United Nations

Technical: Canon EOS 7D, 1/30 sec, f 3.5, focal length 11

Here’s a wide angle shot. Note the distortion at the edges. The roofline on the right has an upward curve. In the center the perspective lines appear straight. There is so much play between the wide angle and perspective it’s hard to be critical of the technical aspect of this image. The exposure is a little dark in the foreground. Shooting wide angle is an art and the effect is something more abstract. In real life we see parallel lines because our brain processes the image with our knowledge of reality. The camera image shows the reality as it exists. The wide angle images tend to have too much sky and lend themselves better to a panorama type image. To get away from this, often advantage is taken to emphasize some object in the foreground, a rock, flower, or automobile. This technique lends more depth of field to the image. In this image, the battle is with perspective, which is distorted and more noticeable. As long as this is what you set out to do, this is ok. Cousin David also got a great soft golden hour (evening sunset) light on the building. You can see a sliver of sunset in the center base of the building. I know this because the UN faces to the west and the sun is setting from there.


Technical: iPhone

Amy emailed and said this is an example of the limitations of the iPhone. The high contrast of the sour cream against the darker hash leaves the detail of the meat hard to discern. Did I say that correctly? Well, anyway, the hash doesn’t look too appetizing. Amy’s a professional with access to lights and a big gun Nikon camera. So she’s right. The iPhone isn’t quite right for this job. Given more time and a bit of food styling, this shot could be improved a lot. As it is, the shot was taken on the run and no representation was made that this would be a great shot. It was a documentation of a good breakfast.


Sunny 16

Technical: Canon EOS 7D 1/200 sec, f16, ISO 200, focal length 50mm

Wikipedia: In photography, the Sunny 16 rule (also known as the Sunny f/16 rule) is a method of estimating correct daylight exposures without a light meter. Apart from the obvious advantage of independence from a light meter, the Sunny 16 rule can also aid in achieving correct exposure of difficult subjects. As the rule is based on incident light, rather than reflected light as with most camera light meters, very bright or very dark subjects are compensated for. The rule serves as a mnemonic for the camera settings obtained on a sunny day using the exposure value (EV) system.

The basic rule is, “On a sunny day set aperture to f/16 and shutter speed to the [reciprocal of the] ISO film speed [or ISO setting] for a subject in direct sunlight.”[1] For example:

  • On a sunny day and with ISO 100 film / setting in the camera, one sets the aperture to f/16 and the shutter speed to 1/100 or 1/125 second (on some cameras 1/125 second is the available setting nearest to 1/100 second).
  • On a sunny day with ISO 200 film / setting and aperture at f/16, set shutter speed to 1/200 or 1/250.
  • On a sunny day with ISO 400 film / setting and aperture at f/16, set shutter speed to 1/400 or 1/500.

Cousin David illustrates the “Sunny 16” in this image. It works! The sky is a little blown out. But there is a serviceable image. Back in the day when ISO was fixed to the film in the camera, this rule was in the Kodak paper enclosed in every box of film and on the box itself. Many cameras did not have a meter. Many more did not have changeable settings. Where you could set shutter speed and f-stop, this rule applied and got something on the negative, which could be printed. Of course this was a rough approximation. However anything that could be printed was a plus. Most amateur photographers at the time were largely unsuccessful so that this rule helped.


Living Large

Touchdown. First shot. Dining room, kitchen. Everything is in these three bags.

Five Bedroom Villa

Ok! Everyone asked where I would live when I arrived in Jeddah. I had been told that I would be living in a five bedroom villa in a walled compound. It is known locally as the Andalus compound. It has high walls, about twelve feet with a security gate manned 24 hours a day. There is a pool, sauna, basketball court which doubles as a soccer court, lounge, and internet café. I have a villa that was reserved for me since my visit last December. That means it’s been empty awaiting my arrival. I’ll discuss more about that in a future post. Yup! Five, count ‘em, five bedrooms! What does a single guy do in all that space on two levels? And, I am coming from a fairly spacious four bedroom apartment in Manhattan. So far I just peeked into three bedrooms but haven’t been in them. One bedroom has a TV set up and is a den/sitting room. The master bedroom has a king bed and giant walk-in closet. There are four TV’s but no microwave or vacuum. I have a washer/dryer and an ironing board (no iron). There are dishes but no pots to cook with. Most of the minor technicalities have been solved. I now have an iron, two giant Dutch ovens as pots. I will have to find my own microwave. Drat! So far without reliable transportation, I haven’t been able to find the local home goods store. It will wait. Meanwhile I eat out frequently. Restaurant eating is relatively inexpensive. I can’t ever be dehydrated. Everywhere I go, someone is offering me bottled water.

