My New Camera - Day 15
Hey, I'm getting better at this.
When I got up this afternoon, the sun was up and shining. Brilliantly. I grabbed my new camera and a just-charged battery and started shooting at whatever was close and lit — or transluced. It's been gray too long.
My Captain's Prism's been languishing in my barely lit dining room, so I stuck it in the big south window and got in close.
I've abandoned the practice of naming each photograph, although some that I carry further, into prints or something will acquire them, as they progress in my scheme of things photographic. It continues to be important to me to know the shutter speed, aperture, iso (film speed) percentage of full frame (FF) and metering pattern, for my educational purposes.
I saw the glint off the crystal and shot it twice. Once was too dark; the other was too bright (depending, I suspect, on how bright that glint was and how it was metered). So I lighted the dark one (top) and darkened the light one (bottom, above). I think the bottom one's the winner. Oh, and I masked off and lightened and/or darkened or contrasted up the marble ball at the bottom.
My south window gets the best light, so I shot it first (before the others above), but I kept shooting left. Like leaning left. We photographers get into the habbit of shooting high or low or left (me, now) or right. We figure out that's what we're doing, become aware of it for awhile, and the issue goes away. Kinda like learning anything.
Center-weighted metering did well here, but I only know that, because I've been shooting this window for awhile now. I've been concentrating on these metering patterns, and I've been paying a lot of attention.
So much so, perhaps, that I shot 230 shots today, and I had no idea I'd done that. The major problem shooting that many images causes is a long download time. This one took 25 minutes, according to the progress dialog (which is notoriously incorrect).
I know bought a CF card reader for my mother about a year ago, but she couldn't get it to work, so I put it somewhere I could find it, if I ever needed it. Except, of course, I have no idea where that was. Or where the card reader is. When I find it, it will substantially reduce the time it takes images to crawl into my computer.
Not like I couldn't afford another one, but it does seem silly. I had hoped to keep the card that is in the camera in the camera, so it didn't wear it out. Pictures recorded don't put much wear on cards, but taking the cards out and putting them back in does. I've had one wear out on my Sony, and another one was getting iffy when I switched over to the D200.
It is nice that the Nikon came with a separate battery charger. I bought two and keep them running through, and have yet to wear one out, but today's the first time I got the "full" notice. That startled me. The Sony battery is charged in-camera only, so I could either charge a worn battery or use it, never both. I'm usually shooting with the new cam while the battery charges, which is more practical and efficient.
Sunlight seemed to make it a good idea to come back to the same scene as yesterday, when it was dark gray. It worked well. I had some ideas for shots, some shots I could improve on and a certain familiarity with the territory, all of which helped. I'm definitely getting better at this new camera, but there are still segments of my education that are simply missing.
Guess I should get the DVD. Let some other idiot fill me in.
Instead of shooting whole boats, I got to let my mind wander to more esoteric pursuits, my nebulous abstracts that, when they work well, work very well, but when they don't, fail boorishly. That is the part of my craft that pushes into art sometimes. The set-my-chickens-free bit that makes all the difference.
When those chickens know enough about the tools they're using, flinging on into art is less conscious, less constricted, easier, more connected to spirit than solids.
This is a crass shot I passed on yesterday. Today, it felt okay. With the introduction of people into the boat house today, I'm beginning to see the place as a living entity, although all the people I've seen there have been white. Shooting boats has been interesting these last three days, but shooting old guys fishing was always a little more so, although I was never (then) terribly good at it. I've got better pics of boats than I did with people, because boats usually do not see me coming, turn around or hide or look up at me as if I were interfering.
There's boats in those bags. I saw them as I walked along the front of the boat house, then tried several windows before I found a decent-enough perch. This is still a little crooked, but I like the effect. So unlike boats to sag and wrinkle.
One nice thing about sunshine is that there were more kids playing on the playground. All closely watched by adults, which was nice, except several of these adults were always right there, often in the picture. I was particularly annoyed by an uncle who walked a kid down the plank coming out of the play ship. The kid didn't take steps, the uncle turned him, rocking, like you would a doll to walk it. The kid didn't want to be there. The uncle kept repeating "walk the plank, walk the plank," like that meant something to the child.
