National Day Photos

Just photos today, with a few comments on the process of taking/making them.

flag waving

A sea of flag waving at the National Day observance ceremony yesterday. Trying to get this photo was a frustrating process: I wasn't tall enough to get the shot I wanted ("eye"-level with the flags, to get a sense of depth through them) and wound up having to take the shots "blind", holding the D70 over my head and aiming as best I could. Not a satisfactory method at all - as with all things that require aiming, like rifles and cameras, shooting blind is woefully inaccurate. I've argued before that with digital cameras, photographers can shoot huge numbers of "draft" shots and pick the one or two that happened to coincide with something interesting, but yesterday this process felt inefficient. A shot that should have taken 5 or 6 tries wound up taking 20 or more. All because I couldn't aim. As my friend put it, this is when you think about carrying a stepladder with you ...


This was a snapshot. I kicked myself after because I realised the camera had been set on smallest picture size: one of the hazards with complex tools (I consider a camera a tool) is the number of options that have to be remembered. Increased choice, in this case the number of options and features built into the camera, mean an increase in the complexity of decision making, and a concomitant slowing down of decisions, or increase in errors, all of which are undesirable when trying to catch a fleeting moment. It's not only digital cameras that have this problem (one of my first hurdles with rangefinder cameras was remembering to take the lens cap off, since it wasn't apparent looking through the rangefinder: after getting that drilled into me, the next one was remembering to put the lens cap back on, especially on the more expensive lenses! then there's remembering where you put the lens cap in the first place ...) but one of the first things I had to do with the Nikon was to "fix" some variables so I could focus on the ones that counted - focus, aperture and composition. Recently, I've tended to leave the lens on f1.8, removing even aperture from the equation, leaving just focus and composition to worry about. It works for the kind of photography I've been doing recently.

The clothes on the surrounding people were already muted in colour compared to the flags, and I emphasised this slightly in photoshop to draw attention to the middle of the image (compare the colour of the flag in the woman's hand to the ones in the middle), which is the point of this photograph.

running from the rain

The weather held good (the ceremony is held in the open) and the rain only came down afterwards (when, as my friend observed, it would most inconvenience us as we queued at the buffet tea!). Looking across to the neighbouring office block, I saw these gardeners in the rain. Two of them continued working as if nothing was the matter; one of them made a dash of it through the rain. This would probably be a more "composed" image if I had gone to the trouble of removing the cables running across the middle, but (a) it would've been too much trouble and (b) I try to keep the post-processing of the image to a minimum, usually just levels/curves and contrast, and occasionally (as in the previous image) colour channels. (b) is partly motivated by a sense of photographic integrity, but is mostly motivated by (a).



i've done the flag shot before (3 years ago?) - in exactly the same manner. except, i guess, with a rangefinder, its easier? =)

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