70mm, ISO 100, f/8, 1/400
Seems like it has been a while, eh? I suppose I have a lot of catching up to do!
When it comes to photography in inclement weather, I used to always be a firm proponent of the “get out there and do it anyway” thought process. Alfred Wainwright comes to mind, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” In that, I have had great luck in the past photographing through deluges of thunderstorms, searching for compositions in heavy snow, and even waiting through balmy and mosquito-filled evenings for a good sunset in Florida. It’s the shot that counts at the end of the day, right? After all, discomfort from a bit of heat or cold is really only temporary if one plans ahead.
This past winter, though, makes me think Alfred Wainwright never visited Chicago. Continue Reading
…and your first impulse is? Make photographs of flowers!
Fair enough. Flowers are pretty, colorful, and chock-full of photographic opportunity. They’re also a macro subject that’s much more forgiving than bugs; provided it isn’t windy, they’ll stay perfectly still for as long as you need them to be. The problem is, coming from your kit or prime lenses that have a limited close-focus distance, you’re used to only making straight-on, centered photographs like this:
105mm, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/20
Technically speaking, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this photograph. There’s a lot of cool detail on both the anthers and petals from the thin depth of focus and droplets from a rainstorm. Exposure is accurate, and the white balance is correct by metering from a gray card.
Other than that, this photograph is kind of plain. Aside from the thin field-of-focus, there’s no sense of depth or perspective, composition is awkwardly centered, and some of the background leaves are pretty distracting. This photograph isn’t making use of what a macro lens can do. In fact, this shot was purposely taken at about the same close-focus distance that most 100mm lenses end up at. As such, just about anyone can make this photograph with just about any lens. I’d be willing to bet a shockingly similar photograph to the one above is somewhere out there on the internet.
You bought a macro lens, didn’t you? Why not take advantage of its closer-focusing capabilities? Continue Reading
(This is a new series for me, some basic camera “how-to’s” that I feel like writing)
Cameras, careful as we may be, will always get dirty eventually. Some will get filthy faster depending on the area a photographer lives in, such as a coastal, desert, or tropical area (salt, sand, and humidity issues, respectively). However, the constant for all of us is that our viewfinders get very dirty, very quickly. Grease from our faces and dust from our eyelashes are the two main culprits. When we are sweating or blinking, this only speeds up the process. After about a month of shooting for me, the viewfinder on my NEX-7 gets awful, enough so that images are a bit cloudy–getting to the point of making it hard to get accurate focus on some shots.
Warning, the following picture is pretty nasty.
A heavy layer of grease and some large dust clumps do a lot to hinder image quality when looking through the viewfinder. I’m pretty sure I see some stuff growing, too. Eww.
Wow, when I looked at this photo up close, I wondered if I could ever end up with a clean viewfinder after cleaning. Here is the following method I used, and what I recommend to others as well. Continue Reading