Sunday, October 18, 2015

Metering Modes and Hyperfocal Distance

Ok, so I'm probably getting pretty geeky now so I'm assuming that if you actually clicked on this post then you are ready to geek out with me.  So, my last post was about the concept of hyperfocal distance and how to use that with back button focus.  My wife, daughter and I went to Beiteddine the other day and had the chance to fool around with metering modes.

I had watched a tutorial that suggested that photographers stick to either center-weighted metering or spot metering modes depending on whether they were in a controlled environment or shooting on the go.  I decided to test this theory out the other other day.

Since I was "on the go" while walking around Beiteddine, I selected center-weighted metering mode, put my 17mm f4.0 to 17mm and f8.0 and set the focus to the hyperfocal distance.  I think proceeded to walk around the Beitedding complex taking some shots.  I kept the in mind the fact that anything closer than about 4ft (125cm) would be out of focus.  I then set my other two back buttons to start metering and lock metering.  I was able to quickly set and lock metering by touching the two aforementioned buttons quickly in sequence and then move to the trigger to take the photo.  This system, combined with the hyperfocal theory, help produce fast and reliable results as I walked around.  Here are some examples.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hyperfocal Distance, Back Button Focus and Byblos

With our most recent visit to Lebanon, I had a chance to play around with hyperfocal distance.  Ever since I started to consider getting into underwater video, I've been fascinated by the this theory.

To oversimplify a complicated theory, hyperfocal distance is the focal distance at which you set your camera for a given aperture and focal length in order to achieve the maximum depth of field.  It will extend from a certain point in front of the camera until infinity.  The advantage of this theory is that as long as everything in your picture is more than the minimum distance then everything should be in focus.   There are a glut of apps out there that will help you calculate your hyperfocal distance.  Just simply search for "hyperfocal" and you will find them. This approach is incredibly helpful when working with underwater video as it allows you to set your focus and simply concentrate on recording and framing and not dealing with focusing knobs etc.

During our last trip to Byblos, I decided to play around with this theory and apply it to photography.  I set my camera to f11 and my focal distance to 0.8m.  This meant that everything from 0.3m to infinity would remain in focus as I took pictures.  Since my camera was set to back button focus and manual mode I simply had to pull the shutter release button.  I found it a easy and effect way of taking photos that kept everything in focus while giving you complete control over your exposure.  I would think that this would be effective in a situation where there is limited change in light.  Variable light would require a much more complicated approach.  In any case, here are some samples from the day.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Beirut - Lebanon

Yesterday, I attempted to return to my camera again for Photowalk purposes.  I led the Beirut leg of Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk through the streets of this lovely city.  Mostly made up of friends and colleagues, we meandered through the tight alleyways and busy roads while attempting to capture images that represented the street life of the city.  It was an interesting process.  During other photowalks, I was able to zone out and get into my grove by disappearing into the background of the group.  By leading this walk, I found myself involved in some great conversations and I got to know quite a few interesting and fun people but I found it hard to really get into the grove of taking pictures.  I guess this really helped reinforce that photowalks really are about the social nature of photography.  Perhaps I've been missing something during all the other walks that I had been taking.  Here are a few of the images that I captured during the walk ...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bavaria - The Land of Castles and Churches

Wow, how long has it been?  Well, hopefully this is me starting up again.  Having a baby and updating her blog has taken my photography focus elsewhere recently.  I did get to play around with some HDR photography in the churches of Bavaria over our Spring Break.

The photos of the churches were taken hand held, then auto-aligned in Photoshop.  Afterwards, I used Photoshop to process the HDR images and then pulled the resulting file into Lightroom for final editing.  I'm starting to learn more about exporting photos from Lightroom into smaller file sizes.  I've realized that the histogram can really be  your friend in this situation.  After much trial and error, I now know that it is important for me to pull the shadows up out of the left quarter of the histogram to get an exposure that I like.  In these images I used a combination of the shadows slider and exposure slider to accomplish this.

The photo of Neushwanstein was a straight up 24-70 f2.8II shot at around 40mm/f8.0.  I pulled the blues and overall highlights down to get the darkened sky.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Spring Break in Portugal

 Elise and I spent Spring Break exploring the Portuguese coast.  We stayed in the town of Nazare and visited the local beach which was home of the 100 ft wave.  I took this opportunity to spend some time on the coastline during sunset and visit the local churches.  The images in this post were taken on the days leading up to and following the 2014 Easter celebrations.  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Exposing for Skin - without a light meter!

   I'll start this post off with an admission ... I've always struggled exposing skin properly.  Whether it is with artificial or available light, getting those skin tones correct has been a difficult process in camera.  Being a part-time professional who wants to keep costs to a relatively reasonable level, I have resisted purchasing a light meter thinking that there must be a way to get this correct in camera without spending a boat load on a light meter.

   Enter my new macro lens.  Now, please note, what is to follow is only an example and the photos are simply crops of larger photos but I think they serve to prove my theory.  I recently purchased the Canon 100mm 2.8L Macro Lens.  This purchase got me thinking about macro photos and histograms ... and that led me to my current exposure process.

  My theory was that I would be able to expose for a subject's skin by taking a photo that encompasses the highlights to shadows of the subjects face and then look at the histogram to determine if the exposure was correct.  I quickly realized that the histogram changed depending on the lighting ratios/setup and the intended mood of the image.  I found that a flat lighting setup gave a histogram that spread from the "bottom" (shadows) 1/3  to the top (highlights) 2/3s of the histogram.  Now, this is not always true for every lighting setup, or every photographer.  You will need to determine your ideal histogram shape and spread.  
   I start by taking a photo of the subject (a forehead) as you see below.  Note, that you do not need a macro lens to do this as you can take the same photo, out of focus, and achieve that same result.

   After that, I look at the histogram and adjust settings until I get a histogram that spreads from the lower (left) 1/3 to upper (right) 2/3s of the histogram (see below).  I've found that I tend to like the look that is shifted slightly to the right.

  I then step back and begin shooting.  and get images that, I have fond, require little adjustment for skin exposure in post.  Now, this does not include a explanation of determining background exposure.   That is another beast for another post, and I would be happy to explain that process if there is interest.  In any case, below is an example the overall histograms and photos that I have been getting out of camera.

   As always, comments, opinions or other methods of exposing for skin are very, very welcome.  Take care everyone!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spring Sofian Trams

     I spent this weekend walking around Sofia as Elise my little daughter visited the US.  It was perfect Sofian weather for reigniting my passion with trams.  When visiting many other European cities you see uniform, high-tech public transportation that is run in an immaculate fashion.  While Sofia's public transportation is well run and very timely, it is anything but uniform.  Each tram, bus or subway has its own character and appearance.  Travelling on these trams (and other forms of public trans) is one of my favorite things to do in Sofia.  It is a throwback to an earlier day.  These photos were taken using back button focus while tracking the tram along its path.