Thursday, December 31, 2009

The New Year

Tonight we close out an old year and enter a new one.  I thought I would use the symbology of a foot bridge to represent us crossing over to the new.  I just got lucky as this father and son were out on a walk and crossed the bridge as I was getting ready to shoot.

 I love hearing from my visitors! Don't be shy - leave a comment.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

For My Friends in the South

Yesterday afternoon a light snow started to fall in Northern Utah.  This morning, after shoveling a few inches of the white stuff off the walks and drive, I thought I would go someplace that I had always enjoyed in the summer that might have some winter opportunities.  This was one of them.  Does it make you wish you had snow sometimes?

I always look forward to your comments!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Learn About Your EXIF Information

Exchangeable Image File Format.  That's what all the official EXIF sites say it stands for.  (I think it should be EIFF - but I guess they don't care what I think.) 

This is number 13 post in the series about 10 Cool Features of Your Digital Camera You Should Learn and Use.  We're on feature # 9 about EXIF data.

When I was a young photographer with my film cameras I was often taught that I should carry a notebook around and record information about the date, time, exposure, camera, lens, flash, etc. and I even knew photographers who did that.  Myself?  I didn't have the patience for it, not to mention that I probably couldn't ever find where I put the notes once I had them anyway.  You'd have to be one of those organized people to do that.  That let me out.  Then, along comes digital.  Some smart person figured out that if the camera could assign and record a file name, even if it is something like P01003202.jpg, it could also record a lot of other information and attach it to the photo.  Now, thanks to these guys/gals you can go back even years later and see what date you took the photo, even the exact time (Assuming you set your camera's date and time correctly), what lens you were using, the shutter speed and aperture, even whether or not your flash fired.  Oh. . . that's just the beginning.  There is more information available than 99.9% of us will ever use - but it's there for us if we need it.  I find myself using some if it quite often.  Just yesterday when I was putting together the "How I Did It" article I went to the original photo I was writing about to see what my exposure was.  Without that EXIF data I could have done no more than guess, and I would have guessed way wrong by the way. 

I'm not here to tell you how or when you'll use this info, except to say the more you know about the  data on your best or worst photos the more you'll be able to learn from it, and sometimes it's just really nice to know when you took that photo, or which lens you were using.  But, maybe you've never seen your EXIF data and you'd like to.  How do you access it?

Just like any other recorded data, you have to have software that knows how to read and interpret the information that you have.  Some of you may have and use Photoshop.  Photoshop itself does have a way of accessing it under File>File Info, then make sure you're on the Raw Data tab.  However, the info is not presented in a really easy to read format, so I suggest you find better ways.  One better way, is that if you have Photoshop you may also have Bridge.  Bridge has an excellent EXIF data tool built in that you can customize.  Here is an example of some of the data from the original of the photo above.

If you don't have Bridge there are numerous FREE tools on the internet that will work just as well such as EXIF Reader.  If you'll notice there is a slider bar on the right side in the screen grab below, indicating that there was even more data available by sliding that up or down to access it.  It is fairly simple and basic but it does the job.  Even though EXIF was originally designed for JPEG images EXIF Reader claims to read many RAW files including the ones for the Olympus DSLRs but it wouldn't read mine.  You may also notice that there is Copyright information shown in the EXIF data.  Obviously your camera doesn't know who you are and automatically copyright it for you so that was done with Adobe Bridge, but I'm sure there is lots of other software available to do that also.

You should also check the software that may have come with your camera.  Does it have a photo viewer and/or organizer?  It may include access to the EXIF data in there.  Anyway, It doesn't take long to Google "Software for EXIF data" and come up with quite a few options, both free and for a price.  The important thing for you to know is there is a lot of information there for you when you want or need it and it's not hard to get once you know that, so you can put your notebook and pencil away except maybe to record those things that even EXIF can't figure out yet, like who's that third guy from the left?

I'd love to hear from you if you have found a great program for this or if this has helped you at all.  Grab your camera and go out and make some EXIF data happen.

