Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Photography and Friends - Part I

We are so fortunate to have a group of friends who share our love of photography, and sense of adventure.  This fall we have had two weekends to explore our beautiful state, reconnecting with old friends and stretching our skills.  Here is a recap of our first weekend away this October.

Day 1 - Mackinaw City

First stop - the Icebreaker Mackinaw.  We loved touring the ship and seeing and hearing the history of this important part of the Great Lakes story.  The last stop on the tour was the gift shop, of course, and we were delighted to see Tyler Benson's series about Onyx, the Coastguard dog.  Such a great series of books for kids.

We do not tire of visiting the beach and lighthouse, getting that familiar view of the bridge.

Attempts at night photography met with mixed results, but it was so much fun watching the sunset, and seeing the stars appear in the crisp night air.

I captured the big dipper, though it wasn't dark enough,
and I don't have mastery of my camera's capabilities enough,
 to capture that masterful image.

Day 2 - Mackinac Island:

On the Island, a stop at the Butterfly conservatory while taking the carriage tour, and lunch downtown.

The side streets are so quaint, and flowers were still in bloom.  The harbor still had some boats in the water - this one looked like a fun cruising vessel!

The Grand Hotel is simply....grand!

Day 3 - Mill Creek Park

And after the day on the Island, we loved our visit to Mill Creek Park, housing an original saw mill.  The demonstration was fascinating, and entertaining!

A great October weekend with our Camera Club group, honing our skills and enjoying the great outdoors!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Camera Test 2

Hurray!  I was able to access the photos on my new point-and-shoot so can continue my comparison between iPhone photography, point-and-shoot, and a digital SLR camera.  Let the fun continue!

I will admit to having purchased a higher end point-and-shoot - a Canon G7x.  So far I am loving it!

First I want to know I can get strong colors.  In the photo of the Grand Hotel, above, I think it handled the colors very well - the yellow is true, as well as the color of the flags.  The flowers show up well, as well, and the white is not overly bright.

In the photos below, the top one is not the "best" photo,  as the leaves were moving a bit, but it handled the contrast between the red and green well.  I do think the leaves are a bit washed out, but it cold have been a lighting issue.  Just keep shooting and see.

The red on the side of the barn, below,  is very true and bright.  The sun was late in the day, so the light was quite good on it.  I love how you can see the texture in the woods.

The reds, again, are strong.  The blue and white also look clean and true.

Yes, it is true I take a lot of outdoor and nature shots, so looking away from strong colors, what do I get?  I set the menu to Black & White to see how the camera handles contrast.  I think it did a very nice job in both these photos - catching the highlights of the sun through the trees, and the difference in depth from ground level.  It isn't sharp in the very front, but I am not sure I was in a good position to see that at the time.  I am going to shoot some more samples.  Texture looks good there, as well.

What about depth of field?  That is the amount of sharpness through the photo, front to back.  In the photo above, it did a nice job of catching the closeness of the pine cones, with a gentle fade to the back.  Most of the photo is sharp.

And both far and near are good in these two examples.  The texture in the bottom photo is very good, as well.

What about people, though?  This does include our fabulous pup, of course!

Kaycee is quite photogenic, actually.  So I was looking to see if the camera picked up the subtleties in her coloring, and the wisps of fur.  I think this camera did a very nice job, showing detail.

This gentleman was a sawyer at a State Park we visited last weekend.  Look at how the lighting is soft and even, until you get down to the contrasty sun patch on the log.  This is normal, if the bright sun is shining on something.  I love the rest of the photo - the richness of the wood and the soft lighting on the leaves of the tree outside the window.  This impressed me, and is VERY close to the DSLR shots I took.  That side-by-side comparison will come later.

This shot was taken in a restaurant which had mixed lighting - outside brightness, regular lightbulbs, and another kind of lighting.  Light fighting each other.  The photo is not true color, but looks very warm and atmospheric.  Sometimes that is is a personal preference.  You can see the competing light if you look at the faces of the gentleman by the window, and the then the woman in the middle.  Two different looks.

So how did it stack up?  I have lots of other photos to compare too, but this sampling demonstrates why I love this camera, and will use it a lot.  I do think the challenge comes with indoor photos, so will dedicate another post to that type of photography.

It is SO much fun to experiment - don't be afraid to put whatever device you use to the test!  Try different settings, different lightly, different subjects.  The more you "play" the more you will learn!


