Commentary

 
Where am I?

Where’s all the 2014 images on this site?

Well, simply put, I was injured in June, and have not been able to do much photography since then.

On June 14, I was shooting some lightning when a bolt struck within 1/5 of a mile.  With my life in danger, I grabbed my gear and dashed for safety, but failed to recall a chain that was strung out in my path; right at knee height (keep in mind, this is at night).  I hit it at full stride; just below my knee.  I went airborne, doing a 240 degree mid-air flip, and landed on my back (on pavement, to boot).  The key injury was a severe sprain and a bone bruise to my right leg.  I was in crutches for 3 weeks and am still recovering (7 weeks and counting now).

No need for sympathy here; I’m fine, and am going to be.  However, photography requires a lot of walking/hiking, which is tough to do with a bad leg.

I had planned on reducing my photography in 2014 anyway (saving money on what I am calling my “2014 Bread and Water Tour”), but hopefully will get some more images on the site before year’s end.

So there you go.

sdw – 8/1/14

 

 
TMI and TLTL

A two-fer of commentary for you; I guess that could be TFOC.

First off, TMI…I have stopped sending out email alerts on updates to this web site.  Why?  Because you are getting bombarded with this crap daily (especially from Facebook).  It’s just too much.  You know this site is here; check back when you want.  So, no more email alerts from me.

 

TLTL is Too Little, Too Late, in regards to Nikon on the D600 dust on the sensor issue.  Nikon is allowing anyone, at anytime, to send in their D600 DSLR camera to get a replacement shutter.  Sounds like a good deal, right?  

It’s too late.  The Nikon brand has already been damaged; significantly.  Their refusal to even acknowledge this VERY obvious problem is why.  A lot of disgruntled Nikon owners have switched to Canon.  Once someone changes systems (i.e. lenses), it’s a difficult deal to get them to change back.

Oh, and what about the thousands of D7000 and D7100 DLSR’s that have the SAME problem (like mine; one of each).

Nikon reacted way too slow to this.  Now they are playing catch-up.  Good luck with that.

Canon must be loving this…

sdw – 4/23/14

 

 

Soft Sell

I cannot understand for the life of me why anyone displays soft, out-of-focus images on their web site.

Yet I see it all the time, and those drive me nutz!  They look terrible, make the viewer strain when they look at them (as their eyes try to sharpen the fuzzy image), and make the photographer look bad.

Ok, ok…if it’s that once-in-a-lifetime quick grab-shot of Bigfoot that’s blurry because of the moment, I get it…that’s acceptable.  Just about everything else, no way.  Even pocket and cellphone cameras are capable of acceptably sharp images (you don’t need a spendy DSLR!) so it’s not a failure of the camera.

I don’t care what social media page is used, putting blurry images out there is the photography equivalent of a fart in church (and I mean a loud one, just before “Amen”, where people turn and start looking at you).  Not good.

Yes…I have taken plenty of soft images…tons; I usually delete them right away.  I don’t care how much I like the image; if it’s not sharp, it will NOT show up here.  Look at my images; do you see any that are not sharp?

So please leave your blurry images in your hard-drive.  You will be delivering a better viewing experience for your audience, and, make yourself look better in the process.  If it’s soft, don’t sell it.

sdw – 1/7/14

 

 

An Economy of Motion

I browse photo community web sites now and then.  When I do I am amazed at the amount of amateur photographers who say they just had a singe-day photo shoot in which they took 4,000 images or some ridiculous number.  What?!

I believe them, in this DSLR age, there is no reason not to.  They set their camera to burst mode and go to town.

I approach things a bit differently.  Maybe because I’m a child of the film days, but I tend to be rather economical when I’m taking images.  Sure, I grab multiple shots, but I cannot imagine going through 4,000 images from a single shoot to pick out the 20 or so I’ll put on a web page.  In fact, in 2013, I have taken 7,131 images all year through October 9.  Those have turned into 30 web pages; about 238 per page.  Even that “low” amount just eats time (like you cannot imagine).

Guitar players often times call alternate picking “an economy of motion”; getting more with less movement.  That’s sums up my philosophy with photography, as well.

sdw – 10/10/13

 

 

Size Matters

Full rez images on a web page makes ZERO sense to me.  Not only is it superfluous, there are multiple disadvantages:

 

They take forever to download; and upload, even with a high-speed connection.


