Tag Archives: exposure

Ok, so where were we..Tucuman

Alright, we left Tanti Hostel and moved back down to Cordoba as we had to connect via bus to Tucuman to trek further north. The one great thing in Argentina (and throughout South America I believe) is that they have an absolutely amazing bus network system. These are not just any buses (We have used the Andesmar line a few times) these have chairs that range from 45 degree reclining to Fully flat (a la First Class on a plane) These buses are airconditioned, have TV on board (Mostly Spanish movies – obviously) offer food and some have WiFi (we haven’t used those ones yet) So, but travel here is a pleasure, oh and you don’t have to book weeks in advance, for the most part, we arrive a the bus station and get on a bus within an hour or two…really great system.

Now, back to where we were. So we left Cordoba and went off to Tucuman. We had arranged to do some couchsurfing there on the first two nights, but that was a bit of a disaster. The story (at a high level) goes like this, we arrive at Tucuman at 21:30 in the evening and catch a taxi to the Couchsurfers residence. We get there and ask for him and he isn’t home, but we are told to wait. It seemed that he lived in a commune in a rough part of Tucuman, so we wait. About half an hour goes by and then one of the “residents” shows us to our room, this was a shocker….(I wont post the images here, but if you really want to see, let me know) and still we waited. After an hour since arriving (approx 11 pm), we ask one of the guys to call him and he says he will be there in another hour or so, that makes it midnight at which point I thanked him and said we would find accomodation elsewhere, which we did.

Tucuman by all accounts is a great, smaller city in Argentina. It has some beautiful buildings and is surrounded by some smallish mountains. In general we really enjoyed the time there, we managed to relax a bit and plan the next leg of our journey. As always, below are some images.

Photography Notes:

Most of the images here were taken at dusk or just after the sun had set. Here is what I do to make sure I get the images i want:

1. Take a light meter reading off the sky and set my camera to correctly expose for this.

2. I take a test shot and if the subject (i.e. the Cathedral is too dark) I then adjust my shutter time to allow more light in by making my shutter time longer i.e. long exposure

3. I use a tripod as far as possible, in all of these shots, no tripod was used however

4. The Government Building shot was actually a composite of 6 images stitched together digitally… I love photostitching

5. The landscape shot of the interior of the Cathedral was two blended images, 2 F – Stops apart and blended together to get correct exposure, I love this too…

6. Lenses used: I have a Sigma 10mm – 20mm wide angle lens and that was used on most of these images

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The Digital Darkroom – How different is it?

I lecture at the College of Digital Photography on Photoshop and very often I hear students tell me that friends and family will say to them that using Photoshop is cheating. I have also heard some photographers say that they are “purists” and don’t do any Photoshop “manipulation”.  I find that this kind of comment is usually because of a lack of understanding of what photographers used to do in the darkroom before digital photography and Photoshop came about, as well as a lack of understanding of what Photoshop can actually do and how a photographer should use it effectively. The tragedy is that there are many digital photography “purists” who are not using Photoshop and so are not getting the absolute best results possible, their digital images might be very good, but with a little tweak here and there in Photoshop, that image could become spectacular.

In an article that I read while putting this blog together, the opening line from Kodak’s website on darkroom techniques says this: “No one is a complete photographer until he or she gains a fundamental knowledge of darkroom practice” This is more true now than ever. What used to happen in the past when we handed our film into the lab to be developed was that they would check each image and make subtle corrections to colour and contrast anyway. The photographer was never consulted on this, the lab just did it. The photographer then picked up their images and Voila! They looked great and the photographer walked away thinking that they were a great photographer based on the results they got. Very often, they didn’t realize that there had been some adjustments made to their images “behind the scenes”

Digital has changed all this now. Very often, when you drop off your digital images at a lab to be printed, you walk up to the computer screen at the front of the shop, load your images onto their machine and then go to the counter to confirm when the prints will be ready. Most of the time, no image adjustments have been made (apart from the ones made in camera – more on that in later posts) and so the image is exactly how it looked on your camera. The lab prints the images. You then come to collect them and when you look at them, you can’t understand why they are so “dark” or why the colour seems so flat or the clouds are so dark? This is because the lab has not made any adjustments to your images and very often the photographer will blame the camera or say that digital is just not as good as film was. Well, the reality is that digital photographers need to take control over their image processing and not leave it up to the lab or anyone else for that matter. Once we do take control of the image editing process and master the techniques offered in Photoshop, the benefits will be obvious….

