Focus on Infinity

“Infinity: unlimited extent of time, space, or quantity : boundlessness”, according to Merriam Webster. A difficult concept under any circumstances, infinity in photography can be an even more elusive state. In photography, the definition of infinity includes “A distance between a subject and the camera so great that rays of light reflected from the subject may be regarded as parallel.”, and “A distance setting of the camera lens beyond which everything is in focus.”.

Fresh Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

Recent travails in shooting distant landscapes has me studying the issue in more depth, and today was the day for some cursory field testing. The plan was to conduct a scientific experiment to determine if the auto focus mechanism on my Canon 70D with my 70-200 lens was handling infinity properly. Today was supposed to start with a beautiful clear morning, following days of snow and fog and I was glad to finally be able to get out and do some shooting with Big Dog.

As usual though, my experiment didn’t turn out to be all that scientific or even informative, but I had fun and got some good usable shots πŸ™‚ What I did find out though was gratifying in that I believe that my lens is performing exactly as it should. My method was to take two shots of every scene, one with the auto focus and the second identical shot with the lens set to manual and the focus set to or near the “infinity” mark focused on the distant Sangre de Cristo mountain range as sharply as possible. Then, in front of Photoshop a 100% view of the two images side by side was going to tell me which method is better. I had recently watched another photographer on Youtube who claimed that manual mode focused on infinity was the way to go.

Now the really confusing part of the experiment is that many professional lenses have the capability to focus “beyond infinity”… where nothing is actually in focus. Apparently the equipment can compensate for micro expansion and contraction of the metal due to temperature changes and may require that space slightly beyond the infinity line for that purpose.

Fox with Prey

It was indeed a beautiful morning and we were awarded a couple of bonus shots for our effort πŸ™‚ Along the way I spotted both a fox hunting and then later a coyote hunting in the beautiful fresh snow. The fox was already heading for home with a tasty morsel in his mouth and the coyote was still hunting but paused to cast a wary glance in our direction.

Coyote in Fresh Snow

Coyote in Fresh Snow

The mountains were magnificent as usual and the clear day was perfect for my little test. My scene is perfect with some nearby pine forest covered foothills backed up by the distant peaks of the Sangre. As I conducted my tests I noticed some curious behavior exhibited by the equipment. When focusing on the nearby mountains the camera on auto focus chose to focus exactly on the infinity mark, while the distant mountains resulted in a focus slightly beyond the infinity mark. I thought I was onto something there, a possible malfunction in the auto focus mechanism perhaps. But the follow up shots using manual focus proved the auto focus to be exactly correct based on what I was focusing on.

These findings were very good news for confidence my equipment, but also raised a new question that I have no definitive answer for. Why are the close mountains which are at infinity focused differently than the distant mountains which are also beyond infinity. I guess the simple answer to that is that the close mountains are at a sufficiently varied distance and angle to result in a slightly different infinity value from the vastly distant Sangre de Cristo range more than 60 miles away. In any case, the idea of just setting the camera to the infinity mark is out of the question, at least for a 200mm lens. This practice would probably work fine for a wide angle lens where the infinity point is only a few feet from the camera. Each scene is going to require evaluation to determine what exactly is the most important feature to render the most sharp in the image. If the entire image needs to be sharp, focus stacking in Photoshop might be required.

All in all, the day was a success, important knowledge acquired, some nice images to work with collected, and now in the last couple of hours some more great shots of the little fox family that I found the other day πŸ™‚ Please be sure to visit my image website to see all the new pictures that have been made for sale as wall art, cool household items and royalty free stock!

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Freedom Ride for POW / MIA

Hard to believe, a whole year has passed since I photographed this event, but here it is, the 2017 Veteran’s Ride for Freedom for the POW and MIA soldiers who are unaccounted for in all wars. Riders assemble in Woodland Park Colorado and ride en masse to Cripple Creek where a cheering crowd of thousands greets them with an amazing Colorado style festival. I’ve had numerous opportunities to photograph the riders leaving Woodland Park, but this was the first real chance I have ever had to actually go to Cripple Creek and capture them coming into town. Almost could not drag myself out of bed this morning but fortunately the doggies know the meaning of the alarm clock and were not having any part of going back to bed πŸ™‚

Veteran's Ride for Freedom to Cripple CreekI couldn’t figure out from the website what time the riders would actually arrive so I wound up getting there way too early, so I thought… Anyway it seemed like an opportune time for another 50 cent breakfast at Bronco Billy’s which upon arrival looked like a no go when I saw the crowd. Luckily I received a tip from someone in the know that I could go to one of the bars and order breakfast from there instead of sitting in the cafeteria. Cool! The bar was empty so that worked out just right! The bartender filled me in on the schedule and I was happy to discover that there was going to be a parade in less than an hour so as it turns out I wasn’t so early after all.

Miss ColoradoThe parade was small but quaint and I didn’t notice until tonight, but I captured an image of Miss Colorado, which I think is pretty cool πŸ™‚ This year was also the last year for the Vietnam era Huey displayed on a trailer in the parade so I was glad to have gotten the opportunity to see that as well. A traveling replica of the Vietnam Wall was on the other side of town but I managed to miss that somehow.

