Sunday, April 21, 2013

Print of the Week

Sunrise over Carmen Island, from Loreto, Baja, Mexico.

Baja sunrise
(Click to view larger)

When Shelley would get up early to go for a run before it got too hot, I would head for the beach with my camera. The island made the shots a little more interesting than just sky and water. I like the reflections in the water as much as the clouds.

I took the plunge and printed on 17x22" paper for the first time (Epson Exhibition Fiber again). I was happy with how it turned out. I used Perfect Resize to resize it to 360dpi before printing, although that probably didn't make a big difference in this case. (4700x3100 => 7900x5200). I tried tweaking it with the Nik software that I recently bought (the price has been reduced by 70%), but I decided I was happy enough with it just from Lightroom.

I always struggle with how to adjust the color on these kinds of shots. You want rich colors, but not to look too gaudy. To complicate it, actual prints are not as brightly colored as backlit screens.

See also: other print posts

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Rabbits Revisited

I saw the rabbits again the next day I walked to work after my previous post. So today I took my big camera (the Pentax K5 II) in hopes of seeing them again. Sure enough, I did.

(click to view photos)rabbit

At first, I just saw one, hidden in the bushes. I circled around to try and get a better view of him from the other side but it's noisy crunching through the snow and by the time I'd made it around, he'd disappeared. Trying to think like a rabbit, I went around to the other side of the fence and there he was, running across a small parking lot. He stopped to nibble on some bushes on the far side. I got fairly close, but still couldn't get a clear shot through the bushes. As I maneuvered for a better view, all of a sudden he was running towards me across the pavement. I did my best to follow him in the viewfinder and snap some shots. When I looked up I realized there were now two rabbits. I'm not sure where the second one came from, or whether that's what made the first one run past me.

I followed them back through the fence and then as they wandered around nibbling on the bushes. Occasionally someone would walk by, probably wondering what I was taking photos of. As long as I moved slowly and didn't get too close they let me do my thing.

With the longer lens and the better camera, and a longer session, I was able to get some better shots than last time.

I also saw (heard first!) a flock of blue jays. They were too high up in a tall tree to get great shots, but at least I could id them from the photos. I've only seen single ones in the past so it was interesting to watch them interacting.

blue jays

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Print of the Week

shining water
(click to view larger)

This photo was taken on our recent train trip around the United States, at Rockfish Creek just south of Charlottesville, Virginia. It was a pretty little creek with a few miniature waterfalls like this one. I love flowing water and reflections - I took a bunch of photographs here, but this is one of my favorites.

I've been posting some of my favorite photos on 500px and this one got the best response I've had so far. That surprised me a little since it's not particularly colorful and somewhat abstract.

I like the dark blues at the top, with the patch of warmer orange colors, balanced by the white foam at the bottom. I also liked the way the sun glinted off the falling water and made bright lines.

I slowed down the shutter as much as I could (by setting the ISO to the minimum of 80, and the aperture to f/32) which gave me a shutter speed of 1/15 of a second. It was a bright day so I would have needed a neutral density filter to go any slower, or to come back closer to sunrise or sunset. But 1/15 is about as slow as I can handhold anyway (no tripod as usual!) even with the camera's image stabilization. To be as stable as possible I was sitting with my elbows braced on my knees. The other trick is that I didn't include any static objects like rocks or trees since they would have shown up any shake more than the flowing water.

This was my first print on Epson Exhibition Fiber paper. I really like the results. It has nice deep blacks and good contrast. It's expensive paper, but no more so than buying lattes! I chopped up a 13x19 sheet into nine 4x6's to use for test prints. I use cheap glossy 4x6 paper at first, but to really judge the final result you need to use the same paper. I used a color profile I'd made myself with the ColorMunki and it seemed to match pretty well between screen and printer. I also used the soft proofing in Lightroom. Since I'm still getting used to the new printer and paper I just printed on 13x19. (I haven't used the 17x22 paper yet.)

See also: other print posts

Saturday, April 13, 2013

What's Up Doc?

Another sighting on the way to work. I almost didn't get my camera out because I thought she'd run away, but as long as I didn't get too close she didn't seem concerned. This was between buildings at Innovation Place so she's probably used to people.

Her fur was already turning brown - a little premature this year! And instead of fresh spring greens she was resorting to eating bark and pine needles.

