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

Saturday, July 30, 2011

July 30

I got a chance to play around with my new lens (17-55/f2.8) while we were waiting for our table at Olive Garden tonight.  This is just some old lavender growing at the edge of the parking lot.  It was pretty lighting, I thought.

Friday, July 29, 2011

July 29

We finally got ourselves to the California State Fair, and such lucky timing for us too.  As we came into the livestock nursery this mama stood up to have her baby!  Of course it wasn't as quick as all that.  The whole process only took about an hour though.  I think we stayed for about a half hour afterwards just to watch as she cleaned the calf (baby girl) and the calf tried repeatedly to stand up.  Eventually mama lay down next to the cow, and that's the portrait that I caught here.  Many photos taken of this event, but needless to say they're a little graphic!  She did get some assistance from one of the vets, but only after the front legs were already out.  A cow's gestational period is nine months, same as a human.  And the mama isn't called a cow until after she's given birth.  Before that she's a heffer.  I don't know how much the little calf weighs, but we thought she was sligthly bigger than Clover, who weighs about 60 lbs.  I wish we could have stayed longer and seen her finally stand, but I feel so lucky that we got to see her born! 

Friday, July 22, 2011

July 22

Today we toured the Stanislaus River Parks, which are run by the Corp of Engineers.  This covered bridge at Knights Ferry, spanning 330 ft., is the longest west of the Mississippi.  If I photographed the inside of the bridge from one end, the light at the other end was just a dot in the photo.  Here we're close to the end of the bridge.  I had fun playing around in manual mode, controlling how much light to let in. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

July 21

So it seems that gardening and photography have converged for me this week, and I'm completely helpless to change this.  I'd much rather put up a variety of photos, and yet here I am with another garden photo today.  This photo has a lot of flaws for sure.  I was just so fascinated with the light glowing through those pumpkin blossoms.  I thought they looked like Japanese latterns.  By the way, these are male blossoms :)  Not that you'd guess it with the fancy up-does they're sporting.  The female flowers are fatter at the base, where the pumpkin will form.  Also the male flowers shoot up on long stems like these and the female flowers are at ground level.  Speaking of ground level, I'm practically there with this shot!  I had lots of trouble bumping into leaves.  They're about 16 inches in diameter! 

One other comment I'll make here:  Summer 2011 is the time I got comfortable shooting in manual, and I'm very happy with the effects I can achieve.  So now I'm almost always working in manual and spot-metering on my subject, then dialing my settings to get the best exposure.  I actually can't remember what the meter showed here, but I think probably it was slightly over-exposed. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 20

Back to the garden again today.   I spent some time photographing the tomatillo plant and watching bees come and go.  My favorite photos were the simpler ones with just the blossoms though. Usually back lit. I brought a chair out the the garden, and I have to admit I felt a little bit like Marlon Brando in the Godfather when he's in the garden with his grandson. Not the dying part. The watching the garden grow part. I'm learning that different bees pollinate different plants. And that they come in groups about every half hour. I'm learning the difference between pumpkin and squash blossoms, and between male and female blossoms. And my pumpkin plant that I was complaining about the other day now has two little pumpkins. More Bert than Ernie in shape.  Fun to see the changes each day.  Still working with my prime lens, and f/2.2.  Right now I think it captures the garden mood best.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

July 19

I'll be the first to admit that car photography isn't really my thing.  Not that old cars aren't cool and photo-worthy.  It's just that I have no idea how to photograph them.  At least not in any way that I see as artistic.  This was the best I could do at the monthly summer car "cruise in" at our local Safeway parking lot.  I like the colors and symmetry.  I object to the blurriness of the front fender on the red car.  I think I focused on the tires, which is what caught my eye.  Maybe I needed a higher aperture, or just needed to focus on the edge of the fender instead.

Monday, July 18, 2011

July 18

View from my garden...I started out focusing on the little curl of vine, but decided it was a better picture if the water droplets were in focus. f/2.2  I think that was the wrong setting.  Maybe something around f/4 would have been better because I'd like that entire section of vine if focus.  Shifting my angle might have helped, but I think I used that angle because I wanted the blossoms in the background. Also could have underexposed this shot a bit more.  Now I object to the blownout section of flower just behind the curl...
I think the vine is my pumpkin plant, although it's a little crowded in this stretch, so butternut squash or bon bon squash are also possibilities.  No pumpkins yet.  Lots and lots of vines and blooms, but no pumpkins.  On the other hand, four large butternut squash so far.  I'm growing to love the plants that put their energy into producing fruit.  They take up less space and yet have much to offer.  And the pumpkins better get going if we're going to have something to carve at Halloween!  My Valenciano white pumpkin plant has three pumpkins growing, so at least we won't have to have a Jack-o-lantern butternut squash...although come to think of it, that would be interesting...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

July 16

Our hike up the Old Stage Road at Mt. Tam.  This was one of our sunny patches.  From our view at the West Point Inn we saw fog roll through twice, and we had to travel through several different weather patterns, although you wouldn't guess it from this shot.  It's supposed to be "the road less traveled."  I took about five or six photos of this scene, but my favorite by far was the one with Anna above the horizon line.  I think it's the most interesting, and now recall my teacher saying that if you're photographing people and a horizon line then it's best if the people break the horizon.  I took the photo from more of a ground level perspective to make the road bigger.  I was probably just kneeling.  I'm not so hard corp as to lie on a dirt road for a photo...yet :)  Anna thinks she looks like a hippy here, but I'm really happy with her choice of clothing today.  It looks like Rainbow Girl heading to her job in the sky!

