I feel like I have been so lazy with the blog! Sorry if you have just been anxiously hitting refresh to see if I get inspired today J Well, I am really getting caught up with all my assignments, and getting things back on track after going on a short vacation. Last week some excitement happened in the early morning skies that I almost missed! There was a lunar eclipse that would be viewable in our part of the world right at the time that I would be getting up to start my day – a perfect chance to make some photos without too much effort! And with the backlog of things I had to do, this was what I needed.
A lunar eclipse is an awesome practice for your camera. Trying to get good photos of a bright moon can teach you a lot about metering, or “how a camera views and image”. Left on automatic, a camera has a difficult time getting a good photo of the face of the moon. This is due to the construction of the light meter in every camera system. They do not see composition, nor can they read the photographer’s mind to know exactly the goals for the image.
A meter measures all the light coming into the sensor, and it calculates the aperture and shutter speed that will give a middle gray image. It does not know that you want the bright light of the moon to be lowered to see the details of the surface. Lowering the amount of light will also make the rest of the photo darker – which is the compromise when making these photos. You will lose detail around the bright moon. During an eclipse that is happening right outside my front door– that is fine by me! I do not care about any of the other surrounding details.
Once I figured an exposure that gave me the detail that I was looking for, I played with all kinds of settings. Sometimes I changed the aperture, sometimes the ISO. The exposure values were very similar, but I wanted to see how the camera responds when pushed in such a dark scene.
It only lasted a few minutes before the moon ducked too low in the horizon. I was very lucky! No need to go to extra lengths to get these photos, but so many that I’ll keep in the collection.
It has been a busy week for putting in print orders – Thank you!! Some were talking to us about photos at the last ballroom dance event and had questions about dimensions of photos. This is an old discussion that photographers have been having for years. The cameras that most consumers use create images that have dimensions that are 2 x 3 natively. That means that to get the entire images onto a piece of paper without any borders or cropping, the size of the photos has to be 4” x 6”, 6” x 9” or 8” x 12”. Notice that the popular 5” x 7” or 8’ X 10” dimensions are not listed!
In order to create those, some cropping is needed for these sizes. For the most part it means that something will get cut off in the frame. Please do not worry about this! As part of the editing process (that week where I am off social media and blogging after a big event) I am looking at each photo. With this in mind, I am cropping them down from their original state out of the camera to make sure the subjects are more prominent in the frame, and that they are placed better in the frame. This means that there are lots of cases where there is extra room where if you need an 8×10 print, I can redo the cropping to ensure nothing gets cut off, and all the important parts of the frame will still be in your photo before you receive it in the mail.
For extreme examples, I may have to do some Photoshop tricks to get things to work. At this point, this is where “Content Aware” functions do their magic. Using this example of my nephew riding a motorbike, you can see that the composition is not quite right. In fact, he is too far on the left of the frame riding out. A better composition would be for him to be more on the right with “room” to go through the frame. To move him back, I select an area around him with the Lasso tool: Select-subject-with-Lasso-tool
Then I click the “Content Aware Move” tool from the toolbar:
Then I just click the selected area, and move it down the frame – Photoshop will fill in the space that I cut him out with surrounding content.
In that way, I can move subjects around a frame, and put them in a place that is easier for cropping images. Not every case is as easy as this one, but if you have a specific request, please know that there are lots of options to get the final photo that you need in a specific frame dimension.
Hope everyone had a great Labor Day holiday yesterday! It was a nice three day weekend, and it was nice to have a break from working on the computer. However, I did not take a break from the camera. I covered the last of the Tysons Corner Center concert series on Friday, helped a colleague cover a wedding ceremony and reception on Saturday, and Sunday was a track day!
I went out to Summit Point Raceway in Summit Point, WV to photograph cars racing in the Labor Day Double. There were lots of races throughout the warm day, and we had some rain storms come through during one of the runs.
Trying to photograph race cars as they speed by on the track is a fun photography challenge! As with all photos, I try to get as clean a background as I can. Around the track, there are areas where there are not too many tire barriers, but these are hard to avoid. What helps to clean up the background is to blur it out of focus by panning, or following the cars with the camera as it goes by.
If you have a slow enough shutter speed, only the car body will be in focus, and everything else in motion will be nicely blurred. This includes the wheels and tires on the car making a much more dynamic image. If your shutter speed is too fast, your car may be in sharp focus, but the wheels will be sharp. It may look as if the car is just sitting motionless on the track!
Set your camera’s auto focus to track subjects, then pan along with the cars as they go by and fire off the shutter as many times as the motor drive will allow. You will have a much better chance of getting at least one photo in sharp focus, with motion shown in the wheels. It takes me a few races before I really start to feel confident in getting good images. It is a fun subject to spend the day shooting!