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  #127 Natural
Entry 25 of 41
Early morning by the river       ©2013 babysister
Panasonic DMC-FZ7       24th place, 21 points
1/639s, f2.8, ISO 100, 36mm, Aperture Priority, Pattern, no flash
Post-Processing: Crop, Light, Resize.       Extra Info: Twenty minutes from where I live.
11 comments on this entry
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Jun 6, 2013
    Plenty to work on now thank you Mepo. I'll see how I go and get back to you no doubt for more help.

Jun 6, 2013
    Really happy that the comments help. I'm surprised there is not more discussion or instruction about the 'sweet spot' and its affect on final sharpness. All the manuals seem to be content with talking about increased dof at smaller apertures and how difficult it is to learn that f11 is smaller than f3 Duh :-)

i have problems staying awake with most manuals. This quote best describes how I learn (I have a lot f bruises too :-)

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” - Confucius

You are right about the eucalyptus tree. I should have known since I was involved in forest fire fighting techniques with the Aussies at one time and they demonstrated to me ow the eucalyptus bark on the ground makes such an excellent fire stimulant.

Don't forget that turning off the stabilization, focusing in the mid ground etc are kind of refined techniques applicable only to shots you want to be the very sharpest, mot something you want to bother with day to day I suspect. Besides there is always the danger of forgetting to turn them off afterwards. I try to check that my camera is on auto focus, auto exposure, auto white balance and iso 80 before I leave home since I have lost many shots by having it set on macro or something :-)

White balance is another setting you should play with for your 'studio' shots especially since you cannot shoot RAW type images with your model. RAW is super because you can re-set the white balance after you get the shot home (among other advantages).

Sky & clouds are a personal choice of course but 'makeup' as I sometimes call it can often improve on reality LOL

You can send me an email by clicking on my mugshot and choosing the 'send email' line below and that would be great as I'd love to see how the next one turns out or hear from you if you have any questions.

Good luck in the next challenge. Many entries will probably be of people in action and that's a whole new ball of wax. Most books advise that you choose shutter priority to be able to catch the action. Often I will still use aperture priority and take a note of what shutter speed my choice will give me, simply because I want to have some latitude in sharpness in the object I am focusing on. Otherwise I will choose a wide open aperture to give me the highest shutter speed, knowing that my dof will be narrow and that might give me a nice blurred background to make my action figure stand out.

Of course you could insert your volunteer fly fisherman and then your scene would become a 'performance' shot LOL

Slainte, Mepo

Jun 5, 2013
    Hi Mepo,

What a wonderful lot of tips you have given me. I have taken it all on board and when or if I get time to get back to the river in the morning I will try several different ways and see if I can get a better picture. It is all very well to read about it in manuals but your associating it with my camera, and from your experience, has helped a great deal. I'll start off with the suggested "sweet spot" and go from there.

i can't see any birch to focus on but you may mean the white trunked eucalyptus in the trees on the left side which would make sense.

I didn't know that about the image stabilisation possibly causing trouble so will certainly try turning that off.

The sky and clouds I dwelt on but as I remarked to kerszkavet I deliberately left it alone as that was the natural look on the day.

If I can I will send you the result but I don't have a Flickr page so I don't know how I would do that unless you give me your email address.

Many thanks again.

Jun 5, 2013
    No no - I did not intend to infer camera shake. I was thinking that with a tripod you could close the aperture even more to increase the dof and resolution. When I saw your shutter speed I did not even consider that you had a tripod :-)

Congratulations on using your timer! Great way to avoid shake. When I get caught without a tripod I often use the 2 second timer then try and hold the camera as steady as possible and lean on anything (or anyone) I can find.

Here is what I would do given the beautiful scene you found. (Did I mention your composition was excellent.) So - composition first - as you did. Then I would drop the iso as low as possible - I try never to use my FZ30 (similar to yours) above 80 as it loses so much so quickly as you increase the iso. Over iso 100 the colour noise is unacceptable.

