Notes by Fred Sgrosso

Welcome to Fred's Links and Notes Page


Sites Of Special Interest:
    Recommended Bird Field Guides:
      Petersons "Field Guide to The Birds"(Eastern or Western edition)
      National Geographic Society's "Birds of North America"

    Adobe Home Page.

Fred's Photos Notes Page

By now you know my name is Fred Sgrosso. Below you will find information on some of the photographs and some general information that I hope you find helpful and or interesting. Many people have asked me why I wanted to make a web site. That question amazed me. I always felt that having photos sitting in a box is a waste. I belong to a camera club and can show some in competitions and in slide shows. Here on the internet the potential for viewers is very great. Photography has been a great hobby for me. If I could kindle a spark in someone else, it would give me great joy. My web page is another extension of my hobby and with which I had no previous experience. I always hated computers and the digital world in general. I am an analog person. Photography is an analog experience, no zeros and ones for me! Well I finally saw the light. The digital world is remarkable, and I can do things with my photos that I always had dreamed about. In addition, you have total control over all aspects of your photograph.

Parachutist @ Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome


    Photographic Equipment.
      The web site contains only scanned prints from negatives. I usually use ISO 200 speed film, because it allows a reasonable shutter speed(1/250 sec. or faster) and at least an f:8 aperture. This technique enables me to shoot without a tripod, giving me the freedom I like when chasing butterflies and other moving nature subjects. A typical sunny day exposure would be 1/250 @ f:16. The grain of 200 speed film is sufficiently fine to make poster prints 20 x 30 inches without undue loss of sharpness when viewed from a few feet away. I recently have used 400 speed film and find the grain characteristics are very good and offer even more depth of field and higher shutter speed. The downside is the higher cost of the film.

    Parachutist at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome

        On some pictures, I use a flash when the conditions warrant. Deep shade and contrasty lighting situations are two places where flash assist can be helpful. When trying to get a highlight in a bird's eye, fill flash works. When the shutter speed is too slow, due to small f-stops, filters, high magnification ratios, poor lighting conditions, wind or hand shake; freeze the subject utilizing the fast flash burst speed of 1/1000-1/10000 sec. The flash's effective shutter speed will stop all motion, even though the sync speed is 1/60 -1/250 sec. The sync speed determines the background exposure, therefore by varying the ratio of flash to the ambient light, a photograph can be made with the background somewhat darkened, very dark, or anything in between. I use a flash quite often when photographing butterflies and dragonflies, because I want the maximum depth of field and the freezing of all motion, without the aid of a tripod.

      Camera/ Lenses

        First off, I must say that the camera system is the least important part of this discussion. Good pictures can be taken with virtually any camera. The lens is a more important consideration due to quality and focal length considerations. Generally, the camera manufacturers produce good quality optics. I have had good luck with non OEM lenses such as Tamron and Sigma lenses. I have seen prize winning photos taken with Vivitar Series I lenses. In the past, I personally used a lightweight Soligor 95-315mm f5.6 zoom lens for many of my nature subjects. It was good enough to produce a 20x30 inch portrait of the Snowy Egret featured on my "Glades" page. Another lens I liked was the Cosina 100-500mm f5.6-8 zoom. That one weighed a ton but took good pictures when tripod mounted. I have two camera bodies; an older Minolta X-700, and a newer Canon EOS A2. My old Minolta system is generally used for print film where exposure is not critical. Typically I use two lenses with each body. One of the lenses used on the Minolta system is an old Tamron 35-85mm close focusing zoom used for many of my people shots, copying, and some insect photography. The lens is manual focus and gets down to 1/2 life size with no adapters. The maximum aperture is f2.8, producing bright images in the viewfinder that are easy to focus. The lens produces very sharp images. My second lens is a 75-300mm f4-5.6 Sigma APO zoom that is quite good for bird photography and sunrises and sunsets. I find the wide zoom ratio to be very helpful. The newer EOS system is auto focus and I use it more with slide film where exposure accuracy is paramount. My 28-85mm f4-5.6 Canon Ultrasonic lens is used for general purpose photos. My favorite lens is my 100-300mm f5.6 Canon Ultrasonic tele zoom for most of my photography. This lens is not the expensive "L" version. The lens is a gem! I can screw a Nikon 5t multi-element close-up lens on its front threads and autofocus close up and personal for my insects and small objects. With a long focal length, it is possible to stay a reasonable distance from a nervous or biting insect. I also believe the perspective is better, too. When I remove the supplementary lens, I have a fast, quiet, autofocusing lens for moving targets such as birds or airplanes. The lens is lightweight, smooth operating, and appears to deliver sharp images under a wide variety of conditions. I also like the rotating zoom control on the Canon lens vs. the push/pull type of zoom used on my Sigma lens. The rotating control allows smooth zooming as opposed to the jerky effect that sometimes occur on the push/pull configurations. Another plus of the Canon tele zoom is the non rotating front element. When using a polarizer, the polarization does not change when the focus is adjusted. My Canon system delivered more than my already high expectations for the equipment, and although not inexpensive, proved to be worth every dollar. I would recommend Canon equipment to anyone, especially nature photographers, based upon my experience of using the A2 and the previously mentioned lenses for the past several years. I started this paragraph by writing that the camera system is the least important part of the discussion. However, the use of certain cameras and lenses certainly make nature, action, and photography in general more enjoyable.

