Palm Springs Photography at Pixels.com / Fine Art America


How cool is this (again)! I am sponsoring the palm springs art page at Pixels.com and get photo placement in return. Having fun!

Golf Sunrise Photography at Pixels.com / Fine Art America


I just got involved with Pixels.com / Fine Art America in an attempt at selling some of my images. One of they programs that they offer is “page sponsorship” – so I am now sponsoring the golf sunrise photos page!

Go check it out!

Straightforward Photography: Lesson 4 – Exposure in a Nutshell


This is a bit of a long one as it sets out to tackle and consolidate the effect of the Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO on your photographs – including their impacts and interactions. So grab a hot cup of coffee and dive in!

Lesson 4 – Exposure in a Nutshell

Really what you need to know is that there are 3 things that control how much light your film/sensor receives for any given shot – Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO. They all work together and each has its own advantages/drawbacks/effects – you need to be aware of these and formulate the exposure mixture (or exposure triangle) to match the type of shot you want. Too much light and you overexpose, too little and you underexpose. Of those three ISO is the one you can get away with mostly forgetting about as most cameras have a decent enough auto mode for it.

You are allowed to do whatever you want with these settings to achieve artistic effect.

ISO
Is how sensitive to light your film/sensor is – lower values (e.g. 100) provide sharper cleaner images but require more light for a proper exposure (low sensitivity)higher values work better in low light but produce dirtier/noisier images (higher sensitivity). My advice is to leave ISO set to 100 so that you get high quality pictures outdoors and in bright indoor areas. When the light gets lower and you want to avoid a lower shutter speed and/or a larger aperture you can increase the ISO for increased light sensitivity at the cost of minor/major image noise (depending how high you go…).

Aperture
This is the size of the hole in your lens – think garden hose, the larger the hose the more that can stream through… The vast majority of lenses have an adjustable aperture so you can make it bigger or smaller and let in more or less light for a given shot. However there are side effects to changing the aperture size – mainly that it will also change your DOF (depth of field). DOF is the amount of the scene in a photo that is in focus. The following shot was taken with a wider/bigger aperture setting and has a visibly small area that is in focus, or shallow DOF.
Texture SOOC

The following shot used a smaller, more constricted, aperture (less light) and provides a larger DOF – just about everything is in focus.
Up a tree

The silly thing about aperture values is that smaller numbers are bigger openings, so f/2.8 is a bigger opening than f/8 and therefore lets in more light and has a shallower DOF. Did you see how I slipped in that new thing? Aperture values are referred to as f-stops so the numbers typically start with an “f”. f/11 is aperture value 11 and lets in less light (than aperture value 2.8) and makes more of your photo be in focus (larger DOF).

Trivia: as a general rule the lower the f value that a lens is capable of the more expensive and larger it will be.

Shutter Speed
Shutter speed simply refers to how long that curtain in front of the film/sensor is open for a given shot. Do I need to tell you that higher/faster shutter speeds let in less light than lower/slower shutter speeds? ;) Besides letting in less light faster shutter speeds will freeze the action while lower shutter speeds can cause or allow motion blur. The most common example of motion blur is with pictures of water – you have seen the shots where the water looks smooth and creamy, these are shot with a slower shutter speed and the movement of the water causes blur – nothing else is blurred because it is not moving. While not the quintessential pastoral landscape photo with creamy smooth flowing water it effectively show individual drops of rain smearing.
Rain

Compare the previous artsy blurry/smeared water with this shot taken at a higher shutter speed, the water droplets are frozen in time.
Mist [Explored]

This shopping cart shot was taken with a slow shutter speed (around a half of a second) while the camera was rolling along in a shopping cart. Notice that the front edge of the cart is pretty sharp and the sides of the aisle are really smeared – the camera moved much more in comparison with the walls than the front of the cart. This technique effectively conveys a sense of motion – it was a very fun shot to get!
We have the weirdest grocery store

Note: low shutter speed shots are typically done on a tripod to reduce hand shake which can ruin a picture.

