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LHD Winner

A forum to post any lighthouse pictures you'd like others to see. Feel free to talk about lighthouse photography. Lighthouse-related photos (such as LSS and lenses) are also welcome.

Postby Gary Martin » Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:11 am


I've been sitting back watching this one bounce back and forth for a couple of days and figured it was time to throw in some comments. Consider these comments as coming from whatever category of photographer you wish to categorize me in, I don't much care personally.

The premise that the average viewer can't appreciate the nuances of a photograph that was done with a very high degree of technical competence is about akin to someone saying that the last time I stood in front of the Mona Lisa I couldn't appreciate it because I'm not a painter or an artist. I've stood in front of that painting several times and am amazed every time I look at it.

An individual's technical competence and mastery of their equipment comes together with the photographer's vision, composition, and all the rest of it to make a great photo. People viewing the photograph can appreciate that without having to understand any of the techno crap that went into making the image... On the other hand, there are those who think that a black velvet Elvis ranks up there with the Mona Lisa, Starry Night, Edvard Munk's "The Scream," or whatever else you want to put on the list, but so it goes. Some of those who appreciate photography will buy it, others won't.

As for predicting what people want... that's simple. They always want what you DIDN'T print and bring along! In my experience here in NJ, storm photos of big waves and massive clouds of spray going over lighthouses sell well. I must admit though that it always miffs me when someone, after looking through my storm images, asks if I sell "that famous print of the big wave going over the lighthouse by that guy... I think he's French..." or something like that. D'oh... what is it that you didn't understand about the caveat about the show that says "handmade" or "original" or something like that? Sunrise and sunset lighthouse photos sell well, as do lighthouses sheathed in ice (they're not brave enough or stupid enough here in NJ to get out in those conditions themselves with a camera, I guess!). Images that the viewer/customer can connect with because of where they came from or vacationed when they were a kid, where their parents have retired to, etc. are always high interest IF you have them. That said, I almost always have multiple prints of Ponce de Leon Inlet Florida with me with I do and arts & crafts show here... I usually sell at least a couple of them. The same goes with photos of some of the lighthouses that have 'iconic" status - Cape Hatteras, Portland Head, Nubble, Split Rock, MN. and around here vertical panos of the Little Red Lighthouse Beneath the Great Grey Bridge made famous by the children's book.

Barry posed the following question...

Lastly, will one of the "pros" here speak to the topic of the number of frames shot on a shoot. Many times, as these accounts are relayed to us, its in the hundreds and the number is spoken with pride ... what were the criteria of those that pass muster and those that dont ...


I guess I could laughingly say that I shoot until I run out of space on the CF card(s) but that's not accurate any more. There are two CF slots in my D3 and they always have at least 2 x 16 Gb cards in them, which gives you the capacity for thousands, not hundreds of shots in RAW mode. When I photographed at dawn at Nubble the week we were in Maine, I probably shot 50-75 frames in the predawn. There, the changing light and changing nuances of color drove the number of shots, as did playing with EV values and hence color saturation, shooting angles, focal length choices, and changes in what I was/wasn't able to capture in terms of foreground detail (you can look at some of what made my cut on another thread here on lh.net and below and there are others). Going around Cape Horn a couple of months ago I ended up shooting 44 Gbytes of RAW files - that translates to somewhere around 6,000+ photos. Have I looked at all of them 2+ months after my return home? No, not yet. Will I get through all of them -- yes, eventually. I've found that many times when I go back through large collections of images months or even years later, I find things that catch my eye that didn't for whatever reason when they were originally shot. To some extent, my vision is evolving and changing with time and will probably continue to do so. When it comes to storm images, sometimes you're looking now for some nuance in an image that you didn't care about when the images were first captured. In one case I got prismatic rainbows in the spray clouds that I didn't know that I'd captured when I shot the images and didn't find until a couple of months later (there were about 5,500 images shot during the last big fall storm that I photographed on Lake Michigan in November 2005 and I knew I would be leaving the state in a few months and my convenient access to the lights and the storms on the lake was going away!)

