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The TPU Darkroom - Digital SLR and Photography Club

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From about 2 weeks ago, was heading down to Kenai to Russian River Falls
IMG_0369.jpg
 

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From about 2 weeks ago, was heading down to Kenai to Russian River FallsView attachment 123231

This reminds me of a picture i had as a kid that my parents kept in my room - it was a photo of Mt. Fuji in Japan and it was exactly like this but maybe with some more greenery. Not sure what happened to that picture after my room was renovated.

Very nice picture indeed.
 
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That would make a great desktop
 
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Ahhzz

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O boy i dont know if i should be posting here but just wanted to share some of what i took.
You took pictures, so you should absolutely be posting here :) welcome, and nice pics!!
 
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During a power outage this week I saw a strange and tiny bright light blinking under a wooden showcase. Then I realize it must be a firefly trapped in a spider web becuase it just blinked but did not move around. I took this one after energy was retored.-

123254
 

aQi

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You took pictures, so you should absolutely be posting here :) welcome, and nice pics!!

No bro these are old (from last year)
Just hanging around tpu, now i know tpu has this section i will definitely share more of my clicks.
And thanks ;)
 
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Played around with HDR earlier today. Just 3 exposures: -2, 0, and +2. It's definitely interesting. Not sure I like how Lightroom handles it. Not enough control - it took a lot to pull anything viable from what I got. Maybe I'm bracketing wrong? I gotta admit it's hard to take the result and interpret how it should look, because the raw result is far from it. It gives the images an interesting feel - the tones are sorta dramatic and video-game-like but... it's hard to explain. It's like one thing always has to be pretty wrong for everything else not to be. I just don't feel as in-control of the outcome as I could be. The consistency isn't there.

The contrast seems to be all over the place no matter what I do. Anything I do after merging feels like trying to salvage a burnt birthday cake. You can dress it up nice, but it's still dry on the inside. I have to process them quite heavily and they never come out natural-looking. The only time they do, it's in a very boring way... like the lighting is actually flattened out instead of being more dynamic, even if the exposure does look more 'correct.'

I'd rather have a better starting point than plan on drastic tweaking every time. Feels like I'm not getting the full HDR experience. Too hands-off to be quite adaptable outside of the happy median of typical HDR shots. Deviate a little and it starts to punish you. The 'auto' adjustments it applies are good 1 in 10 times. The other 9, they barely work as starting points. I find it quicker/easier to zero-out the basic adjustment sliders, set the black/white points, correct WB, and go from there with my intended exposure/contrast/highlights/shadows. But even then it's like "Man... this is all I got?" It's like... you can only do the artsy type of HDR with it because the image starts off so far off from where it needs to be that you're forced to compromise somewhere between that point and the picture in your head. And you look at it knowing the desired result is in all of that image data, somewhere you can't reach.

It has some artifacts I'm seeing already, too. It seems like the brightness gradient is always harshest up in the highlights, while the shadows get all of the smoothness in dynamics. The highs are off... not just in straight contrast but also in color luminosity. Less of the highlights are blown-out than in a traditionally overexposed image, but what does wind-up blown-out after merging is irrecoverably harsh, even though the data is technically there in the lower-exposures. Plucking out that brightness level range and smoothing it over is a tricky and limiting endeavor. I wish I could control the tone-mapping myself... as in, actually pick what parts of the histogram most favor which exposures.

But maybe I just need shorter stops and more exposures for the overexposed side of the HDR stack? Just figure out what the Lightroom HDR gods want from me and offer it to them. Maybe 2 stops is too much distance between exposures for the shots I'm doing. With a few changes to how I operate I could pretty quickly churn-out a more granular range of exposures to toss into a few different merged images.

