A Family Adventure


Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

lack of snow, lack of fun, and camera

January 9, 2011
Emilie Phillips

What with being sick over christmas break, we missed out on visiting Benoit, missed out on two AMC skiing trips, and then it rained and all the snow melted.

Finally, this sunday we made it outside. There was a state forest I wanted to scout out for skiing trips. Unfortunately, due to the rain, we had to scout on foot. It looks like it might get a little more foot traffic than the ideal ski spot, but it looks worth going back when there is real snow.

This was the first time outside with my new camera, so I was anxious to see how it would work. I tried using the manufacturer supplied camera bag attached to my waist belt [1]. That worked pretty well, except that it ran into my leg frequently. I also tried leaving the lens cap off and just using the UV filter for protection. That seemed to work quite well. I didn’t have any poles with me, but I think I would have enough hands skiing to unzip the pouch.

In general, the pictures came out fine, although they weren’t as awesome as I had hoped. I guess photographer skill still matters. There were a number of them (most of which were not posted) where the colors looked dingy compared to what I remember it looking in real life. See this example. Any suggestions for how to improve that? Do I just need better lighting, manual ISO, something else I don’t know about?

As far as the fixed focal length lens, it worked fine on this hike. The woods were close enough together that I couldn’t see anything farther than the lens could. There were only a couple of instances when I wanted a wider lens such as this tree I had to back up for. Given this hike, I am guessing I will be happy with the lens up until spring skiing when I will want to take pictures of people skiing snowfields on the side of Mount Washington. That gives me two months to figure out what I want to do for a zoom/telephoto lens.

All Photos

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Comments (4)

  • Figure out how to reduce the amount of light coming in: if you look at #59, the tree trunk seems to be saturated in parts. For things not actually saturated, you can contrast-stretch it after the fact in photo-editing software.

    The algorithm in my camera appears to be to choose the lowest ISO and highest f/stop that allows shots at 1/200s (and then it does more complicated stuff if it’s still too dark).

    • There were some other pictures that I think look funny because they are over exposed, such as this one.

      Since my whole intent is fast pictures, I don’t think I have the time to adjust exposure settings every time. So I’m wondering if I can just set the exposure adjustment a little low all the time and still let the camera automatically pick. I was using shutter priority mode for most of the pictures since that’s what I expect I will want to capture people or critters in action.

  • Was the day overcast?

    Setting the exposure compensation a little low will tell the camera that you want fewer photons than the camera thinks you need. The camera is frequently wrong, especially when there are very bright & dark things in the picture. After a while you’ll learn how wrong it is in each situation, and then you can dial in that amount and forget about it until you move.
    If you end up with too few photons, you can sort of recover from that in software. If you end up with enough photons to saturate a pixel, you can’t fix that. The spot meter is never wrong, but you then have to figure out what the exposure for the whole scene should be relative to that spot, and that’s not easy.

    I’ve never had to deal with large amounts of snow. Nikon’s classic algorithm, that I’m used to, knows how many photons the sun puts out, and assumes that anything nearly that bright must be sky and it is ok to overexpose it. This works badly when you have light colored subjects in direct sunlight. Yours may be doing something similar if it turns blue skies into white.

    Those examples, especially the one of Tyson, really look like there’s some kind of dynamic range compression going on. I’d expect the trees in that picture to be darker unless there’s unusual lighting. Nikon calls this feature D-Lighting, I’m not sure what Olympus does, I’ll have to do some reading. Basically, the darker parts of the scene have a higher gain applied than the brighter parts. It is useful sometimes, but has the overall effect of making everything look like it has a gray haze mixed in. A low contrast setting would also have a similar effect.

    I generally use A priority mode for just about everything. Because that sets the depth of field and I only care that it results in a shutter speed fast enough not to blur, but the exact shutter speed has no visible effect.

    • Was the day overcast?

      It was mixed. Some of the day was quite sunny. Unfortunately, by this point I can’t remember which photos should have been which 🙂

      I’ve never had to deal with large amounts of snow. Nikon’s classic algorithm, that I’m used to, knows how many photons the sun puts out, and assumes that anything nearly that bright must be sky and it is ok to overexpose it.

      The camera does have a snow “scene” mode, which the couple of times I tried it took decent pictures. But it’s pretty much fully auto, so I have been trying to steer clear of it.

      I do have multiple different metering modes – wild ass guess about where in the view is nifty, center weighted, center spot, spot highlight, spot shadow (I should reread the manual for what those do), a manually positioned small spot, and full manual aperture, shutter, and ISO.

      Those examples, especially the one of Tyson, really look like there’s some kind of dynamic range compression going on.

      Yeah they do. I think I have the camera set to not apply any special contrast or anything. There is definitely a setting for higher contrast.