Friday, April 3, 2009

Fossils, front and center!

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Palaeontology week at the South Australian Museum of Natural History offered some fantastic opportunities to pit oneself against a slippery opponent: glass. The exhibits are all behind (or under) glass, of course ... and it's daylight, which means that trying to get a good photo of an amazing fossil entails finding some way to get the "glare" out of the shot! You can find yourself taking an excellent portrait -- of the photographer, reflected in the glass. There's no real trick to it, but there's a few guidelines to follow, if you're wondering how in the world to get a usable shot. First: observe. Use your eyes. Don't let your brain merely "tune out" the reflections -- see them! Second: use your feet and knees. Move around and duck down, till the reflections are either minimal, or gone. The camera might try to focus on the glass itself, so be vigilant ... make sure it focuses where you want it to. Lastly, the light levels will be low, so set your virtual film speed at 800 or higher, if you're working in Manual mode; and if you're working in Auto mode, take a great number of shots till the camera gives you exactly what you want -- and erase the dross! Photo by Mel, 2009. (Palaeontology Week, late March 2009; in the foyer of the SA Museum. The major skull in the case is Protoceratops.)

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