photography. This is part 2 of that guide. It contains tips #5 to #8.  

I’ll post part 3 of this guide soon.

 

5. Study the type of photography you are interested in. Tip #3 (see part 1) was about learning the basics. This tip is about learning techniques specific to your area of interest. If you’re interested in learning landscape photography, I highly recommend that you read a recently published instructional landscape photography book. If you’re into macro photography, read a recently published instructional macro photography book. I could go on, but I am sure you already get it. These books will –building on the knowledge you already have- teach you the necessary techniques specific to the type of photography you’re interested in. Like I said in tip #3, there is lots of information freely available online. However, you’ll find that there is less specialized information available online, compared to basic information about photography.   

6. Study image composition. Some say that composition can’t be taught. Don’t believe that rubbish. Anything can be taught; composition is no exception. There are well known reasons why some images are so fascinating to look at, while others, often depicting the same subject, are a total bore. “The Photographer’s Eye” by Michael Freeman, published by Focal Press, is by far the best work on this subject that I have read to date. I highly recommend it.

7. Always shoot in RAW format. A jpeg image looks much better than a RAW image, coming straight out of the camera. This is because jpeg images are fully processed by the camera, based on the camera’s built in presets.  RAW images on the other hand, are uncompressed, unsharpened and contain more information than jpeg images. As a result, a RAW image is much more flexible and forgiving, when it comes to processing it. The downside of shooting in RAW is that RAW files are larger than jpeg files. You also have to use a RAW converter to convert RAW files to a usable file format (tif, jpeg or psd). Adobe Camera RAW (ACR), which is built into Photoshop (Photoshop CS5 is currently the industry standard), is a pleasure to use and is currently my RAW converter of choice.  

8. Learn how to use Photoshop to process your images. An important concept to understand is that there is no such thing as an unprocessed digital photo. Your camera will always, even if you shoot RAW, to a certain extent process the images with its “one size fits all” presets. These presets will not –and cannot- take the specific characteristics of any given image into account. As a result these built in presets rarely –if ever- get the most out of an image. More importantly, these presets will never fulfill your artistic vision. Because of this, I cannot stress how important it is to learn how to use Photoshop. Take creative control of your photography: learn how to process your images properly.

DIY guide to improving your photography, part 1.
DIY guide to improving your photography, part 3.

© 2009-2011Elgin Zeppenfeldt. All rights reserved.