Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Photo Contest results

Recently I entered some photos into a photo contest that was done by one of the photo clubs I am a member of. I was pleased with how I did. I would have loved to have placed in everything I entered but realistically I know that is not possible especially with several of the phenomenal photographers that are members. One of the best parts of entering into this club's contest is the feedback on how to improve my photography.

Here is the photo that won the Open Category and was runner up to Best of Show. It is the Decorah Bank Building. This was taken in July at the Nordic Fest and was a HDR. I have had this photo on this blog when I talked about building an HDR.

I had an Honorable Mention with my Black and White Spider Web. This photo was on this blog last week.

My other Honorable Mention was the San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio. This was the photo that was accepted into the State Fair and discussed in that post.

Sorry that there is not as much content to my blog this week, but it has been a very busy week and I did not have much time to write.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Black and White or Color?

Black and White or Color is a questions that photographers have to ask themselves about their photos. When film was used it was a no brainer you had to use what was in your camera, so the decision was made earlier when you loaded film in your camera. With digital you can make a choice in post processing. Many photographer shoot in color and convert to black and white with the computer though the digital cameras can shoot black and white. I am one who tends to convert to black and white with the computer because that way I can make the decision based off what I think looks best for the photo. Most of the photographs I take do not make great black and white photographs but there are some that the color was a so so photo but the black and white was far superior.

Why would one choose black and white? There are many reasons. One reason is that black and white enhance elements of the photograph that color does not. Another reason that the photographer may be trying to create a mood. Still another is trying to give the feeling of a by gone era. Still some photographers just love to work with black and white. There is right or wrong reason for deciding to work with black and white instead of color it is up to the choice of the photographer.

The photographs I am going to share are actually the same photograph only one is the black and white version and the other is color. I think that the black and white version is the better version of the two. I took this photo of the spider web along Boyson Trail early one foggy morning last week using my 100mm Macro lens. The settings for the camera were iso 100, f/11, 1/12sec. Yes, I have actually been carrying my tripod a mile down the trail so I could use it. This thing that caught my eye about this spider web was the shape, size and symmetry and then there was the lovely dew all over the web and near by branches.

Here is the color version of the spider web. It is a nice photograph but it I felt that the green was taking attention from the wonderful dew covered spider web and the drops on the branches.

Here is the black and white version. This one I feel is much better because the spider web is the center of the attention with the plants taking more of a back seat to the spider web.

There is nothing wrong with the color but in this case I feel that the black and white version is the better version because you see the spider web first and the black and white emphasize the lines of the web that are coated with the dew. While you do see the web in the color version I don't feel that the lines of the dew covered web are as strong while the plants are trying to capture your attention.

As to how I converted the photo from color to black and white I used Adobe Elements and clicked on the convert to black and white and then played with the different black and white settings until I was happy with it. I did do some editing to the contrast and brightness in both the color and black and white versions. I know that you can do this in Adobe Lightroom, I have done black and white conversions in Lightroom, and in Photoshop and probably in all photo editing software. I choose to use Elements because I am used to using it.

If you get a chance take time and have fun playing with black and white versions of some of your photos.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Robotics: taking sports pictures in low light

This past weekend was the kickoff for the FTC, FIRST Tech Challenge, 2012-2013 season. I was one of the photographers for FTC Iowa at the event.

This is a great program because it gets kids interested in Engineering, Computers, Math, Designing and Sciences through hands on experience. At the beginning of the season the game is revealed and the kids have to design and build a robot so they can compete against other teams at competitions. The FIRST organization has programs from elementary with Jr. Lego League through High School Robotics. It is also a great way for adults get to involved by helping with a team. You do not have to be an engineer or scientist only be willing to work with the kids. I am also photographer with our local high school teams. To learn more about FIRST you go to their website: FIRST Robotics. For the Iowa FTC you can go to: FTC Iowa. For more about my local high school teams: Linn Mar Robotics. Infomerical over now back to photography.

As a photographer of sports events you often have bad lighting and there is nothing you can do to improve it. If you are inside you usually have to adjust your white balance because of the color of the lights. The lighting may not be one type of lighting but several with areas that may be almost too bright. I have also often found that you often can not use flash or any other added lighting and if they do allow flash you are too far away for it to do any good. So the only thing you can do is to have a lens that can do well in low light and set your camera with a high iso and fast shutter. Even then you might still have problems with pictures being underexposed and lots of noise.

The photos I am going to share are three from this past Saturday. I really likes these because they show the kids intensity and expressions shortly after finding out what this season's game was, "Ring It Up". The kids in the photos are from my high school local teams.

The first photo is of three members of the team looking at the rings that are the playing piece of the game. The challenge of this photo was that the light in the room was very low and there was a light shining off a balcony that caused a bit of lens flare. The photo is a little noisy but still acceptable. I was using my Canon EF-S18-135mm lens. My settings for this photo were: iso 3200, f/3.5, 1/32sec. I wish that I could have used a lower iso, but this was the only way to get the photos.

The second photo is of the young man in the red shirt. He was at a different area of the field looking the rings and the holder there. I love the expression on his face. The photo is a little noisy and my camera almost wasn't fast enough to capture the shot before he moved. I do not ask the kids to be pose for me I work around them getting the shots as they are doing their thing. A challenge on this photo was not just the low lighting in the room but there was a bit of filtered light coming through the glass doors but the lighting that was filtering was not natural light but light from another room that had something else going on. The settings for this photo were: iso3200, f/3.5, 1/32sec.

