I Love Time Lapse

The sky was actually quite dull and featureless. It’s only when in motion this way that you see two opposing layers of clouds and all sorts of action.

Sequence 01.Still001

Among the things digital photography unleashed was the easy ability to shoot time lapse. It’s the technique which speeds up action so you to see patterns and movements not normally noticeable.

It looks tough to do… and there certainly are a lot of steps… but it’s really simple. The camera automatically clicks the shutter every ‘x’ seconds. Software combines the stills into a movie. Boom, zing. A little polishing in the editor and here it is.

The sky was actually quite dull and featureless. It’s only when in motion this way that you see two opposing layers of clouds and all sorts of action.

I expected blah, but got one of my new favorites.

Fall Photos Come Easy

I’m sure there’s some advantage of using my Canon DSLR but today I could see none.

This time of year is made for picture taking. That’s why about 45 seconds after I left my driveway I stopped to take this photo. It’s a small mill pond surrounded by old trees. If I’ve taken one shot I’ve taken a thousand shots from this vantage at the side of the road.

This photo was taken by my iPhone camera. I’m sure there’s some advantage of using my Canon DSLR but today I could see none.

They’d Fire Me For What I’m Doing!

Your eyes can catch the detail in brighter whites and darker darks simultaneously than your digital camera can.

Some day that will surely change. Not yet.

A photographer working in news, whether a still or video photographer, is limited in what he can do to his photo. The finished product should be a documentary representation of what was in front of the lens. The use of Photoshop and its pretenders is limited.

National Geographic got caught moving the pyramids closer together a few years ago. Obviously a no-no.

Other guidelines aren’t quite as easy because cameras and humans see differently! Your eyes can catch the detail in brighter whites and darker darks simultaneously than your digital camera can.

Some day that will surely change. Not yet.

As a practical matter a properly exposed skyline will often have a blown out sky–whiter than its actual color and devoid of detail. If you take outdoor snapshots you’ve probably experienced the same thing where a sunny day is captured as bright gray.

Darks suffer a similar fate. Stands of trees or the detailed steelwork of the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge are lost in a blob of black.

A newspaper shooter is stuck. I am not! I take advantage of science and readily admit my finished photos often look better than real life and always look better than what came directly from the camera.

The Verazzano-Narrows shot (above) is a perfect example. I shot this bridge a bunch of times as our ship approached. No single image exposed everything properly. On top of that, I was on a moving ship so my perspective was constantly changing. I couldn’t use multiple shots differently exposed because each shot would ‘see’ differently.

I needed everything the camera’s sensors saw and got just that by using RAW files. Instead of compressing my image to a jpg (as most cameras do) my RAW file was saved just as it was sensed on the camera’s chip. The file was much larger, but it retained lots of detail–even if that detail couldn’t always be seen.

I brought the file into Photoshop and began selecting sections. I isolated certain shades of blue. I isolated areas where the luminance (brightness) was low. Now I could manipulate those sections without affecting the rest of the shot.

I brought up the bridge’s levels until the intricacy of the girders could be seen. Then I went back and deepened the sky color making it richer and giving the whole picture more contrast.

None of this would ever be done by a news photographer. It’s ethical poison. For my non-news artsy shots it doesn’t matter… at least it doesn’t matter to me!

It does make a difference in the final result. I think the finished shot is more pleasing and more like what I saw as we sailed under the bridge.

If I tried to pass this off in a newspaper or magazine they’d fire me.

To My New Facebook Friends

You are all the shades in the rainbow, both sexes, married and single. You are widely scattered in age. You are more often heavy than light. Right back ‘atcha.

Earlier today I had around 350 friend requests pending on Facebook. That wasn’t good. Guilt was taking over my online life.

Tonight I friended the lot of them, trying to undo the damage. Some were waiting since early summer. I was definitely not worth the wait!

This is a subject that came up before when I ‘ignored’ a boatload of people. It seemed the only option for me at the time, but I didn’t like it.

I have a strategy so I don’t go nuts with over 700 on my list now. That’s a bit daunting. I suspect you’ll be a chatty bunch.

I’ve read your bios and checked your photos. You are all the shades in the rainbow, both sexes, married and single. You are widely scattered in age. You are more often heavy than light. Right back ‘atcha.

A word of warning. I hate those games and tests that float through Facebook. “Geoff knows which Supreme Court Justice he’s most like! Are you Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Samuel Alito? Maybe you’re the late Earl Warren. Play Sequestered Supremes.”

Don’t. Just don’t.

Don’t poke me either… whatever that means. I really don’t know. Anyway, my life has enough poking already.

After all the clicking I was surprised not to see any obviously “self-shot’ portraits. You know what I mean? These are shots taken at the end of an outstretched arm. It’s a shot that didn’t exist until the advent of digital photography!

Are there too many permanent connections now? Is it to easy to find or be found? Is Facebook a force for good or evil?

If you’re reading this and I blew you off on Facebook once upon a time, please try again with my apologies.