Wrap Up
So you have 3 combined settings that control the amount of light that your film/sensor receives and you must be in control of these three settings to get the correct exposure. Outdoors on a sunny day you will use different settings than indoors at night with the worlds smallest candle lighting your subject. The thing is that changing any one of these three has its own set of side effects. You need to be aware of these side effects to allow you to get the exposure as well as special effects that you desire. Don’t worry that this is not old hat right now but just be aware of it; soon enough you will be making these value changes on the fly to suit the desired shot.

This brings up a good point about planning your shots beforehand and getting the settings correct to achieve your goal. In the digital age we can look at the screen on the camera to see if a shot looks good and if not adjust and try again – while this is a great way to learn it should not be your ultimate goal. Better shots come from better planning and execution.

Don’t Panic!
Most mid to upper end cameras have some modes that will help you :)
Auto ISO – I don’t recommend this but you can set your ISO to auto and just not worry about it. By using Auto mode here you give up an aspect of creative control and chance the camera making the wrong decision.
Aperture Priority – you set the aperture (DOF control) and the camera sets the shutter speed. I use this most of the time as it gives me easy control of my DOF for artistic expression.
Shutter Priority – you set shutter speed (motion) and can you guess what the camera sets? Pretty easy to figure out when you would use this – whenever you absolutely want to control the look of motion in your shot and the aperture is not as important to you.
Manual – you set shutter speed and aperture and, optionally, the ISO. This is sometimes seen as the scariest, pros only, mode but is not as hard as it sounds. Your camera has a light meter that you can look at while making adjustments – this allows you to zone in on the correct exposure.

This is a far as we have gotten with the lessons. I will be posting additional lessons as I invent them so stay tuned for more content over the upcoming days and weeks. I sincerely hope that this series proves beneficial for both you and your photography!

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Straightforward Photography: Lesson 3 – Shutter Speed – Freezing and Blurring Motion


Lesson 3 – Using Shutter Speed to Freeze or Blur Motion.

Read the following article and compile a list of questions. This is a great article that further explores Shutter Speed and Motion introduced in Lesson 1; it will help unlock huge creative potential in your photography. The article starts out with some unfamiliar terms – don’t worry as they are defined as you go along. Comment with your questions and I’ll try to help out.

I am giving away all of the answers to the assignment in Lesson 1!

Shutter Speed: Get Creative – PictureCorrect
From Andrew Gibson via Picture Correct.

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Straightforward Photography: Lesson 2 – Aperture and Depth of Field (DOF)


Lesson 2 – Depth of Field, the Aperture is your friend!

Read the following articles and compile a list of questions. These are great articles that further explore Aperture and Depth of Field introduced in Lesson 1; they will help unlock huge creative potential in your photography. The articles starts out with some unfamiliar terms – don’t worry as they are defined as you go along. Comment with your questions and I’ll try to help out.

1Creative Ways to Use Wide Apertures in Landscape Photography
From Christopher O’Donnell via Photography Blogger.

2Aperture: Get Creative
From Andrew Gibson via Picture Correct.

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Straightforward Photography: Welcome and Lesson 1


Welcome to a beginner’s series for the photographer wanting to take artistic control of their photography by getting their camera out of auto/program mode. This all started as a set of Facebook messages between my niece and myself. She will be getting a DSLR soon and I started sending her lessons and links to teach her some photography theory in preparation for her new camera. Soon my wife, also interested in taking more control of her photography, opted into the lessons and they moved to email. After blathering all of this to them I thought that there was probably someone else that could benefit. While this series won’t go super deep, yet…, I have tried to cut through the layers and provide a set of easy to understand information that I think is important for quicly growing a newly minted photographer’s craft.

Lesson 1 – The basics (what all of the knobs eventually end up controlling)

Using the Internet answer the following questions
1 – What is ISO and how does it affect your pictures?
2 – What is the camera’s aperture and how does it affect your pictures?
3 – What is the camera’s shutter and shutter speed and how does it affect your pictures?
4 – Given your answers to 1 – 3 how do these three interact/relate? How would changing one of these values affect the other two?

Once you understand the theory you can controllably and consistently do a lot more with your camera. When reading about the aperture pay attention to mentions of “depth of field”. You are on your way to unlocking the magic of Aperture Priority (Av on Canon), Shutter Priority (Tv on canon) and Manual modes.

Next —>

Oh yeah, I have a blog…


Why yes, I am still alive, thanks for asking! I have been concentrating on other things, obviously, and finally guilted myself to checking back into this website/blog thing. Isn’t guilt a wonderful thing?

