Monthly Archives: January 2012

Dwarf Cypress Forest, Florida Everglades

This is in Everglades National Park along the road to the Pa-hay-okee Overlook, a few moments before the setting sun went below the opposite trees and left this area in shadow.

Dwarf Cypress forest in Everglades National Park, Florida. (© Jonathan Gewirtz)

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Old Building In Crandon Park

Near the tennis courts off Crandon Blvd. just before the entrance to the Village of Key Biscayne. Not sure what this is, perhaps an old parks office. It’s been gutted but the exterior walls have been buttressed with boards, so it looks as though the building facade is being preserved for future use as part of the general renovation going on in this tennis courts area. Time will tell.

Crandon Park old building

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Crandon Park Ball Field

The grass is green, if not greener, in Key Biscayne’s Crandon Park.

Crandon Park Ball Field

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Image Sharpness: Shutter Speed, Handholding and Stabilization

This is an informative read. The takeaway is that making sharp hand-held photos requires faster shutter speeds than you might expect. The author suggests halving the exposure that’s suggested by the old reciprocal-of-focal-length rule of thumb: for example, use 1/100th of a second rather than 1/50th with a 50mm lens. I think this is optimistic, or to frame it differently, you will get an increasing percentage of sharp hand-held images as you continue to decrease your shutter speed to well below 50% of the reciprocal of your focal length. With a 50mm lens, for example, 1/100th second is better than 1/50th, but you are even more likely to get a sharp image at 1/250th, 1/500th or even faster. YMMV as they say on the Internet, and there is no substitute for experimentation to find what works best for you. In my case I often don’t get images that are routinely sharp at 100% magnification unless I use shutter speeds approaching 1/1000th of a second or faster. This means that I tend to get better results in bright sunlight at ISO 400 than 100, a result that surprised me when I first noticed it.

Related points to keep in mind:

-In fading light, any camera/lens combination will have an exposure length beyond which you will start to get too many blurry photos. With a modern DSLR it’s usually best to err in favor of increasing ISO sooner than you need to.

-There is no substitute for a tripod.

-Turn off image stabilization when you use a tripod, unless you determine by testing that stabilization helps. (Here’s a helpful discussion of issues related to stabilization.)

-It doesn’t take much wind or vibration (e.g., if you are standing on a heavily trafficked bridge) to degrade the sharpness of photos made on a tripod, particularly if you are using a lens of longer than normal focal length. Such image degradation is most easily detected by comparing 100% views of sequential photos made as part of a series to be stitched together, as for a skyline panoramic. Even subtle blurriness stands out.

-Some tripods are better damped than others. Use your camera’s live view feature, set on maximum magnification with a longish lens, to get a feel for how quickly your tripod settles down after you touch it or change camera positions. You may find that a conventional 1- or 2-second mirror lockup delay is inadequate and that you get sharper results by using a remote shutter release or even the full-length delay of your camera’s self-timer. This is also a good way to determine if it’s too windy to make sharp images with any technique.

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Downtown Miami Panorama Looking West

Another composite made towards the end of the day, this time looking West over the expressway ramps that connect downtown Miami and US Route 95.

Note the Miami Metrorail elevated tracks that bisect the picture in the middle distance.

Panoramic twilight view of downtown Miami office and residential high rise buildings, Metrorail elevated train tracks and adjacent expressway ramps to and from US Route 95. (© Jonathan Gewirtz)

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Downtown Miami Night Panorama

One of my more successful recent stitch jobs. I repeated the shot sequence multiple times over a period of about forty five minutes, trying to catch the right light. This is the best of the results.

The downtown Miami bayfront at night, showing hotels, condos and office buildings, as well as bridges and part of the Port of Miami. (© Jonathan Gewirtz)

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Canon PowerShot S95 Camera Review

The Canon PowerShot S95 is a higher-end small point-and-shoot type camera. Its electronics are supposed to be similar to those in the Canon PowerShot G12. I haven’t used the G12 but my sense is that the main tradeoff between the two cameras is that the G12 is larger and easier to use with better controls and an optical viewfinder, while the S95 is very small. Indeed you can easily carry the S95 in a shirt pocket or trouser pocket (in the latter case I keep my camera in a Ziploc bag to minimize dust intrusion). For me the camera’s small size and reputedly high image quality were the reasons to get it. And it has turned out to be OK for my purposes despite some flaws. (The S95 is currently being supplanted by the similar S100. Most of my comments should apply to both cameras.)

Details follow.

Continue reading

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Bicycle Shadow

Q: Where’s the fire?

A: In my legs.

bicycle shadow

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Miami Bayfront Skyline at Night

It was dark out and I inadvertently turned the ISO control in the wrong direction and overexposed this photo by four stops. I’m very happy I didn’t delete it as it turned out to be much more appealing than any of the properly exposed versions I made subsequently.

Overexposed view of the downtown Miami bayfront at night, showing hotels, condos and office buildings. (© Jonathan Gewirtz)

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Jump In

It’s heated!

Overhead view of a section of a swimming pool. Bright sunlight on brilliant blue water. (© Jonathan Gewirtz)

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