Getting reacquainted with my camera

Over the past few months I haven’t really been out with my camera much and on the odd occasion that I have, I have not been very happy with the results – unless of course you count the two photo shoots I did over the Christmas period, details of which will follow shortly.  To rectify my lack of photos and to reacquaint myself with my camera, I decided to head out into the cold this morning to see what sunrise shots I could achieve.  This time last year, a friend and I had quiet a few early morning outings to captures some sunrise images, so I was quiet prepared to face the cold (-8), harsh winds of a Korean winter’s morning.  Due to time constraints and lack of local location knowledge, I headed to the viewing platform on the 30th floor of my apartment building, where I patiently waited for the light to appear over the distant mountains.

To some, the view from my apartment block may seem a little dull, as looking south; I see lots of industry but in the distance, a mountain range followed by the sea.  Looking north on the other hand, I see lots of urbanisation but again; in the distance quiet a large mountain range can be seen.  As the sun is currently rising in a more southerly direction I decided to concentrate on the industrial side of my building, as I also thought that this would hold more interest in my photographs rather than row upon row of apartment blocks.

This first shot was taken at 06:54AM and of the batch it is the one like the most.

Manual; Shutter Speed 10"; Aperture F10; Focal Length 11.5mm; ISO 100; White Balance Auto; Metering Pattern

Manual; Shutter Speed 10″; Aperture F10; Focal Length 11.5mm; ISO 100; White Balance Auto; Metering Pattern

Taken with my Sigma 10-20mm Wide Angle lens set at 11.5mm I have been able to capture a good proportion of the landscape.  As this was my first shot, I was not sure on exposure times etc. so set my shutter speed to 10” which turned out to be a good choice as the slow speed has helped to highlight the urban area by making the lights of the factories, apartment blocks and roads sparkle.  The inclusion of the trailing headlights also helps build on the feeling of movement and more importantly ‘on the way to work’, which is the feeling I get from this photo.

I am a little disappointed with the colours in the sky as although the blue is rich, the reds and oranges of the sunrise is not as colourful as I saw with my naked eye.  I tried to rectify this by speeding up the shutter, but then the urban areas become too dark, which can be seen in the next photo.

Manual; Shutter Speed 2.5; Aperture F10; Focal Length 32mm; ISO 100; White Balance Auto; Metering Pattern

Manual; Shutter Speed 2.5; Aperture F10; Focal Length 32mm; ISO 100; White Balance Auto; Metering Pattern

This photo was taken from a different angle, and with a different lens and focal length, which would have made some difference to the lighting within the frame, but the amount of light allowed to reach the sensor has also made a big difference to the look and feel of this shot.

Concentrating on the chemical plant, my next photo has been extensively cropped making the image panoramic.

Manual; Shutter Speed 2.5; Aperture F16; Focal Length 28mm; ISO 100; White Balance Auto; Metering Pattern

Manual; Shutter Speed 2.5; Aperture F16; Focal Length 28mm; ISO 100; White Balance Auto; Metering Pattern

Again, this shot is a little dark as I have used a faster shutter speed to enhance the colours present in the brightening sky.  The focal length here is 28mm, and I decided to crop away much of the foreground from the original photo, which was very dark, distracting the viewer’s attention away from the chemical plant.  I like the design of this image as the industrial area sits on a natural third within the frame and the street lamps to the right provide a leading line into the shot.

This next image is not one of the better shots, but during this mornings shoot I found two issues with my equipment.

Manual; Shutter Speed 1/4; Aperture F14; Focal Length 135mm; ISO 100; White Balance Auto; Metering Pattern

Manual; Shutter Speed 1/4; Aperture F14; Focal Length 135mm; ISO 100; White Balance Auto; Metering Pattern

The first issue was easy to rectify and I have done so where appropriate.  While looking at my photos post-production, I noticed a few spots and hairs on some of my images!  Quiet by chance, I had read a blog but a few days ago about this issue, which brought a smile to my face as I have also experienced this in the past: http://www.katclay.com/why-you-need-to-clean-your-camera-sensor/. I was a little surprised by this finding though, as my camera is quiet new, and I did not expect to find something like this so early on in our history together – although reading the blog, I now have a local solution for cleaning my kit, which I will look into right away.

My second issue is a little more worrying and evidence of it can be seen when zooming into this image and that is camera stablisation, resulting in image blur, which I basically put down to my tripod.  (nb, during this shoot, as I knew I would be using a tripod, I made sure that all stabilisation functions on my lenses were turned off).  Back during my cold weather photography expeditions last year, my tripod froze and broke, so when I brought my new camera, I decided to treat myself to a new tripod too.  My husband and I took many, many days and hours looking at tripods and we finally decided that a hähnel Triad 60 lite would be the best option as it was tall, sturdy and solid, ideal for me and my current needs.  BUT it would appear that my camera is too heavy for it, or more importantly when I have my lens extended to a focal length of 300mm, the cradle that holds my camera moves, which of course at slower shutter speeds will result in blur.  So this is something else I am going to have to look at.

These next two images are very similar, but show an example of the difference in exposure when governed by shutter speed.

Manual; Shutter Speed 1/8; Aperture F14; Focal Length 300mm; ISO 100; White Balance Auto; Metering Pattern

Manual; Shutter Speed 1/8; Aperture F14; Focal Length 300mm; ISO 100; White Balance Auto; Metering Pattern

Manual; Shutter Speed 1/13; Aperture F14; Focal Length 300mm; ISO 100; White Balance Auto; Metering Pattern

Manual; Shutter Speed 1/13; Aperture F14; Focal Length 300mm; ISO 100; White Balance Auto; Metering Pattern

In the first image, I used a shutter speed of 1/8th, which has exposed the sensor to light for long enough to show detail within the buildings of the chemical plant, but in turn has given a bleached effect to the colours within the sky.

Whereas, for the second image I used a faster shutter speed of 1/13th, which enhances the colours of the sky, but darkens the detail within the buildings of the chemical plant, making them less easy to see within the image.  It would be nice to combine these two images, taking the sky from one and the chemical plant from the other, as this could make the image more pleasing to look at.  This could also be a situation where HDR (high dynamic range) photography or bracketing would work well, but then picture integrity comes into play and questions surrounding photo manipulation could be raised.  This is something we will be covering during this module.

I wanted to include this final photo, as is shows the view from the other side of my apartment block.

Manual; Shutter Speed 1/4; Aperture F29; Focal Length 50mm; ISO 100; White Balance Auto; Metering Pattern

Manual; Shutter Speed 1/4; Aperture F29; Focal Length 50mm; ISO 100; White Balance Auto; Metering Pattern

Again, I have cropped this image giving the photo a panoramic view; I did this, as I wanted to take most of the apartments in the foreground out of the frame.  Although the sky is nice and soft here, the big bank of urbanisation is dull and lifeless, which in turn makes the photo quiet boring.  What would be nice here is to have the sun crest the mountain behind me, as this will introduce some light into the frame, thus brightening things a little more and giving the shot a warmer feel to it – perhaps I should take that into consideration for my next outing.

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