Given your exif data of f2.8 at /639 moving down to iso 80 would give you approximately f2.8 at 1/500 Now if we choose an aperture of f5.6 that is only two stops away so your shutter speed would still be over 1/100 which could produce a good shot even without a tripod. But at f5.6 your dof and resolution will be way better.

Then (if I were being really fussy that day) I would use the manual focus on something in the mid to fore area - maybe the birch on the left or the willow on the right. If you just use auto focus here then be sure to set the focus area as wide as possible in the menu. Reason is that the camera will focus in the middle of the shot which is in the distance. Your dof extends forward and backwards from the point of focus. By keeping it a bit closer then your dof will include the foreground as well as the background. If I'm not using a tripod I will squeeze the release part way when I am aiming at my preferred point of focus and then re-compose before I complete the press to fire the shutter.

Experiment with exposure compensation. Under exposing a stop or two will bring out more colour; going over will make the scene POP more. However the time of day can affect where it should be set too. I would certainly bracket this shot both ways if I had the tripod to keep everything else constant.

You should also turn off the image stabilization if you are using a tripod. It can actually insert a bit of jiggle when the camera is stable - it's almost as if it is looking for something to do :-) Don't forget to turn it back on - I find the II setting works better than the I on my camera.

I did say press the shutter release but that was only for clarity. You should always squeeze the camera and the release together using your whole hand, like a big orange or a balloon, it gives a smoother release.

Now why did I mention f5.6. Very very important. By moving to f11 you can get a deeper dof as you no doubt know. However, every lens has a 'sweet spot' where the resolution is best. It is usually in the middle aperture of the lens but you should test to find out where it is. Any time you open the lens wide you automatically reduce the resolution. So if you want a sharp photo, you need good dof but you also need the best possible resolution from your lens.

I have tested my FZ-30 lens extensively and know the sweet spot is right at f5.6. I suspect our lenses are similar so I suggest you try and stay close to that for the sharpest shots.

One of my favourite tests is to shoot (using a tripod on a calm day of course) a long line of hydro towers (electricity towers) with their lattice work of metal cross beams. It's amazing to see the detail in the distant towers (zooming in to the photo afterwards) at f5.6 compared to the almost 'mush' at f2.8 or even f11.

Final hint is to arrange for a few clouds next time you take this :-) Failing that, photoshop some in afterwards. Perhaps you could bribe someone to pretend to be fly fishing from the point on the right - but sometimes a scene like this is better without that kind of human intrusion.

I'd love to see this if you shoot it again. Sorry to run off at the mouth so much but I think you are developing a fine talent. I love seeing all the entries from down under - they bring back fond memories for me and my wife from our visit there.

Slainte, Mepo

Jun 4, 2013
    Oh Dear! What can I do?
Mepo: This was taken on a tripod and I also used the timer so that there could not be any shake. There was no wind and no traffic. What is it in the photo that you think is caused by camera shake?

Jun 4, 2013
    I just blew it up on my big monitor and it looks even better! Keep taking great compositions like this and I'm going to buy you a tripod for Christmas just to see more. Love that morning light - of course mornings here tend to come a bit earlier LOL

Jun 4, 2013
    Thanks for the nice and helpful comments. Always appreciated
Mepo: I'll keep that in mind next time. I usually try several takes but obviously didn't quite get it right.
kerszkavet: I pondered about the sky but as that was the actual colour as I saw it in the early morning sun, I decided to keep it natural.

    Comments After End of Challenge    
    Comments During Voting    

Jun 3, 2013
    very peaceful and beautiful. shame you lost the sky.

Jun 3, 2013
    I would have dropped my speed to obtain a smaller aperture and increased the d.o.f. to try and get a sharp background. Beautifully composed, I think your framing is excellent and the picture is very relaxing.

Jade O.
Jun 1, 2013
    Idyllic scene as nicely captured and evocative of an 18th century landscape painting.

Jun 1, 2013
    well on theme
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