Photographer's Note

I’ve been taking photographs for 40 years – and have been pursuing travel photography as a serious hobby for the last 10 years – and have come to the conclusion that you never stop learning.

Perhaps a professional photographer might reach a point in their career where they can’t learn any more about composition and the technical aspects of photography (but even for professionals I am sure they could never stop learning digital post-processing techniques because the software is changing all of the time).

In the past two years as a member of TrekEarth, I have learnt more than in all the previous 38 years. The critiques that I have received from other members have helped me to improve my photography, generate ideas for more creative compositions, and I have learnt a lot from reading the critiques and forums in other members’ galleries.

Many TEers use their 200th post as an opportunity to showcase a photograph of which they are particularly proud, but I’m instead posting one with which I was a little disappointed – but from which I learnt something important.

This photograph was taken from a hill near Kulusuk in eastern Greenland, looking over a body of water called Ikasgrtik, towards a mountain called Iperajivit, which is about 2,600 ft high.

There is some yellow lichen on the rocks in the foreground, so I decided to go for a deep DOF to capture both that and the mountain scenery in the background. The light was good, so I was able to close the aperture to f/16 after bumping the ISO up to 200 and still keep the shutter speed at a tolerable 1/80th.

The result looked great on the LCD, but when I downloaded it to my computer I was disappointed how soft it was. I tried some heavy sharpening, but that adversely impacted the quality, so I assumed the 1/80th shutter speed was not a good choice (although usually at 1/80th I don’t have problems achieving reasonable sharpness as I have quite a steady hand).

After returning home I read a critique - written by Ben WX (ben4321) - about how soft images can be when the aperture is closed up to provide greater DOF. I normally try to shoot around f/8 because that is the sweet spot of most of my lenses, and I don’t notice much softness when I am shooting at f/5.6 or below, but I would rarely shoot with an f stop higher than 11.

So it was only after reading Ben’s review that I learned about aperture settings greater than f/11 producing soft images. That was the ‘something important’ that I learnt from this image. Next time (if there is one) I will lug a tripod to the top of this hill, so I can keep the f stop around the middle of the range. I should also have tried a couple of shots with hyperfocal focusing as well to see if that produced a better result (in this post the focus was on infinity, thinking I had sufficient DOF to cover the foreground at f/16).

By the way, in case you are wondering what the blue-grey smudge is on the centre left, no I didn’t have an accident with the smudge tool in Photoshop. That was a strange finger of cloud (temperature inversion I suspect) that was making its way across the water. It spoils this shot a bit, but I took some other photographs of Kulusuk in the other direction, where the layer of cloud makes a nice feature in the image. I will post one of those later.

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Additional Photos by David Astley (banyanman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1237 W: 108 N: 2568] (7789)
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