Hereafter follow the Saudi adventure in my blog Imaged Event. (See the sidebar.)

Living room, high ceilings, rug, heavy curtains, flat screen TV

The Stanley Cup Finals!?!

King bed, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, of course

Master bath, no towel, no shower 24 hrs, air dry? No prob.

Saudi Arabia

For a while, I will post to all three of my blogs regarding Saudi Arabia. My secret/insanity/mid life crisis will be now be revealed. I realize that I won’t live past one hundred. What fun would it be to say that I had lived in one place all my life? After letting you all know of my initial cultural shock and adjustment, I will continue the Saudi adventure on the Imaged Event blog, for which my posting has been fairly quiet. Like a diary I will provide observations of life and living in a foreign country. I am sympathetic but not so good on the empathetic side. My  experience is giving me a new perspective as someone who is no longer language (English) proficient in learning how to adjust to different customs, food, and culture. I arrived on June 3, 2012, but have delayed posting until I have been in country long enough to get my bearings. My time zones remain completely discombobulated. To repeat, Photo Back Story will chronicle my photographic experience and Imaged Event will transition to my Suadi experience.

Today’s image is of the King. He is old and in poor health according to sources. His heirs apparent have both died and the line of succession is being determined. This seemed like a good place to start. Long live the king.

Motion Blur by Luck

Technical: Canon EOS 7D, 1/160 sec, f13, focal length 50

Cousin David titled this ‘motion blur by luck.’ I would call it panning the camera. He shot the image and moved the camera in the same direction with the geese in flight. This will blur the background while keeping the subject in focus. It’s another way to make ‘bokeh’ without playing with depth of field. This is especially helpful in sports where you can visualize a race car going by and the crowded background is a pleasant blur. It enhances the notion of action. With birds this can be difficult because often the flight is less predictable. Here David got a fine shot. I didn’t notice the goose on the right. It was obscured by the background. But the goose on the left is nicely isolated.

Graduation IV

Technical: no info

Ginny’s sister Maria and John. It’s a good shot. It could be better by cropping to the hug. A common error is to include the whole person in the photo. It’s the hug and smiles that count. Crop in closer and leave the legs. It will be a better shot… unless we’re doing a shoe commercial. That’s why no one cares what you have on under the graduation gown. No one sees it anyway. Get closer and turn the camera vertical. That what this image needs. So do it in Photoshop. You could but then you discard all the data from the cropped image. It wastes a lot of pixels which will ultimately degrade your mega blow up enlargements. So get the crop right before you shoot.



Graduation III

Technical: no info

This is a problem with getting too close. You get rid of the people walking by and all the distraction in the background. But if you will notice John’s face is a little closer. So his nose is a bit big. And his shoulders and torso are relatively out of scale. I refer to this as a wide angle effect. I mostly see this in dog photos where the distortion is enhanced and makes for distinctive dog portraits. Most folk don’t want a bigger nose. I don’t know why, they just don’t.

Graduation II

Technical: no info

Here’s a fairly typical pose. John is squared up and centered. No problem with the smile. His mother is even happier… no more tuition, well college, don’t forget graduate school. So by rule of thirds, this photo could be improved by moving off center. Squarely facing the camera is also static. So turn or change the angle on the shoulders. There were numerous photos taken [of course] so this is just a small criticism. There were many others that were just fine.

John Graduation

Technical: no info

Ginny sent me pictures of John’s graduation. Congratulations. Knowing Ginny I have to believe that the placement of the diploma was strategically intentional… to hide some anatomical features. If John did this then he was diplomatic and did in fact get a real education. If Ginny did it…typical. And if it was serendipitous, shame on me for thinking there was planning afoot. I’ll let you know if Ginny ever comes across this post and reveals her intent.