Monster Racers!

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Two days ago I got a chance to give some of my gear a heavy workout shooting model race cars.  I know you are thinking, “Model cars would never be a challenge!”  Well if they go 0-40mph in the blink of an eye they are a challenge.  If driven by wild and crazy friends you have a challenge.  If the sun is setting you have a triple challenge.

Challenge #1 is to get the tracking techniques down.  I was able to use AF-C and either center point or auto select focus point to get an acceptable success rate.  Framing the photo was problematic, but became more successful as I got to know what the drivers were doing with their cars.  Just like sports, anticipating the desired shot was vital to success.

Challenge #2 was accepting the use of jpegs.  My preferred method of capture is with RAW (PEF format) photos.  Problem is the buffer would fill up and slow down too much if I used RAW, so I needed to do something I don’t normally enjoy doing. I did succeed in keeping my bursts down to two or three shots at a time before I recomposed.  In the past the RAW files may have kept me from shooting again while they were processed for longer periods of time than what I experienced that day.

Challenge #3 was getting a safe position and then getting my three kiddos (age 4, 8 and 10) to be safe as well.  Trucks flying off the ramp could easily go 30ft in the “wrong” or unexpected direction on the ramp.  So safety conscience Dads needed to be a shepherd as well.

Over all I had a blast.  The captures were great practice.  I processed the photos in Aperture with a mix of presets (from Aperture Expert and MacCreate) and selected photos in the Nik Collection.

Here is a movie I made with the photos!  Enjoy!

Monster Racers!

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Bokeh

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Today I had a short opportunity to get outside and work with my gear.  I wanted to practice a few techniques with my camera body, and check out how my new Pentax DA* 60-250 F4 will work.  I used these four photos to demonstrate (to me because I because I may be the only one who reads this) the effect of aperture on the bokeh, or out of focus areas, in a photograph.

I shot this birdhouse at F14, F11, F5 and F4.  The smaller the aperture the more depth of field you have in your photo.  This means more will be in focus at F14 than F4.  In this series you can see also how the larger aperture allows you to focus more on what you may want to be the focal point of the photo.  In this case it is a simple photo with no artistic intent other than to demonstrate how being able to open up your lens aperture can be a powerful tool to a photographer.

So when you hear people lament that they “need” expensive fast glass…you can see what they should be using it for when the situation arises.  You can isolate a model, a bird or bolt on a bridge if your tools will allow it in the space you have to work.

Color

This photo utilized a lovely afternoon sunset to brilliantly display the stained glass windows of a baptismal font.  When you add in the symmetry and converging lines it gave the photo a rather lovely cast.  It is convergence of several photographic principles that made the photo successful.  It recently was accepted to the Pentax Photo Gallery and became my highest grossing photo at the recent charity art auction I donated a 16×10 to.

I know it worked when I heard several people come up and gasp the words “wow” or “Lovely”.  I highly suggest just displaying your best work, and getting some real world feedback from someone other than your Mom and Dad…it will inspire you to work harder and give you focus.