Over Labor Day weekend I spent some time playing with my regular lens walk around lens, Canon’s 24-104, but using it at the wide angle setting. I know that wide angle lenses can cause distortion and have particularly noticed curved horizons as the a byproduct of working with the wide angle. Converging verticals and keystoning are also other hallmarks of a wide angle lens.
I’ve read all this in books but hadn’t really internalized it until I made this image:
Sort of annoying because I wanted to include a big open sky.
Keeping the sensor parrallel to the lighthouse resulted in this:
A little better. When I got this home I used the function within lightroom to correct for the lens used and got this image:
I looked at this for a while but couldn’t put my finger on what was the problem with it. Then it dawned on me. Correcting for lens distortion made the lighthouse ‘chunkier’ than it actually seems in real life. There’s a lesson for all of us in that – be careful with automatic settings. They work great the majority of the time but not always.
I finally decided on how I wanted the image to look and came up with this:
One of the things that I like about digital photography is how easy it is to try things out and get immediate feedback. I have heard people say that they are switching back to film because the constraints of using film force them to be more creative. For a while I almost bought that argument. I do believe that all innovation is a creative response to overcome a problem, obstacle or constraint. Why not instead of retreat to film use digital technology under a defined set of rules? The instantaneous feedback that digital offers can then be used to adapt, modify or improve upon what you’ve just done. This past labor day I was playing with my usual walkabout lens the Canon 24-104 but using it at the wide end of that range just to see what I would get. I had fun, answered some questions and ended up with the image above. If all my labors were like this they wouldn’t feel like labor!
Often when we are looking at the charts of both familiar and new sailing waters we see areas marked off as ‘fish traps’ – no go areas during particular times of the year. In our home waters of Narragansett Bay I have yet to see any evidence of the fish traps but nevertheless we stay well clear just in case. In the bays towards the end of Long Island however it’s a very different story. Nets strung out between poles like the one above are a common sight. I have yet to work out what kind of fish these nets are intended to catch or in fact to ever see anyone paying any amount of interest in them but they are a dominant sight just of the beach where we take the kids swimming. If you know more I’d be delighted to hear about it.
I’m getting ready to head off for a long weekend at the beach again. It feels like one last summer adventure before Autumn gets her grips into us. I’m hoping for clear skies so that I can work more on my project capturing still things such as rocks in moving water like the image above. This image was taken at the beach earlier in the summer during a longer stay that I had. I got up early many mornings, taking full advantage of the fact that since I was only moments away from the beach I could get precious extra minutes in bed. I generally like to arrive well before sunrise and generally shoot until sunrise. I like the amount and quality of the pre-dawn light which allows me to easily blur the water as I did here. This morning I once again learned the lesson that you need to be very careful when shooting around water – a rogue wave soaked me to the skin, fortunately I got my camera safely out of the water, and though I was a little shaken up I continued on shooting to get the image above.
For photography, perhaps more than anything thing else I’m involved in, having a group of people who can give you solid feedback when you ask for it, applaud when you’ve done well, and give you a kick in the pants from time to time is absolutely critical. These need not be accomplished photographers themselves but people who are going to give you a relatively unbiased opinion, who want to help you succeed and will hold you accountable. To those people in my life thank you!
As the days get longer I’m finding it increasingly difficult to get up for sunrise shoots. I’m not sure that there’s really a cure for that other than sheer dogged determination to get up and get going, something I was reminded the other day as being the hallmark of a true professional. It’s not hard to understand the motivation to get up and get going when you are often treated to glorious sunrises such as the one I was greeted with on a recent visit to what has become one of my favorite beaches. This shot and others like it are posted in prominent places around my home and every morning I don’t get up for a morning shoot they scream ‘look what you’re missing!’.
Although I do my best to make sure that I am up and out shooting on mornings when I’m likely to get ‘good light’ there are those days that I just don’t get it right. This morning was a good example of that. I had been expecting to add to my collection of photos of rocks at the waters edge but as it got lighter, or rather as it didn’t get much lighter I realized that the weather forecast of partial cloud cover must have been for somewhere else! In reality there’s no such thing as bad light, only light that’s not appropriate for your subject. With the even light that comes with cloudy mornings I turned my attention to the beach – patterns in the sand and anything else could find. I’m not sure what the story is behind this rope – how long has it been part of the beach scene?, where did it come from?, will it be uncovered the next time I visit? – but it was a willing subject on a day when I thought I was going to have to go home without making a frame.