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Paying Attention

I have this lovely new point-and-shoot, but can't get the photos off of it!  Apparently wireless is the way to go now, so I have to figure out how to follow the directions that make no sense in order for that to happen.  This being said, I can't do my updated "comparison" post yet, so decided to focus on one of my favorites subjects - critters.

The title of this post is Paying Attention, and that is what you really have a to do to find the little creatures who live amongst us.  You also have to be cautious, and quiet, and patient...and like to get up early.  Does this describe you?  I can be any of those characteristics, but it is so hard to do it all at once!

There was a morning a couple of weeks ago where I said to my husband, "That's it!  I am getting up and going to take photos.  You are on dog duty.  Okay?"  I jumped (6:15) grabbed my camera with the close-up lens, tripod, a sweatshirt...and headed out to the field out back.  I love those early fall frosty mornings!

I love it.  I love the peace.  I love the quiet.  I love the soft light of morning as the sun begins to skim the trees and field  And I love the search.  I love trying to get into awkward positions to get the shot I want.  I do not love the way my knees creak these days, and how I am no longer limber enough to smoothly change positions as needed.  I have never minded the wet grasses (wear boots and old jeans).  I usually love the results.

After taking MANY more shots than I am sharing here, I headed back to the house for a good cup of coffee and a shower.  Remember, the lesson is in Paying Attention?  So if I had simply headed into the house through the back door I might not have seen these other visitors to the yard.  As the sun came out and warmed the plants, here are the other critters I NEEDED to photograph.  Yes, before the coffee!

So the next time you want to sleep in, remember how much joy you can get from the sense of discovery around the corner.

Get outside and Pay Attention! :)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

iPhone Photography - trial and error

I think the iPhone handled this well, though I will admit the shadows were
 quite dark and I lightened them a bit in post-processing.
I am in the process of putting together some materials for a workshop I will be giving next month.  One of the things I am going to cover is the difference between photographs taken on the iPhone, a smaller digital camera  (point-and-shoot), and the DSLR.

These flowers were in the shadows, which I find the iPhone favors.  The
 more even the light, the richer the photos are.  The color in this photo is very strong.
As most of you have found, the iPhone does take good photos, and it's biggest plus is the phone's size and portability.  Very convenient and it works well in a lot of instances.   I want to see how well it works under a variety of circumstances, so I take it on walks with the dog, shopping with friends, and to work.

The photos in this post are the results of my first "formal" comparison study - shooting with the iPhone exclusively.

This photo was actually taken with someone else's phone, but  the results
 are consistent with what I have seen in my own photos.  The back lighting is
distracting,  and the phone doesn't do well with this contrast.  One thing that
would have helped is if we had stood on the other side of the showcase,
with the light facing us.  By the way, this photo was taken when I 

presented Christie Freestone, Literacy Coach, with a copy of my
new book, W is for Wonderkids!
I love taking close-ups, so this fall photo was perfect.  For the most part
it is a good image.  It is too soft in the front, and the perspective is a bit off.
One piece of advice is to get your camera as close to the subject as you
can. When you zoom in you lose detail - the photo becomes more "grainy." 
So what about action?  Here our Kaycee is about to "catch" some geese.
I think it handled the stop-action pretty well.
Another close-up, where it is soft in the front and a bit elongated.
I did not use the phone's zoom feature on this or the acorn shot.
Yes, elongated....but very cute.  For this photo it works.
 In none of the photos am I using a flash.
This fellow was hanging upside down on a cable alongside the house.
I just got as close as I could, without zooming in.
Inside a classroom, with the light from the windows adding
 enough light that I didn't need the flash.  I really avoid the
artificial light as much as I can.
I got as close as I could, then did crop the photo post-processing.
The look on this face, with her new toy, was priceless.
Amazingly, Kaycee stood still long enough for this shot.  I filled
 in the shadow a little following the taking of the photo.

This, and the next shot, are two of my favorite shots, though the log in 
the front may be a bit soft, above.   But the iPhone handled the wide angle 
very well.  This may be the biggest strength I have found thus far
Yes, I think wide angle is a definite strength of this technology.

Please leave a comment on how you use your phone photography and what you think of the results.  I would love to have some quotes to add to my materials, which I will make available following the workshop.

Happy Shooting!