Retrospective

Being outside and taking pictures with other people is a great learning experience. We can always learn something from others and that's the true beauty of photography. We don't all see the world the same way and the camera allows people to capture what they see in the world. 

All new students to photography are advised to shoot in manual, or at least as much as you can.

It's important that we become familiar with using the properties, to the point that they become second nature to us. Being out with other people allows questions to be asked and answers to be given, along with free ranging discussions which helps further our photography education.

Here's a small glimpse into how I approached a particular subject...

ISO 50  |  30 seconds  |  /22.0

Shot on AGFA Ultra 50 film (long since discontinued) during the height of foliage season in New Hampshire's White Mountains.

It was late day and the sun was shining strongly on the trees across the river. Long-exposures have a tendency to create a surreal image under the right circumstances, so all I could do was set things and hope for the best.

I needed to starve the exposure of light. First, I applied a Circular Polarizing Filter to the lens to control how light would reflect off the water. This has a nice benefit of cutting down on the light by a full-stop. Next, I applied a 10-stop Neutral-Density filter to dramatically  reduce the light even more.

The film's ISO was 50 and I closed the Aperture all the way down to f/22 for that particular lens. With my Shutter-Speed, I found a full 30-seconds was necessary to bring my exposure into balance. An insanely  long-exposure for daylight that gave me those wonderful orange-sherbet colors.

ISO 100  |  1/100 second  | f /8.0

Taken two nights prior to a full moon. There is plenty of light to illuminate the water and the trees, while also allowing us to see the rising moon. There are several ways to photograph the moon: Using a telephoto lens so the moon is the only thing in the viewfinder is a popular one. 

Another is to photograph the moon illuminating a picturesque cloud cover. Or in the case here, make the moon part of the photo, but not the sole  focus.

Using a compass, I was able to determine which direction the moon would be rising from. I arrived about 20 minutes beforehand to get a good spot, set things up and wait.

Only when the moon reached the point that it cleared the densest part of our atmosphere near the horizon, did I start shooting. (This atmosphere barrier is the reason the sun becomes easier to see at sunrise or sunset.)

At 1/100 off a second, my Shutter-Speed was a bit slow for this.

Remember, we are moving around the sun and at the same time, the moon is moving around us. That's two moving objects (variables) we have to deal with and 1/250 of a second is actually the recommended Shutter-Speed for photographing the moon.

ISO 1600  |  1/13 second  |  /5.6

This was a total surprise and one I would not repeat.

Driving down a dirt road in the northern White Mountains, I came upon the parked car of a gentleman Michelle and I had encountered at a waterfall just a few miles up the road.

They guy signaled me to pull over and also to be quiet as I slowly approached. Expecting a deer, I saw a young moose calf standing there, just looking at him. He advised me to put his truck between me and the moose. Very carefully, I started photographing while the guy talked to the moose in a very soothing manner.

The moose made no threatening moves and after a few minutes, just walked off into the woods. The guy and I laughed about the encounter afterwards, then went on our merry way.

I cannot stress enough to be very careful when it comes to moose. They frighten easily and will kill you if they feel threatened.

ISO 200  |  1/6 second  |  /22.0

I saw this scene early one morning right after sunrise, but I didn't have my gear with me. Noting the time, I went back the next morning and was setup so I would be ready in case the lighting would repeat itself.

As it did, I took one photograph after another, often times changing my position, until the sun rose to the point that it just fizzled out. Getting home, I immediately loaded the digital card into the computer and was more than pleased with the results.

One time, I saw a scene involving the late day sun and the tree shadows, as they stretched out across a frozen river. I was unable to stop due to circumstances and the next 2 days it would rain. Going back on the third day, the ice had melted sufficiently that the scene was gone.

Sometimes you just can't take a photograph and you have to enjoy what you see...

ISO 6400  |  1/20 second  |  /3.5

A very special photograph.

I had just purchased a new camera and had taken it with me to a Halloween party. I wasn't planning on taking photos at the event, but I was thinking about taking the long way home the next morning and you never know what you may see.

We had a freak snowstorm that evening and my friend (pictured here) was lighting off his fireworks display. I had left my tripod at home (BAD, JIM) and had no stable platform which to rest it on, other than a damp deck rail. Cranking up the ISO to a whopping 6400, I knew the noise was going to be pronounced but with the snow coming down, I was hoping it would add a nice touch to the photograph.

I balanced the camera, while one photograph after another was taken. This was the best of the lot, by far.

ISO 100  |  1/500 second  |  f /8.0

Taken on a trip to Savannah, Georgia. This was metered using an Incident light-meter and perfectly shows why this meter is so good. The flower is white, without being blown-out of all detail. We can clearly see in the background and the deep shadows, even for something taken in bright daylight (3:38 PM EST)

Would my built-in meter give me the same exposure? Possibly, but I've learned from experience that this is not always the case and besides, I purchased an Incident light-meter for just such a purpose.

We were only in Savannah for a few days and did a lot of walking during that time. I took several magnolia photos along our travels, but I like this one the best.

ISO 400  |  1/250 second  |  f /5.3

I photographed a local balloon festival for several years and I know the area pretty well. I'd arrive at the field before lift-off. If wind conditions were acceptable, they would launch a small red balloon to determine the wind's direction. 

I'd take off and shadow the hot-air balloons for a while, then I'd drive ahead to places I hoped they would fly over. Sometimes they did, but the wind can blow them anywhere.

On this particular occasion, after photographing them alongside a river, I arrived at the New England College Covered Bridge and waited on a neighboring bridge. I'd say it was a good 20 minutes before the balloon came floating by, low over the horizon. It didn't get any higher than this and then floated to a landing nearby.

This is a perfect example of picturing a moment so vividly in the imagination, that we can actually go about capturing it.  

This also speaks to another point I want to make: You don't need to go to exotic locales to take wonderful photographs. Take them where you are. Visit the same sights over and over again, you will get a different result every time. I've shot this bridge many times over the years, and I enjoy each one because they are all unique in their own way, as we see it in different lighting and different seasons.

ISO 100  |  0.5 seconds  |  f /29.0

When I take a photograph of a waterfall, I want to starve the exposure of light. Here, I set the ISO first, then the Aperture. My objective was not for depth-of-field, although everything here is in focus, it was to throttle down the light as much as possible, to really slow down the Shutter-Speed. 

Here's the thing about waterfalls, you have to be careful about the volume of water that is in motion. The more water concentrated in a specific area, the greater the chance it will be a bright hotspot. For this reason alone, photographing on a bright sunny day is not advisable. Overcast days are best and early very morning is even better.

Now, with a waterfall, once I take the picture, I view the histogram to see if I have any clipping in the brights. If I am pleased with things, I will look at how the water looks at that particular Shutter-Speed. If I need to go for a longer exposure, I will increase the length of the Shutter-Speed, followed by decreasing an equal amount of light via Aperture. Balance.

"Shutter-Priority"  is a semi-automatic mode on my camera where I set the ISO and the Shutter-Speed, and the camera will set the Aperture to bring my exposure into balance. I also have an Aperture-Priority mode as well. As handy as these features are, I still prefer to be on manual the majority of the time.

if you're learning photography, you will want to make all these adjustments yourself. 

Shoot a range of different Shutter-Speeds and see which one works best for that particular waterfall. Take multiple photos from different perspectives and heights.

Stretch yourself.

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