As usual, click on the images for larger versions.





And just because I had my camera out:


Technical Notes

These were taken with my always-in-my-pack G12. I pushed the ISO to 800 to get a higher shutter speed forgetting this camera isn't as good at high ISO as my K5II. They're still ok, especially at small sizes on the web, and Lightroom can fix most of the noise, but I would probably have been better at 400.

I also added +1/3 stop of exposure compensation (to expose for the rabbit instead of the snow). I should have done more since I ended up adding another 1/2 stop or more in Lightroom. (It's nice that the G12 has a dedicated dial for exposure compensation so you don't have to go hunting through menus. I just have to remember not to leave it set!)

For wildlife I often wish the G12 had a longer telephoto - it's 28 to 140 equivalent. The Nikon P7700 would be better with 28 - 200 and otherwise quite similar.

Monday, April 08, 2013


Walking to work this morning, I turned onto the path into Innovation Place and noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked up and there was a coyote trotting across the field. I'm sure he* saw me, but he maintained his steady pace. When he reached the path he paused and turned to look at me. We gazed at each other for a brief moment and then he continued on, across the ditch and up onto the railroad embankment.

I assumed he was gone across the tracks and I continued walking. But then I realized he had stopped on the tracks, partly hidden from me by some trees. He was using the higher vantage point to look around (and keep an eye on me). I kept walking slowly until I was parallel with him, maybe 50 feet away. He didn't move. Again we looked at each other. I could see him quite clearly. He looked healthy and confident.

After a moment he turned and continued along the train tracks. I continued walking as well and for a brief time we kept pace with each other. Then he turned away from me and dropped out of sight down the far side of the embankment.

I crossed over to the train tracks to see where he was headed. He had only been out of sight for seconds, and I could see a long way across the snowy fields, but there was no trace of him. Either he'd sprinted out of sight, or had somewhere nearby to hide.

I continued on to work, my spirits lifted by this brief encounter with something outside of human affairs.

* I'm using "he" because I don't like using "it", I have no idea whether he was male or female.

** The photo is mine but not from today.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Print of the Week

Recently I've been making a point of making a print of one of my photographs each week. Partly for practice, and partly to hang up the prints and enjoy them.

This week I chose a photo of a wood duck that I took at the New Orleans Zoo on our last trip. I've seen these ducks before and I love how colorful they are, but I've never managed to get a decent photograph until now.

(click to view larger)
Wood Duck

I would have liked to have a lower view point rather than shooting from above. But I was happy with the very plain background. It almost looks like he's suspended in the air. (As with most birds, it's the male that's colorful.)

I also would have liked a little better depth of focus, so that the whole bird was sharp, but at least the head and eye are good, which is the most important thing. One of the tricks I learned on this trip with the new Pentax K5 II is to push the ISO higher. The camera by itself (on automatic) is quite conservative with ISO. Most of the time I'm happy to trade slightly more noise from a higher ISO for a faster shutter speed and greater depth of focus (from a smaller aperture i.e. higher F-stop).

I printed this 13" x 19" on the last of my Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl. I've bought some new Epson Exhibition Fiber paper to try next. My first test small prints were too dark as usual, even though I have the brightness turned down on my monitor. Part of the learning process.

This was the first large print on my new Epson 3880 printer, an upgrade from my previous Epson R1800. The 3880 will print up to 17" wide as compared to 13" for the 1800. I'm looking forward to doing some 17" x 22" prints on it.

Along with the new printer, I also got an Xrite ColorMunki Photo device to calibrate my monitor and printer. So far, it's been easy to use and I had no problem calibrating my iMac display and creating color profiles for the printer. It's hard for me to tell how much difference it made, but in theory it will help ensure that colors match between the display and prints.

If anyone is interested in a print of one of my photographs I'd be happy to practice my printing skills.

See more of my photos on Flickr. This particular photo came from the New Orleans Zoo set in the 2012 Train Trip collection.

See also: other print posts

Monday, April 01, 2013

Ice and Geese

An early Sunday morning walk along the river. I loved the icicles in the sun. A pair of geese were quite cooperative subjects, letting me get close without leaving. One of the pair (the male?) was very vocal. You could see his breath in the cold morning air.

(click to view photos)