Sunday I went for a walk on the Ma & Pa Heritage Trail for the first time. I wanted to check out the trail both as a source of exercise and also as a place to take nature pictures. There’s only so much I can do with cats, horses, and landscaping.
My photography goals fall into multiple categories. On the artistic side, I want to freshen and improve my skills with composition, color, and effects like using a shallow depth of field. My geek side wants to know what all the indicators inside the viewfinder mean and how I should use them. My old Minolta SLR is/was completely manual. Focusing was fairly easy because of the diamond pattern, while the only item displayed in the viewfinder was the shutter speed. (The next model added the f-stop.) Plus, of course, the loop and needle used to adjust the aperture for the proper exposure.
My Nikon D70s has over a dozen indicators. Autofocus is nice, but I can’t always use it or it picks the wrong object. I recently learned that there is a cross of boxes that show where the focal point is in the frame. There’s also a light in the bottom corner that comes on when the object is in focus. Sunday I made use of these indicators. As time goes on, I’ll learn how to use more of them. It’s like riding a horse — you concentrate on one or two things until they become habits, then you learn more.
I’ve heard that you should always change all of your camera settings to the same set of values when you are done shooting. I’m not too bad about that, but it’s equally important to use the proper settings with a new photo shoot. One day I was taking pictures in the indoor arena, and after a few shots used slow shutter speeds with blurry results I remembered to crank up the ISO.
On to Sunday’s walk. I geeked out and wore my Garmin sport watch which has GPS so I could record details about the walk, and I listened to quiet music (not Lady Gaga) on my iTouch. I walked from the start of one trail segment downtown to the tunnel under a major road and back, a total of just over 2 miles. I took 106 pictures, which works out to about a picture every 50 feet along the trail. I enjoyed it and look forward to walking the second half of the segment. On the first leg I used my 18–70 mm lens, and coming back I used my 55–200 mm lens. It was a fairly bright morning, so I set the ISO to 320 and used the Landscape setting. I wanted to be casual and not spend a lot of time fiddling with the camera settings. Most of the pictures were shot at f/9 or f/10, with a few at f/7.1 and f/11.
Here is one of the pictures that I took:
I’m not going to claim that everything was intentional, especially on my initial outing. I like this picture because it is not simply a photo of a bridge. Instead of the trees in the foreground blocking the view, they complement it. They add interesting texture and color and give the picture more depth. In several pictures, such as this one, I used trees in the foreground to frame the picture.
Here’s another view of the bridge:
The fallen trees are forming a natural bridge parallel to the man-made bridge. The sparkles in the water draw your eyes to the fallen trees, then your view travels to the real bridge.
I focused my zoom on the branch with buds, softening the trees in the background. A shallower depth of field would probably look better.
I saw several bird houses. I like this one because the bright roof stands out amid the drab trees.
Ok, I’ve decided to post one more picture. This moss-covered rock might fall into a category that my photography professor warned me about. Is the rock interesting in itself, or was it the discovery of the rock? I think I really like the rock and the out of focus twigs in the foreground.
Of the 106 pictures that I took, I liked 47 of them enough to post them to a Flickr set.