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Industrial Photo 3: Tachometer

photograph of tachometer

An old tachometer salvaged and ready to be installed. When I shot this in my uncle’s garage, he told me that the gauge wasn’t the most valuable thing in view. The tach is actually sitting on a valve cover for a vintage Corvette.

Exposure Data: ISO 6400, f/5.6, 1/100

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Industrial Photograph 2: Elbow Grease

photograph of car workshop

Did I mention I don’t like fluorescent light? And I’m not the only one. Not even mentioning their harsh quality, these lights actually cycle rapidly from one color to the next, easily throwing off your white balance. But one solution to the problems of shooting in fluorescent light is to shoot in black and white and in “shade.”

This shot of some machining equipment took place under some scaffolding holding some old car bodies. They provided a little shelter from the harsh overheads. Of course this meant a high ISO as I refused to use flash in this case. Plus I was constantly on the move, and a tripod would have been impractical in the cramped spaces I was working in.

Exposure Data: ISO 6400, f/5.6, 1/100

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Industrial Photograph: The Smell of Oil

Photograph of vice clamps

I recently visited my uncle, a mechanical wizard who builds his own custom cars. So many tools and auto parts waited to be photographed! A row of vice clamps in particular caught my eye, and they looked so contrasty that I decided to do a black and white shot of them.

Even though I’m not very mechanically inclined, I still find myself drawn to machinery. In a way, each piece is its own work of art. The only real fly in the ointment was the lighting. Fluorescents everywhere! To avoid using flash while free holding the camera, I had to bump up the ISO to very high levels: something I don’t normally do. Fortunately, Topaz DeNoise came to the rescue.

Exposure Data: ISO 6400, f/4.5, 1/100

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How to Write for Photography (or “All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from the Yearbook”)

photograph of blogging

Whenever I blog, I always have flashbacks to my high school experience. I was the typesetter for my school’s yearbook for two years’ running, so I learned a thing or two about effective writing that I’d like to share with you today! :)

1. Try not to pad. It’s not just the modern “wall of text” that people fear, but just plain unnecessary words. Just the facts, please.

2. Add value to your pics. For each picture try to tell the viewer something that isn’t obvious from viewing alone. For example, if you see a photo of child writing something, explain (in a few words) what she’s writing about.

3. Be confident. You posted your pics because they mean something, so write accordingly. You’ve posted your best work, and there should be no apologies for showing off that kind of effort.

Let me know if you’re curious to know more. In any case, happy blogging!

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Mouths to Feed – Wildlife Meets Street Photography

photograph of baby birds

In street photography, you have to be prepared to answer the occasional challenge from a passer-by. Even if your lens isn’t pointed toward any human being, some may still wonder what you’re doing. I discovered a bird’s nest under the pediment of a building where I have my current day job; so I set my 60D at a distance where the parents of the chicks (a pair of barn swallows) wouldn’t fear to return and set my drive mode to high speed burst. Meanwhile several people gave me strange looks while I waited for the desired moment. Fortunately, all it took was a smile and a pointing index finger to show what I was after.

It was worth it, of course. I wound up showing the shot off to several folks in the building after I finished post-processing. And almost everyone was enchanted by the site. Let’s face it: there’s nothing quite as cute as baby birds.

Exposure Data: ISO 6400, f/6.3, 1/500

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And I Shall Move the World – A Photographic Tribute

archimedes photograph

Archimedes did more than shout “Eureka.” Not long ago, a codex of his work recovered from an old black letter text revealed mathematical calculations that would have saved us a lot of work technologically speaking. And I recently learned the Ernemann camera company (since absorbed into Zeiss) even named one of their models after him. So if anyone deserves a tribute photo, it’s this great thinker.

