Monitor Calibration

•June 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been happily using my Macbook Pro on its standard monitor calibration settings. The course material said it was important to properly calibrate the screen. So tonight’s bit of digging around in the innards of OSX was to find how to do the calibration (nice and easy, system preferences, displays, colour, calibrate, then tick the advanced box as the not advanced just seems to make things worse!). Follow the instructions on screen and WOW what a difference! I really hadn’t realised all those white screens I’d been looking at were actually a dirty grey colour until I started flipping back and forth between my nice new calibrated profile and the standard one and looking at various photos the improvement is equally obvious. Next job sorting out the printer colour matching I think as the shots I’ve printed for my files so far look a little dark.

I’ve just noticed something!

•June 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’ve just noticed every one of the photos I’ve taken for the course so far (including the couple of dozen I’ve shot today but not posted yet for the first part of the movement exercise) have been portrait oriented. It must have been the mood I was in over the last few days as quick scan though a few thousand of my photos in Lightroom seems to show slightly more landscape than portrait photos. But that said of the 16 photos, prints and paintings on the wall in here 2 are square, 4 landscape and the other 10 portrait so maybe I do subconsciously prefer one orientation over the other. It’ll be interesting to explore that as the course progresses.

Focus and depth of field

•June 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

For this one it was the 5D and 24-104 f4. The f2.8 on the 20D is just a bit too soft at its widest settings to make an exercise based on sharpness sensible, and sharpness doesn’t get much better than L series lenses.
Here are some photos of the rooftops of my street which nicely illustrate the influence of aperture on depth of field. In all these images the camera was focused on the right hand side of second nearest brick chimney stack.
First is the stopped right down shot, f22 1/60s

Other than one stray leaf at the bottom right of the image and the very closet part of the hedge about 2m from my position the entire image, with a depth of around 1.5 miles, is in focus.
Next the lens is about half open at f13 1/200s

Here the effects of the wider aperture can already be seen, the closest section of the privet hedge is slightly less sharp and the distant village on the hillside is distinctly out of focus. Sharp focus seems to extend from about 10m to around 100m at the tree at the end of the roof line, though there is nothing in the frame between about 100m and 1500m so the sharp field of view could extend further.
Finally the lens wide open at f4

Here the area of sharp focus is much more restricted, the sandstone house is noticeably soft as is the far end of the line of roofs, sharp focus seems to extend from around 20m to around 70m.
Given the point of focus is effectively on a horizon these photos don’t quite illustrate the point made in the course notes of the sharp area being around the focus point but do illustrate depth of field extending radially from the focus.

Focal Lengths and field of view

•June 19, 2011 • 1 Comment

For this bit I was using the EOS 5D MkII and 24-105mm f4 lens.
First the wide angle view.

Interesting one in that there are so many verticals and none of them parallel something is always going to look to be look to be on a lean! Printed to A4 this had to be pretty much on the end of my nose to match the real view in size

Next the telephoto shot at 105mm

I’m afraid my arms aren’t long enough to say how far away this needed to be to match reality in size, arms length was getting close but not far enough.
Finally the ‘standard’ view where the scene though the viewfinder looked the same size as the one through my other eye.

As expected from the course this one needed to be at about normal reading distance to look the same size as the real scene.
This is where it gets interesting though, from what I read in the course and given the 5D has a full frame sensor I expected the standard to be somewhere around 50mm but in fact it is around 70mm (73m according to Exif data on this photo)

Project: Focus, Focus with a set aperture

•June 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

For this project I’m using my daughters EOS 20D as she has got an f2.8 17-50mm which should show the effects better than my fastest f4 lens. All three photos were taken looking along Chapel Lane with the lens wide open and set at 17mm, ISO200, the first two 1/2000 sec and the last one 1/1600sec.

 

For this shot I focused as close as possible (27cm according to the markings on the lens) to bring out detail on the eroded stone gate post

 

Focus now about halfway along the railings

 

And finally I focused on the red brick house at the far end of the street.

Personally I prefer the close focused photo thanks to the texture and colour of the eroded sandstone, there is clear depth to the scene but being very out of focus I don’t find the rest of the picture distracting. While the second photo has some strong vertical lines I find my eye being drawn by the street to the slightly out of focus red brick building which distracts from the focus on the railings. In the final image the railings are now out of focus and the red brick building doesn’t seem to grab my attention.

Manual read

•June 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

And now I need to find the Powershot manual to see if there as many things I’ve missed on that as well! Sure, I’d figured out all the routine camera operations like metering modes, exposure lock and burst shooting but the 5D has loads of other useful tricks up it sleeve as well. Like for example a B&W mode that can also simulate various of the standard filters you’d use with mono film, sure its easy enough to all these things on the Macbook but just occasionally I can think of times it’d be useful to print a filtered mono shot direct from the camera. Oh and there is that odd bit of silicon rubber on the strap, turns out it is a viewfinder cover to keep stray light out of the system when you are using a shutter release so your head isn’t doing the job. Very useful for shots like this one of the start of a lunar eclipse.

Just testing!

•June 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Just testing the photo upload function!
For interest this is the main church in Plymouth, Montserrat. I took this from what 15 years ago would have been a street about 40ft lower! That is the volcano responsible for burying the town hiding in clouds. You’ll find dozens of versions of this photo on the web but I think the slightly grainy black and white version posted here, along with the light effect over the volcano captures something of feel of the place as well as the look
For a picture of what the church originally looked like see number 17 on the link.

RTFM!

•June 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Well the yacht racing was cancelled this weekend as about 1/4 of the crew looked at the weather forecast and pulled out! What sort of person signs up for offshore racing if they can’t cope with high winds and big waves? But at least that means I can make a start on my new OCA course, The Art of Photography (or TAOP for short).
Well the first thing the course tells me to do is sit down with my camera and the instruction manual that came with it and work through the book. Hmm, there is a novel idea! I’ve had 5 or 6 Canon SLRs over the last 30 years or so and must admit tend to just pick up the camera, read through the quick guide card and go, the current 5D MkII (or Powershot G10 for when the SLR is a little too obvious) were no exception.
Well the 5D manual is a rather weighty tome as such things go, 228 pages and most of those are describing how the camera works, only 50 or so are indexes, the very basic stuff like like safety info, how to put the battery in or how to connect to the computer, plenty more information than on my little quick start card.
So far I’ve only made it to page 37 and have already found out about things I didn’t know the camera (which I’ve had for a couple of years already) could do, maybe I should have RTFM somewhat sooner!