It meant something to me, and to the uncle, but the little boy was only not wanting to be there, and in many practical instances, wasn't really.
This little girl may have been having fun, but I never caught her at it. She was going through motions, but no smiles or laughter crossed her face while I watched. I liked the flyaway hair, and I liked Daddy's hand steadying her. I only watched a couple minutes, but gave up on catching any joy in her.
Till she walked the wall around the playground. This is the only frame without Dad big in the picture. I like the little kid on her own concept, succeeding without adult help or supervision, if only momentarily, but I still missed any facial expression that would really liven these pictures up. And she never did look out, only down.
Remember the day before yesterday's shot of the little boy "setting his controls for the heart of the sun?" That boy was shy and quiet. This one was boisterous and activated, constantly making rocket ship noises with his mouth, checking all the dials and the hatch on top. He was really getting into it, and it almost shows.
I did try going around to the other end of the ship, to try for better facial expressions. Which I could see with my eyes, but the camera was significantly bothered by all those outer-space shadows.
Maybe to get really good playground shots, I'd have to be up there (it's on the top of the hill by the boat house) for hours and learn the equipment and how kids interact with the various gizmos and where the sun shines best, and all that. But I'm not sure I could take it for that long. I'd like more face in the picture at top above, but I do like the contrast of wide angle from yesterday to tele today. Different angles, different fields of view, differing effects.
In the lower shot, I could have used a fill-in flash (if I knew how to do that) to dissipate a lot of those harsh shadows), but introducing flash with kids really draws there attention out of play and into the here and now of some guy standing there shooting pictures of them. I prefer them to be lost in what they are doing.
Okay, so I can put the Coot Walking (Running) on Water concept away. Today I got two pretty good results of that syndrome. I like the top one better, although the bottom one is bigger (closer). The top one seems to be sharper, with more coherent splash steps. Both coots are showing great running form.
These are good pictures of what it is that they do that so amazes me, and these pictures show it graphically, which is pretty much what I ask of a good photograph. This shot reminds me of Henri Cartier-Bresson's extraordinarily famous shot of a guy jumping a puddle...
This loop around the boat house I stood there awhile and saw some human forms inside, so I waited even longer for them to emerge from the shadows. I took this abstract while I waited, and the people below, just after.
He's leaning against the wall, pushing the extending pier out with his feet. It rolled out smoothly and easily. The pier thing is sharp. The water is sharp. Poles in front and behind him are sharp, as are the walls. His legs are sharp, but his upper torso, arm, hand and head are soft. So's the red-tipped boat behind him. I don't understand. Those parts are not moving. The cart is dead center of the picture, and it's in focus and sharp. But around it, things aren't.
Maybe I need to follow the suggestions I keep reading online about shooting a brick wall head on. That way any spatial anomalies like this may be, become obvious. They may come and go at differing apertures. But how could f/13 be much different from f/11 or f/8?
Hmm. That reminds me of something Björn said about the 180. Nope, what he said was that, "beyond f/16, there's a noticeable decline in quality, so these f-numbers shouldn't be used unless absolutely necessary." The lens only stops down to f/22, so that's the only verboten stop, and these are wider than that. But I should keep that decline in mind when I try to go for even more depth of field.
The front of the lens is immaculate. Now. I got a micro fiber lens cleaning cloth yesterday that took a big nasty smudge (finger accidentally, then tongue and T-shirt in erroneous attempt to clean off the finger smudge. I had to go to Wolf's soon as I finished walking at the lake to get whatever was the latest thing to clean lenses. I like my new washable cleaning cloth.), and it does an excellent job. I'll probably take the Lens Cleaning Kit back. It's nearly useless in the face of higher technology.
The boat's sharp, the water, the cart, the extendable floor thing. But the people are not, and they're all just standing there. What gives?
I love the texture of the water here. It would have been much better if his head had been turned, looking straight ahead, but it was the water texture I was thrilled about. Which means the picture is distinctly less-than, but I got that micro ripple...
