Monday, August 9, 2010

How to Screw Up a Photo Op

This past weekend Donna and I traveled to Winston-Salem, NC to celebrate my 30 year high school reunion. On Saturday we drove up to Pilot Mountain in King, NC and spent part of the day hiking around the knob. The picture below is of Pilot Mountain and was taken from the scenic overlook beside the highway heading to it.

Pilot Mountain
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After driving to the top of little knob as it is known (the little bump on the left side of the photo above) Donna and I walked around the trails there and we found a cool spot to take a photo of the two of us. I had her sit on the rocks while I adjusted the tripod/camera and took a test shot. We used her camera because it had the 18-200 lens mounted and I had the 55-250 on my 7D. I figured we'd want a nice wide angle shot to get as much of the surrounding area in the photo. I took a test shot and it looked good enough in camera so I climbed up on the rocks and using the wireless remote shutter release took some pictures of us. It wasn't until we got back to the hotel and I downloaded the photos that I discovered the problem you see below.

Lenshood Vignetting
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See the solid black in the corners and side of the photo? You can especially see it on the left hand side. That's called vignetting and while it happens from time to time when shooting at a wide angle this was caused by the lenshood I was using on the lens. Instead of spending $30+ for a lens-specific hood I thought I'd save a few bucks and buy an off brand lenshood that mounted by threading onto the lens like a filter would. I'm not sure if I would have had vignetting from the lens specific hood or not but I'll find out after I get one.

What did I learn from this little experience? ALWAYS test your new gear before going out and using it when you may be planning to take that special photograph. I went through the photos we had taken that day and there's probably 7 - 10 of them that have this problem. Sure I can get rid of it by cropping but if I had taken the time to fully test the lenshood before using it out in the field I would have known that it vignettes and would have used a different focal length to avoid this problem to begin with.

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