AminArt: Blog en-us (C) AminArt [email protected] (AminArt) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:35:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:35:00 GMT AminArt: Blog 120 115 The Ant pushing a "water" droplet image saga There is an image making the rounds again on the internet that I have seen it a while back and from time to time it crops its head up and gains momentum. You can see it being tweeted here over eight thousand times and here also. Lately it has been on my Twitter feed brought to my attention very kindly by Prof Adam Hart Professor of Science and Communication at Uni of Gloucestershire and within just a couple of message exchanges we both agreed that this image has a few issues that just doesn't sit right in order to be seen as a "water" droplet being pushed by an Ant.

As a water droplet this seems to defy the laws of Physics. Gravity and surface tension doesn't quite work like that. A water droplet wouldn't maintain a perfect spherical shape similar to that in the image. And the more I look at this image the more I pick holes in it, and considering the fact that over the years I have photographed thousands of dew droplets I am fairly familiar with its visual physical attributes and behaviour under a lot of circumstances. These (image) (image) and (image) are just some of the examples that I have photographed, you can clearly see that where the droplets have maintained a spherical shape the parts attached to the grass blades have a totally different characteristic from the one that can be seen on the Ant pushing the droplet image. Even playing with water droplets putting it through various shapes laws of Physics are maintained.

Well, that is just one problem from a host of other issues that I will avoid going into.

Having said it I would like to leave one thing clear that I am not stressing the fact that the originator of this image might have said its a "water" droplet being pushed by an Ant, as far as I know the photographer might even have mentioned what the "droplet" really is and in today's fast pace media furore something that catches the eye quickly spreads like wildfire and by the time it reaches us the whole truth is completely warped.

I will abstain from speculating how this image was shot, its very tricky to make assumptions especially if one doesn't have the original high resolution file on hand. If I had or if someone can point me to the source of a higher res image then I could put it through some tests using known methods to at least try to find out if this is a composite of two ore more images. But apart from that there are a few theories that I can personally come up with to conclude what this image really is or how it was shot. But I will keep them for myself to avoid being grilled by those who might think I am wrong.

Please feel free to drop me a line or comment below if you feel like, I am always happy to hear views alike or different from mine regarding any aspects of photography.




[email protected] (AminArt) Macro droplet high photography speed water Thu, 28 Nov 2013 16:55:54 GMT
Buying your first Digital Camera A question I am asked frequently is: "What camera should I buy?".

So I have decided to write this blog in order to address this question and try to help many who are struggling to find a suitable camera to buy in what has become a truly diverse and extensive market out there. I will try to make it short and more to the point without making it too technical as I am aware many just want something that will give them the means to snap a good image without having to master a cobweb of technical stuff.

Unless you are going into one of the specialist outlets that their sales representatives are fairly knowledgeable about photography and can truly help you with your requirements you are bound to be confronted by sales people who will try to flog you cameras with features that they will overstate or stress that this camera or that has certain so and so feature and that makes it a great value for money. This in my view is totally the wrong approach.

The analogy I find when someone asks me what camera to buy without specifying what they want the camera for is like asking someone what car to buy. You would need to provide a lot more information such as what's the purpose that you are most likely to use the car for, where will you drive off road or city or both, what do you want to carry in the car, is it just for leisure or are you going to clock a huge number of miles daily. Its no use buying a Ferrari if where you are likely to drive have no roads to take full advantage of it, or why should you buy a 4 wheel drive if all you need to do is just do school runs. But also if the budget allows and you want to buy a car that although at the time of buying is a big surplus in features but that provides you with the ability to explore further and eventually making full use of it then why not?

So now having exemplified all the above with the analogy of a car buying I am assuming you are starting to get an idea of what buying a camera involves. Let's then focus on the few things that should immediately give you a solid footage on the aspects and features of what you need to be aware of when shopping for a camera and these very features should help you confront the salesman when trying to flog you a camera on the basis simply of it having some extraordinary number of megapixels or some fantastic zoom etc.

