This shot of a rogue wave is not a set up. Nor has it tasted any image editing apart from cropping and setting the color balance correctly de laPhotoshop style. This is the kind of photograph that presents itself in an instant and if you blink it is gone. We had decided to spend some time on the aft of deck 4 of the MV Orion as it headed back to Bluff, New Zealand from Mawson’s Hut — Commonwealth Bay, honing our skills of capturing birds on the wing. After an hour or so the sun had retreated and it was to say the least cold. Patti had decided, wisely, to take a break and warm up with something from the Leda bar. I stayed out longer (getting colder) and after another hour I dropped my gaze to the sea in front of me and a wave travelling across the swell started to build. I framed and waited, the hard part was not to blaze away and find the camera would not fire because I had filled the buffers. Holding off until I felt that the Cartier-Bresson moment was about to happen I took just three shots. The first was the money shot, in the second the wave had collapsed over the clear section and the third, taken less than a second after the first, showed the wave was now absorbed into the swell. Patti got some great bird on the wing shots too — Look for Wingover I & II.
Photography is so much more than equipment and trying to remember a bunch of composition and exposure rules. There is always the elements or preparedness and luck.
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If you had started in photography when most pictures were taken using B&W film then it is possible you have heard of this rule and made use of it. Before the introduction of reliable exposure meter systems built in to a camera a photographer learnt how to “read” the scene’s light to decide on the correct shutter speed and aperture (f/stop) they would need to get the shot. Most photographers were not that experienced and would make use of a hand held light meter to achieve the same result.
With digital cameras now being 100% dependent on having a working exposure system you are unlikely to have to figure out the exposure variables before shooting.
But, as a little exercise see how you camera stacks up against “The Rule”. I used a Nikon D3 for this exercise. At midday I pointed the cmera at a suitable scene and set the ISO to 200, f/stop to f/16 and shutter speed to the reciprocal of the ISO, namely 1/200 sec and then pressed the shutter release. I then took another shot using the same ISO but set the camera’s auto exposure system to work and it delivered the picture with a shutter speed of 1/100 sec. In other words the auto system is over exposing relative to the Sunny 16 Rule. What’s going on here.
Simple – it is after all a Rule of Thumb and it was designed to give a reasonable exposure in the B&W film days. If you are going to use this to amaze your friends with your skill of not needing an exposure meter don’t forget to experiment and see if you have to add or subtract any shutter speed or f/stop to get the exposure you want. Apply that adjustment for when you are shooting and on a sunny day the results will speak for themselves.
Of course if cloud intrudes that will lower the amount of light and you have to give more exposure to achieve a well exposed image. But that is for another day.
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Any text on photography often starts out telling you that the word is a two parter; photo — light and graphy — writing, hence writing with light. Quite an apt description. But since the root words really came from Greek were the Greeks running around with Box Brownies and developing their film in ouzo and showing the results at their local photography club nights?
No. The term photography was only coined at the time that a viable technique of capturing and fixing an image became public knowledge.
Two astronomers, Johann von Maedler (1794 – 1874) from Berlin and Sir John Frederick William Herschel (1792 – 1871) from Britain are credited with the coining the word photograph. Both used the term when describing the first commercially successful image capture and display process, the Daguerreotype, in 1839. The Daguerreotype process was developed by Louis Jacques Mande Daguerr (1787 1851) and Joseph Nicephore Niepce (1765 1833).
Did you notice that Niepce died prior to the demonstration taking place? Niepce, being Daguerr’s development partner prior to his passing, is credited with the very first photo in 1827.
Although there is now controversy as to the real first photograph and thus who invented the technology this is certainly one of the first images that has survived from those first faltering steps towards what we do today digitally.
And this is considered one of the first photographs that included people in it. Until this picture all streetscapes were uninhabited. This was simply because the exposure time was so long no one stopped long enough to be recorded! And that explains how these gentlemen took the honors as one had stopped to get his boots cleaned and polished!
(Excerpt from MIP’s Photography 101 Course (History of Photography)
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