XDrive Photo Lesson 6 – Focus on Blurs

This is my submission for XDrive Photo Lesson 6 – Focus on Blurs. All photos were taken with Nikon D750.

(Left: F/5.6; 1/6 Sec.; ISO 320; FL 48mm
Right: F/5.6; 1/8 Sec.; ISO 320; FL 170mm)

(F/4.8; 1/10 Sec.; ISO 320; FL 68mm)

Do we first come up with a story, then a picture? Or come up with a picture first? I don’t know. (Does it even matter?) What I know is: story changes when I focus/blur a different subject in the photo. Don’t you agree?

For me, some blurry photos are like abstract paintings. They attract me, but I don’t understand them. The rose photo was created by zooming out while pressing the shutter release button. Tree photos were created by panning while pressing the shutter release button.

Rose: F/25; ½ Sec.; ISO 200; FL 92 mm
Tree 1: F/13; ½ Sec.; ISO 80; FL 92 mm
Tree 2: F/29; ½ Sec.; ISO 80; FL 50 mm

Thank you, Raj, for another great lesson.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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Two Photos at Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center

These photos were taken at Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, which is located at Church Creek, Maryland. I had mentioned this visitor center to my daughter and she said I should stop by, so I did. Then, I felt obligated to take some photos to show my daughter. While I was standing in front of this particular statue, holding my iPhone up and ready to shoot, this young girl ran into my picture frame. I was glad she did. Later I tried to find her to show her the pictures, but I couldn’t find her. (Thank you, lovely girl.)

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Posted in photo, street photo | 23 Comments

Odd Ball and Sharpness

I haven’t participated Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge for a while, but it is in my mind all the time. Here is my submission…

I spy…

Any question?

Also, I would like to re-post my photos for XDrive Sharpness lesson, particularly for those who have followed the comments between Raj and me. Thank you everyone for your patience. Thank you, Raj.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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XDrive Photo Lesson 5 – Sharpness

This is my submission for XDrive Photo Lesson 5 – Sharpness. (All photos were taken with Nikon D750.)

There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.
— Ansel Adams

It’s easy for him to say that, isn’t it? I’m sitting here thinking… do I even have a fuzzy concept?

But, I don’t really have time to worry about concept now. I am still working on taking sharp photos. If you have followed my blog for a while, I am sure you would remember me crying for help several times. Some of you had offered your advice, and I had taken everyone’s suggestion to heart. I also read articles, and watched YouTube videos. I am doing better now.

Thinking back, I have made several changes in taking sharper photos: (1) I hold my camera differently. (2) I switched to back button focusing. (Actually, even though back-button works pretty good, DOF preview button works even better for me 😉 (3) I am using tripod more often now. And I am glad to say that my photos are sharper now. 😉

Raj taught a wonderful lesson on Sharpness. What I like the most of his lesson is that he gave a lot of examples, and I am one of those who would learn better if I see examples. (Thanks, Raj.)

About the milk drop photo… it was shooting at f7.1, 1/1000 sec., ISO 3200, Focal length 85.

I used cornstarch to thicken the milk so it would be easier for me to control the drops. The milk was too thick on my first try; it didn’t flow well. I had to add some water to make it work. It could be sharper, and, maybe, I should try to focus on the drop… I don’t know. I like it, and want to share it with you.

Question: Does focal length has any effect on DOF? I thought at F7.1, both the coffee cup and milk drop would be sharp, but it didn’t happen that way. I have seen two bird photos shooting with same F-stop, but one had blurring leaves next to the bird, and the other not, which I haven’t figured out why.

This morning, I asked my neighbor’s daughter if she could be my model so I could have a couple of photos to submit for this lesson. 😉 We had a lot of fun.

Photo 1 – f / 5.3; 1/400 sec.; ISO-200; Focal Length 100.

Photo 2 – f/5; 1/50 sec.; ISO-320; Focal Length 85.

More questions (of course):
How sharp is enough? Is it necessary to zoom in 100% to check sharpness all the time? Is it possible that sharpness for street photos is not as critical?

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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XDrive Photo Lesson 4 – Breathing Space (Part 2)

This is a continuation of my submission for XDrive Photo Lesson 4 – Breathing Space 😉 Mainly, I am trying to incorporate some (all?) of Raj’s comments.

(All photos were taken with Nikon D750.)

Photo #1

Raj said, “Pic 1: in my opinion there are too many things here. I would have eliminated the trees across the water and just left the tree reflection in the water.”

(The new one is on the left.)

Just for the fun…

Photo #2

Raj edited photo #2 (Thanks) and posted it on his blog, here. I tried to see if I could come up with the same result, but this is the best I could do. 😉 Well, I do like it better than before and that makes me happy enough. 😉

Photo #3

Raj said, “Pic 3: … But in this case since sky is pretty ordinary so probably you could have put only 1/3 of the sky here.”

I did. I thought I did. 😉 The problem is that the trees on the right are taller than the left. Based on the trees on the right, the sky was exactly 1/3. But Raj had a point that the sky wasn’t very interesting, so maybe it should be less than 1/3?

