For years I’ve used a point and shoot — a hideout camera that I could put in my pocket while walking around for those photo opportunities that come up when you don’t expect them. The very first one I had was the Kodak DC210, with an amazing 1 megapixel of resolution. (similar to this)
When the time came to move to more megapixels the natural jump was to a Sony Cybershot and its 8 megapixel but pocket sized awesomeness, the current models of the same camera are now available in a variety of 14 – 16 megapixel models:
After years of use the lens started making a grinding sound when it extended, and sometimes the shutter-like cover leaves did not fully open. While in St. Lucia we took a catamaran trip in the rain and I didn’t feel the least bit uncomfortable snapping away even though the camera was getting drenched because I knew that the time had finally come to replace the Sony.
The pictures came out fine, and the camera did not get damaged, which got me looking for a camera that I didn’t have to worry about in water.
That search led me to the Nikon AW-100, a great little camera that comes fully featured. It can survive immersion up to 33 feet (10 meters,) freezing, and minor shock (drops from five feet.) On top of that has 16 megapixel sensor coupled with built in GPS.
While the glass is not quite as nice as the Cybershot’s Zeiss lens, the Nikon’s 5X zoom lens produces reasonably sharp photos throughout its range, from macro to telephoto. It has many preset modes, and a fully auto mode for capture. The GPS works great, and photos I imported to Lightroom dropped right onto the map once I turned on the GPS feature:
It works great underwater, (see photos below) and the built in ability to imprint time and latitude longitude onto the photo and/or to just capture them to metadata are great tools for scientists, police, sports enthusiasts, and others who need to document either their play or work. The built in GPS compass is also handy, and I can see myself using this camera for a metadata reference shot whenever I shoot a series with my DSLR’s and lenses. I have to say that I am loving the new tech acquisition.
Here’s what you can do to approximate an Ansel Adams photo with a modern DSLR — it’s only f.22 compared to some of his which were f.64 – but that was the smallest aperture I could get with the crappy kit (18-55 mm) lens & not putting a filter on. I took this with a tripod at 3 seconds for exposure time, with the lens set to widest angle, 18mm. After shooting this I took all of the luminance and color vibrance out of the .RAW file before processing in Photoshop. The jpg compression needed to get it “blog consumable” also loses a lot of the detail. (in the full sized photo you can see individual slots in the hubcaps of the truck in the background)
One of the tricks you can play with Bokeh and depth of field.
To make a shot like this you need a room about 20′ long. Drape strands of Christmas lights over a door or hang them over a dark curtain at the far end. Tape or affix them in a funnel shape. Position the vase, jar, bottle, or other container on a table or TV tray mid-room, lined up with the tip of the light strand funnel shape you created.
Set up your camera on a tripod or a beanbag on a table so that it’s lined up with the vase and lights. Make sure to look over the top of your lens so you get the right perspective – move the vase, lights or table as needed to make it seem that the lights are steaming or spraying out of the vase.
Set your camera to manual, and then set the lowest f-stop combination you can with the lens you have for starting this shot. Zoom the lens to the farthest distance setting you can go with the vase in focus so that your plane of focus is right at the vase, keep adjusting until you get the vase sharply focused and the background lights blurred the right amount for the mood you want. If you create too flat a depth of field then the lights will be too blurry and smeary. You might have to move the camera closer or further away, and to get it right might take up to ten or fifteen minutes – be patient, you will find the spot. Keep the ISO on the camera at 100 or 200, you want a sharp photo of the foreground vase. Once you get the focus set, set a shutter speed of 2.5 seconds to start. Later you will adjust it for your light. Set the camera to timer or use a remote; you want to avoid camera shake.
Turn off all room lights and close all the doors and windows. Snap a picture, review it, and adjust the shutter speed to longer if the vase is too dark, or shorter if the shot is over exposed. The Christmas lights will be warmly out of focus, and the vase or jar will be sharply in focus if you did everything right.
Optional: put a mini mag light inside the vase to create a light coming out of the vase.
It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these so this will be a compilation of the past few months of songs I’m listening to that are relatively new. Keep in mind I am not posting the inescapable uber hits that you are going to hear anyway for the next six months because everyone already knows about Maroon5, Katy Perry, Skrillex, and Flo Rida. Also note that I’m going to try out a new Amazon widget thing that should let you hear some of the tunes if I get it right — it’ll be down at the bottom if you just want to start sampling the songs now.
Leading off is manicanparty, a new group blending African chorals and percussion into modern alternative & hip-hop in elegant and spartan arrangements. They’ve picked up a sponsorship from VEVO, and have a remix already after their video.
TuNe-YaRds is an easy followup to Manicanparty, they fit well together.
I’ve also picked up “Shiver Shiver” and two other songs from Walk The Moon, a group better known for face paints and the song “Anna Sun”
Recently arrived on the tough yet tender girl punk rocker scene is Dead Sara with “Weatherman“, sounding every bit as riveting as Joan Jett.
Alt rock duo Imaginary Cities hails from Canada, and their new song “Hummingbird” is approaching sixties easy listening sounds, but in updated format.
Also noteworthy is BTR, who skillfully lifted and updated the major hooks from Blur’s “Song 2” — and hey, who didn’t like that “WOOOO HOOO” song?