On Learning to Photographer
By Dwip February 16, 2015, 4:36 am Comments (1) RSS Feed for this post

In which, taking a departure from our usual location-based ramblings, I’m going to talk a bit about trying to hone my craft, such as it is.  All the photographs are from Fort Hoskins up in the Coast range foothills.  I went there two years ago.  You can see some more varied pictures there.

In particular, I was interested in two things this trip: A) trying to make clouds work; B) messing around with the white balance settings on my Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS some more. All I changed was white balance – I left it on ISO 100 (previously established as something of a sweet spot with regards to noise in the light I shoot in) and didn’t mess with the color settings at all. Just the white balance.

Results were mixed but I like them anyway.

This one was shot with Auto White Balance (AWB), which turned out to be the same as using the Daylight setting. For the most part it worked out about as I expected. I’m aiming at the sky, so the ground is a bit darker than it actually was, and that gigantic white blob of sun glare from the sun was about what I figured.

Something about the Cloudy setting rankles with me. It gets at that giant white blob a bit, this is true, but also adds way more grey tones to the image than were strictly present at the time – it adds a layer of gloom and overcast I wasn’t trying for, so I’m mostly replacing one problem with another here.

And then I accidentally set the white balancing to Tungsten. Oops.

I was at Fort Hoskins in the late afternoon, primarily to try and catch the sun as it went down and see what I could do with some rather challenging lighting conditions.

Again, this first shot is AWB/Daylight. I expected super dark ground (I am shooting the sky), and the color of the sky/clouds is about what I hoped for. There’s a bit more light present, but given the equipment I’ll take it.

And here’s Cloudy again. And again, I don’t think it works as well. Much less vivid sky colors but the same super dark landscape. This is the point at which I think I’m not understanding when to use this setting.

One last set of a neat cloud. Once again, AWB comes through the best, with bright vivid colors in the sky and dark landscape about as I’d expect. My attempts at fiddling are defeated by the camera once again.

This is with Daylight, which pretty much just gave me a super washed out image. It did colorize the landscape a bit better, but that’s not of much help.

And once again, Cloudy washes the whole thing out. Not really a huge fan here despite using it to good effect elsewhere. I’m at the point here where I know I’m probably not entirely grasping what the white balance histogram and the balance settings are trying to tell me. I’m also probably not grasping the use of other elements – how bad would my flash have messed things up or not? Unclear.

That I am also up against the limits of my camera is also becoming apparent. My SD1200 IS is a great little camera, but I’m starting to get a sense that there are manual settings I do not yet have or understand, and lack of a much larger image sensor and more sensitive camera would seem to be a bottleneck. I’d like to do more and better low light and wide landscape stuff, and I’d like some better zoom. I’m also just dipping my toes in on post-processing as well, and I have a vague idea of why JPG isn’t the way to roll there.

Unfortunately there’s also a fairly large price bottleneck between where I am and where I want to go, DSLRs being what they are, so that’s a thing too.

All grumbling out of the way, I am pretty happy with this set. I’m not where I’d like to be, but I feel like I might be starting to get there slowly but surely. Certainly I’m better than I was at this point last year.

The subject matter helps, of course.

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Comments on On Learning to Photographer
avatar Comment by Dwip #1
February 16, 2015 at 11:59 pm

A few notes from my chat conversations with Great Teacher Lorelai:


2. White balance affects color temperature of pic. Exposure affects brightness. Most problems with above images are probably exposure-related, though I still think Cloudy is kinda grey. Top button on wheel changes.

3. I do have ways to manually set exposure with my camera. Also, the reason aiming at different stuff wasn’t changing anything is probably because my exposure thingy is set to Evaluative and not, say, Spot. This can be changed in the menu.

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