The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018

 

Camera Club News

By: Rex Dolby

 

For as simple as the topic appears, it is actually somewhat complicated. First, the subject must possess life, and second, it can independently choose to move.

Will you select from the vertebrates: reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish, and mammals, or the invertebrates, which are not quite as common to us?  They include: worms, snails, spiders, crabs, insects, centipedes, spiny sea creatures (star fish), soft-bodied sea creatures (jelly fish) and microscopic cells.

Having selected your subject(s), are you going to go to a zoo, aquarium, game preserve, laboratory, or seek them in their natural environment?  Each location presents a little different shooting circumstances, equipment needs, and camera settings.

At this point the subject is too broad for me to offer specific help, but I can offer some useful advice.  That is, go to your computer, app, or the second floor of the Brumback Library and do a Google, or whatever, search on tips on how to photograph your subject and tips on how to photograph it in the setting you have selected.  You will find all sorts of references there that will aid in making a successful picture.

Good hunting!

Next week’s topic will be Transportation.

POSTED: 02/16/18 at 9:29 am. FILED UNDER: Camera Club News

Is it possible that five full months have passed since the categories for the 2018 Van Wert County Fair Photography Exhibit were first posted? Those were: Sports in Motion, Living Creatures, Transportation, Shapes, and Night Time/Low Light.  If time should continue at this pace, it will soon be the end of August and our pictures are registered at the Fair Board Office!

Ethan Dolby at bat by Granddad Rex.

With that thought in mind, let’s explore some of the details of each category, starting with Sports in Motion. This means you’re going to have to show a person, people, and/or an object or multiple things moving during a sporting event. OK, how do you do it?

This is where a more expensive camera body is an advantage. It will most likely supply higher ISO settings with less digital noise, faster shutter speeds, higher resolution, and faster burst speeds.  Likewise, a 300- or 400mm telephoto lens rated at f28 or f4 with a tripod mount will get you closer to the action.

If these are more than your budget can bear, a good software program can reduce or remove the digital noise created by 400-plus ISO settings and a 75-200 zoom lens can help you to get closer to the subject. But also consider a slower shutter speed and panning to keep the subject fairly sharp and its background blurred to create the appearance of the subject’s movement.

As a point of safety, if you are positioned along the sidelines, court, track or whatever, don’t take your eyes off the action to check your pictures or something else.  In that moment of inattention, you may be injured because you didn’t see someone or something flying at you, or possibly miss an incredible moment during the event.

Next week’s topic will be Living Creatures.

POSTED: 02/10/18 at 9:38 pm. FILED UNDER: Camera Club News

Sometimes you’ll be at an awesome location or become part of a set of circumstances that almost scream at you to capture the moment. But there other times when it is difficult to decide what you will shoot.  Most likely the viewer of that photograph won’t be as impressed as you were with your choice.

100 Photographs by the Editors of Time

They weren’t there to experience the emotion of the moment or the drama that you felt. So the question for you becomes: “How do I convey those factors in this photograph?”

Some decisions to consider are:

  • Look for an unusual angle to provide a unique view of the scene.
  • Consider shooting from a higher or lower position than the usual standing elevation.
  • Can you move in close or use a telephoto lens to show details usually not noticed or seen?
  • Is there a way to achieve more dramatic lighting or would shooting in black/white have more impact?
  • Are you able to blur the background to make the subject stand out, or do you need that background to establish location or other information?
  • Can you move to a different position to avoid distracting background details?

Any or all of these ideas can be used if it’s not an action shot, but at the same time, setting the camera and choosing the lens make you more ready if any action does develop.

Another help might be to study publications such as National Geographic’s series of 10 books of Stunning Photographs on various subjects or 100 Photographs by the Editors of Time to better understand what it takes to create a memorable photograph. Get to clicking!

POSTED: 02/01/18 at 9:26 pm. FILED UNDER: Camera Club News

Previously, I discussed some of the advantages of shooting in the raw photographic format.

This time let’s consider some adjustments you’ll need to make when using raw.

Since raw files have more uncompressed information, they can be 2-3 times larger than JPEG files. As a result, your camera chip and storage drive will need to be able to process more information and do it quickly. The good news about this statement is that prices have dropped from what they once were, so it may not be too much of an added cost.

Raw files also fill up the buffer of your camera faster, but the camera will still shoot the same frames per second, regardless of the format.  When this happens you will have to wait for the camera to write to the memory card. If shooting fast sequences is a priority, and you want to shoot raw, you’ll need the faster and bigger memory card or possibly a more expensive camera with a larger buffer, which does add up.

What raw captures varies from one camera manufacturer to another. As a result, raw files are often recorded in a proprietary format, which means that the camera manufacturers haven’t officially disclosed how the raw data can be converted. In Canon cameras, for example, the raw format is .CR2 and, in Nikons, it’s .NEF (both are based on the TIFF specifications). Consequently, you can’t be certain that in 5 or 10 years you’ll be able to easily open that raw file if you don’t have the proper software to decode it.

