Saturday, June 15, 2013

I'm sure it's aliens.

The Carrots and the Mushrooms are related

Last week I posted a story about a perfect circle of mushrooms growing on my front lawn. I juxtaposed a link to a story I did a year and a half ago about a giant pile of carrots in a neighbour's field. I could give you the link again but this being Blogger, and Blogger being owned by Google, you know that you can search for that article by simply typing a word or two into the search box at right.

However my old friend Gary must have been sitting with his fingers poised over the keyboard, because he immediately sent me a response with a logical explanation. And no surprise to me, there is a connection.

The mushroom thing is called a "Fairy Ring". And I quote from the Wikipedia article: "Long-term observations of fairy rings on Shillingstone Hill, England, further suggested that the cycle depended on the continuous presence of rabbits." I rest my case. Definitely aliens. Do not venture onto my lawn at Hallowe'en.

The site has been updated.

If you're looking for a workshop or a mini-tour in the Highlands, the details are now there. The pages describing the workshops have been updated (one more to do as I write this).  I've even posted a calendar of scheduled courses. And there's some news on the main page that's still a little premature... see if you can find it! 

Here's the link:

Work the Scene

Remember last week I wrote about "working the scene"? Actually I've written about it before and I admit stealing the phrase from Kelby who used it in a seminar last year. When he said it, he meant to not give up when you can't seem to find that picture you stopped to make; to me it means a bit more: even if you do get your planned image, look around you. There are lots more to be made there. 

I rode my ATV over to the white water with the specific intention of taking a long exposure shot with the ND filter. Since it was a bright sunny day, I knew that an HDR would work better, so that's what I set up to shoot. I published the resulting image last week. But while I was there, I looked around to see what else I could shoot. 

This wildflower was behind me. I liked the juxtaposition of the two flora and the way I could isolate both against the dark background.  

There were a few kayakers playing in the whitewater. I've shot literally thousands of kayak shots and I find them somehow rather compelling. I really like this composition...

Here's another long exposure (2 seconds) of the whitewater, cropped as a pano. Not an HDR, toned in Topaz Adjust.  I really like the textured water.

So I went for one shot and came away with four that I liked. 

Time out for a short teaching moment
Flash Sync Speed

A recent discussion arose on the TIF forum about using flash in low light, and the original poster commented that his pictures were soft. He said that the camera chose 1/60 second as the nominal shutter speed when the flash was being used.

In the old 35mm days (or when using a full-frame sensor), the rule of thumb was that you could get away with one divided by the focal length without noticeable camera shake. If all of the illumination is coming from the flash, the shutter speed isn't a factor because the flash is much faster than that. But the minute you're using the flash to fill in or add light to the ambient, that becomes a factor.

Now, with cropped sensors, that threshold is actually faster, by the multiplier factor. So a Canon APS-C sensor or a Nikon DX sensor behaves like the lens is 1.5 or 1.6x longer and you have to take that into consideration. So that 50mm lens isn't safe handheld at speeds under 1/80 second or so, not 1/50 second.

Most of the modern DSLR's will let you set the nominal shutter sync speed. Check in your manual or menu system but I think you'll find that it will do 1/200 second or faster (Nikon has something called Auto-FP that lets it go even faster with a compatible external flash). Go ahead and reset it, but if you increase that setting, you'll be capturing less ambient light, but the flash won't care. Be cautious, though because even that isn't fast enough when handholding that 200mm lens, with a cropped sensor.

Don't complain about your job

I won't go into details about my septic system problems. Suffice it to say the system needed to be pumped out again.

I don't think I want his job. But he's not unhappy about what he does, although he really does tell some sh&^%ty jokes. 

A few more Kayak pictures

As I said above, the white water is a compelling place. I thought I'd post a few more pictures, from today's visit. I'll try not to bore you with too many.

These kayaks come in fluorescent colours The bright mid-day sunlight reflected off the water and softened the colour of the boat. That's what caught my eye and made me shoot this picture.

This wider view tells the story of what the place is about. 

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