Archimedes camera

The Archimedes plate camera

Since I can’t resist an intriguing piece of photo gear, here’s a few historical details about the Archimedes camera itself. It was a plate-format model produced around 1901. It had a 150mm f/6.8 lens fixed to the body and an “automatic shutter,” as opposed to manual where the shutter had to be opened and closed by hand. It was known as a detective camera because it appeared to be in disguise as a small briefcase. Its viewfinder was on top of the unit, much like a DLR. The lens and shutter assembly could be removed and swapped with other camera, an interesting prelude to our modern SLRs. Apparently lens swapping wasn’t all that common a scenario in 1901.

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Creepypasta: Round and Around

Photograph of Ghostly Carnival Ride

Welcome, one and all, to Coffin’s Carnival of the Mysterious and the Extraordinary! Feast your eyes and ears on spectacles that will thrill, electrify and haunt you to your dying day.

Witness the dreadful drama of the Freak Parade. Dare to challenge the Games Master in the Booth of the Bold. And, if you dare, climb aboard the Wheel of Destiny from which no one escapes!

Thank you for your ticket, Madam. Welcome aboard. Pay no heed to the cries of those lost souls above you. Their fates are already sealed.

Round and around the wheel turns. Bear witness, ladies and gentlemen, to the endless hypnotic cycle: the everlasting despair of those who heed the call of the night. Stop your ears against it, but you cannot escape! No one escapes!

Wake up now. Wake up. You are in your own room. It was just a dream.

Pay no attention to the echoing laughter from outside.

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Teaching Urbex: Guest Appearance at the Local Guild

Prison Vista Photograph w/ Logos

Friday last week was very exciting for me! I was invited to speak at Exposure Saratoga, a local photography guild. And what’s more, I got to speak about urbex photography, one of my favorite topics. Needless to say, I was in heaven.

Photograph of Brian's Introduction

Brian Hoffman, the manager of the guild, gave the introduction and opening remarks and then we were off! I spoke on not only photographic techniques and gear, but artistic motivations, safety, and legal concerns including the controversial parts of urbex itself. I was pleased to be able to give some tips on how to keep everything legal and above board; urbex is fascinating and deserves to be approached in a way that plays by the rules.

I wasn’t the only one to have fun. With plenty of togs to talk shop with, we all had a wonderful time exchanging tips, resources and personal stories. And the free food and drink didn’t hurt either. ;)

Photograph of me teaching at Exposure Saratoga

By the way, my wonderful wife JoDee accompanied me and took some pictures for this blog post. Not only that, she was also approached by guild management and asked to present on food photography this fall; so I’m very excited for her! Stay tuned for more information about that.

If you’re ever in the Saratoga Springs area, be sure to set aside some time to check out this guild. Or consider finding your local guild and becoming a member. Classes, studio rentals, and fellow photographers to chat with are great reasons for getting involved.

Be Your Own Light Meter: How to Master Manual Mode – Part 2

NNwnJIn yesterday’s post, I promised that I’d show a quick technique to achieve proper exposure in the field. Let’s tackle that now.

In the film days, handheld light meters were what took the guesswork out of exposure. But in the digital world, there’s no film to waste, so we can afford to do things differently now. Here’s how you can get a proper exposure without having to rely on extra gear…

1. Start with your best guess: set your aperture to the desired depth of field with ISO at a reasonable sensitivity and shutter speed at least at a place where it eliminates camera shake.

2. Take your shot and check the histogram. If the graph is too biased toward one side or another, adjust one of the settings by one or two stops (remember that each stop lets in exactly 2x the amount of light as the one before it).

3. Take the next shot. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Here’s how this system got proper exposure in two tries: look at this pair of photos and their histograms…

bunny underexposed photograph

ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/100. Obviously underexposed, but the histogram gave a great clue as to how to adjust the settings.

bunny properly exposed photograph

ISO 400, f/1.8, 1/100. ISO adjusted by two stops. Much better! Outside of an HDR sequence, the dynamic range can’t get much better than this.

NOTE: In this case, the ISO was the logical setting to adjust as I had the depth of field right where I wanted (and I was handholding the body).

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