Its very typical of sellers the first thing that try to stress about a camera most times is one having a huge resolution (MP, Megapixels). Now while MP is important doesn't always mean that you should get a camera with a huge MP. Just like with a car, again I keep coming back, you cannot buy a car that has everything as the best in the field, not even a Ferrari. Try taking a Ferrari and drive in the Sahara Desert and see what happens. Yup, my point precisely. You need a 4 wheel drive for a Desert adapted with the ability to withstand sand storms and not clog the engine. Perhaps a Camel would even be better and save you a lot of dosh, but that's a totally different blog. For now let's look into the MP in the camera. Yes its great to have a big number of MP as it controls the cropping factor amongst other things but I can assure you unless you are looking to print your images in a huge size or need to sell them to agencies a camera with 5MP is already fantastic. And nowadays you get them well over this, so do not fall for the MP pitch. What you really need to be asking is am I going to be taking photos in locations where lighting is a problem? Or mostly indoors where artificial light is common? Then look at two things, ISO performance and the aperture of the lens that it has. Check what is the widest aperture that lens has, they are also called f/stop. Grab any camera and look at the rim around the lens or anywhere around it and they will have some markings and numbers on it, read the numbers following "F" if it says 2.8 it means that it has a good capability of opening the diaphragm wide enough during shutter release and allow more light in and capturing those moments that can be tricky with low lighting. That, coupled with a great ISO performance makes it a very good camera for someone who predicts taking a lot of pictures indoors or in low lighting. The smaller the numbers in front of "F" the better performance it has. And I would strongly advise you here if you are not very familiar with technical aspects of photography to really grill the salesman so they can help you read what features make this or that camera great. Manufacturers always make a big deal of these features when they launch a product. You will see for example a camera being marketed and a feature such as a zoom of 18mm to 200mm etc which means the lens has a good reach. If the model has an extra impact on the low lighting they really will stress that. So all in all I would advise you to make a list and prioritise what your requirements are, so in order to make this simple below is a list of things you need to assess and then put them in the right order and choose the camera that falls within your budget.

For capturing images where light can be a problem including artificial light, look for good ISO and widest aperture (F/stop)

For longer reach to take shots of birds or candid portraits from far a longer zoom lens is a priority. This will translate into xx mm to yy mm. Anything over 200 mm is considered a pretty good zoom reach. Note here sometimes you will have 250 mm but then the first set of numbers will have shifted to higher, this means you lose the ability to have a wider angle. For example you rarely find 12 mm to 250 mm (This is just an example please disregard the figures), typically you will find 22mm to 250 mm or 18mm to 200mm. In the second set you gain a wider angle sacrificing the longer reach, which has the advantage as explained in the photography of tight spaces or indoors etc (See below).

For taking photos of big groups or landscape photography, architecture etc then a long zoom is wasted, get one which is touted for having a lens with great wider angle (low numbers on the zoom) and here the higher resolution makes sense

For very small subjects including Macro get a camera that has IS (Image Stabilisation) sometimes they call SR (Shake Reduction) incorporated in the camera. Helps during those jittery shaking hands while taking the picture.

Then if budget allows look for a camera that allows you to attach an external flash. This is one very important aspect to consider if you can have it as a big bonus.

All the above are true for non interchangeable lens cameras. But if you are ready to go for an interchangeable lens camera and have a budget for it then fantastic, there is a wide range of choices out there from Bridge Cameras to fully featured DSLRs and go ahead please grab one and get ready to start getting addicted to buying lenses, as interchangeable lens cameras are all dependent on lenses that you attach to it. So my advice is that if you are looking to buy one of these cameras (Interchangeable lens camera or DSLRs) then please do not fall for the idea that its a cheap promotional offer camera with one lens being offered. You will be fairly limited with just one lens with that camera you most certainly will need one or more lenses in the near future. And trust me its a slippery slope to walk into, there is always one more lens that you will want to get then another, the market for DSLR lenses is huge and each for a very specific purpose. In the photography world, both amateur and professional there is a very well known symptom called LBA (Lens Buying Addiction) that proliferates amongst us. But if you have a budget for it then fantastic and welcome to the world of DSLR. And no, I won't go into details about DSLRs for now because that is a totally different ball game.

I will leave you with a link where they frequently review cameras and I often visit and find it very good and simple to follow the pros and cons of cameras they review. Apart from that please feel free to ask me anything on a comment below and I will be very happy to help you with anything I can.

Hope this has been a helpful read for you and happy clicking,

[email protected] (AminArt) camera dslr photography Mon, 25 Nov 2013 17:02:59 GMT
Photography Tutorial 02 (Understanding Aperture) Time to learn about Aperture in photography. Commonly also known as f/stop.

But first a quick recap of the previous tutorial, which I laid the grounds for understanding the capture of light through the lens and we explored mainly the function of SS (Shutter Speed). The longer you leave the shutter open (the slower the time setting) the more light filters through the lens. This is one of the main variables to control light. And I did mention also that Aperture is the other one. Which allows light through and controllable but using the diaphragm of the lens. Larger or smaller opening. 