Maybe I'd stop and think more about what I'm doing if I knew I had to plot and set more parameters, heh. Might take that extra time to check focus and composition and stop thinking about the next shot. It just gets to be a lot for one shot that may not even be good anyway. I'd rather have a way where I just know all of the components and it's just a matter of going through the process of getting the exact shots needed, or at least of always merging whatever shots I get suitably. It's more energy tied up in technicalities instead of composition. My thinking is that you learn to nail the technicalities effectively and consistently in order to free up your ability to thoughtfully compose shots. Harder to do that with the extra unknowns of Adobe HDR in the mix, just never knowing if what you're feeding it isn't going to work and there's gonna be nothing you can do about it but contrive more roundabout shooting techniques.

Eh... either way, the anti-ghosting only kinda works on the water, which is in a lot of the shots I'd use HDR for. Like... it's passable but it's always at least a little blurrier than in any of the source exposures. In fact, the entire end-result seems to lose a little fine detail - it reminds me of slight chromatic aberration in the detail loss - it's just that the water looks differently blurred and stands out. It gets washy and you still get subtle overlays with deghosting... they just change in character so as to mimic water in motion. And then when you have water peeking through between solid lines, you get this strange effect, like circles of colored yarn vignetting the edges. This happened in the image below, where the walkway turns - maybe I'll crop it out to show it later.

Have to start trying other software solutions for it. And try not to fall into the trap of making garishly exaggerated images all of the time. :p It's fun to mess with, though. I'll probably geek on it for a bit. I figure it might be viable for certain exposures where noise would otherwise be a slight problem with this camera's somewhat noisy sensor. An alternative to over-exposing low-light shots and recovering shadows to get that 'twilight' effect. I always seem to find myself most drawn to lower-light scenarios. That and subjects where a bright light source is behind them and there's only a lot of diffused light hitting the subject. And also low-emissive-distance light sources in relatively dark environments. Challenging for a newbie to get right at all, but it's what gets me wanting to use my camera more often than not. I kind of enjoy technically challenging shots in that it forces me to be deliberate and try to stick everything I can.

Biggest hindrance is that my tripod isn't steady enough for it... well, really, that's an all around problem. Every time I press the shutter button, it deviates a little - and even if it comes out sharp, it's shifted. So any kind of stacked image presents major alignment problems. Or maybe I'm using my 50mm at f/2.8 up-close and that little nudge is enough to push the subject partially out of focus.

Learned a little to late to always use the remote... or better yet, buy a more stable tripod. Because always using the remote with my tripod is a huge distraction. Something to misplace, time spent switching between timer/remote shooting and single/continuous, yet more time re-shooting because you realized you forgot. Just another way to become disorganized, which I'm quickly realizing is half of the battle.

Unfortunately by the time that I figured out to always use the remote with my crummy, wobbly tripod, I still kind of botched this shot - I left the aperture at f/8 from a previous shot when I should've closed it down to more like f/11 and focused further back, to get everything from the railing in the back and everything and up sharp. That or went wide open and brought it a little forward to shorten the DOF. This 10-18mm is really fun to use - the crazy, pulled-back perspective presents some interesting opportunities. But it's a different ballgame. I really needed to slow down - sunset goes pretty fast at this distance from the equator. I was caught off-guard. Still, I should've been able to do both and would have if I had stopped and thought. It probably would've helped to turn off IS when I mounted my camera onto a tripod.

Best of the day, anyway. The rest weren't worth sharing. I did at least enjoy the sunset. No sarcasm, it was nice to get off of work and chill at the park for a few hours. That's something I missed about my trips back then. If gets you in the mode of being present. It's very relaxing to just spend time in a nice environment, with only the goal of taking in your surroundings at hand. I feel like maybe I've needed that kind of relaxation for a long time. I also met a nice old lady with a full-frame Canon and a nice telephoto zoom lens, trying to catch all of the birds. It's a nice place to be and the people I met there are all very friendly. Any other time, everybody around here is rude as shit. I guess that's an unlisted benefit to going out and taking pictures. The places you'd usually take pictures at often have nice people relaxing in them or passing through. And something about having an SLR with you makes people magically more apt to chat and be nice/respectful to you. :D

IMG_0666-HDR.jpg


Unrelated... I feel like I take a ton of shots that are terrible and then occasionally I get a couple that are halfway almost good. And yet the halfway decent ones are the only ones I seem to learn a damned thing from. :oops:
One really good thing has happened on my learning oddysey. I'm starting to get used to the autofocus on this setup. I now only focus on the wrong points instead. :p I still think my next camera will have more AF points. Even if I stick with EF-S, I can always snag an 80D. If I can find a good zoom lens to pair with it with, I think that'd serve me well.

