Photography is fun too!

Yes, it is not all business – photography can be fun too! One’s imagination is the limit. ok, so maybe you need a bit of technical expertise, and some knowledge of how to manipulate images using software, like Photoshop, Lightroom, Photomatix etc…, but mostly it is about always having your camera handy and having a ready eye for opportunities.

Unless I am doing the normal mundane things like shopping, banking etc., I always take at least 1 camera with me, but most time I take my entire set of kit. This consists of the following:

  • Vanguard Tripod
  • Canon 50D with Canon 70-300mm IS
  • Canon 7D with Canon 15-85mm  IS
  • Sigma 175-500mm zoom lens
  • Canon EX430 flash
  • Sony HD Video Handicam
  • 2x Neutral Density filters (58mm to fit 70-300mm zoom lens) (ND8)
  • 1x Neutral Density filter (72mm to fit 15-85mm lens) (ND9)
  • extra charged batteries for both cameras
  • Binoculars

Something I always forget to take along is my book of Birds of Southern Africa, and each time I feel like kicking myself, because we usually spot a bird we have never seen before.

So being prepared, I decide which camera to play with and then, camera in hand,  I go for a walk. The images in the above gallery were all taken at the Onrus Caravan park last week. We were there for 2 days while visiting a cousin that was camping there.

The first few images were done HDR style, and they demonstrate the different effects one can achieve using software.

There are 4 images I want to chat about. The first one is captioned as “Illuminating Foreground”. With this image I noticed the way that the trees framed a gap in the shrubbery to reveal the sea. Realising that I was under shade looking at the sea which was brighter I had to try do normalise the image. So I activated the on-camera flash and set the exposure for the brightness of the sea and visible sky. The flash then acts as a “fill” light which then illuminates the foreground softly without the subject, the sea, being blown out and becoming over-exposed.NB! All of this was done in-camera, viz., no software processing except for the resizing for the web and the watermark.

The next image I want to discuss is the “De-saturated shrub”. This bush caught my eye because of the way the wind had forced its direction of growth over some years. I suppose this could have been a candidate for HDR photography as well, but I decided to take just a single image. Then using software I de-saturated the image to make it monochrome, and applied a few enhancing touches on the bark to bring out the grain slightly, by decreasing the exposure and brightness by just a small amount.

The last two images I will discuss together. These are fun shots done using the HDR technique. Usually HDR demands that you use a tripod to minimise movement and then shoot 3 images of the same scene. I decided to get a person to sit on the bench and move in between each shot so that each image has them in a different position.  As the images are overlayed, the images of the people become “watered down” and “see-through” and become ghostly images.

So always carry a camera around with you and do not be afraid to experiment. Sometimes  you will make mistakes, but then look at what you did and learn from it. That is the beauty of this digital age. If you don’t want to keep an image then simply delete it and try again.

Finally, a tip. Underexposed images are easier to work with than overexposed images. I often take 2 images of a landscape scene. 1 correctly exposed, as per the camera, and one slightly under exposed. The one that I eventually keep is the slightly underexposed image, because the colours are so much richer. If you haven’t got software like Photomatix to help you with HDR techniques, then follow this technique of slightly under exposing your images. And remember to have FUN!

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