I spent more time on this photo than the others. After cropping out some sky, I felt I had too much of the foreground grass. And I wanted to keep a wide view… (on and on.)

Anyway, here is the final result. I still think it can be better, but this is it for now. 😉



Photo #4

Raj said, “Pic 4: Composition could have been bit to the left so the subject has equal space on either side. Also the pic needs some tilt adjustment.”

It’s too late to change the composition to a bit left, am I right?

Unfortunately, my old habit hasn’t left me. I often feel that I am under a lot of pressure to catch the exact moment. I feel I only have a second to take the photo before the scene changes, so I hurriedly lift the camera and click. This is one thing that I really would like to change.

I had thought of applying tilt adjustment before posting this photo (really.) After looking at the roof line, and many lines on the boardwalk, I got confused which line should be absolute horizontal, so I left it as the way it was. Of course, Raj would notice it…

What do you think?

(Lois, can you see that I have a lot of fun? 😉 😉 😉 Here is a big smile from me to you.)

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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XDrive Photo Lesson 4 – Breathing Space

This is my submission for XDrive Photo Lesson 4 – Breathing Space.

(All photos were taken with Nikon D750.)

“White Space is where the world and all distraction falls away. Where the voice of the Divine can be heard. Where the Truth of who you are is found. Where miracles happen.”
― Valerie Rickel

Valerie said very well, didn’t she? Of course, not everyone feels the same way about white-space. I happen to be one of the believers.

Raj gave a wonderful lesson on white space (breathing space). I am not going to repeat what he said here; I encourage you visit his blog and read it yourself.

After taking a lesson, I often have a feeling that everything is more complicated than what we see on surface. White-space is no exception.

His Space vs. Mine

My husband is a good photographer. He has been shooting photos for more than 60 years (I started 4 years ago, in case you forgot.) We had taken some portraits for relatives from time to time (not too often). Each time after finishing editing his photos, my husband would give them to me to post on my Dropbox so people could download their photos, and, almost every time, I would secretly make some changes on white-space in his photos. Minor changes, I may say, but, it was something I just had to do. Apparently, he feels the same way about my photos. He often told me to increase/decrease white-space here and there, and I simply ignored him.

So, everyone’s breathing space may be different?

My Breathing Space Then vs. Now

I don’t know what others had experienced… after cropping my photos (in a few cases, before cropping), I usually could come up with the “right” amount of breathing space to fully satisfy myself (Satisfy “myself”, I said ;-). I would look at the photo for days and still be very happy with the result. But, sometimes, a month later, I might want to edit the photo again – the white space, for some reason, was no longer satisfy me.

So, my comfortable breathing space may change with time?

Finally, after the cropping exercise I did (see previous post), I have a feeling that there is a tight connection between the story you want to tell and the breathing space you allow your photo to have.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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Temptation vs. Discipline (Cropping exercises)

Yes, this is the same photo I posted before 😉 After reading Raj’s second comment, I thought this might be a good time to practice cropping. After all, I was the one who once said loudly in a workshop that I believed there was no bad photo, only bad cropping. 😉 (Of course, I was kidding, but not totally… ha.)

Every time my daughter comes home, she wants to visit the Walker Art Center in the city. Usually, we would take her there before her flight. On her recent trip home, as usual, we ran out of time after playing a round of miniature golf at its sculpture garden; we had to hurry to the airport.

BUT I have to take a photo of that cherry! While my husband and daughter kept walking toward the parking lot, I quickly ran toward the cherry sculpture. Since I only had time to take one photo (that was what I thought), I had to make a good shot. My first thought was to get down and use sky as the background. Almost immediately, I rejected that idea because (1) the ground was very wet after the morning rain; I didn’t want to take any chance on getting my paints dirty (2) it would take longer to get down and come up since I had bad knees (3) many photographers had already taken that photo.

“No time to think, just click,” I said to myself. So I did.

Checking the photo on the monitor, I noticed the cathedral in the background (I have no idea why I didn’t see it before shooting the photo). “Temptation vs. Discipline” came to my mind. I took a deep breath, took time to compose, and clicked again. I knew a woman was included on the bottom left, but I couldn’t wait for her to leave; we had a flight to catch.

In Raj’s second comment, he offered some cropping (even though he didn’t use this word) ideas for this photo. I like to document and share my learning progress, so here is the result of my first cropping attempt.

I like it much better! (Having the whole spoon in the picture is a plus.) Raj’s first suggestion worked… the lady on the left was gone. Yeah!

Next, I thought I would make a square photo. No particular reason… just for fun.

It looked pretty good… I got excited! Then, I saw that blue rooster, which is one new sculpture in the garden. Rooster had to go!

Finally, portrait mode… like Raj had suggested.

What do you think?

Again, I want to thank Raj. This exercise opened my eyes. 😉

I am taking a trip break for 10 days. Wish you all have wonderful summer days and have a lot of fun!

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Posted in photo, photo and thoughts | Tagged | 27 Comments