February 2020

Sometimes things aren’t what they seem, or they are harder than they look!


Each month I get regular emails from various companies, usually photo related, telling me about their latest new piece of equipment and often containing links to very interesting articles. One that caught my eye recently was from National Geographic entitled ‘When is a Photograph Accurate’. (NatGeo is not specifically a photo related publication of course but their photographers and images are first class). The article itself is an interesting read, but it lead me onto thinking about the many times I sit looking a photos displayed at the Camera Club, or in various exhibitions and they are not what they seem.

What do I mean by this? Well, often I’ll look at a photo and think that sky is just too perfect, or indeed recently two photos that came up in the same competition were of almost the same subject. The subject was a shop front at Beamish Museum in Chester-le-Street, Co Durham. The first image had a set of children’s skittles outside on the pavement. The other image did not have these skittles in place. Both were taken on the same day. When I asked the author of the second photo how could this be he said he’d cloned them out in Photoshop? So when is an image a true image? I guess dropping in a sky or cloning out something unnecessary, or obtrusive in a photograph can help the image, but is that photography or art, or is photography art anyway? Now that’s a whole discussion in-itself!

I guess it’s fair to say that none of my images are that good, well actually my understanding of how the camera works is not that good either, because on almost every occasion I have to do something to enhance my images. Simple things like straightening a horizon, or cropping to give a better visual impression are fine, but then what about the sky? What about the things in the photo that ‘spoil’ it – a leaf here, some skittles there, where do you draw the line. I have no answer and no doubt there isn’t a definitive one. Discuss!!!

Here are two images – spot the difference. The changes are purely cosmetic, but do the changes reflect what was there? They are subtle changes, but in my opinion make the ‘After’ a better image. Slightly brighter, the strands of grass have gone and a twig, top left of the top yellow leaf, has been removed.

Before the amends
Before tweaking in Photoshop
After tweaking in Photoshop

Macro photography is harder than it looks!

Roy, my father in law, is a Dipterist – he studies flies and indeed is an expert on them and has even some named after him apparently. He’s writing an article for a specialist magazine and asked me if I would take some photos to accompany the words. I’d done some a while ago when I had my Canon EOS M3 and a Macro Lens, even then I had limited success with it. Since that time I’ve traded in that equipment and so attempted some test shots with my new camera and existing lenses – very unsuccessfully I’m afraid.

After making the test images I borrowed a Canon 100mm Macro lens from a friend, (he doesn’t need it for a while as he’s sailing around the world in a yacht race)! This time I had a little bit more success but was disappointed by my own lack of thought with regards to shutter speed. The first few I took were using an aperture around f9 and an ISO of 4000, this was giving me exposure times of 1/100th second – see below. It actually doesn’t look that bad, but I’ve always shied away from high ISO’s.

Bug 1
f9 / ISO 4000 / 1/100th Sec

The next step was to reduce the ISO down to 250 and up the aperture to f14 which gave me 1/8th of a second exposure. This resulted in a slightly blurry image. I think due to the fact there was some vibration from the table I’d set the shot up on.

Bug 2
f14 / ISO 250 / 1/8th second

Finally I settled on ISO 500, f10 and 1/25th Second and was reasonably happy with the end result. I will do them all again though just to try and improve on the end result and for my own experience. I do still look on in awe when I view some of the macro photographs taken by members of the Camera Club, especially when the subject matter is alive and tends to move! At least Roy’s samples are dead!

Bug 3
f10 / ISO 500 / 1/25th Sec

Craft Fairs again

The first Craft Fair that I am attending this year will be on 1st February (so you’ll be reading this after the event) and it’s a local one in the village where we live, Morton-on-Swale. It seems it will be a low key event, so I’m not really going with great expectations, more to support the local village hall. But I’ll be there alongside knitted products, Valentines and Easter Crafts and wreaths and Shabby Chic. Entry is free, so I’m hoping there’ll be a few people there and that some notecards and prints might sell – fingers crossed. There’s a link above to Events that I’m planning on attending over the next few months. So if you’re in the area please pop in and say ‘hello’. It’s on from 10.00am – 2.00pm in the Village Hall, Morton-on-Swale. DL7 9QW.

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