Glimpses

I find that a useful thing to do is to gather images on a theme. Whenever I am out with my camera some particular themes are in the back of my mind – as well as whatever else I am specifically looking at photographing on that outing.

I find that, in the same way we look at things like light to see just what it is doing and, so, recognise a good image that the light is creating, I will notice something that fits one of my themes and might be a worthy addition to my collection.

There are all sorts of themes that we can work on – shadows, windows, whatever is the set subject for a forthcoming Canberra Photographic Society competition. The list is really endless. One of the themes I have explored on and off over many years is Glimpses.

The dictionary definitions of Glimpse include:

1.    A very brief, passing look, sight or view

2.    A momentary or slight appearance

3.    A vague idea; inkling

Storytelling is a very important aspect of much photography. If the viewer can weave a story around what they see in the image, then the photographer has succeeded in capturing their interest. I consider that the theme, Glimpses, provides an excellent vehicle for storytelling.

Here are some of my images on the theme of Glimpses. All of them were taken when I was traveling to other parts of Australia or overseas, times when my main focus was on gathering travel images. The concept of what constitutes a glimpse is interpreted variously, but each image shows a glimpse of one or more persons and, I feel, allows the viewer to invent a story about what they see.

Glimpse – Boy

In the image above we see just a glimpse of the young boy as he plays his own game, blissfully unaware of the scene behind him. It is a passing look of him as he moved quickly across the view through my lens. But what is it about? What was he actually doing? What is the setting? Why was he doing what he was in that setting? What were the other people behind him doing?

Glimpse – Legs

Here we glimpse only the lower half of a person and can do no more than speculate as to what the other half looks like. Do we have an inkling of what the upper half might be like? Is it definitely a woman? What was she doing?

Glimpse – Dance Reflection

This is a glimpse of my reflection between two glimpses of human forms holding stylised poses – for my camera? The viewer sees only a vague idea of me, the photographer.

Glimpse – Stall Holder

As she is hidden behind one of her wares on her stall at the markets, we only have a glimpse of this stall holder and need to imagine what she really looks like. Without the title, would you know she was a stall holder? What story would you attach to the image with no written information to accompany it?

Glimpse – who is watching?

The woman on the bench appears to be taking a passing look over her shoulder at the people in the mural, who are not looking at her. Is she glimpsing them, whilst we are glimpsing her? Are we certain she is real, or is she a sculpture? Indeed, are the bench and her also part of the mural?

Glimpse – Self

This image provides a glimpse of me and another person, both in the form of reflections. You can make out my camera. Was the other person also taking a photo – or watching what I was doing – or just there?

Glimpse – Couple

This couple was seated together against two separate reflective surfaces which created this image. For me, the glimpse of them, via their reflections, poses questions about their relationship.

Glimpse – Prayer

Dressed smartly and possibly on her way to work this woman paused briefly at a public shrine. The blurred image seemed appropriate for the speed at which she made her offering and provides just a glimpse of her.

Glimpse – Le Mythe de Sisyphe

We gain an inkling of something about her from this glimpse of a young woman in a Champs-Elysées café. Her taste in books incudes at least one classic. Does it include more of the same, or was she only reading it because it was a set text for a course of study she was undertaking?

Glimpse – Pool User

On the roof of a 56 floor hotel/shopping mall building in Singapore there is an edge pool for hotel guests. Other visitors to the building can glimpse users through screens (and the gaps between them) – voyeuristically? here we see a momentary view of this man as he passed the gap where my camera was positioned.

Glimpse – Curtains

We can do no more than glimpse all these people through the translucent curtain fabric. We can only speculate as to who they were and what they might have been doing.

Glimpse – Family

In this passing look at them, we view enough to learn about this family’s faith and that they have at least one child, but little else about them. It is merely a glimpse of this family.

Glimpse – Darkness

In the darkness we barely glimpse a figure or two. We learn nothing about them. Are they men or women? Where are they? Is that a boat they were on? If so, where was it – and they – going at this apparently late hour?

Glimpse – Spectacles

In this glimpse through a wet window we see that the man wears spectacles and, probably, sufficient of his head to take a reasonable guess at his race. But what more can we glean or invent from the image? What was he doing? What is the pink shape? What is the bright light? Was there anyone else with him? Write your own story.

Glimpse – Tea

In this glimpse of a woman we see just enough to tell us that she is being served tea by a waiter in a smart-looking venue. We do not know who she is, why she was alone or why she was even there.

Each of the Glimpse images above may conjure up quite different stories for you to what I have briefly suggested below them, and different ones again for each other viewer. That doesn’t matter. The important thing is to explore themes for yourself and, so, look at everything around you when out and about with a camera (or even when you don’t have a camera with you). When we observe we substantially improve our prospects of capturing interesting imagery.

–       Brian Rope

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FastRawViewer

(News from the Ether).

A new product, FastRawViewer may be of interest to some.  It is made by the same people that produced RawDigger.  As the name implies, it is a viewer with minimal editing capabilities.  Its value is that it offers a genuine RAW histogram, that you don’t get in Lightroom for example, or I would think other RAW processors. It also offers focus peaking to help assess sharpness.

This means that you can quickly scan your RAW files and determine which are accurately exposed (with no blown highlights) and perhaps sharpness.  You can then assign stars or colours to your selected images and these will come across when you import them to Lightroom.

