Jul 10, 2012

2012 Vacation - Royal Tyrell Museum

This summer our vacation took us to Drumheller, Alberta for the first three days before we headed down to my parents' cabin for a bit of R&R and too much eating.

We started our touring in Drumheller with the Royal Tyrell Museum.

We were very surprised at how busy it was when we arrived. I know it's a popular location, but still, it caught us off guard at how full it was. Not unmanageable, but there were a few times our view was obstructed or we had to wait to appreciate what we were seeing.

I won't add too much commentary, in general, but the below photos is of a sea bed fossil that is very common to the point of being used to make jewellery. As with most fossils, the appearance results from the minerals present that replaced the bone/shell in creating the fossil.

When I was last at the museum in 1994 at the end of grade eight. Since then they have added three new levels and many more displays and discoveries. It was nice to see the continued growth of the facility.

 I was hoping for the opportunity to get a shot into the rib cage from behind. I don't know why. It was just an angle I thought might be nice.

I would like to take a few paragraphs to give any average person a few pointers. Let me start by saying that I realize not everyone is trained in the skills of photography so I will keep it very simple.

The first pointer I would like to  give is with respect to lighting. In a place like a museum the designers are very aware of such things as lighting. The angles of the lights used are positioned to give nice shape and definition to things such as dinosaur bones or sculptures. Light comes from inside many glass cases so there is no glare reflecting off the surface you are looking through. Even lighting, from high enough overhead (to prevent glare) is used in art galleries for paintings. The point is that your camera's on board flash will not do a better job than the existing light so turn off your flash and give it a few shots. You might just like the results better.

However, maybe your camera just cannot handle the dim conditions. If you have a DSLR or Micro 4/3 system made in the last four years, I doubt it cannot handle the higher ISOs (digital equivalent of film speeds) needed for a properly exposed photo. But if it is a point and shoot camera, and you need flash, when photographing into glass, shoot from any angle other than straight on. This way you'll avoid the photo destroying reflection of your camera flash in the photo. Light bounces in a straight line. The greater your angle to the reflective surface the further it will be out of your photo.

Second last is your angle. The above photo was made from one of the upper levels of the museum. If you knew the spark of excitement that fires in me when I have an opportunity to shoot from higher up (not through a window or with a railing in my way) because of my significant restrictions you would appreciate more any ability to crouch, climb or get that unique angle.

Finally, your cell phone or smart phone camera. Without question they are getting really quite good. Some people use them exclusively as serious hobbyist photographers. While in Swift Current this last week we were looking at some old photos of family. Photos from long before I was around. They were full length group photos, printed smaller than on 4x6 paper. The resolution was such that had I or my parents not known who they were we couldn't have identified them. Had they been much closer up in a portrait or tight group shot, would have helped. The bigger issue was the technology of the time. It just wasn't there, yet. This coincided in such a timely way with an article I just read. The article stated that many of the iPhoneographers I just mentioned are giving up their smartphones used for photography purposes because on the newer displays and screens they don't look very good. The phones aren't even outdated and are not up to the task of today's tech. Have you watched a Blu-Ray then tried a VHS, lately? Same idea. The photos smart phones produce look alright on the small, lower resolution, displays. Ten years from now they will be in the same situation as those old photos we looked at last week.

I'm not saying you should give up your smart phone's camera. They will always be handy and ready to capture a moment. But if a grad photo may end up on a wedding slide show, or be wanted to show grandchildren twenty years from now, you may want to future-proof those important moments and events as much as possible and make the best digital file possible. That and maybe a few high quality prints for backup. Speaking of that, have you backed up your photos lately?

More from our vacation in a few days.

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