Monday, December 28, 2009

How I Did It

When I posted my Christmas Eve photo I promised I would post how I did it.  It was actually fairly simple.  In the Visitors Center on the second level at about where the # 1 is on the diagram is an 11 foot statue of the Christus.  The rounded part of the Visitors Center that you see near the #2 is all glass looking out to the grounds where the life size nativity scene is set up every Christmas season between the Center and the Tabernacle.  The statue (#1) is very well lit with spotlights, as is the nativity scene outside.  I was standing inside the center on the second level about where the # 2 is and the statue (behind me) reflects very nicely off the glass but the nativity scene is much brighter than the inside of the building so you can see it very clearly also.  Therefore I just had to make sure I was focused on the Nativity and set the time for the exposure to slightly longer than 1/2 second exposure and "click" it's done.  Obviously at that length of exposure the camera was on a tripod.

Sunrise on a Chilly Morning

Saturday, December 26, 2009

PhotoHunt: Twelve

This week's PhotoHunt Theme is "Twelve". If you look through these photos you'll find at least 12 happy smiles.  Just candid snapshots of people enjoying the Christmas festivities.  From the very young to those who are entitled to the Senior Discount.  Please leave a comment, I'd love to come and visit your take on PhotoHunt this week.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Joy To The World

This photograph represents to me the living Christ looking down upon the world and blessing the Christmas season and particularly the reminders of Him and his birth. 

One of the exciting things about it was that there was no digital manipulation nor addition other than the framing and my name.  This is a single exposure originally in raw, processed and saved to JPG. 
This link tells you How I Did It.

I wish you the very Merriest of Christmases
And hope you have a wonderful and prosperous New Year

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lo, The Christ Child

Mary and Joseph with the Christ Child, the gift to the World, in this life size nativity scene.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

D minus 3 and Counting

The title refers to the fact that there are only three days left until Christmas.  There is something about this "floating" nativity scene that I really love.  The whole idea of it out in the reflecting pool.  The looks on the faces of Mary and Joseph as the look at the Christ Child in the manger, the floating gold orbs of light.  Of course you can tell I love it by the fact that this is the third (and last) time I've posted it from different angles.  I love Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Only Four Days Left

Are you feeling Christmas this year? 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Special Guest Photo by Tim Ditzman

Time to bid a fond farewell to our previous Special Guest Photo by Stephen Baird and introduce a new one.

One day as I was browsing around different photo blogs I came across one called 365 Photos in 365 Days.  Now that is commitment.  The author/photographer is Tim Ditzman and as of this posting he was on day 354 and it looks like each photo was taken the day that he posted it - no digging into the archives on bad or sick days.  Not only that but there are a lot of real WOW photos, like the one posted here which he calls "Waterfall Still Life".  It was immediately obvious that Tim is a talented photographer and a hard worker.  I am truly impressed and was very pleased when he agreed to let me use him as my Special Guest Photographer.

Tim will be ending his 365 day project very soon. but he also has another blog called Wish You Were Here he will be using to continue his work.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Photohunt: Fast

Today's PhotoHunter theme is fast.  This is the last time this year that I will be trying to keep my PhotoHunter theme within the Christmas theme and I had to dig a little bit and drag an old photo out.  I can't think of anything faster than Santa Clause.  He goes clear around the world and drops gifts off at millions and millions of homes, drinks thousands of gallons of milk and eats millions of cookies and does it all in 24 hours.  That's FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAST.

I hope you'll come and visit my blog on Dec. 24th.  I'll try to have the special photo I promised up very early so people all over the world can enjoy it on their Christmas Eve.  

