Manufactured Landscapes

There is more than one type of landscape photographer. Natural landscapes to me are when you have a scene where nature itself has built the stage and it is up to you to find the right view to present the emotion of the landscape. Another type is Urban landscape where there the scene is built for you with function as a more prominent part. Sometimes the urban setting is gritty and worn. Architectural landscapes work with the architects forms to present buildings as art.

Then there is Manufactured landscapes which I find fascinating. In a manufactured landscape the object is to replicate a natural, urban, or architectural landscape. The resulting objects purpose is to evoke the emotions of places and things is a way that is familiar.

I like taking images of these manufactured landscapes because someone has gone to a lot of trouble to take you visually to somewhere else. Be it urban or pastoral the object is to let you feel like you are in a place. Disney’s Imagineers are masters at this.

Jungle (Imagined) Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm ISO 200 F8 1/160second 37.6mm

The above image is just a look from one bridge that you can walk on to another that is just for show. But I love this image. The color, the forms and the patina of this location is just stunning. A manufactured landscape in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Entrance Fujifilm X-T2 XF 16-55mm ISO 200 F2.8 1/110 second at 35.3mm

This manufactured urban landscape is another example of the detail needed to pull off being some where you really are not. I haven’t a clue with the sign about the door says but looking at it I feel transported to a feudal Japan. Hint this in the Japan World Showcase at Epcot.

Manufactured Landscapes even work as a still life. While it is nice to be able to go to where the landscapes are sometimes you have to look at what is presented to you.

All images shot with Fujifilm X-T2 Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

Get Inspired Get Focused

There is so much good to viewing other people work but there is caveats in that statement as you need some sort of filter as to what is good work to view. I’ve found one of the best places to see work that has merit is the Photo+ blog PDN Photo of the Day. I’ve just gone through a number of the past photographers of the day and got inspired.

When I look at others work I see the things that I need to focus on in my own imagery.  Take for instance Nancy Baron’s Palm Springs>The Good Life Goes On. I notice her use of color and there is nothing in the images that she doesn’t want to be there. There is a wonderful sense of stillness to her image.  It’s not that I want to get on the next bus for Palm Springs so I can duplicate those images. It’s the inspiration to focus on making images that have meaning and story.  Time to get to work.

Space Coast State Fair (At Night)

Ferris Wheel
Ferris Wheel and Jupiter

I went outside my comfort zone this evening and visited a fair  not far from my home.  Tonight I went as a photographer rather than a fair goer with a camera.

Setting up a camera on a tripod in the middle of fair was not something I was comfortable with although now that I’ve done it I don’t have any clue why.

Swirls
Swirl

I was using the Fujifilm X-T2 and the (I’m going to say it again) fabulous XF 16-55mm 1:28 R LM WR lens.

If you are going to be shooting the fair at night I suggest getting there before it gets dark so you can get a look around and line up possible shots while you can still see. In my case the fair opened at 5pm so I had an hour to walk around before it got dark.

For the first hour I was able to shoot aperture priority with auto iso set with a max 3200 and shutter speed of 1/125 second as my limits.  This got me plenty of good images. With the fairly wide angle XF 16-55mm you can get a nice sharp image at F4 with plenty of depth.

Ballon Pop
Ballon Pop

This image shot just after sunset 17mm at F4 1/125 second ISO 2000. It holds up well.

Swing
Swing

Once the sun when down I switched to ISO 200 and set the aperture to anywhere up the F22 and let the camera set the shutter speed using matrix mode for exposure. This one F5 for 1/7 second.

Ghosts on the Midway
Ghosts on the Midway

Also, don’t be afraid of having people in you shots even if it gets a bit ghostly.  This is one of my favorite shots. Shutter speed was 5 seconds here at F11.

So get out of your comfort zone every once in a while and enjoy what you can do with your camera.

Equipment mentioned in this post:

Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR at Amazon

Fujifilm X-T2 Camera at Amazon

Analyze This.

Oak GroveTo get better at your photography you need to shot a lot,  process a lot, and analyze your images a lot.  At one time I would have been proud of this wine bottle image. But as I grow and learn I find things that didn’t work out on this image. By analyzing your images you work towards making stronger images. You also learn things about how you see and teach yourself to see better.

