Posts Tagged ‘sensor’

Photographic Gear – the Camera Body

June 30th, 2017

I’m taking you on a tour through my camera bag and the first stop was the bag itself.

Click here to read the article: Photographic Gear – A Tour of a Photographer’s Camera Bag

The next stop is the camera itself. Now, by this, I mean the camera body, not the body and lens. I’ll talk about lenses later.

Like so many of us, my camera got put aside for quite some years. I was very active in photography in the 1970s. I took frequent trips to Yosemite, camping and exploring with camera in hand. I even worked in a photography studio lab for several years, learning the intricacies of color film processing and printing. But then things changed and time for photography dissolved. Until my daughter was about to be born in 1994, that is.

I bought a Canon EOS ELAN with a Tamron 28-200mm lens and shot countless rolls of film, mostly of the new joy in our lives.

clip_image002[4]I resisted the digital movement for a long time, preferring 35mm film. But when I finally joined the movement around 2000, I purchased a digital point and shoot with a big zoom lens. It was a Canon PowerShot Pro90 IS that I cut my digital teeth on with all of its 2.6 megapixels.

I tried to apply what I had learned in the film world for both color slide and negative films to the digital world. I also tried to apply what I had learned in the color darkroom to Photoshop. It took a while to realize that very little of the knowledge and experience I had gained carried over into the digital world. This required a whole new way of thinking, both in the field and in the digital darkroom. For example, with color slides, you normally want to underexpose a little to saturate the colors more. With digital, you overexpose a little to get more detail in the shadows.

clip_image004[4]It was in September of 2004 that I made the jump to a digital SLR when I upgraded to the Canon 10D. With a little over 6 megapixels, I was a big step up from the PowerShot. This is the camera I was carrying around in the duffel bag I mentioned in the previous article.

I did a lot of shooting with the 10D. I was intimidated by RAW processing at first so I shot in JPEG. Sadly, there are a lot of JPEG files that would have been great had I been able to capture them in RAW but, alas…. Eventually, I moved to RAW when I found a software program that made sense. Adobe bought the software when they were developing Lightroom. It made RAW conversion much less intimidating.

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Dust, Darn Dust

May 1st, 2016

Dust spots. How annoying. They can give a blue sky chickenpox.

Dust spots on your sensor can mean hours of laborious effort removing them one by one in the digital darkroom. But, because they are on the sensor, that most sensitive component of our digital cameras, we are sometimes terrified to attempt removing them. So we either put up with them or we send our cameras out to a repair guy and pay good money to have him remove them.

Oh yeah, our cameras do the dust removal shake thing every time you turn them on and off. But some cameras work better than others. And there are conditions where the camera can shake the sensor as much as it wants but it won’t get rid of all the dust.

As frightening as it seems, removing dust from your sensor doesn’t have to be all that dangerous. As it turns out, there are three levels of dust removal – which are performed in that order. Any one of us can do the first level. And most of us would have enough confidence to do the second. The most stouthearted of us will even attempt the third but that’s not a level that needs to be resorted to very often. So what are these levels?  Let’s take a look at them one by one.

Level 1 – Blowing

When the camera is turned on there’s a small static charge on the sensor that can attract particles of dust. They are held to the sensor by the static electricity and typically the attraction is fairly weak. So the first level involves giotto rocketblowing the dust particles off the sensor with a gentle stream of air. The trick is to use the right source for the gentle stream of air. One thing you absolutely do not want to use is canned air. The aerosols contain propellants which can squirt out solvents along with the air. And that’s not very good because the solvents will get on your sensor and create an even worse problem. But there are blowers that are specifically designed just for this purpose. The Giotto Rocket is one excellent example. The thing that makes the Giotto and others like it so special is that it draws the air in from the back and blows it out the front. That way it doesn’t inadvertently pull in a particle of dust that it just dislodged, only to shoot it right back out at the sensor – and at high velocity. Smart.

To blow the dust off your sensor, check your camera’s manual and find the menu option for manual sensor cleaning. Remove the lens from your camera body and activate the option. When you do this, the mirror will flip out of the way and expose the sensor. Hold the camera body so the lens opening is facing down and gently (with emphasis on the word ‘gently’) blow a stream of air against the sensor. I like to direct the air not only to the center of the sensor but the edges and the corners. When you’re done turn off the camera and the mirror will drop back in place. (Of course, if you have a mirrorless camera there is no mirror to flip out of the way. When you take the lens off the sensor is already exposed.) Many digital SLRs will not allow you to do a manual cleaning if the battery does not have enough charge. I think that is so that the camera will not run out of juice before the mirror is put back in its place. This process is  pretty easy isn’t it.  Nothing touches the sensor but air. Continue reading “Dust, Darn Dust” »

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The Making of a Photograph – Virgin River 2011

December 1st, 2012

A friend asked me if I’d do a blog on the making of the photograph I took of the Virgin River during the Zion National Park photography workshop in 2011.  He’s a good friend and it’s a nice photograph so let’s do it.  Here’s the end result. (You can click on each of the photographs to enlarge them and get a better look.)virgin_river_2011

And here’s what it started from.

virgin_river_2011_raw

The difference is obviously pretty dramatic so there will be a few things to talk about.  We’ll start with what I was experiencing in the field and take it all the way through the darkroom to the end product.  So let’s get started.

Continue reading “The Making of a Photograph – Virgin River 2011” »

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Is HDR a Four Letter Word?