Then I took up a good vantage point in front of the Brass Ass which was also where a couple of Teller County’s finest were stationed as well. So I chatted with them and listened to the play by play of the riders progress on their radios πŸ™‚ Finally I heard the roar of probably hundreds of Harleys making the turn from the base of 14,115 foot Pikes Peak on Highway 67 into the downtown area. It was especially important to me to capture the front runners carrying the flags. Such a cool sight, so I made sure I was in the middle of the road for that! Just in time for the arrival of the riders a big ugly cloud rolled in overhead to spoil all the colors but I got the shots and got out of the street in time to get them going west down into the massive crowd at the festival and towards the beautiful flag flying over the street.

 

Then I captured a few more sights and sounds, including a video from my phone, which never ceases to disappoint me with it’s lack of quality… My camera does video as well, but for some reason I can never remember to figure out how to use it until it’s too late. Something about switching a still camera to video just doesn’t seem natural!Veteran's Freedom Ride to Cripple Creek

The heat today was oppressive, which was another reason to get there early. I was able to park in the Double Eagle parking garage, so I made sure I lost a few bucks to the one armed bandits there to make up for using their garage. Tried to take the doggies for a hike, but it was way too hot and we only went a few yards before they did their business and wanted to get out of the sun.

As I work on the pictures tonight it occurs to me that it was at this event one year ago that I received the first hint that there was something seriously wrong with my 70-200 F4L lens. Weird… parts of the picture in focus and other parts in the same plane not in focus…. After grieving about it for a couple of months I took it in for repairs and now I have it back as good as new πŸ™‚ It needed a tune up anyway after a decade of hard use!

I thought it was great to see all those thousands of people cheering and waving flags, everyone fully in support of the rider’s mission, especially in this time of such strife when so many are so bent out of shape over everything under the sun. There was not a single fight the entire time I was there, no protestors to ruin the event for everyone else, just thousands of people being happy and polite. I wish there was more of that in this country now!

These pictures and more will be for sale on my website as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, framed and matted prints and also as novelty items including t-shirts and coffee mugs. Commercial editorial stock versions of the images is also available at the image licensing portal of my website.

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

 

Heart Attack

Lol… well, maybe not a literal heart attack, but certainly a close call! Saw a couple of beautiful young buck mule deer this morning and jumped out of the truck to get some shots with my F4L 70-200 lens that I just had refurbished by the Canon repair shop. But it would not focus. I have my camera set up for “back button focus”, but I pushed the focus button in vain. Finally I gave up and was on my way.

Of course too late I remembered that the lens can be set to manual, which I surely could have done if I had thought of it. Then I had to work all day at my day job… And it was so hard to concentrate with the love of my life on the blink again! Now the lens is over 10 years old and has served me faithfully for tens of thousands of captures so it certainly has the right to wear out, but I’m not ready!

We have been having tremendously wet weather for Colorado this summer and this week was one of the rainiest, coldest and most humid of the entire summer, making me suspicious that perhaps there was interference in the contacts between the camera and lens electronics. So when I finally got the chance I warmed up the lens, especially the contacts area and gave it another try. I was so relieved when the lens correctly responded and snapped to focus upon usage of the back button focus selector. Going to go to bed now after an extremely long and difficult week, but I will sleep well knowing my baby is healthy again πŸ™‚

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Spring 2017

Wow… been a long winter. Here on the north face of Pikes Peak there isn’t much to photograph during the dark winter months. Between the winter and spring travels of the sun on the other side of the equator, Pikes Peak sits in the frozen silence of a season without sunlight. Although fascinating to watch, the dull rocky peak in shade is not much to photograph.

Sangre De Cristo MountainsHowever, the signs of spring are in the air although you wouldn’t know it tonight as I sit here shivering while huddled in four layers at my keyboard! We have been getting quite a few warm sunny days, most of the leftover ice has melted and there is a hint of light on the icy mountain. Of course spring is the snowiest season in Colorado, but many beautiful days in between the storms ease the pain of the seemingly never ending Colorado snow.

Late winter finds me prepared for spring, sporting a new LoweproΒ  camera bag, a repaired and tuned Canon 70-200 F4l IS, Ice Trekkers replaced and my spirit and desire to get out and start shooting again restored πŸ™‚ In addition, I have finally converted my blog to “Premier” in order to begin earning some income from it… Hoping that the monetary incentive will spur me on to new adventures so that I will have something to write about.

Also it looks like I may be moving to Cripple Creek, an old west setting complete with nearby ghost towns, gold mines and saloons that I have been wanting to study and photograph for a long time. Following the death of “The Examiner”, where I was a content provider for outdoor sports articles, my writing has been a bit random. With the conversion to a Premium account I have acquired the domain name swkrullimaging.com, and I intend to devote this blog to all things photography. Politics I will leave to the pundits and political commentators. I am certain that they will be able to carry on splendidly without me, and avoiding that subject will undoubtedly do much for my mood and my spirit.

Although I have made a few trips house hunting to my intended new location recently, I have not been there for optimal lighting for photography. Tomorrow is going to be a perfect day and I intend to cruise down Highway 67 to Cripple at just the right time specifically to photograph the magnificent mountain range known as the Sangre De Cristo Range. The light should be perfect at right about 10:00 a.m. as it clears the high peaks of 10,500 foot Tenderfoot Pass and shines on the jagged snow capped 13,000 foot mountain range dividing the waters of the North American continent. An added benefit of the adventure will of course be 49 cent breakfast at the Bronco Billy’s Casino on Bennett Avenue πŸ™‚

Right now though, time to check my equipment, make sure batteries are charged, lenses clean and proper equipment packed. I am so looking forward to this! Hopefully tomorrow evening will bring a new blog post complete with pictures!

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items