Friday, July 15, 2011

July 14

Ok, this was much harder than I was imagining!  We're going to try again on the 15th because one of our local newspapers listed the full moon on the 14th and the other listed the 15th.  Plus we need the practice!  The main problem was the trees in the background.  We had to put Eric on a hill, but the only option was to make him a giant.  So I need to scout out a field with a clear shot facing east, then I can get a good distance between us and zoom in the make him closer in size to the moon.  Also I don't like how dark this came out.  But if I made lighting adjustments we lost the silhouette effect.  So with any luck, I'll post a second try at this for the 15th!

The thing I like about this shot is that he looks like Kokopelli.  A whole mythology could be built around this giant who controls the moon...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July 13

Ah Rd.96.  My favorite country road around here.  Last year there were watermelons growing in this field for seed.  I cut through here today on my way home because we had a nice sky with clouds again and I thought it would work well with the sunflowers, but ended up using the windmill instead.  I think this is f/14, and I had to move my ISO up to 400 with my polarizer on.  Although I'm not seeing the polarizer here, so I think I didn't adjust that as I was changing angles, so it was wasted on light loss.  I'm surprised by how blurry the windmill is still.  I guess it's because I'm standing so close to the sunflowers (the photo was hardly composable as I imagined it...I'm already right at the edge of the field and I didn't want that redwood in the shot).  The sunflowers should be up for a few more weeks, so I'll try again before they fade...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

July 12

It's a Black-Crowned Night-Heron!  Before today I didn't know it existed, and now I have another bird in my Pokedex.  Always a good day :)  I drove through the Yolo Basin this morning, and he was sitting in a pond right at the edge of the road, so I actually took this photo through the passenger window (rolled down).  I've got plenty of him standing and also squawking.  And some showing his demonic red eyes.  I hardly ever catch a bird taking off like this.  That's because I lack patience.  I either give up waiting for them to take off, or I somehow miss the moment it happens because I'm not looking through the view finder at that second.   This time I could tell he was about to take off and caught it...although with a little bit of lag time.  This was as quickly as I could press the shutter release.  Afterwards I remembered that I had my camera set so that if I kept the shutter release pressed, the camera would take multiple photos.  That's a setting that I regrettably never remember to use.  I also wish that he took off in a different direction.  I guess this view shows his nice little jacket.  And he's got this feather string coming off the crown of his head that you can sort of see too.

Monday, July 11, 2011

July 11

Another food photo today...

This one is from my garden though.  It's my first harvest that's big enough to make a salad with :)

I've been harvesting herbs and some tomatoes for a while now, but all of a sudden things are really taking off.  The tomatoes in the front are a Genovese heirloom.  There are also some others in there that are more pear shaped; I've lost their tag so I don't know the variety.  The pear shaped ones are tasteless and too meaty.  I'm curious about how the Genovese ones will taste!  I've been picking cherry tomatoes for a while now, but they never make it into the house; that's my gardening snack.  They are the most flavorful.  Also in the bowl is a little purple pepper, my second.  It's called amethyst.  It's thin like a poblano, but not hot.  And in the back three varieties of basil.  So that's the salad for tonight.  I've got lots a squash growing most prolific plants are butternut and spaghetti.  No pumpkins yet.  Some peperoncini and cayenne peppers, but no other bell peppers growing besides the purple ones.  Three tomatillos, and a zucchini.  No cucumbers yet either.  Also plenty of blooms on my eggplant but no little plants.  The blooms are pretty though, so I'm thinking of photogrpahing them soon.

As for the photography, it seems like most food photography in magazines has this slightly overexposed look, so that's what I went for.  It's metered on the tomatoes, so they've got the best color. I think it's f/2.8 so it blurs pretty quickly deeper in the photo.

What is that speck in the lower left hand corner?  A crumb?  It drives me nuts; it's very distracting!  But it's too late to redo...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

July 10

Just liked the glow on these day lilies. I don't think the composition is that great, and overall maybe it's too stark.  It was taken around 10:30am, and probably facing south because it's backlit.  THe background is either a house or fence.  Not sure what the white specks are; maybe light coming through the fence?  And I'm shooting in manual and spot metering on the lilies.  That's why the photo is overall so dark.  But the glow is cool...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

July 9

I'm not really a food photographer, as you can see.  But I think I'm a pretty good pie baker!  This one was a labor of love.  Key Lime Meringue Pie for someone's birthday today.  Cooling on the counter for later question is where will we put the candles?

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4

Happy 4th of July!  This was shot at our local 4th of July celebration here in Davis at the field behind the high school.  We arrived sort of late, so we ended up at this spot under a tree, which worked for viewing about half the fireworks.  Too bad the rest opened behind the tree.  I liked the idea that there would be some framing in the shot, but I don't think the tree really needed to be in that much!  I definitely wanted the people viewing the fireworks to be part of the framing.  We didn't realize it when we arrived, but we sat right under a street light, so I think that helped add light to the spectators.  This particular fireworks was the one that sizzles and pops.  I think it came out really nice in this photo.  It sort of looks like a space ship just went into hyperspace mode. Or maybe like a swarm of fireflies. The other thing I like about this photo is the blue twilight glow in the sky.  They did actually start the fireworks before it was totally dark, which I've never seen done before.  It seemed dark at the point this was taken, but it's a 3 second shutter speed here, so it just brought in all the residual light, and made that deep blue color, which makes a really nice graphic night sky.