Saturday, August 14, 2010

I got a 50mm Too!

Canon 30d
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
Shutter Speed 1/400
Focal Length 50mm
ISO 400
Natural Light

So yes, I brought this lens out partly to needle Brandi a bit (I'm going to pay for this) but more importantly, it's my connection to Sere's post. This is a celebration of Sere's new toy. Hip, hip, hooray!!!

Now let's get serious. The beautiful thing about a prime lens is it forces you to "zoom with your feet." That is, if you want to view something from a larger magnification, you must literally walk closer. It's a great learning tool. You typically have the additional advantage of better optics. It's just plain easier to make a prime lens hence, you get better quality for your money, albeit without zoom capabilities. You just can't go wrong with a good prime lens.

As for this photo, the subject is part of an abandoned homestead near my home. I was actually hoping to get some photos of the rundown house and barn. Those really didn't turn out so you get faucet picture number 3. I was struck by the fairly bright blue against the dark rust. The contrast was too good to pass up. Plus, if gave me a chance to shoot wide open and show off the depth of field capabilities of a wide aperture. It's a fantastic tool to master and it can make the difference between a good photo and a great photo.

And just because Sere posted 2, I'm cheating again. This is in response to both Sere's second photo and to Brandi and her day in Galena.

Canon 30d
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
Shutter Speed 0.3
Focal Length 50mm
ISO 100
Natural Light

This is a field near my home that happens to shelter about 1,000,000,000 mosquitoes. You know, I must be an idiot because I keep finding these places to donate blood. It's truly unreal. I'll say it now; my next photo is indoors!

Moving on, I pass this field daily and I've always wanted to set-up my camera after they cut. The rows and the colors are just perfect. Plus, there is something about the smell of a fresh cut field. I can't get enough of it. So I finally put tripod to earth and snapped off about 60. You gotta love digital!

I was hoping the sky would cooperate and give me a decent sunset but sometimes Mother Nature has different plans. So I decided on making the field the real star. I intentionally left out a lot of sky (which was hard because the moon was begging to be included!) and let the patterns of the rows do the talking.

Something totally different from the first photo is the aperture. I used a very small aperture to allow for maximum depth of field. As a result, the foreground is sharp as well as the trees. So all of you bemoaning your lack of a fast lens (wide aperture) remember, small apertures are really cool too! Okay folks, that's all for now. Stay tuned for Brandi - she's gonna knock your socks off!


Friday, August 13, 2010

Storm Front!!!!

I'm in a bit of a rush today. I didn't get a lot of time to play. I had to make homemade pizza crust for homemade pizza tonight. Yep for all of you out there that have had my hubby's homemade pizza you are missing out on our dinner tonight. My husband's pizza is quite legendary. Tiny people have been known to engorge themselves on it and rumors get around town so that nobody wants anything else but his pizza when they come over to visit. Makes life easy for me.

Today as an early birthday gift for me, my wonderful husband Jonny got me a brand new lens. The "Nifty Fifty" as it is called!! It is a 50mm fixed, F1.8D Lens. I'm hoping to use it more with my portraits and the wedding that I am doing in September. The large aperture (F1.8) is great for low light conditions. It also does a good job of blurring the background which will be useful for portraits as well. Here is my photography geek picture for today of the new lens on my camera for my fellow bloggers to see. I took it with my el cheapo point and shoot Canon so I won't put the specifics down. I know, I know I'm breaking the rules. Whoever said that we at 3 Chicks and A Dude are even remotely good at following the rules? The lens itself as you can see is pretty small, so it will be nice and easy to carry around. I'm loving it!

Now Onward to my "real" photo.

I wanted to go play with my new lens, but..... Unfortunately it was disgustingly warm today and very sunny, but Mother Nature decided to give us a storm this evening. So that is what I practiced on. The picture is nothing fancy or special, but no fill lights or flash were used. Just the large aperture. It goes with Jay'me's cloud shot from yesterday. I saw the front coming on and rushed outside to photograph it. The temperatures had to have dropped about 30 degrees while I was out there and the wind picked up. I would love to have been able to get some lightning. Anybody have any advice on how to do that?

Nikon D2X
Lens 50mm fixed
F1.8, 1/500
No Flash, natural lighting

Until then I am off to have homemade pizza. Yummm!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

SO INCREDIBLE... No, not the photo

The Photo is average. The fact that I'm blogging OUT OF THIS WORLD !!! I worked (FOR CASH)all day and I'm now remembering what Brandi so graciously taught me yesterday and TA DA !!!
Yes the picture is from Fort Lauderdale. I loved the "Silver lining" on the thunder boomers and tried to capture a piece. If I could wall paper my ceiling in this I would. Then lay there with my noise machine and relax.

