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Photography Workshop on Prairie Garden Trust

July 3rd, 2011 3 comments

I hosted a photography workshop on the Prairie Garden Trust in New Bloomfield, Missouri yesterday.

Henry Domke manages this beautiful prairie, and he kindly allowed me to use this place. (Please contact Henry if you’re interested in visiting this place.

This workshop was for people who made the highest bid in the auction I set up to help Joplin tornado victims. (For more details, visit the Facebook page here.)

The workshop included discussion on photography techniques such as how to look for good background, what exposure to use, effects of f-stop and shutter speed, white balance, and differences between auto-focus vs manual-focus, etc. followed by photo-shooting in the field.

We had a great time photographing butterflies and flowers on the prairie.

(Click here to read Henry’s blog on this workshop.)


Problems of shooting panorama and solutions I found 1

November 21st, 2009 2 comments

Leveling tripod and camera

For months I’ve been focusing on panorama photography.  I have discovered several problems and solutions to solve them.

First, leveling tripod and camera was one of the biggest problems. A conventional way is to level the tripod perfectly with a leveler spirit (assume that you have a ball head in your tripod), and then level the camera.  The whole process is painstakingly slow and could take several minutes.  Now, imagine after all those troubles, you just discovered the height of the camera is too low and you need to move to a different angle.  Believe me, I’d been there and done that many times – it is frustrating and time-consuming.

The solution?  I found that Really Right Stuff PCL-1 Panning Clamp makes my panorama photography a lot easier and allows me to concentrate on taking good images.  All I have to do is to find the right angle and set my tripod and level the panning camp with the built-in level spirit).

Camera mounted on Really Right Stuff panning head PL-1

Camera mounted on Really Right Stuff panning head PL-1

Problems of shooting panorama and solutions I found 2

November 21st, 2009 2 comments

The problem of shooting on a perfectly level platform is that many times angle of view can be very restricted to the lens you use.

For example, let’s say I want to include more sky or some of fog below the mountain horizon.  I can’t do it because I would no longer have a perfect level, and therefore the degree of my view starts to shift upward or downward, which makes it difficult if not impossible to stitch images later.

You might argue that I could use a wide-angle lens and crop the image later after merging images.  The problem with that method is that you will get a lot of distortion and have to do a lot of cropping later, which reduces the resolution of the image.

Whenever I shoot panorama, I prefer between 50mm-200mm range lens to avoid distortion and to shoot it vertically, so I will have more images to merge together, which will produce a higher resolution panorama.

Camera with Cannon TS-E 45mm tilt and shift lens

Camera with Cannon TS-E 45mm tilt and shift lens

Both Nikon and Canon have a “Tilt & Shift” lens from 17mm (Canon only) – 90mm – Canon: TS-E lens (Tilt & Shift for EOS),  Nikon: PC-E (Perspective Control Lens).  It is a unique lens that allows a photographer to correct point of view by tilting and swinging the front of the lens, or by rotating and moving it up or down.

I found a Canon 45mm TS-E to be a perfect lens for my panorama photography.  I could shift the lens upward and downward (+ / – 11 degree) without having to move the camera up or down.  Therefore, I could include more sky or foreground below with a correct perspective.

McWay Cove Fall (Big Sur, California) is a good example.  The place where I was standing was way too high to have a perfect horizon in panorama.  If I were to shoot with a conventional lens, I would not be able to include waterfall below.  With the tilt & shift lens, I was able to include the waterfall and the sky as in the image.  One thing to be careful is to take a exposure reading (in manual exposure) before tilting or shifting the lens, or you will get an incorrect exposure due to lens barrel shifting the light to the camera sensor/film.

Camera