But the focus-recompose method works decently well to compensate so long as you leave the aperture a stop or two higher. I've quickly adapted to using the back focus button (it's SO much better,) with the half-shutter-press only locking exposure. I find it generally works to choose the closest AF point to the subject that puts you closest to where you want to actually frame things, hit the back focus button, slide off to where you want to look, and fire off a few continuous shots. At least a couple always stick with everything focused properly.

So now if I can figure out ways to pull out better low-light and even just more dynamically lit shots with it, I'll be in good shape for awhile with this humble T3i. The only thing I'd really want for at that point is a really good, fast EF-S zoom lens with everything from barely wide-angle to somewhere in the upper-low to lower-medium telephoto range, good AF with lots of points, and IS. I could stick with these Canon EF-S bodies for a long time, I think. Even if they aren't the best. The one I already have seems to have a lot of potential. Even a few generations of marginal improvements and you'd have a really great camera body.

I get the impression that many of the lenses I can get reasonably (or even higher up) in the EF-S ecosystem are good well beyond the point I can reasonably gauge, so I think the technical limitations of Canon's enthusiast crop sensor bodies is the only factor left. That and I have 2 EF-S and one EF lens already. I like that they're light, more affordable on the used market, and feature enthusiast models with articulating screens. I seriously don't think I can go back from flippy-spinny-screens.

I find I can't trust the AF on my 10-18mm at all when I'm trying to take closed-down shots with an object towards the back of the shot as a focus point, even with plenty of light, it just misses. And the worst part is, I can't see that on the viewfinder. Even under sunlight, it can sometimes be hard to see what's in and out when you use the DOF preview to close down at f/11. Especially with it pulled all the way back to 10mm. My way around that is to drop my camera on the tripod, switch to live view, and use the zoom on the display to hone-in on the focal point as precisely as possible. I'm actually considering getting a phone mount to go on the shoe and just using my phone as a display for focusing in these cases. AF is fine for hand-holding closer shots, where the furthest object is maybe 20-30ft back (works great for wide-angle closeups with pretty narrow DOF, too.) Further out than that, it gets finicky. I really wish for a better screen or viewfinder
 
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Ahhzz

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Some Weeping Cherry 5000-ish x 1050-ish. Was a lot of blooms a few weeks ago :)
WeepingCherry 10.jpg
WeepingCherry 8.jpg
WeepingCherry 4.jpg

I liked the look of this, but it had a power line running thru it, so I had to do some editing....
 

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Some Weeping Cherry 5000-ish x 1050-ish. Was a lot of blooms a few weeks ago :)
View attachment 123335
View attachment 123336
View attachment 123337
For some reason seeing that made me want horizontal/vertical, 9-shot panorama. :p

Nah, but those are cool shots. I see a butterfly!


So, after a pretty disappointing run playing more with HDR, I'm starting to rethink my technique. Part of it was just that it was a mildly breezy day amongst the trees, and Adobe's deghosting solution is terrible as something to actually rely on beyond a last-ditch... it kills IQ, introduces splotchy or grainy artifacts, and probably the worst thing it will do is actually take pieces of your darkest exposure, bring it up, and replace exposures in the middle or even the top with those when they don't line up, so you can see all of the wonderful color noise and loss of detail in the upper-midtones, even if they're still conveying that added DR. It's terrible and ugly... like the picture was taken with a broken camera. I have to find a better software solution. Maybe photomatix. Seems to give you a lot more control over that, not to mention all of the built-in correction algorithms for noise, CA, and other things. If I understand it right, I can even export from LR to that after applying NR to minimize noise being brought up in the merging process that happens in photomatix.

