Friday, March 13, 2009

Change What To Focus On & Zoom In

Today, Friday, was just another 'orange' sunrise and another 'orange' sunset. So, I didn't shoot anything today. But, yesterday provided a couple of opportunities. As I was leaving for work, I thought that it was going to be just a plain old 'orange' sunrise, but I decided to drive into one of the cul-de-sacs and take a look. And, lo and behold, there were a few clouds. So, I jumped out of the car to take the shots below.

It may be a little hard for you to tell from these small images, but I decided to change what the camera was focused on. (If you click on the images, you can see them a little bigger.) With the camera (this was using my Fujifilm) set for its automatic 'sunset' mode, it automatically focuses on what it wants to focus on. After taking the shot, I could tell that it had focused on the branches, leaving the clouds a little out of focus.

But, what if you wanted the clouds to be more in focus, and the branches to be softer. One of the tricks you can do if the overall lighting of your subject is uniform, is to point the camera at the something else that you want it to focus on, press the shutter button halfway down and hold it there, and then re-frame the picture to position your desired objects into the frame. Then, press the shutter button the rest of the way. But, when shooting something kinda bright (like the sun!!!), if you aim at something else to get the camera to focus, in this case, at infinity, it will also lock in the exposure based upon what you currently have in the frame. And, then when you reposition so as to bring the sun back into the picture, it will end up being badly over exposed. So, for the following shot, all I did was to step to the side so that the tree limbs were no longer in the center of the frame, kept the sun centered, and let the camera focus and adjust the exposure, and then stepped back to the side to reposition the tree limbs where I wanted them. So, in this shot, the limbs are out of focus, and the clouds are sharp. Notice that the two exposures are the same.

And, that brings me to last night. I was still in town as the sun went down, instead of arriving back at home. I have pulled over at this same spot several times, and each time I have gotten completely different results. As you can see from the shot below, it looked like just another 'orange' sunset. The colors aren't too bad - I like the darker sky up high.

But, just zoom in and the world looks completely different! The difference here is that the above image was shot fully zoomed out, and the one below, fully zoomed in. Again, my Fujifilm FinePix S8000fd sports an 18x optical zoom. You can see what an awesome difference this makes. And, I really do like Palm Tree silhouettes.

And, one final issue -- image stabilization is a must when zoomed in this much. Otherwise you can't possibly hold the camera still enough (without stopping to set up a tripod - and did I mention that I had just pulled over to the side of the road?) to keep the image from getting all blurred. I have found the image stabilization of the FinePix to be outstanding. I'm just standing there, teetering back and forth, taking shots, and they all come out looking like the camera was on a tripod.