The Biggest Mistake You Can Make in Digital Photography

If a poll were to be conducted of photographers and they were to name the single biggest mistake related to digital photography I imagine the results would be both quite interesting and very much all over the place.

And they would all be wrong.

Sure.  The wrong settings, whatever they are, can be quite annoying.  Even infuritating.  But that’s nothing.

Not having a fully charged and ready to go battery can provoke no small amount of blue language, especially when that one in a million photo op presents itself from nowhere.  But that is small potatoes too.

And even the horrible of horrible, a dead hard drive, filled with years worth of effort and work, isn’t quite as bad as the biggest mistake you can make in digital photography.

No.

What is the biggest mistake you can make in digital photography?  Do you really want to know?  Can you handle the truth?  I don’t know….I don’t think you can handle the truth.  But for now I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt.  After all, you look like a pretty groovy person and seem to have your head on straight so maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to stare into this abyss and survive.

And I’ll let you in on a little secret…..this huge mistake isn’t just confined to digital photography.  Nope.  It spills over into other related areas and just makes your whole life feel like a giant waste of time.  So…are you ready?

The biggest mistake you can make in digital photography is……..window shopping.

Yes.  Window shopping.

And window shopping doesn’t have to be taken so literally these days as it also encompasses looking around online at cameras for sale.  And this doesn’t have to be just digital cameras.  It’s really ANY consumer electronic.

Think about it…..is there anything more annoying that being online and seeing the camera you bought just a short six months ago for a markedly lower price?  Or how about the large screen, HDTV television?  Or the MP3 player?  Or the laptop?

The list goes on.

So…can you imagine what I saw this evening before logging on to Word Press?  Yep.  My lovely camera at a markedly lower price than what I paid for it back in December.  When it was on Xmas sale.  And I swear…..I wasn’t even looking for my camera….it was just there….on the screen of the web site I was visting…..just staring me in the face and laughing at my stupid ass for having spent that much more for the very same product.

I suppose the only satisfaction I can take from this is that by not waiting for the price to inevitably drop and making the purchase in December 2007 I have enjoyed about seven months of photographing instead of wishing I had a camera.  And I’ve also made some nice friends in the process, which really makes the whole thing worthwhile.

But it still pisses me off to no end.

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Playing Follow the Leader

A certain fan, who shall remain nameless (There! How do you like those apples? ;-), of my devastatingly witty Word Press blog has recently felt compelled to do some pruning of their back garden. You can read about their exploits here and then venture over to their Flickr site for a visual tour of their good work.

The posting of their blog and pictures got me to thinking “You know….I should post a few pics of the house on Flickr.” We have a lovely house of which we are quite proud. See?

2008-06-250004

Granted, we are working on little projects here and there, both inside and out. And we are hampered mostly by a lack of funds due to my long-term unemployment situation, but we remain positive and hopeful of our homes future.

So take an Internet stroll over there and enjoy the handful of pics I took over the past few days and in particular admire the lovely retaining wall that has been erected.

Go on…take the test!

Before departing this evening for a concert featuring the every so wonderful Peter Murphy, I managed a few minutes outdoors with the camera and snapped pics of the cherries coming to fruition.  I have posted same to my Flickr account and because you are, my most cherised readers, such an entertaining and insightful bunch I have included a bit of a test for you regarding some of the images.

There are no right or wrong answers.  I’m simply looking for your insightful and well-considered opinion regarding the issue of bokeh.  I guess it’s not really so much a test as it is a request for your assistance.  Sorry about the confusion.

Oh, and before I forget….I uploaded all from images shot in RAW and converted to JPEG in Elements 6.  Exciting, isn’t it?!

Please to enjoy…..

The gods of Flickr have not taken to my burnt offerings and have smited me

If you are a regular reader of this tome you have likely noticed a tendency for your humble narrator to see the world in the glass-is-half-empty manner.  It’s true.  I won’t try to deny it.  I won’t even try to defend it.  It is the way my poor brain works.  And while there certainly are factors and reasons that may go a long way to explaining why I’m like this, WordPress isn’t the forum for such discussion.  Well….at least not this particular WordPress blog.

That said, my last blog entry (found here, which you had better read because if you don’t you’ll grow hair in strange new places that you won’t like one little bit) was more on the upbeat side than usual due to some good things happening with a foray into using some RAW image file editing software.  However, there were some pictures (of flowers) that I could not get to look right in the software I was using that evening.  While I have RAW image editing software liberally sprinkled between my PC and laptop, I do not have my heaviest hitter on the laptop, but only on the PC.  And as I was working on the laptop….well….you get the picture.