So what is wrong with this image?

  • Probably the most glaring thing is the lack of light on the shoulders running up to the neck. This is due to the subject being to big for the light tent I had it in. I used at strip box on each side defused thru the sides of the light tent.  The dark space is caused by the diffusion material not being tall enough. I need to get a larger diffusion panel for each side.
  • The base of the bottle was sitting on the floor of the light tent which blocked the light from hitting the bottom of the bottle. Solution is to raise the bottle above the floor with on a platform slightly smaller than the bottle. This will allow the light to wrap all the way to the bottom of the bottle giving definition to bottom edge.
  • The gold band around the neck of the bottle goes black in the middle. This could be corrected by using a small reflector aimed at the band from the camera position. Probably a small silver reflector would brighten the gold band.
  • This is the wrong bottle to use as there is a seam that is visible along the neck to the shoulder of the bottle. It’s there on the left side if you look close enough. Where it is located makes it hard to erase digitally. If your going to produce the best picture make sure you have more than one example so you can find the best one.

I do get a pat on the back for having a pretty clean subject. I cleaned off all the finger prints before shooting.

Shot with:

Fujifilm X-T2  Buy Here

 

Keeping It Clean

When you are practicing your skills by doing a product shot setup it pays to use a lens as subject matter. This give you a shiny/matte surface to light and shoot as well as a really good look at how clean your glass is.

This is a shot of my Fujinon XF 100-400mm 1:4.5-5.6 R LM WR OIS lens. What you think is lint and dust free isn’t really when you get in close. You will need a lint free cloth to clean your lens.  I don’t suggest a paper towel as that may end up putting more dust on the lens than you started with. Cleaning your subject saved lots of time in post production.

So get in close and really look at how clean your lenses are. You may be surprised.

XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

Product shot with my new 8″x 36″ strip box on Strobelite ISO 200 F11 1/200 second.

Beware of Hitch Hiking Ghosts (Shooting a Night Time Parade)

Saw the night time “Boo to You” parade at the Magic Kingdom during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.  Because it was night and dark I was thinking about not taking my camera.

Hook

Normally i set my camera for auto ISO with a max of 3200 which is good for most all round shooting I do. But when you are trying to shoot at night 3200 might be a little to low to get the shots you want, so I thought about leaving the camera behind. I was so fixated on the 3200 ISO that it wasn’t occurring to me that I could  go higher. I am using the new Fujifilm X-T2 which, it turns out, does a pretty good job at 6400 ISO.

20161020-_dsf1654

I even got Captain Jack staring at me. Yes, the images had noise, and most times noise is to be avoided, but shooting for perfection does limit you. Besides shooting is supposed to be fun, isn’t it? So I cranked the ISO to 6400 and found a place on the parade route that had some street lighting and fired off some shots.

Hitchhiking Ghost

There are no secrets to shooing images, there are no rules, just go out and get the shot. If it doesn’t work out (you think I only shot 3 images?) determine why the images failed and use that to make your next shots better. Images processed in Lightroom with a copious amount of noise reduction when needed. Oh and remember, “Beware of Hitch Hiking Ghosts”

jr

All The Same

All The Same

On its own this is a totally unremarkable image but it does teach us something about light and reflectivity. Each of the placemats are exactly the same color and pattern.  Because of the angle the light hits each mat differently and reflects more or less depending on the angle of the weave of the mat. Six mats, six different tones of gray.   Shot with the Fujifilm X-T2 and XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR lens.

Shooting Night Skys

With the recent meteor showers those of you that could stay up late (or get up early) not only had to deal with possible clouds but with all the light pollution we live with.  Thursday night I thought I would set up just in case I could try and catch a meteor or two after the moon went down.  I set up my camera on a tripod with a manual focus 8mm lens and tried some default setting that I had rattling around in my head.