I at least need reliable, controllable deghosting for clouds and water, as Adobe's solution just seems to ruin those with either a total miss or terrible dots and splotches. Hell, I have seen it take a clear blue patch of sky and drip coffee or something on it. I'll never understand how anyone can claim to get consistent results with LR's HDR merge. IME so many little things can throw it so far off as to be completely useless. You'll toss shots that would otherwise be viable due to that one thing. I'm looking at about 20 HDR stacks, with varying conditions, and not one of them emerged without its fugly pawprints on it. Is this why people hate HDR? Shots with nasty blobs, noise, and blown-out colors/highlights? It can't even handle trees shifting in a gentle breeze without turning them into noisy, blurry, artifacte-y shmutz. I mean, we're talking as little as 10-pixel differences across all shots royally screwing up half of the final image! What do you do with that? Never use HDR for anything that moves at all? Just the slightest movement in the frame makes it trip all over itself half of the time. I submit that part of it is me not knowing what I'm doing, but there's gotta be more to it when everything you can possibly do with it isn't enough to get passable results. Too many situations on that day, that I know I will encounter again and again, that I will have no solution for with that software. Just more shots I can never get. To be able to pick which shots those ghosted sections favor and mask off regions with a brush tool is like a dream to me. I need that in my life, so I can stop praying to Gaia for all of its wondrous miracles of physics to be still for lil old me.

Actually being able to tweak the tone-mapping and utilize different methods of combining the images would probably help a lot, too. God, I hate Lightroom's HDR implementation. I know... newbie blaming gear for lack of skill/knowledge. But I still feel like I'm easily hitting the limits of what it can do. It's giving me anxiety when I'm out shooting, knowing it'll be a dice-roll later even doing the best that I can. It's the opposite of what I strive for, which is consistent tools and methodology. Ain't got time for alla dis bupkis with my tools!


But beyond that, I think the biggest problems I'm having start in the camera. I've been too careless with my metering, usually allowing the camera to meter on my focal point and then bracketing from there. My mistake there is letting the camera assume that what I'm focusing on is giving a dead 0 exposure, when really it almost never is. This means that I always either miss or overshoot either the shadows or the highlights. I need to focus more on actually capturing the entire dynamic range of the image without blowing anything out... as in, actually figure out the difference, in stops, between the brightest and darkest points in the scene. That way I know where to start and end, and exactly how many shots I need to capture the full range.

So, what I'm thinking of doing is using the dreaded spot-metering. What I'll do first is pop into Av mode with my desired aperture and ISO set. What I'll then do is flip into live view and very carefully spot meter on or maybe near my brightest point (metering on the sun, for instance, would probably be a bad idea,) note the shutter speed given, and then move to my darkest spot and do the same. Probably need to zoom in to get it right, but it's worth it. This way, I can work out how many stops apart they actually are and find my true middle exposure. From there, I can flip into manual mode and go stop-by-stop through the shutter speeds between those two points and hopefully capture the full range. Or maybe I'll realize that there's not enough range for HDR to make a difference and I'll just take the middle exposure I found for a perfectly-exposed shot. I'll need to look into how many stops of DR my camera actually has to be able to draw that line. That, and lots of practice! ;)

I dunno... I think this will work much better than my more hands-off approach of metering once and bracketing from that random focal point, even if I have to work more on streamlining the process and keep track of a little more in my head. Just one of those things where normal metering isn't always trustworthy. Averaging falls apart when you're dealing in extreme contrast. The histogram misleads. I mean, if you already know you're dealing with a scene the camera can't adequately capture on its own, why trust it to meter it effectively on its own? I don't know why that wasn't common sense to me.