Adobe has developed an open source raw format known as DNG (Digital Negative) to overcome this obstacle. Already the Leica M9 shoots in the DNG format, so it’s hoped that more camera manufacturers will support this open source format in the future. For now, a program like Adobe’s Lightroom or other available downloads, allow you to convert your proprietary raw files into the open source DNG format. It’s an extra step, but it will ensure your files are readable for years to come.

Hopefully, you have enough information now to give raw a try — if you haven’t already.

POSTED: 01/24/18 at 10:54 pm. FILED UNDER: Camera Club News

This week we’ll try to take some of the mystery out of using the raw format.  The following information is based on a page by Rob Lim on a website named photographyconcentrate.com.

Not included in the article is the fact that, unlike JPEG, which stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, or TIFF, which stands for Tagged Image File Format, raw doesn’t stand for anything other than the complete, unprocessed information recorded by the camera’s sensor.     As a result, it should only appear as lower case letters, and what it captures varies from one camera manufacturer to another.  Because no information is compressed with raw, you’re able to produce higher quality images, as well as correct problem images that would be unrecoverable if shot in the JPEG format.

Levels of brightness are the number of steps from black to white in an image.  The more you have, the smoother the transitions of tones.  JPEG records 256 levels of brightness, and raw records between 4,096 to 16,384 levels! This is described with the term “bit”. JPEG captures in 8bit, and raw is either 12-bit or 14-bit.

You may get a dramatically over or under exposed image. With raw, you have additional information in the file, making it much easier to correct the image without a drastic reduction in quality. You can also recover more burned-out highlights and clipped shadows. Great white balance and color are essential to an awesome image, and shooting raw lets you make the adjustments easier and faster, with better results.

When you make adjustments to a raw file, you’re not actually changing the original data. What you are doing is creating a set of instructions for how the JPEG or TIFF version should be saved. The advantage of this is that you don’t have to worry about ruining an image, accidentally saving over, or being unable to go back and make changes.

Because of the finer gradation of tones and colors you’ll get better prints from raw files. There are, however, some “yes, buts” to using raw and we’ll discuss those next week.

POSTED: 01/19/18 at 8:48 am. FILED UNDER: Camera Club News

Possibly you haven’t thought of Microsoft’s PowerPoint as a photo-editing program, but it does provide a good variety of editing tools. First insert your picture, making sure that the size-modifying circles at the four corners are activated. If you don’t see them, simply click on the picture.  This will also activate your editing tool options at the bottom of the screen. If the tools show but don’t match the illustration, click on the tab at the far right to add what you need.

An illustration of PowerPoint’s photo-modifying features.

Refer to the illustration to see how each symbol functions. You can check previous articles to see how to resize your picture for your use.  Anything you do that you don’t like, simply click on the Undo option under Edit.

Once you have the picture the way you want it, click on the View Show option under Slide Show at the top. This will produce a large image of your modified picture.  Examine the image.  If you are not satisfied with something, press the Esc key and fix it. When you are satisfied, press the Print Screen SysRq key (or the key with similar markings). Open your Photo Editing Program and click on File, then New, then Image from Clipboard. (or however your program is organized)

Do whatever you wish to do and click on Save As in the highest JPG or TIFF format. I have used PowerPoint for resizing, modifying brightness and contrast, and adding text, arrows, and position markers with a high degree of accuracy. If you don’t have PowerPoint, Google “Open Office”.  It’s a free download and it might provide what you need.

POSTED: 01/12/18 at 8:51 am. FILED UNDER: Camera Club News

There’s a good chance that if you are new to photography, or are happy with the results your camera produces using its auto setting, the Sunny 16 Rule won’t mean much to you.  However, back in the old days, it was a good thing to remember because auto settings were not all that common.

Basically, the rule said that when you have sunny skies and distinct shadows, your lens opening was f/16 and the shutter speed was 1/.. of the film speed or today’s ISO number. Using modern times for an example, f/16 at an ISO speed of 200 would call for a shutter speed of 1/200th of a second, or as near to that as your camera will allow.

Sunny and conditions such as snow or the beach called for a setting of f/22, slightly overcast or cloudy bright skies needed a setting of f/11, f/8 was used when it is overcast producing hardly any shadows, f/ 5.6 when it’s so overcast there are no shadows and f/4 for open shade or sunset when there’s no shadows.

So what does this all mean to you?  Most of today’s cameras (unless you use spot metering) use a light averaging system to set your exposure.  This means that the camera evaluates the bright areas and dark areas and gives you an exposure that is about ½ way in between the two. That may be ok when the two areas are about equal, but a greater or very bright area will produce a darker exposure making details in the shadows disappear.  When the darker area is predominant, the exposure will brighter, burning out the details in the lighter area.

You have three options to get a more accurate exposure setting. 1) Use the Sunny 16 chart, 2) if the scene is predominately bright, tip your camera more toward the dark area, take a meter reading and lock it, or 3) if the scene is predominately dark, tip your camera more toward the light area, take a meter reading and lock it. Then, too, there’s your photo-editing program where you can adjust the lights and darks so the picture looks more like you remember it.

If this is too much to remember, copy the chart, resize it to your liking, print it, and put it in your camera bag for reference.

