Thursday, 29 September 2011

Photoshelter - Educational Guide

One of the disadvantages of registering interest at some websites is that they bombard you with junk mail. I get mail from Photoshelter every week and I hardly ever open any of them. I know what they sell and I am not buying, and maybe I should find that tiny little "unsubscribe" link and stop them, but cant see it. Today though I had a second look at the mail and they were offering me an Educational Guide and it is pretty good. Called " Selling Fine Art Photography" it is a down loadable 25 page pdf with content from nine contributors offering help on getting work into galleries, being seen online and some insight from a Fine Art Printer.

The introduction has a phrase that sums up so much about photography. "..... finding the "recipe" to selling fine art proved elusive. There is no recipe, but there are common threads."

We are often tempted to go and find the recipe, especially when faced with a new or difficult situation and become disappointed when its not there. The common threads are there and although they are tricky to find they can be joined together.

The little book is an interesting read and can be found along with their other free booklets at

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Project 26 and 27 : Moonlight

I had been waiting for a full moon for a number of months. At least a full moon with no cloud cover and October 13th 2011 was an excellent evening. I had been out looking for a few more sunset shots earlier in the evening and when the sun had finally set up popped the full moon. Project 26 and 27 both require photography with moonlight. 26 should include the moon and 27 the light from the moon. The moon occupies about one degree of arc in the sky. At arms length you can cover it with your thumb, so clearly it is not at all big although on a clear night it can reflect back to earth a considerable amount of sunlight.

The shot I have chosen is of the Campbell Soup factory tower in King's Lynn. Not visible in the photograph are the cranes and excavators demolishing the factory. I had been meaning to take a photograph of the tower prior to its demolition and having done nothing so far this seemed a suitable use for this local landmark. Landscape photography that will include the moon also needs a large mass otherwise the photograph is largely sky and some ground feature. The lens I had with me was my 300mm f2.8 and on the D3 in full frame it was still a bit short. My switching to FX mode ( a 1.5x apparent increase in focal length) the image I was seeing was the equivalent to 450mm. I realise I could just have carried on using the camera in full frame mode and cropped more away later but I like to see and frame the composition in the viewfinder whenever possible. I only had the mono pod with me so elected to use a fairly high ISO (640) and that would give a shutter speed of 1/160 with an aperture of f2.8. I could have upped the ISO to 1250 or more as the D3 is very good with low noise at high ISO, but the tests looking at the magnified preview seemed sharp enough. The exposure was not at all easy. To retain detail in the moon (which is of course very bright as it is daylight) and get detail in the buildings I choose to concentrate on the moon not burning out and dealing with the buildings later in post processing. There is still a little sunset light coming from the West which has added a touch of fill light to the roofs in the foreground and the tower.

An hour or so after the above photograph I decided to shoot a detailed image of the moon. The course notes dont require this but I have often been asked for a large print of the moon for an interior so the opportunity seemed appropriate. There were two or three options to get the largest image possible. Firstly, I have a telescope but it was going to take too long to set up, has a fixed aperture and I am not sure of its optical quality. The best quality would come from my Nikon 600mm f4 AFS, and I have the 1.4 x and 2x Nikon tele converters so focal lengths in full frame of 840mm and 1200mm were available. Using FX these would be 1260mm and 3600mm. Experience tells me that using a long focal length ( beyond 600mm) and gaining sharp images is not that easy. The camera  mirror is the main source of vibration and then the movement of the shutter. All are very small but when magnified over the camera to moon distance (238,857 miles) they soon degrade image quality with camera shake. The combination chosen was the 600 plus 1.4 converter and shooting in FX to give an apparent focal length of 1260mm.

A mono pod is added to the normal set up to add a very small amount of tension into the combination (very careful not to apply too much pressure) together with mirror up and the set up was ready. Due to high trees around the garden I had to have the tripod higher than I would have liked. Had it been lower the combination would have been firmer and perhaps the image sharper.

The final image. ISO 1000  1/1000 sec f10

Another, this time showing the "Terminator". The line between daylight and darkness. Shot with a DX sensored camera with a 600mm lens.