Redoubt Reporter Summer photo contest
It’s time for the third Redoubt Reporter, reader-submitted photo contest.
Photos will be judged and winners selected by a three-member panel. After each contest closes, we’ll publish and discuss some of our favorites in the Redoubt Reporter, space permitting. Some of the selected photographers will be invited to frame and hang their photos at a Redoubt Reporter June 2013 group photo show scheduled at the Sterling Highway Kaladi Brothers coffee shop.
The deadline to enter is 11:59 p.m. Aug. 31, 2012. All submissions must be in high-quality digital format. Submit no more than five JPEG images by email to email@example.com.
1. Our theme is “Summer on the Kenai” and submissions must fit this theme. Summer is always interesting here in Alaska, with a vast number of photos taken. We encourage you to submit photos of what you observed over the summer. As always, we prefer photos that are fresh and unique. Frequently photographed subjects, like combat fishing, should be avoided.
2. Entrants must be amateur photographers who are residents of the central Kenai Peninsula.
3. Photographs can be of any subject fitting the theme but must have been taken of the Kenai Peninsula on or after June 1, 2012.
4. If you submit photographs in which people are recognizable, you must also provide us with their permission for us to publish any such photographs.
5. Please do not submit portrait photos. Do not submit photographs whose content would not be appropriate for publication in a family newspaper. Do not submit photos of illegal subject matter. All such photos will be deleted immediately without notice to you and at the sole discretion of the editor.
6. Photographers must include their name, telephone number, email address, town of residency and each photo’s date, location and description of subject matter.
7. Submitted JPEG images should be of the best possible technical quality. Good technique and technical quality are important, but originality, creativity, interesting subject matter, artistic merit and good composition are even more important.
8. By submitting photos, you agree to our publication of them in the Redoubt Reporter newspaper and on our website. The Redoubt Reporter will have the right of first publication of your photos. However, you will retain the copyright for all other purposes and your name will be listed if we publish any of your photos.
9. Our decisions about what’s published or selected for exhibition are final and are admittedly subjective. Space is limited, and the judging panel and editor reserve the right to choose photos at their discretion.
10. Retain your original digital files of all submitted images. We are not responsible for preserving copies of your digital images.
By Joe Kashi, For the Redoubt Reporter
Action photography takes center stage during Alaska summer days as wildlife, sporting events and outdoor activities dominate our leisure time. These activities often require very quick and polished photographic techniques, and that’s our topic this week.
- Use the right camera and lens. Not all cameras are suitable for reliable action photography. Point-and-shoot cameras and consumer long-zoom cameras, for example, focus too slowly and are unable to shoot more than a few frames per second.
Digital SLR cameras tend to produce the best action photography. Their optical viewfinders provide an excellent view of the action, allowing you to frame quickly and accurately. Digital SLR cameras also tend to autofocus faster than any other type of camera, except some of the newest Micro Four-Thirds cameras. Generally, the larger sensors built into dSLR cameras result in better images at the higher ISO sensitivities required to capture fast action.
Among the best dSLR cameras are full-frame models, like the Canon 5D Mark II and Mark III, the new Canon 1D X and Nikon’s D700, D800, D3s and D4. Some dSLR cameras using the somewhat smaller APS-C sensors are also quite suitable for action photography, including Pentax’s K-5, Nikon’s D5100 and D7000, and Sony’s A77. Among compact-system cameras, Olympus’ new OM-D (E-M5) and Panasonic’s G3 have the necessary eye-level viewfinder, fast focus and good image quality at high ISO sensitivities.
Unless you’re very close, you’ll need a fast telephoto lens to capture wildlife and fast action images. Although getting closer is usually helpful, there are times when it’s either not possible or not advisable. Most fans at football and baseball games are unable to get on the field and, thus, must make their photographs from the stands. Only the exceptional hunter can stalk wildlife well enough to use a low-magnification lens. In some cases, as with a brown bear sow and cubs, getting really close is just not a rational option.
A high-quality 70- to 200-mm f2.8 (105- to 300-mm equivalent field of view) zoom lens is a good foundation for sports and action photography. Tamron makes one of the most-affordable and best-quality of such lenses for many different lens mounts. Beyond 200 mm, wide-aperture telephoto lenses quickly became quite heavy and seriously expensive. As a result, they’re usually found only among professional photographers and serious amateurs who specialize in sports and wildlife photography. Among compact-system cameras, Olympus makes a truly excellent (and truly expensive) 150-mm f2 Four-Thirds telephoto lens whose magnification is equivalent to an f2 300-mm lens on 35-mm film.
Unless your camera can produce good photos using a very high ISO sensitivity, avoid variable-aperture telephoto lenses whose highest magnifications are burdened by small maximum apertures, like f5.6 or f8. With such lenses, you’ll need to close the lens to a smaller aperture, like f8 to f11, to reduce optical defects. At such small lens apertures you may not be able to use the quick shutter speeds needed to stop fast action and to eliminate camera shake, unless you’re in bright sunshine or have set your camera to ISO 1,600 to ISO 3,200.
- Use a fast shutter speed. Capturing fast action with a telephoto lens requires a fast shutter speed, on the order of 1/500 of a second or quicker. To get a correct exposure, especially under dim light, you’ll need to either use a wide lens aperture or a high ISO sensitivity, or both. Generally, I would set my camera to shutter speed priority mode and set a sufficiently fast shutter speed, allowing the camera to set the aperture. Alternatively, you can set your camera to Program (P) mode and adjust the shutter speed until it’s fast enough. If you can’t find a satisfactory shutter speed/lens aperture setting, then increase the ISO sensitivity as needed. Auto ISO settings can be a useful alternative if your camera can make good images at ISO 1,600 and faster. Realistically, point-and-shoot cameras won’t work in these situations.
- Anticipate action. Most sports and wildlife action is at least somewhat predictable. Understand what’s likely to happen and position yourself so that you’ll have the best viewpoint. In baseball, as an example, we know that a pitcher will wind up, throw and follow through. We know which way a right-handed or left-handed pitcher will face as he makes his throw and can position ourselves to photograph his face and arm, not his back. Use that predictability to start taking rapid-sequence photos as the pitcher winds up.
- Focus. Although modern dSLR cameras and some compact-system cameras focus quickly, that may not be fast enough when the action’s quick. If you’re experiencing a high rate of focus failure, then a reasonable alternative, where circumstances permit, is to switch to manual focusing and to prefocus before the action actually starts.
- Try burst mode. Start taking pictures the instant that action starts. Set your camera for burst mode and hold down the shutter button through the completed action. Most better cameras will take between six and 10 frames per second. You’ll likely delete most of these frames but you’re more likely to find a real gem among the many frames per second that you’ve taken. Professional sports photographers use this technique to capture fast-breaking action.
- Support your camera. Your photos will look better if you use a camera support of some kind. I prefer a light, inexpensive monopod. It’s faster and more flexible than a tripod in fast-action situations.
- Watch your background. Many good action photos have been spoiled because the photographer failed to notice something large and distracting in the background. Don’t become so caught up in the moment’s action that you neglect to position yourself where the background is not cluttered or otherwise a distraction. I’ve ruined a fair number of photos by forgetting this basic point.
- Avoid lens flare. Try to avoid shooting directly into the sun or other bright lights. Use a good lens shade. Backlighting can be dramatic but if it causes lens flare, then it can become a dramatic failure.
Local attorney Joe Kashi received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from MIT and his law degree from Georgetown University. He has published many articles about computer technology, law practice and digital photography in national media since 1990. Many of his technology and photography articles can be accessed through his website, http://www.kashilaw.com.