If you'd like to learn more about PhotoHunters or see more PhotoHunter pics click HERE.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Fantasy

Across the street from the Nativity Scene that is made up purely of lights on wire frames, that I posted two days ago, is this city park where all kinds of children's fantasies are put in lights.  It is very festive and bright and cheery.  I felt like this lonely snow covered bench had it's own story.  But considering it was about 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 C) out there I could see why no one was sitting and enjoying the view.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

One Week Until Christmas Eve

Only one week from Christmas Eve and what I hope will be a photo worth coming back for, I decided to follow up on yesterday with another Nativity scene.  In this case it is just part of a life size scene on historic Temple Square in Salt Lake City.  This depicts some of those that came to see and worship the newly born Christ child.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

One Take on the Nativity

Across from one of the local parks that was all decked out in Christmas lights was this light display making up the Nativity.  I thought it was a pretty clever and well done way of doing it.  It is on the property that is owned by a church.  As we get closer to Christmas I'll be posting other Nativity Scenes.  After all, isn't that what Christmas is?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Time is Family Time

Photographically this is not too exciting, but I'm posting it because it shows people gathering together to enjoy the Christmas spirit.  While I was out photographing the lights that evening numerous families and friends were grouping together and taking photos of each other.  A few asked me if I would take their photo and there were several other groups that I asked them if they would like me to take their photo so they could all be in it together.  I hope that the photos always remind them of happy times together and the wonderful Christmas spirit they felt under the thousands of festive lights.

Monday, December 14, 2009

More About Zoom Images

You can't say I didn't warn you.  I told you a few posts back that I have been really excited about this zoom during the exposure technique.  I also told you that I had learned a few things in the process.  I posted my very first one about three weeks ago and I said I was very happy with the idea but not satisfied with the results on my first try.  I went back a week or so later with some new ideas and thoughts on it and am much happier with the results as you may have seen in the second one I posted.

Two important things I learned and feel like improved the second batch.  First: Decide what you are going to focus on and put that in the center of your photo because that is what will see the least effect from the zoom.  Second: It does not have to be zoomed from the beginning of the exposure to the end, nor do you have to go all the way from your maximum wide to maximum telephoto during the zoom.

The photo above is the same building that I posted a couple weeks ago here, without any zoom and from a slightly different angle.  In the photo above I had a rather long zoom, which makes it quite abstract, if you don't already know what the building looks like it would probably be hard to figure it out from this photo, or even what it is other than a bunch of lights. 

In the photo below, the zoom is much shorter and you can actually see some of the architectural features of the building and so it is easier to tell what it is.  Which is better depends on what your are trying to show or do  - what is the purpose of the photo?

Chances are I'm not through with this yet.  You'll probably see more examples and maybe more lessons learned before the season is through.  After all, we've got a week and a half left.  

Remember you can always click on any photo within the full post to see it in full size.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Photohunt: Undesirable

People who have been to my blog in the past week or so know that I'm on a Christmas theme through Christmas Eve.  What is wrong with these signs?  I honestly don't care if you are Christian or not, but if you want me to buy a Christmas item from you it's still Christmas to me.

One more thing.  If you are a photographer you have probably done like me and saw a shot that somebody did and it amazed you.  I see so many shots that I think "Wow, I wish I could get a shot like that".  Well I got one the other night that I'm pretty excited about and I'm saving it for December 24th.  No computer manipulation, just a little bit of planning and a whole lot of luck.  Mark your calendar for Christmas Eve and come and see.

To see more PhotoHunt pics click here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Your Auto Bracketing Feature

This is the 12th post in the series about 10 Cool Features of Your Digital Camera You Should Learn and Use.  We're on feature # 8 which is about Auto Bracketing.

In previous posts I've mentioned that a friend of mine and I often go out on photo expeditions together.  The other day I asked him if he ever bracketed his exposures.  He told me that he almost always takes multiple exposures at different settings, but he didn't think his camera had auto bracketing.  I informed him that since he uses a nice DSLR camera I was certain it had it because even my wife's fairly basic little point and shoot has it.  For most cameras Auto Bracketing consists of taking one exposure at what the camera thinks is the correct settings, one under-exposed by whatever you set it to, and one over exposed by that same amount.

