The Second Most Important Feature Of Digital Photography

If seeing the results of your camera shot immediately is the most important advantage of digital over film photography, then seeing the image in live view to make adjustments in difficult lighting is the second most important.  What I mean is that you can see what you are going to get before you capture it.  This is very valuable in many instances.  For instance, when the sky is dimming and dusk approaches it is very helpful to use live view.

Desert scene at dusk
Desert scene at dusk

To get this shot I turned on live view on my DSLR and moved the camera around to get the lighting I liked.  When I saw what I wanted took the picture.  This is much much harder using film.  Normally what you do is bracket around and hope that you get some usable-great shots.  Most of the time you will, but digital works a lot better.

Cell phones offer great live views to get sunset or sunrise pictures.  But DSLR camera’s normally give a better result.  If you are shopping for a new camera make sure it has a good back screen or an electronic viewfinder.  I personally prefer an optical viewfinder combined with a good back screen, but I can understand that an EVF has it’s advantages too.  I know of at least one camera that can switch the viewfinder from optical to electronic.  That would be ideal depending on how well it works.

The Balloon Festival At Albuquerque Should Be On Everyone’s Bucket List

First off, the only good way to see this event is by using an RV.  The main balloon event is the mass ascension and that happens starting just after dawn.  This is very early to get up if you are staying in a hotel.  The second event is the glow which happens close to dusk.  Again, better to be a short shuttle bus away to your rig than try to fight the traffic to get back to your hotel.

Morning mass ascension
Morning mass ascension

I also recommend you stay at the on site park grounds in your RV.  You can book a tour through people like Escapees, FMCA, Adventure RV tours, or just make reservations.  If you do not like generator noise book into the areas with power to them.  The other big advantage to staying on site is you can take the free shuttle bus.  There is very heavy traffic getting to the events and the shuttle bus means you don’g have to fight the traffic.

This balloon is huge.  About 80-100 ft high.
This balloon is huge. About 80-100 ft high.

You want to book for the entire festival as some days the balloon show does not take place.  Winds are too high, it rains, and so on.  For us the mass ascension the first days we the best.  The last day they did not even have it as the winds were too high.

Somehow these guys always stuck together.
Somehow these guys always stuck together.

I do recommend you go to the balloon museum.  It is really well put together and very interesting.

So put this event on your bucket list and go.  Book early.

Life In The Slower Lane

After several decades of life in the faster lane it feels good to try letting others pass.  I did not decide to do or try this it just happened.  Now it feels normal to not always push to be first.  Instead of focusing on getting there the process or journey becomes part of the enjoyment if you are in the slower lane.  At least that is how it seems to me.  RVing, enjoying simpler things, pets, taking pictures, and reflecting on how all this fits together is part of giving up the rat race.

manzanita b + dog
Frazier on the beach in Oregon.

Life in the slower lane is not spending a lot of time with a “bucket list”.  Sky diving is likely not going to add as much to your enjoyment of life as spending time trying to get to know someone or working a little on a hobby you love.

Try driving a little slower.  You save gas, it is safer, you enjoy the trip more.

I remember my father saying one time, “I used to get headaches all the time, I have not had one since I retired”.  I used to get headaches nearly every day.  As I have reduced my stress, work, and moved to the slower lane, my headaches have become fewer as the process proceeds.

San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo

I volunteer at the Zoo.  I help people find things and assist them if they need a cart to pick them up or fall.  This is very relaxing.  Sometimes hard work, but no pressure.

Since I try and relate things in this blog to RVs I want to include that RVing tends to be a very relaxing lifestyle.  Not that there are not stress inducing events such as breakdowns or traffic jams, but if you are not in a hurry breakdowns just take some time to put things right.  And for the most part you can avoid traffic jams.  RVing also is quite cheap.  Not needing a lot of money tends to reduce stress.  Of course you can add stress to the RV lifestyle by trading motorhomes every year or so.  That way they cost you a fortune and you never really learn about them and how they work before you have a new one with different idiosyncrasies.  

playing with grandkids
playing with grandkids

My advice, next time you feel stress relax and slow down.

 

Traveling By RV Causes You To Interact With Fellow Travelers.

Travel by RV in my experience gives you many more opportunities to mingle with people than travel by air or car.  We travel with a very cute and friendly Airedale Terrier.  And this almost completely assures you of meeting other RV travelers.  Take a walk through the RV campground and a couple of people will ask, “what kind of dog is that”?

