Someting Wong

I have a beef.  For months, I deliberated about whether a new camera was worth it to me or not.  I cut back on expenses and saved until I could afford the camera I wanted.  I waited for it to arrive for weeks while it was on backorder.  Finally, it arrived and I thought for sure it would take my photography to a new level.

(Alas, you know what they say:  it’s not the ingredients, it’s the chef.)

What I didn’t expect was to have some bizarre problem with my brand new camera.

Yesterday, after attempting to shoot the Transit of Venus, I nearly had a heart attack when I placed my loupe up to the LCD and saw some of the images included in this post.  Having previously seen a video that shows how you can ruin the sensor in a digital camera by pointing it at a laser light, and having also read enough of the camera manual to know it says “never point the camera directly at the sun,” my heart took a pause when I considered the possibility that I had just destroyed the sensor in my 3-week old camera.

The images looked like half of sensor had been completely blown.

I stood there at my tripod and tried to breath.  My heart was racing, my stomach doing flips–had I just ruined my biggest single investment in photography?  I tried to calm down by reminding myself that I have shot sunsets numerous times without a filter and it’s never burned my sensor.  This time, I had a 10 stop filter on the lens–surely that protected my camera?

Taking a few deep breaths, I managed to dissipate the panic enough to do the only thing one can do when anything operated by a computer starts to malfunction:  reboot.

I turned off the camera and turned it back on.  Thankfully, it started working again.  My heart slowed down and I almost cried with relief.

When I looked at my photos on my computer, it became clear that there was indeed a malfunction.  Some of these images look like double exposures–I didn’t think that was possible with a digital camera.

In looking at the problematic images, I discovered several things.  First, it happened when I was shooting bracketed exposures (e.g., the camera automatically shoots 7 images in a row with a shutter speed that is one stop of light apart for each shot).

I also recalled several times when I was expecting to get 7 shots, I ended up with 2.    When I looked at the pairs of photos that were most likely associated with these misfires, they have identical metadata.  By that, I mean the shutter speed, ISO, aperture, date, and time (down to the second) matches exactly.  Yet, the exposures and even the subject in some cases look wildly different.

I have googled to no avail.  I seem to have a unique problem.  I always knew I was different.  😉

If anyone knows what this problem is, please comment!

P.S.  Title is an exact quote of my all-time favorite error message in a software program circa 1994.

Eating Virtual Space

I mentioned before that I am volunteering to help organize a fund raising event for S.O.A.R.  Well, I decided to donate a matted and framed photo for the silent auction.  It seemed like a simple enough thing to do.  After all, I have thousands of photos, a handful of ones I actually like, and the matting and framing part can be taken care of inexpensively.

But, today, I spent time culling out the handful of photos I would consider hanging on my wall.  Then, I pulled in the few that were of birds (since S.O.A.R. is all about birds) and a couple from hang gliding.  It’s a difficult thing to judge.  First, I have to step back and see photos the way normal people see photos.  It’s hard.

I find myself noticing when the rule of thirds hasn’t been applied and trying to decide if it works anyway.  Then I notice when bits of things in the foreground have popped into the frame when I’d rather they weren’t there.  Then I try to decide if the color looks off or if it’s just my imagination.  In the end, I’m down to 16 photos I will put in front of Dale, the woman running the show, to see if she thinks any of them will inspire bids.  If not, we can always make it a raffle item.

The process of filtering through the past 8 months of photos (thank goodness I stuck to the Chattanooga theme–otherwise I’d be going through 9 years of photos!) was an interesting one.  First, I realize how little time I’ve actually spent doing wildlife photography, supposedly my preferred form of the art.  Second, I realized how I don’t like to choose.  I end up with collections of extremely similar photos where the lighting is slightly different and the angle might change just a hair, but I can’t come to a conclusion as to which one I like better.

I have gotten quite strict with myself on that point.  I am trying to limit the number of photos I keep.  Given that most of my pictures are over 13 MB (and I’m shooting with an older camera–I can’t imagine what will happen the next time I upgrade), I’ve run my 120 GB hard drive on my laptop out of space more than once.  I now have a collection of disk drives lingering about in various stages of fullness.  I am constantly worried that my  2 TB backup drive will fill and overwrite some critical photo I’ll never get back.  Not sure what it would be critical for, but who knows?

What amazes me is for the number of photos I have and the amount of disk space I’m maintaining, there are so few pictures I really like.  There are even fewer I would say I’m proud of.  I wonder if this is the unintended consequence of digital photography or if film photographers have the same problem?