A new musing in Volume II
I have just added a new musing in Volume II. It is a look at the things discussed in "Resolution; how much is needed?" from another perspective.
There are a few people whose writings and doings have been a regular source of information and help to me in my own writing and doing over the last few years. Here are some of them. Each name is a link to their pages.
Jim 'Bogfoot' Johnson
Slater Museum of Natural History (Dennis Paulson)
Photos and Musings
Resolution; how much is needed?
I am going to be pondering this question more than once and in more ways than one in this and future musings.
Resolution is much the same as information. More of it allows a clearer picture to be seen but only when presented in the right way at the right time. Consider this photo on the right and compare it to the two similar photos from October 21st. As you see them here on the web page there is little difference. They are all about the same file size and are approximately the same physical dimensions. If you enlarged any one of them to closely examine a section they would still look about the same as each other. In other words; any one has all that is needed to allow the viewer to see clearly the scene depicted. All of them have been reduced from the original to this size with just that intent. If I had put the original file sizes on the site, you would only see a part of the photo at one time.
However, if a closer look at detail is desired, then having the original file becomes more important as does the size, or resolution, of the file. On the left I have a comparable crop of each of the three original sized photos. The larger photo would print a nice picture 36" wide while the smallest would be just OK at 10", still a nice picture if that is all that's needed.
Here's the point; If you want to see the 'whole picture', you may not have as clear a view of all the details as you might like but trying to have all the details at once may make it hard to see the whole picture. Putting it another way, you could walk all over the mountain you see here, examining it in great detail, and only have the vaguest of ideas of what it looks like as a whole.
On the other hand, if you have this overall view and then use the greater resolution to clarify details with a closer look, you can have a better understanding of the scene. For instance, in the original of the highest resolution photo here, Camp Muir (used by mountain climbers) can be seen by those knowing where to look.
Obviously, to show a large area, such as this scene, on a web page doesn't require huge amounts of resolution. If, however, your wish is to see clearly only a small part of this scene then more resolution, or information, can be vital. In fact, the small part can then become picture of it's own. Sometimes photos are taken with just that aim in mind, to crop and portray a certain part of what the camera/lens captures. Even those photos are better understood by the viewer if they are able to first see the 'bigger' picture.
Musing about Differences in Cameras and Subjects
I guess you could say that starting with mushrooms and ending with mountains is 'musing from the ground up'. That is pretty much what I have been doing this past year or so as I have tried to broaden out into different areas of photography. I have put five photos in this musing to illustrate my musing.
These first two, the mushrooms, are of a type of photography I have mostly ignored until recently. It isn't quite macro but does involve paying closer attention to those smaller things around us. One of the reasons I have previously overlooked this is possibly the pace. It takes more time and effort to set up and take this type of photo compared to the photos I take of wildlife, mostly birds. Birds are moving a lot so the preparation is done beforehand and then watching for the few seconds the shot presents itself. Not necessarily less work but much faster pace. The mushrooms didn't move which allowed me much more control over the setting which then required more time and preparation for the shot. One shot in fifteen minutes instead of fifteen shots in one minute.
Another type of photography, landscape, has received my attention but has been slow to develop. I have mainly shot scenery only as a sideline to being in an area to photograph birds. That hasn't been conducive to trying different lens and camera combinations or trying and learning different techniques. These things take a lot of time and consideration during the process of getting the shot and so, as above, it is slower paced. I say slower paced meaning not that there isn't a lot to do in the time given but that you don't take your shot and then move on to the next one.
About the cameras and lenses: The first mushroom photo was taken with a 60D and 24-105mm lens. The second one was taken with the SX50. Both of these cameras have an articulated view screen allowing them to be supported quite close to ground level. Both are telephoto lens which makes framing a little easier. Both have macro capability allowing the subject to fill the frame. The reflection photo on the left was also taken with the SX50 while for the one on the right I used a 7D and 15-85mm lens. Both were set to their minimum focal length and could have used even a little less. From these photos, it is obvious how versatile the SX50 is and how favourably it compares for anything less than quite serious photography. For web purposes and smaller prints, the compactness and portability are often going to make it the camera of choice. Sometimes that's enough but most of the time what I'm wanting requires techniques that only the larger, heavier and more sophisticated cameras and lenses can provide.
Technique; That's the part that is up to me. Here's where I can try new ways to express the subjects as I see them. This last photo shows one example of a technique I am working on. It involves taking several photos and combining them in processing. This photo consists of 21 different shots taken in 3 rows of 7 using the 70-200mm lens and 7D that were merged in Photoshop. The advantage over a single photo from a wide angle lens is not extremely great when displayed here on the web. Even here, however, the corner to corner and front to back sharpness and detail is noticeable. In a print, especially a large print, it would be outstanding. Perhaps, a comparable image could be had using fewer exposures. Something to work on. So it goes. So many things to try and learn but they all require a slower pace. I think I'm ready for that.
Some Personal Notes
Where did the time go? It seems like such a short time ago that I retired, bought some photography stuff and set out to see the world. At least the corner I live in, called the Pacific Northwest. I did manage to stretch it a little to become the north-western U.S. but by no means have I seen it all. And now I think some spots may just go unobserved by yours truly. Not that I'm entirely finished, I still hope to make western South Dakota next year. I would like to explore the grasslands, the badlands and a small section of the Missouri river. The birds are of interest, of course, but also I would like to see and photograph the animals from the big buffalo to the smaller prairie dogs and everything I can locate in between.