I'm thinking of putting the Magic Lantern firmware on my T3i to help with that, as I believe it offers more advanced bracketing that would make this process quicker. Like, if I wanted to do 9 bracketed shots, I could set the middle exposure and bracket it quickly from there. Big deal when you consider that the T3i will only do 3 auto-bracketed shots. With ML I could set the camera to remote timer and let it pop off many more shots rapidly, with one button press... instead of manually cycling through like I need to now.

I mean, my main concern with using this spot-metering method is time. Right now, I want sunsets and shots around that time, which presents problems with light changing very quickly and moving clouds. So as soon as I find my exposure, I need to get all of the shots quickly, before the sun moves too much - I've already lost enough time there by the time I'm done spot metering. I also can't be manually bracketing more than 5 shots because the clouds move too much by then - and even that is a stretch. With the 2 second timer it's a minimum of 10 seconds (and likely double that) between first and last shots. Sometimes clouds cover a lot of sky in that time, even on placid days. So if I can get the spot-metering done quickly, the ability to rapidly pop off those bracketed shots might just make all of the difference. I'd also appreciate slower shutter speeds than 30 seconds later on, when I plan to tackle low-shutter-speed HDR and star trails.


Gotta say... people talk a lot of smack about HDR... how it's lazy and just so easy. But I'm finding there's so much more to it than I realized. A lot of prep and forethought goes into getting good results. I guess if you don't want to learn and you actually are lazy, you can easily throw together some really awful HDR shots, but such is the nature of powerful techniques. It's not HDR's fault that people abuse it. I see it as a powerful tool and I want to learn to use it well.

I'm learning that it demands that you understand light and post-processing well - you need to *really* know what those sliders are doing to have any hope of getting it right. And unlike editing regular photos, there is little recourse for not capturing the light correctly - IQ goes out the window. It takes time and care, on site and at home. I get that it's not a shortcut to good pictures... but has anybody ever seriously thought it was? There are easier ways to be lazy. For me, it's just a way of getting the right exposure where every camera's capabilities typically fall short. It gives you a *chance* at good pictures in challenging situations, where there would be zero chance, even for a pro. The best-composed, most perfectly-focused shot is still shit if you can't grab all of the light needed. If anything, you have more reason to pick strong compositions and really get everything right because you're committing to all of these extra steps in the process. You do not have time to "feel" it out. You gotta be able to nail the composition... by take 2 or 3 you have missed your shot.

So many of the things I want to capture cannot be captured the usual way without huge compromises to IQ. That's what draws me to it. Being that I'm into landscapes, nature, and funky lighting situations, I think it will be an invaluable tool.


Other than that, I've learned that even with a solid tripod, the remote/2-second timer method is best. Even if the shutter speed prevents shake, the shift from squeezing the button is still too much for stacked exposures. Another one is always manual focus for wide-angle landscapes - zoom in on your focal point via live view and hone-in. On my setup, at least, there is no substitute for doing that. Autofocus lets me down every time. Not precise enough at any sort of real distance. Say I want reasonable sharpness 90ft back, with a sharp foreground fairly close to me. Getting AF to hit at 30ft away is already asking a lot. It'll say it does, but sometimes I struggle to see where it actually landed at all - surely not where I put it, though. May actually be my camera, there. That aside, with my 10-18mm STM lens, diffraction starts becoming an issue up past f/11, especially with skylines. Crop sensor and all, diffraction happens at lower f-stops. f/8 seems like the best compromise. But that means I have to be careful about where I focus and how accurate I am, like working with portraits and telephoto lenses or perhaps super-macro shots. I feel like I should be able to get everything at f/8-f/11, most times. Just a matter of picking where I focus better. At 10mm, it's challenging because stuff within a few feet usually winds up in the frame, meaning you can't focus out to infinity. And again, I can't rely on super-narrow apertures. Focusing precision matters a lot, even at web resolutions. You don't see it as blurry... just 'vaguely-muddy' for lack of a better term. To my eyes, it's subtle, but something that really takes away from the impression left.

