Friday, February 27, 2015

Take Your Time - Don't Spray And Pray

I recently had a conversation with someone about frames-per-second shooting. The person said that they required a camera capable of quickly exposing multiple frames.

You see, this person photographs their kids sports and dance events. Kids are quick. The photographer's solution is to spray and pray. That is, to speedily expose as many frames as possible and hope that a few good ones are made in the process.
Jackson Wedding - Tehachapi, Calidornia
The person told me that they typically capture over 1,000 images of an event. The person will end up with 10-25 photographs that they are happy with. That's crazy! I didn't expose nearly that many frames at the last wedding that I photographed and I delivered well over 100 images to the bride and groom.

The problem with the spray and pray method is that it relies on luck and not skill. Instead of using photographic vision to capture the decisive moment, this method uses volume and odds.

The other problem with spraying and praying is logistics. You have to consider battery life and storage. You have to go through all of those exposures! It requires plenty of waste.

Instead, I suggest slowing down and being more purposefully with each exposure. Pretend that each frame has a real cost. Try to cut back on rapid fire and take a little more care ensuring that everything is as you want it to be prior to opening the shutter.

Less is more in photography, and in this case it means fewer frames exposed. Don't spray and pray.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Today Is The Day That The Internet Changed

You can mark it on your calendar. Go ahead, circle today in red ink. Today is the day that the internet changed. The world wide web will no longer be the same.

The United States of America's federal government, through the executive branch, by the means of the Federal Communications Commission, will begin to regulate the internet. No one knows exactly what that means, but there are a few guesses that we can make that time will likely prove true.
The Compaq Desert - Mojave, California
First, as with any regulation, there will be new taxes. The growing FCC will need to pay for new employees and new systems to run this new division. It's not going to pay for itself. The internet users will be made to pay for it. My guess would be that companies who do business via the web will be charged a fee, and of course (like every business) that fee will be passed on to the consumer via higher price tags.

The consumers might also be directly taxed, but I'm not sure how likely that is. Governments like to hide taxes. For example, in California, a new tax on gas went into effect on January 1st, but because the tax was on the gas companies and not at the pump, not many noticed it. But those paying close attention realized that the consumer is still paying the tax because gas stations have passed it along to them via higher prices.

Second, I think free internet will be a thing of the past. I think at some point free WiFi will go away. Free websites like this will go away. Google (through Blogger) gives me this space for free. If I had to pay for it The Roesch Photography Blog (and also The Urban Exploration Photography Blog) wouldn't exist. I give away for free my thoughts and opinions. Nobody pays me. But I'm not going to pay money to share my intellectual property. My only hope is in point three, which is a two-edged sword.

Third, companies will try to get special waivers from some of the regulations. If Google manages to get a waiver, freeing them of some of the taxes and regulations, then perhaps they can keep Blogger free. But with exemptions come expectations. The FCC is going to expect something in return. It might be political support, financially or otherwise. It might be in censorship. There will be a price for Google to pay if they choose that path.

And why wouldn't they choose that path? The chance to get an advantage over competition is a no-brainer. If Google gets the waiver and some other company doesn't, Google wins by default. It only makes sense to play the game that's handed to you, even if you don't like the game.

Next, with regulation comes thought police. If the FCC disagrees with what you put on the web, they will have the ability to shut it down. I doubt that is much of a worry for a photography blog, but even a post like this could potentially be red-flagged. I think censorship is most certainly on the horizon, and politicians (and others with power) will somehow find a way to use it to their advantage.
Classic Television Set - Rosamond, California
Finally, I think TV will also be affected by this. Companies like Netflix will have something coming their way, no doubt. But not just them--all television, which, anymore, travels over the web at some point, will have some sort of impact. Just how much is completely unknown.

Now it will take time for all of this to happen. I doubt much of anything changes in the next year. It will likely be five years before everything gets rolled out. And it will surely be rolled out in small bits so that it's not really noticed.

What's amazing to me about all of this is that three non-elected government employees are the ones with the authority to make these vast changes. I would say that this is taxation without representation, but they were hired and given this power by an elected official.
Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining - Tehachapi, California
Now every cloud has a silver lining, and if there is one in this it is that perhaps the internet will get cleaned up. There is a lot of absolute filthy garbage on the web. Maybe, just maybe, some of that will go away. And perhaps some of the criminal activity that happens on the internet will also be stopped. While I certainly hope this happens, I have my doubts because these kinds of people seem to always find some sort of loophole. They may have to change how they do what they do, but in all likelihood they'll continue doing it.