When I'm shooting, I don't even think about numbers of images that I'm shooting. I frequently wander about with one camera in hand and a collection of lenses and a second camera body in a messenger bag over my shoulder. I let the scene unfold as I walk about and shoot when I see an angle or composition that captures my eye. Sometimes I have a "plan" of where I want to shoot from, e.g. the Pemaquid Point shot below was shot from an angle that was preplanned in my mind's eye from having been there before.

Image

Other times, if it's a light that I've never been to before like Minot's Ledge, I don't have anything planned and take advantage of what I find, e.g.

Image

I don't know if this answers your question or not, Barry. If my trained gull won't fly where he's supposed to I keep shooting. BTW, Bodie Island was a flight of pelicans going by the lantern room. If the waves aren't cooperating I may either keep shooting or I may quit and go somewhere else if the storm is abating. At sunrise I quit when it gets too bright. At sunset, I usually shoot until the exposure times are getting ridiculously long and/or when there's no residual light left in the sky even for the camera. The latter happens long after your eye is telling you that it's dark.
Last edited by Gary Martin on Sun Apr 26, 2009 10:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Gary Martin » Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:14 am


BTW, Barry, unless we're at the tip of a rocky promontory, I wouldn't mind shooting beside you and I know you wouldn't pull the stunt that one woman did at sunset one evening on the beach at South Haven, Michigan. She walked around looking at photographes and what they were shooting with, it seemed. I guess I won the contest... she walked up and set her camera and tripod up DIRECTLY in line between me and the lighthouse. I'll leave it to your imagination what was said when she did that but it wasn't very polite on my part...
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Postby clm1950 » Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:49 am


Thanks for sharing the links above. All of the photos are absolutely gorgeous!
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Postby Grover1 » Sat Apr 25, 2009 5:57 pm


Geese ... pelicans ... whats the difference? (Just kidding ... :wink: ) At my age Im just glad I remembered they were birds ...

Those shots could not have been planned ... How many images would you guess you shot up there in relation to the one dazzling one you shared with us? I guess what I am asking, what I am seeking, is the insight ... 5500+ storm images ... could every one have been taken with a plan ... I dont think so ... a thought, maybe, a thought based on your experience and talent, but a plan? ... or could it be as simple as you say, you didnt know you captured certain images until after you viewed the results ...

Your longer exposure shots for sure require the execution of a vision, a plan... 5500+ ??? There's a randomness there ... and if you'll pardon an assumption, I dont associate you with the concept of "randomness"

So, where I guess I am going with this, in relation to Mike's hypothetical ... two guys, side by side, up in the lantern room of a very tall lighthouse in NC ... one is a photographer ... one is a "cutesy" snaphsot taker ... one has "gear" .... one has a camera ... one guy says to the other "hey, coming at us, is that a flock of geese or a flock of pelicans?" The other says "looks like pelicans to me!" The first guy says "then damn the fresnel, I guess we better start shooting the birds" In the minute or two it takes for the flock to pass, the guy with "gear" snaps off 500 images ... they guy with the camera, maybe fifty, maybe seventy ... One guy will have "raw data." One guy will have a seventy image Windows slide show ... With no chance to pre plan, how will they each react to what they shot?

Im just guessing they are both going to be spectacularly happy with their individual results ...
Believe those who search for the truth ...
Doubt those who find it ...
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Postby Gary Martin » Sun Apr 26, 2009 10:23 am


Barry, you seem to have a serious and inappropriate pre-occupation (fascination?) with how many photos people shoot. What's more important is what photographers shoot and still more importantly WHAT they cull from however many photos that they shot for display, prints, or whatever their purpose is.