Back in the "old days" of film photography the best photographers would usually make several exposures of anything important.  Of course each exposure would be slightly different.  Sometimes they were hundreds if not thousands of miles from home and they would not get a second chance at this shot.  Today of course, we can usually see the photo immediately on our LCD screen, but if you are one of those that has prints made or puts the photo up on your TV or computer monitor you've probably noticed that a lot of times they look different in print or on the larger screens than they did on the small, low resolution LCD.  Because of this most digital cameras these days have auto bracketing.  When you turn Auto Bracketing on the camera will automatically adjust the exposures according to the options that you choose and guess what - unlike the old days where each exposure cost you some $$ today's are FREE.

I'm not suggesting that every single photo should be shot that way, but you should be aware of it for when you get in situations where you're just not sure how to get the best exposure.  Christmas lights are a prime example of that.  For these photos with the Christmas lights in the trees and the flood lights on the building and with the added light reflected off the new snow, I just wasn't sure what I was going to get, so I made three exposures one full f stop apart.  Which do you like best?  As you're evaluating don't forget the one at the top of the article.  The photo at the top is the one the camera thought was one full stop over-exposed.  The one below was "properly exposed" and the bottom one is one full stop underexposed.  And, OBTW, you might like different ones depending on whether you're printing, or displaying it on your blog.

For a very thorough but clear explanation of "f stops" and exposure check here.

If you're interested in improving your photography and this bracketing stuff is new to you, or you don't know if or how your camera does it, I recommend you get out your instruction manual and start reading.  After you've checked it out in your manual grab your camera and get out there and test it.  Have fun, and let me know how you did. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nativity in the Reflecting Pool

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Golf Anyone?

Woke up this morning to our worst snow storm of the season.  Traffic was terrible this morning.  It took me over 50 minutes to get the measly 7 miles to work.  After work I wanted to get some Christmas lights with snow, so tonight I grabbed my wife and headed out.  I couldn't resist this house we found a couple miles away with an animated golfing Santa.  Because this is a slow shutter still shot, you can't see that he takes a couple practice putts and then strikes the ball and the ball rolls down into the cup.  If you look close you can see the ball right next to the pin (or flag) there on the green.  I thought the whole house was nicely done so I grabbed a shot of it.  After all you don't want all of my Christmas shots to be of the area around Temple Square, do you?  I got some other stuff that I'll share other days.  Also I got some shots I'll use for the next segment in my 10 Cool Features of Your Digital Camera You Should Learn and Use series which I'll post in the next day or so.  So come back often. 

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Keeping With the Christmas Theme

One of these days I'm going to try to find out how many lights they put up in this area.  It is incredible.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Christmas Zooming

This is the intro picture to show on the main page.  Look below for the full image.

If you've looked around my blog much or been here before you may remember a post I did just a couple weeks ago with my very first experimentation of zooming while the shutter was open.  Frankly I was pretty excited about it.  However, I knew then that I could and wanted to do a lot better.  You may want to check that post out by clicking here.  While you're checking it though notice the awesome comment by Tim.  How cool is that, that he would take the time to give me some hints.  They're great hints too.  If you are thinking of trying some of this yourself you may want to copy and print his tips.  Tim has a great blog of 365 pictures in 365 days. Unfortunately for me they came the day after I had gone back to Salt Lake City and tried some more.  However, it turns out that I did exactly what he suggested - he must have sent it to me telepathically - and I'm pretty happy with the results.  Let this be a warning to you, as I said above I'm pretty excited about playing with this technique, so of the nearly 100 photos I took the other night, about one out of 4 or 5 was a practice zoom shot and you will get to see several over the next 19 days.  But along with showing them to you I'll try to tell you how I did what I did and why.

This shot was taken out of a window of a building across the street.  I had to have my friend hold up my jacket to block the window reflections.  I (okay, I'll admit it - accidentally) ended the zoom before the exposure was finished so it remained at the ending focal length for about 1/3 of the exposure.  They say many great discoveries were found by accident - well here was one for me.

