Old School

After a busy week I’d like nothing better than a nice photo-walk, and this time I’ll be bringing the old family camera along with me. This is one of my first experiments with film since I was ten.
Truthfully I have no idea how well it holds up since I haven’t been in any place which could develop the film, but I know that I have some of my best potential shots on here.
It’s 7:am Himalaya time, and I’m going for a walk.

Photo Challenge: Ladybugs

This weeks photography challenge wasn’t planned as much as it was a sudden fascination with ladybugs. There are hundreds outside my door living around a large leafy plant who’s name escapes me right now.

So here’s to the little guys and gals.

The One Who Grows

Today I read a story about a samurai and a man who cultivated flowers. It reminded me of the spirit and energy we can placed into life other than our own. The Japanese know this very well.
So as a personal celebration for receiving 1,000 views on the New Nomad Photography I want to share a flower which has been growing in our garden in India. Even without much work it holds it’s own spirit and I have tried to capture that even once it is cut.

Photo Challenge: High speed

Wow. It’s been a busy week, but there’s always time to fit in a photo challenge somewhere. 🙂
This weeks challenge is thanks to my friend Preeti, who suggested high speed photography. When I thought of this I thought of super fast shots of milk droplets splashing or shots of super fast objects. Well, we don’t have much in the way of super fast photo equipment, and not much in Bir moves at high speed, except for birds. So birds it is.
I spent a few days trying to catch  birds in flight, particularly the elusive Asian Paradise Fly Catcher. It was tough, but I found a few interesting shots.
My thanks to Preeti for the idea 😉

Dealing with Over-Exposure Pt 3: Surprise!

So, as I mentioned in my previous post, the shots I initially worked on were staged and were taken at a higher exposure. But it didn’t take long to take an overly-bright shot completely by accident.
I was taking a walk around the village when a woman from another town approached me on the same road carrying her crop of barley. I made way for her to pass, and snapped this shot before heading down the path.
I didn’t have much hope for this picture, honestly. The sky was so bright I wasn’t sure if I could draw any color out of it, and if I tired my black and white method I wasn’t sure if I would lose shade tones would look too similar to be be interesting.
(Of course, this is all my own likes and dislikes of B&W photos.)
It only took a few minutes on Photoshop, adjusting color and black points to see that there was much more potential here than I thought. I even saved a edited color version where the I shortened the green scale, and added a soft gradient layer around the edge for fun, like in the lomo photos.
The first picture is the original.
The second is my first color shift.
The last one was made by applyingthe B&W method I posted earlier.
I’m really enjoying this. It’s like a puzzle, and it’s only finished when I say “There. I like that.”
Try it out.

Dealing with Over-Exposure Pt 2: Method

Most of my overexposed shots are taken on sunny days, when the light is hard. Even on cloudy days sunlight is not always diffused well and the cameras automatic shutter speed settings are set too slow.

Luckily for this challenge, this whole week has been that kind of weather, so I was able to deliberately take some overexposed pictures to demonstrate my method of editing them.
Here are the methods, the original shots, and the altered shots as examples.

1. My first step in altering these shots was to open them into adobe Photoshop (I use CS4) though I’m sure other programs will have the same basic features used here.

2. I went to the adjustments menu for exposure and set a new black point and white points, (telling the program what true black or white should look like). I had to play around with the points a bit, but my aim was to makes the blacks darker (by setting a very dark black point), and the whites a little softer (by setting a slightly gray white point).

3. I also made slight adjustments to the contrast, but found that too much adjustment made the whites look too gray or too strong so that they began to wash out the black. Thus I only made slight adjustments to the contrast and left most of the changes to setting the black and white points.

4. At this point I had the contrast I wanted, but the colors looked so washed, that I didn’t think I could save them without a few hours of color adjustment. So I converted the images to gray-scale and changed them to B&W. It may be a cop out to adjusting the whole image including color, but I’m just making simple adjustments so that I’m satisfied with the image.

5. I repeated steps 2 and 3 again to make sure the blacks and whites were hat I wanted, and hit ‘save as’. I wanted to keep the originals to remind me not to toss images with potential, no matter how much editing they may take.

(I also want to say a quick thanks to my friends M and S who humored me during this experiment.)

Dealing with Over-Exposure Pt 1: Intro

How often is it that the subject is smiling, the focus is set, the setting if vibrant and full of color, and the camera takes a photo which turns out almost completely white? It happens, and when taking photos with the sun directly overhead, it happen quite often.
As I understand it, over exposure depends on how much hard light is in an area, how wide open the aperture is, the ISO setting, and the shutter speed. It’s a lot to keep track of.

I generally keep my ISO at its lowest setting, 100, to avoid the ‘noise’ which comes with a higher setting. I enjoy a wide open aperture because of the speed. So most of the time it comes down to my shutter speed. If the speed is too fast, the photo looks like it was taken with a dark filter over the lens, and the photo still has hard contrast of light. If the speed is set to slow, the photo is predominantly white, leaving out all the beautiful color.

I don’t typically try to shoot over exposed photos, but I do have some personal methods for making them look nicer so that they don’t go in my delete folder.This weeks photography challenge has a lot of content, so I may end up breaking it into a few posts over a few days.

The Weather Report Pt 2: Get Off the Roof

Finally, after a week of false weather forecasts the lightning storms have returned, which means that I, am outside waiting for the lightning, and experimenting with methods of shooting. I immediately realized there were a a few points I needed to figure out.

1. Lightning is unpredictable.

2. Lightning is bright, but not bright enough to be caught easily during the day.

3. When lightning strikes multiple times during one long exposure the light from the different strikes dull the sharpness of the image, giving the the bolts in the image a washed out look.

To address these points I used a small tripod, a book (any small book will do), and some specific lens setting.

First I set my camera on a tripod and pointed it in the general direction where the lighting was most common.

Then I manually adjusted my focal length to infinity (the farthest distance the lens would focus) which to my surprise was not just turning the focus dial all the way in one direction.

My aperture had to be wide open to let in as much light as I could in the dark, and my expire time was set for 30 seconds.

I finished my camera settings, then pressed the shutter button. I heard the shutter open and waited. The moment I saw a lightning flash which looked large enough to make a good picture, I placed a book in front of the lens to block out all other light for the remainder of the 30 seconds. I had mixed feeling about this at first since sometimes, the moment I held the book in front of the lens, a larger even more twisted bolt of light flashed right after the one I had just seen. I missed those shots, but keeping the book in front of the lens made the images I had much sharper.

All the shots came out with a purple tinge. I don’t generally think of lightning as purple, but who am I to judge. Still I tweaked the contrast afterwards to accentuate the lightning bolts, and made a sepia copy for fun.