Archives for April 2010

Tech Tuesday…Exposure

Last week I talked about Blinkies and putting them to good use in determining the correct exposure. We turned them on, now what do we do? We aim at the scene we want to capture, compose, expose and click! Then we look at our rear lcd in search of any exposure problems. Simply press the play button and make sure the word Highlights (Nikon shooters) is displayed and evaluate your exposure…

In this image, when I reviewed the results, there were no Blinkies which meant I had detail in the highlights (clouds) and there was detail in the shadow area which means the exposure was within a 5 stop range…

This is the easiest of easy exposure situations. Simply decide what aperture/shutter speed combination is best for what you want to communicate and click. In this case, I selected f16 to insure that everything from the foreground rock to infinity would appear sharp, let the camera select the correct shutter speed and Click!

Tech Fasts: Image captured with Nikon D2X, AF-S 17-55mm 2.8 in aperture priority at f16 with 1/50 shutter speed & ISO 100, exposed as metered.

Nature In All It’s Glory!!!

While Icelanders are fighting volcanic eruptions, ash, floods and mother nature at her most furious the rest of the world is impacted as the ash moves it’s way across the globe. Check it out here… While I wish I were there right now experiencing the amazing drama, I Also have to pause and think of those who are being directly impacted by this event!

Boiler Bay B&W Pano

I love any chance to go to the beach so, when my parents came to Portland to visit last week we headed straight to the beach, Newport Beach that is. The sounds, the smells, the tang of salt air on my tongue, the ambience fills me with a calmness and joy that I feel only when experiencing the wonders of nature in all her glory. Finding new compositions can be a challenge when you visit the same location frequently. Sure there is different light, weather, lens options but what else could I do to make a different image than my normal coastal landscape? Why not a panorama? I’ve only made a handful of panos on the Oregon coast so I set about composing a pano at Boiler Bay where the sky was filled with puffy clouds and the surf pounded against the rocks. I simply braced myself, composed, focused and began firing rotating my body as I shot from left to right, three frames…handheld. If you have enough light, move relatively quickly through the sequence and hold steady you can make handheld panos (although I don’t suggest getting too lazy and cutting corners here. Normally I set up my tripod, level the camera in vertical orientation using a mid-range zoom like my AF-S 24-70mm 2.8 or AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II, set the focus manually and get an average exposure of the scene, hold my hand in front of my lens to fire a frame letting me know I am about to begin a pano and then moving left to right with a 20% +/- overlap I begin firing until I have all the frame I need to make up my pano). I then took the three images into Photoshop CS4/CS5 and selected File> Automate> PhotoMerge. Using the default settings I simply click OK and let Photoshop work it’s magic. In a short time, I have laid out before my eyes the panorama that I visualized when I stood on the cliffs overlooking Boiler Bay and took the first steps in making a panorama of the scene before me. At this point I don’t need the individual images anymore nor do I need the separate layers so, I flatten the image giving me a single layer three frame panorama of Boiler Bay.

I need to crop the image to fit within a pano format. I select the crop tool and clear the sizes so I can create a free from pano based on image content. So far so good but, I have one more step up my sleeve…let’s go take this image into the world of B&W. To do this, I use NIK Silver Efex Pro to make the B&W conversion. For this image, I selected High Structure, move the Structure slider to the far right giving the image some extra contrast and detail. I also cycle through the color buttons to find the best “filter” for the image. I settle on red to increase the contrast in the sky…

I click OK and the final image appears before my eyes…

You know, there is still the magical quality of the wet darkroom days where we projected our images against light sensitive paper and ran it through a chemical process to end up with an image from our negatives…we let our imagination go wild, try it out and check the results where they magically appear on the rear lcd of our camera…instantly! And when we get back to the digital darkroom we have even greater creative control than we had in the wet darkroom where we can tweak, convert, burn, dodge, and tweak our image to our heart’s content and magically the image changes before our eyes.
Keep the magic alive through your vision and imagination!

Tech Tuesday…Blinkies

Our eyes can see detail within an incredible range of light. We see details in the shadows and within an instant our eyes adjust to details in the brightest areas. Our cameras, on the other hand, can capture a five stop range of light. Anything greater than five stops will give us images that have more information than our cameras can capture possibly blocking up the shadows and blowing out details in the highlights. How do we know when the exposure is beyond that five stop range and we are losing details in the highlight area? By using a very useful menu item…Blinkies!!! Go to the Shooting Menu (camera icon) and turn Highlight Warning ON! On Nikon cameras you need to toggle through the variety of displays on the rear lcd until the word Highlight is displayed. On most Canon cameras it is active in the playback display with both the photo and info displayed. Check your specific instruction manual to find the exact menu setting.

Actually they are called Highlight Warning but we affectionately call them Blinkies because when they are turned on and the range of exposure is greater than our camera can capture there will be areas within our image that are blown out with no detail and we can review our images on the rear lcd of our camera and see the areas that are blown out (without detail) blinking black…


black…white…black…white! If we are out of the five stop range that our camera can capture detail (our Blinkies are, well, blinking) with this information we now have several decisions to make on how to handle our exposure.

Stay tuned for the next several weeks and I’ll go into the variety of exposure dilemmas and some options for making the image we visualize. But, for now, get those Blinkies turned on!