  • If your images are already in Lightroom, the stars or colours you assigned don’t come across automatically.  You will see a little vertical arrow at the top right of an image.  If you click on that you get a warning that metadata has been changed and can select [Import Settings from Disk].  You can do this for many images at a time.
  • Alternatively, if your images are already in Lightroom, you could remove them first before assessing them in FastRawViewer.  (Press Delete, then select Remove rather than Delete from Disk)
    • Ratings will then show automatically when you re-import the images to Lightroom
    • However, if you have made changes to the images in Lightroom and you have Edit/Catalog Settings…/[Automatically write changes into XMP] unchecked, you will need to first save metadata to file (Metadata/ Save metadata to file or [Ctrl][S]
      • In other words, in Lightroom you can write change to the catalogue or also write them to sidecar files.  If you only save to the catalogue and remove images from the catalogue without first saving the metadata to file, you will lose any changes you have made).

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Maui Taxi

Here is an example of the main screen.  I also have an array of thumbnails to select and navigate with on a separate pane in my other monitor .  You can see overexposed areas by pressing [O] and underexposed areas by pressing [U].  There are both in this image.  The underexposed areas (with no detail) are behind the grille and do not matter.  The overexposed areas are mainly reflected sky on the windscreen and probably do not matter.  If I really wanted to correct that in Photoshop, I could sample the windscreen colour, apply that to a blank layer at just off full white and blend using “Darker” blending mode.  It is, incidentally, an infrared image and this is not its final appearance.

When I first checked FastRawViewer out last month, it was too slow on my PC to be usable, taking around six seconds to turn over from one image to the next.  Nasim Mansurov did not find this in his review so it may depend on how your PC is configured.  However, having downloaded the new version 1.1.1, speed is no longer a problem for me so it becomes usable.  It’s quite cheap.  You can download a trial for free and it only costs $US20.

 

“What is the best camera for landscape and wildlife photography?”

This comes from a comment I made to an article on John Enman’s blog.  He had been asked by someone “What is the best camera for outdoor and wildlife photography?”  That stated me thinking.  I read “outdoor” as “landscape” but that makes little difference.

I think “what is the best camera for landscape and wildlife?” is likely to be the wrong question.

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Near Boolcoomatta Station, South Australia

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A better place to start is:

  • What do I actually photograph and what do I aim to photograph?
  • What forms of output do I use and aspire to?
  • What are the restrictions of my equipment including camera and lenses and support?
  • Am I getting the best possible results from my existing equipment, given its limitations?

Then, having considered and answered all those questions:

  • Are the limitations of my equipment restricting me and if so in what way?
  • Is purchasing new camera or lenses a sensible choice in these circumstances?

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White-tailed Sea Eagle, Hokkaido, Japan

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For example, if someone is only posting to the web and only shooting in the middle of the day, getting better equipment may not make much difference.

Landscape and wildlife photography have different requirements but are similar in many ways.

In both cases the most important thing apart from lighting and exposure is that it should be sharp where it needs to be. And unless you can use a shutter speed high enough to get images as sharp as they would be on a tripod, you should use a tripod. You should test to see what that will be at different focal lengths and it is likely to be significantly higher than the old film standard of one over focal length (depending also on VR/IS). A cheap tripod may not be much use, though. It should be a good tripod (which is likely to be expensive) and carbon fibre if you want a light one.

For landscapes, any lens may be suitable, it depends on the subject and your preferences.   I perhaps prefer ultrawides but in that case you have to understand how to compose with them. Long telephotos are the go for wildlife, really good ones are very expensive and don’t expect an all-purpose ultrazoom to be very sharp.

If we’re talking DSLRs or mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses, the quality of your lens is likely to more important than the quality of your camera. In general, though, the smaller the sensor of your camera, the less capable at higher ISOs. This is compounded if you are using a slow all-purpose zoom.

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Assynt, Northern Scotland

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You should in general shoot landscapes at low ISOs, using a tripod where necessary, and adjusting apertures for optimal sharpness (look at reviews for your lens) and optimal depth of field. In this case, high ISO capabilities of the camera are not so important. Street photography in low light, though, is a different matter. Also, for night landscapes in the unlit countryside, it is useful to have a fast lens and a camera capable at high ISOs so your exposure times with star trails don’t spiral out of control, or so your exposure times can stay low enough (10 secs say) to keep stars still.

For wildlife, though, you are likely to use high shutter speeds and often need to shoot in low light. So as well as a long lens, it is advantageous to have a fast lens and a camera that is capable at high ISOs. The longer the lens is, the more essential a tripod is likely to be as well.  Also, autofocus is critical and DSLRs still have the advantage here.

A final constraint is weight, particularly where you are carrying your equipment in a pack or are travelling. If your back is OK, your legs are OK, your health is OK and you have a good pack, you can carry a heavy pack for considerable periods of time should you choose to do so. This may be very valuable to get the right shot in the right place at the right time. I used to carry a 25 kilo pack in long walks in my 30s. These days I would probably keep that to 16 kilos and my light pack (mirrorless equipment) is probably about 8 kilos. However, there is no point carrying equipment you don’t use and sometimes travelling very light can be an interesting exercise.