Monday, November 30, 2009

Adding interest to those wide-angle shots

practice 014One of the characteristics of a wide angle lens is that the lens enlarges anything in the foreground, as you can see by the foot in the picture to the right. You can take advantage of this and add impact to your pictures by placing objects of interest in the foreground of your wide-angle shots.

To try this out, I took some experimental shots around my house. The first set of pictures shows the vegetable garden. By stepping up closer before taking the second shot, I emphasized the flag and provided a focal point to an otherwise blah scene.


The first shot in the second set of pictures shows a typical pool scene. By getting in lower and closer to the cue ball, the second shot emphasizes the player's point of view.


Here are a couple of real-life examples.



What did I learn?
  • I looked through my old photos and found I don't use this technique nearly often enough. Often, a landscape shot can be improved by adding some interest in the foreground.
  • It occurred to me that this same technique can be applied to the typical tourist shot ("Look, Mom, here I am in front of the Eiffel Tower!"). These shots often don't do justice to either the people or the site. Instead, try putting some distance between the person in the shot and the site, get up close to the person, and then shoot the scene with both the person and the site in the frame. I used a remote to do something similar in the following picture showing my friends and me in front of the Seattle skyline.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving rehearsal

This year, Joan and Allison decided that one Thanksgiving wasn't enough, so we had a Thanksgiving rehearsal. As long as we were rehearsing, I figured I'd rehearse the pictures.

They decorated...
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And cooked...

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I was thankful for our new ovens that fit perfectly into the space left by the ones that stopped working.

What did I learn?
  • A lens hood is a great tool out in the sun. But you have to take it off when you use the flash. (Notice the shadow below the ovens?)
  • With or without flash, it's hard to get the white balance right in incandescent lighting. But I think that the color in the shots without flash is truer to the actual lighting. No flash means higher ISO settings to eliminate blur, and therefore more graininess.
  • I was in a hurry to take the pictures, so I used the on-camera flash instead of my (new) external flash. The new flash would probably have resulted in better color. I need to rehearse it between now and the real Thanksgiving next week.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fall leaves and pumpkins

I love fall — the colors, the pumpkins, and all the leaves lying in piles in the yard.

Actually, all the leaves are lying in other people's yards, since the only things that our trees drop are pine needles. If I want to take pictures of fall leaves, I either have to crawl around someone else's yard, or fill a bag with leaves to take back home. I chose to bring some leaves home.

Fall leaves and pine cone

Fall leaves

The other thing I love about fall is the pumpkins. If you wait until the morning after Halloween, you can get a great bargain on all the pumpkins you want.

Pumpkin still life

Pumpkin stem

What did I learn?

Macro photography requires a tripod, or at least something to rest the camera on or against. Getting the focus right seems to be my toughest challenge these days.