Sunday, April 27, 2008

Flowers at the Mendel

A few days ago when I stopped at Museo for coffee I wandered through the conservatory and I couldn't resist taking a few flower shots. In the past I'd wish I had a camera. Now that I carry the little one pretty much everywhere, I find myself wishing I had the big one!

A Morning at Beaver Creek

This morning looked so nice and sunny that I decided I had to get outside. I grabbed my camera and headed out of town, stopping to pick up a latte and a muffin. It was cool at first, just above freezing, but it warmed up as the morning progressed.

After reading photography books lately, I dug out Shelley's old tripod from the basement. I also figured out how to turn on the exposure warning on the camera display (so areas that are too under or over-exposed blink red).

At first, I didn't find anything to take pictures of. There are no leaves on the trees yet so everything is pretty drab. I was keeping an eye out for spring flowers, but there didn't seem to be any out. There weren't even any buds on the trees to photograph.

I did experiment with exposures a little - the white ice and dark bushes made a good challenge. It took up to three stops of exposure override to get a decent histogram with no blinking exposure warnings. It seems odd that the automatic exposure doesn't handle this better. Occasionally you might want to let part of the picture go black or white, but I would think that would be the exception. Wouldn't the norm be to keep the exposure within range? (like I did with the override) But I'm no expert. As long as I get a feel for when I need to override I'll be ok.

I got the tripod out to take some pictures of the ice. I was quite proud of myself for using the tripod. But at the end of the morning I remembered that you're supposed to turn off the image stabilization when you use a tripod. (I hadn't.) Oh well, can't win 'em all!

I was quite surprised to disturb a garter snake sunning in the grass. It would be warmer in the sun, but considering the air was only a few degrees above freezing, and the ground was still frozen, it's pretty amazing a cold blooded animal could be active. I'm not sure how it would get warm enough in its hole in the ground to move to get out into the sun.

After seeing the one snake I looked for more, but didn't find any. After a while I quit looking. Of course, then I just about stepped on one. This one didn't take off quite so quickly and I managed to get some decent pictures of it. No chance to use a tripod on these shots and with shooting through the bushes and grass I had to manually focus. But a few of them came out ok.

I found the crocuses nearer the river. I did use the tripod for these shots, although it was hard to get low enough with it. I had to override the exposure on most of these as well. Adjusting the exposure when taking the shot definitely made my Lightroom work easier, and ended up with a better result. (I think)

Baja Birds

I finally got around to going through all my bird photos from Baja.

One of the "tricks" to getting good photos is to take lots and pick out the best. The first part is pretty easy with digital - I took almost 1000 bird photos in Baja. But I'm still having trouble with the second part.

I'm reminded of the quote "I have only made this letter rather long because I have not had time to make it shorter." -- Pascal.

I would show you less photos if I had time to narrow them down more. And as well as taking time to narrow them down, it also takes a certain ruthlessness that I still have to work on. Once you've thrown out 90%, there's usually something you like about each of the ones left. And also probably something "wrong" with all of them.

There are still a lot of these that aren't as sharp as I'd like - hand holding a 400mm lens in low light will do that :-( And there's still a lot that aren't properly exposed. Shooting raw and adjusting with Lightroom (or equivalent) helps a lot (thankfully) but it still isn't a replacement for a good exposure originally.

I'm linking to the full size slideshow because I didn't think the smaller embedded slideshow did them justice.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Baja Pelicans Video

I managed to capture a few video clips of the pelicans dive bombing for fish in the marina in Loreto: QuickTime version

If you have trouble playing this version, try the Flash version (lower quality).