Bottom line, you shoot what whatever you're shooting warrants. At the top of Bodie Island, I may have shot 2 or 3 photos of the pelican flyby while they were close and maybe another couple as they receded into the distance. That took a few seconds. You see them, you respond, you frame and focus, and you shoot. It's over :!: It took about as long to happen as it took to read the sentences of this paragraph. BTW, there was one photographer up there and one NPS ranger escort. You can believe what you want, but if the other hypothetical photographer that you were referring to was up there at the same time, he'd probably stand there and get in the way managing to do nothing or maybe get one marginal shot not the 50-70 photo Windows slide show you seem to think he'd get that would make him immensely and deliriously happy. I would also point out that said hypothetic photographer probably doesn't concern himself with focal length, aperture and depth of field, EV values, shutter speed, and the other factors that go into the composition of a technically proficient photograph. Sadly, your hypothetical photographer probably holds the camera at arm's length, aims the thing, and pushes the shutter button, which depending on what the shutter button is attached to, may not fire in time to even get the shot because of shutter lag characteristic of a lot of P&S digitals.

As for storm photography, the planning is in positioning yourself and setting up the camera to capture the waves at 8 frames/second in focus and with the action frozen in each frame. The next planning step is knowing what to look for through the viewfinder to make the split second decision on whether or not to trigger the electronic cable release for a burst of 20-25 frames of a single wave that rip by in less than 3 seconds. None of it is a random process except for the people who jump out of the car and shoot two or three pictures and then jump back into the car proclaiming to the driver, "My God it's cold and windy!" and think they've captured a stormy lighthouse. Those are the same people who sometimes look at one of my storm prints and tell me something like, "I have a photo just like that at home." At which point I usually mumble something like, "I'm sure you do," knowing that they' most likely have something shot with a focal length of 32 mm at f/11 courtesy of the decision made by whoever designed their point and shoot where the lighthouse and the wave comprise about 4% of the total surface area of the print. However, when you're shooting high speed sequences for eventual wave animation in high winds (often sustained at 60 mph or higher) the numbers of photos mounts quickly. Divide by about 25 and you get a more accurate feel for what was shot since every "shot" is a sequence of 20-25 frames -- at least when I'm shooting storms. After the fact when you evaluate what you shot, you need to go through the entire sequence of 20-25 frames for every wave to determine whether or not it's worth the work to stack the images, register the individual frames, and then crop them for the work that it then takes to do an animation. Ask Hersh, he can now tell you, it's a hell of a lot of work and all has to be carefully hand done if the animation is going to look good.

Image

The bottom line is that in all probability, LHD is going to keep publishing what competent photographs consider to be poor or marginal photos because none of the serious photographers is going to give Tim Harrison a contribution to his lighthouse stock photo library.
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Postby Grover1 » Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:03 pm


Gary ... I will accept "serious" ... I will accept "fascination" ... I might even stretch it and accept "pre-occupation" However, and I am being extremely serious, in the context we are discussing, I will not accept "inappropriate." In fact, there are few contexts I would accept that in.

What intrigues me is thought process ... it wasnt my hypotherical, it was Mike's, the "side by side" thing ... I just tried to correlate it to a real life event and I was trying to inject a little fun to illustrate a point ... but you felt compelled to figuratively smack me a little before answering it. And that's fine ... to cite others ... we're all adults and if we give it, which I do, we take it, which I will

Its like this ... I introduced the topic, asking for someone to expound. You made a many statements regarding the quantity of shots taken ... then you made a statement that, to me, didnt add up ... so I wanted to ask the question maybe others might be thinking but wouldnt ask ... I just found it fascinating that someone of stature and standing could take shots in the quantity mentioned and then be surprised one captured something one wasnt shooting for ... In one case I got prismatic rainbows in the spray clouds that I didn't know that I'd captured when I shot the images

What I hoped you would have addressed is the extension of the Branch Rickey canard, that "Luck is he residue of design," that instincts also play a major part in the successful artist/photographer ... That you shot those waves "becasue ...." Why would nuance come into play after the fact ... Without context, the numbers lose relevancy ... You attempted to explain, I know, but it prompted questions in my mind.

I thought I lobbed you a softball ... I guess I should start tipping my pitches .

(A note ... I just edited myself to make this post a little more accurate and a whole lot tighter ... I apologize to anyone who might be reading this a second time and thinking its a tad different ... it is, just a tad ...)
Believe those who search for the truth ...
Doubt those who find it ...
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