One more thing.  If you are a photographer you have probably done like me and saw a shot that somebody did and it amazed you.  It happens to me all the time.  I see so many shots that I think "Wow, I wish I could get a shot like that".  I saw one on Tim's blog just this evening.  Well I finally got one of those shots and I'm going to share it with you on Christmas Eve.  No computer manipulation, just a little bit of planning and a whole lot of luck.  Mark your calendar for Christmas Eve and come and see.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Special Guest Photo by Stephen Baird

We say a very fond farewell to Kathryn's Special Guest Photo and introduce you to a new one.

I ran across "Nikon Sniper" as I was browsing around for photography blogs.  First I noticed that he had an amazing number of followers, as of this writing he has 1800, of which I am one.  But I also immediately noticed two other things.  I noticed that he is a prolific producer of photographs and that he is a picture maker, not a picture taker.  Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being a picture taker.  They record many of the wonderful events of our lives and their role is vital, but a picture maker is someone who looks for beauty in the world where most of us never see it, and then they record that beauty in ways most of us would never think of.  They are the artists with their cameras.  Their art is in their eye and their soul and their camera is simply a tool like a miter saw is to a finish carpenter.

I hope you enjoy Stephen's photo and click here to VISIT HIS BLOG to see more of his picture making.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

PhotoHunt: Curves

A couple day's ago I posted  that from that day through Christmas all posts would be Christmas related.  In the back of my mind I wondered if I'd be able to pull that off with the PhotoHunter theme.  At the time I didn't know what this weeks theme was yet.  Fortunately I was able to.

I also posted that I would point out some photography lessons in the process.  As you might expect in a beautiful place like this there are thousands of people.  I did wait until a little later when the crouds had decreased somewhat, but since I couldn't wait forever and it was getting quite cold I was forced to get my picture.  Several people were in this exposure, and no I did not photoshop them out.  I simply closed the lens down and lengthened the exposure so that they erased themselves.  Since they were moving they simply became invisible.  If one of them had stopped for more than a second or so I would have been in trouble.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Christmas Season Greetings

For the remainder of the Christmas season there will be some photos, like this one, where I don't really feel the need for explanation.  On the other hand there will be some where I will write about them.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Christmas Season is Upon Us

I love Christmas!  I love Christmas music, the lights, the sounds, the happy faces.  I love Christmas day, and am always disappointed when it ends, and I love the Christmas season.  Starting today, every post through Christmas Day will be Christmas related.  Last night my photographer friend, Chad, and I went back Salt Lake City's Temple Square to get some pictures of the beauty there.  We tried to get our wives to go with us, but they wisely declined the opportunity to practically freeze to death.  I have lived and traveled many places throughout the world in my life, and I have seen some beautiful Christmas displays, but nothing compares to Temple Square.  Today's photo is of the Assembly Hall which is one of the several buildings on Temple Square.  The Mormon Church wants to make certain that everyone knows that they honor and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  Most of the photos you will see in the next three weeks will be from last nights excursion.

By the way, I practiced and learned a few photography tricks and tips in the process and I'll throw in some discussion on some of that along the way.

Please feel free to leave your comments on this or any of the photos any time.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

An Old Favorite

I had to fool this blog.  The blog template I'm using takes the first photo of a post and puts it as the sample photo for the home page.  The problem is that it has a set format and so if the original isn't in the same format it reshapes it to fit it's preset ratio.  If the photo is vertical instead of horizontal then it makes it look really weird.  So, what I did was made my own horizontal for the first photo to look good on the home page, but here is the real full photo.

Now, about this photo.  I was stationed in Korea about 37 years ago when I took this photo.  This little guy and his sister both probably have gotten married and had children of their own that are teenagers by now.  But I've always loved this photo of the little boy carrying his sister to wherever they are going.  It's not perfectly sharp because it was copied from an old slide on an inexpensive scanner.  If I ever find the original slide again I'll have it done right. 

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Old Washing Machine

Obviously taken in much warmer times.

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