Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bug's Eye View

I was looking for something different to do with my camera, feeling that I am getting a bit jaded and stale:

I'd already decided to use my 70-200mm lens as my walk-around lens for the next while, instead of my usual 24-70mm.

Fortuitously, before I left home for the daily "long" walk, someone in my NYIP Facebook group started a "down low" challenge!

Picture the scene:

Me lying belly-down amongst the damp leaf litter on the forest floor ...

... light rain dripping on everything ...

... my precious Canon 7D butt-down on the ground with the 70-200 lens skimming the earth (thankfully, both are water-resistant and built to be tough!) ...

... and a quiet sucking sound as the woodland mozzies worked at reducing my blood pressure ...

... I couldn't take it for long ...

... I hope the sacrifice was worth it!

This is the better of the two shots I managed to capture:

PS: I added four new wildflower photo's to my smugmug gallery ... omg, love this lens!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

HDR - High Dynamic Range

For the uninitiated, this is a style of photography where the artist takes several shots of exactly the same scene, just varying the shutter speed. So you get a series of shots, some over-exposed, some close to perfectly exposed, some under-exposed. You can use as few as two or three shots to create an hdr image - the maximum number depends on your computer's fortitude! Then you layer the images over each other to create the high dynamic range photograph.

The theory is that an hdr photo will include much more detail than a regular photo, particulary in tricky lighting conditions (eg: very bright sky/water and shadowed hillsides in the same photo).

The technique can be used with a heavier hand to create an other-worldly effect, or with subtlety to bring out a great deal of detail.

Yesterday evening I was at the shore of Lake Windermere at about 7.30pm, so I snagged the opportunity to try my first hdr series - 23 photo's. Here's the result of my first creation of a true hdr image through Photoshop CS5:

Through the magic of Photoshop, you can create the hdr "look" with one photo, like I did here (this photo is from the tiny village of Yahk, which is just north of the US border in SE British Columbia):

I'd really appreciate opinions, tips, etc, from all my visitors, both my fellow NYIPers as well as friends and family!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Assisting a Pro & a Bonus Wildlife Outing

Yesterday afternoon, at Kinsmen Beach Park in Invermere, I assisted one of our local professional photographers, Kyla Brown, with a test shoot for the upcoming grad class/prom.

It is always a pleasure working with Kyla, as she's very open to sharing information and answering noob questions. And she invited me to assist on Saturday afternoon, when she'll be shooting the 100 grad's in all their finery - individual portraits which will be shot under some lovely shade trees in the park, and the group shot which will be somewhere downtown closer to the event venue. Looking forward to that!

While we were out, I was amazed at how much wildlife there is in and around this lakeside park ... ospreys, gophers, western painted turtles ... so I spent 45 minutes or so after wrapping up the test shoot, seeing what I could capture! Here are some results:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Akisqnuk National Aboriginal Day Festival

Today the Akisqnuk Nation held their annual festival at Lakeshore Camp Ground, just south of Windermere.

There was a whole day of events planned, music, dancing, speeches, etc, just a pity we couldn't stay longer to catch them all!

One of the coolest things of the day, though, was running into Robert Ede of the Under Swansea blog. It was a bit strange ... out of nowhere he introduced himself to me ... knowing exactly who I was ... because of the camera gear I was carrying! How cool is that?! It was great to meet you, Robert!

Unfortunately, the weather was a bit dismal today, so all the activities were held under a tent. Nice if you want to keep out of the spit-spotting rain, not so great if you want to take great pictures!

Here are a few of the photo's I took ... nothing to write home about quality-wise, but I hope you enjoy the content, nevertheless!

Invermere Farmers' Market

The Invermere Farmers' Market runs every Saturday from sometime in June through sometime in September, 9am to 1pm. I guess the actual dates depend on how the seasons are progressing.

This year, I think they might've started a bit early, because there was little farm produce available ... a few root veggies, some honey, no milk or eggs, and no local fruit!

Not that we're complaining ... there's lots of other stuff to look at ... who knew our area was choc-a-bloc full of artists of all varieties:

Metal Art

Recycled Stuff Art

Gourd Art

Chainsaw Art

And here's the character of the day: The man who makes mosquito houses (yes, little houses to protect mosquitoes from killer humans!).

Maybe I'll look into what the license costs to get a stall, and see if I can sell some photo's ... or am I getting ahead of myself? I'm looking forward to going back, either way!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Macro Photography

Back to photography!

Yesterday, courtesy of a local pro photog, Martina Halik of Raven Eye Photography, I had the opportunity to use a "real" macro lens.

Macro is the art of extreme close-up photography. You can get pretty close with a shorter wide-angle, but with a lens specifically designed for macro you enter a whole new world!

Here's a close-up shot I took with the medium lens I had with me, 24-70mm f/2.8L ...

Here are a couple of shots taken with Martina's macro lens (disclaimer: The photo's aren't perfect because it's not easy to use - there's no auto-focus to help - you just have to get in good and close then move yourself back and forth, fractionally, until you have your subject in focus or, at least, as close as you can get - and try not to shake with excitement at this new toy while you take the shot! I'm ashamed to say I don't know the exact lens model) ...