Today is the day that the internet changed. There might be some good (let's all hope that there is some good), but there most certainly will be some bad. Thankfully, there is still some time before any noticeable changes come.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cloud Photography

Lenticular Sunset - Cantil, California
In my post 25 Photography Subject Ideas To Get You Out of That Rut I suggested photographing clouds. Now clouds are often featured in photographs, but I don't see a lot of photographs that are just of clouds and nothing else.

I've thought many times that a potentially interesting project would be to photograph clouds--the sky would be the subject. That's something I haven't really seen done, at least not to the extent that it deserves.

A couple of weeks ago I was returning from a photography adventure when the sky turned amazing. The colors became brilliant and the lighting revealed some great design in a couple of lenticular clouds. I pulled my car over and captured the photograph at the top of this post. I didn't even leave the car. I simply rolled down my window and opened the shutter.

As quickly as the sky turned great it returned to "normal" (uninteresting). If I hadn't been watching the sky, if I didn't have a camera with me ready to go, and if I wasn't decisive, I would have missed capturing the image. Always be prepared, and don't be afraid to be unconventional.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Someone Is Using My Photographs

Trailer Train In The Tehachapi Mountains - Bealville, California
After a blog post of mine went sort-of viral, I decided to do a Google search of my name to see what might come up. It turned out to be an interesting exercise.

One thing I found was that The Bakersfield Californian newspaper used one of my photographs on their website. They didn't ask for permission, but they didn't have to. You see, several years back I submitted some photographs to potentially be published in a book. As part of that, in the fine print of the agreement, I gave The Bakersfield Californian the right to use the submitted photographs without any compensation.

The lesson here is to be sure you know what you are agreeing to. There might be something in the fine print that you disagree with. In this case, I really don't mind.

If you are wondering, the photograph they used (which is seen at the top of this post) was not selected for the book. However, a handful of my other images were published in it.
Westbound California Highway 58 - Tehachapi, California
I found a different website that also used one of my photographs. They didn't ask for permission to use it. I didn't give anyone permission to use it. It was, in fact, stolen. At least the image was attributed to me.

I don't necessarily mind that the photograph was used, but what I don't like whatsoever is that nobody asked first. That is common courtesy.

The article that the photograph was used in was interesting, except for some inaccuracies. Here's a quote that accompanied my image:
"Like a scene out of a modern-day western, nothing goes down California's Highway 58 anymore except for tumbleweeds and dust devils. To be fair, it's nothing but an empty highway with nothing but desert and mountains surrounding it anymore. There used to be the occasional gas station, but after the highway proved to be less efficient than others surrounding the area, it was left to waste away in the desert heat. It's still easy to access, but make sure you have a lot of gas before heading out that way" --Matt Teaford
Those are beautiful words, no doubt. But it is quite obvious that the author has never been anywhere close to Highway 58. The highway is alive and well! A significant portion is freeway, and it is one of two major routes that connect the Central Valley with southern California.

To be fair, there is a section of the highway that goes between Highway 99 and the Pacific coast that's not necessarily a busy road. It's a one-lane-each-way highway that twists through the coastal mountains. But, beyond that, Highway 58 is a major thoroughfare.
Forgotten Highway 58 - Mojave, California
There are a few small sections here and there that have been abandoned due to realignments. The part of Highway 58 you see in the photograph above (which is the same image used by Matt Teaford in his article) is an old alignment that is found just north of Mojave. When they made Highway 58 a freeway through this area, they moved it a little to the east and bypassed the town, leaving this small section to slowly be swallowed by nature.

Oh, and the gas light in your car could be on and you'd be alright--there are several gas stations just a few miles to the south of this location.

I guess the moral here is don't believe everything you read on the world wide web. There's so much nonsense. Even people who seem to be on the up-and-up may not be.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Thoughts: Samsung NX500

Samsung announced earlier this month that they'll be releasing a new compact interchangeable-lens camera called the NX500. Internally it's the same camera as the NX1, which is pretty highly regarded with a 28-megapixel APS-C sized sensor that is back-side illuminated. It also can record 4K video.

