In Praise of Technology

In the midst of trying to re-organize my hard drives, I am in the process of putting together a show of photographs for March. It is always a challenge to decide on a theme each year. And this year I just couldn’t face more bears and birds and mountains in all their glory. So I approached the venue and asked if they would be interested in a show of a forest fire up at my end of the lake from 2007. And they thought a change would be nice as well and were intrigued by the idea for this new show.

Hamill Creek Fire  July 29, 2007  (8:48 PM)

Hamill Creek Fire July 29, 2007 (8:48 PM)

Now in 2007, I had just moved out here from the big city and had no real experience with forest fires, other than what you would see on TV. So when this one started I was intrigued. I know I spoke of this experience in an earlier blog but it is timely again.

 

Although the fire wasn’t that close to where I live and was across the lake it was very prominent in our lives for about 10 days. And I spent a lot to time photographing it. It was close to a small community on that side of the lake so we all watched it with concern. And were very thankful that it stayed north of there. In the end it burned about 1,528 hectares of forest and a lot of equipment and people were engaged in the fight.

A4 DSC_0085-3So I ended up with some really neat shots. With that in mind I headed into my archives to find the photographs and make my selections. Back in 2007, after the fire was out I had held a show for people up here that had been involved and lived close to it. I gave photos to those interested. I had printed them on an Epson pro printer that I had at the time. Not huge but able to print 13 by 19 prints. And that was what I remembered as I started my sort. The prints had turned out very well. (Also they were free so no one was critical of the photographs).

Well, that was in 2007. And I was shooting with a lovely 70-200mm f2.8 lens. What I had forgotten was that I was using a Nikon D70s. A lovely camera for then. But now I use a Nikon D4s. Just a little bit better. And so my images today are just a little bit better. Think much bigger sized files. Even my next camera, a D200 had bigger files. The D70 file would be around 4-5MB and the D200 was about 9 MB. The D4s produces a file of about 19 MB!

So when I look at the raw files (yes I was shooting in raw then) from 2007, there is so much less to work with. So to enlarge an image means more noise in the print. So I am having to choose my prints very carefully. Add to that the fact that a lot of the shots were taken late in the day and into the evening, when the fire and the light were more dramatic and what do you get – even more noise!  So the photos have a really great chance of looking grainy.

fire test DSC_0052-4

Why was I so clever in choosing this theme? As a result, thanks to Photoshop CC, I am very busy right now working on a select number of images. And that is where I say, praise technology. Not only for the newer cameras with ever and ever bigger files and better sensors etc. But also praise to the technology behind products such as Photoshop. It is amazing what can be recovered from a file today. Problems that only a few years ago would have resulted in turfing an image, such as the sky was washed out or the foreground was too dark. Or (the biggie) the camera lens was dirty and spots are all over the image, are corrected in a few simple strokes on the computer. We can do so much more digitally thanks to the manufacturers of the equipment to take photographs and the software developers who create the programs. I just hope the latter can help me enough to make this show work.

Hamill Creek Fire  July 29, 2007  (9:22 PM)

Hamill Creek Fire July 29, 2007 (9:22 PM)

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Categories: Camera gear, change, digital, dramatic, environment, Fire, fire fighting, Forest fire, Hamill Creek, helicopter, lardeau valley, Nature Photography, Photography, Photoshop, Technology

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