Friday, July 27, 2012

Stocks and Bonds

    There are two ways a business, town or even a country can raise capital without "pulling itself up by the bootstraps": issue stocks(ownership) or bonds(loans).
    An investor owns a part of the business when he purchases its stock. The advantage to the investor is that he shares in the company's profits but can potentially suffer huge losses if the company does not do well. The advantage to the company is that it does not have a loan(bond) it's obligated to pay back but it losses autonomy as it has acquired a shareholder who is part owner of the business.
    A business does not lose it's autonomy when it issues a bond to an investor but it's obligated to purchase the bond back from the investor at a set time with interest tacked onto it regardless of how well the business does; the company has basically acquired a debt. The investor's advantage is the guaranteed income he receives from the purchased bond but he does not share in the company's profits or losses.
    Bonds are generally low risk and is best for the investor who wants secure income and peace of mind. Stocks are generally higher risk and is best for younger investors who can stomach it and potentially make lots of money in the long run or suffer huge losses. A healthy mix of both is best for an investor.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Boosting your ISO without boosting it.

    An exposure trick I learned approximately 4 years ago when I shot with a Pentax K10D was to boost the ISO beyond the 1600 ISO limit of my DSLR in low light situations by setting the camera to underexpose the image by 1 or 2EV thereby doubling or quadrupling the shutter speed. I did this only when my aperture setting was set at its maximum of f2.8 but still could not muster the shutter speed needed to freeze the action or reduce the motion blur significantly due to the camera's 1600 ISO limit; it is the reason why I stated in this post that ISO is the least important, in my opinion, of the three components needed to get the "right" exposure. I would then overexpose the resulting images by 1 or 2 EV respectively during post work in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop by utilizing the exposure tool in these applications: this gave the effect of shooting at 3200 or 6400 ISO respectively. The images did contain the sensor noise that normally comes with shooting at high ISOs in low light. This was fixed by utilizing noise reduction software like Noise Ninja which was very popular at the time.
    Obviously, shooting this way results in more post work and cleaning images with noise reduction software does have its drawbacks. The resulting images appeared "smudged" and not sharp with detail loss. Detail loss is somewhat minimized by shooting in camera RAW. I would sharpen the image by using a tool in Photoshop called the unsharp mask but one can only sharpen the detail captured :-(
    Believe it or not, this is one of the "tricks" employed by camera makers that boast of making cameras with the ability to shoot at 3200, 6400 or even, in my opinion, a ridiculous 12800 ISO. Your DSLR is like a computer with applications built in to perform certain tasks. In this case, there are applications built into the firmware of the camera to boost the ISO and then employ built in noise reduction software to produce "cleaner" images in low light shooting conditions. Take a look at the following image on my website; it was shot with my D7000 at 3200 ISO at f3.5. What do you think? I could have opened the aperture a bit more but I was having enough problems with focusing due to the narrow DOF at that aperture setting, and I wanted to minimize the loss of DOF as much as possible.
    Some cameras handle noise reduction better than others while some brands don't even bother with it and leave the image with all the details including sensor noise to the photographer to deal with. Full frame or 35mm cameras tend to handle low light shooting better due to the larger sensor installed in them. Getting the newer DSLRs in the market does help a lot especially for photographers like me who dislike post work and prefer to get the images right during the shoot and not in post.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Editorial vs Commercial images: a case of semantics.

   Editorial type images are used in numerous ways; they can be used to illustrate news worthy material, story books, text books or news letters. Commercial type images are usually used to advertise or promote products, ideas, or services.
   The problem is that there is no clear definition of what a commercial or editorial image is. This confuses many photographers especially those new to the business. In a discussion about the subject in an online forum, a colleague stated it's merely semantics; I couldn't agree more because an image can be used in an editorial and commercial fashion. The following image is more editorial in nature; it's a portrait of a man posing for me on a famous landmark known as the Brooklyn Bridge but it may be used to promote the bridge itself.
The next image is one that can easily be used in an editorial as well as commercial application. For instance, the company or person who made the cake can use the image to sell or promote his/her cake business or the image can be used to illustrate a topic on wedding cakes in a wedding magazine.
So as one can see, editorial vs commercial use of images is merely a case of semantics.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Liberty State Park Journal

I left work on a "short day" with the intention of going to New York to document a famous NYC landmark: that changed as I rode the PATH heading towards WTC. I thought it would be best to dedicate a day to documenting the intended landmark. In addition, I was a bit tired so I decided to get off at Exchange Place in Jersey City to relax at Liberty State Park. Always the amateur photographer, I could not help but capture some images while experimenting with exposure, perspective and composition. Here are three of my favorite images captured during my brief visit.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Exposure in Photography

    What photographers do is capture light; understanding light and capturing it is key to creating amazing images.

    To capture light you need a medium in which the light captured is exposed unto; it was film during the SLR days. With the advent of DSLRs, light is exposed unto digital sensors called CCD or CMOS depending on the technology your digital camera is using.

    Three things are used in combination to get exposure: film speed(ISO), aperture, and shutter speed. In my own opinion, the most important of the three are aperture and shutter speed. Learning to capture images in full manual will help you understand why. Knowledge of how ISO works in conjunction with aperture and shutter speed will aid you with studio lighting work or situations in which you are adding to ambient light.

    Shutter speed and aperture directly control how much light is let unto the sensor or film. Aperture is measured in units called f numbers and affects the lens opening and the amount of light let in; it directly affects depth of field. Shutter speed controls the amount of time light is allowed to be exposed unto the film or sensor. Film speed(ISO) is the sensitivity of the sensor or film to the light exposed onto it. The higher the ISO the higher the film/sensor sensitivity. High ISO is usually used in low available light situations or situations in which higher shutter speeds is needed.

    Finally, a good light meter is needed to determine the correct combination of aperture, shutter speed and ISO setting needed to get accurate exposure.

Mr. Oluwasusi, A portrait.

I had the honor of documenting the 60th birthday celebration of Mr. Oluwasusi this past Saturday. It was a joyous occasion and celebration o...