About Me

My photo
Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Seeing in the Dark

Using Live View to Get Focus Right in the Digital Camera

There are times when deadlines seem to pile upon each other.

Library on Harrisville Pond, Harrisville New Hampshire
Harrisville, New Hampshire
This is one of those weeks. I am currently completing an article for the May edition New Hampshire To Do Magazine about Harrisville New Hampshire's remarkable efforts to protect their unique mill village. I am also working on my first official article for the New England Photography Guild Blog. I feel very honored to accepted among this talented and tireless group

Sap gathering the old fashion way with horse drawn sled and buckets, Stonewall Farm Keene New hampshire
Sap Gathering Tradition
Stonewall Farm
of photographers who are committed to celebrating the special beauty of our region. My first contribution will be about Route 124, one of the most beautiful roads around Mount Monadnock. Finally, I just finished shooting the Annual Sap Gathering Contest for Stonewall Farm in Keene New Hampshire. It is always great fun, but a tough slog for the horses this year without snow, or even mud to lubricate the skids. With all of this going on, I'm happy to have a quick tip to share on my blog this week

In two recent blogs I discussed stacking multiple images

Using Live View to focus in the dark I
Pick the desired focus point
with varying focus points to achieve extreme depth of field in the digital darkroom ( Check out : Focus I, Focus II ). I hope that these techniques did not seem too difficult and complex, but for me, and my aging eyes, the biggest challenge of this approach is getting the focus right for each 

Using Live View to focus in the dark II
Zoom in to focus
of the images in the field. The
 viewfinders in the newer digital SLRs have become brighter, but, especially when the scene is dark,  it can still be impossible to focus precisely. Increasingly, in these situations, I have been using my camera's "live view" capability to nail the focus. Many inexpensive point and shoot cameras use the live view on their LCD screens as their primary or sole mode of framing and focusing, but for many DSLRs this is a newer feature growing out of their expanding video capabilities.

A week ago I was shooting deep in the gorge formed by Catsbane

catsbane Brook West Chesterfield New Hampshire
Catsbane Brook Falls
Brook in West Chesterfield New Hampshire. I wanted to bracket my images to get sharp focus from the foreground leaves to the cascading water, but the fading light made it impossible for me to see where I was focusing. By switching to live view I was able to zoom in on the area of desired sharpness for each image. The LCD screen was bright enough to allow easy adjustment of focus and I came home with my images perfectly prepared for stacking in post-processing. I'm sure many of you are already using this simple technique, especially those who are my age, but there are a couple of points to mention. First, it seems obvious that this approach generally requires you to firmly lock down the camera on a tripod. Secondly, and perhaps less obviously, I always switch out of live view after focusing and before I take the shot. Depending on your shooting mode, exposure can change from shot to shot based on the brightness of the portion of the image that has been isolated for focusing. Of course this is not an issue if you are shooting in manual mode.
That's it. This kind of stuff is like the designated hitter in baseball, keeping us old farts shooting long after we should have hung-em up. I apologize to those whose cameras do not have live view capability, but, for you, I have another quick tip. Carry a pocket flashlight to illuminate the scene while focusing.

THERE, now if everyone is happy I have deadlines to meet.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a huge fan of live view. After trading up to a Canon 1D MkIIn from my 40D, I missed it so much that I sold the 1D and bought another 40D. As I get older I couldn't imagine a camera without it. For macro/close-up work it's indispensable.