Something Old, Something New

Sunrise behind the Tennessee Aquarium

Sunrise behind the Tennessee Aquarium

I decided to try shooting sunrise over the riverfront with a longer lens.  I was originally thinking the 100-400mm lens to really zoom in tight and pick up details that I normally don’t get shooting landscape.  But, as I selected the lens to put on my camera, I backed off on focal length, afraid I wouldn’t be able to get any of the sky in the frame.

The sky is among my favorite subjects and the thought of not being able to capture it if it did something really cool was unfathomable.

Had I been more awake, I might have put my long lens on my old 40D or on my husband’s Rebel–then I could have had both wide and tight views to choose from.  But, I was not that awake and not that ambitious.  Plus, sometimes I feel like it’s just a good exercise to see what you can get with what you’ve got instead of trying to have the perfect equipment on hand for every possible scenario.  Every once in a while, I get inspired and do something really creative.

However, instead of sticking with my original plan, I hedged my bet and put my 70-200mm lens on my camera instead.  I figured this would give me enough range to get some sky and still get details.  And, it is a better lens than the 100-400mm.

This was probably not wise.  I ended up shooting around 85mm and getting shots that look remarkably like the shots I get from the riverfront walkway in the park below with a wider lens.  Except these look flatter.

If you’re not into photography, perhaps I should explain that wide angle lenses distort a scene in such a way that it make things look further apart.  Conversely, long lenses make things look closer together.  So, the buildings, for example, look like they’re all on the same street even though I only shot at 85mm.  Had I been shooting at 16mm, the buildings would look further apart (and they would curve upwards at the outside of the frame due to the distortion created by shooting that wide).

In any case, my lens choice didn’t force me to do anything really interesting or creative.  I just ended up with less than exciting landscape shots.

Of course, there is a lesson in this.  I think it goes something like this:  when you want to try something new, sometimes you have to leave yourself no option but to do something new.  Otherwise, you might find that while you told yourself you were doing something new, you really just did the same thing you always do.

When I saw the clouds blowing over the 27 bridge, I immediately went into landscape mode.  I zoomed out to 70mm and tried to capture as much of the sky as I could.  Next time, I’m taking the 100-400mm.  I’m going to try to shoot at 300mm or higher and see what I get.

Clouds over the 27 bridge

Clouds over the 27 bridge



I’ve decided to post about my latest adventure.  It’s not about a trip or hang gliding or my dog or birds.  It’s about the decision and process of submitting photos for a contest for the first time.

A few months ago, it would not have occurred to me to submit photos to a contest.  I thought you submit photos to a contest when you think your photos are perfect.  I don’t think my photos are perfect.  I don’t even think they’re contest worthy.  But a couple of things happened to make me reconsider.

First, I went to my first meeting of the Photographic Society of Chattanooga, which happened to also be the awards ceremony for the youth photographers contest.  I still haven’t figured out exactly what that’s all about, but it seems like they have a fantastic program to get young people excited about photography and they offer scholarships for awards.  I watched the photos submitted for that contest and realized that it was largely impossible to sit in the audience and judge what any photo looked like.  I see this as a plus.

Second, I had a conversation with a photographer about my desire to get better at it and he suggested that getting the feedback from a contest submission would be a great way to learn.  I had never considered the possibility that feedback would be provided.

Third, I had a conversation with the folks who run the contests at PSC and was told that the photos are sent out to another group for judging and that they often provide very detailed information about why the photos were scored the way they were.

Fourth, I went to a casual critique at the home of a PSC member and they encouraged me to submit one of my photos to the contest.  This encouragement in combination with the groups gentle suggestions made me seriously consider submitting for the first time.

Finally, the theme for this quarter’s contest was “Sky.”  If there is anyone who has more sky photos in their photo library than I do, I feel sorry for them.  It happens to be one of my favorite subjects.

Having decided to enter, the next problem was culling through thousands of photos to find which ones I would submit to the contest.  I got the list down to about 120 after the first pass through this year’s photos.

On the second pass, the number dropped to something around 70.  By the time I left for Vermont, I had culled this down to just over 30.  But, it wasn’t until after I returned that I found any time to really decide which ones were worthy of submission.

I spent a lot of time considering the merits of each shot.  I spent very little time picking at the flaws.  I re-processed several of them in the process of deciding what I really had.

I’ve included may photos in today’s post.  I’ll let you decide when ones (3) I submitted.