01. August 2015 · Comments Off on Learning something new · Categories: Mental Process, Philosophy · Tags: ,
Moon & Planet through the Tufa; learning night photography

Moon & Planet through the Tufa; learning night photography

When I go out to a restaurant, often I order something new, just to see what it is like, but sometimes I have the tried and true (like vanilla ice cream).  Most folks I know have some spark of adventure in them, and some being comfortable.  I drive the same 4 routes to work with very little adventure, whichever way is quickest, but with food, far more adventuresome. What about your photography?  Are you learning something new? Or are you doing what you always do?

Milky way and Cathedral Peak - Learning night photography

Milky way and Cathedral Peak – Learning night photography

I have been curious about night photography, but haven’t done much.  I have thousands of frames of  Yosemite, but when an opportunity came up to try night photography I was up for it (in a literal sense as well; the first night ended about 1:30 AM).  Mostly the photos were duds which is not a surprise for the first time out.    I don’t particularly like the first image because of the blurriness of the stars.  Here are some of the the things that I learned:

  • Even with a red light headlamp, it causes problems.  Lots of images where the red light either came in through the eye piece or the foreground.
  • Similarly the red light on the camera for when it is active caused problems as well.
    • It helps if there is no one around with extraneous lights !
    • For the next night I put duck tape over active light on the camera (it still shown through, but much less, and didn’t seem to impact the photos)
    • I also put duck tape the second and third nights over the view finder to minimize any light that way as well.PJL20150717-Toulome Meadows-0593-Master-150717-2
  • Dress warmly.  This one I had nailed, even though it was in the 80s  during the day, at night with a breeze it was cold.
  • I also knew about hanging my camera bag from the tripod to help stabilize the tripod from the breeze.
  • I had problems getting the right exposure and focus
    • As can be seen in the the first image, that has the crisp silhouette, but small star tracks getting a good crisp sky, properly lit sky is tricky.
    • Use the fastest lens you have !
    • If you have a foreground, then use 2 different exposures with different focus points.  Use tape to hold the zoom, and focus in one place so that it doesn’t creep during the exposure.
    • Look up ahead of time what is needed for a good night shot (it is different between star trails, and milky way shots) that has ISO, exposure time, f-stop. Nice sites with info:
    • TURN OFF automatic noise reduction in the camera (certainly for Canon, maybe Nikon as well), as it doubles the time needed for every exposure.
  • And of course ! a GOOD tripod.

    Sunset over Mono Lake

    Sunset over Mono Lake

There is still lots more to learn about night photography !  Also lots of interesting foregrounds to use.

What are you learning that is new?  Go look at some photos, and see what you would like to try that is new? Patrick Lynch Photography

20. May 2015 · Comments Off on The day after…. · Categories: Argentina, Preparation, Travel · Tags: ,
Canon 5Dii w/ 70-200mm f/2.8, Sony Nex 6 w/ 18-104 with lens shade, Vivitar 285, lens shade for

Canon 5Dii w/ 70-200mm f/2.8, Sony Nex 6 w/ 18-104 with lens shade, Vivitar 285, lens shade for Canon

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things”  
Henry Miller

“No photographer is as good as the simplest camera” Edward Steichen

Previously I had written about the pros and mostly cons of a point & shoot (P&S).  Out of that I did some research and bought a Sony Nex 6 for about the price of a nice lens on my Canon system.  I am looking forward to experiments and trying it out….  Here are some of the lessons learned the day after.

What I had forgotten about is all of the other stuff that is needed to go with a new camera…

  • Camera bag of some form to carry it
  • New strap to replace miserable out of box strap that all new cameras seem to have
  • Spare batteries
  • Battery charger (it only came with in camera charging)
  • Arca-swiss plate for tripod mounting
  • SD cards
  • SD card holder (I have one for my CF cards for the Canon)
  • A circular polarizing filter, and UV haze filter for each lens
  • A filter holder / wallet
  • Nex 6 flash adapter so that I can use flash
  • A new large speedlight (possibly)
  • Adapter for Canon lens onto the Nex 6

All of this needs to learned anew.  How to use the camera in manual mode with and without a flash. How to change lens quickly and easily. What is it like on a tripod?

Then there are all of the reasons for moving away from the P&S.

  • Better image quality, no more barrel distortion
  • higher dynamic range
  • Enough pixels that the photos don’t look grainy to my eye.
  • Decreased chromatic aberration

All of these things will take time to validate or learn.  And it all takes time and practice.  I guess I should not plan on shooting a wedding with the new camera.  What will you learn the day after?

22. April 2015 · Comments Off on Sad Demise, The King is Dead, Long Live the King · Categories: Philosophy, Photography, Practice · Tags: , , ,
Babies without a mom

Elephant Seals,Piedras Blancas

“One of my greatest fears is not being able to change, to be caught in a never-ending cycle sameness.  Growth is so important” Matt Dilon


I sad to report the demise of Photosig, a site that I have recommended for a decade.  I have watched numerous students’ photos improve dramatically as they developed a photographer’s eye.  The idea was simple;

  1. Someone post a photo of theirs.
  2. Others would write critiques of the photo.  And this is where the learning takes place.
  3. And if still others found the critiques to be useful they were rate with thumbs up.  The critique writes then earned points that allowed them to post photos.

