Painting is just another way of keeping a diary ~Pablo Picasso

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August 31

This is my second time posting a vineyard photo, and I'm not really satisfied with either of them.  I like this one better, I guess because it's more colorful.  It really didn't turn out how I wanted it to though.  The vineyard is pretty small, probably about 10 acres or so.  I was surprised by the number of different varieties of grapes growing.  I started in a section with tiny dark purple grapes.  The owner said they were merlot and pinot.  They weren't good for this photo though because they were opaque.  He directed me to a section with muscat grapes.  I think that's what I've photographed here, based on description.  They glow more in the light which was what I was looking for.  I wonder if this would have turned out better if I could have gone closer to sunrise, but I've got school time constraints now so no sunrise photos except for the weekends. 
f/5.3, 1/60, 145mm, polarizer

Sunday, August 29, 2010

August 29

Today at Great American I kept trying this panning shot with the idea that I'd blur the surroundings while keeping the roller coaster in focus, for this frozen movement look.  My success rate (if this is actually's sort of how my astigmatism looks without glasses!) was about 1 in 10.  I felt like there was a learning curve I was always just rounding.  I'm sure there is, but I think it takes more practice than I gave it.  I'm not wild about the composition here; I wish the roller coaster were a little lower in the frame, but I don't really want to crop because I like the thickness of the lower part of the photo.
f/29, 1/6, polarizer, 200mm

Saturday, August 28, 2010

August 28

So we actually had clouds today, which is a rare occurence since I've been here!  Sunsets are just so tricky for me.  I definitely had to work in manual to figure out how much light to let in, and I was dialing settings up and down like crazy.  I really loved the mood in this one, and also that you could see the sun so clearly.  Of course it's pretty underexposed to get that effect so the ground layer is completely black, but I guess that helps to actually see the light filtering through.
f/8, 1/400, WBcloudy, vivid

Friday, August 27, 2010

August 27

We found this beautiful rose bush in someone's front yard one street over from our house.  I couldn't believe the colors on it; they hardly look real!  This was one of my favorite angles and I tried it at a lot of different ISOs.  The +10macro filter really just focuses in one plane, so moving up the ISO a little adds to the misty effect of the layers that are out of focus.  I like it, but I feel like this is an old trick for me now.  Also I'm not sure about that dark patch in the corner, but having the open space there gives the flower a little more depth so I decided to leave it in.
f/5.6, 1/320, ISO320, +10macro filter, 45mm

Thursday, August 26, 2010

August 26

This bright-eyed building was speaking to me this evening.  The happy little anime face just jumped out at me, and for a quick whimsical photo I'm pretty pleased with it.  I like the lighting.  The light coming out of the mouth and landing on the sidewalk just animates it more, like it's talking or giggling. I tried different aperture/shutter speed combos.  I didn't think I'd like the f/22, but when I saw it on the computer it was by far the clearest. It came out fairly crisp for low light.
f/22, 15 sec.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

August 25

This watermelon field was being harvested this morning.  It was pretty neat to watch.  A conveyer belt picked up the melons and sent them through a turbine in the back that just tore them to shreds and spat out watermelon guts.  I really couldn't figure it out at first, but then the guy working there told me that they were actually harvesting the seeds!  All these melons are way over-ripe, so I guess that's when the seeds are best.  In the background of the photo you can sort of see some of the harvested rows; it's pretty blurry because I used my lowest aperture and just focused on the front melon with the yellow skin.  The red areas in the upper left are the leftover watermelon shells.
f/5.6, 1/100, 200mm

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

August 24

A few confessions here: one, I'm a little bit infatuated with this barn.  I've been thinking for a while what would be the best way to photograph it.  And two, the first page I check in the newspaper every morning is the weather page.  Here I'm looking for sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset.  In Olympia I was always checking the tides too.  So I'd been thinking this might be a good photo today, including both the barn and the full moon rising.  I wanted to zoom to 200mm so the moon would be large yet still include all of the barn.  Unfortunately I couldn't do that without setting up deep in a field of sunflowers!  So here it is, 105mm.  I feel a little like Harold and the Purple Crayon, putting the moon in the window, but it shows off a little of the barn's character, I think. 
f/9, 1/13, 105mm

Sunday, August 22, 2010

August 22

This is another flower from the farm stand.  I don't think it will be a Sunday thing, but I did decide to do a flower photo again this week.  I need a macro lens or extension tubes to try real macro photos; this +10macro filter is tricky to work with, and the depth of focus is very small.  I focused on the two little flower two little flowers within the flower.  The sun is hitting the pink flower behind this one, so there's a nice glow in the background.
f/9, 1/10, +10macro

