I hate feeling depressed…
When people ask what sort of subject I like to shoot, I say, “nature,” but it’s been over a year since I’ve done any outdoor photography. I don’t know if my one dimensionality is an escape from or the cause of my mild malaise. In fact, I can’t think of a single good reason why I should feel this way since my life has become monotonically better, including living in a city that I love.
So I decided to wake up at an unreasonable hour, drive somewhere and try to convince myself why my depression is irrational.
[Ultrawide lenses, and multiple-exposures after the jump.]
The other end
Since I took a nap when I got back, I woke up in the afternoon and drove to the other end of the city on my way to catch sunset at Lands End. Since Baker Beach was nearby, I parked there for a looksie.
I have some other photos, but they’ll have to wait until DxO Optics Pro 5 Elite comes out for the Macintosh.
How to avoid the ultra-wide
Previously, I’ve already discussed time of day and postprocessing philosophy for outdoor photography, so I won’t talk about that.
Matt has the same lens as the one that took the photos above and Andrei has its older sibling. But someone pointed out that he found the ultrawide lens seems to take same looking shots when they use it.
My favorite photography is landscapes so ultrawide lenses are de riguer for my kit, but with others its not the same. So what is the trick to the ultrawides?
I guess the first thing to realize is that everything gets distorted, especially near the corners. Normal lenses are called “normal” because they mimic the proportions that the eye sees a scene and therefore our way of seeing the (ultrawide) world is one of a cylindrical mapping.
(By the way, I’ve read that normal lenses are normal because the focal length matches the diagonal of the film/sensor image area. By this logic, 43mm (on 35mm film) is the most “normal” of them all. I don’t buy this logic.)
Because of this, the stuff near the edges will seem distorted. Then when shooting, one tends to put the subject in the center to compensate and…voilá… all the photos end up looking the same!
Two tips for ultrawide
Besides background separation, portrait lenses are considered “portrait” because the relative depth between something like your nose and eyes are flattened and flattering. The contrary must hold for wider angles. It exaggerates depth and that exaggeration is exaggerated in the case of ultrawides.
This means couple things:
- Parallel lines in the z-axis will tend to converge, or
- The relative proportions at different depths will be exaggerated
So the approach is:
- Choose a line that recedes because it will create a strong diagonal in your image
- Choose something to hold foreground interest in a landscape so the exaggerated perspective can be comprehended.
- The the foreground is the subject then choose a background to show the environment the subject is in. Otherwise, why distort the subject so much in the first place?
All three images above were taken with my ultrawide lens at its widest setting and something was put in the foreground: a bird, the rocks at the edge of the water, and exposures of the tide on the beach. When photographing the bird, I chose an angle such that the ocean can be seen in the background, even though that meant shooting into the sun.
Now a feature
I told Matt that I think I every so often I should write about a feature of a camera. I suppose it’s fitting in this context to mention multiple exposure.
The Nikon D3 camera (and others) can do multiple exposure photography. I think it’s important to distinguish this from a time panorama in that in-camera multiple exposures leave a ghost-like photos unless the background is very dark. Here are some great examples of traditional multiple exposure photography. Pretty slick, huh?
Why I love long exposures
I like long exposure photography.
I like to write and take photos, but audio and video seem too temporal for this introvert. Basically my life is heavily edited with a traumatic running commentary and dreams—and that’s traumatic enough.
“We both step and do not step in the same rivers. We are and are not.”
—Heraclitus of Ephesus
Heraclitus means that both us and the river have changed. The now is a slippery concept (pardon the pun) because everything is in a state of flux.
“If you wait long enough, the mood swings average away.”
With photos I either freeze moments or go the opposite direction until everything is smooth and static. I think it’s so that I don’t have to mourn over what is gone—never to return—that I like long exposures.
So photography (and long exposures) it is.
Photographing the flux
The Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G, is a great lens. But one of the big problems is it doesn’t take any filters. No space in back, and the front has a huge curvature and no room for a filter ring or even a filter plate mount!
This is particularly bad, since Neutral Density filters are needed to take long exposure photographs during the day.
This is where multi-exposure comes in handy. Set up a tripod, set the camera to multi-exposure-10 images, and then take 10 photos while nibbling on a sandwich between takes. Instant waterblur!
It’s not the same…
…but it’s great in a pinch. Think of a multi-exposure setting as an 1.0 ND filter. If you don’t have multi-exposure setting in your camera, you can take 10 photos and then overlay them in photoshop.
(By the way, don’t believe the B.S. about this lens going out of production, this lens is here to stay. what Ken Rockwell “forgets” to mention is that the 55mm f/1.2 Noct-Nikkor and the 28mm f/1.4 Nikkor both had a lead glass element in their lens computation and had to be discontinued for environmental reasons and EU regulations.)
Borders and things
You may notice I put borders around my photos (and if you look closely, you can see I’ve resized the 12 megapixel images down to 4 megapixel. The images are still under Creative Commons and they’re not watermarked, but I thought uploading high enough quality images for postcard prints but not good enough for magazines would be a good idea.
Plus since it looks like I’ll never seem to get around to making a WordPress theme, having a black border makes it less ugly.
My goal in photography is to make everyone around me better photographers than me. It’s a low bar, I admit, but for those of you who passed me by a while ago, click on some of the people I mentioned above to see who inspires me—maybe they’ll inspire you.
By the way, after going to sfBeta yesterday, and meeting the people at CoolIris, I suggest you download and install PicLens. I used to use the Safari plugin when it came out last year, but the new 3d navigator is very, very cool. And the new border I’m using works great with the PicLens.
Living in San Francisco
I hope the photos shows why I shouldn’t be so depressed. After all, I get to live in a great city where everyone has been so nice to me.
Think of this as a virtual hug and thank you.
I’ll be back to blogging regularly shortly, but first I got to take some more photos.