My last photo is of one of the members measuring the plywood base that is in the center of the field. This area was better lit but as you can see from the shadows it was not centered on the field instead it was off to one side. The team was measuring all the different parts of the field so they when they build their own practice field they will know exactly how the official one was built. I love how intense the young man was he was oblivious to what was around him. My settings for this photo were iso 3200, f/4.0, 1/100sec

The biggest challenge was the lighting and not able to use a flash. I could have used a flash at a small part of this event but unfortunately my flash decided that this was the day to die. Even if I had been able to use a flash I still would have not have been able to at most of the event because of situation. The photos at the field would still had to be without a flash because of the situation. During the competitions I am not able to use a flash at all because it is distracting for the kids and officials during the matches.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A barn

Near my house there is an old barn that is interesting to look at and photograph. It appears to be abandoned with lots of antique farm equipment in it. I have been out several times to photograph it and have found that I have been happier when I take the photographs as HDRs because there is so much detail that is captured in the HDR that is not caught in a regular photograph.

I have taken a lot of photos of this barn from many different angles to in order to try to capture what it is about it that intrigues me with it. I am only going to post three of my favorites. These were not all taken on the same day or even the same time of the day. I took all the photos of this barn standing on the side of the road since I have no clue who owns it and I didn't want to trespass.

This first photo is of the side of the barn that has fallen in. You can see a lot of the equipment that is under the remnants of the hay and barn including several antique John Deere tractors. This photo was taken on a clear day at sunset and is composed of 3 brackets with my 18-135mm lens. I have made a print of this photograph on metallic paper and the halos that I see on the screen are not as visible on the print.

The second photo of two of the tractors. I was using a 70-200mm lens and was able to get in closer to see the details of the tractors and other equipment that is in the barn. This photo was taken several days later on a cloudy day early afternoon again using 3 brackets.

The third photo is of the front tractor from a different angle. You can see more details of this tractor from this angle. This was taken the same day and time as the previous photo also using 3 brackets.

I will continue to go back and photograph this barn as the seasons change and the elements take their toll on the barn.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Saturday morning marco photo walk

This past Saturday one of the photo clubs I am a member of had a Macro photo walk at a local park. We decided that it should be held at 6:30am so we could get out and shoot before the bugs became too active and the breeze started up. We have several members show and had a good time.

All these photos were shot using my Canon Macro 100mm f/2.8 lens. All of these were shot using natural light.

My first photo from the day is of an orange bug on a yellow flower. I like this photo because of the way the light was on him and the edge of the flower. My setting were: iso 200, f/3.5, 1/100sec

My second photo is of a spider. I like the way he was sitting there with the light hitting him. I would have liked to have taken him from a slightly different angle but he moved when I moved. My setting were: iso 200. f/3.5, 1/100sec

My third photo is of the spider's web. This was a bit of a challenge because I could not get all the web in focus because my depth of field was too shallow and the water I misted it with kept evaporating very fast. My setting were: iso 200, f/3.5, 1/320sec

My last photo is of a bee. He was very active and was a bit of challenge to get one that I liked. My setting were: iso 200, f/5.6, 1/160sec

All of these photos were very minimally edited, most of these have not even cropped.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Boyson Trail

I have been on many mornings going out with my camera on the Boyson Trail. The trail goes from near Bowman Woods winding along the Indian Creek through Thomas Park ending at
Hanna Park.

On these walks I take pictures of whatever catches my eye that morning. I don't take a lot of pictures and sometimes I don't quite get the shot I wanted. The nice thing is that I can try again the next time I am on the trail. I will be posting pictures off and on from this trail as we go through the year as a way to see how it changes through the different seasons.

The lens I have had on my camera for these walks is my Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Zoom. This lens is not as sharp as my macro but is a better walk around lens.

This first photo is of a squirrel with a nut in his mouth. He chirpped at me until I noticed him and then he ran into the tree. He is not as sharp as I would because I had my camera set too slow because I had been taking pictures of some wildflowers along the trail. The settings for this photo were iso 200, f/8, 1/12sec

The second photo is of two bees on a yellow wildflower. This photo is much sharper than the squirrel but is not as sharp as my macro lens. I took this photo after I had taken the squirrel photo. My setting for this photo were iso 100, f/9, 1/50sec

These are the only two photos that I am going to share this week from my walks along the Boyson Trail. I will be back on Boyson Trail and there will be more photos. This is a very popular trail here I have never been on the trail when I did not run into a lot of other people on it as well.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Out early one morning

This past week it has been much nicer so I have been out more to taking photographs. I have been heading to near by park first thing in the morning sometimes before coffee. Usually this time of year the parks flower beds are over flowing with flowers but this year they are not doing as well because of the very hot and dry weather we have been having.

Here are some that I took Friday morning at Noelridge park using my Macro lens using natural light. The reason I chose these to share is that they are bright and cheerful to me.

Here is a Sunflower. I like the way the leaves are pointing both right and left and that there are still a few dew drop still on it. My settings for this photo were: iso 200, f/11, 1/80sec

Here is a bee on a Sunflower. My setting for this photo were: iso 400, f/11, 1/125sec

Here is a close up of the same bee. My setting for this photo were: iso 400, f/11, 1/64sec

Here is the center of a lily with an ant on the petal near the center. I just love the color of this photo. My settings for this photo were: iso 400, f/11, 1/50sec