So, how did I do it?
The above screenshot shows the back-end of my website. To manage this blog/site, I use the Wordpress blogging platform.
There are two “flavors” of WordPress, the free version and the self-hosted variety. WordPress.com leads to the free version. Free is great but there are a lot of drawbacks. To me, the drawbacks were deal-breakers so I chose to self-host my WordPress site.
Self-hosted simply means I pay a third-party web hosting company to host my WordPress installation (in my case I use Bluehost). Unlike the free version of WordPress, a self-hosted WordPress (WordPress.org) blog is customizable via all sorts of plugins. That allows me to easily expand the default platform to fit my needs. The free wordpress.com site simply does not allow plugins.
With the free version, you end up running into limitations very, very quickly. I cannot really recommend it.
Anyway, the most important thing with a WordPress blog is the theme. This completely customizes how your site will look. What’s nice about WordPress is that it allows you to change themes on the fly. The hard part about that is to create a custom theme. I used a program called Artisteer (along with some work in Photoshop) to create mine because I simply do not know enough about coding. To properly make your own WordPress theme, you should really know HTML, CSS, and PHP.
I’m really not there yet, but I hope to learn enough to create my own theme soon.
Yeah, it’s sick how people can deface bridges. There’s a pretty big difference between the way the Manhattan Bridge is taken care of, and that of the Brooklyn Bridge. There isn’t much to discuss with this shot, except for the fact I wish I had a wider lens. So, I’ll take the time to discuss how “crop factors” affect your photography.
Camera lens filters used to be incredibly important before digital photography. Nowadays, this isn’t the case. Software filters and post-processing can often substitute for lens filters and they are much more precise. However, even in the land of digital photography, some lens filters cannot be duplicated in post-processing.
The most important lens filter you can buy is a known as a Circular Polarizer. A circular polarizer will make skies deep blue, clouds pop out, eliminate unwanted reflections, and enhance colors. The filter is adjustable so that you can twist it and dial in the exact effect you want.
A polarizer is most useful when the sun is very strong. If it’s a day for wearing sunglasses or sunscreen, it’s probably a day to use a polarizer. Rainbows can also be enhanced by shooting them with a polarizer.
If you have lenses that use different filter sizes, one way to save money is to buy one circular polarizer made for the largest filter size lens you own. For example, if you have two lenses, one that takes 77mm filters and one that takes 58mm filters, you would buy one polarizer that is 77mm. Then you can use an inexpensive adapter known as a “step up ring” to fit the larger filter onto the smaller lens.
Manhattan View from Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass
Dynamic range sounds like something complicated. It isn’t. Basically, it refers to the ratio of light intensities the camera is able to capture. The human eye is usually quite adept at rapid adjustments and the brain puts the image together. We “see” the scene in all its glory, from the brightest bits to the darkest details in the shadows.
The camera isn’t as clever. You’ll often find the dynamic range of a scene exceeds your camera’s ability to capture it. You’ll try to shoot a particular scene and straight of the camera, either the shadows will be too dark, or the highlights will be blown out.
1/125″ /F7.1 / iso100 / 18mm
Lovely architecture, but why is it falling over?
There’s a problem you will often see when you’re shooting buildings or bridges. Everything looks fine through the viewfinder and in person, but after you take the shot, you’ll notice that the building looks like it’s tipping over. This is known as the Keystone Effect. No, this has nothing to do with the controversial pipeline that might run through Canada.
Night photography, it’s difficult. There are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, use a tripod when possible. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. You might not have a tripod with you, or sometimes you do, but there is not enough room to set it up. With this shot, I simply did not have enough room to set up a tripod, my back was against the wall of another building.
Without a tripod, you’ll need to use a higher ISO, or a wider aperture or a combination of the two. If your lens or camera has image stabilization, make sure that’s turned on. Keep in mind, with higher iso, you’ll get greater noise and less detail, and with a wider aperture, the depth of field might not be deep enough. Those are trade-offs you might have to make. Post-processing can help lessen the effects of camera noise, but it isn’t a miracle worker.
This is why a tripod allows you more freedom with night photography with better quality. With a tripod, camera shake becomes a non-issue. Therefore, you’re free to pick and choose a low clear grain-free ISO and stop down your aperture to deepen your depth of field. I like using aperture-priority mode in this case. Take note of your shutter-speed and remember its effect on moving objects in your shot.
Happy shooting and take care of yourself when shooting at night.
1/80″ / F13 / ISO3200 / 163mm
So Friday was supposed to be “Manhattanhenge.” Manhattanhenge refers to the phenomenon where the sun sets along Manhattan’s street grid. Unfortunately, things were a bit cloudy and I could not get the shot I wanted. I thought this shot came out interesting though.
I used my telephoto lens here which gave a nice telephoto compression effect.
1/200″ / F8 / iso 100/ 55mm (88mm equiv)
I don’t do it. Nor should you. —
Just kidding. There is nothing wrong with “the selfie.” I’m actually not sure why people disparage it so much. This actually isn’t a new thing, people taking photographs of themselves. People have always done this. Always.
The only reason it’s increased so much is that every new phone camera comes with a front-facing camera. And phone cameras have gotten quite good.
Back to the shot. This photograph is actually a very tight crop of a much larger shot. What’s interesting is how much resolution I’m able to get from this small crop. The original shots out of my camera weigh in at 18 megapixels, while this crop uses only about 30% of those pixels. But that’s still 5.4 megapixels and that’s nothing to sneeze at. Despite all the whinging about the uselessness of high pixel counts, they still can make a difference.
If I had to do it again, I would have used a longer lens, and a shallower depth of field. But we don’t always have time to pick the exact settings on grab-shots like this. Since the subject wasn’t very isolated, I chose to add a small amount of whitish , post-crop vignette around the shot to emphasize the girl.
If you are using Lightroom, there are actually two types of vignetting you can play with. The first type is pre-crop vignetting which applies to the entire shot. This is usually used to correct lens issues but it can be used to achieve a post-processing effect. The second type of vignetting is called post-crop, and this type is usually the one we use to achieve special effects. You’ll often see the white version in wedding photography. There are also different settings for the post-crop vignetting, but I’ll leave that discussion for another day.
Macro shot of a slightly rotten strawberry.
Here’s a shot of a strawberry I took using my Aunt’s macro lens. I was lucky enough to get to borrow it for a weekend. Take a look at the settings, there’s a 10 second exposure! Obviously I had to do this with a tripod. Why such a long exposure time? Well, here’s the issue with macro. As you get very close to the subject, your depth of field gets extremely shallow. Normally, that effect can look nice (for example a portrait). However, with macro shots, it gets to be a bother as a few milimetres will start getting blurry. Notice the blur towards the bottom of the strawberry.
The fix for this is to stop down the aperture (ie use a larger f number). That will help you get most of the subject in focus. Since the aperture is so narrow here, you’ll need a long shutter speed and plenty of light. Sometimes this isn’t enough. There is a problem with using extremely high aperture values. The problem is that past a certain aperture value, the light will start to diffract and lower the resolution of your shot. This is the case no matter how many megapixels your camera might have. In addition to that, it’s possible that there is too much depth variation in the subject itself, and no matter what aperture value one uses, it is impossible to get everything satisfactorily in focus.
There’s an option for this issue as well, but it requires post-processing. The idea is to use the sharpest aperture value, (usually f/8 or so), and then focus on different areas of the subject. Obviously this only works on still objects. After taking different shots, one can combine the sharpest parts of each image by using photoshop or another post-processing tool. This is called focus-stacking and it’s a high-level technique.