Frazier on walk

And then people ask, “what kind of motorhome is that”?

cc pic

When you travel by air, rent a car, and stay in a hotel many times you interact with no one on a personal basis.  The same is true when you travel by car and stay in hotels.  Not always, but most of the time there is very limited interaction between yourself and others on a personal basis.

Some motorhome rigs really attract people.  We had a GMC motorhome for quite a while and that was a huge attention getter.  People would just walk up to tell you about the adventures they had when they were younger and someone they knew had a GMC.

GMC motorhome
GMC motorhome

Or if you buy one of the new Winnebago Braves I guarantee you will draw a crowd at every campground you stay at.

????????????????????????????????????????????

I have to say I love this new Brave.  It is exactly the same length as our old GMC and for many uses this is the perfect size for a motorhome you are going to travel in.  It is not really big enough to live in full time, but 26′ is a great travel size.  Small enough to camp anywhere and travel without a tow car.  But big enough to be very comfortable on a vacation.

So which place would you rather be?

RV campground
RV campground
Holiday Inn Room
Holiday Inn Room

I like the first one better.  But everyone has their own preferences.

More Pixels Is Usually Better

I run checks with different cameras and I can say in general that more pixels is better.  Makes sense that if you have more information on the image that it will carry more detail, color, and depth.

This is a finely detailed scan of a 35mm film picture taken with an Olympus OM2n.  Originally it is a 38 mp image.
This is a finely detailed scan of a 35mm film picture taken with an Olympus OM2n. Originally it is a 38 mp image.

When you open this image full size on a large monitor the details are very good and the color is very rich.  Some of this richness has to do with the film process as opposed to digital.

Here is an cropped image of a bush taken from our yard.  The first one is from a Nikon image that was originally about 11 mp.

DSC_0001

Here is a crop of shot that was originally about 4 mp.

DSC03939

As you can see there is much more detail in the image with over twice the pixels.

Of course photo quality is a combination of many things.  For example.  Here are four shots with three different digital cameras and one film camera.  The first one is with a Motorola Maxx cell phone.

motorola

 

This is an older Sony compact with a Zeiss lens.  Approx the same mp as the cell phone.
This is an older Sony compact with a Zeiss lens. Approx the same mp as the cell phone.
This is a Nikon shot with twice the pixels of the cell phone or Sony.
This is a Nikon shot with twice the pixels of the cell phone or Sony.
And this is a scanned film shot from an old Olympus Stylus 35mm.
And this is a scanned film shot from an old Olympus Stylus 35mm.

When you blow these up on a good monitor the cell phone shot has the most detail.  Why, the cell phone focused the best on the main image of the subject.  The old film camera has good detail on the leaves because that is what it focused on.  I don’t know what happened to the Sony and the Nikon.

And then there is the problem of software and the affects it adds to perfectly good pictures when it makes jpegs.

So on a practical basis what does this mean.  More pixels is better in general.  But that is highly affected by the lens in the camera, the focus mechanism, and the software used in the camera.  Also, camera engineers are improving the results from cell phones rapidly.  Learn to use the camera in your cell phone and you will get very good results.  I recently went to visit relatives and almost exclusively used my cell phone camera for a week.  Some the the shots were quite good.

This is a shot with my cell phone.  It is almost 10 mp in it's original.
This is a shot with my cell phone. It is almost 10 mp in it’s original.

More Film Vs Digital Photos

We just got back from a two month trip in our motorhome that included an Alaskan cruise.  I got some very good pictures along with some great memories.  This summers trip seemed to revolve around water.  We camped on lakes, oceans, and rivers.  That seemed to make for very good places to stay.

