Monday, December 19, 2011

Tis the Season for night light pictures

I do not seem to be updating this as often as I at first hoped, but judging by my reader count that is not bothering anyone.  I have linked this to my Google+ account (and I may move more over there, my web page is going next).  Maybe if I can put it all together, I will actually update this some more.  Enough of that, now onto the task at hand.

Normally when I go out for an outing, I take my little SX210 with me.  It is easy (as we are doing other things).  Funny thing is that I have not been really happy with the SX210 from a quality perspective (noise is the big issue here), and wanted to step up.  I have not been able to find anything that made me happy though (no small package - might as well use the DSLR).  So since I own a Digital Rebel, I took it with me to Kozair's Christmas Village this year (I wanted some better pictures - not getting anything from the DSLR if it is being protected in the closet and only used on specific occaisions).

Though the goal was to improve pictures, this had a funny side effect that ended up messing me up though.  The DSLR gets better pictures, but has more configuration on it.  I last used it taking pictures of the Soccer playoffs (in November, so it was not that long ago).  Now, I am smart enough to change the mode appropriately for Christmas lights (as well as other settings), but I am obviously not smart enough to check the focus settings (it was set for center which I use for fast moving activities so I keep my subject in the middle and go).  Alot of my pictures had the close subject but off to a side (so they were out of focus and it did not stand out in that little screen).  I think I would have caught this sooner but my new glasses seem to not do the job quite as well (I did not notice the focus light shining in the middle with all the lights - it just blended in).  So the first of my pictures were ruined (this is a side effect of using a more simplified camera so much I stopped thinking when doing other activities instead of focusing on the camera for a few seconds).

Additionally though the 28-135 is my favorite multi purpose lens, it has drawbacks.  For some of the shots of the buildings it was great.  However when I wanted to put someone in the foreground, it was tough.  With all the crowd (and it was crowded when we went), I had a hard time standing back far enough to frame it properly.  Also I took a picture with Santa (they allowed one picture).  I just could not get far enough back.  For these photos the 10-22 lens would have been best (now I am starting to remember why I carry the SX210 most of the time).

Enough of the crying, I will be carrying the DSLR more often.  I know how to use it, so I will get more used to checking the settings before I take the shot (not letting the camera do it all).  Laziness should not be an excuse (strange that I am using it as one though).  Picking the right lens will be more difficult though.  I tend to use the 75-300 most (kids sporting events wildlife etc), but if I have it in more settings I will have to be more aware of what I carry.

The image above (way up there) is on the other side of the lake at Kozair's Christmas Village.  Gives sort of a nice reflection in the lake (though the water was not perfectly still).  I figured it was a good start to my blog (sent the right message so I put it up front).  However, now lets step back and be a bit more ordered.  The first of my pictures was actually the one below taken at the Ottawa Parliament building.

You can see the trees in front are lit up, and they project snow flakes onto the building.  There are lots of random lights scattered throughout the city, but we did not see a concentrated display like the others below. Note that this was taken with the SX210.  It actually did  not do a horrible job.  For the picture it took, there was not alot of noise (so the SX210 might be fearing losing snaps to the DSLR?).  The 210 did not do as good of a job with someone in the foreground (one of the other came out well).  So I kept none of those pictures.

The picture above was also taken with the SX210.  Again not a bad job at all.  I tried to get a little bit of reflection in the stream in the front, but it did not work out that well.  However the lights are sharp and noise is not an issue (note, these pictures work out better as there are lots of black, put some other dimly lit object in the picture and noise starts to become and issue).  These were dancing lights, so it was hard to capture (they kept changing).  I had to snap alot of pictures to get one with the colored lights on.

The above was taken from the road leading up to Kozair's.  This was also taken with the SX210 (its what I had on me, the Digital Rebel was in the back).  No, I did not pull over to take the shot, but believe me, I was not moving.  As I said, we picked a bad day (Saturday instead of a weeknight).  The traffic was backed up, and we were not moving at all at this point.  Just needed to snap when there was not a car on the other side (which fortunately there were not many).  However a few shots were ruined by cars coming up the road in front of me.  Normally I do not like pictures taken from the car (through the windshield etc), but this one is not bad (again a not bad for the SX210).  

The above shows a good example of what can happen taking light pictures (handheld in a crowd).  It is often  hard to hold still.  Here it makes the bulbs look a little long (must have shifted left to right a little).  The exposure was long (1/3 second) and I was zoomed a bit.  I used ISO 800 to try and limit the time, but maybe I should have gone to 1600.  Note, to me this looked fine in the display on the camera (not the best of displays, and my new glasses as I commented before seem to be lacking - good to blame something).

Now this one worked out a bit better.  I was not as zoomed, and the exposure time was a lightning fast 1/5 second (ok, I jest).  Either way, I was able to hold still and get a nice shot of the house (still in Kozair's) all decorated and some of the trees in the yard.  This one came out well, and is the type of picture I hope to get more of with the Digital Rebel.

Now too bad I was sort of bumbling with the Rebel at Kozairs.  The picture above had some nice depth, and adding someone in the foreground would have really added dimension.  However, as Kozair's was the warm up, we have the picture below from Nay Aug Park in Scranton.

This is not a good picture, but I am a bit limited.  First, it is hard to get them together for a picture.  Second, there was not alot of good opportunities (they removed all the walking areas at Nay Aug and it is drive through only.  We had to park, let cars go by and go out and get a picture (I wanted to get something).  Because it was just for drivers, it was just a bunch of flat displays along the road.  I did get some in the back ground though to show how it could have been captured.  It would have been nice to not have been such a bone head, had the focus setup right, and taken some pictures like this at Kozair's (there is always next year).

I do plan on using the Digital Rebel more this year (so next time I will be more used to it, and not expecting the more automatic SX210).  This should change up this blog a bit (as pictures will be taken with a phone, pocket camera and DSLR).