Winter Photography with TG-5

As the winter approaches I am thinking about what and how to photograph, so yesterday morning I decided to use the TG-5 to refresh my thoughts about how to best use it and think about its’ potential for the winter.

I used the TG-5 to start documenting my day.  I started with my first cup of coffee in the morning, through my walk with Misty before the sun crossed the horizon, to photographing Marcia and Misty through the car window as they went in to leave Misty for her grooming, and then a few images inside my home after returning.

My conclusion was confirmation of the fact that it makes a great little pocket camera for documenting one’s day, even in low light, if there is a reason to do that.  While the camera is OK, I still need a reason for using it where its disadvantages (image quality) are overcome by its advantages (small size).  I just need to go someplace interesting that I wish to record.  Since that isn’t likely, I’ll be mostly using it to make pictures of the snow, etc. through the windows.

The TG-5 has other advantages for me.  I have problems with my fingers turning white and cold and numb, even when I’m inside.  It is a year-round problem that gets worse as the weather gets colder and I am already really finding it very uncomfortable.  I have tried lots of gloves and mittens and they help but don’t solve the problem and they all make using any camera more difficult.  I have found that it is easier and better for my fingers to just keep the small TG-5 and my hands inside a pocket and then take them out briefly to take a picture.

The big problem is finding something worth photographing.  I rarely photograph something new and photographing the same things over and over isn’t very satisfying.  I will continue to have requests to photograph for Homewood with my better cameras, but that doesn’t generate many images or topics to write about for my website.   In addition, I have no immediate plans to buy or try anymore cameras, nor play much with different processing or techniques, so I fully expect to see a potential drop-off in displayed pictures and posts.

Computational Photography

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was trying a Fujinon XF 14mm F2.8.  It is now my widest lens that I obtained for a few specific uses, but I would like to expand its use, so I have been experimenting with it.

If the lens isn’t used in a horizontal and level position it tends to distort the image as shown in the first view above.  This isn’t unique to this lens.  It happens with all lenses, but it is more obvious due to the wide angle when used up close as above.

Adobe LR CC has a computational capability to automatically correct for it.  With one click of the auto button it very quickly gave me the second version.  I used the above example to show what it achieves and how much gets cut out of the original along the edges.  The photographer who wishes to use this capability just needs to make sure that they go a little larger in their composition to allow for the loss around the edges.

What amazes me is how fast and well it readjusts the 24 million pixels to achieve this change.  After it is done I still have 24 million pixels, but each has been rearranged with no obvious image degradation.  Since it still has the same number of pixels, it obviously also creates pixels.  The photographer needs to be careful to not ask for too much of a change or else some objects might get noticeably distorted in a different manner from the original.

The following is a different example of computational powers.  The first image was originally 6000 x 4000 pixels in size that has been reduced to 2100 x 1400 pixels for display here.  I also made a virtual copy of the full-size image and then cropped out a portion of the center and then increased the size of the crop to achieve an image for display with the same number of pixels as the first.

This demonstrates the power of computations to allow zooming in on a subject.  I look forward to the day when I can use one camera and one prime lens for all of my photography and then rearrange and zoom in on any portion that I choose.

I fully expect that in the not too distant future most cameras will utilize a lot of computations within the camera to allow for vastly different lens designs that reduces the size of the lenses.  I also expect that some of this is currently being done within smart phone optics.  We will also have to stop referring to them as cameras or smart phones and call them for what they are … computers.

There, But Why

One of my intentions for my photographs that I make where I live at Homewood at Plum Creek is to show others what they didn’t see either because they can’t get about, weren’t there when I was, or because they don’t see the way I do.

As an expansion to that theme, I’m considering going further out and about Hanover and adding pictures of common scenes that people might drive by frequently, but don’t take the time to stop and really look or think about what is there.  As a test, I walked along Westminster in front of Homewood and made these images of scenes across the road.

There are stories within those images.  For example, I always wondered about people who flew “Don’t Tread on Me” flags and then drew attention to themselves with such flags and political signs.  It is like they are trying to engage others in a fight by drawing attention and saying come on, disagree with me.  I’m not sure what those other buildings are used for, but their style, colors, and lack of frills might tell a lot about the owners.  I think that at the minimum we should wonder if the outsides are good indicators of what is inside.

