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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Friday June 01 2007

Photo-ing the weather itself, the actual clouds, sunshine, rain, etc., is hard, and in my Billion Monkey experience best left to Real Photographers, who love to show off how good they are at, and why not?:

image

This picture was composed out of 2 photos of the same scenery with different camera settings. So the detailed light dynamics of dark foreground and light background sky could be achieved.

This is a guy who doesn’t just point his Billion Monkey snapper, set on Auto, one handed, at whatever it is.  This is a guy who knows what a “camera setting” is, and who knows how to lie with Photoshop.  Or in this case, actually, how to tell something more like the truth about how it really looked to the human eye.  A Real Photographer, in other words.

The rest of us, meanwhile, should be concentrating on photo-ing whatever interesting things we find that are illuminated by the weather, in all the various ways in which that can happen.

The trouble with weather photography is that when the weather is interesting, and in particular when it is spectacular, we tend to notice it at the time.  So, when someone shows us a photo of it, we’ve kind of already seen it.  A rainbow picture?  Yeah, the last time I saw a rainbow I looked really carefully at it, and that’s pretty much how a rainbow looks.  After all, spectacular weather is pretty much similar everywhere, with a few exceptions like tornados, and most of us have seen pretty much all of it that there is to see.  Even the best weather photos tend to have that basic boringness of already having been seen.  Great weather works as a good background, but on its own, it is photographically insufficient.

A lot of the best photos, on the other hand, tend to consist of all those things which we do not notice at the time, or never saw in the first place because it’s a funny notice in a shop in Puerto Rico and we’ve never been anywhere near Puerto Rico, or funny little lighting effects on commonplace objects that you wouldn’t normally notice, or people doing odd little things, ditto.  When you see pretty girls like that doing such things for real, it soon stops and you don’t get time to enjoy it, and anyway, it’s rude to stare, so a photo is just what you want.  For a little while, anyway.  The weather, on the other hand, you can often stare at for hours, if you really want to.  Okay sometimes not, because it can be very changeable, but my point is, we’ve most of us already noticed it.

There is, however, at least one exception to this weather rule that I can now think of, whicht is caused by the fact that, often, photos are not at all like what you really see.  That photo above is clever, and a clever use of Photoshop, because the eye sees the bright bit and the dark bit of the scene equally clearly, adjusting as it scans.  But often photos are fun because they didn’t look a bit like that really.  Think of all those outdoor dark grey scenes which come out bright yellow and orange in the artificially lit bits and blue in the bits that were really grey.  One of the things I most like about photoing in low but basically outdoor light is how different the photos often are from reality, and how very much more appealing as often as not.  Provided they aren’t too blurry.

Here is another example of the snap looking nothing like it really looked, and in a good way, which I myself took a few days ago, with my cheap little Billion Monkey camera, set on Auto, albeit with two hands.  And it’s of the weather.  And, I really like it:

image

Click to get it bigger.  This time, I’ve left the original at its maximum size (which was set on the camera one size below what should have been the real max by mistake, but no matter).

Now I can’t recall how that originally looked exactly, for real, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that it looked nothing at all like that. I couldn’t see the individual raindrops.  But because the raindrops were brightly back lit by the sun crashing down Victoria Street (which you can see bouncing off the taxi’s roof and forcing itself or not as the case may be through the leaves of the tree), the camera could, even my cheapo Billion Monkey camera.  But, it didn’t see them completely unblurred.  It saw them just a little bit blurred, and again, in a good way.  For real, I saw the rain in the foreground, and the buildings in the background, in other words, I hardly saw the buildings at all.  What the camera does is Photoshop the effects into one effect, so to speak.  It combines the blurry but individual raindrops with the buildings, to make one, utterly new effect that I never saw in the first place, because the human eyes - to be more exact the human eyes, plural - doesn’t/don’t work like that.  Because of the back lighting, which created a nice effect but an entirely different effect to the one you now see, I hoped that this might come out nicely, one way or another.  But when I came upon it back home on my computer for the first time, I gave a shout of joy.  It helps a lot that the buildings are interesting ones, especially the classical wonderfulness of Methodist Central Hall.

By the way, there is a fellow Billion Monkey to be seen, a lady Billion Monkey, very small, bottom left.  (UPDATE: No, actually I think she’s holding a water bottle, not a Billion Monkey Camera.)