Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Fussing around with my camera during the heatwave earlier this week and captured some spectacular sunsets. There was something about the insane heat here in Toronto that sparked a few jaw dropping visuals.  Instead of using 100 ISO as I usually do, I bumped it up to 400 and 800 respectively. I figured I could deal with a bit of noise if the overall photo was sharper.  Here's the skyline Monday night:

Photo of the intense sunset over Toronto Sept 25 2017That's an unretouched photo.  All the photos today are as they came out of the camera, except for a bit of cropping on a couple. The above was 800 ISO with my Canon Powershot SX 130. Despite being a bit old and pointy shooty, when set up correctly, does a pretty good job balancing the colours. I switched to evaluative measuring and I'm not sure, but I think the overall colours looked better across the sky.  I think this was one of the last photos I took as the sun moved below the buildings. It shows the variable colour palette in the sky really well.  

When I was standing on the balcony, I couldn't help but notice a section to the west that looked like the sky was liquid fire. I tried to zoom in and see if I could highlight the intensity of a small portion. Here's one of the shots:

Photo of the intense sunset over Toronto Sept 25 2017 photo 2

Again, I haven't retouched it. The sky looked like it was boiling. The most shocking orange I've seen. This was a peculiar photo. I've taken this shot dozens of times while experimenting with different settings, but this time I struggled to get the skyline looking horizontal. There's something about all the competing lines, the clouds and  shapes that threw my sense of perspective off a bit. I ended up just leaving it. Again 800 ISO with evaluative measuring. There is quite a bit of noise in some areas, but at least the photo came out far sharper than I'd hoped for. I balanced the camera on the balcony railing to steady it and the results were good. 

The next photo was taken a minute or two before the above, using ISO 400. I did have to crop this a bit and straighten it out. The wider skyline made it far easier figuring out what the horizon was.

Photo of the intense sunset over Toronto Sept 25 2017 photo 3

This one is my favourite:

Photo of the intense sunset over Toronto Sept 25 2017 w/ jetstream showingThe jetstream at the top left adds something to the overall photo. Same settings, just focused on a different section of the sky. The next photo looks like the sky is a mass of liquid fire rolling around the clouds. The edges of the building and crane came out on this shot with just a slight halo, but I can live with that. Very happy with it. 

Photo of the intense sunset over Toronto Sept 25 2017 last shotLots of noise, but I shot it 800 ISO. The highest setting on this Powershot is incapable of capturing dusk or night without an excessive level of noise. 800 ISO offered up an acceptable level for me.  By and large, this was an interesting lesson in being flexible in how I shoot. Play with ISO more, steady the camera against something and don't be afraid of a bit of noise if it means grabbing an image you may not see again.  

Apologies for posting so many photos without cutting them way down, but I wanted to showcase the colours. I usually post low rez photos to speed the page up, but when I decreased the quality, they lost too much of the fiery look. I'm waiting for the Black Friday sales to upgrade to a DSL camera. I'll likely go with a bundle package with an extra lens to play with and a decent tripod. Although a big expensive setup would be amazing, it isn't really practical for me. I'm aiming to get a remote, 2 lenses, tripod and hopefully monopod, hood and maybe a macro filter or two. The one I have bookmarked has a decent telephoto lens that would be fun to have but I won't hold my breath. The kit lens that comes with the Canon will be good to learn on. The extra lens (44mm? 55?) will be the upgrade to try for sharper images.  Nothing really high end, but perfect for an amateur to explore with. I can always grab  a good used lens later. There are some great camera stores in town that have a steady supply.

We have a lunar eclipse coming in January so I want plenty of time to play with the camera before I head out to freeze my ass off to take photos. I've also been casing my neigbourhood looking for the perfect spot and found it - the parking garage a street over. They have a perfect, unhindered view of the surrounding area and are open 24hrs. When I get the DSLR, I'll trot over there to test drive settings. Should be lots of fun. 

If you want to see more photos, check out my Instagram account - https://www.instagram.com/bittergrounds2016/ I try to throw photos onto it daily, many that don't make it onto the Magazine so it's a fun option. Often I'll post something I did on the fly and thought you'd enjoy. As well, catch my Facebook page where you can drop in a comment or two about any of these articles (or post below in the comments section).  I also share articles that catch my attention on FB, including friends' pages or interesting articles ranging across a variety of topics  - https://www.facebook.com/bittergroundsmagazine/ 

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"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera."

- Dorothea Lange

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