•  If the image is stolen, the thief now has a full resolution copy, which is essentially an original.


 Given current monitor technology, you gain NOTHING in terms of quality with a full rez shot.  You would need a monitor the size of a bath tub in order to take advantage of it.

 

I re-size my images to 1200×800.  They look wonderful on any monitor and they download and upload rapidly.  If someone steals one, they will not get the 24.1 megapixel 6000×4000 quality of my original.   

I want to see larger images when viewing a photo site; for sure!  However, size does matter.  Please consider re-sizing your images.  Image software makes it easy to do, and you’ll thank me for this advice down the road.  With all the time you save in uploading alone, you will have more time to take even more images!

sdw – 8/1/13

 

 

“Unboxing Videos”

I realize many will disagree with me, but I have to admit, I just LOVE unboxing videos on youtube!  I really do!  Particularly when they’re done well.  Sure, when some excited ding-dong is moving their video camera around like they’re in a blender, I agree; those stink.  However, when one is done well, I eat them right up.  They make me feel like I’m the one with the new piece of gear.

A particularly good one is at this link, and it features the Nikon D7000:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOpozExepVI

 

He uses a tripod, keeps quiet during the actual unboxing, labels all the parts, and even attempts to pronounce Nikon correctly (actually, it’s “Knee-con” – like Nissan, but “Nick-on” is a start).  Excellent.

Long live the well-done youtube unboxing videos!

sdw – 4/19/13

 

 

Keep politics OUT!

I am currently reading a photography book I just got.  The images are good, and when the author tells stories on how they got the shots, I enjoy it.

However, the book is packed with the author’s political views on a current hot-button topic, and it’s quite overboard.  It makes me want to toss the book into the trash!  If the book was titled “My Political Views and Images”, I wouldn’t have purchased it.

Images used for political purposes are as common as a blue sky.  However, not on this web site. That is one of the reasons why comments are not enabled here.  Before long, some jackwagon jumps in with how dumb President Obama is, or, how dumb Sarah Palin is, and before long, the images are lost in the scuffle.

My political views are strong and opinionated.  However, when it comes to this site, I try to leave those off-line.  You don’t come here to get clobbered over the head by my political leanings, you come here to see my photography.  I just wish the aforementioned book’s author would have done the same.

sdw – 4/1/13

 

 

Temptation

I just saw the new Nikon D7100 on B&H Photo’s website.  Looks like a neat camera, but given Nikon’s quality slip on their most current generation, who knows how this camera will fare?

Still, there’s always the temptation with something new to pull out the credit card.  It’s just so darned easy these days, with the Internet and all.  A few mouse clicks and your purchase is on its way!  Cool!

However, will a NEW camera make someone a better photographer?  Likely not.  Put a top line DSLR like a Canon 5D Mark III in the hands of someone with poor camera aptitude and you will likely get poor images.  Conversely, put a lesser camera in the hands of a skilled photographer, and you’ll likely see great shots.

One is better off saving the money and putting more attention to their skills.  Especially if they have good equipment already.

…but it is tempting…hmmm….naw…I’ll stick to what I have.  My D7000 and D5000 work great.  Besides, if I step up, I wanna go Full Frame.

sdw – 3/8/13

 

 

Worth Risking Your Life For?

By now many of you have heard about the photographer mauled and killed by a bear at Denali National Park in AK.  The photographer was warned to stay at least 1/4 mile away from them, and apparently got within 40-50 yards of one (“definitely way too close”, a park ranger said), and paid for the images with his life.

I suppose people see some of Galen Rowell’s (or other animal photographers) images of bears and think “I can get that shot, too.”  What they don’t see is the guy with the high-powered rifle that was standing next to Rowell to cover him in case the photo shoot turned nasty (and you had better have some firepower if you need to take out a bear) .

Although no where near the situation at Denali, I had a moment at the Palisades when I could have endangered myself to get a shot.  I was very tempted, but I wisely chose safety over the shot.

You can do whatever you want; take all the chances in the world.  I don’t care (as long as I don’t have to pay for your rescue).  However, I do suggest when that moment occurs, to ask yourself if the image is worth risking your life for.

sdw – 8/28/12

 

 

The Manic Depression of Digital Photography

It happens every time…you’re out in the field shooting images, and via your camera’s LCD monitor, they look great!  So you’re all psyched up!  Then you get back home and put them on the full size monitor, and they stink.  So you sink.