To finally cement this concept let me give you an analogy. You need to fill a container with exactly 1 litre of water from a tap. Now you can achieve this in two ways, either by opening the tap fully wide open so you get the 1 litre in a fraction of a minute pouring through or you can open very little and let the water drip but then you will need a longer time to finally get the 1 litre.

Once you know the causes and effect of both, the Shutter Speed opening longer or shorter time, and the Aperture (diaphragm) opening wider or narrower both with the same common purpose, to achieve certain amount of controllable light filtered through, then you can go and adjust both and find a level that suits your purposes.

So we have learnt that leaving the shutter speed opened for longer makes it susceptible to shake, so you want it high enough to leave you comfortable shooting.

Queue in Aperture, which allows you opening of the diaphragm, and you can adjust it to work alongside the Shutter speed to achieve the desired exposure of the subject. Remember again that with Aperture the numbering system is the reverse, the smaller the number the wider the opening of the diaphragm. And they typically go like f/2.8 is wider than f/4. And f/4 is wider than f/5.6 and so on. These numbers are fixed and they are arrived through a mathematical formula and I will avoid going into those details, suffice for you to just remember the numbers and that f/2.8 has a diameter opening which is double of f/4 and that f/4 has a diameter opening double of f/5.6. Which consequently having double of the opening allows double the light through.

Visualise in your mind Shutter Speed = how long you will leave the water tap open. And F/stop = opening of the tap, you know that thing that we do when we open the tap and we let the flow of water out, sometimes we feel oh I can twist it open more, and then a bit more but suddenly you overdo it and off comes the splash of water from the sink and sprinkles through.

So we have learnt the result of opening the Aperture wider (remember smaller numbers means wider opening) is more light allowed through. But I hear you ask "So why don't I just stick the aperture to the lowest number (widest opening) and hey ho! I am no slave of the shutter and am not restricted any more."

The thing is, and apologies here as I cannot resist a malicious grin implying I had a card under my sleeve to get your full attention again without jumping off the gun. Aperture affects DOF (Depth of Field). Affects what??? I hear you say again :).

Yes, there is a little thing called DOF (Depth of Field) which to some extent every photographer who knows about this struggles and has to play ball with it. Its not always a bad thing, it depends upon what you are trying to achieve, and the quicker you have a grasp on this little photography beast the faster you will start understanding what is going on with your images. You know those results that often seem like your image has a shake? Many a times this is not the shake but result of a shallow DOF. The smaller the number of the f/stop (larger the diaphragm opening) the shallower the DOF. Put simply the shallower the DOF means that the plane of focus that you are able to acquire maximum sharpness on is very very narrow. This is best explained with an example. This image has a very shallow DOF, notice how just the front part of the image (focus plane) is sharp and fractions of millimetre back everything starts getting blurred.

And this has a sharpness that goes deeper on the image, this is achieved by increasing the f/stop number (closing down the aperture) f/8 will give you sharpness going deeper than f/5.6, and f/22 will be much better than f/11. The bigger the number the narrower the diaphragm and you are able to acquire a deeper plan of focus, sharpness which extends a bit more into your image (Landscapes typically are shot with narrower apertures so the focused areas extend deeper).

Time to jog your memory, so you see, you are getting a deeper DOF (sharpness extending deeper) but at a cost of light. Remember? Above I did mention that you might have wondered why don't we just keep the f/stops at the lower number to allow more light filter through? This is the reason. If you have a smaller f/stop number your DOF is so shallow that if you are shooting a flower you will not get all the petals in focus. So you compromise and try an f/stop slightly higher number to allow a bit more parts of the flower to be in focus also.

I do not want to confuse you a lot in this aspect at this moment but we will explore a bit more once you grasp the concept of Aperture and you start shooting and have an idea of what the aperture was and shoot again with a different aperture setting and notice the differences in DOF.

Now to finalise here are two things you can do to help you when shooting. If you want to try to get a deeper part of the subject in focus try to shoot through an angle that gives you a wider plane of focus, get into a position where you see more of the subject in one plane rather than viewing the subject through your lens in a way that only a narrow part is in one plane and the rest is further away. Secondly and more importantly, and this I will discuss on one of my next tutorials, when you step back the DOF increases. So if you are struggling with shooting a flower for example where you are getting just a very small part in focus and the other petals are out of focus, by stepping sometimes just half a yard back you will be increasing the DOF and you will gain that extra allowance and get more of the flower in focus, increased Depth of Field.

