Sunday, May 23, 2010

First photo walk

This weekend I had the chance to go out for a short walk around sunset, down to the river near my house.  The light was nice despite it being winter and the sun weak.  Stupidly, despite the failing light, I didn't think to take my tripod, and so my opportunities were limited at the start, and grew more so as the walk went on and the sun went down.

At the pond in the park, I got around to the side away from the setting sun, and took some shots of the ducks.  The sky was quite brightly reflected, and I was after a silhouette type of shot that retained some detail of the ducks.  This one worked out quite well, though I would have liked just a little more detail visible on its neck and head.  It's also very 'blue' and would benefit from some Photoshopping to warm it up a bit.

The river itself is in a steep gulley, and looking across to the opposite bank, the trees (already autumnal) were catching the last rays of sunshine, and I noticed this house hidden among them on top of the hill, and thought that with appropriate cropping it would make a nice image. 

I normally like to shoot at 100 ISO for maximum clarity, but for this one, I had to go to 400 ISO to get a decent shutter speed I could still handhold. 

(Today's lesson)  The rule of thumb I learned back in the good old days of film was the slowest handheld shutter speed should be better than 1/focal length - so if you are shooting with a 200mm lens, your speed needs to be 1/200 or quicker, while a 50mm lens can be handheld at 1/50.  Of course, these days, a lot of lenses, especially the longer ones, have built in Vibration Reduction (Nikon) or Image Stabilisation (Canon) systems that may give you an extra few stops of handheld stability, and sensor sizes may have an impact too (e.g. on my camera, the 200mm behaves like the equivalent of a lens nearer 300mm). 

This was the last handheld shot of the day - I tried a few more with the camera balanced on a rock, but with a 60' drop from where I was (very similar to what you can see on the other side), I didn't feel too happy about my precarious perch, on a lonely path in the fading light, and decided to call it a day.

So what did I learn?  My lenses are only standard kit lenses, and don't have the huge light gathering apertures of the $1000+ lenses that the pros use, so if the light is fading - take the tripod!

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