Friday, November 23, 2012

A Convert to Shutter Speed Mode

When shooting photos in shutter speed mode, you control the camera's shutter speed, while your camera selects the appropriate aperture in order to get the proper exposure. Photographers would often shoot in shutter speed mode when covering sports, because they want to freeze the action.

While I've known about shutter speed mode and its uses for quite some time, I never used it very much. The reason is that depending on the lighting conditions, the camera may not find an aperture long enough to properly expose your photo at the shutter speed you desire. This can lead to underexposed images, sometimes severely underexposed. Instead of shooting in shutter speed mode, I would shoot in aperture mode. I would often shoot at the largest aperture, reasoning that a shutter speed faster than I desired would not hurt when trying to freeze the action. If I found that I couldn't get the desired shutter speed at the largest aperture, I would increase the ISO settings. Increasing the ISO makes the camera's sensor more sensitive to light (at the expensive of noise in the photo), which allows you to shoot with faster shutter speeds.

Another feature that I never really made use of was the Auto ISO feature of my camera. My Canon 40D had an automatic ISO feature, but its range was 400-1600. I found that when I used an ISO of 800 or higher, the images from the 40D had too much noise. Since the actual usable range was so limited, I never used the Auto ISO setting on the 40D.

Although my Canon ID Mark IV and Canon 5D Mark II handle noise much better than my 40D, I never really used the Auto ISO feature with them either. This was really a bad idea on my part, because not only do the camera's show much less noise at the lower ISO's, they also have a much larger range of ISO's covered by the Auto ISO setting.

When I went to shoot some of the BBSA baseball games today, I decided to set my camera to shutter speed mode (TV on Canon) and select the ISO to auto. By doing this, I could control the camera's shutter speed, ensuring that I could freeze the action, and the camera would pick an appropriate aperture and ISO to get the correct exposure. I was very happy with the results. Instead of having to worry about changing the ISO when the lighting might change, the camera did it for me. I was very pleased with the results. I need to do some research, however, to understand better how it balances between the aperture and ISO.

Next time I am going to try to shoot in manual mode with the auto ISO set. This would give me control of both shutter speed and aperture, with the only setting picked by the camera the ISO.

Recently, I've also gone back to shooting outdoor sports in JPEG mode. This is one of the times where the advantages of RAW are outweighed by the faster frames per second and smaller space taken on the hard drive. The only downside is that I need to make sure I change the settings back when shooting something else.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hanging Out With Spider Man in Osaka

We had planned on spending the second half of our Japan trip in Kyoto, seeing all the of the wonderful sites and temples. While we were in Tokyo, it became apparent that the kids were not enjoying the historic and natural beauty as much as we did. In fact, they were grumpy, complained and fought with each other.

We changed our plans a bit, and spent one day at Universal Studios in Osaka. Although some of the shows were in Japanese, the kids still really enjoyed themselves.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Our Japan Trip

A silver lining to going through and  tagging my photos is that it gives me a chance to look at some of the photos that I've taken throughout the year.  I realized that got about halfway through blogging about our Japan trip in the spring before I stopped.

One night we visited the TMG building to get a view of the lights of Tokyo.  Perhaps the most striking thing about the night was not the view at all (although I very much enjoyed it), but what we saw on the way.  We passed by an area occupied by Japanese homeless people.  What was amazing was how neat and orderly everything was.  There sleeping bags were lined up in straight lines, and there was no clutter or garbage around.

I decided not to take photos of the homeless people.  Even though I could have taken some shots without displaying their faces, I decided against it.  If I were to walk through there again, I might go ahead and take the photos.

The TMG certainly does provide a great view of the city.  In order to avoid having a reflection when shooting through the windows, I placed my camera flush against the window, and used my body to block the light from inside the building.  The family was very patient, giving me plenty of time to take photos.  After we took the elevator all the way back down to the ground floor, one of the girls remembered that she had left her purse up at the top.  Tim went back up with her, while the rest of us waited.


I'm going through the photos that I've taken this year and making sure that I added keywords for Tim and the kids, and for a few friends. It is such a time consuming process, but it allows me to find photos of them very easily.

Rescue Dogs

Last week, my neighbor Kuhn Ohm asked me to take photos for a group here in Thailand that trains their dogs to help in rescue efforts.  The group trains every week in the upper levels of a parking structure of an underutilized mall about twenty minutes from here.

This was a special occasion, because an assessor (I was corrected when I said judge) from Europe had traveled to test the dogs.  The group dynamic was interesting, only two of the five volunteers with dogs were actually Thai, while two were from New Zealand and one from America.  Interestingly, the American lived in Cincinnati for a long time.  My neighbor lived in Cincinnati three years as well, so of the nine people, three had lived in the Queen City.  An American veterinarian also volunteers with the group, although he doesn't have a dog to train.

The people were great, and really went out of their way to make me feel at home.  I learned a good deal about the rescue dog certification process.  Apparently there are three levels; one of the volunteers was testing for the middle level (B), while the others were testing for first level.  Overall the testing went pretty well, although my neighbor's dog did meet the standard this time.  This is understandable, because she has only been training her dog for six months, while the others have been involved for as many as two years.

During the rescue test, I had the chance to participate by walking around.  The dogs are trained to ignore humans who are standing or walking around.  This gave me the chance to take some photos during the test, otherwise I would have had to stand too far back.  The lighting conditions in the garage weren't ideal, so I had to shoot at a higher ISO in order to be able to hand hold the camera.  

Overall I had a really great time.  Thailand is lucky to have these folks volunteer their time to train their dogs so that some day they might save lives.



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Opening Day

This past weekend was the opening day for the Bangkok Baseball Softball Association.  The festivities were guests of honor this year were Ambassador Kinney and major league baseball star Johnny Damon.









More Austin Photos


The door hinges at the capitol were pretty cool.


During Segway tour, we had time to explore the Capitol Building.

Austin - Summer 2012

Back in the summer, Tim and I visited Austin to check it out as a possible place to relocate when we move back to the states. Austin ranks high on many lists of the best places to live in the U.S. We enjoyed our trip, but we are not sure if those hot summer months are what we want.

Who knew that tacos were for breakfast? We ate at Torchy's two mornings in a row, and even brought back a couple of bottles of their hot sauce.

We enjoyed the bbq at Rudy's and The County Line, but didn't make it to Salt Lick BBQ.

Lest one thinks that all we did was eat, the Segway tour of the capital was a lot of fun. We went on a Saturday morning, so neither the streets nor the capitol were crowded.

It was plenty hot at Zilker Park in July.