But remember also that DOF can be used to our benefit. You might want to isolate something totally out of its background, detach it. Then use the lower numbers, which will give you narrower DOF. And keep thinking always DOF when shooting. And remember focusing works in planes so if you are shooting a portrait for example or even a flower that you want it isolated, detached from its background, then find an angle that you see the background as far detached as possible from the subject. Shoot a portrait by asking the subject to step just a foot or two away from the wall or background and you will see that the result will be a beautiful blurry background rather than one that becomes almost part of the subject.

So you can use the aperture in many ways rather than just to allow light through. This is what Aperture does, besides allowing control of filtered light it also gives you control over DOF. Gives you that beautiful possibility of controlling the blurriness of the background,

Happy shooting and if you have any questions or comments please feel free to tweet me at @aminart


[email protected] (AminArt) aperture photography s/stop tutorial Thu, 07 Feb 2013 19:18:53 GMT
Photography tutorial 01 I have decided to write this tutorial following the inspirational attempts from my fellow twitterers to improve their photography. Many of them have a natural ability to compose and frame images that could churn many a professional photographer with envy and I am so motivated to help them achieve their best that I thought of writing and breaking down into layman terms few principles about photography. I hope this goes some way to help them perfect their technique and go and enjoy the beautiful art with much more confidence and joy.

 I will try to make this first tutorial as simple as possible without diverting too much into many sub branches which it is quite possible to go into and multiply into ten folds.

Photography is all about light mainly. The amount of light your camera allows through your lens when you click the shutter release directly affects what and how you capture. There are three tools that allow you to control this, SS (shutter speed), aperture also known as f/stop and ISO.

Amount of light can be allowed into the sensor by a) keeping the shutter open for longer time so more light filters through, or b) increasing the diameter of the opening of the lens (diaphragm).

Each of these two also affect other areas but the one I am interested in explaining here is a simple one. If your shutter time is left open too long then hand tremour creeps in. So rule of thumb is, you want a SS as high as you can achieve under the circumstances so that you freeze the moment (SS=1/500). Generally 1/200 is a fairly secure guide to nail a flower that is even oscillating a little in the breeze and the hand tremour doesn't affect the result. I shoot flying dragonflies at 1/500 but you can quite easily get fairly good shots of various subjects even at 1/30, (distance from subject has an effect on blur, the closer you are to subject the more the motion and tremour is amplified), its all relative and depends on what you want to achieve. Experimenting is what will help you determine what works best and on what situation. As long as you now understand the function of SS you can go on tweaking it to achieve good results. As long as you remember that the faster the SS you are pushing the less light you are allowing through your lens and you need to compensate with one of the other two variables.

Using a tripod will get rid of your hand tremour. Always use one when convenient and necessary (0.3 sec). But remember also you seldom get a totally static subject outdoors, not even flowers, unless in a controlled environment.

Aperture (f/stop) controls the size of the opening of the lens, and this is where it gets a bit tricky. The lower the numbers on the aperture the wider the opening. So in order to not complicate just think of it as f/2.8 being a very good wide opening compared to for example f/8 or f/11 and so on. I will not get into the other effects of aperture settings for now. So for example if you have your shutter speed at f/125 for example and your aperture at f/4 and you are getting darker image then go to ISO and increase it, if it allows you. What ISO will do is try to immerse in the darker areas and make algorithmic calculations to detect what colours are there in the darker part of the image you are trying to shoot. The higher the ISO you push the more it will do guess work and the grain what we call digital noise will start to creep in. ISO performance depends a lot from camera to camera but a good rule of thumb is 400 to 800 is very good and will keep your images clean.

Now to finalise, I have been encouraging the "P" (Program) mode rather than putting your camera on AUTO and this is an extremely good step into getting to use the principles above while still letting the camera correct you if you are pushing into a mistake that will get you wrongly exposed images.

What P (Program) mode does is it retains the ultimate controls of the camera whenever you nudge one or the other setting. It will check for example that you have pushed your SS too high and you are risking an under exposed shot so it will automatically open the Aperture and compensate with the ISO setting. Notice the numbers in your viewfinder or screen when on P mode and you change one setting, it will immediately change the other ones automatically. Hence you have the ability to choose to alter either SS or Aperture and the camera will retain the last word to give you the right setting with a bias towards what you have selected. This is the general view of the P mode.

Hope this has given you a brief insight into understanding some of the basic principles of photography and if you have any queries please do not hesitate to tweet with the hash tag #amintips

Enjoy your photography and keep shooting.


[email protected] (AminArt) DSLR photography tips Mon, 04 Feb 2013 11:54:43 GMT