Photos Of The Folks I Work With

My co-workers were mostly in good spirits tonight. Few didn’t want their pictures taken. Many of those who did mugged as if they’d never seen a camera.

I brought “Clicky” to work today. For a variety of reasons it was a good day to bring a camera.

First, the ‘floor people’ were ripping out a few old walls. These were put in when we used to produce the Sally Jessy Raphael Show!

Behind the remnants of that set is a cinder block wall which was painted in a farm/computer/flag motif one summer around 20 years ago. Our general manager at the time made a deal with ABC to produce a handful of pilots for post-Nightline programming. None made it, but Joy Behar, Richard Belzer, Curtis Sliwa, Bobby Rivers and a host of others took turns trying something new in New Haven. That was a very cool summer.

Some of the people that briefly passed through that summer are surely ‘names’ now. I wish I knew which ones.

My co-workers were mostly in good spirits tonight. Few didn’t want their pictures taken. Many of those who did mugged as if they’d never seen a camera.

It was all very unusual for me since I seldom shoot people! I even used my Speedlight, mounted on top of the camera with an old alcohol bottle over it to provide some diffusion.

What’s posted is a representative sample. I took a lot of pictures. I love digital photography.

Finishing Touches on My Brooklyn Photowalk Shots

The hidden curse of digital photography is it cries out to be improved.

Good grief–I’ve been working a good portion of the day on yesterday’s photos from the photowalk. The hidden curse of digital photography is it cries out to be improved. With tools like Photoshop, Photomatix and Autostitch I’ve worked on all the attached shots.

There are two panoramas in the mix. Unfortunately, they’re much wider than tall and heavily shrunk to fit the available space on my blog. You can click on the slideshow to see them closer to full size.

A few of the photos are HDR (high dynamic range).. They are produced by marrying three identical shots, but with different shutter speeds. I am not sure if they look ‘other wordly’ because they are, or because we’re not used to seeing photos with that much range. What I saw in person was stunning–I know that.

My shots have been submitted to a Flickr pool with shots from some of the other photographers. Over the next few days the number of photos there will grow.

Surfing At Newport Beach

We’re approaching mid-January but I’m on my cousin’s deck, sitting outside typing this entry. Granted, I’m about to go back inside, but the point is, I could sit outside!

It’s Orange County in Southern California. People were wearing jackets last night, but that’s about as cold as it ever gets – ever.

I went to work with my cousins today. I sat in on a meeting about their business and an Internet site. I butted in a few times. I hope I did more good than harm. One never can tell.

Michael and I bugged out after the meeting and headed west. Before long, we were in Newport Beach.

Before this trip to California, I knew I wanted to photograph surfers. It’s not that I’m into surfing or surfer boys, but surfing makes for good photography. My main ‘surfing’ lens is also my lowest quality lens, but with strong light it gets the job done.

Today’s photo problem was the light was behind the surfers. It shows in the pictures. If I had unlimited time and access, I’d come out in the morning when the Sun would be over my shoulder.

Newport Beach was attractive for a number of reasons. Like much of Southern California, there’s a thriving business district right up to the beach. There are cafes and shops and foot traffic. There’s also plenty of parking… or at least enough for a January afternoon.

Newport Beach also has a long pier. That allowed me to go out as far as the surfers, though still far away.

I took nearly 300 photos today. That’s crazy. In the film days, this never would have happened. Ansel Adams only had eight or ten plates when he hiked into the back country.

Digital photography is a blessing and a curse. The curse is, it encourages you to be slutty with your camera, shooting anything that moves (Slutty is the right word, isn’t it?).

We spent a couple of hours at the beach. The day was beautiful and mild. The waves were running five and six feet.

I called Helaine to tell her to throw a few things in a bag and join me. Whatever she couldn’t take, we’d get here.

There’s a lot to be said for the warm California sun. I’m still going back home tomorrow.

Maine Pictures Go Online

This is never easy, deciding which photos make the cut. I shot too many and often took the easy way out, snapping two, three, sometimes four of the same subject at the same time. Each time I clicked I adjusted something.

It’s a luxury of digital photography that didn’t exist when film was king. You pay the luxury tax on the back end when you have to look through everything! Over 1,000 photos takes time.

Even the 180 or so I’ve put online needed short captions. Otherwise Google wouldn’t know what they were.

There are two ways to see my pictures… well, there should be. The slide show movie is giving me fits and I just can’t get it properly implemented online.

As I just mentioned, I’ve placed a bunch in my gallery, which is working.

As hard as I try to maintain the quality, these photos on the web don’t approach the original quality of the pictures ‘as shot.’ There are around a dozen I’ll be printing and hopefully hanging.

My trip won’t be complete until I write a little summary of what we did and what we found. There are a few things I’d like to say about Maine and the people I met there.

It was a surprising trip. Maine was nothing like I expected because it was everything I expected – only more intense and with no unwanted filler.

I hope that made sense?

