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Archive for November, 2006

I’ve just downloaded PTLens to see how well it works with images from the Finepix S5600 and it’s great. The images below are the before and after shots of the Royal Palace in Dam Square, Amsterdam. Look how the lamp post on the left side of the image bends inwards in the original and how it’s vertical in the corrected shot. It’s incredibly easy software to use, just drag some sliders until it all looks straight and you’re done. If you take lots of architectural shots using a wide-angle lens I suggest you download the trial version and give it a whirl.

Before correction.

Royal Palace

After PTLens correction.

Royal Palace

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If you live on a boat and want a lawn where else would you put it?

Asmterdam house boat

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Not all of it just one of the clock towers! There are lots of great buildings in Amsterdam but the Central Station is particularly impressive.

Clock tower

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This must be quite a shock to the elderly English tourists who visit the Amsterdam flower market to buy their tulip bulbs. On many of the stalls along with the bulbs you can pick up your cannabis growers starter kit. You won’t find that in your local garden centre!

Tulips and cannabis

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This is an excellent book. One of the most useful photography books I have read so far and one that I will be referring to again and again. I already understood how aperture, shutter-speed, and ISO work together to determine the exposure, and how changing one of these means altering one or more of the others to maintain a correct exposure. What I now realize that I didn’t get and what this book explains, is how to determine a ‘correct exposure’ for different situations and effects.

Using plenty of examples the author takes you through different scenes and explains why and where he took the light meter reading for the photographs and why he chose particular settings. He does this for front-lit scenes, back-lit scenes, side-lit scenes, sunny days, overcast days, dusk, night, and so on. I learned when my auto exposure settings were most likely to work and when I should be stepping into manual mode. One word of warning. The book is overflowing with metaphors from ‘Brother back-lit sky’ to ‘faucets’ and ‘worker bees’, but it does get the ideas across well and possibly makes it easier to remember some of the tips.

I’ve already started using some of the tips during a trip to Amsterdam and I’m very happy with the results. Some shots where the reflections in the water would have resulted in blown highlights are now exposed correctly. As with anything it takes practice but I can say this book has encouraged me more than any other to venture into manual-mode on my camera.

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You’ve probably looked at all those pictures in the photo magazines and books with the main subject in focus and a lovely blurred background. In the ‘How to’ it will say just set your aperture wide open and hey presto. Now this works fine for a DSLR but you won’t get the same effect with a compact zoom like the S5600. Even setting the aperture to F/3.2 (the lowest available) doesn’t work. The reason it doesn’t is all down to the sensor size in the camera.

You may have noticed that the lens focal length on the S5600 goes from 6.3mm to 63mm which in 35mm SLR terms is approximately 38mm to 380mm. You have to multiply the S5600 focal length by 6 times to get the correct value. The difference is because the sensor on compact zooms is so much smaller.

What’s this got to do with depth of field I hear you ask? Well it’s like this. The multiplier does not only apply to the focal lengths it also applies to the aperture (F number). So in the case of the S5600 when you select F/3.2 for the depth of field effect you are using the equivalent of (3.2*6=19.2) F/19.2 in the 35mm world. Or put another way – no chance of getting the effect you were after! This is also why the S5600 aperture range only needs to go to F/8 as this is the equivalent of using F/48 on a 35mm SLR.

Having said this you can get some depth of field effect by using F/3.2 with the zoom at it’s full extent and having the background some way behind your subject. This will give some blur but this is down to the zoom magnification rather than just the aperture. The other way is to ‘cheat’ by using a photo editor to apply some Gaussian blur to the background (I use Photoshop Elements for this).

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I was walking around our local park last weekend and the colours of this tree really made it stand out against the others.

Autumn Tree

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