Sky and Water – A Camera as a Toy

Posted in At Sea, Photography Tricks on December 21st, 2009 by MadDog
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It’s part of my image of life, going back to childhood when my father taught me photography, that I think of a camera as a toy. Why do kids love the Transformer toys? Well, my theory is that, unlike a toy firetruck or doll, a transformer can be anything that you want it to be. As a child I used to play with Mechano sets. (In the USA they are called Erector Sets) That was a perfect toy. You could make pretty much anything that you could imagine.

A camera forces you to adopt a starting point, much as the instruction manual for a Mechano set, giving illustrations of things that one can build, suggestions, as it were. A camera gives very strong suggestions which are often excellent. In fact, many people are quite happy with the suggestions that their camera makes and fill their albums with snapshots of daily life and special moments (Kodak Moments – what a brilliant ad campaign).

The suggestions that your camera makes depend entirely on the scene in front of the lens and the settings you have chosen for your camera. By learning to use your camera controls you can drastically change the initial image, the suggestion, as it were. In this shot my camera was forced to expose for the brightest spot in the big cumulus cloud. I also held a polarising filter in front of the lens to darken the sky. Simple tricks such as these can dramatically affect the suggestion that your camera makes to you:

However, that is only where the fun starts.

In this image, I wanted to capture the ephemeral aqua colour that appears in the wake of a motorboat in clear tropical seas. It is very pale and showed up in the camera’s suggestion only to my eyes which were looking very hard for it:A few minutes with the Photoshop Replace Colour feature allowed me to pick out only the extremely pale aqua patches of the image and to incease the intensity of the colour until I was satisfied that it illustrated the effect.

And, if a camera is a toy, why not have a little fun with it? Eunie and I were in the cabin of Lyin’ Dog,  Trevor and Karen’s boat, when I noticed Karen sitting on the bow deck. There is a fly-wire screen inside the windscreen of the boat. I wondered about a shot through the fly-wire:

The camera made an excellent suggestion. This shot required no computer processing at all. Good job, Canon G9, my trusty old friend. Whe have an interesting and very colourful shot with just a tiny taste of cheesecake. Perfect for a weekend afternoon.

Up at the Blueblood Hilton, we settled in for a BBQ and a little vino. Sitting back in my chair behind the railing, I asked my camera for a suggestion:

Spot on, once again. I had to adjust the darkest parts to make them a little lighter so that they did not ‘fade to black’. Otherwise my little point and shoot suggested an image that’s fit for the cover of a magazine. Hooray!

Along the way back to Madang, the most distant clouds were showing the typical orange-ish colour caused by sulphur dioxide in the air from the many constantly spewing volcanoes in the inter-tropic zone:

The pollutant is trapped in the relatively calm air of the tropics.

Nearing Madang we are confronted my the horror of the tuna boats:Since RD Tuna came to Madang with its mostly unwanted tuna cannery we have noted a drastic reduction in the number of tuna that we see in Astrolabe Bay.

I did mention that I would get plenty of  Christmas Tree Worm (Spirobranchus giganteus)  shots so that I can show one each day before Christmas:

And, there is today’s specimen.

Hang some popcorn strings on it and put your presents under it. You get two trees for the price of one.

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