Jun. 20th, 2008 11:48 am
I know, i know. I've been talking about showing some off for a few days now, but here you go. Each is linked to a full-size version which will open in a new window, and i think at least the first one is one you can't miss seeing bigger.

Harris' hawk in flight
Cut to save your pages for those uninterested. )
The whole gallery is here if you're so inclined. The first eight frames aren't actually at the zoo, though. I should move those elsewhere, but that'll wait.
Let's see. Allergies: Bad. No, make that double-plus-ungood. Was coughing so hard at work that people kept stopping in to ask if i was going to be all right. After a few hours of hacking, i packed up the laptop and headed home with it to get the stuff on my agenda today done. Eyes also really itchy to boot.

Headed to the zoo after that and took some photos- tropical rainforest birds, waterfowl in the conservation aviary, some raptors and a very camera friendly corvid (i love corvidae), and butterflies. Harris' hawk photos catching the bird in flight? Yup. Got 'em. The culled batch- down to 64 from 230 is on it's way to thephotogallery on, and i'll probably pull a few favourites and post them here tomorrow- but only because i don't see myself staying awake long enough tonight to wait for them all to upload.
. . . or, at least, get dragged about by one.

1/160th sec at f9, 85mm.

+2 )

Whole set (unedited) can be seen here.
ravencallscrows: (flutterby)
Today's photo adventures included watching a kite-boarder on Puget Sound in about 10-12 knot winds. This was lots of fun both to watch and to shoot. You'll get pictures tomorrow- they're in the process of uploading right now.

I will give you one image from the day, though, because I love the effect. Technical details: 1/8 second exposure (and handheld at that!) at f40, 75-300mm lens at 210mm focal length.

Technically, this shouldn't have been possible even as a grab-shot- conventional wisdom is that you shouldn't try to handhold a shot at anything slower than the reciprocal of the focal length of the lens. Good stances can make it possible to cheat that by up to a full stop, but this worked thanks to one of the tricks in this camera Sony didn't get from Minolta, but from its own video camera division called Super Steady Shot, which can make it possible to hand-hold something at an additional three stops longer exposure than otherwise. Clarifying, for the non-photo geeks who haven't completely zoned out yet, a full stop of aperture (that'd be the f number) equates to halving the exposure time. Back-tracking, a 210mm focal length shouldn't be handheld slower than 1/200th of a second, but it may be possible to cheat that to 1/100th. Factoring in the up-to-three stops, we're looking at an exposure of around 2/25ths of a second.
OK, so a lot of triviata in the last post. This one will be a little more focused on aesthetics and technique, I promise. The focus will be primarily on design elements, and the one following will detail application of those elements. After that, we'll examine technical elements of photography as they interact with these elements and their application.

When you look at a picture of something, where is your eye drawn first? Believe it or not, it's usually not the centre of the image, but a point a third of the way in from one of the edges. This gives light to the so-called 'Rule of Thirds.' Finding some sort of visual anchor a third of the way into an image, or balancing it in a 2:1 ratio will strengthen a picture. The weathered and encrusted remnants of a pier piling- although not an outstanding image- benefits from this- the piling itself is roughly delineated by the vertical thirds, the notches in it are approximately along the horizontal ones.

The general movement from a visual anchor tends to be something of a spiral. For those interested in the science and mathematics, this concept was first identified by the ancient Greeks- Phidias, Plato and Euclid all showed some familiarity with it and it's closely related to the numeric sequence identified by and named after Italian mathemetician Leonardo Fibonacci- and often referred to as the Golden Mean. There'll be times where you won't compose this way, and it shouldn't by any stretch of the imagination be a hard-and-fast rule. Here's an example of where more or less breaking the rules works- the picture of Nicholas from earlier in the week:

The right vertical third runs roughly along the side of Nicholas' face, the intersection it has with the bottom third is about where the shoulder seams on his jacket are- not somewhere you'd intentionally want to draw a focus. The upper left visual anchor is somewhere outside his face near the little tousle of hair. All the same, though- and much in the same way as the piling- the central vertical third stands out, and it finds some balance in the technical elements- there's a depth-of-field which contrasts him pretty dramatically with the background and the texture on his jacket helps balance the shot.

Then there are the diagonals. Running corner to corner diagonally across the image, the diagonals intersect just below his nose, the front collar almost parallels the upper right-to-lower left diagonal. As an example of candid portraiture, this isn't too bad.

You've just gotten a sneak peek at the next few topics here- design elements like balance and presenting a domiant element; using lines and texture as applications of those elements; and strengthening the composition via perspective and depth of field. But more about those later, and maybe I can even find some examples from people who really know their stuff to show off to you.
ravencallscrows: (Callanish)
Although photography as an art is largely migrating to digital these days, i'd like to spend a few paragraphs talking about film, because it'll come in useful, i think, in understanding images.

Before digital became as common as it is now, film was the way we got pictures. The way most of us have experienced this in the last quarter century has primarily been via the negative, and to a somewhat lesser extent slides and instant film (Polaroid, and for a span of a few years Kodak). Focusing (if you'll forgive the pun) just on negatives and the concept of making prints from them will help form a foundation from which we can discuss how to compose a strong image, as well, hopefully, explaining some detail about both cropping and why it's not always possible to get good images from particular shots.

Today, in the digital age, it's all about megapixels. This basically equates to resolution- you'll get finer resolution, and thus be able to print larger images without degradation, the more megapixels comprise an image. In the film days, for most users, this would have been 35mm film. At the same time, much professional imaging was done in what is called 'medium format'- itself a blanket term covering a handful of different sizes using common film types (120 and 220).

A 35mm frame measures 24 mm by 36mm. The format itself takes its name from the dimension of the film, including sprocketing, on the shorter of those two sides. The standard print size for this size of film since the 80s was 4 inches by 6 inches (10.16 x 15.25 cm)- which matches the aspect ratio of 2x3 perfectly. Common enlargement sizes are 5x7 and 8x10 (12.7 x 17.8 cm, 20.3 x 25.4 [A5]). Doing just a quick bit of math will show that these two have different aspect ratios completely- the full 35mm frame translates to 8 x 12. Medium format most commonly are 6cm x 4.5cm, 6cm x 6cm, or 6cm x 7cm- significantly larger. The 6 x 4.5 (often simply 645) format shares the exact same aspect ratio as 8x10 prints, but requires 2¼ times less magnification- or, to put it differently, for the same amount of magnification as produces an 8x10 print from a 33mm negative, it's possible to print an 18 x 22.25 image- or either by cropping slightly or using a slightly lower magnification, a standard 16 x 20.

To illustrate, here are two pictures scaled as if they were 35mm and 645 frames respectively:

The 6 x 6 is a square image- so the same image can be printed as a square (albeit these are difficult for which to find either off-the-rack frames or mattes), or can be cropped into either a horizontal or vertical, because both exist in the same frame. Sorry for not having a handy way to represent that in the images above.

In our next piece, we'll discuss a little about how they eye sees images and what makes the difference between an ordinary picture and one which stands out, even of the same subject. Believe it or not, the aspect ratio differences between 8x10 and 8x12 will play a role- and there are a few little tricks which you can use to make ordinary prints better ones just by knowing where to look when you're taking the pictures which relate to that difference.

How's this translate to digital terms? If a 645 image is representationally a 10 megapixel digital file, a 35mm one is about 4.4.


Vanya Y Tucherov

December 2016

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