I still struggle with the tiny viewfinder and small-ish display. It is a test of patience... probably my least favorite part. It often makes it hard for me to see my compositions for what they are, too. The weighting and positive/negative space is hard to gauge. Looks right on screen - wrong in editing. That shot I thought sucked on screen ends up being the best composition, every time. It gets a little annoying, never knowing if what I'm looking at is correct, or if I'm seeing it right. Discerning DOF is similarly tedious - everything is so much sharper scaled so far down. That's not even touching on how bad the screen is in sunlight... <_< I'm seriously leaning towards that idea of mounting my phone on top and using it as a display when using a tripod.

I realize I'm just repeating myself but it's really starting to bug me. It's nothing but a quality of life issue, I know... in so many other regards, I haven't tapped the limits of the camera, so upgrading is out of the question, but that also means being left wanting for quite a long time... or maybe it's just an unwillingness to get used to it that makes me feel so stuck with it. I'm sure I will get used to it anyway. Whether I adapt, adjust, or replace, I wish to be in a place where these annoyances are not a conscious problem for me.


Are ya'll tired of me rambling about things I don't know shit about as I meander hopelessly through this hobby yet? :D
 
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For some reason seeing that made me want horizontal/vertical, 9-shot panorama. :p

Nah, but those are cool shots. I see a butterfly!
...


Are ya'll tired of me rambling about things I don't know shit about as I meander hopelessly through this hobby yet? :D
yeah, I got a couple of good shots before he went out to my Kwanzan cherry, and was too high to get decent pics. Yanked several in and trimmed them to fit my triple monitor, but man those would look good on a 9-up lol

As for the rest, I think most of us are meandering hopelessly heheh. I remember seeing a meme somewhere of a shot of the early portable cameras: 9 pictures, and only one decent. Then it went to the modern 35mm film, 24 pictures, 1 decent pic. Then, of course, a modern 128Gb SD chip, thousands of pics. One good one hahahah
 
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yeah, I got a couple of good shots before he went out to my Kwanzan cherry, and was too high to get decent pics. Yanked several in and trimmed them to fit my triple monitor, but man those would look good on a 9-up lol
Tricky shot, though! I was just talking about wind... can't imagine what a little wind would do to 9 carefully-aligned close-ups of flowers lol. Personally, I struggle to follow one flower with a camera on a breezy day with continuous AF/shooting.

As for the rest, I think most of us are meandering hopelessly heheh. I remember seeing a meme somewhere of a shot of the early portable cameras: 9 pictures, and only one decent. Then it went to the modern 35mm film, 24 pictures, 1 decent pic. Then, of course, a modern 128Gb SD chip, thousands of pics. One good one hahahah
So basically, what you're telling me is to find a whole bunch of 32-64mb SD cards, switch to RAW+HQ-JPEG to fill them up faster and I'll have exponentially more good pictures :D

Nah, but it makes sense. Those film rolls cost some money. You kind of have to be deliberate. When I was learning on 35mm, my instructors really brought that home. But then, they also told me that when you're close to running out and far from done working an area, it's best to burn through the remaining shots on the roll and start with a new one.

It's all relative, I guess. If you only have two dozen shots, and you know that faffing around is gonna cost you more in film and developing, you're not as likely to "work the scene" and just try different angles and exposures. Whereas now, when you can take a few thousand RAW shots, it kinda doesn't make sense to not work every angle, try different exposures, different apertures, different subjects, all within the same scene. Previously you may have done one or two and it was good enough, but had you taken more maybe it would've been bad compared to other shots you got... you just wouldn't have known there was a better shot there because you weren't inclined to take it. When it's easier to work the scene, you're going to take more photos you can toss.

Like... no matter how many shots you take, only a couple will be your "best" whether you take 10 or 100. There's also the fact that you see all of your bad photos, where most people will never see more than a handful. That's gotta have an impact. It's all relative.