November 17th, 2012

HDR.  Many people respond to those three letters in shock and disgust.  For them, HDR is synonymous with over the top processed images.  It embodies all that they think is wrong with digital photography and the implied MANIPULATION that goes with it.  It is a shocking insult on reality.

I’ve heard of photography contests that strictly forbid HDR and insist that all the photographs that are submitted be a single exposure.  I’ve judged photography competitions in which the other judges viewed an HDR image that was just slightly over the top and felt it should be placed in the Manipulated category.

But the letters HDR stand for High Dynamic Range.  Nothing sinister about that.  It’s a situation frequently encountered when out photographing.  That’s when the dynamic range of the scene, the difference between the darkest and brightest spots in the scene, is greater than the dynamic range our camera’s sensor is capable of capturing.  When we encounter this situation we’re going to get clipping where the highlights or shadows or both lack detail, are blank.  This is not a desirable situation.  If there’s anything that’s shocking here it’s that the camera, that supposedly great recorder of reality, does not, cannot see what our eyes see.  So what can be done about that?

Well, if you’re shooting color film the answer is simple. Nothing.  Move on.  You’ll never be able to capture high dynamic range images on color film (without clipping) no matter how beautiful they are.  If you are shooting black and white you can do what Ansel Adams did – water bath development.  He exposed for the shadows and adjusted his development process and chemicals to get a proper development of his highlights.  Sounds to me like he’s doing what we digital photographers do with HDR – adjusting the process to capture the full dynamic range (Read “How Ansel Adams did HDR”)

If you’re a digital photographer you can use the HDR technique – capture two or more images with bracketed exposures that span the dynamic range and then blend them together using software like PhotoMatix Pro.  So where’s the problem?  I mean, doesn’t that sound like a good thing, taking photographs we weren’t able to do at all with color film or with great difficulty with black and white?

But somehow HDR has become a four letter word in some circles.  It’s become synonymous with that word that is so offensive to some – MANIPULATION.  HDR images are manipulated images.  Never mind that HDR can be used to create photographs that are a lot more like what our eyes see than what our cameras are even remotely capable of capturing. 

Many of these same people that think that HDR is a four letter word are also prone to look down their noses and ask, “Did you PHOTOSHOP that picture.”  Yes, with Photoshop we can easily drop in moons that weren’t there.  And our photographs are cheap because of that.  But it was OK in the days of film when the masters that we so admire did it.  What’s the difference?  Is it that it was hard when you did it with film and therefore to be admired but it’s easy with Photoshop?  Don’t know.  Could be.

And with HDR a similar thing might be happening.  With the software tools that are available you don’t have to settle for recreating what our eyes saw, you can take your images over the top, give them that grunge look.  Or that painterly look.  It’s up to you and your vision.

Now, for the record (not that it’s important) I choose not to go for the grunge or painterly look in PhotoMatix Pro.  I prefer to control the dynamic range, remove highlight clipping and return an image to Lightroom that I can continue to work on.  And when it comes to moons in my  photographs I prefer to be there when the full moon comes up behind my  favorite bristlecone pine.  It’s a lot more fun that way.

But I have no argument with those that drop moons or cloudy skies or whatnot in their photographs.  And I have no argument with those that choose to express themselves with grunge HDR images.  I readily confess that some of them are extremely effective with the grunge look.  That’s just not my style, not my personality. 

The only thing I think we all owe our viewers is to be honest about it.  When people come into my booth at an art festival and ask if I manipulate or Photoshop my photographs I  answer, “Of course.”  I often go on to say, “Let me put it this way.  I approach photography from the mindset of a painter.  I want to have all the creative freedom a painter would have.’”  And more than once, they have responded, “Oh, I get it.  You’re an artist.” 

Smile

Love it when that happens.


What do you think of HDR?  What do you think of manipulation in Photoshop?  Leave a comment.  We’d love to hear your opinion. 

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How Ansel Adams Did HDR

August 13th, 2012

High dynamic range (or HDR) is a condition frequently encountered by landscape photographers where the digital camera’s sensor cannot handle the dynamic range of the scene.  In other words, the scene has very bright highlights with areas of deep shadow.  The resulting image will have clipped highlights (highlights that are pure white with no detail), clipped shadows (shadows that are pure black with no detail or at best, muddy) or both.

In digital photography we have several options including HDR, the techniques whereby we take multiple shots at varying exposures.  The most underexposed image will capture the highlights and the most overexposed image will capture the shadows.  Then we blend them all together with software like PhotoMatix Pro.  The result is an image with bright highlights that still have detail and dark, crisp shadows, also with detail.

But what do film photographers do when they face this same situation?  After all, film may not be able to capture the dynamic range of the scene any better than digital can.  And with film there is not the option of taking multiple shots at different exposures and blending the negatives together.

Continue reading “How Ansel Adams Did HDR” »

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Canon 1Ds Mark III Sensor Clean #2

July 29th, 2008

I got dust on the sensor of my Canon 1Ds Mark III and couldn’t get it off.  The vibration on startup and shutdown didn’t dislodge it.  I tried cleaning it witn a sensor brush and that didn’t work.  So I took it into the local Canon Express Service Center to have them do it.  I was expecting to pay about 50 bucks for it but was delighted to find out they did it for free.  That put a smile on my face.  Another satisfied Canon customer.

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Thoughts on Raw vs JPEG

May 18th, 2008

I’ve been having a discussion with a friend regarding the benefits and challenges of JPEG and RAW file formats.  There’s already a lot of discussion on this topic out there but here’s a bit more.

The challenge my friend has with RAW is that the images are not as striking as JPEG.  In fact, she says the RAW images are rather flat and she’s right.

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