July 6, 2008

Sky art

No, this isn't some strange nebula in a galaxy far, far away, but a rather interesting shot from the Bettendorf fireworks display, which was great as always. Click to view larger.

Rather than plop a bunch of pictures in this post, I tried creating an album online and threw a few up there.

Obviously a lot is lost when you see them at small size, but here's a preview. A double click on the slide show will open up the gallery. Once there you can enlarge the pictures (look for the size icons in the upper right) and play them as a larger slide show if you wish.

Let me know how it works for you.

And as a bonus, here's some video of the Grand Finale.... it was quite impressive. (Turn it up loud for full effect.)


At 7/09/2008 8:47 AM, Anonymous sueshedap;puhleeze said...

Gallery worked fine; very nice photos with lots of color....What make & model camera are you using?....finale was cool....! Shook the woofer.

Had the lawn chair up on the picnic table(to see over the corn), long morning glory sparklers going and some "bees", deep woods Off and Prophetstown's fireworks never showed. Another "victim" of the '08 flood.

At 7/09/2008 12:17 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Ha, that sounds like quite the fourth.... but waiting for a show that never appeared? That's just not right! haha.

Ah well, with a little imagination, I'm sure the night could have turned out just as magical.

The camera I use is a Canon A640. Just a point and shoot, though it does have many ways you can play with it. It also shoots video, which is handy for when you don't need a long recording or don't want to lug the camcorder along. I shot that Grand Finale clip on it.

It has a 4x optical zoom and 10 megapixels, which is nice for cropping after the fact, which is essentially like zooming in only digitally instead of optically. If you start with a big picture with very high resolution, you can crop it down pretty severely and still get fair detail.

For instance, as you could tell, some of the shots from the air show were kind of weird looking and not too sharp. But that's because the planes only occupied a tiny little part of the original picture and in order to show any detail I just "cut out" the part showing the planes.

I shoot at the largest settings, so to do anything with them, I have to reduce them to 30% of their original size or they'd be so huge you'd have to pan all over just to try to see them.

When you click on an image on the blog, the resulting "larger" image is in fact the original cut down by 2/3. (if that makes sense).

So, I don't use anything too fancy. I've been thinking of upgrading to an SLR type camera, but I'll cross that (expensive) bridge when I come to it.

I like the fact that this one is pretty compact and light (though not so small you can barely feel it, like many these days.) and I can carry it just about anywhere. It has a big display screen which folds out and around so you can take shots at just about any angle and still see what you're taking, and with a 2 GB memory card, I don't have to worry much about filling it up, even at large resolutions or when shooting several video clips. (and with 4 and even 8 GB cards available at fairly reasonable prices, you could shoot a couple hundred pictures every day for a week and still have room to spare.)

Every now and then I'll misjudge the settings and the pictures will turn out with a weird color cast to them or be too dark, etc. But I can usually salvage them by useing a graphics program. I've been using Paint Shop Pro for years to tweak the contrast and lightness, adjust color balance, and sharpness.

But even with those tools, it can't save a bad picture, but it sure helps.

If you start with a bad picture, you can't really do much with it. For instance, if the colors are there, you can make them a little more vivid, or a little less vivid, but the colors have to be there to begin with. Likewise, you can sharpen a picture to an extent, but only if the shot is fairly crisp to begin with. You can't turn a blurry shot into a focused shot, and if a shot is too light or dark, you can only bring it back so far.

If you used a golf analogy, it's like having the ability to move your ball a few yards one way or the other from where it ends up.

If you fire one into the woods, moving the ball a little won't help, but if the ball is a little off the center line, you could get it where it's supposed to be.

I'm pretty sure I'd get worse results if I had to use a traditional film camera like I did for years.

With film you really have to make every shot count, because with the cost of film and developing, it's expensive, for one thing, and without a very sophisticated dark room, you can't crop and adjust the properties of the picture.

With digital, you can shoot 50 shots if you want, changing position, composition, settings and this that or the other. Just keep shooting like crazy, and at the end of the day, chances are fairly good that you'll have some good shots. With digital, it costs the same to take 400 pictures as it does to take one. The law of averages work in your favor.

Again, to use golf as example, I suppose it's like a lousy golfer... if they hit 500 shots, a few of the are bound to go long and straight.

I still get some great shots which I don't have to retouch at all, great shots just as they were taken, but not as often as I'd like.

The shots of the fireworks were interesting, but no shots were really amazing or notable. But I do enjoy seeing what you happened to catch when you finally get to take a closer look. Some of the shots I found very cool, due to the fact that they don't really look like fireworks, but some surrealistic flowers or something.

At 7/12/2008 6:01 AM, Anonymous sueshedap;puhleeze said...

Hmmm...yes.....thanks for the info.

Have been playing around with a little Nikon Cool Pix for a little over a year now in much the same way as regards to manipulation and have discovered the +'s and -'s. (yup...lots of plain luck involved in many of the "good shots" and am happy for it!)It is a good thing am not paying for development of film...ahem.

Photograghy for me started out as a need for a good 35MM to take slides of my artwork and details of subject matter in the field. When I found a good used Canon AE1 with all kinds of extra lenses, etc. went nuts trying to document just about everything on film. Still use it occasionally and it is a pleasure. Actually caught a huge bolt of day-time lightning in Colorado with this camera, which is no big deal these days with digitals.

Haven't tried any of the new super duper digitals yet, but am hoping to get one that uses the older lenses as I have a nice collection.

Anywho....had Nature's light shows to make up for the fire-works! (bumper crop of lightnening bugs this year, too.)


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