There are reasons why this occurs.  First off, your camera is not on level with your eyes (not even remotely close).  The technology is not advanced enough (probably never will be).  The image on your computer screen cannot possibly look as good as what your eyes (and your memory) registered.

So why did it look so good on your camera’s LCD?  Because that small monitor (likely) has VERY high resolution; everything looks great on it!  Plus, if you are looking directly at a great scene, your mind’s eye will tell you the image on your LCD is the same (especially if you just glance at it).  All is great, until you get home, and put it on the big screen.

Enter post-processing.  It allows you to bring that image closer to what you saw live.  The dumb camera cannot understand the different tonalities your eye saw and your brain processed, but often times you can make adjustments to bring back that initial high you got when you took it.

This happens to me EVERY TIME that I shoot.  No exceptions.  I take images in the field that I’m thrilled with, I get home, and instantly sink.  Then after post-processing, I’m happy again.  It’s a cycle that isn’t always fun, but it’s one you have to get used to if you want to take better images.

sdw – 7/7/12

 

 

RAW (NEF) versus JPEG

I almost exclusively shoot in RAW/NEF (Nikon’s name for RAW) format for my images.  Why?  RAW images look better.  They are a higher resolution and are sharper than JPEG images.  RAW also allows extra flexibility if you post-process your images.  This is huge when you have an image that is not properly exposed.

RAW has disadvantages.  The files sizes are much larger, and you must post-process each image you want to display (you end up with a JPEG).  This requires a lot more effort and thus, takes substantially more time.  Shooting in RAW also will require much more hard drive space relative to JPEG.

I personally find the advantages in RAW to easily trump the disadvantages.  However, it’s YOUR camera; shoot whatever format you want.  I choose to shoot RAW.

sdw – 6/20/12

 

 

Is “chimping”, cheating?

Today’s digital cameras allow you to review an image immediately after taking it.  This has been dubbed “chimping”, and the term comes from the “oooh’s and aaah’s” people often exclaim when they see their shots. This practice is frowned upon by some purists, as they claim that’s cheating.

I say hogwash!  I think instant image review is great, and I use it on almost every shot.  It allows you to get the best image possible while on the scene.  If you have a once-in-a-lifetime image situation, and you have the ability to check and correct your work right then and there, are you saying you’re NOT going to do that?  What?

I wonder if the purists who frown upon “chimping”, Photoshop their images, and use word processors with spell-checkers, or are they showing the shots straight out of the camera, and use typewriters and white-out?

I was a 35mm film (Velvia) holdout until 2005, so I understand the purist thinking, but I choose to go with the flow.  Instant image review rocks!  It’s a great tool, and if it improves your shots, why not use it?  I do.  If that makes me somewhat simian, well, that wouldn’t be the first time I was accused of that.

Oooh-oooh aaah-aaah (sdw) – 6/9/12


 

A rose, by any other pixel…

The other day my Dad showed me an image of a rose that was emailed to him.  He really liked it and asked my opinion of it.  I gave him my honest reply; I didn’t care for it, and told him all the technical things that failed in the image.

Afterwards, I thought how stupid my response was.  Although my critique of the image was correct, and gave my Dad a further education on the techniques of photography, I failed to understand the bottom line of any image; the emotional response.  Something in that rose shot appealed to Dad, so why should it matter if the image failed to reach a certain technical threshold I was looking for.  I tend to get too technical in this stuff, and I need to put that aside at times. 

sdw – 6/2/12

     

 

Facebook; why am I not on there?
 
Facebook (or Faceberg, as I call it) drives me nutz.  What really bothers me is the difficulty you often have accessing content others post there.  If you’re not a member, you may not even be allowed to see it.
 
Sometimes even being a member isn’t enough; you have to be their “friend” first.  Crazy.  Why then are they even putting it there?

Even when the material is public, you get hit with constant login prompts and messages to join.  Oy.
 
Here on Blue Light Pix, anyone can see what I have posted.  You don’t have to “friend” or “like” me; you can hate my guts and still access my content.  That’s the way it should be.  I created my own site to have the freedom to do what I want, and allow you to access my stuff without any strings attached.

I am a free-market capitalist type of guy.  If Mark Zuckerberg can make a gazillion dollars with his web site, God Bless him.  I just choose not to be a part of it.
 
sdw – 5/29/12