Tag Archives: slow

Ducks at Low Level

While walking along the Sammammish River Trail, a couple of Mallard Ducks flew by me at low level.  I pulled the camera up at short notice to get a shot.  No time to change the settings so this is what I got on the spur of the moment.  As it happens, the shutter speed did a nice job of blurring out the background and making them look super speedy.  I kind of like it!

Dropping the Shutter Speed in Bad Light

My cloudy Vancouver shoot also gave me the chance to play around with some lower shutter speeds.  I have done this for the turboprops before but this time I decided to play with some of the jets.  A really low shuttle speed can blur out the background and give a nice impression of movement but it is a problematic shot to make.  You don’t want to do it on something that you are keen to get in case you get nothing!  It is also something that results in very small apertures if there is much light which can make for a lot of dust spotting in post!  A cloudy evening is a good time to try and a bunch of boring regular jets are good targets for a trial!

Staring at an Escalator

I was waiting for some visitors at the airport.  At SeaTac, you stand at the top of the escalator waiting for people to come out from the shuttle station.  I was starting at the escalator for quite some time and decided to see just how slow a shot I could take with the cellphone.  Using ProShot, I have a lot of shutter speed control but the brightness does eventually overwhelm things a bit.  However, it was still possible to play with some interesting effects with the steps blurring out along with anyone standing on them!

WordPress Editor Has Been Broken

You’ll often hear the phrase “If it isn’t broken, why fix it?”. In the case of WordPress, this definitely seems to be relevant. I have been using WordPress since the blog started and with good reason. It is a simple and straightforward editing tool that allows new posts to be created easily and quickly. I prepare the images in Lightroom and export them directly to the blog and text is generally – including this – created in Word and then pasted into the blog editor.

WordPress rolled out a new editor form with blocks for elements of each post. I don’t doubt that the intent of this was to create a more flexible editing environment and one that probably achieves things that previously required plugins. However, the result does not seem to have been very well tested or not be a wide enough group of users with differing requirements. Here are some of the shortcomings I have experienced.

The biggest issue is speed. The new format is unbelievably sluggish. When I am making edits, sections of the page seem to be really slow and when it decides to auto save the latest work, it seems to be stuck doing so forever. Then, there are some familiar sections now in new formats at the side. Collections is still there but clicking on it seems to require tons of time to think about stuff before it shows up – if it does!

Collections might be slow but tagging is now horrible. I create my tags in Word and paste them into the field but this no longer can be relied on to work. Sometimes they just vanish. Other times they disappear and then reappear. I can write some in to the box directly and then they vanish in front of my eyes. I often ignore this section and add the tags later in the Quick Edit view of the post lists.

Adding media is no longer so simple, While the new blocks for images and galleries have some nice elements they are slow to create. Now you have to select the source each time rather than defaulting to the media gallery. This extra click each time gets annoying fast. Also, in the old editor, if you scrolled down the media page to get to the shots you wanted, adding another image would bring you back to the same spot so you didn’t have to scroll again. That is gone. Media is added as a new block. There is no obvious way to add a block at the bottom of your post. Instead you add one and see where it shows up and then move it down as required. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the page there is a Sharing box which seems to do little other than get in the way.

Even editing the publishing date is a pain. They have moved that around a bit in keeping with the other changes but now, when you tab between fields, your cursor is at the end o the current data. Previously, tabbing would move you to the next box and select it. This facilitated rapid changes to the entries. Now you have to manually delete each entry and then type a new one. One more step for each entry which is not a big deal initially but soon becomes a nuisance.

The legacy editor is still available. However, it isn’t hard to imagine that, over time, this will become obsolete and won’t provide functionality until it is deleted so I am working with the new format to see what I can do to get to grips with it. However, it is testing my patience. It has significantly slowed down my process and made post creation more difficult than it used to be. I have got the hang of bits of it but getting used to something does not make it useful. Pull your finger out WordPress and sort this out. There are so many users of the system, it is important that it works or they will soon migrate to another platform.

Lightroom Issues Update

In quite a few previous posts, I have mentioned the troubles I have had with Lightroom recently.  This was all triggered by an update a while back and subsequent updates have not solved any issues.  The problems just continued and I was unable to get anything to address the sluggish behavior.  The program would respond better when I was working in the Develop module but it was very difficult in Library and when importing.

I recently had a bit more success.  I contacted someone who, while not working for Adobe, does have a business based around Lightroom and has good connections with the company.  I was able to send this individual a copy of my catalog.  They had a play with it and had similar issues with memory overuse so it wasn’t a hardware issue.  They were able to pass on the catalog to an Adobe engineer to investigate further.  I feared there was some corruption in the catalog and hoped they would find a solution.

