Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sometimes Simple Photos Become Favorites

Sometimes a quick idea, an impromptu photo, something simple - becomes a favorite photo - or at least a favorite of the day. For me, this was the case recently when my family and I attended the annual Pumpkin Pitch event in our community.

I took this one near where we had parked for the event. As I was looking for something of potential photographic interest, I ended up with this photo of some seeding grass growing up by a strand of barbed wire. 

Barbed Wire & Seeding Grass

I am a firm believer that you can find a good photo nearly anywhere, so don't be afraid to experiment and point you camera at a seemingly ordinary situation - you just may come out with a new favorite photo.



Saturday, October 6, 2012

Shooting the Moon

One type of photo I have been aching to take was a shot of the moon. I read a quick tip in Popular Photography on the technical aspects on how to get the shot, and have been waiting for a DSLR to be able to actually take one myself. The tip is simple and produces great results. In manual mode, start with an aperture of f/16 (for a full moon) and set you shutter to be 1/ISO. For a less than full moon, open up the aperture to adjust the exposure.

For my full moon shot shown below, I liked the exposure better at f/18 instead of the suggested f/16. This shot was taken at 1/200 @ f/18, ISO 200.

When it came to my first successful moon shot (image number two), taken two nights after the full moon - the best exposure I found was 1/200 @ f/13, ISO 200. What I really like about the less than full moon shot is the detail of the craters that shows up near the shadow line.

The half moon shot (last image) is where things deviated from the quick tip by quite a bit. Following the magazine tip to the letter may work if you have big f/2.8 zoom lenses, but for most of us and our variable aperture lenses - we will have to get a little more creative. For this shot, my favorite exposure turned out to be 1/10 @ f/11 ISO 400. Of course, we can experiment with shutter speeds and aperture combinations, but this night I wasn't going to spend too much time away from my family since I already got a shot I liked.

When taking photos of the moon, a sturdy tripod is a must. You won't need anything super expensive, but something a little sturdier than a $20 department store special will serve you well. Making use of either a remote shutter release or (as in my case) the camera's self timer is also a must. I found that a ten second self timer was perfect, as it gave the camera time to settle any movement completely after I pressed the shutter.

Full moon (Harvest Moon):

Harvest Moon

Two nights after the August 31st, full moon:

Nearly Full Moon

Half moon (low enough in the sky to have a slight yellow hue):

Half Moon

These photos also mark the start of a new gallery dedicated to night & astronomical photography.



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Learning SLR photography with a Nikon D5100

After years of wanting to get into more advanced photography with an SLR, I have recently been blessed to be able to purchase one. I was recently able to purchase a Nikon D5100 kit with the 18-55mm & 55-300mm zoom lenses, and will be documenting my learning experience and exploration of more involved photography here.

While today's compacts are very capable camera's that produce very good images , there is still a big difference between an SLR when it comes to quality and especially control. There are just some photos you will not be able to get with the limitations of fixed lens cameras.

My first impressions are very favorable and the D5100 feels very comfortable in your hands and the buttons are well laid out. I have tested the camera out at a local Costco, so there are no real surprises as far as the general camera body goes. The LCD screen is an articulating screen, which eliminates the left side of the body for function buttons, but that isn't a big deal as accessing camera functions is very simple with one button that allows you to cycle through available options with out accessing a menu.

For functions that are only accessed through the menu, you will be able to find them very easily as the entire menu is broken down into sections relative to the type of function and you even have a recent settings menu that displays (and allows you to modify) the menu settings you have changed previously.

I am excited to share my learning experience, tips and photos I take along the way - starting with a photo of some Hibiscus flowers taken at my in-laws.

September Hibiscus