Drive by. Of course, we did not stop. I was headed south and this was a drive by shot. It’s slightly blurred. Shutter speed too slow. Ah! I let the camera choose once again. Shhhh… the dirty secret – the camera does quite alright on “program” setting. It – the camera – chooses shutter, f-stop, and ISO all by itself. And then it autofocuses itself, all by itself. Wonderful! I get to concentrate on my driving much to Colleen’s relief. And….it works at night!!
Red’s. Iconic eatery off the side of the road in Maine. It is busy morning till night. The food? Special? Good? We have passed it multiple times. We’ve never tried it. I don’t wait on lines….
Test. Limits. I test mine all the time. I test the camera all the time. Sunsets, the moon, they test the algorithm of the camera manufacturer in low light conditions. You pick you choose you shoot. Sometimes you win and sometimes not.
Detail, color, focus, all are factored in to make the image of my imagination. Then we see whether or not the camera was up to the test. In doing so there are compromises and choices to be made. Post processing can only get you so far. The idea, “I’ll fix it later in Photoshop.” is so wrong on so many levels.
Washington Dulles airport. It’s around 1AM in the morning. We are landing. It’s a night shot. It would be near impossible to take this image with film. Digital is a challenge. And I daresay most folks don’t bother or try.
Challenge. It’s dark. You need to fool the camera meter. And it has to focus upon something. Yes, there is some skill. Not much. But some. I would like a sharply focused image. I settle. And composition would be more interesting if I could zoom in on something interesting. And then the shutter speed would be too slow and everything would be blurred. Take what you can get. Not too bad. Not too good.
I know the occasion. It was a birthday celebration for me cooked up by Jules and Lisa. They took me on the dinner cruise around Manhattan. It was a chill April evening. The light was fading quickly at dusk. Jules was seasick. Ha! It was a slow-moving cruise ship. Oh well.
Noise? I don’t have metadata on the images. I assume it was the Nikon D70 but I could be wrong. Low light, you get noise in the picture. Noise? It is the graininess and lack of definition in the image. Jules and I look strange as a result of the low light and noise. The skyline of Manhattan hides noise quite well. There is little detail expected and the far away subject easily hides the lack of detail. Graininess is not an issue.
Sometimes you accept imperfection in the face of the memory the image invokes. It was my birthday cruise with my favorite daughter.
Well, sometimes I surprise even myself. We are in the wilds of Maine. The sky was clear and cold. It was dark as only a place can be without light pollution. Point and shoot. I did not have a tripod and was too cold to just stand around. I let the camera go automatic. The Sony could not compensate. The Nikon went wild. Who knew? I am a casual Astro-photographer which means I have no expectation and whatever comes is a gift and bonus. Press the shutter and voila! So, I ended with a 1.6 second exposure handheld. I must have a steady hand. Ha ha! It came out rather good. No complaint! One night only. The next was cloudy with rain. Sometimes it is once and only…. it looks lots better enlarged on a big screen. Gee, there are a lot of stars in the sky.
I’m no astronomer. I can hardly pick out the north star. Morning star? Well, I got some celestial bodies, stars and/or planets. I just stuck the camera up against the window. Click. For those of us too lazy to control all aspects of exposure, “Program” mode is good. Very good. Night shots are hard. There are extremes in exposure that challenge any sensor. When I shot film it was nearly impossible to get a proper night exposure. I let the Sony RX100 just go do its programed exposure. Look what I got! I did not persist. I am resigned to poor astrophotography images. Eh? Colleen?
Meanwhile, the moon came out pretty nice. Focus is hard. There are no real hard contrasting edges. The moon is very bright. I got the sensor to fool itself. The clouds and the houses made for an interesting tableau. Auto – program, it worked for me. The sensor has some magical algorithms for night shots. No, I will not be getting a telescope anytime soon.
It was the supermoon. I can do moon shots. I do it in manual. It’s pretty easy to get a shot of the moon into my camera. Super moon – full moon when the orbit is closest to earth. The moon is 250,000 miles away. It looks better/closer in my mind. Meanwhile, I got moon shots. And clouds. And the moon in the clouds. And the moon covered by clouds.
The settings are critical to the exposure. Automatic actually does a fair job. But the moon itself is too bright and the craters and mountains are washed out if you go with automatic. So there is a bit of tweaking needed too. It ain’t perfect. But I got some shots and can show you. I learned and was surprised that the camera could capture the moon thru the clouds. Clouds have few enough details in daylight. The house and trees provided some sharpness for the eye to focus upon.
Bucket list of images. I have never shot lightning. I have never gotten that lightning bolt in the night. Nope. I have rainbows…. So, it was a night of continuous lightning bursts in the clouds. And I missed every one! I would press the shutter as the lightning lit the clouds. I would be just a bit too slow. I got nothing. Nothing! Slow shutter finger. I could not anticipate the next burst. Nada! Nothin’!! Well, once, sort of. My record stands I have not shot a bolt of lightning. Lightning in the clouds? It doesn’t look much like anything at all.
The moon. Camera or lens? I compared shots from the Sony RX100 VII and the Nikon Z5 w/ 100 macro lens. Too complicated? The Sony has an electronic telephoto that has the reach of my Nikon 80-400mm zoom. Sony on the left, and Nikon on the right. The Nikon image was enlarged. The detail in the Nikon is better but the enlargement ratio is a problem. What I can say is that in a pinch the Sony is a good telephoto camera. The Nikon has the larger sensor and better glass (lens) that should give it an edge if things are equal. Things are never equal. This was a test of the limitations of gear and what to do if given a choice. Sometimes I am not carrying both cameras when a shot of the moon is at hand. It’s good to know what your gear can do. My point? I can make the moon closer (bigger) with my Sony.
You would think I know everything there is to know about photography by now. Learning? Does it ever end? As a surgeon I learned new tips and operations all of my career. So, I guess the learning is never done. What?
Shooting out the car windshield is not recommended. The passenger may do it. So, grab shot – one where you just press the shutter for luck…. I got one. Colleen got one. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. You guess. And meanwhile there is plenty to be critical about either image. And it is a small miracle that I am able to share them with you. It was for the clouds that the image was taken on the road to the Verrazano bridge. And it was for the moon on the NJT at dusk. Neither shot really had a chance. Surprise!
The clouds show. There’s plenty of foreground clutter. But the clouds are cool! And the moon shows up easily enough in the image. The evening afterglow shows up too. …counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike…
It’s early on in the resurrection of this blog. I wonder if anybody is listening?