Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cruising and Photography

As you regular readers know, I take a lot of photographs while cruising.  I also took a lot of photographs while simply living aboard.  I guess I just take a lot of photographs.  I took the advice a photographer friend once gave me, that if you want to take a couple of good photos, take a few hundred.  The couple of good ones will be in there somewhere.

I wrote one time about the many photos I put in our blog and wondered if they were too many.  The overwhelming response was a resounding no (did you ever notice that responses are always overwhelming, and are followed by a resounding answer?).

Some idiot left his camera up on the flybridge in the rain recently, which killed it real good.  Pam's little point and shoot camera actually takes nice photos and I'll just use that, I thought.  but against my protests, Pam persuaded me to buy a nicer camera, a DSLR (digital single leans reflex). 

These new fangled DSLRs are amazing pieces of equipment.   Like the old film SLRs, the lenses are changable so you can switch from a wide angle to a telephoto.  Each lens has a motor to assist in keeping the image stable, a plus on a boat.  But perhaps the most amazing thing to me was the software that came with it to improve and enhance the photos taken.

First, a disclaimer.  I'm a total newbie at this.  Although I'm a computer guy, I don't learn fast.  I have  to come to understand something before I can learn it.  Rote memorization  doesn't work for me.  So yesterday, being a rain out here in Isle of Hope, I spent many hours taking test photos using many different camera settings and then tinkered with them with Nikon's software, called View NX2, to see how much I could fix things.  Here are a couple of results.

First, let me explain that a photographer friend advised taking pics in "RAW" mode.  I'm not sure, at this point, exactly what that is, but it's supposedly a format that gives you more ability to modify photos.  So I set the camera to create two images of each pic, one in a standard JPG and one in NEF, Nikon's version of a RAW pic.

Here is a pic of Dirty Gertie, our cat.  It was taken without a flash, so it's dark.  It's also cockeyed, something I do frequently.  I think I list to starboard.

Here is the same photo after straightening it, cropping it,  and messing with the focus and lighting.

No, I know it's not a great shot, but it went from really bad to OK.

The next one was more difficult.  I set up a still life with a couple of wine glasses and a wedding photo and took many pics using different camera settings and both lenses.  I picked this one to mess with.

Not only is this pic boring, but the wide angle lens makes the two wine  glasses heel (a sailing term that means "lean".  Sailors say "heel" as part of their special lingo to confuse everyone else) in opposite directions.  The lighting isn't too good either.   Basically, this is a bad pic.  So I chose it.

The first thing I did was to make one of the glasses more or less vertical using the software's "straighten" function.  I chose the one on the left since it's the one in focus in this short depth of field.  I then cropped the photo to get most of the other glass out of there, but I left some of it to add some interest.  I then played with the light and color settings until I got something I felt was an OK pic.

That was how I spent most of my rainy day yesterday, playing with the camera and its software to learn its capabilities.  I'm sure I've only scratched the surface, and knowing me, I'll never spend the time to learn all it can do.   I'd rather be out there doing it.

My advice to you is to consider doing the same.  Buy a halfway decent camera and learn how to use it, so that when I'm in the home and you're the ones out cruising, I'll have plenty of nice photos to look at on your cruising blogs.

By the way, I appreciate all the comments and emails, and those who choose to follow this blog.  Your encouragement is what makes me get up at 3 AM to write this stuff.  I learned long ago that this hour is when my mind is most clear and I write the best.  Now, back to bed. 


  1. You lost me there when you said you'd be at home.... WHAT! You mean I won't get to read this EVERY morning for the rest of my life??? You HAVE to reach Florida some day! However, I did like the part about us cruising. Sounds like a plan!!!

  2. Hi Mark,

    No, not at home, in a home. Big difference. :)

    We're going to be cruising for quite awhile, I hope. Although I've seen Pam googling old folks homes on her iPad...

  3. Hi Dave here is a rave review for you. Love the in-flight photo of the pelican with your new Nikon.

  4. Hi there Dave...great blog you have. As a fellow photo-dabbler and Nikon (D80)owner, I'm looking forward to seeing your next generation (not sure if that term is really applicable, but oh well) photos.
    I couldn't agree more with the advice of taking hundreds of photos to get one or two good ones. In the digital world the photos are all free once you've bought the camera. And the lenses. And the other stuff.
    I've also found that every time you manipulate the images in post processing you lose definition so I try to avoid that by taking the same shot with different lighting and angles.
    Anyway, nothing beats boating and photography!