ISO 1600 at F2.8 with a shutter speed of 30 seconds. My first exposures captured way too much of the leaking light pollution in the sky.  It was around 10:30 with the moon still in the sky.  I reset for a more reasonably ISO of 800 and a shutter speed of 15 seconds.  Looking at the back of the camera I was not seeing anything worth getting up at zero dark thirty for. Way to much light or so I though. So I just put it all away and gave up for the night.

When I finally got around to processing the image I was more than surprised to see how many stars I actually did capture. It did take a little fiddling in Lightroom to get the image to so itself but I was happy with the result.

It just goes to show that you need to practice, practice, practice. If I’d done this more than once or twice I would have known that it is possible to get the image and I should have stayed on it rather than giving up. Click on the image to see full sized.

 

Eastern Skys

The Importance of Getting the Shot

This image almost didn’t happen.  I alway try to get the camera shooting every day but was about to not have a shot for this day. It was a pretty unproductive Friday.  In fact, I was on the way home from picking up takeout and would have probably missed the shot if the stoplight had not changed just as I was approaching. Saw these clouds out of the car window and quickly grabbed the camera.

Kinda Blue

I was drawn to the small light cloud in the center of the image. I wasn’t really sure if the shots I took would turn into anything worth while but I needed to try.  Two quick shots and a bunch of post processing later and I had an image that I really liked.  Sometimes the lights align so to speak.

Finding The Settings For Fireworks

I think I found at least 10 different online articles on how to shoot fireworks in the weeks leading up to the Forth and I read them all.  My previous fireworks images were ok but I really wasn’t satisfied with the outcome. I was always overexposing and changing the shutter speeds or going to bulb mode was not getting results that I loved.  I think it was reading Joe McNally’s post on shooting fireworks that filled in the missing piece to getting the shots. More on that later.

Frankly I wasn’t going to shoot fireworks on the Fourth.  I live half a mile from the baseball stadium where the minor league Brevard Manatees where having a double header followed by fireworks. The problem with after game fireworks is you have no guarantee exactly when the fireworks will start. Last week I sat waiting for the end of the game only to have it go into extra innings.  The bugs came and carried me away before the first firework was lit.

So on the evening of the Fourth I was going to watch the Disney Fireworks live streamed on the Disney Parks blog instead of standing around waiting for the end of a game. So just before 9 I checked on the score and by surprise the game had just finished (Manatees won). I decided at the last minute to try and get some shots.  This is not the Master Photographers Approved plan for shooting fireworks.

The common theme in all the instructional posts was plan ahead. I think I had all of 7 minutes to get things set up. Setting up included pulling out the tripod and attaching the XF 50-140 F2.8 lens that I wanted to use, mounting the camera, Setting all the settings, getting out the front door and figuring out exactly where to setup to get the fireworks over the houses between me and the stadium.

The setting to use for fireworks are basically.

  1. Set to lowest native ISO. (Mine is 200).
  2. Manual Focus (try to set focus somewhere near infinity).
  3. Shutter Speed (try 4 seconds).
  4. Set Aperture to f8 (for starters).

The last point is where I was going wrong.  The f8 was not the right settings.  Because it’s dark you think you need a more open aperture to get in enough light. This I found to be the wrong thinking.  Fireworks are bright.  I was constantly overexposing at f8.  On the Fourth I stopped down my lens to F14 and probably could have gone to F16 to get the images presented here as I did have to move the exposure down a full stop in Lightroom.

Images were from my Fujifilm X-T1 with the XF 50-140mm f2.8 WR OIS zoom. I was zoomed out to the max of 140mm for these shots. Raw images were processed in Lightroom using the Fujifilm Standard/Provia camera profile and a bit (or more) of twiddling the dials .

July 4, 2016

July $th, 2016

20160704-_DSF3307

So I’m glad I decided to give it one more try. The lesson learned here is to really think why the image went wrong. I’m talking about the technical side. If the exposure is wrong at 4 seconds it is going to take a lot of adjustment to add or remove one stop (8 seconds or 2 seconds) for the shutter but adding one/removing one stop using the aperture ring gives the same result by keeping the lens open long enough to capture the full firework explosion. And remember that if you get off track center yourself on a known set of parameters and if you must fiddle, only fiddle with one setting.