Needless to say, my wish list just got longer (and substantially more valuable).

Stanley Cup Final @ Vancouver

I'm not disappointed, I'm ASHAMED!

You people who weren't part of "the few" who caused so much carnage are just as guilty - instead of using superior numbers to stop the damage and violence, you gave the thugs an audience by standing around filming and photographing and actively encouraging them!

I hope the authorities use all the footage and photo's posted online to prosecute the whole lot of you!

You're a DISGRACE!

End of rant.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Maui Sunsets

Ask anyone who's been to Hawai'i, but most especially Maui, what the most amazing thing was, chances are, they'll say, "The sunsets!"

Here are a few of my favourite sunsets from our visit to Maui in May. The reduced size/resolution of these photo's means that they're not great, but at least you get the idea! If you'd like to have a look at full size images, please visit my galleries on Smugmug.

These four shots were all taken from Kihei, across the street from where we were staying:

The sunsets aren't the only mind-blowing sky shows on the island, though! Below is the sunrise from the top of Haleakala, the dormant volcano in South Maui, and the other is the blush of dawn as seen from the beach at Kihei one morning!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

One Of Those Rare Days ...

... when shots just present themselves to you in your day-to-day living! It doesn't happen often. For me, every few weeks or so.

I went to the grocery store early today, to avoid the rush, arriving just after 7am. On the way home, I decided on an off-chance to drive down the road the leads to Eagle Ranch Golf Course. I hoped to catch a lingering elk.

One of the side roads has a small development of (very expensive) cabins. I really like the style of the homes but they're well beyond our means! Anyway, the road dead-ended so I turned around and, on the way back, I slammed on the brakes to take a few photo's of this scene. The "lonely cabin in the mountains" feel really appealed to me:

Then during the midday dog walk, Taela and I came around a corner in the short forested trail that is part of our route, to find this fellow watching us closely:

I took a couple of shots before he started looking a bit stressed and took a step towards us. That was enough for me - I started walking on. Just then, I heard a small noise and, just to the right of the buck, saw this scene (I took the photo one-handed, mind you, I kept walking!):

Apparently we'd interrupted a bachelor party!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Brisco Slough

On the recommendation of one of our new camera club members, I went down to Brisco slough, just off the highway, past the lumber yard, beside the railway tracks, to see if I could photograph a family of loons.

As luck would have it, I found the loons within minutes of arriving, at about 6.15am: Dad, mum and two chicks.

But things didn't go all my way. The birds wouldn't come close enough to get really good sharp photo's (even with my 200mm with a 2x converter), but I still had a blast practicing my wildlife photography!

Here are three of the best from the day (click on the pics to see larger versions):

Mr Loon (One Of The Chicks Just Behind Him)

The Slough Just After Sunrise

The CP Rail Train That Parked Me In For 20 Minutes!

Friday, June 3, 2011

365 Project

This is the first picture I posted in this project, on July 13, 2010.

{{Shudder!}} Omg, it needs straightening!!! And several other things need fixing, too.

All in all, though, I don't think it's too bad considering I'd barely started my photography course and didn't know* my axx from my elbow when it came to taking and processing photo's.

* Back then, I didn't know what I didn't know. Now I know there's so much I still don't know!

Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking when I started this project. Some days it's such a chore.

In case you're wondering, a 365 Project, as I understand it, is when a photographer (or anyone, really!) takes at least one photo a day that he/she's willing to put their name on, and show the world. And THAT, my dear, is the crux of the matter ... finding something different EVERY day! Or at least a different perspective. WAY harder than you might imagine.

There are all sorts of variations, of course. 52 projects (one photo a week for a year), for example (way less stress!). Then there are 365 or 52 projects with themes, eg: colours, or numbers, or cars ... anything!

The point is to take the photo that day and post it that day ... not stockpile photo's and then post a bunch of the best ones. That's cheating.

I readily admit that there have been occasions when I've not posted every day and have used a photo from the day before ... but it's been for a good reason ... like driving cross country 10-12 hours a day, or being sick ...

The exercise is an excellent learning tool, despite the unnecessary pressure we put ourselves under in order to fulfill it! I have gained two big things that I can think of right at this moment:

- It taught me to open my eyes and really LOOK at what's around me ... don't just LOOK at it, but SEE it, too.

- And, because I'd just received my first dslr camera (Canon T1i - highly recommended) when I started the project, it forced me to get to know my camera much quicker, and much more thoroughly, than if I'd been left to my own devices: I'm a big chicken when it comes to new things, afraid to try in case I fail, etc.

Anyway, I have 39 days left to go with this project ... I know I'll finish it ... and, boy, I'll be glad when it's over!

And yet, I'm already thinking about what my next 365 project will be ... a theme this time, I think ... hmmm ... perhaps start on new year's day ... and take a photo of the exact same scene, from the exact same spot, every day, and collect the images into a 365-second slideshow ... will have to see ...