All Things Photography: Episode Three: skittles monastery closer click

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What is a photosite? That is explained. Who is photographer David Hunsaker? I'll let him tell you. What should you do? Get closer, dammit! What do I think of this zoom lens? I'll dish the dirt. And, can you buy a watch from Cartier-Bresson? Um, no.

What was that all about? That was the short version of episode "five!" (It's actually number three, but, well, you'll just have to listen to find out what that five's about.) Here's the longer version.

Digital cameras have been around, technically, for several decades, but only in the last 15 have they rivaled, and now mostly surpassed, film in most metrics. Down in the bowels — the stinky, steamy, gross, dripping, yucky, bowels of a digital camera — ok, fine, it's down in the incredibly clean, precise, delicate bowels of every digital camera is a sensor, and whether smartphone or NOAA satellite they all work pretty much alike. Knowing how they work may not make your photography any better, but I use Skittles in the explanation, so maybe at least it'll make sweet sense…

If you want more techno-speak than the podcast gives (and it ain't much, let me tell you), here are four Wikipedia articles with deeper (less candy-filled) explanations:

wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_pixel_sensor

wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixel

wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayer_filter

wikipedia.org/wiki/Foveon_X3_sensor

Commerce Supporting Passion

Speaking of film and digital cameras both, I sat down for a conversation with photographer David Hunsaker, who went from Wyoming to Japan via Apache Junction, and if that makes sense to you, maybe you can skip ahead. If not, listen to a nice photographer explain his world and his views on life and how photography fits into it. Punk rock plays a part, as do monks, so maybe you'd better not skip ahead, huh?

David Hunsaker, photographer of monks and punks.

David's web site: hunsakerphoto.com

St. Anthony's Monastery: stanthonysmonastery.org

Through Each Other's Eyes: teoe.org

David on Instagram: davidleroyhunsaker

Seeing More and/or Less

While smartphones have pretty much killed the point-and-shoot camera market, as was discussed in episode two with Joe Wojcich, one of the features that became common in those outgoing models was a zoom lens that covered a very wide range of what are called focal lengths. From wide (capturing most of the inside of a room) to narrow (a flea on a fly on a bird at the end of your driveway)(fine, that's an exaggeration), smartphones are very, very limited in that realm. But if you have a camera with interchangeable lenses, it is possible to attach a lens with those characteristics to your camera and get the wide range of focal lengths again. The Nikon 28-300 mm zoom is such a lens. Admittedly it is only for Nikon cameras, but if you've got one of those, you might want one of these.

Above, the lens seen from above.

Below, the controls controlling: Autofocus (M/A means manual/auto focus (if you use the ribbed focus ring, which you see here, the lens lets you do the focusing, if you don't use the focus ring, the lens will focus for you), M means manual focus only); Vibration Reduction (VR On means, well, you know); and at the bottom, how jiggly you're going to be when using the VR (Normal means standing still or even panning the camera, Active is for when you're riding off-road in a Jeep and Steve-O is getting his tattoo (don't worry if you don't get that reference)).

Here are sample images, showing the near and far, the good and less good.

Above, a wide shot. I'll title it "Cactus, hoops, pole in the middle."

Above is a ground-level view of a geodesic half-dome, yearning to teach kids about Buckminster Fuller.

Below, a very contented, um, animal (sheep? lion? I can't really tell) yearning to be ridden. You can see the sheeplion through the bars of the half-dome. This gives you some sense of the zoom range of this lens.

I decided at the last moment to capture this skateboarding student near the university, and I include the photo here to declare that the lens focused quickly enough to grab this before he veered out of the frame. Except for one glaring incident, the autofocus worked well.

Details shot from standing on this drain cover, pointing straight down between my feet, which would have put the camera too close to focus with most other "long" lenses.

As mentioned in the episode, the front of my lens was less than a foot away from this playground horsie, which is very close for a lens capable of this range of focal lengths.

A pair of images highlighting, again, the breadth of the zoom range — shot from the same spot, you see a wide view of Mill Avenue in Tempe, and then details at the top of the farther skyscraper!

I purposefully photographed the following building detail to include the blank, blue sky in order to see the darkening toward the corners that almost all lenses are prone to, especially zoom lenses. Sure enough, the darkening happens. Frankly, for what this lens does, otherwise, I don't find this "defect" to be a great concern. If you do, either choose your settings carefully (the image on the left was taken with a very small aperture, the image on the right with a very large one), or choose another lens (though, you'll be trading off the very broad zoom range).

Overall, it's a versatile lens with good build and optical quality. Learn more about it, including all the technical details I did not cover, at both Nikon's site and in a review by Nasim Mansurov, at the following links:

nikonusa.com/en/Nikon-Products/Product/Camera-Lenses/AF-S-NIKKOR-28-300mm-f%252F3.5-5.6G-ED-VR.html

photographylife.com/reviews/nikon-28-300mm-vr

Decidedly Momentous

The French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson found his greatest fame in either creating, as much as a single photographer could be responsible for such a thing, or at least bringing to prominence what came to be called street photography. He wielded a relatively small film camera and shot celebrities, leaders, and anonymous people around the world. His attention to not just details, but timing, led him to be associated with the phrase, "the decisive moment," lifted from a 17th century cardinal and put into one of his books. It stuck to Cartier-Bresson and his work shows why.

The philosophy that lead him to his approach is summed up in the quote from this episode: "Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and, when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again."

The links below can lead you to more about him, and to his book titled, in English, "The Decisive Moment."

The New York Times obit: nytimes.com/2004/08/04/arts/henri-cartierbresson-artist-who-used-lens-dies-at-95.html

The book on Amazon: http://a.co/3KvXszL

The book at Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/henri-cartier-bresson-cartier-bresson/1119682773?ean=9783869307886

Get Closer, Dammit!

My photo tip in this episode is pretty simple: get closer to your subject. We humans are extremely lazy (ok, fine, maybe it's just me), so we might often choose to take a photo of a subject from where we are currently lounging, rather than getting up and getting closer. If the subject is the moon, fine, lounge and shoot. If it's your husband or parakeet or even a pile of gold bullion, getting physically closer yields a different image, a different feeling, than shooting from a distance. Listen to the podcast for more, and view these two images for examples.

Above, Rocky from 15 feet away. It's a fine photo.

Below, Rocky from 2 feet away. Notice how being closer puts more dimension into his body, makes that background roof thing smaller and, because I'm much nearer, Rocky is much more interested in me rather than the squirrel or rattlesnake or whatever has his attention in the other photo. Being closer is not always the best policy, but sometimes it is. Try it.

Wrap It Up, Rocky!

Thanks for reading and, hopefully, listening. That's a lot of content to make, so I hope you find it interesting, illustrative, inspiring.

As always, please leave a comment or a question, about me or photography or the podcast.

11 episodes available. A new episode about every 6 days averaging 87 mins duration .