At this distance, all those girls should have been sharp, but they're not, so I must be doing something wrong. But what? I'll know more when I put in the shot data above. Only I don't/did not.
I've gone through the stack and looked at each and every one of the girls rowing away pix at full, 100% size (the equivalent of 36-inches high by 53.75 inches wide on my much smaller than that monitor, and I think maybe they actually are in focus, but they are so very white they almost glow, and that glow throws my idea, my perception of sharp focus off. I know I'm grasping at straws here, but I think that may be so.
But it ain't so with the boy leaning the pier out. He's just flat out of focus, and stuff on all sides of him are in, so I looked very carefully at the lens. The front side's okay, but there are tiny, uh... micro abrasions on the back element of the lens, deep down in that protective tube. How they got there I have no idea, but there they are, sometimes, when the moon and sun are just out of alignment, mussing up focus on my shots. Hmm...
The tower she's sitting on is sharp but she is not. Same issue here, I guess. Whatever it might be. More mysteries.
Except the boat house is not sharp, either. Focus is right on for the tower and the trees.
I've seen this shot every time I've driven back from the parking/fishing area south of the Old Pump House by the dam, and I've liked seeing that bright schoolhouse red building just there, filling up the space, hovering over the hill down to it. But I couldn't shoot it from closer, because it would spoil the compression effect and because there's a Homeland Security Cop down there where the drive Ys to either the building's parking lot or the fishing area behind me as I shot this.
Her job is to keep people from taking photographs of the dame, which is beyond the pump house, because, I've been told, they don't want terrorists blowing the dam. They don't prohibit photographs from the dam or from where I was standing, but if you explore the ground-level parts of that exquisite old and stately building, you'll get stopped.
Okay, I've examined this brick building closely, and I can discern no areas of softness, middle or edges. Wonder what the deal is, besides Mercury being Retrograde, I mean.
This was an attempt to see into the workings of the boat house, although about all the further in one can see is till where the light stops, which is not very far. Oh, well.
I like the effect of side lit slender objects bright on a dark background and I was sitting there on that concrete Solana Plaza thing that used to have a great magnified binoculars thingy you could look out over the lake through, till the vandals took the handles. I was huffing and puffing after walking even further than I had the day before, which I'd walked further than the day before that. And I was tired.
Nice enough effect, but boring.
The alien gooses again. This time, they were carrying on as usual, noisy out-of-towners honking and grumping, and as I shot them, they started rushing me, till I had to push their probing proboscises away with my shoed foot. As a lady with a bunch of school kids watching nearby said, "those birds sure have lots of sass." Amen.
I know gooses have been known to bite annoying humans, and I guess just then I was being one. This is the best shot I've shot of either of them yet. That yellow line (on the sidewalk) through his/her head did not hurt the composition any, although I was completely unaware of it when I made this photograph.
I did switch the meter to center-weighted to try to get detail in her lovely dark face, stripe, bump and eyes. Last time I shot this one, I thought that black mark down her neck a bit was a bug crawling, but now I think it must be where she got into a fight and got a bit took down.
A slight variation on yesterday's Three Noses picture. This is what was left when three row boats of various numbers of teenagers and one small-engined (larger engines are prohibited at our little lake) motor boat with an adult had left the building.
And from a differing angle. Again, I was trying to see into the building, but the darkness was protecting it.
I didn't think it when I was shooting it, but this is one of my favorite shots of today's shoot. Those long, thin boats in various configurations. The dark one with the white disk showing is on its side. All those slim slivers of color, stained vertical ridges of mostly white building insides, mysterious sort of darkness below and fenced in blue sky beyond. Abstract reality, one of my favorite tricks, when I can pull it off.
1/60th of a second is certainly pushing the envelope for hand-holding this long a tele without VR (vibration reduction). Here, though, that slight softness may actually help the overall feel some.
Another, much busier, slightly more interesting, but less abstract, less serene shot that shows more of the details of rowery. I don't know what all those doohickeys are, but they're sorta interesting.
[All shots above taken with the Nikon 180mm 2.8 AF lens.]