Saturday, August 21, 2010

August 21

Just playing around at the county fair; this photo was taken about twenty minutes after sunset tonight.  I'm posting it because it's the best light pattern I got tonight.  Also I think it's cool that the white dot in the center of the photo is the moon. One thing I was realizing about taking this photo tonight is that my comfort zone is definitely aperture mode (or manual when aperture doesn't fit).  I did realize early on that I wanted to have the shutter speed somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 of a second, but it didn't occur to me to switch to shutter mode; I just kept adjusting my aperture as the light got darker to keep the shutter in that range. 
f/10, 3/4 sec., ISO100

Friday, August 20, 2010

August 20

We went to the zoo in San Francisco today.  Very cool place!  It was sort of surprising to be back in overcast weather though; we had low cloud cover our whole time there.  I actually got cold!  Anyway, this bird is called an East African Crowned Crane.  It's pretty unusual looking, but there's a lot of nice texture and color so the photo was nice.  It doesn't stand still though so it was really hit or miss with the camera.  Mostly miss.  I'd focus on the eye and the crane would be out of the shot before I could take the photo.  Something about the face colors and crown reminds me of British royalty.
f/5.6, 1/60, 200mm

Thursday, August 19, 2010

August 19

We don't have a lot of vineyards right around here.  This small one is on the same country road as the horse I photographed a few nights ago, and I think this road has really magical light at sunset.  I had trouble figuring out how to compose this shot.  I couldn't get close to the grapevines here, so that limited me.  Next time I'll try the other vineyard (it's about 10 miles away) because it comes right up the the edge of the road.  There was a cute California quail family running around here when I came.  Too bad I scared them off; I'd love to photograph them but the scurry away like roadrunners.
f/5.6, 1/6, polarizer

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August 18

This was the scene outside my front door this morning when I went to get the paper.  Our sprinkler goes off just before dawn so these flowers are all dewy for a while in the morning and the light is pretty.  I ended up liking this photo because of the glow in the water droplets and on the muted background colors.  The yellow is actually sunlight on the grass.  It's nice to post early for a change.  Now I can relax with my coffee and enjoy the newspaper.
f/9, 1/30, ISO200, WBcloudy

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

August 17

I've seen this bird in fields here; it's called a yellow-billed magpie. Sitting in this palm tree I think it looks more like a tropical penguin.  So this photo is a good example of the really intense midday light I wrote about yesterday.  I sort of hate to post it next to yesterday's, which I really like.  I think this one is ok-ish.  Mainly I like it for the graphic pop-art feel it has with the really intense colors.  It looks like the bird should be a mascot on a cereal box I think...Frooty Tropical Penguin Flakes, maybe. 
f/5.6, 1/125, polarizer

Monday, August 16, 2010

August 16

The problem I'm having with photographing here and now (central valley and summer) is that the light is just so darn intense and harsh.  In Washington I could pretty much take photos any time of day; there were usually interesting clouds or just muted light.  Here I'm finding myself photographing more and more at sunrise, sunset. Dawn, dusk.  The light is really intersting then.  This week I'm in a sleeping-in-mood (slight cold) so I'm doing a lot of sunset stuff, which is risky, because my photos don't always turn out.  I'm happy with this one though.  It's a scene I spotted last week and I've been stopping by here sometimes in the evening.  There are actually two horses that play and kick up dust in front of the setting sun, and it's so cool to watch.  Tonight is my first good photo night (totally dependent on when the farmer tosses dinner in...all play stops immediately then).  Anyway, I thought posting a photo from here would fix my need to photograph these horses, but I think there's more to explore here.  A Degas phase.
f/5.6, 1/60, 160mm, polarizer, vivid

Sunday, August 15, 2010

August 15

I felt like lying low today, so I decided to try a still life.  I found this great farm stand just a few miles from my house.  The little girl there sells flowers, so I've been a regular all week.  And just down the road from it are fresh eggs for sale!  This is my new favorite country road.  Anyway the photo started as a still life of the flowers but turned into a study in how to best let light through the vase.  I got rid of the polarizer: even though it cut the glare on the vase it also made the label fuzzy.  I ended up using a neutral density filter on the bottom half of the photo to strengthen the shape of the glass while leaving the flowers brighter.  A really weak flash on the flowers helped too.  This is the most time I've spent on a photo in a long while!  I'm not totally satisfied with it, but at some point I just had to stop retaking this photo!  f/6.3, 1/6, .6NDfilter, -3.0flash

