Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2009

I once knew the names for this type of bronze vessel, it now escapes me.

I once knew the names for this type of bronze vessel, it now escapes me.

I went to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco today on the way back from dropping someone off at SFO. As always I enjoyed the exhibits (they had Samurai’s this time), but the trip highlighted the challenges of photographing in museums.

First I had all of my camera gear with me since I was unsure of what I would be doing before and after the museum, at this point that just constitutes at Think Tank Photo Streetwalker backpack. However there was a size limit on bags in the museum so I had to check my bag in the complimentary coat check. I was allowed to take my camera with me but not the bag. I had to decide which lens to take with me, knowing that no flashes are allowed I chose my 50mm f/1.8 for the high speed.

With no flash and no tripod I would have be limited mostly to all handheld shots and museums are surprisingly dark places (for the most part). I rarely went below an ISO of 400 and kept the aperture at f/1.8 the entire time. I would have liked a zoom lens for the wider angles and even a zoom but the kit lenses I have are far too slow.

With a high ISO I am pleased how the photos came out (the Samurai exhibit did not allow photography) the only problem I faced was the lack of an autofocus. Usually I am fine with manual focus, however it was combined with low light so I was below the standard 1/50s exposure time (since it is a 50mm lens) and was often at 1/20 or 1/40. It was necessary to manually focus with a shallow depth of field and steady the camera.

I utilized the usual trick of bracing against walls, pillars, signs and the odd chair though this museum had a dearth of conveniently located propping points. In the end I relied on the high ISO, an exposure compensation of -1 or -2 and the large aperture. I realize now that I should have set metering to be just at the focal point instead of factoring in the entire frame, the rest of the frame tended to be black if not dark and unnecessarily increased the exposure.

Back home when I went through the photos I found myself holding them to a different standard compared to other subjects. Instead of evaluating the photos of the art pieces by their content I did it by lighting, sharpness and focal plane. Only if a given piece had multiple sharp well exposed photos did I start to look into composition and even subject matter.

Now if I could only remember back to my Chinese Art History class to figure out what I photographed.

Read Full Post »

Boats

Colorful boats in Madison.

Colorful boats in Madison.

In iPhoto I have a running set of photos that I pull out for this blog. Ideally I use them for a given entry because they match the subject in some tangential way, in general I just pick the ones I like that particular day. Other times the timing of the day worked out that I have nothing important to say so I put up a photo and call it good.

Since I have almost been doing one a year it is a hard habit to stop.

So today (depending on which day you read this) I have a photo of a line of small sailing boats on the University of Wisconsin campus. The colors caught my eye as they lined up one after the other. It was a perfectly dreary overcast day, I guess I was lucky in that I had no shadows.

I like boats to photograph, but not to ride.

Read Full Post »

Heat

The east coast likes their "Pop".

The east coast likes their "Pop".

A lot of heat has been coming into the Bay Area recently, in particular near my house it has been getting into the high 90’s and perhaps low 100’s (roughly mid to high 30’s (305’s) for those fans of Celsius (or Kelvin)).

That sort of heat starts to greatly limit the options of what to do. They are sadly reduced down to activities like siting inside a cool house with a computer and sitting around a cool pool with a book. Sometimes there are radical activities in the heat like getting up to get a drink and (rarely) moving around deck furniture.

However as I am soon to be in Seattle for a bit of time I am doing my best to embrace these arduous activities of summer, I must make sure I contribute to the appreciation of the heat.

Of course my opinion of the warm weather would drastically changed if I had to work or do anything in it. Let us hope that does not happen anytime soon.

Read Full Post »

This is not Pavement.

This is not Pavement.

Twice in the past week I have had discussions about the phrase “new and improved”, mostly starting by someone saying that an item cannot be both. Let us look at this.

The way I see this phrase is that an object can hold the characteristics of new as well as the characteristics of improved.

If I have a drawer full of forks that are all used and slightly worn and someone gives me an identical model fork but right from the factory it is then a new fork. Even though I have many like it, this one has not been uesd.

Now if I take an existing fork and tape a guiding laser along the tines the fork is very much improved.

So if someone gives me a new from the factory fork that is the same as all the rest, except that it now has a guiding laser would it not then be new and improved?

I can see where the phrases can be contradictory and it is really all tied up in how the word “new” is interpreted. If it is read as being the first ever made or never before experienced then something cannot be new and improved. If improvements can only be made on existing items and new items cannot have existing before then there is indeed a contradiction.

But if I improve something in a new way then this particular object is new by improvement. Wouldn’t that be new and improved?

Read Full Post »

Civilization

The Roman Colosseum.

The Roman Colosseum.

I had a large list of things I was going to do today.

Then I received Civilization IV Gold edition in the mail.

That shot my entire day.

Read Full Post »

Creative Advertising

A more creative approach to attracting blog traffic.

A more creative approach to attracting blog traffic.

Amid graffiti on the edge of Boston’s China town I found this URL scrawled onto a shadowed wall on the way to the subway station.

I wonder how much traffic this generates to the site.

Read Full Post »

The Humanities and Social Studies building courtyard at UCSB, in HD.

The Humanities and Social Studies building courtyard at UCSB, in HD.

This HDR photo posed a little more challenge then previous ones. In the past when faces with these I did not really like the photo enough to dedicate the time to find a way to solve it. The problem: the night sky.

With many HDR photos taken at night the night sky turns into a mess of noise and artifacts, a result of the processing software. To avoid these using Photomatix Pro I upped the Shadow Clipping and then adjusted the remaining settings to make up for this. In the end this is what I used:

  • Strength: 80
  • Saturation: 55
  • Luminosity: +4
  • Light Smoothing: High
  • Microcontrast: +10

Tone Settings:

  • White Point: 0.604
  • Black Point: 0.161
  • Gamma: 1.23

Color Settings:

  • Temperature: 0
  • Saturation Highlights: 0
  • Saturation Shadows: 0

Smoothing Settings:

  • Micro-smoothing: 2
  • Highlights Smoothing: 30
  • Shadows Smoothing: 0
  • Shadows Clipping: 50

These settings worked well and I used this preset for several other photos taken in the same night.

    Read Full Post »

    Older Posts »