First things first…

This should be an interesting way to start my in all probability short blogging career, but anyways time to get down to it. I have this burning desire to find a way to create and educate the populace with my imagery and words because I have this burning hatred of point and shoot cameras and those who operate them and in their ignorance believe that they are obtaining a quality image. Not to say that point and shoots should be burned in a pile in a WalMart parking lot like so many albums by the Dixie Chicks, they have their place in this world for documentation, family vacations, and those who wish to capture an image for the sake of having it. In a comparative sense a point and shoot is a lot like those little cardboard throwaway cameras that you buy at a Rite Aide, and do about the same thing.


Let’s get down to the purpose of this post and less of my constant bantering on silly toy cameras, but that the underlying theme none the less. The photograph associated with this writing is one that was taken last night, it is not the most compelling, artistic, or ascetically pleasing. However it dose have educational value, and so I feel a need to make a post and talk about it for a while. Lets get a little technical first, mostly so that I can refer to those specifications on the same page. The capture of this photo is as follows:

Nikon D-100, Sigma 17-35 2.8 wide angle, Focal length 25, F/22, 4 seconds, ISO 200, taken on 7/23/13 at 2151 post sunset.

I was out exploring some roads that I seldom go down in the dunes when I decided randomly to make a left hand turn onto a dirt road. I drove for a few miles more and came upon a few residences and trail heads. Wondering further into the park I found an area right on the lakeshore that the trees kinda cleared out and my first thought was “this looks like a nice place to camp, picnic, swim, get drunk, or take a date to.” This secluded area boasted a beautiful beach with a few rolling beach ridges with local topographic relief about +/- 5′, and a grassy partial clearing in the trees that had a few foot paths leading down to the water. The beach gave me a feeling of seclusion and privacy and on a warmer day I would not have baulked much at jumping into the water because it did not appear to be the typical rocky bottom found elsewhere in the area. One thing about rocks, I never really trust them underwater and they usually hurt. I located a path to the water that did not involve a six foot vertical drop and wondered down past the grass until I came to the wetter sand area. After a short walk up and down the shore, I settled back to where the path came from my parking spot and set up ‘camp’. Using the tripod and trying to shield my gear from the blowing sand I sat for an hour and a half observing, waiting, and consuming a massive quantity of sunflower seeds. As the sun set I made multiple exposures of the golden blob of light descending behind South Manitou Island, knowing that the best colors came out after it had gone and the temperature dropped. It was already pretty chilly before the sun started to set, and there was a lot more wind then I had dressed for. Fortunately I had grabbed a light jacket before I left home in anticipation of this; however I felt silly for wearing a jacket in the middle of July. The sun came and went, exposures were made trying to capture the calm water as it ran back into the lake after a wave. I spent my time waiting, waiting, waiting. I was gunning for the glassy look that a longer exposure gives with the waves and reflections, hoping to get the pastelish watercolorish look to the photograph. If nothing else this would create a good learning experience and something I could rant about later. The light was teasing me with its intensity, even with the aperture cranked down to F/32 I could not get the exposure that I wanted until the light had yet faded some more. To keep myself entertained I ate some more sunflower seeds and did some shooting of the shoreline and beach in a northward direction form where I was sitting. When the light allowed I pointed my camera to the west again, composed the image and made a 4 second exposure at f/22. For those who do not know that that all means, 4 seconds is fairly self explanatory as it is a common measure of time. The ‘f’ is simply a variable for focal length of the lens, so f in this case is 25mm so the hole that the light has to pass through is 25/22 or 1.1363636mm in diameter. Still with this small hole there was a lot of light that wanted to pass through it and the waiting game had to occur, if I had a neutral density filter or polarizing lens I could have knocked that intensity down a little.


Lets take a discussion about this photograph, a clear analytical approach. This displays a wonderful composition if I may say so. Diagonal lines lead the eye pleasantly along its desired path from left to right, with a point of convergence that exists off to the right of the image. The colors blend well, with a point-counterpoint above and below the lake. The texture of the lake is subtle and blends the image together without being too detailed and an overpowering distraction. The sky seems to curve around and retain the eye into the center right of the image and therefore it cannot wonder off into the blue. The clouds however are small and appear to be almost dust like, and are a detriment to the image. Also the dust, too a bit of editing to clean it up. I can clean lenses, sensors, and optics all day and still have dust when I shoot. To place my frustrations into words would more then likely violate the usage terms of this site, and the internet in general. Black vans with men (and hopefully sexy women) in suits would more then likely appear and confiscate any internet capable device I posses, then drag me off to some secret prison (yet again, if I’m getting cuffed hopefully it is by one of those suit wearing bombshells). The colors in this image are compliments to one another and blend wonderfully. Next opportunity that is presented I plan to try and capture more of this color blend, less dust looking clouds, and more awesomeness.

But, the ranting…

This image is a good representation of what is difficult to achieve with a point and shoot. Yes, some cameras when operated by some individuals can create similar results. The average pocket camera dose not have physical optics, aperture, or shutter. Their sensors are spotty and make up for a lack clarity with megapixels. The lenses are also often plastic and small, just look at the damn things! So for those of you who like to shoot and want to create good art, pick up a book or two read them. Find a film camera that had detachable lenses, they may be old buy are still better than a powershot. Most grandfathers have one somewhere in their possessions, so you may nor need to look much further then the family attic. Take a class, or 4. Lean how to use a darkroom, learn the science of the camera. Critique your work, the work of others, and let them speak harshly of yours!  Last but not least, don’t use your camera like a gatling gun! Make a thought out composition, slow down and shoot it. Making over 9000 exposures and picking the best of the bunch is no way to do things, and you will be wasting a lot of time doing it.


So, take a read, take a look, click like, leave a comment, critique me, insult me, bring it on!

All comments welcome, yes I know this photo could be better, they all can, always. But I parked it here to create discussion. So, discuss.

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– JC