As you may know, I've owned two Samsung NX cameras: the NX200 and the NX210. They were both good cameras, but ultimately I decided that the low-ISO image quality wasn't quite what I was after (it was close) and the high-ISO capabilities were not quite good enough to make up for that. After using them for awhile, I thought if Samsung could make the image quality just a little better that they'd really have an excellent product (I moved on to some other cameras).

So the NX1 comes out and it has improved low-ISO image quality and significantly improved high-ISO capabilities. They made some other improvements, too. It's an all-around better camera than the two that I used to own. But it's also a bit bulky and has a $1,500 price tag.

I'm not exactly sure what the differences are between the NX1 and the NX500, other than the NX1 is capable of 15 frames-per-second and the NX500 is capable of nine. Oh, the NX500 doesn't have a built-in electronic viewfinder (this will be a deal-breaker for some, and completely unimportant to others). Just quickly looking over the data sheets on both there wasn't a whole lot else to differentiate between the two cameras.

The two biggest differences are size-and-weight and cost. The NX500 is significantly smaller and lighter and will run you $500 less. The NX500 sure sounds like the better bargain to me.

Honestly, I think (and I'm saying this having never used the camera) that this new generation of Samsung NX cameras are every bit as good as those by Nikon, Canon and Sony, and perhaps even better. Samsung is making a push to be the best, and only time will tell if they succeed commercially.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Viral Thoughts

The Compaq Desert - Mojave, California
The Roesch Photography Blog sits on the outer fringes of the photography blogging world. Yes, I do have followers and some people make this site part of their regular web reading, but by-and-large this blog is small potatoes. Some photography bloggers would be disappointed if one of their posts received in a day as many views as this blog does in a month.

Sometimes, though, a post of mine goes viral. Not really viral, but sort-of viral. When I think of viral I think of millions of views, or at least over 10,000 views. I've never had anything like that. My most viewed post (listed on the right side of the page under "Popular Posts") has been viewed about 7,000 times total. That's not bad for a little guy way over on the edge of internet nothingness, but that's a very small number compared to what the "big boys" get.

What I would call "sort-of viral" are posts that get shared and receive attention and get significantly more views than would be typical. For example, and this is the most recent example, a post of mine from back in 2012 has been viewed over 1,500 times in the last week. That's viral for me, but it is difficult to call that "going viral."

When a post goes sort-of viral it might be because someone shared a link to my blog on a popular photography forum, then several people on that forum shared the link on other sites. That's happened several different times. A couple of times social media (specifically Facebook and Pinterest) has made a post go sort-of viral. More than once a blogger more popular than I has linked one of my posts to one of his or her posts. Most recently, a website (actually, it started with one website and at last count is three websites) linked my blog in an article.

I'm happy for the views. Hopefully those that come to the site take a look around and see other posts. That sometimes happens. If that's you, welcome! Take your time and enjoy the site.

To sum all of this up, having a post go sort-of viral is cool, but I still remain on the fringes--on the outside looking in. That's alright, I don't mind at all. Perhaps that makes my voice just a bit more independent and a bit less biased. After all, no one is paying me to do this, which means that I'm not influenced by the ideas of advertisers.


Interestingly, just 24 hours after publishing this post, the page views of the post mentioned above jumped from 1,500 to over 5,000. And, while it seems to be slowing, over 50 people viewed the post in the last hour (as of this update).

Of those who viewed that post, about 8% clicked at least one other post on the blog. About 5% clicked at least two other posts. About 2% clicked on three or more posts on this blog. Those percentages may seem small, but I would say that is pretty typical. If I'm lucky, 10 or maybe 15 people (of that group) will follow this blog (or at least regularly visit it).

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Best Camera Is The One That's With You (Nokia Lumia 1020)

Old Broken Hinge - Mojave, California
On my other blog, The Urban Exploration Photography Blog, I posted about some abandoned houses in Mojave, California. There were a bunch of photographs in the post. What caught my attention was that the majority of photographs were captured using a cell phone--the Nokia Lumia 1020 to be exact.

Renown photographer Chase Jarvis said, "The best camera is the one that's with you." That's also the title of his book featuring cell phone photographs.

The way I'd put it is: a camera in hand is with 200 cameras at home on a shelf. If it means getting out and creating images, what difference does it make what camera is used? It doesn't make any difference. What's important is the getting out and doing.

As long as you have photographic vision, the camera one uses makes no difference. Any camera is a capable photographic tool in the hands of a skilled photographer, including cell phone cameras.