Monday, April 14, 2008

Subduing shadows

An old bromide speaks of peacetime armies and navies preparing to fight the last war instead of the next one.

As I consider what I want from a new camera, I need to remind myself that I will be using the camera in the future, not to rectify missed photo opportunities of the past.

Not an easy task.

Since I posted about the new Olympus SP-570UZ Digital Camera couple of days ago, I've been reading & thinking and getting myself confused and maybe sometimes a little unconfused.

As usual, "mental disablity" isn't meaning "can't" -- it is meaning "harder" and "can't do for very long without a break" and "easily confused or upset."

Things are complicated by PTSD "calendar triggers" that are surely compounding some photography-related triggers, but at the same time may also be providing a distraction that is letting me do this. Asperger's syndrome is also a complicating factor, adding both difficulty and motivation.

Things are complicated by the fact that until I got my first digital camera in 1998, I mostly shot slides, and when I shot print film, I mostly had basic processing. That meant that you used the viewfinder for cropping, it wasn't something you could adjust after you got home.

Even with my digital cameras, the resolution has been so low that one wanted to use as much of the frame as you could. Most of my digital cropping has been to change form factor and trim a bit off the edges, especially in my Blockplay blog.

But with an image sensor with a high enough resolution, more options present themselves. The "digital zoom" that camera makers love to tout is one example. Whether done in camera or later in the computer, it is simply reaching beyond the limits of the optical zoom of the lens to pick out just the center of the image. Turning a 110mm-equivalent lensed 640x480 camera into a 440mm 160x120 is of limited pleasure, but a chunk out of a 3648 x 2736 image from a 520mm equivalent zoom could be very satisfying. Bring home some fun bird pictures.

At the wide angle end of the zoom, you can get more perspective control. In Blockplay, many times I've had to accept images where vertical lines on a building converge towards the top or bottom of a structure -- sometimes both. The solution to that is to keep the image plane (sensor or film) vertical. Which usually means chopping off part of the structure, if not omitting the structure from the image entirely.

To maintain resolution, one must shift the lens, which requires either a view camera or a very expensive lens for an interchangeable lens camera. But for blog use, I will be happy to take the low-to-medium resolution image I need out of when edge of a much larger image.

If you don't think the Blockplay examples have been terribly egregious, that is because I have had the luxury of being able to back up and use moderate telephoto, which makes the effect less noticable. In most cases the depth perspective effects of doing so, including nudging me towards using solid-colored backdrops, have done more good than harm. In the real world, those options are typically either not available or more troublesome.

Enough ramblings, especially with no pictures.

More anon.

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