All I can say is, with big buffers and fast continuous shooting, I don't envy sports and action photographers. Wildlife photographers to a slightly lesser degree.

I've also heard a similar myth that goes something like "The best photographers don't take more good pictures... they simply don't show the 1000's of bad ones" or maybe it was something like "A good photographer's most guarded secrets are in the photos they don't show."
 
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Quick pictures from range today and airport
 

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Nikon L320 and pushed using instagram filter
 

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You know? I talk a lot about the different challenges I encounter learning the ropes... but my biggest challenge has been actually choosing/isolating subjects. I like nature... mountain biking and hiking have been very close to my heart for a very long time. It goes all the way back to my childhood, with large chunks of my summers spent running around in the woods, trying to find the coolest spots before anybody else. In my travels, I would see all these amazing sights and wondrous curiosities of flora and fauna and think to myself how cool it would be to be able to bring them home with me, for other people to share in.

So I dig up this DSLR, build a solid setup around it, and get going with the basic mechanics of operation. And then I get out there and quickly remember that everything looks sort of like this...
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Now this is a terrible shot, to me. It is so beyond busy it's hard to know where to look first. And that's just kind of what these places are, all the way through. I guess in that sense, it is a good photo, in that you feel what I felt when I took it... that is, hopelessly devoured by plants :p

When everything looks like that, the real challenge is picking out subjects to hone-in on, as well as spots to pull together with a wide-angle lens. I'm learning very quickly to be tedious. It basically comes down to... like, with some of these places it is an all-day hike, minimum. And if you try to hit all of the points of interest in a day, you actually miss all of the little things that really catch the eye. You have to basically pick a loop and try to take in everything there very slowly, until you remember where individual plants are. Otherwise it runs together in a busy cacophony of green. I'm realizing the experiences that bring me to these places with a camera are extremely transient and that it's going to be a matter of going over these places again and again... and I may walk the same loop 10 times on 10 separate days before I see 1 really good photograph in an entire 3-mile loop.

Nobody tells you this stuff, you know? Sometimes I think that's what people REALLY mean when they say that photography takes work. I guess the bright side is that I'll have plenty of viable spots for quite a while, heh. The best part is that these places are so diverse that you walk a couple of miles and you're in a completely different biome. The preserve above has I think... 8? 8 distinct biomes... in 13 miles of trails, not including the side loops along the way. These trails are crazy... just incredibly dense and complex. It's no wonder very few people ever walk them. Too easy to get lost. It can be overwhelming, though personally I find it very calming in that it draws the mind to the senses, even if only out of a necessity for understanding what's happening around you. Are you lost, or simply losing yourself?

Bleh...

Here's a couple of my favorites recently. I *think* I'm improving a little bit, though even in my best shots I still see glaring issues. Maybe I'm just a perfectionist... always wishing I could re-take the shot. My biggest problem right now is a lack of any reasonable command of DOF. My editing needs work too... plus, if I'm gonna commit to editing my photos, I need to work on better exposing for that. Some of my favorites I've ever taken get really interesting with heavy edits, but the exposure keeps them from being what they could've been with a little foresight.
123865
123866
123867

Still sort of playing around, not expecting perfect results. Usually, I will try to isolate one aspect of a good image and stick that as best as I know how. I look for specific challenges and try to pass them. Maybe sometimes I score a combo. But every shot teaches me something new. Here's hoping that process continues for a very long time.

And then, one I posted elsewhere... but I think it's my favorite from a photography standpoint, just because of the mood and the difficulty involved in pointing a camera at a bright light in a dark environment. Looks terrible against a white backdrop. Oh well.
123868
 
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Came out pretty well for shooting through aquarium glass at 16000 ISO
I think the grain actually makes for a nice effect there. And I agree, that noise performance is actually pretty impressive. My Canon would be unusable in that situation, even if its max ISO of 6400 ever could actually allow for a workable exposure. It'd already be grainier at a 10th of your ISO. :wtf:

I wonder how that would've come out with a UV filter. People always say they take a little haze out of sunlight and skies. If they do, the effect is lost to all of the light that it passes. I personally don't believe it matters then, but what about a light source mostly operating near that range? Maybe? I know haze is always an issue shooting through any sort of water... and I assume even more so when a black light is involved.

