Tag Archives: photos

Cityscapes

Whenever I travel, I bring my camera. It remembers the little details I can’t. Then I come home and the photos take me back to those places. They are also great resources for illustration and imagining. Last week I posted some word building illustrations. When I try to imagine and build what doesn’t exist, photos of what does provide invaluable insight. Between my photos and google searches, I work toward my vision for each piece of each illustration. Below are a few favorite cityscapes I pulled out of my files. Whether from street level or from above, each provides a window into the culture of each city.

Cabo san Lucas waterfront.

Cabo san Lucas waterfront.

New York City from the Rockefeller Building.

New York City from the Rockefeller Building.

On the street in Portland, OR.

On the street in Portland, OR.

Ghent, Belgium.

Ghent, Belgium.

Bergen, Norway.

Bergen, Norway.

Prague, CZ (a place called nazdrazi holesovice, if my notes are to be trusted).

Prague, CZ (a place called nazdrazi holesovice, if my notes are to be trusted).

Cesky Krumlov, CZ.

Cesky Krumlov, CZ.

Baltimore waterfront.
Baltimore waterfront.

 

Sports photography

When I go to sporting events, I like to take pictures. Sports photography is really challenging, especially if you operate on a limited equipment budget and don’t get any kind of special access. I’ll list a few challenges I’ve encountered, and how I solved them. I shoot with a Sony α-850, but learned on a Sony α-100, so my experiences should translate to any basic SLR camera.

Challenge 1: The lighting isn’t strong enough

Whether you are indoors or the light of day is fading, this immensely effects the kind of photos you can take. My camera is susceptible to graininess at higher ISO numbers, which I hate. I set the ISO to the highest number I can stand, then I shoot in aperture priority mode in the smallest f-number (largest aperture) possible at the zoom required. I like to turn down the exposure by a couple of stops; it is easier to add brightness to an image than to remove blur. You may also need to add some saturation if you under-expose.

I used this procedure to take the picture of Michael Phelps swimming, below. Incidentally, this is the picture for breast stroke and swimming on wikipedia, and for swimming on Facebook. If you aren’t trying to make money off your photos, you can have some great fun seeing how they spread if you add them to the creative commons. (support the creative commons!)

 

SONY DSC

Challenge 2: The lighting is not white light

This can happen both outdoors with twilight or cloudy conditions, or indoors with certain types of lighting. The indoors case is a lot harder to deal with because it is harsher and more unnatural. There are a couple of different strategies– you can be proactive and take a reference picture of a white object during your shoot. You can change your white balance to match this reference during then shoot, or later in the post processing (I post process in Aperture), you can set the temperature/tint for all the photos to the combination that makes the reference shot a neutral color. If you change angle, the color of the light may change, so if you shoot from many angles this gets hard no matter your strategy. I always do my color changes in post-production. If you wish to, it’s important to shoot in raw (rather than jpg), otherwise you can degrade the image.

The pair of images below show a picture with and without temperature/tint correction. (I have also increased the brightness and saturation, but little else.) Note that the skin tone is more ashen in the first picture. I used the bonnet and the goal posts to hone in on a good neutral.

SONY DSC SONY DSC

 

Challenge 3: The focal plane changes rapidly and fast movement

When shooting sports, I always want to shoot with the largest aperture. This way, I can shoot at a lower ISO (i.e., less noise) and still have fast photos. Additionally, uninteresting stuff in the background gets blurred out by the focal depth. However, this shallow focal range ruins the picture if the objects of interest aren’t in that range. For some events, getting the objects in the focal plane is harder than capturing without motion blur, so I increase my aperture to the f5-f8 area.

Below is a picture I took at a horse race. Horse races are the best example of what I described above– the horses thunder towards you so quickly that in the time it takes for a cheaper SLR to focus, the distance of the horse has changed a lot. If the focal depth is shallow, the horse is likely not in it. But there is plenty of natural light, so I can increase the f-number without getting too slow.SONY DSC

Happy photoing! There are myriad other sports photo problems to solve, but I think I’ve been long-winded enough for today.

 

Summer is gone, waiting for spring

Tomorrow is the first day of December. In the last week, the last of our colorful leaves have fallen. Even the confused daisy shrub in my yard is no longer in bloom. The daylight is short, and the foliage is bleak. This time of year, I love to review photos from more colorful times. The colors will be back before very long. Starting in February, the Lenten roses and the crocuses will return. Until then, photos can be our flowers. Every year when spring breaks, I walk through the gardens at least once a week and see what new flower has opened.

Check out my Flickr feed for thousands of other photos. 95% of my Flickr photos are fair use for non-commercial purposes, so feel free to use them, but please attribute and link to my flickr.  Most of all I love seeing where my photos get used. (Side note: the first picture on the Wikipedia swimming article is mine. That’s neat!)

Here’s some color for your Friday.


SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC