Saturday, 7 March 2020

What's it for?

Sometimes a photograph best serves as an illustration. Without any accompanying text the picture of sheep in a field of red cabbage is pretty meaningless.

Sheep grazing on red cabbage deemed aesthetically unfit for supermarket sale
Add a caption and it becomes a comment on the currently hot topic of food waste. And the sheep do seem to enjoy eating red cabbage because there isn't much of it left a month later.

The weather has finally started to perk up. With the sun shining I went for a wander to look at a barn out on the mere which I last photographed in 2012. Of course the weather changed and I got stung by a couple of hail showers. probably because I hadn't put a waterproof jacket on.

The last time I photographed the barn I use my newish toy - the ultrawide zoom. This time I used a standard zoom. The results are less dramatic, but I prefer them. getting rid of that lens was a good move. I must get rid of the cheaper, not-quite-so-ultrawide zoom I replaced it with.

I was so unenthusiastic about going to the poultry auction today that I overslept. It was only the prospect of one of the mart café's bacon and black pudding barms that drew me. This time I stuck with the 35mm on one body and the 70-200 on the other. I'm growing to like the longer zoom, although it's lack of close focusing continues to annoy and frustrate. Even so the pictures I like best were taken with the 35mm.

That said I might have been better off using the 28mm. Certainly not anything wider. When it comes to getting good depth of field (by which I mean a lot of it rather than a little) 35mm is where it starts, with 50mm tending to be a bit lacking when forced to use wide-ish apertures. Increasingly I'm finding 35mm to be a sweet spot lens.

For getting in close, and making it look like you are, I do think that 28mm is the limit. At 24mm anything close to the lens at the edge of the frame starts to look distorted. If that's a face it ruins a picture for me. I prefer to have the frame cut the face rather than have it look like it's been stretched.

These low viewpoint pictures were taken using the flippy screen again. This time the face detection was quite useful as the people were the important parts of the pictures. It did a remarkable job and I can now see why some photographers like it so much they buy mirrorless cameras so it works through the viewfinder.

Having things cut by the frame edge is often said to be a compositional fault. Yet it was embraced by painters as one of the earliest influences photography had on that medium.

Another photographic trait is the capturing of figures in what might be considered awkward poses. This also appeals to my current way of thinking about making pictures which have 'life'.

While what goes on at the auction hasn't changed some of the faces have. Which is a good enough excuse to keep going back.

Having arrived with just fifteen minutes to go before the auction was due to start I'd missed most of the penning of birds, which is when most activity takes place. I did get one frame which I like. It has that circular sort of composition I often seem to use. Unconsciously, I must say.

I watched another Youtube video this evening. Silly me. The Youtuber (as I think they are called these days) was wandering around, camera in hand, talking about the compositional elements he was looking for as he took photographs.Some of the pics were pretty good (some were not - that's photography), if a little clichéd,, but I didn't always see how the lines he superimposed on them actually applied. And when he said they didn't use the rule of thirds I could see how they did! It was a load of bollocks to promote his big compositional theory.

You can take any picture and draw lines on it to prove anything. What you need to do is develop an instinctive understanding of when a frame 'works'. But also bear in mind that, like the sheep picture at the start of this post, a picture can also be informational and it's content more important than its structure.

The other week I accidentally shot a frame in the dim light of the wood with my camera set to ISO 100 and my usual walking around settings. It came out almost black on the rear screen! It was only a grab shot of some ducks - I hadn't seen ducks in the wood before - so it wasn't a loss. I didn't delete it because I thought it might be interesting to see if it could be 'recovered' in Lightroom. It could. And I was surprised how little noise there was.

I'd read about this so-called 'ISO invariance' on the web but never paid it much attention. At the mart I thought it would be a good chance to have a more serious look into this.

The above was shot at ISO 125. In Lightroom I boosted the 'exposure' buy 4.67 stops, and pulled the highlights back. At 100% what was in the shadows is pretty damned clean.

Most of the time I can live with the noise I get at high ISOs for my purposes. But this could be a trick worth remembering at some point in the future. The drawback is that on reviewing a picture you can't tell what it all is!

After a couple of hours I thought I'd go look at a sheep dog trial for the afternoon. By the time I got there it was over. Fool. I should have hung around at the auction.

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