Actually I have been considering the future of this site and have decided to repurpose it slightly – for the three of you who have actually visited “do not worry”! I still plan on giving my wit and wisdom away for exactly what it is worth – nothing, nada, zip! But that will be somewhat of a secondary focus as I expand the site to cover a more important purpose (to me) and that is the body of my photographic work as well as photographic services.

So sit back, grab a drink or three and start hitting the refresh button – I’ll be back!

Gotta run – there is no kid noise which means something is very, very, wrong.

Manual Shooting Challenge #2


Here is the second post in a new series: Manual Shooting Challenge where I’ll submit one of my recent photos shot in M using manual focusas manual as I can go. ISO, as always, will be fixed at a low value. I hope that you picked up on the word Challenge in the title – please submit your best M shots to be featured as well!

Manual Shooting Challenge #2
Fall Colors [SOOC]
Fall Colors [SOOC]
By Greg Eigsti
Manual Mode/Focus

Canon EOS 5D Mark III
EF50mm f/1.4 USM
1/100 sec @ f/13
ISO 100
Focal Length 50mm

Link


Ever since my buddy got his X100 and started creating excellent images with it I have been keeping an eye on similar purist pocketable cameras. I am amazed at the images that Guillermo is getting out of his X100 and would like a similar pocketable camera setup. It is just dreaming for now but I will be keeping my eye on the space.

Two cameras in this genre have caught my eye, the Leica M Monochrom and the Sigma DP2 Merrill. Cost is in fact an option so I’ll just have to continue dreaming about the Leica, but the Sigma DP2 is attainable*. There is a huge list of differences between these two cameras but I am interested in what they have in common – and that is none of the normal physical color filters applied to the sensor because each can read each and every pixel equally. The Leica M Monochrom is a B&W only camera so every pixel is luminance and color filtering is not needed. The Sigma DP2 uses their Foveon sensor technology to sense RGB at every pixel simultaneously. Because of these similarities both create images far superior to anything in their class. For many the Leica is not an option and makes the DP2 more interesting – it is more affordable at about 1/7 the price, uses the word Foveon and does it with color…

*In case my wife reads this – no I am not going to buy one of these. Today.

I stumbled on a review of the DP2, as well as comparisons with a few others, over at Luminous Landscape. I thought it was a pretty good read and it confirmed what I was thinking.

I did not see the author’s name or I would call him out by name. Enjoyed it!

Update: Luminous Landscape has a review of the Leica M Monochrom that does a far better job explaining the benefits of its sensor.

Manual Shooting Challenge #1


Inspired by other’s work as well as the venerable Pentax K1000 in my closet, I have set out to spend more time shooting my DSLR in M (Manual mode). Just to back up a little – I find myself lately using M mode more and more – whether for strobist work or finer exposure control on a critical shot. I do really like Aperture Priority mode (Av on Canon mode dial), doing the bulk of my casual shooting there, however I feel the desire to get more comfortable in M mode – to improve my mental process as well as to build muscle memory for the physical control layout while there.

Backing up again… As a kid I was able to take several photography classes through the public schools which provided instruction as well as the equally important darkroom. I ran a lot of Kodak TRI-X 400 ASA B&W film through the K1000 and developed/enlarged the majority of it myself.

Now many years have passed, the vast majority without any serious photographic endeavors and I find myself with the 5D which is an incredible powerhouse beast of a camera. Ok, its not a beast its a beauty! ;) A truly amazing camera that will control as many aspects of a shot as you will let it – but my heart remembers the days of the K1000 which is manual everything and the beautiful B&W shots produced with it.

So here is the first post in a series: Manual Shooting Challenge where I’ll submit one of my recent photos shot in M using manual focusas manual as I can go. ISO, as always, will be fixed at a low value. I hope that you picked up on the word Challenge in the title – please submit your best M shots to be featured as well!

Manual Shooting Challenge #1
Fall Trees
Fall Trees
By Greg Eigsti
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
EF50mm f/1.4 USM
1/50 sec @ f/7.1
ISO 100
Focal Length 50mm
Post processed in Lightroom, Topaz Adjust, Topaz DeNoise.