Today I took those more troublesome image files of the flowers to the PC and opened the monolith that is, and please do not laugh, Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.  I know……I know…..’heavier hitter’?  Elements 6?  Hey.  It was affordable and does a lot of nifty things and who was I to purchase Lightroom until I was certain I could make full use of it?

The upside to my relocation to the PC and the more competent and capable Elements 6 (from the laptop’s Capture One software, which I really, really like – don’t get me wrong – it does a really good job at the more basic and necessary RAW image editing stuff) was that I actually managed to wrangle the images into what they needed to be!  Nothing really over the top mind you.  Strong reds and purples seem to overwhelm the camera’s sensor and become to harsh looking; unnatural.  I needed a way to reduce the vibrancy of the red and purples without butchering the colours, saturation and vibrancy of the rest of the colours in the image.  In the end I obtained the results I wanted and even figured out how to use Elements 6 to create a JPEG version of the image in the size I use for upload to Flickr.

Double happiness all round.  It’s all sunshine and bunnies from this day forward!  Can you feel the love in the air?

But see….the story isn’t complete, is it?  Nope.  For now I have these lovely web-ready JPEGs all set for upload to Flickr.  And it is here that the cosmos strike with its usual vengeance, just to show me that sunshine and bunnies can easily turn into thunderstorms and that rabbit from Monty Python’s “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”.  Or something close to it.

Feeling emboldened, smug and secure in my new-found abilities with Elements 6 I activate my just updated to version 3.0 Mozilla Firefox web browser and steer the mighty Forkboy ship towards Flickr.com.  I sign in, select to upload images, select the four images from my computer’s hard drive and then click upon the magic icon that will begin the upload……only to find nothing happens.  Nothing transpires.  Nothing occurs.

After about 60-seconds the little line that races across the screen to inform me that a file is uploading actually races across the screen, but instead of the lovely, lovely checkmark appearing I instead receive an angry little yellow triangle thingy with an exclamation point within its confines.  Sort of Flickr’s way of giving me the middle finger.  Or, for you folks across the pond, the ol pumping v-sign.

I retry the process to no avail.  I sign out of and back into Flickr, but again it’s the angry little yellow triangle thingy of hate and malice.  I once again sign out of Flickr and head off into the world of the Internet for a few minutes just to return to Flickr and yet again begin the process of trying to upload these most gorgeous images of flowers that took me no small amount of time to render into useable images for uploading to the web.  But it’s no dice folks.  The gods of Flickr have not taken to my burnt offerings and have smited me. (As a side note, my original title for this posting was “It’s all sunshine and bunnies,” but after I typed that last sentence I just burst out laughing thinking it one of the funnier things I have written in some time.  So I changed the title.  So sue me.)

So what is a guy to do under these circumstances?  Shrug it off as ‘one of those things’ and try again in a few hours, or maybe tomorrow?  No.  Not this time.  Flickr gods be damned.  I’m in the right and I have the power and glory of those four gorgeous flowers behind me.  We’re going to get these four fucking pictures uploaded if it’s the last thing I ever do!

Long story short:  downloaded and installed the Flickr uploader.  Used it.  It worked, but with a minor glitch: it rendered my description twice for each image uploaded.  But it worked.  I had thwarted the angry gods of Flickr and used their own software to bring them to their knees….or whatever it is they have.

So I sit here calmly at my PC, typing up this blog, with a pleasant smile on my face, knowing that I had triumphed more than once today and that it is…..really…..all sunshine and bunnies.

Post-processing software, oh my

This morning I took a handful of photographs in our back yard.  I opted to put behind me the trials and tribulations of yesterday (which you can read about here if you haven’t already, and if you haven’t already what the hell is wrong with you?) and move forward as I had a little time this a.m. before I had to go and do stuff.  However, with all the trials and tribulations that came with yesterday I opted to instead accept the warm embrace that is shooting images at home instead of venturing forth into the wilds of southwestern Ohio.

So I finally got around to reviewing the handful of photos this evening and was pleasantly surprised to find some nice ones.  As I had managed to reset my camera to shoot in both RAW and JPEG format simultaneously I was able to quickly review the JPEG images and determine which to keep and which to delete and thus did so to both versions of the given image.  I was about to simply post the JPEG images to Flickr when I decided to open the RAW files in Capture One and it was here that I noticed a distinct difference between the JPEG and RAW versions of many of the files.  On the whole the only difference that was rather obvious was in the treatment of the colour green.  And seeing how every picture has something green in it the colour green is clearly important.