In the past I tried different processing and longer focal lengths to make images of interest and/or express emotions, but I’m now wondering if that was the way to go.  The pictures gave me an opportunity to play with the processing and I still like to do that, but I have never found a theme to guide me in making images around Hanover.  Maybe I thought too hard and over-looked the obvious.  Can I find enjoyment in just photographing whatever is in front of me and not trying to express an idea or particular way of thinking?  Can I stop seeking another camera or another lens or a different way of processing them and just concentrate on showing what is there?  Can I have fun making such images?

Five years ago, I started thinking about making a book of Hanover pictures, but I kept feeling that I needed a theme to organize the photos around.  I wanted something to guide me to photographing particular things and to then tell a particular story.  If I decide to pursue the effort to make more pictures around and about Hanover, I might just leave it to the viewer to extract whatever story they see.

The Hanover area is small, but it has quite a variety of buildings, etc.  Should I just photograph at random and leave it up to the viewers to think whatever?  But photography isn’t like that.  The photographer’s bias is always there in that he or she chose where to point the camera, even if they don’t have a conscious reason for it.  You always have to wonder, “OK, it is there but why was it photographed?”  Is there a story in that photograph?  What is it?  Why would I do this?

About Campus XX

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I have been making some new pictures of various sections of the campus and since I don’t have anything else to show you I just picked three out of the midst of a set of them to show you.  I have been having a hard time getting everything aligned in order to get the pictures.  It seems that times when I feel like moving around a lot when the weather and lighting are ideal are rare.

What Will I Photograph?

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As time goes on and we get older we spend more and more time in medical offices.  I suppose that in the future I might have to limit myself to collecting images of office carpets with my iPhone, but if I do, I’ll try to keep them colorful.

I was being a little facetious, but I’m really having a problem coming up with ideas for things I might want to photograph suitable for my blog.  I prefer to balance my documentary photography of activities around Homewood with something totally different for my website; but that isn’t always possible, so I’m thinking of some compromises.  Maybe I will stick with the same cameras and lenses and processing style but look further afield.  The big problem is finding suitable subjects to photograph, and this gets even harder in the winter.

Photography Update

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This post is for the photographers who are wondering how I am doing with my desire to shift away from the bigger, heavier zoom lenses.  I used the 18-55m zoom lens for this image as I was experimenting with photographing the campus and getting a better feel for needed focal lengths.  While the 18-55mm zoom lens worked fine for the photos I made during that walk, I have only used primes on subsequent walks for similar images.

When I made the big band pictures I used a variety of prime and zoom lenses.  As it turned out, the 18-55mm zoom lens worked OK in the bright dining room, but neither it nor the 55-200mm lens worked well in the Omni room under much darker conditions.  I made a few images at 200mm but at ISO 12800 they didn’t look very good and I had a lot of trouble obtaining auto focus.  I ended up using the 18mm F2 and the 50mm F2 lenses for most of the show pictures.  Since that venue was different from my normal conditions, I may try the zoom lenses again under other conditions, but I am becoming surer that I will likely use my faster prime lenses for the vast majority of my photography of Homewood events, etc.  Using prime lenses on both of my Fujifilm cameras makes my life easier from a weight & size perspective.  I also like the challenge.

Due to lighting and my lens focal length limitations, I might try sitting in the front row at events and hopefully not ending up with microphones, music stands, etc. blocking the performers; but I will sometimes be presented with another focal length issue … not having a wide enough lens.  To remedy that, and some other issues I have photographing inside architecture, etc. I am trying a 14mm F2.8 prime lens.  The one issue I can’t address with different lenses is the need to get up and move around and not get in front of the residents in order to capture different perspectives and photograph both the audiences and the performers.  My previous use of longer zoom lenses with my micro 4/3 gear (all now sold) enabled me to make images that focused on the performers and smaller details rather than the residents.  That is one thing I will probably change and try to focus on the audience and the essence of the event rather than the performers; thus, making better use of wider prime lenses.