*shrugs* just trifles I suppose. That's an awesome shot. A little jelly (sorry/not-sorry...) of that opportunity. I would love to try shooting at an aquarium... though I'm not sure my gear would like that idea too much. I know they present a lot of challenges that aren't obvious when you look with your eyes. Reflections on thick ass glass (and the scattering/distortion looking through,) haze/diffraction through the water (no matter how clean,) subjects moving around unpredictably with your ability to compose, focus, and follow them limited by your camera pretty much needing to basically be pressed against the glass, light too low for normal exposure techniques. Seems like it would difficult to get any decent shots without the right gear, or at least some decent planning.

But then it just goes to show, you do get some interesting opportunities!
 
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Thanks for the comments. I've only ever used cpl filters on my lenses and had not thought about picking up a UV filter for that purpose. The haze was definitely the number one killer of my photos there because you lose so much detail if the subject is more than a few feet away. Thankfully the jellyfish tank was super clean and they move slow so I had plenty of time to check my focus and compose the shot.



Smithsonian Campground
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Thanks for the comments. I've only ever used cpl filters on my lenses and had not thought about picking up a UV filter for that purpose.
I have UV's for all 3 of my lenses... and I never ever use them :p

Even my CPL's, I avoid unless there's a specific reason for why I need it. Edge cases, where I truly have no other options. If the foliage is really reflective and washy, sure. But I would rather keep the sharpness of bare-lens and bring out the color in post - I would only use it if the reflections were completely taking out the color or really glaring-out details. For shots with a lot of daytime sky, I'd also rather not because I find they don't make enough of a difference - I still have to bring down the highlights to fix it. Even a pretty white sky has some nice gradients hiding in it. And honestly I'd rather frame/crop it so the sky is out of the shot, or I'm looking at a part of the sky opposite to the sun. Save the sky shots for when it's easier to fit in the whole exposure. Or maybe try HDR. Glass... I either want the reflections or CPL isn't enough given the lighting... better angle or backlight is a much better solution. Otherwise I tend to say it just isn't meant to be... at best I can make it look 'okay' with a CPL. I might use it for clear water in compositions where that ties-in, but large bodies look better without the filter IMO.

Plus, it's another thing to mess with all of the time and I tend to forget it's there.

For me, all filters are highly specialized... I don't like using them generally. A CPL just cuts too much light, which hurts perceived clarity/resolution. I always try to get the lowest ISO and shortest exposure, in that order. The more noise you add in, the blurrier the shot. And then to add to it, all of my filters are plastic. Looks fine zoomed out, but you don't have to pixel-peep to see the "cell-phone" effect. Maybe I'm OCD, but I really don't like that trade off. Maybe with better lenses and a better sensor I might not mind. But as it is, they tend to push IQ just over the line of being unacceptable. It kinda works... until I crop.

It was just a curiosity. Like, maybe I finally discovered a legitimate use for them! Otherwise, I don't see it. People always say it protects your front element. But where are you taking your camera that a hood doesn't cut it? A hood doesn't hurt IQ, yanno?

I always have that thought in the back of my mind of like "...but they have to be good for something, right?" I doubt they *actually* take the haze out of aquarium tanks... a lot of that is just the nature of light passing through water. But for some reason I thought that maybe because a black light has somewhat higher uv-emittance, maybe it might actually make a difference in that particular situation. Simply because the sensor does see some of that, and so you might see it in your shots.
 
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My daughter is a little bit into the crafting Yes that's a DSLR mounted above her workspace

 

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