Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Winter's Wonders

Wentworth Valley, NS. Pentax Zoom-90, Kodak Ultramax-400

Winter is not my favourite time of year, and that gets more true with every year that passes. However, for the Photographer, winter offers up visual treasures that you simply don't see at any other time. Ice and snow can provide very interesting photo opportunities, combined with the fact that you don't need to get up as early, or go to bed as late in order to get the best lighting, or to see the most spectacular sunrise / sunsets. I just got a roll of film out of my "lowly" Pentax Zoom-90 yesterday, and was treated to many nice wintry delights.

Winter At The Big House

This is the Dorchester Penitentiary in a snowstorm. Normally, if you are caught taking pictures on the prison grounds, the outdoor patrol will zoom over quickly and take away your camera. However, I took my chances, with the flash turned on to really light up the fat snowflakes. I'm really surprised that my flash wasn't noticed from the Guard Tower. I really love the eerie green from the Sodium Vapour lights as captured on daylight film.

West Sackville Sunset

Here is a perfect example of the importance of having a camera with you at all times. On your person, a Smartphone camera, by all means, is good enough. But in the car, be absolutely prepared with a real camera - one with film in it. And if you're worried about theft, a plastic compact from the '80's or '90's is the way to go, as there are always plenty to be found for under $10 at any Goodwill store, or yard  sales. Right now, I've got five of 'em - the Pentax Zoom-90 happens to be my best one. This awesome sunset was happening right before my eyes while driving, and you know it's at it's peak when the light from it is reflected in the windows of a house. This is what photography is really about!

Snow and Sand (Pentax Zoom-90 Un-altered Scan)

Also taken in West Sackville (on another day), this is an interesting shot of how a pile of sand and blowing snow can mix together to form what looks like a nice pudding. This time, I happened to have my "new" Rebel T3i in the car, along with the Zoom 90. I can never resist comparing film and digital, so see for yourself:

Straight from T3i JPEG

T3i RAW File Worked With Photivo, Added Orton Effect

Beginner's Tip - There's really not much use in shooting JPEG with a camera that will also shoot RAW files. I always have the camera set on RAW+JPG for the sake of giving me something to talk about, but generally, I wouldn't recommend it, based on image quality alone. As you can see, compared to the film shot with my Goodwill Store camera, the digital JPEG is flat, dark, fuzzy and lifeless, even though everything in the camera, including the Histogram, was showing correct half-stop over-exposure. The processed RAW file, on the other hand, is almost as good as the film version.

T3i JPEG With GIMP One-Click Auto-Correction

Finally, don't despair if your camera doesn't shoot RAW files. All bad JPEGs can be easily fixed with a single mouse click. This is even true of the most basic software - the "Windows photo Editor" that comes for free as part of all Windows systems - simply click on "Edit Photo" and then "Auto-Fix" and all of a sudden, your picture comes to life! Not quite as good as a well processed RAW, and certainly not as good as a film-scan, but at least it's presentable. Just keep in mind that when you shot Digital, even with the very best cameras, your digital files will always need some post-processing - always. And with more good news, most if not all of the very newest cameras provide for JPEG processing, or RAW to JPG conversion within the camera itself.

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