        My web photos were made using a 35 mm camera, with the resultant prints( 4x6 or 3.5x5 in.) scanned into the computer using the Kodak Snapshot Scanner. I now use the Epson Perfection 636 flatbed scanner. The scanner will send the scanned print to whatever software that was used to open the scanner, enabling the use of other picture software products in addition to that supplied with the unit. The resultant digital images can be stored in all of the common formats. An uncompressed file (BMP or TIFF) will take up at least 3 mb. I generally use jpeg compression and end up with files of 100kb.

        Adobe Software.
          I initially used the software that was packaged with my first scanner and found it very educational. After a while I wanted to do more complicated operations. At that time, I decided to buy Adobe's PhotoDeluxe software, which is modeled after the industry's standard; Adobe Photoshop. It was the best $50 I ever spent. I have version 1.0; now 4.0 is out. All the early photos on my web site were made with PhotoDeluxe. It works on a "layers" principle where the picture can be built up into 6 separate layers which are superimposed in register with one another. Modifications and or additions can be made on a layer by layer basis. Deletions to one or more layers are possible as well as variable densities of the individual layers. The ability to apply text to the photos is another plus. See the Adobe site below for more details. I now use Photoshop LE which was bundled with the 636.

      Web Page Mechanics.
        HTML Language.
          To make a web page you either have to learn the HTML language or buy software to do the work for you. Because I am frugal (cheap), I elected to try to write my own pages. It really is easy to do simple pages, such as the ones in my website. The easiest way to learn is to find a site you like and view the "source". This can be done on MS Explorer by right clicking the mouse on the web page in an area of text, and then clicking "source". The code should pop up on a text editor such as Notepad. If you download the page, all this can be done off line. From then on it is a matter of copying the code to get your desired results.

          Another way to do the web page is to use Netscape Composer. It is the utmost in simplicity. What you type and place on the Composer page is what you get--most of the time.

          A few points to remember:

        • All pages should be in the same folder
        • All pages have the extension .htm in order to open them with a browser
        • The first page is named index.htm
        • When using file names and extensions such as .jpg .gif or .htm, use lower case letters
        • Photos should be in jpg format and 70-100 pixels/ inch resolution.

          It is not illegal to copy the code, but do not copy the photos or other data without permission. Most ISP providers allocate space for a personal web page. They also provide a wealth of self help information as well as free FTP software that places your HTML pages and photos in storage for visitors to your site to download. Your computer does not have to be "on" when your web pages are being accessed.

          The choice of browser is probably going to be what you have. I gained a wealth of experience checking my pages on Explorer, Netscape, and Classic Prodigy's browsers. I found Explorer to be the easiest to use because of being able to right click the mouse and getting the coded page from either online or off line situations. With MS Explorer you can compose the whole page off line and review it without going on line to find the mistakes.

        Viewing considerations.
          I found that some folks said my site had "white spots" on the photographs. My son found that the cure was to change the display settings as follows: In Windows 95, find "Settings," click "Control Panel", then double click "Display" from the list, choose the "Settings" tab, under the "Color palette" find "High Color (16bit)", and for the "Desktop area" choose 800x600 pixels. Our computer is set for "small fonts". The settings recommended work well with our 17 inch monitor. Record your original settings in order to return to them, if these suggestions do not satisfy you. Many displays are set to "256 color", which does not yield the sharper images that the newer monitors are capable of. The process is very similar for Windows 98.

      I would like to thank my son, Michael, for his help and support in this endeavor. I never would have started this project without his timely help. About the same time my son put the idea in my mind, an article on making web sites appeared in PC Photo by "Moose" Peterson, famed nature photographer. The article(s) were very good. His site is noted in the Links area; above.

    If you would like to view my VINTAGE AIRCRAFT SITE now, click

    World War I Aircraft @ Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome



Last updated on 4/17/00

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