Best wishes for some great shots in the new year!

POSTED: 01/04/18 at 11:00 am. FILED UNDER: Camera Club News

In case the info given last week to set up for a photo greeting is not available for reference, this is basically what was said.

Prepare for the shot shortly after sundown or when the sky is overcast to have more even illumination. If it is bitterly cold, possibly you can position your car at the angle you want to shoot, roll the window down part way, and use its upper edge with something soft such as a towel or washcloth draped over it to steady the camera lens. Shut the engine off just before you shoot to reduce the chance of vibration. 

Use a variety of settings and locations to achieve your favorite view.  Compose your views with extra space across the top and bottom. That way, you have the space to place your holiday message in the scene for a personalized greeting card.

To make your picture more unique, you can use a cross screen (or star) filter to provide 2, 4, 6, or 8 streaks of light from each light at an angle of your choice.  This is achieved by turning the outer ring. These filters have a grid embedded in them that produces the flair and the size of your lens opening can influence this effect also.

Once you have selected the photo you like, resize it to a 4×6 image. That way, when you are done, you can put the finished project on a jump drive to have as many copies printed as you wish here in town or maybe Email the image to an on line printer.

To add the message, open PowerPoint or Open Office and insert the picture into the space.  Be careful to pull it by the corners so you don’t change the 4×6 size ratio as you fill the space.

Next, select Word Art, which allows you to select the fill color, line width and color, and shadow width and color to produce the appearance you want for the letters.

Compose the message for the top, drag it into position, and to enlarge or shrink it, pull or push at the corners to keep everything in proportion. By holding down the Control Key and tapping the Arrow Key you can move the message exactly where you want it. Make sure you’ve clicked to deactivate the indicators that are used to change the size and location of the message. Repeat these steps for the lower message, and save the slide as the largest jpg file possible.

Best wishes for the new year!

POSTED: 12/31/17 at 2:45 pm. FILED UNDER: Camera Club News

Before you do anything, you’ll need to decide what is the purpose for the photo, because that will dictate whether the lights, the location of the lights, or if the two are equally important.  Once that is determined, you can set up your tripod and camera for the picture.

If lights are the subject of your shot, arrive to take your pictures when there is no light in the sky.  I use the plural for pictures because you’ll want to use a number of different settings so you can select the one that pleases you the most.  Also moving to different locations may produce a more pleasing result. Shooting lights will permit tighter framing for the shot if that is what you want.

An example of how a cross screen filter can change the appearance of lights by Rex Dolby.

If the location is possibly a personal, historic, or interesting one, and you consider it to be more important than the lights, arrive just after sundown or pick a very cloudy afternoon to avoid light and shadow problems.  You’ll get more uniform illumination. Again, use different camera settings and locations to achieve your best exposure and angle results.

For the third example, let’s assume it is the Christmas lights on your house that you want to shoot. Set up for the shot shortly after sundown. If it is bitterly cold, possibly you can position your car at the angle you want to shoot, roll the window down part way, and use its upper edge with something soft draped over it to steady the camera lens. Shut the car’s motor off just before you shoot to reduce the chance of vibration. 

Use a variety of settings and locations to achieve the your favorite view.  In this situation however, you can take some tight shots, but also allow for some wider views with extra space across the top and bottom.  That way, if you should decide later, a Christmas message could be placed in the scene for a personalized greeting card.

To make your picture more unique, you can use a cross screen (or star) filter to provide 2, 4, 6, or 8 streaks of light from each light at an angle of your choice.  This is achieved by turning the outer ring. These filters have a grid embedded in them that produces the flair and the size of your lens opening can influence this effect also.

Next week we’ll tell you how to turn your photo into a photo greeting card.

POSTED: 12/20/17 at 12:47 pm. FILED UNDER: Camera Club News

If you’re shooting the tree indoors, make sure that its lighting is emphasized.  That can be accomplished by closing blinds and drapes during the day or turning off room lights at night.

Depending on your lens opening (do some experimenting), you can vary the size and sharpness of the lights or use a cross screen filter to turn lights into various pointed stars with slight to great flares. (determined by the cross screen filter you use)

The effects of a cross screen filter on tree lights by Rex Dolby.

Use a tripod to minimize camera shake because you want a slow shutter speed to obtain the greatest depth of field.  A child, pet, or gifts can add interest to the scene. By keeping your ISO setting low, you will reduce digital noise in the dark areas, but add to the need for the tripod.

For special effect, zoom in on the ornaments that reflect the lights. However they may also reflect you in them if you are using a close-up setting. If you wish to avoid being in the photo, back up and use your telephoto lens to minimize your reflection.

When you are shooting outside, check how you can move to keep the brightness of lighted windows in the background from detracting from the tree lights.  If you can wait for a dusting of snow, the reflection of the lights on the snow will add to your composition. Keep extra batteries in your pocket as insurance against the effects of cold temperatures.

Next week, I will offer some hints for photographing outdoor lighting displays.

POSTED: 12/14/17 at 10:25 pm. FILED UNDER: Camera Club News