I don't have much interest in the faces on the wall but the different landscape in the Black Hills and the Badlands seems good for the long-lens scenic shots I have found pleasing in the Palouse. Hopefully I will remember the things I have learned about paying close attention to camera settings in that open, bright environment. A couple of times I haven't and only a lot of work in Photoshop has salvaged the day.
On another note; my wife and I have will have lived here about ten years next summer. That would be a record. But it is looking like the record will end there, at least for this location. My son, whose property we live on, has the need to sell the place and move on and, while I have enjoyed the small wildlife area I have created here, I also feel the need for a change.
One of the disadvantages here is the lack of nearby parks or other public recreation areas. Also, it's central location to nowhere at all is notable. We would all like to be some place where we could get some place else a little easier. One bothersome thing though; most of the times my wife and I have moved before, (every 7 years or so, average) we have moved into a house we built ourselves. Solidly into our mid-seventies, I don't suppose we will do that this time.
I know time won't slow down and wait for me, or anyone else for that matter. So, I might not do as much as I once did but, hopefully, I can make it count.
Equipment matters! However............
There is an old saw that "a good photographer can take a good photograph with just about any camera." I think that is true enough as far as it goes but it really doesn't go very far. An old Kodak Instamatic I had in the '60's took pretty good pictures of my kids before I dropped it. If I had been a 'good photographer', those photos could have been better posed, had better lighting, etc., and would have been "good" photos. Under the conditions they were taken, the camera wasn't a limiting factor. However, the best photographer in the world would have problems equalling any of the photos on this page with that camera! He might do so with one of the better cameras available then but even that would not be easy.
What may be just as true is that "with good equipment just about anybody can sometimes take a good, even great, photograph". I put the quotation marks there for defining purposes but you can quote me if you wish. The point is; improvements help, be they in the equipment or the expertise of the user and, over time the improved equipment will outweigh most skills gained by the user. A Corvette will beat a Model A in a drag race regardless of the skills of the drivers. Ansel Adams is recognized as one of the greatest of photographers. His skill at creating photos using the tools of his time is legendary and his photos stand forever as a testament to that skill. But even he, using those tools, could not equal what is possible with today's equipment. He would recognize that, of course, and would probably be found with one of the best lenses available coupled to a large resolution digital back mounted on a quality carbon fiber tripod.
None of the photos here are even close to the work of anyone really skilled in photography. But that isn't the point, the point is; improvements help, equipment matters. Kinda, mostly and somewhat. However, a second point is; not every improvement is important for every purpose. Any of these four photos is good for illustrating, on the web, the details of the bird shown. In fact, the reason I am writing this is because I had to redo the first two, taken in 2003, and was impressed at the quality from that very early model of digital SLR. But they are not as good as the other two photos, taken in 2013, for every purpose. A large print for example.
Some other ways equipment matters have to do with with how many. How many photos taken are keepers, how many junk. Skill plays a large part in this as well but advantages and disadvantages of the equipment are important to all levels. It's true the experienced person will more readily overcome the disadvantage but the inexperienced will more quickly become proficient, not having to deal with it to begin with. For instance, the 10D used in 2003 was slow to focus and inaccurate as well. Consequently, I was constantly missing shots while trying to focus or shooting too quickly and having unfocused photos. Today the camera and lenses I use are much faster and more accurate but I still have trouble taking the shot without confirming, with my weak old eyes, focus. I still miss some shots whereas, if I had never had that earlier camera, I may not.
How much equipment, or almost anything else, matters depends on the person using it. For some, what they have does what they want to do and they may go for generations of camera improvements before they feel the need to upgrade. For others, every new feature seems like the one that they need for their purpose and they will upgrade often. It would seem like I fall into this second class, having missed only one upgraded model from the 10D to the 7D.The main reason has been mostly the focus improvements although the increased resolution and low noise improvements have also been very worthwhile. I would probably buy one more when I feel a significant improvement is made in focus speed and accuracy as well as noise level at higher ISO settings. Some of the newer technical improvements are interesting but not pulling on me ...yet.
I have also tried several lenses, seeking the right combination for my endeavours. Presently I have settled on a 300mm f2.8 lens that I can use with a 2X extender for 600mm and a 70-200mm f2.8 that gives me 140-400mm with the extender. These are both very sharp and fast to focus lenses even when use with the extenders. I also have a 15-85mm for landscape work. I could use a macro lens but haven't done enough to justify one yet. Other than that I am now happy with my lenses.
One more area where equipment has improved and has allowed real advantages in being able to present ones photos is the computer and software. Computers have become very fast and the software has taken advantage to become ever more powerful in making adjustments to the photos. I mentioned having to redo the photos from 2003 and I was consistently surprised at how much better I could make them than the old versions. Some of that is experience but the color accuracy of the newer software coupled with the new color accurate monitor is a joy. Something I had wanted for years before finally getting it this summer.
So, better equipment will take better photos. A more experienced photographer will take better photos. Skills are worth improving. Some young fellow, still wet behind the ears, will show you a photo taken with his digicam that'll blow your socks off. Lots of things are true but not necessarily of importance. Enjoy the moment.