Saturday, August 14, 2010

August 14

I was just playing around as we were driving through this tunnel (no, I wasn't the driver!) and I ended up really liking the shot, mainly because the proverbial "light at the end of the tunnel" came into view just as I was clicking the shutter release.  Lucky!  I switched white balance to flourescent to match the lights, but the color is way off.  The tunnel light was white, so I'm not sure why I got that eerie red color.
 f/4.5, 1/25, ISO800, 24mm, WBflourescent

Friday, August 13, 2010

August 13

Well, another sunset photo.  It was so busy today though that I didn't have a chance to get out with my camera until sunset.  I overexposed by a few stops to get the different color bands at the bottom.  If I didn't overexpose I got a really beautiful orange in the sky but the ground layers were lost.  I spotted this as a scene a few days ago when I was looking for places to take yesterday's photo.  So I had this shot in mind for a day like today when I was really too busy and tired to be into photography (thankfully a rare day!)  I think it came out better before though.  The sunset is always the same clouds, just color bands.  But I'm starting to realize that some evenings the colors are much more intense than others.  Right now I have no way to predict the good color nights though...I'll be tracking this to see if I can figure out a formula...

f/9, 1/6, ISO100, 200mm, vivid

Thursday, August 12, 2010

August 12

I've been waiting a month to try this photo.  I tried it the evening we first got here, but messed it up because it was windy and I wasn't prepared.  So tonight we were at a meteor viewing site, and that really limited how I could frame the shot.  I kind of wish there were a few trees just a little further in the distance, then I could have zoomed in much closer without cutting out the tree frames.  I like how this is framed, but the moon is kind of small.  I love that you can almost see a nose on the moon (if you zoom in, that is).  Maybe it will be more prominent tomorrow, but the moon will set almost an hour later compared to the sun, so I wouldn't get that sunset lighting which is what I really wanted.  I think that planet in the shot is Venus.  A bunch of planets are supposed to align tonight, but Venus should be the brightest so it would show at sunset. 
f/5.6, 4.5 sec., 55mm, ISO100, vivid, WBsunny

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August 11

This is a fun photo.  We're calling it The Anna Factory.   I was really into reflection photos in Olympia, and without much water around here this will have to do for my reflection fix for a while.  I debated about cropping out that dark patch of concrete on the right side of the photo, but decided to leave it in for balance.  I'm not sure why I went with f/29; maybe because the windows were so in need of a good cleaning.  Anyway, I like all the different angles we got.  Just the slightest movement on my part made the hugest difference in was like working with fun house mirrors.
f/29, 2/5 sec., 45mm, polarizer, vivd

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August 10

Today's photo is a welcome change of pace.  There's this building on campus that is aptly nicknamed the Death Star.  It's this labrynth of geometric shapes, and I have to admit, really fun to photograph.  I was near campus around 10:30 this morning so I reconned the building, and ended I up really liking the shadows at that time. Although I think this building holds possibilities throughout the day as the light changes.  In the words of my high school chemistry teacher, Mr. Ertel, photographing the Death Star is "like shootin' fish in a rain barrel!"  I love the angle on this one; it reminds me of an aperture.  And on the topic of aperture, I don't know why I used 4.5 here; the building line on the left is all fuzzy.  I really wish I'd used a smaller aperture.  Also I wish the right wall were brighter so maybe fill flash would have helped.  Anyway, expect more photos from this location in postings down the road.  There's lots to learn here!
f/4.5, 1/250, 32mm

Monday, August 9, 2010

August 9

An early post today...I headed out just after sunrise to the almond orchards sort of near Winters.  It's just so cool to drive through here at any time of day, but the early morning light filtering through the leaves made me stop and get the tripod out.  I had to underexpose this by two stops to keep the dark shadows otherwise the glowing leaves were kind of lost in a brighter background.  This was my favorite, with the highest aperture.  So the other thing that's neat about these orchards in the morning is all the wildlife you can spot.  There was a big rafter of turkeys (yes that's the proper name for a group of turkeys, although it sounds ridiculous!) and also California quail that have this crazy fop off the tops of their heads, and rabbits with enormous ears.  All future photo opportunities I suppose.
f/29, 1sec., ISO100, 160mm, polarizer, vivid