So what happened to the Darkroom?

The darkroom of the past, the one with all the chemicals, Fixers, Stabilisers etc has now gone virtual. In the past, the darkroom was the only way to get images captured on film to be printed. The same is true for digital, with a difference though…the computer and using photoshop is the only way of getting images off your digital film (the memory card with the images on it) and into the lab to be printed.

In the past, the darkroom was used to develop and process images, but also was used to correct and enhance images. The key here is the words “correct and enhance”. The first step was to develop the images so that photographer could see what they had, but then, they would go to the next step and start correcting images or areas of an image. They would correct exposure, lighting, colour, saturation and many other things in the image. They would also then use the creative side of the darkroom and enhance certain images, or adjust certain items within an image to create an effect. This was all done in the Darkroom. Today, this is all done in Photoshop….not much has changed.

What processes were done in the Darkroom?

The list of processes that could be done in a Darkroom is incredibly exhaustive, whole books have been written on this topic and still today there are some photographers who use the processes or even alternative processes to create a fine art image, these are often called alternative processes and can have some really dramatic and exciting results. If you are curious as to some of the processes that can be done in the Darkroom, then click here to go to Wikipedia’s list of processes.

This post is the first of probably three or four posts about the darkroom, digital or otherwise, so keep coming back and read up more about it.

The next article will give more details on what the darkroom can and cant do and what Photoshop can and cant do…who said the darkroom is dead?

Quality not quantity

In this day of digital cameras and the cheapness of memory cards, it is easy just to “burn” through hundreds of pics and hope for the best. This is initially how I used to shoot and i was often disappointed with the results. I would get a few good shots but it was more “miss” than “hit”. Then I read an article by a pro digital photographer (whose name escapes me) who said that when he shoots, he imagines that he is shooting on film. The reason he does this is that he wants to get a higher crop of great images that he can use. This got me thinking and I made a conscious effort to be more deliberate about how I approached creating an image. It took a lot more concentration and certainly took a bit more time, but the results have been amazing. It has revolutionised my photography…my images are sharper (because I am a LOT more specific about WHAT I am focusing on) my images are better composed (I make an active effort to compose properly in camera and check the image on the screen afterwards, if I am not happy, recompose) My images are more dramatic, more colourful (because I am making sure my exposure is right the FIRST time) and overall my photography is much better. So try it, imagine that you only have 36 shots in you camera and NO PHOTOSHOP to fix a bad image. Photoshop should only be used to make a good image, superb. So, here are my tips to make some quick improvements to your images, they worked for me…

  • Exposure – make sure you exposure is correct. Use a grey card, use a light meter and learn to use your built in meter in your camera. By doing this, you will be sure that your exposure is correct and this is a very key part of getting things right
  • Composition – we all know about the rule of thirds, we all know about the golden mean (if you dont know, I am going to put some ideas down on these at a later stage) These are good rules and can really make a difference to an image, but you also need to know when to “break” these rules or when not to use them.
  • Focus – this is critical, you need to make sure that your subject matter is in crisp, sharp focus. Enough about this cannot be said. There is nothing worse than realising after you have taken the photo, that the camera was focused on the tree behind the bride and not the bride herself, trust me, it happens
  • Interesting subject matter – This goes without saying, your subejct matter must be compelling, if its not, then present the mundane subject in a new way (MORE about this too at a later stage)
  • Quality – this will be the combination of all of the above areas, if you get this right, your images will take on a whole new level of quality

Try this, I can tell you that it works, if all of these elements start working together, your images will be changed forever, remember less IS more, quality is the real differentiator.