Just Killing Time

It was a slow night for me at work. The skies were speckled with clouds from the west. Temperatures had leveled off after a brutal, record breaking start this morning.

We now have two live teases in the 7 and 8 o’clock hours, so I can’t go far, but I did feel like getting out. I hopped in my car and headed north on I-91 toward North Haven. My final destination was Barnes and Noble.

I’m not sure why, but I could probably spend the entire day in a bookstore and never want for more.

The Barnes and Noble in North Haven is in a small strip shopping center in a busy commercial area. It’s across the street from BJ’s and Home Depot. Its parking lot is shared with Office Max. Down the block are Target, Circuit City and a few more large stores.

My first stop is always the computer section. The amount of room devoted to computers has gone down over the past few years. It’s probably because computers are mature and not just the province of hobbyists. The thickness, price and relatively short shelf life of computer books is mind boggling.

I took a look at a few books on digital photography – especially the concept of ‘work flow.’ There were a few books related to cameras and Photoshop, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger to buy.

There was also a section of $9.95 books on somewhat more arcane computer topics. I thumbed through a book on PHP and though I would have enjoyed having it, I wasn’t sure I’d ever use it (though I’d like to… right after I become organized).

After the computer books it was off to the magazine racks. I believe this B&N has four free standing two sided racks – each jam packed with titles on just about every subject you can think of. My favorites here are a series of British computer how-to magazines. They are oversized with lots of how to articles and a CD or two taped to the front cover. At $15 or so each, they’re the priciest magazines I look at.

I browsed for twenty minutes, looked at my watch and called it quits. My book store itch has not yet been scratched. I’ll be back.

My Obsession With Being Obsessive

Last night, after dinner, Steffie convinced us to hit the mall for ten minutes. The fact is, no one has ever spent just ten minutes in a mall… though I’d like to be the first.

While Steffie and Helaine went into Abercrombie and Fitch, I went looking for reading material. I walked aimlessly since there didn’t seem to be any maps or guides around. As it turned out, it was the right direction and at the very end of the mall was a B. Dalton.

I used to go right to the computer books, but I sense these don’t sell the way they once did. The computing section has gotten smaller and smaller. I had written earlier about the Chevy-izing of computing and fewer books would seem to be an offshoot of that.

Recently, when I’ve gone to the magazine rack, it’s been to look at photo magazines. I’m looking for tips and techniques. I’m certainly not looking for gear at the moment.

It is my tendency to become obsessive when I wrap myself around a new technology, like digital photography. But the learning curve is steep, and without a concentrated period at the beginning it would take forever to understand what I’m doing.

I picked up a copy of Photoshop Magazine, which I suppose qualifies as both photography and computer oriented. I started to thumb through the pages, looking at ways to make my photos better.

There are a lot of people who know more than I do about photography and Photoshop… and are significantly better at applying both.

As always, part of the fun is looking at the ads. A few minutes into my browsing I saw something I never see in national ads: “New Haven, CT.”

The ad was for Software Cinema and their Photoshop Training Camp. Going to Software Cinema’s website I saw ads for this program and Photoshop Training Camp Live.

OK – New Haven gets the second class show.

Still, after looking at the rundown of topics (too many suited for wedding photographers), I decided I’d go. It’s $25 with advance registration – a reasonable investment.

I assume they’ll have plenty to sell too. No one’s coming all the way to New Haven for $25 a head.

It’s pretty lucky that I stumbled upon this magazine at just the right time to see the ad for Monday’s show on Saturday. I’ll be kvetching about getting up early (after all, work won’t be over Monday until well after midnight with our 35 minute newscast following Monday Night Football). Hopefully, I’ll also be learning.

Photography As A Competitive Sport

I love taking photos. Hopefully, my skills have been increasing over time. Now with the new camera, I feel like I have the tools to be a better photographer, maybe even a good photographer.

I go around the web reading as much as I can, trying to learn technique from others. Some of what I’ve read has been helpful, though there have been head scratching moments as well. I especially like Digital Photography Review and its camera specific forums.

More than anything else, it is interesting to see when others post their best shots. How did they do it? Do people really have that much forethought before clicking away? I can do better. I have done worse.

Last night, after leaving DPReview I went to a site I hadn’t visited in a long time, DPChallenge This is a site that runs photography contests. There’s always something being judged, another open for entries to be judged next week.

When I saw the open topic, Team Sports, I smiled. I had some shots from Steffie’s field hockey game taken within the time frame the challenge provides. I entered one.

Now a day later I can see how my shot ranks – about 6.3 of 10. That number will change a bit as more people like or dislike my shot.

Originally, I though 6.3 was pretty awful – and then I looked back at some previous weeks. These people are really tough judges. A 6.3 won’t win the challenge for me, but it’s a reasonably good grade.

The next topic for entries is “Touch.” I haven’t come up with anything yet, but I’m thinking. Shooting specifically to fit a topic really is a challenge. I think I’m up to it.