Roving-Eye Gallery update and newsletter for May 2020
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Firstly a little housekeeping.. all newsletters are available in an indexed archive so you can go and (re)read everything published to date at any time! .. just go to https://www.roving-eye.com/whatsnew-index
So.. another month has been run and done!
As usual it's a nice grab-bag of random opportunity and pre-planning and a little bit of everything from mild to wild.. and I like that mix!
Every lighting has been explored from high sun to high full moon and everything in between and every activity from flying the drone out to sea in an active pursuit to sitting on a rocky perch with a tripod for long exposure quiet contemplative shots or sitting on another rocky perch and getting drenched by big waves!
I have to say LOVE capturing anything outdoors that catches my eye because you never know what people will like and be in the market for so I place no restrictions on what subjects I capture or narrow myself down too far in any way and (under)water, land and the air are all domains I want to cover!
I need a huge array of equipment to ultimately do that and an arsenal of proven techniques to master, and it's also an ever evolving process to become a more capable and consistent photographer with time and to continue to develop a "personal style" step-by-step so I hope you enjoy this journey with me!
For this month's image collection they lent themselves to a variety of formats such as landscape, portrait, square and panorama as well as special treatments such as an "old poster look" of surfers and a black and white of a splashing whale and the perennial classic favourite.. a striking and colourful sunset!
Firstly the whales.
The northerly migration season has started I will be able to bring some super clear and interesting shots for you to view because of my connections with the official whale watch and rescue organisations and with that authority I can go closer than typically allowed (but still stay a respectful distance) and bring you shots only a drone can with whales making their way past.. sometimes leisurely, sometimes with leaping gusto, and sometimes with their dolphin friends along for a play!
One thing for sure I will make the most of this amazing opportunity as conditions allow.. some days are dull with no light or rainy, some days are simply too windy, and some days they are just too far away to reliably make the attempt so you can never take these whale shots for granted and I will do my best to make the most of each and every opportunity!
It's a 2 way street as well, I make myself available on short notice to fly out and do a welfare or calf check, for confirming potential entanglements, or sadly, for someone very much doing the wrong thing and being way too close and becoming a harassment or endangering themselves.. You do NOT want to be on the wrong side of a 40 ton energetic animal.. so my drone shots and my ready availability at one of, if not THE, busiest spotting locations on the East Coast serves a worthwhile conservation, education and promotional role as well.
Secondly the moon, and moonlight.
While the full moon rolls around every month and I like to make the most of it, sometimes it's just too cloudy and I have to wait another month to get the shots I was after. May was a cracker though with clear nights and just a hint of interesting cloud and nothing in the way of a good light show!
The full moon gives some interesting light I like to do landscapes by because it gives such a different feel compared to sunlight and yet in some ways is almost like sunlight in what the camera can see.
The full moon is surprisingly bright in lighting terms and the camera easily captures a full colour image just using that light source alone but it also highlights some interesting things about the differences between our eyes and camera sensors because all of us are likely to have come away at some time or another disappointed at an image because it "wasn't as we saw or remembered it.."
While they are both tasked to do the same job our eyes and camera sensors work very differently hence our sometimes disappointment but also its something we can take advantage of in photography as well!
Firstly eyes (and in partnership with the imaging area of our brain) build up an image from rapid scanning of a scene and we almost instantaneously have a full image built for us that also caters for a much wider range of light <-> dark that no current camera sensor can match, not even the very best and most expensive cameras can do what we do easily as far as handling this extreme light-dark range.
This can lead to disappointment because taking a photo without being aware of the situation, and what to do about it, can easily give you a result that is far too light or too dark from what you saw and so the very first and most fundamental job of a photographer is to recognise these situations and take technically based steps and actions to result in a specifically balanced image as far as exposure is concerned.
Of course you must be more than a clinical unfeeling technician.. you must have a composition in mind, the whole point of the image taking process.. but I digress.
Secondly, the other great difference between our eyes and a camera sensor is the far greater sensitivity to colour at low light levels a sensor has in comparison and where it has an advantage now over our physiology and something a photographer can use creatively and which leads me to discuss 1 image in particular from the May update.
You will notice in the images above the shot of the lighthouse with reflections in the water and it has visible stars so you know its night time but also the grass is clearly visible as green as it would in the daytime!
While our eyes can easily see the same scene under this light its not as easy to see anywhere near the colour levels that the camera sensor does, in this case the green of the grass but in other situations I have found some vivid blues come out where I had no visual perception of it at all at the time!
Call it what you will but I like this ability to faithfully record what is there even though our eyes aren't fully appreciating it at the time, and so it's "real", it's just via a machine, and I like to capture this and come out with a very pleasing and appealing and sometimes surprising visual result!
The other great difference in "reality" is that a camera can also extend to the time domain being either insanely fast getting a birds beating wings or freeze the droplets from the splash of a wave or insanely long giving great insights into such as water movement or the stars.. neither of which is possible with the single "shutter speed" our eyes come with and the very limited capacity of the brain to retain and build a cumulative image.
