Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Macro Photography

All the rules you follow to achieve your usual shooting style should be applied when shooting macro-photography. Watch your background and keep clutter to a minimum. Try and work with contrast in tone and colour in order to make your subject pop. And try for the maximum sized image while keeping the subject absolutely sharp.

That is where this image suffers - it is a little small and a tad lacking in ultimate detail because of this. But the copper toned top of the Japanese Beetle contrasts nicely with the green foliage and the rich colours make for a strong image.

The really nice thing about macro-photography is that you can make images that are real grabbers without so much as leaving your backyard. And most point-and-shoots today offer macro photography as one of the myriad of shooting options. So, get out there and have some fun --- and get some great pictures, too.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Telling a story with your pictures.

Pictures should always tell a story. The story can be simple or complex but there should be a clarity of thought evident in all your shots.

Years of working as a news photographer taught me the importance of paying attention to the story telling being delivered by each picture.

Seeing some young people unloading kayaks for an afternoon run down the local river, I immediately thought of my other blog --- London Daily Photo.

I shot images of the unloading, the launching and the paddling. The first two images are rich with lots of action. I am especially fond of the composition of the unloading picture with the curved jogging trail adding a wonderful sense of energy to the image.

These images just didn't happen, but I didn't set them up either. I scouted each scene, found the angle that held the most promise and then shot the action using the best frame capture mode of my Fuji Finepix HS10.

Some mention should be made of Photoshop. All images were enhanced using Photoshop. Each picture had the endpoints adjusted with Levels and the overall brightness of each image was modified using Curves. After hitting the images with a little Saturation, each picture was sharpened using Unsharp Mask.

This is the approach that one should strive for when shooting such stuff as vacation pictures. The holiday photo album will be far more interesting, if you do.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A fine camera for reporters

Strong pictures to illustrate a story are now in reach of reporter two-way folk.
The line separating reporters and photographers is becoming blurred. When a good camera kit with a big selection of lenses cost a small fortune, it was impossible to offer reporters the toys given photographers at the same newspaper. This is no longer true.

The news shooters may have faster lenses but there is no longer any reason for reporters acting as two-way folk to be given a complete losing hand when it comes to camera gear. I would highly advise any paper to give super zoom cameras like the Fuji FinePix HS10 serious consideration.

These cameras may not capture the ultimate in image quality but then newspapers don't require such high quality. My Fuji shoots images that would look just fine printed on newsprint with an 80 line halftone screen.

Reporters are bright people and many are very image literate. With a good super zoom these talented reporters could report both verbally and pictorially and they could do so easily and quickly.

Last night I had to post a response to a feature that ran in my local paper. I made a loop through the suburban area that was discussed, quickly took a lot of pictures to illustrate my points, and within hours of deciding to write my piece I had it online, complete with art.

See: Rockin' On: the blog --- 21st Century Suburbia. You don't have to read the piece, this isn't trolling. Just check out the images taken with the lens on my HS10 set anywhere from 24mm to 720mm. The exposures were set by the camera and saved as simple jpegs. I did nothing fancy. I did nothing that a reporter could not be expected to master.

For another example of what a reporter could do with simple equipment and enthusiasm, see:
Canoeing the Thames (in Ontario). Reporters could do this. They are quite bright people. Honest.

Now, about photographers also writing articles . . .

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Best Frame Capture Mode

According to Fuji, "With this mode, you can half-press the shutter button and the HS10 will start to record photos. Then, when the special moment happens, all you have to do is fully press the shutter button and the camera will capture that shot and the 7 previous shots, ensuring that you will have every moment of the action recorded, and giving you the opportunity to select whichever was the best shot!"

A big weakness of point-and-shoot cameras vs. DSLRs is the shutter lag from which point-and-shoots suffer and DSLR cameras don't. The HS10's Best Frame Capture mode delivers images that slipped by during the camera lag moment.

For today's picture the HS10 delivered seven images, taken in quick succession, from which I selected the best. The downside is that the Fuji camera takes more than ten seconds to write all seven images to the SD card. Until the camera is done, no more picture taking is possible. Win some, lose some.

Since I cannot afford the alternative, nor do I want to tote about the weight of a DSLR plus a number of lenses, I'm happy. I think I'm winning more than I'm losing shooting with my HS10.

Now for a note on composition:

I believe with images like the above it is important to have the lines of the stairs perfectly parallel to the top and bottom of the picture. If you've got Photoshop, you can Select -> All and go Edit -> Transform -> Skew to correct the little compositional errors. Don't try to correct too much with skew, do most of the work in-camera while shooting. This keeps the distortions introduced by Photoshop from becoming obvious.

For another post on Best Frame Capture, check out: Best Frame Capture_A Detailed Look.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The benefit of a long lens

Most often a long lens, like the 720mm zoom on the Fuji FinePix HS10, is used to get "close" to a distant subject. When I saw today's picture I wanted to put distance, real distance, between me and the subject. The pavement dust would be bad enough on my camera but, unlike the man operating the cutter, I didn't have a face mask. The HS10 allowed me to get quite a ways away and still capture a fine photo. You just have to love that 720mm zoom.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Another use for continuous shooting

Continuous shooting at 10 fps guaranteed a sharp image.
The thistle looked like a picture but it was waving sporadically in the light breeze. Trying to time the shot to the lull in the wind was near impossible. The shutter lag kept messing up my timing. So, I set my Fuji HS10 to continuous and soon had an image. Don't just think sports action when considering the value of the continuous shooting feature.