Monday, January 18, 2010

More thoughts on this week’s photo assignment

Mental note: take tri-pod on cloudy days.

I was looking for light. Any light. What I found was the contrast of reflections against gray. Look harder. Surely there are dark places that would welcome any color. Dark places are not hard to find.

I went to the river today. There are great puddles of water underneath the bridge, puddles large and deep enough to swallow a truck. (I should know, having drowned my F250 in this very spot a couple years ago.) I thought I might be able to capture some reflected light off of the water and up onto the bridge’s pilings. Something along those lines is what I sought, but only found reflections on the water’s surface. Concrete is uninteresting and unworthy as the light falls flat.

Back in the rig.

For the past year or so, the small railroad company that operates in this area has been clearing forested areas away from their tracks to reduce the number of fallen trees that would otherwise inhibit passage. They are also installing sizable galvanized culvert pipes in the hillier grades to facilitate better drainage and minimize washouts. Never mind that the tree removal will cause more erosion; the culverts will take care of the excess run-off. At least they’re thinking ahead.

The staging area for this work is at the head of our road, about 1.5 miles from home. Trees that are fit for lumber (meaning fir trees) are taken down the tracks directly to the mill. The rest, stumps and all, are hauled back up to the staging area. A rather sizable mound has been gathered, perhaps 100 feet long and twenty-five feet high, which means the width is necessarily equal to the height, if not more.

I have photographed this work area before, specifically the tangle of trees, but was unsatisfied with the results. Yet, now with an assignment to “look for light” and already on this reflected light kick, I thought there might be potential in the galvanized pipes that laid about. And indeed there might had I brought a subject to stand alongside a stack of four.

As I walked toward the pipes, I noticed a small amount of rainwater had settled in them. Hmmm, reflective surfaces on the inside and outside, the interior ones in relative darkness and those on the exterior in the light of a waning day… Another mental note, but for now I would take the more direct route and try to do something with the interior surfaces.

My ISO, set at 1600, was way too high. I dislike the graininess of the images, especially of the first one. Still, I was shooting at anywhere from 1/60 to 1/125 at f8, hence the need for a tripod. Yet, all is not lost. I will return to try some different exposures. It also occurred to me that the interior of these pipes might provide a certain privacy for someone who, say, is not wearing clothes.


Memphis MOJO said...

Interesting shots.

Crash said...

I...I think I'm a culvert pervert convert. No, wait, I'm cured. The thought of MOJO curled up in there with corrugated marks on his backside did the trick.

Did you force the high ISO setting, or did the camera choose it?

bastinptc said...

Thx Mojo.

Gee, Crash, I don't know what to say... except: no tripod, fast ISO. I'll go back and see how low I can go.

Crash said...

I need to learn more about these modern cameras. I thought that if the camera thought higher ISO was needed, it would choose it automatically.

Crash said...

I just checked my camera settings. In 'auto' it sets ISO, aperture, and shutter to give the best results for the given conditions. The manual only implies that shake will be considered. The manual does state that in 'low light' mode, which your camera has, too, the ISO will be automatically boosted higher than in regular auto mode. Odd.

Anyway, if you do go back with a tripod, and use delayed shutter release, the shutter could stay open for several seconds.

I was just curious if you have departed from your old 'I just point and shoot,' and are playing with the settings.

Forrest Gump said...

Pipe+Dark could be also called "Floppy disk".

bastinptc said...

FG - I saw a magnifying glass. I do see the old school floppy too.

Crash - If I set my camera on Manual Mode, I can bring the ISO down to 80. There is a little light meter indicator on the side of the screen that helps me to find the shutter speed. f8, however, is my smallest aperture. Slowly but surely I am learning this camera by reading the manual (gasp!), and failing to understand that, push buttons until I reach "ah!"

Wolynski said...

Why no tripod? Ansel Adams had a camera the size of a minivan.

With these modern little cameras (& their optical stabilization) you really don't need one. Never used one in 20 years of photography. It's better to develop a steady hand.