That is, what aspects to take advantage of, and what is "real".. but I think I better leave that discussion to another newsletter where there is more room left!
Lastly there was a pleasing new perspective that the timing was perfect for, which was a sunset with moonrise near the airport approach along the Hastings River and looking east towards the coast, a viewpoint I have never done before.
As it randomly happened after a long day on the road the return to town was from the west and along the river and right on sunset and also was the day before full moon which meant it was a nice angle above the horizon while there was still daylight and colour in the sky.
You only get 1 day a month lining up in this exact angle and phase and today was it and also a perfect day weather and cloud wise, I don't need to be asked twice!
The relationship between the moon and sunrise/sunset varies by approximately 45 minutes a day with the moon rising later each day by approximately that amount so if you want the moon in a particular position at a specific time of day you need to plan for it in advance.
On this occasion it was all logistical happenstance that it came together and as the clouds glowed pink I just HAD to throw the car to the side of the road and quickly get the drone ready to launch since such colour typically only lasts minutes and with the river as well it provided the perfect setting I'd be crazy not to take advantage of.
I have never flown this part of the river & town before despite all the many thousands of local images I take per year and the hint comes in the mention of "airport" above.
Legally I am allowed to fly here no question but just as a matter of personal discipline I've always stayed well away from such proximity to the local airport even if off to the side and off-axis to the runway and also well under normal "circuit height" of any potential active planes.
The unique difference this month though was the long period of lockdown leading up to it had meant cessation of nearly all flights for many weeks now so it's certainly been quiet to say the least and at this very late time of day it was also a totally empty sky so I raced to make the most of the opportunity and am so glad I did bagging a couple of nice panoramas that came out as well as I hoped!
Before I go though.. On the previous topic of colour from above, the very last shooting day of the month resulted in an incredible opportunity to capture some pelicans under a colour filled dawn sky with a reflection to double the fun!
As so often happens things just happen and you come away with something else entirely different from what you came for!
I had scouted out this position along the river with an arch of tree branches which would perfectly frame a good sunrise if my luck held and the tide was also right and my plan was to create a panorama using those branches as a frame for the scene.
It necessitated standing in amongst mangrove roots in the cold dark water half an hour before sunrise was due so as to get ready and start shooting well beforehand to dial in and I even got a sharp nip from something in the water.. the things you do to get the shot!
As luck would have it some Pelicans glided past later and right on peak colour time! My previous pelican shot of a similar scenario has been a regular seller so I was keen to see if I could add another pelican notable to the portfolio!
This time though I was a little better prepared for the rapid change in camera settings to get the best shot of a moving object when the light is also low.. first thing is to bump up the ISO greatly from the long time exposure of the panorama to something much faster and enough to get a good sharp image of something moving.
In the original Pelican shot I had neglected to make enough of a shutter speed change and it is slightly soft due to its movement needing some technical editing to get it back to acceptable again.
This time I was determined not to make the same mistake!
It also necessitated changing the camera orientation from the portrait mode I had set for the panorama to a landscape mode more suited for a passing-pelican shot.
While adjusting the camera and tripod the pelicans were gliding right into the ideal position so every second counted before the opportunity was gone!
Luckily with the new tripod (as described last month) was just the ticket to get it done in time and to be secure all in one reasonable semi-practiced movement. My old tripod would never be able to do that and I would have missed the shot so I'm glad I had this bit of new kit at hand for this one.
The camera was still in manual focus mode however and while I could have changed to auto-focus I wasn't sure it would nail the subject well and the camera focus plane *should* very close to it as-is and I grabbed the shots as no time was left to do a quick pre-check.
It came out acceptably sharp, but probably not as tack sharp as I'd like, but certainly of a print standard so I'm happy with that, but I think in retrospect I'll also add "change to auto-focus" to my mental check list for this one and just rely on it functioning well enough in low light.
I find working under pressure sometimes delivers some great outcomes in making you a better operator in the future if you were slightly unhappy with one aspect of the result.
If you made 3 changes but needed to perhaps do 4 then guess what.. any next time for this scenario I bet the actions will be swift and sure and every settings change will be done to meet the need and perfect outcome!
It certainly has been a very pleasurable range of subjects to cover, each one throwing up different challenges, and I certainly hope you enjoy the varied smorgasbord of images from the past month as much as I have enjoyed making and viewing them.
They are all conveniently gathered at the following page and are also in all the various galleries of the wider portfolio now too.
Check them out at https://www.roving-eye.com/whatsnew
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I hope you are all finding a way to progressively "come out of your shell" after this lockdown period and with perhaps a newfound appreciation for what we can so easily take for granted, the outside world and our connection to it.
I have set myself a personal goal to increasingly go further and further afield and ultimately reach deep into some very remote and difficult access locations and to bring back the wonders to be found there to share with you so we may ALL appreciate the wonderful world we live in!
'Till next time.. take care!