A holiday visit to Paine Field saw that something interesting was heading for departure. It was unlikely I would get across the field in time to catch it and I didn’t. However, since I was there, I thought I might as well hang around for a bit and shoot some departures. There were a few piston types heading out as well as a PC-12. Since none of them were too important to me, I decided to play with shutter speeds around 1/100th of a second. With the 500mm, this doesn’t result in a high keeper rate.
It does provide a lot of prop blur which was the point since, with no background, you aren’t getting any sense of speed. It was more a case of seeing what I could get and having some panning practice. When looking at the shots on the computer, some of them are clearly junk without much inspection. Others look okay until you get zoomed in. A few of them are sharp even zoomed right in and they are the ones that don’t get culled.
While hiking through Moran State Park, we came up to a road. As we got there a vintage car of some sort was coming towards us. Annoyingly, I had changed the camera to its base ISO to photograph some waterfalls and hadn’t reset it to auto ISO. It was dark in there so, when I shot the passing vehicle, the shutter speed was way too low. It means the shots were blurred but it actually wasn’t as bad as I had expected.
My main cameras have two card slots. One is a CFast and the other is Compact Flash. I use the CFast all the time but the Compact Flash is a handy backup. Occasionally, if I have the camera on with the CFast out of the slot, the camera reverts to the second slot and, if I don’t notice, it continues to use it when I next shoot. This isn’t a particular problem except when it comes to downloading. I have USB3 card readers for both CFast and Compact Flash. However, the speed of card technology has moved on dramatically. When I download the Compact Flash cards and import to Lightroom, I am reminded of just how slow they are. I used to do this all the time but, once I started using CFast, I got used to the better speed and now, when I revert to the old tech, it feels positively glacial!
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!
Damp days can make for great prop vortices on takeoff. However, I have been feeling less than satisfied with my results recently. As I was going through some shots, I made a discovery that should probably have been something I worked out before. I like to have a good amount of prop blur so drop the shutter speed down when I can. I go with a high frame rate with the aim of getting a good sharp shot amongst the more blurry examples.
As I go through the shots, the sharp ones have okay prop vortices but not great. Then I will come across some really nice vortices but the shot is otherwise not sharp. It seems that, in panning with the plane to get a sharp shot, the trailing vortex gets blurred out. If I am not panning well, the vortex can be the thing I have tracked better and it shows up well. I have seen shots from others with the props almost frozen with a high shutter speed and the vortices easily seen.
Consequently, I am going to have to make a decision in future. How much prop blur do I want versus the ability to see the vortices well. A little trial and error will be involved. At least it is fall/winter so the Pacific Northwest will probably provide me plenty of damp days on which to experiment!
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!
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!
I have tried to find out what the rules are regarding how fast you can go on Lake Washington. All I have found so far is what limits there are when you are close to shore. Whether this means you can go as fast as you like while out in the open or not I don’t know. We do see plenty of people getting some speed up when they are out on the water. Whether it is speedboats of ski boats pulling someone behind them, they look nice and dramatic when they are up on the plane and moving.
An impromptu shot of a cormorant is a good thing as far as I am concerned. Normally when I photograph birds, I am shooting wide open at as high a shutter speed as possible. However, this time I was set up for shooting at a lower shutter speed when the cormorant came by. Consequently, the success rate was down a bit. I did still get some shots though and the motion blur gives more of a feel of speed, even if it is just the water blurring out.
YouTube is a fantastic way to lose track of time. It may well have an abundance of crap but it also has lots of informative material. More importantly, watch one thing and you get recommendations of other things, many of which are actually quite useful. I was watching a video by Tony Northrup on building a computer for photo processing and he was talking about putting the Lightroom catalog on an SSD. This got me thinking about something.
When I built my system, I installed an SSD to be the drive on which the OS is installed along with the applications. I have traditional hard drives for the data storage. One of these was set up with the Lightroom catalogs keeping them separate from the image files to make the response time better. At the time of the build, a 250Gb SSD was affordable but not cheap so that was what I went with. With everything installed, that doesn’t have enough space for the catalogs.
I never thought more about it until after this video. I started thinking about some old SSDs I have and looked at whether the catalogs would fit on either of them. It turns out that, with all of the preview files, the SSDs were not big enough. However, I did then have a look at the price of a drive that would be large enough such as another 250Gb drive. That would have plenty to spare to account for future needs.
While looking at these, I was also able to see 500Gb drives and they are only about $150. I was unaware just how much the price had fallen. Consequently, a spare drive bay now holds my Lightroom catalogs. I only have a relatively small amount of experience with the new configuration but it is safe to say that things are positively zipping along compared to where they were before. I was wondering whether the system might be in need up upgrade or replacement but this one change seems to have made things significantly better. I will report further if I discover more but, if you have a similar configuration, this might be the upgrade that makes things noticeably better.