The high ISO setting will kick in the "low light" mode. Best to use the camera in just 2 settings, if you have them - automatic and the semi-manual. Do you have a setting for maximum ISO?

In a photo like this, best to bracket the exposures (lots of different ones).

What camera are you using?

bastinptc said...

W - I use a Canon PowerShot SX 10 IS. I cannot afford an SLR, but that really isn't the issue. Nor is a tripod. And believe me, I bracketed the ever-lovin'-shit out of my shots today. My ISO range is from 80 to 3200. Maybe it's from years of using my A-1 with ISO 100 no matter what the subject matter, but I have grown to not like graininess. Add to that an inherited shaky hand...good for the poker table, right? My camera has a Manual mode, which, embarrassingly, I have just begun to use, and if I can begin to capture anything close to what I could with my Old Faithful, then I will do whatever it takes, which, as past experience has shown, usually involves a lot of experimentation.

TenMile said...

Heavy/Bulky(65) Complicated controls/menu(36) Short battery life(25) Missing features/settings(21) Poor Low-Light Performance(18)

From the Pro/Con comments for the camera.

I follow with interest these lessons. I was surprised you were assigned nudes on the second week and without consideration for the equipment at hand.

KenP said...

I guess today is the day for photo critiques. Just left Mojo site.

Interesting pictures.

The high ISO one is about patterns. The other is about subject. Both could be cropped to stronger views.

The dark one is about the subject in the 'hole' and that boring and busy, unfortunately. You could edit in a different view and build a vertical format.

The other has the grung collected at the bottom which detracts. The 'hole' isn't the subject. Several crops that emphasize the pattern come to mind.

Both shots are fodder for some Photoshopping.

I do sympathize with all about camera options. I bought a fairly reasonably priced 'bridge camera' (Fuji S1000) and it is sadly much smarter than my skills. I think that's the case for many of us. I've only used it for 'snapshots' and that is a shame.

Great shots are often relating more to dark room technique than the 'negative'. That was Adam's strength. If I could get excited about reasonable shooting sessions, I think I'd love Photoshop and have my real fun with it.

bastinptc said...

TM - The class is an "informal" offering, more a follow-along with an actual physical class at a real college, and completely voluntary. I participate as much and as often as I am able. The instructor is interested in the educational capabilities of social media and the possibility of a wider dialogue.

If I were on campus, I'm sure finding a model would be no problem. I'd just ask around until I found a free spirit. As it stands, if I cannot find a model, my grade will not suffer. I just lose out on an opportunity.

Ken - The photos in the post are studies in lighting, and as such, the hole is a light source. If the rain holds off today, I will be returning to try other options.

My camera is still smarter than me, and will remain so for some time to come. And truth be told, my skill set remains at a "point and shoot" level. Yet, as I have demonstrated with many of the photos I have shared on this blog, I like to experiment with subject matter that may or may not result in a photo that impresses the viewer, and sometimes I just get lucky.

TenMile said...

Understand survey courses. I've managed several non-pay courses at a local State College.

Enjoy them immensely.

Wolynski said...

You have one thing right - reading the manual and implementing it is most important.

Get used to the manual setting - you should be getting better pictures than your old SLR soon.

And if you get a digital SLR (I don't need one, unless I get paid to shoot - love my little point & shoots)... guess what? You'll have to read the manual, too.

Oh, and bracketing doesn't involve changing the ISO - it means changing the shutter speed and aperture. You should determine what lowest ISO can do the job BEFORE you take the photo.

You should have a "maximum ISO" setting on one of your menus as well as minimum shutter speed.

My old Lumix TZ4 has a f3.3 - f11 lens, the new one 2.8 - 8. Strange.

Vegas in March? You must be coming to the cannabis convention at the Mandalay.

bastinptc said...

W - "Oh, and bracketing doesn't involve changing the ISO - it means changing the shutter speed and aperture. "

No kidding?

Yeah, the f8 pisses me off. Limiting.

I quit smoking pot a quarter of a century ago. Made the world flat, like a photo, or a cartoon. Fortunately, I love me some cartoons and they make a nice substitute.