Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The K at night

Nikon D3000, 10.5mm, 1/25, f/2.8, ISO 800

No sooner do I get the State Fair series going than I have to interrupt it for “breaking news.” With the end of baseball season fast upon us, I took advantage of our final Friday night at the ballpark to shoot some pictures.

I tried a few traditional shots of the game, but the longest lens I brought with me maxed at 200mm. From the back of the stands, it wasn’t exactly producing Sports Illustrated cover shots. Likewise my attempts at street photos of the crowd weren’t working. Perhaps I was in a moody mood, but I wasn’t feeling the people thing.

On the other hand, I found myself captivated by the light. I can’t remember the last time I strolled around the ballpark after dark. Usually by that point I’m in my seat watching the game. Thus the results I got tended to emphasize light and architecture.

The picture at the top of this post is my favorite of the set. I love what the 10mm lens did with the sunset. I also love what it did with the curving lines of the ramp. The shot has a range of elements from the industrial stuff at the bottom to the isolated people going about their business to the city in the distance and the sky above.

Funny how the ramp looks different depending on lens and perspective. Here’s another view:

Nikon D7000, 56mm (28-200), 1/60, f/5.6, ISO 800

From the back row of the upper deck, this is what the ballpark looks like:

Nikon D3000, 10.5mm, 1/60, f/2.8, ISO 800, adjusted

When I’ve shot this view in the past I’ve gotten closer to cut out some of the roof, but this time I thought it might be fun to include it. Besides, the large crowd prevented me from setting up much closer.

While I was up top, I noticed that the lights were catching smoke or steam or mist or something:

Nikon D7000, 100mm (28-200), 1/80, f/5.3, ISO 800, adjusted

This shot of the escalators gives you a nice sense of vertical space:

Nikon D3000, 10.5mm, 1/25, f/4, ISO 800

For perspective, note the size difference between the people on the closest escalator and the person next to the bottom.

I was a little disappointed by the Fan Zone (again, maybe I wasn’t in the mood for people shots). But I did manage to capture some fun motion blur from the carousel.

Nikon D3000, 10.5mm, 0.3 sec., f/8, ISO 800, cropped

Despite the absence of a tripod, I got the slow shutter speed to work by bracing my elbows on a rail. Note that the still parts of the shot (such as the picture of the bats in the center) are clear and the moving parts are streaks of light and color. That’s what you’re after in a shot like this.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

State Fair – The Screamer

Nikon D7000, 28mm (28-200), 1/15, f/8, ISO 400, adjusted

For the next month or so, the blog will feature photos I took at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia in August. Most of the photos will be examples of “street photography” of people. But a few, such as the ones we’ll start with, focus more on technical issues.

The picture at the top of this post is The Screamer, one of those rides that takes folks more adventurous than me for a long, upside down swinging ride. I took the shot just as the car full of riders was speeding past.

This provides a good example of motion blur. If the entire image is blurry, then the photo looks like a mistake. But if you can avoid camera shake and freeze the parts of the shot that aren’t moving, the parts that are on the go give your viewers a strong sense of motion.

For what it’s worth, this is what the ride looks like at rest:

Nikon D7000, 28mm (28-200), 1/80, f/3.8, ISO 400

I took several pictures in this series, because at shutter speeds this low I tend strongly to get a lot of camera shake into the shot. Of the pictures that came out with un-shaky foregrounds, this one is my favorite:

Nikon D7000, 28mm (28-200), 1/15, f/8, ISO 400, adjusted

The framing is slightly better than the one at the top of this post. I also like the ride attendants looking on.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Omaha Zoo – Miscellany

Nikon D3000, 10.5mm, 1/640, f/13, ISO 1600

This last Omaha-centered blog entry picks up a handful of miscellaneous photos I took during our visit. Though I had my wide angle lens with me, I ended up not using it for all that much. Every once in awhile I got a good result from it, however. I was pleased by the strangely-bending lines of the dome atop the desert building.

Nikon D7000, 125mm (28-200), 1/13, f/5.6, ISO 6400, adjusted

I honestly thought I’d walk away with pretty much nothing from the nocturnal exhibit, but a shot or two sorta worked. For this picture of an alligator I cranked the ISO way up and braced the camera on a railing to avoid as much shake as possible. Still, you can see some camera shake in the shot. Look at the small points of light such as the reflection in the gator’s eye, which should be single points but turn into tell-tale crescents because of camera motion.

I should also note that the gator shot was seriously level-adjusted in Photoshop. Straight out of the camera, the frame was mostly black.

Nikon D7000, 28mm (28-200), 1/800, f/9, ISO 400

I hoped for some good wide angle shots while we were up on the sky tram (the cables for which you can see in shadow running through the middle of the picture). However, the 10.5mm lens kept getting my feet or another part of the tram in the shot, so I had to settle for sorta-wide-angle 28mm pictures from my other lens.

At least this photo demonstrates the value of getting up above your subject for a “lay of the land” picture.

Nikon D7000, 200mm (28-200), 1/30, f/5.6, ISO 500, cropped

I had to optically zoom in as far as I could and then “digitally zoom” by cropping in order to capture these dour residents.

Nikon D7000, 112mm (28-200), 1/125, f/5.3, ISO 800, adjusted

A wider group shot was less technically demanding.

Nikon D7000, 200mm (28-200), 1/50, f/5.6, ISO 500, adjusted

Some of the most dramatic residents of the rainforest building were giant (like serious shark sized) carp with beautiful gold edges on their scales. The viewing angle and water surface reflections made any kind of documentary shot impossible, and I almost gave up on photographing them at all. But once I gave up the notion of trying to get a clear shot and just went with the beautiful, abstract forms of line, shape and color, I ended up with some pleasing pictures.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Omaha Zoo – Penguins

Nikon D7000, 32mm (28-200), 1/60, f/3.8, ISO 2500

If I had to pick one favorite part of the zoo experience, the penguins would be strong contenders. I could sit for hours and watch them swim gracefully back and forth.

As a photographer, however, they give me nightmares. The lighting is extremely tricky in Omaha’s penguin area. I was after a wider angle shot of the birds swimming, but even with the ISO cranked way up I was still at a 1/60 shutter speed. Any slower and camera shake would have been a problem, as would motion blur on the swimming subjects.

Also note the extreme hot spot in the background. Proper exposure of the main subjects underwater drastically over-exposed the brightly lit surface area at the top of the shot. And if I crop down (thus “enlarging”) the birds at the bottom, the ISO grain will become an issue.

Nikon D7000, 122mm (28-200), 1/250, f/5.3, ISO 2500

We were lucky to be there when the keepers came in to dish out the fish. This shot is actually part of a series in which the keeper gives the bigger penguin a gentle shove and scoots him back into the water so his smaller companions can get some fish. I love this frame the best because of the invisible leading line between woman and bird, giving the scene a strong sense of interaction.