|Nikon D3000, 270mm (150-500mm), f/18, shutter 1/125, ISO 100, cropped|
I grew up in a house just down the street from a fire station with gargoyles. Or to be more precise, the building is now a neighborhood center. But it was originally a fire station, and its gargoyles looked like firemen.
For years I’ve wanted good pictures of them. But relatively small objects high off the ground can be difficult to photograph. Here’s a view of the location from farther back with a shorter lens, so you can get an idea of the shooting conditions:
|Nikon D3000, 20mm (18-55mm), f/8, shutter 1/250, ISO 100|
For starters, I need to use a lens that will let me zoom in as much as possible, so I can stand on the ground yet get a photo that looks like I’m right next to the subject. In technical terms, what I need is a lens with a longer focal length.
So I switched from my usual 18-55mm Nikon lens to my 150-500mm Sigma. Because it’s fairly heavy, I mounted it on a monopod.
Standing on the sidewalk outside the building and aiming up, I got this photo with the lens zoomed in roughly halfway:
|Nikon D3000, 270mm (150-500mm), f/18, shutter 1/125, ISO 100|
Because I was shooting higher resolution images (the “large/fine” setting on the camera), I had plenty of data to work with when I loaded it onto my computer. I used Photoshop to crop the picture down, eliminating some unnecessary information around the edges and bringing out the details on the gargoyle. Now it looks so close we can count his teeth.
This cropping process is essentially what happens when a point-and-shoot camera uses “digital zoom” to make a picture look more close-up.
Personally, I prefer optical zoom (zooming done with the lens itself rather than by digitally “blowing up” the picture). I shot this image of one of the other gargoyles at the full 500mm limit of the lens:
|Nikon D3000, 500mm (150-500mm), f/18, shutter 1/125, ISO 100, retouched|
If I want to edit down to details, I can go this far without making it look “pixellated” (like a low-resolution computer image blown up too big):
|Nikon D3000, 500mm (150-500mm), f/18, shutter 1/125, ISO 100, cropped, retouched|