June 14, 2012


Two images from June 14 that I hope will prove instructional.  So here goes; image #1:


Nikon D5000 with a Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di VC USD lens shot at F/4.5 and a 1/25 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 200.  Focal length: 140mm.

This image works on many levels.  Shot in the morning with a thunderstorm approaching, it gives you a brooding mood; you can feel the storm coming in, even though you cannot see it.  The flag is vividly showing the storm’s effect on it.  I like the ambient light on the flagpole; just a hint of sunlight.  It is very obvious what the subject is here; no distracting background.  It is often wise to keep your photos very simple like this.  The focus is a titch soft, but I took it hand-held at 1/25 of a second.  I braced/rested my camera on my car door dasher for added stability, my Tamron lens did the rest.  Even though this doesn’t have that knock-your-socks-off color and contrast you expect from me, I feel this is a winner.


Now on to image #2:


Nikon D5000 with a Tokina 12-24mm F/4 AT-X PRO DXII lens shot at F/8 and a 1/3 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 200.  Focal length: 18mm.

Taken at twilight, this appears to be the significantly more dramatic of these two images.  However, this is VERY flawed, and please let me list what is wrong with it:


• The focal range is too w-i-d-e.  There is noticeable “keystoning” (bending) of the primary tree.  The camera should be further back, with a longer focal length setting.

• Notice some fuzzy leafs?  It was very windy when this was taken.  For this to truly be effective, it has to be sharp.  Slow shutter speeds in this situation are a recipe for failure.  I should have bumped up my ISO and taken it with a higher shutter speed (I was on a tripod, which you should be as well every time you try shots like this).

• The horizon is a total disaster.  Talk about total failures.  Where do I start?  First off, it’s way too cluttered; very distracting.  Next, the trees on the left side make the image appear crooked (it’s not), and if you add that to the aforementioned keystoning of the tree, it looks like the entire left side is literally leaning to the right.  The building in the lower right creates the illusion that the image is cut-off on that side.  That’s because it’s so flat and linear, and that makes it look like a really bad Photoshop job…ouch.  Also, see the flag and power poles in the center?  Total yuck.  Mister Yuck is mean…Mister Yuck is green!

• Right is wrong.  Look at the upper right.  Is that part of the primary tree, or is it another tree altogether?  I dunno, but I should, as it’s my image.  I’ll note once again, I am in too close.  At least it’s sharp; the left side is fuzzy.

• I arrived too late.  Although the sky is rather dramatic, had I been on the scene about 10 minutes earlier, it would have been much better.  Timing is everything in the world of photography, and I should have been paying closer attention, and arrived earlier.


For those of you who had a positive emotional reaction to the second shot, please enjoy (see my Commentary from 6/2/12), but I feel it’s important to point out the failures here.   It will help you appreciate when an image is properly shot, and when one is not.  This might even help you with your own photography.


all images © Scott Woelm – June 2012