Sunday, August 8, 2010

August 8

We went to Folsom Reservoir today.  We entered at Granite Bay, so I've tried to highlight that in this photo.  These granite outcroppings sort of lead you toward the water and I just tried to show that with my old standby, the wide-angle shot.  The glacier lines and intrusions sort of lead you into the photo (or at least that was the idea).  This was taken right before we left, around 6pm, so the light had toned down a little, but it was pretty harsh light here all afternoon.  Anyway I like the color of the granite, and the polarizer got a nice shade of blue on the water.  For a bright light photo I guess it holds it's own.  I'm still really partial to yesterday's photo though.
 f/7.1, 1/200, 30mm, polarizer

Saturday, August 7, 2010

August 7

There's this field heading west from our house that has recently been harvested: some sort of wheat or hay I think.  And growing in the treeline easement between the field and road is all this unharvestable grain.  And at sunset when I'm heading west it's always glowing at me.  I've thought about stopping here a half dozen times, and tonight I finally did.  I tried a lot of different angles and got plenty of cool backlit photos; this one had the best amber background glow.  It's been a while since I've done such a moody photo, so I'm really happy with it.
f/5.6, 1/40, ISO100, 200mm, polarizer

Friday, August 6, 2010

August 6

We went to the Arboretum at UC Davis today at lunchtime because there was supposed to be an outdoor lunch concert going on (that we never found by the way).  And high noon is not a time I would usually be out with my camera.  I just stopped to take a photo of these flowers because I liked the color and I liked that it would be repeating in the background with the yellow larch tree.  The little hummingbird just happned to show up then, so that was lucky.  This shot caught the hummingbird in a nice profile.  I can't tell what kind it is, and I have no idea what the flowering plant is either.  The base looks like an aloe or agave plant, then this bamboo-like stem shoots straight up from the center and the flowers all come out of this one stem.  I'd say the flowers were 12-15 feet above the plant!  It was pretty odd looking really.  I've got to pick up a book listing native plants! 

f/5, 1/200, ISO200, 200mm, vivid, polarizer

Thursday, August 5, 2010

August 5

So today is a special golden birthday for Clover!  She's five years old, and I can hardly believe it!  I just love the goofy smile she's got in this portrait, plus it shows her new birthday collar and squirrel toy.  Anyway she's smiling because she got a piece of London Broil for her birthday...a birthday steak...and it's dangling near the camera.  This photo was the family favorite, because it shows her personality best.                                            f/4.5, 1/100, 98mm, ISO200, vivid

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August 4

I'm pretty happy with today's photo. I did head out early today just so I wouldn't get caught without any options late in the day today. These crop dusters are pretty common around here...a far cry from organic Oly! I liked that this one was bright yellow, so I pulled over the the side of the road to photograph. I think a slightly different angle would have maximized my polarizer, but otherwise I really like the color here. I also like that the spray line is so visible against the tree line. I moved the ISO to 200 to catch the plane a little clearer. Beyond those hills in the distance is Napa Valley. I'm going to head there later this week with my camera.

I'm still working in the Nikon picture style "vivid" which really intensifies the rich colors. My former photography teacher, Barbra, forwarded an article to us this week on what to do with the last roll of kodachrome. Seems like I'd burn through it pretty quickly...and it doesn't hurt that everyday here is a sunny day, ala Simon and Garfunkel. "When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school..."

f/5.6, 1/400, ISO200, 200mm, polarizer, vivid

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

August 3

I'm not wild about today's photo, but I didn't go out with my camera until sunset today, which didn't leave me with a lot of options. So I guess this is my best photo. The planting furrows remind me of the rut I'm stuck in with wide-angle shots right now. I don't know, I guess as far as dirt photos go, it's decent. I do like the color variation in the sky in the sunset; I'm facing south here, so the sunset is off to the right of the photo. I wonder what will be planted here tomorrow...

f/11, 28 sec., 19mm, .6 neutral density fiter, wb cloudy

Monday, August 2, 2010

August 2

This is a really cool old fence skirting the road near the big cactus patch from my July 29th post. At first I thought it had been painted yellow and the paint was wearing off, but it's actually this dusty yellow moss that likes the wood here. I tried a bunch of different angles, trying to figure out how to best show that loose board that's about half way down. This was the clear favorite here, although mainly for color and fence angle. The board doesn't really stand out too much in this shot, but it's the best color saturation I got. The sun was setting and the light was constantly changing.

f/22, 1.6 sec, 18mm, vivid, polarizer

Sunday, August 1, 2010

August 1

The octopile at the Berkeley Kite Festival today. I struggled to get them all in the shot (unsuccessfully) and this was at 18mm! Anyway, it was a really fun event. I also really liked the precision kite teams. Definitely one of those days where I felt like there was no way to capture it all in one photo.

f/4.5, 1/200, 18mm, vivid, polarizer