Thursday, 12 August 2010

Keep Learning

I was asked to be one of the photographers at the recent Aboyne Highland Games. Trying to capture the best of highland games is not easy as there is so much going, often at the same time and at different parts of the field (much the same as any games). Also, it was my first experience of doing a shoot at a games, so along with the question of what to shoot, was the question of how to shoot. I decided to stay on Raw and mostly on Aperture priority. It was a changeable day weather wise, and to try to reduce complex backgrounds, I was often shooting from ground level and getting much sky, making the exposure too dark. In future, I would just shoot getting the background as blurred as possible or completely over expose the sky.
I also shot in continuous mode a few times. I rarely do this and, though a simple thing to do, I was pleased with the camera's continuous auto-focusing. It uses up too much memory though and much deleting afterwards is needed. There was one sequence I thought I would use to try to learn how to make an animated Gif in Photoshop Elements (hence the title of 'keep learning'). It was more time consuming than difficult and then you find sites like Flickr don't support them, (although there is a work around) so why bother?

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Dancers, Aboyne Highland Games

You can read the manuals and books as much as you like - the best way to learn is by doing. I was one of the official photographers at the Aboyne Highland Games today. It was a long (10.30-6.30) but enjoyable day. Weather stayed dry but cloudy with glimpses of sun - this was one shot during such a glimpse. (If I remember correctly, these girls won a prize for the best outfits, as did some other girls but had gone. Look great don't they?)
What did I learn?
A zoom lens would have been good but I didn't miss it as much as I thought (I used my 24-70 on a non-full sensor D300 which gives me something like 35 - 110mm). I was able to get close to the action.
Backgrounds are an issue. It's messy and distracting, so there was lots of kneeling down, pointing up and then having to deal with exposures pointing up into the sky.
I went the opposite way and stuck on my 10-20mm wide and got some different shots which got a good overall feel to the day.
Continuous shooting is not something i use much but did at these games. Great for capturing those hammer throws etc but cards fill up too quickly and then time is wasted deleting the ones that are useless.
Auto-focusing isn't as good as the manufacturers make out. Continuous tracking focus? Well, maybe I need to be shown how it works but I wasn't impressed.
It's sore on the back and legs, so I would take one camera, one of those wide range zooms, 70-200, and the 24-70, memory cards and battery pack.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Scottish Emigrant

Scottish Emigrant
Originally uploaded by James_at_Slack
Still from a video shown at the National Museum of Scotland about Scottish emigrants to Australia. I just grabbed a shot - ISO 3200; f2.8; 1/250s.
I'm very interested in Scottish emigration from the push and pull reasons for why they left to the experience of the journey to each story of how they got on in their new lands. But what is also fascinating is the heritage and culture they have installed in their new countries. What I can actually photograph is what has been abandoned back home, here in Scotland, from the decayed houses and ghostly silent communities to the heritage remnants.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

You can try to break me, but I will remain beautiful.

This is, according to Flickr is my most popular and most interesting picture. It got to the front page of Explore. I was regularly getting pictures into Explore, but since I've become busier with my photography (and I think better at it), I don't spend so much time on Flickr and consequently less shots get into Explore. Does this mean anything? Do I suck? Or is getting a picture into Explore just some kind of 'pat on the head' to say 'good boy' for participating on Flickr?