Appreciation through Understanding
We are fortunate to have great photography courses online that are completely free. I strongly recommend Marc Levoy’s course, “Digital Photography.” It is available here:
This course was offered at Stanford and more recently at Google.
Also, Dan Armendariz’s course, “Digital Media E-10: Exposing Digital Photography,” is now available at:
This 2015 course was offered by Harvard University’s Extension School.The book “Science for the Curious Photographer,” heads the list of recommended books for the Harvard course. Unfortunately, the book is out of print and is not available at the previously listed retail price. A draft of the second edition was delivered to Routledge Press on November, 2016. I hope the book will be available for sale by the next academic year.
Over and over again I find myself in situations where the lighting is poor; but tripods are not allowed. When only snapshots are needed, the camera's ISO setting can be increased to compensate for the inadequate lighting; however, the image quality always suffers to some extent. One way around the problem is go ahead and select high ISO to permit appropriate shutter and aperture settings, but to compensate by blending multiple exposures of the scene. In this way random noise can be partially averaged out.
Recently I photographed Art Deco Cars from the 1930's at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC. My experience with blending images and my recommendations are described below:
The Museum Rule (600 KB)
This is an updated list of corrections for first edition of "Science for the Curious Photographer" first and second printings.
Click here for the pdf file. (401 KB)
I have signed a contract to deliver the second edition of SCP to Routledge Press in November. Routledge Press and Focal Press are now one company, and they are part of Taylor and Francis Group. The first edition was published by A K Peters, Ltd., which was acquired by CRC Press. CRC Press is still another part of Taylor and Francis Group.
I think that Routledge Press will do a good job and will provide the best route to the education market. Publication takes several months. Hopefully, the second edition will become available in the spring.
Last year I converted my Canon SL1 (100D) to IR, and I have been experimenting with IR photography for nature and art. It is easy to do IR photography in the digital world, and it can be rewarding. IR conversion, picture taking, and post processing all involve choices and, of course, compromises. I have described my experience in an article that you can access below:
Give IR a Try (1,678 KB)
I was not able to reach a satisfactory agreement about a second edition of SCP with CRC Press. I had hoped for an updated and expanded second edition with improved images and a lower price. In discussions with CRC and Focal Press, also a part of Taylor and Francis Group; I was told that, given the type of market this book is designed for, the price would have to be increased and my royalty would have to be cut. Publishing rights have now been returned to me for both printed and electronic editions while CRC retains nonexclusive rights for the pdf eBook version of the first edition.
I am currently working on a second edition of SCP that I will make available through photophys.com as I did with the first edition prior to selling the publication rights to A.K. Peters, Ltd. in 2010. The science has, of course, not changed; but I am updating all the chapters and adding new material where appropriate. There have been incremental changes in the world of photography each year, but in five years the impact has been considerable.
In the electronic edition I will be able to display larger images and will have space for more detailed discussions. I understand the need for more emphasis on post processing, image storage, and database management. I also to plan add new appendices and perhaps remove some old material. Expect more discussion of the eye/mind system and perceptions of reality including illusions.
Is it time to remove material about film photography since most film production has been discontinued? What about the science of film photography and the history of Kodachrome? I enjoy the historic material, but perhaps it gets in the way for some people. What do you think?
Update: It now appears that I will have a publisher for the second edition. There are advantages to having paper copies and a good distribution system. Unfortunately, the price will be higher. Stay tuned.
It is sad that so many people in the metropolitan areas of the world have never seen a truly dark night sky. About my only opportunity on the east coast comes during our annual trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. Of course, there are many opportunities in the Rocky Mountains and the desert southwest. Unfortunately, the few nightscapes I have captured featuring the glorious Milky Way are often mysteries to my friends who wonder what that cloudy thing in the sky is.
Successful nightscape photography requires an interest in the night sky as well as some photographic expertise. As with landscape photography in general, this requires preparation and planning. My first exposure to night sky photography was a spur-of-the-moment thing when I aimed my f/2.8 15mm fisheye lens at the night sky in southern Utah and took a 30s exposure. The Milky Way in full color was enough to get me hooked. Now I avidly read everything about nightscapes that I can get my hands on.
There is a wealth of excellent books on nightscape photography. Here I will report on four recent eBooks. To read more click
In November/December 2014 my wife and I took a trip with Overseas Adventure Travel to "Patagonia and the Wilderness Beyond." I expected this to offer great opportunities for photography, and I was not disappointed. Besides the wonderful national parks in Argentina and Chile, we had four days on a small boat cruising the Chilean Fjords to Cape Horn. I have put together a journal of this trip with photographs. To see this journal please click the link below:
Patagonia (4,919 KB)
Suppose a 17th century artist sets out to create a highly realistic, or shall we say high resolution, painting of a scene. He would want to achieve correct perspective along with perfect hue, saturation, and luminance at every point. That is a tall order, but apparently the Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer (1632-75), did just that. His small oeuvre languished after his death, but when his work was rediscovered in the 19th century, artists and art historians marveled at the “photographic” realism of his paintings. The wide angle field of views with perfect perspective were striking enough, but the tonal values made the paintings almost supernaturally realistic. You can find the complete text here:
Photoart_Vermeer2.pdf (594 KB)
If a nature photographer wants to be prepared to shoot any kind of subject, a lot of equipment will be required. By shoot I mean to capture high quality images that can stand a lot of enlargement. There are two ways to cut weight from the travel kit. One can either limit the objectives or compromise on the equipment. For example I like landscapes, but I also want to be able to photograph wildlife and sometimes even birds. That means I need both telephoto and wide angle lenses. This year my ideal kit contains a Canon 6D camera for landscapes and night sky shots. The lenses are a Canon 24-105mm standard zoom and a Samyang 14mm wide angle lens. For wildlife I include a Canon 70D equipped with a Canon 100-400mm lens. You can find the complete text here:
Too_Heavy (279 kb)
In post processing photographers spend a lot of time adjusting colors. We also profile cameras, displays, and printers in an attempt to obtain the same appearance of an image on all of our devices. All of our tools are based on the concept of the standard observer who represents an average of individuals with normal color vision. Unfortunately, up to 10% of the male population and 0.5% of the female population have color vision anomalies. This is seldom, if ever, mentioned in articles on color adjustment. To fill in this gap, I have prepared an essay on the topic. You can find the complete text here:
Coloranomalies.pdf (726 KB)
I am writing a series of articles on science for the curious nature photographer that may eventually be part of a book. The first few have to do with the operation of the eye/brain system. In particular I am concerned with how we see the world around us. What is real and what is illusion? The article, "What We See and How We Photograph It: There is No Reality, Get Over It," was published on www.luminous-landscape.com. You can see the article (pdf, 653 kb) here. An article on color management and color vision anomalies has been completed and will be published soon.