Learning to give a useful critique is important in several ways.  First, you have to learn to articulate what works and doesn’t work with a photo.  This requires engaging the photo and finding words to your reactions and figuring out what caused it.  This is critical to becoming a good photographer. Second, because it was someone else’s photo, there is much more detachment than if it were your own photo.  We tend to be our own worst critic; either too harsh or too lenient.   Third, because the critique has to be useful.

Photosig provided the structure that led us to learning. I am sad with the demise of Photosig.

The King is Dead, Long Live the King.  A toast to the cycle of kings.  Can we do no less?  Who is the new king? 500px seems to be the new king.  If you haven’t already looked at 500px you should check it out.


In my opinion, the quality of the images is better at  500px than it was at photosig, both from a clarity perspective, and from composition.  Critiques though are less structured and don’t lead people to grow as much as photosig did.   If you can learn to figure out why you like an image, then 500px  has more good images to look at and learn from.



15. April 2015 · Comments Off on A stronger Picture · Categories: Composition · Tags:
The Bridge

The Bridge

Go to the truth beyond the bridge- Patrick Lynch

Once again, I have fallen prey to the belief that a ‘new’ camera/toy will make better pictures !   While it is true that the quality of these images is beyond comparison to the point and shoot.  I have not been struck  wonderful as the worlds best photographer.

Being a good photographer is beyond the camera, and is also in the eye of seeing the photo.  What does that mean, the ‘eye of the photographer’ ?  There are several things that go into developing the ‘eye of the photographer’.

  • Recognizing the emotional appeal of a photo or a scene.  Or you can think of this as seeing the beauty of a scene
  • Technical craft: turning the camera  on, holding the camera still (usually),  getting the right exposure
  • Thinking about what makes  the picture the strongest picture possible. This includes composition, deciding if you want the distance to be blurred or sharp and choosing the picture you want.

Here Is another image, not as strong;

Different angle on the bridge - developing the eye of the photographer

Different angle on the bridge – developing the eye of the photographer

The top image could be made stronger by taking out the telephone pole and line which are distracting.


Part of the learning the craft, is to go beyond recognizing what would make a nice photo (the bridge) but also how to make it the strongest statement as possible. In this case, I was having to contend with cars, changing fog bank, no visibility to traffic.

In this case, being in the center of the road leads to a rather static feeling photo, whereas on the edge, there are diagonal lines which liven the photo. Having practice enough there wasn’t conscious thinking, but rather just knew, felt, intuited that the diagonals inherent in taking the photo from the side would make it more appealing.

What can you do to go beyond the recognition of a scene, to making it a stronger picture?

What I have found that works very well for anyone, novice through expert is looking at someone else’s photos (get rid of the ego – all my photos are good) and having to give useful reviews.  I particularly like  PhotoSig for this. It is free or pay (pay you can post more of your own photos).  People post photos, and other people who want can write reviews (very good practice), and the remainder of us can rate both the photos and the reviews.  Writing reviews that others find helpful forces you to examine the photo and give gentle feedback, which is the skill we need to learn for ourselves.


04. March 2015 · Comments Off on At lunch – what works for learning Photography · Categories: Mental Process, Preparation · Tags: , , , ,

Early morning. Any time, anyplace is good for learning photographyThe other day, several of us who are interested in photography, got together and had a beer over lunch (sorry, no photo of the beer).   The lunchtime conversation was interesting in that we spent most of it reflecting on what worked for each of us and what did not work.  Below is a quick summary of the conclusions we had and the common shared philosophy around teaching and learning photography.

  • There are good workshops, and not so good workshops
    • Not so good have things like:
      • ‘Here is what is wrong with that photo’ followed by a long devastating list
      • ‘Oh, there are no photos or anything to take a photo of here’
      • Where the workshop people are more interested in taking their own photos than helping you with yours.
    • Unfortunately it is kind of hard to figure this out without having been on one of these types of workshops….
    • Good workshops
      • Instructors are there to help you
      • Interactive question & answer (not pontificated at)
      • Instructors give each person something to work on for their own improvement based on where they are at.
  • That the learning process takes practice and gentle feedback
  • That we can learn to give ourselves feedback with practice.

In one workshop that was led, one of the participants was complaining that the sun was in the wrong position and that it was the workshops fault…

Part of what any workshop should teach is how to work with what is there, not what you wish were there.    The joke was about a guy who always won whatever bet he make.  Life became uninteresting…. Part of what makes photography what it is, is the learning of how to work with what we have.

There was one workshop that we bumped into at Bodie,

Shanty town, Bodie. Learning Photography can occur anywhere

Funniest places to meet people. Learning Photography can occur anywhere

one of the participants of that workshop had a question that the workshop instructor couldn’t answer.   We looked up the answer out of curiosity, and then ran into the same workshop group at dinner (there are only a limited number of places to eat).  We sat around and discussed the answer with that whole workshop, even though it was not ours.  The goal is about sharing, not hoarding.