It transpires that there is not any corruption.  Instead, it is in the nature of the catalogs that I have created that the problem lies.  A long time ago I posted about my approach to processing a shoot.  I would use a Collection Set for each shoot in which I would use smart collections to take shots with the right combination of keywords and dates.  They would split out rejects from non-rejects and put HDR, panorama shots and videos in separate smart collections.  This made processing the shoot more efficient.

As a result of this approach, I have, over the years, accumulated a large number of these collection sets with smart collections in them.  This is what is causing the trouble.  The program is getting bogged down with all of them.  This leaves two ways forward.  In the short term, I am going to go through these smart collections and turn them into simple collections.  Hopefully this will reduce the processing burden.  I don’t need the smart functionality any longer so I can just take the selected images and make simple collections out of them.

The longer term action is that Adobe is now aware of this issue.  Hopefully they can investigate a way to address this in a future update so that it isn’t constrained in the same way.  It happened suddenly so there was something in the coding that changed to cause the issue so maybe it can be similarly quickly fixed.  In the early days of Lightroom, it was limited in the number of images it could have before things got sluggish and that was resolved so hopefully this can be too.  We shall see.  If it is, you’re welcome!

 

Practice Panning to Make it Different at BFI

I was killing some time at Boeing Field and the light was dropping fast.  There was a variety of traffic inbound but nothing that counted as terribly unusual and not, therefore, something I desperately cared about getting a good shot with.  As a result, I decided to play around with low shutter speeds to see how it changed the look of the shots at a familiar location, to see how the sharpness varied across the airframe and to see just how badly may panning skills have degraded.  Needless to say, the results were pretty mixed.  The worst of the lot will clearly never see the light of day but here you can see some of the shots that I was okay with.  The conclusion from the output is that I should go a bit lower in shutter speed to increase the sense of speed.

 

Blur That Prop!

wpid7596-C59F7698.jpgAsk any aviation photographer about camera settings and they will quickly turn to shutter speed for prop aircraft.  The goal is a nicely blurred prop and no frozen blades.  This requires a slow shutter speed and this can have downsides.  If you are using a long lens, getting a sharp shot of a moving target with a low shutter speed can be tricky.  A bit of spray and pray with the shutter button can be required.  Interestingly, if you are closer to the aircraft and using a shorter focal length, things are not necessarily better.  When you are close in, the different parts of the airframe are actually moving at different speeds and angular rates to you so one part might be sharp when another isn’t.  Sometimes this looks okay but often it just looks crap.

I have become less focused on gaining the great blur for ground shots.  Air to air it is something a lot more worthwhile since the other plane is not moving relative to you – well, hopefully not that much.  Therefore, you can experiment going slower with hopefully some good results.  Similarly, when I am shooting helicopters close in and hovering, I will give it a go too.

wpid7594-C59F7690.jpgRecently, I was at the Waukegan show and I decided that, since what I was shooting was not something that I had to get (either I would have other chances or I wasn’t so bothered anyway), I would play with some really low speeds.  I ended up shooting at 1/80th of a second which, on a 500mm lens is a stretch.  Needless to say, you are not going to see the failures.  When I have played like this before, I have had times when not one of the shots was of any use.  However, this time I did get a few lucky results – yes, they were luck.  You can have great panning technique (which is not always true for me) but the math is not in your favor when doing this.  Therefore, I shall be happy with the results this time around.  I won’t be doing this all of the time but playing around is an important thing to do when you have the chance.  Just don’t do it when you really want to have a shot you can keep.

Night flight

A recent flight home meant an arrival into Midway a while after the sun had set.  I had been taking some pictures out of the window as we headed back across the country and decided to try my luck after dark.  I had thought about trying out some auto ISO shots as I described in a previous post.  However, since I was shooting night scenes, the camera does its best to try and make things look properly exposed and this is not what you need.  Instead, I had to manually set the ISO to a higher number and then drop the exposure compensation to between -2 and -3.

The shots came out okay but they weren’t terribly interesting.  However, as we got lower, I decided to go for something a bit more interesting and slowed the shutter speed down dramatically.  I braced the camera against the window frame and decided to see what sort of light trails I could get.  The exposures were a couple of seconds or more so this is rather tricky.  While the background is blurred deliberately, I had the top of the engine and the winglet in for reference.  Avoiding blurring them was more hit and miss.

I tried a bunch of shots and was pleased with the number that came out well.  However, the effect only seems to work in a couple of situations.  One is a turn.  This puts more ground lights in the frame and turns everything into a nice curve.  The other is when you are very low at which point everything is moving past you close and fast.  I might try this again before too long but will have to ponder what might improve things.  One technique issue I was pleased with was remembering to turn off image stabilization.  With long exposures, it causes the image to wander so, when bracing, it actually makes things worse.  Unlike me to remember that first time out but sometimes I do get lucky!