On this trip I used both digital and film cameras.  I took 1.  Nikon DSLR with 3 lenses.  2.  My cell phone camera.  3.  My 1953 Voightlander Prominent 35mm with one lens, a 50mm 1.5.  4.  My Olympus XA compact 35mm film camera.  I used all of them.  Here are some bullets of stand out features of those cameras that I found helpful this summer.  the lighthouse picture

  1.  Vibration reduction on modern digital cameras is very useful when using a long lens.  The above picture is a mid range telephoto and this was an easy shot due to VR.
  2. Quick acting DSLRs are needed when the picture is an action shot and you want to use digital.  When we were in Glacier Bay the glacier calved.  I had a split second to get the action and the Nikon was up to the task.  Auto advance is another important feature in this situation.
  3. Modern film like Ektar 100 is almost impossible to expose incorrectly.  I shot an entire roll of 36 at a wedding with a 60 year old rangefinder camera and mostly guessed on exposure.  All 36 shots came out fine.  Of the 4 rolls of Ektar all of the pictures came out exposed well.
  4. Cell phone cameras are nearly totally useless shooting action.  I tried to get pictures of dogs on the beach in Oregon.  I would push the button and the dogs were way moved on before the shot would take.  By far the Olympus XA was more useful.  The Olympus is a simple camera, but when you push the button the picture is taken right now.
  5. Full frame cameras give you a shallow depth of field.  This is very useful when you want to isolate a subject and have beautiful bokea for background.  I much prefer the size of my Olympus OM2n with full frame than Cannon or Nikon full frame digital.
  6. I far prefer simple manual adjustments of the older cameras.  My Nikon is the 3200 and it is far more difficult to do manual adjustments of f stop and speed than on any of my semi automatic or manual cameras.
This was taken with a telephoto.  Vibration reduction helped me get a good shot of this.
This was taken with a telephoto. Vibration reduction helped me get a good shot of this.
This is an Ektar shot with a 60 year old rangefinder.  People love this picture.  I have had more comments and likes on this than any other picture I have ever taken and posted.  Who says Ektar 100 does not work on flesh tones.
This is an Ektar shot with a 60 year old rangefinder. People love this picture. I have had more comments and likes on this than any other picture I have ever taken and posted. Who says Ektar 100 does not work on flesh tones.
I tried repeatedly to get a dogs on beach picture with my cell phone.  Forget about it.  They had moved on before the picture shot.  This is not a great shot but at least I got all three dogs and froze their action.  This is the Olympus XA with Ektar.
I tried repeatedly to get a dogs on beach picture with my cell phone. Forget about it. They had moved on before the picture shot. This is not a great pictue but at least I got all three dogs and froze their action. This is the Olympus XA with Ektar.

So what is my point.  Just like you need many tools in your garage to fix things around the house, no one photo tool (One camera) does everything “best”.  Mixing film and digital in my case is the best way to go.  I got shots that I loved with both digital and film.  I have to tell you though that I like the film process of taking pictures better.

For Shooting Action There Is Nothing Like A Modern DSLR

Recently we took an Alaska cruise.  One of the key photo shots everyone wants from this type of travel is the glacier calving.

This is a shot of one of the main glaciers in Glacier Bay Alaska.
This is a shot of one of the main glaciers in Glacier Bay Alaska.

This shot above could be taken with pretty much any type of camera digital or film, cell phone, compact, or DSLR.  In this instance I used a year old Nikon DSLR.

We got tired of standing up on the top deck and went to our room with a veranda.  I sat for quite some time and put on a telephoto lens, the Nikon DX 55mm – 200mm.  I wanted to get a close up of the blue ice in the glacier.

 

Blue Glacier Ice
Blue Glacier Ice

So I sat for a while and then it happened, a break.

glacier bay calving

I still had my DSLR sitting on my lap, and since you can point, auto focus, and shoot in an instant I was able to get several shots before it was over.  I was even able to increase the zoom to get a closer shot.

This same shot could have been taken with a cell phone or compact camera, but you would not get the same details.  The DSLR is all optical zoom and can go all the way up to 24 mega pixels RAW.

The Nikon is quick to start up too.  I had the camera turned off, but it is almost instant on.  So a couple minutes later when a second glacier break happened I got this and several other shots.

glacier calving

The Nikon is fast.  I did not hold the button down for continuous shots, but was able to repeatedly click off shots that all came out good.

This is certainly an instance where a fast acting DSLR is the right camera to have to get this type of shot.  I did not bring any film cameras on this trip.  I am now sorry that I did not.  My Olympus OM2n is just as fast on as the Nikon, and since this is shot at infinity auto focus was not any advantage.  However, the Nikon does have auto motion reduction to steady a long shot with a zoom.  Since I usually do not go over 150mm with the Olympus I don’t think this would have been an issue.  It would have been nice to have film shots too to see if there were any color palettes that I did not get out of the digital.  I do love these action shots, but was disappointed with the blue ice ones.  Maybe film would have enhanced that.