So I tried something different tonight.  Every image I uploaded this evening (all ten of them) was processed from the RAW image file, converted to JPEG and uploaded.  Wow.  This is new to me.  I have done this to one or two uploaded images over the past few months, but never an entire set of images.  And I really didn’t do to much to these images anyway…..some straightening (since I’m lopsided so are my pictures), some cropping, some fiddling with the shadows and highlights….but nothing completely over the top.  And I still have about six images of flowers that I did not upload because I have NOT been able to get them right (the colour red seems to really screw with digital cameras, doesn’t it?), at least not with the software I have on the laptop.  These particular images may have to visit the PC where more powerful software solutions reside.

Still…..this was something of a minor triumph.  Me.  Using photo editing software.  AND getting the results I wanted.  I just may have to pat myself on the back tonight.

When in Rome…

The weather here today has been glorious. Picture perfect (pun completely intended by the way). Warm, but not too warm. Not humid. A bit windy, which felt nice, but makes photographing plants a bit more dicey. So it was with no small amount of joy and happiness that I ventured forth into the wilds of Ohio to photograph stuff.

However. Never let it be said that the cosmos does not conspire against me. About two years ago, while out driving and exploring this neck of the woods, I came across an old covered bridge. Just the sort you might expect to see in a picture (clever, eh?). And wouldn’t you know that I just happen to remember where this bridge is located (in the most general of terms that is). So I made it my first place to stop today. No back deck shots. No favourite spot at my local park. Nope. Outside the box. Something new and adventurous. So this lad headed West on 40 towards Indiana. Lo and behold I found the bridge that was my indicator to turn north and I found my next indicator that told me to double-back East and there was the bridge. Well, sort of.

The bridge was there, but also there was a bunch of lumber, working men, construction signs and all sorts of manner of tools. The bridge was being rehabilitated. My gorgeous 1800’s covered bridge was just a shell of its former self.

Shit.

No. Fucking shit.

I had driven the forty minutes for this?  Yep. Fucking shit.

Oh well, when in Rome………so I grabbed my camera and took a few pictures. Emphasis on “few”.  As I had stopped here and there on the drive there was no reason to return via the same route so I thought to myself “What now dummy?” and it was there that I decided to return to the warm embrace that is my favourite local park.  “However…,” thought I, “….this time I’ll head over to that large field that is a designated wildflower area and snap lovely pics of the flowers and the bees and the whatever else happens to be there.”  To the highway I went and made a hasty journey to the park.

I can now let you in on a little secret: areas designated as “Do Not Mow:  Wildflower Area” are not filled with wildflowers.  I think it’s just that the park is either too lazy or too broke to actually mow the damn field.  Rest assured that much in the way of flowers are blooming all about Ohio, but not in the designated wildflower area.  At least not at the one in my park.

(sigh)

So what do I have over at Flickr?  Not much for my troubles.

I’m more certain than ever that “Forkboy’s Photographic Travails” was precisely the correct title for my sojourn into amateur photography.

An apology of sorts….

It isn’t that I really need to apologize, but I feel I should make something more clear as it may go far to explaining why I post certain types of images quite often on Flickr.

If you venture over to my Flickr site you will often find new uploads of photos of my cats.  I say “my” because they are mine for all intents and purposes.  Just like the dogs are my wife’s.  Sort of backwards from tradition, aren’t we?

Anyway…..I love my cats.  Then again I love animals in general, but naturally I’m closest to these furry heathen who happen to reside with me.  And the pictures you do see are only a minute fraction of the total.  I have many, many others taken with my digital point-n-shoots that I have never bothered to post (mostly because my Flickr site is geared towards my new Canon 40D).  And while many folks love their pets, maybe mine take on a bit more significance for me than do pets for other folks.  This is because I’ve never had children of my own.  My daughter is actually my step-daughter and she’s a red-headed one at that, if this means anything to you (and if it does it probably means you grew up in the south).

Since I first lived on my own I have had furry family mates (except maybe the first six months or so).  They have always been cats (as this worked far better with my apartment dwelling and often being away from home on weekends lifestyle).  I’m very attached to these furry family members and while the first five are now gone there are plenty of others to carry the torch.

As such you will see plenty of them on Flickr.  Learn to live vicariously through me if you like.