Sunday, August 3, 2014

Focus practice and 8 fps

Swinging a camera lens around accurately can take practice. Doing it while trying to focus on a fast moving bird takes even more practice. 

This tern was shot at Bolsa Chica reserve in Huntington Beach, a very nice tidal marsh that used to be an oil drilling field. There are a couple of things I do to shoot this type of shot:

1 - autofocus is set by the back button only, not the main shutter button
2 - exposure was set manually, and dropped 1/2 stop because of the white
3 - 8 frames per second

I know that some people manually focus this type of shot, my eyes are not that good anymore. I am impressed they can, but I like to live in my limits. If you have a hummingbird feeder, you can practice on them, and get some good shots.  But don't cheat by just waiting for them to return to their favorite spot. 

ISO 640, 1/2000 f 6.4. Canon 7d  100-400 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Solar eclipses

A fair number people look at photos like this one and ask why the rays of the sun are at an angle. Their not actually, they rays of the sun are very parallel this far away from the sun.

The reason for the angles is due to the angle we see, not the angle of the light rays. Draw a bunch of parallel lines on paper, and then in between two of the lines, draw an angle of about 90 degrees.  That's roughly what we see.  I know we can see more than 90 degrees, that has more to do with the curved nature of our retina.

Understanding light and how it looks allows me to get better photographs. That and pure chance.

Trees eclipsing the sun at Lake Merced.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Red in tooth and claw

Admittedly, the phrase is actually from a memorial poem from Tennyson to Arthur Henry Hallam. But a lot of people use the idea as nature in its rawest form.

This photo was taken in March, 2012.  It's a Red-shouldered hawk making very short work of a rat that it caught in Golden Gate Park.  Yes, much to everyone's surprise, there are rats in San Francisco. And there are an amazing array of wildlife that feed on those rats and other animals.  Quite a few are located in the park.

I bring this up because I was reading an article about where people go to look for photos.  I've always been an advocate of 2 things, go back to places you've been to before, and get the camera you're willing to carry around.

Going back - When I was offered the job at Industrial Light and Magic, it meant I had to move to San Francisco. It's had good and bad points. The good is the discovery I have made (to myself, many people knew this already) of the amazing photo opportunities in the area. Because I am only a mile from the park, I am able to return to it and get to know it better.  We were able to learn some of the signs to look for.  The reason we found this hawk when we did was we noticed the racket the Jays were making, the sign that they were not at all happy something was around.  Using the Jays to guide us, we found this hawk.

If we didn't know about the Jays, we would not have found the hawk, and been able to watch this display of "red in tooth and claw".

Saturday, November 24, 2012

water in the air.

I fly a 1946 Stinson 108, also called a Voyager.  It's fairly good for taking aerial photos, and I have been flying between Petaluma and Watsonville recently.  However, I am now experience what water in the air will do to photos. 

I fly south in the morning, and this means the sun is toward the east and  pretty much in my larger field of view.  What happens is the light refracts through the water and turns the image blue. This is the same thing that happens to make the sky blue.  When I am coming home during the afternoon, the sun is behind my view, so the light is not as refracted and you get the normal looking skylines.

A polarizer might help, I'll have to try that some time.