I did play with my settings this week and got a ton of crap that was erased and is long gone. I'll catch on - good things are coming - I can feel it.

Edit to add info -
Cannon Rebel
Shutter 1/500
focal length 55mm
no flash
ISO 320

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Canon 24-70 2.8L
Shutter Speed 15 seconds
Focal Length 40mm
ISO 400
Natural Light

This photo comes with a great story. Those of you that have met me (or heck, even seen a picture of me) know that I wear glasses. Those of you that know me a little better know that I stubbornly refuse to switch to contacts. There is just something creepy about sticking my fingers in my eyes. I know, I know, you get used to it after awhile and you don't even feel them. I don't care. I'm not sticking my fingers in my eyes.

Which brings me to this photo. At this point in the evening, I was wearing prescription sunglasses. You might ask why I was wearing sunglasses. It clearly is dark enough for regular glasses. Well, let me tell you. I started the evening on a bike path in Lakewood. It wasn't even my destination but I saw some cool lighting and pulled over. I set-up my tripod with remote trigger and was promptly devoured by the worst swarm of mosquitoes I've seen since I was in the boundary waters. I cannot begin to describe the ferocity of these insects. I'm lucky to have gotten away alive.

So, as I'm trying to hang on long enough to get a few shots I swipe at a mosquito that's munching on my right ear. I think I got him but I also hooked my glasses and promptly flung them directly to my left into the grass/woods. Expletives followed as I crawled around WITHOUT glasses trying to find them as the gathering darkness deepened. They must have landed in the epicenter of Mosquito Nation. There were plumes of mosquitoes wafting directly into my face, and I swear I heard a war cry! It wasn't long and I started laughing. After all, you can't write comedy this good. I couldn't stay long owing to the utter futility of it all and the fact that I was rapidly losing blood. So I ran back to my car, put on my prescription sunglasses and drove on over to Ridgefield. I figured my night couldn't get much worse.

Anyway, this photo is something I've always wanted to try - a time lapse of traffic. So when I saw Brandi's photo it fit too well. Like Sere, I hadn't even seen Brandi's post when I took this! Eerie I know. The hardest part was waiting for a car to show up. Ridgefield isn't exactly a thoroughfare, especially at this time of night. But eventually, several cars came along and this is what I got. There is a bit more chrominance noise than I like typically (that's a Canon thing - Nikon usually does better with chrominance but worse with luminance noise) but in this case I think it sort of adds to the mood. Click here for a great explanation of noise (I love this site by the way). Besides, anytime you have an exposure this long you are bound to get higher levels of noise. I played with some noise reduction tools but decided against it. I did sharpen a bit , crop a touch and tried this technique, but again, stuck with my original edit. I hope you like it. And watch out for those mosquitoes!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Objects In The Mirror

Nikon d40
Lens 18-55 1:3.5-5.6GII
ISO 200
focal length 40mm

So I spent the day at the Milwaukee Zoo with my best girl K and my parents. We had a terrific time and there was certainly plenty of things to inspire my creativity. I probably annoyed the daylights out of my parents with my constant camera clicking.
For the first time since we started this I had a really hard time deciding which photo I wanted to use.
I sat down tonight with my 200 photos from my day and went through them. Sorting out the bad from the good (which fortunately the bad numbers are decreasing rapidly thanks to this experience) and trying to find ones that I felt would build nicely off Sere's previous waterfall in motion.
In the end I narrowed it down to 3 strong possibilities. I'm not going to "pull a Scott" and break the rules I forced myself to chose just one. Girls are just better at making tough decisions :) If you're interested in seeing the other contenders in my group you can check them out on my other blog.

I chose this photo because of the motion. Motion just kept speaking to me. Strangely it wasn't the water, it was the motion of the water. So in this photo not only am I moving, doing 70mph down HWY 43 in my parents mini-van, but the photo shows the movement of the pavement and my surroundings. I took about 15 of these photos, this one won out because I was finally able to capture only the objects in the mirror in focus. I've been working hard at narrowing my point of focus and capturing a truly sharp photo. While this photo isn't as sharp as it could be (taking photos through windows is never easy for crispness) it does achieve my narrow focus, at least I think so.

So there you have it... Motion...

Oh and with expection of a small bump in sharpness for better web viewing I made no modifications to this photo.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Water, water everywhere!

Nikon D2X
ISO 400
Shutter 1/15s
Lens 18-70mm at 29mm
Speedlight SB800 with Gary Fong Diffuser on it
I started thinking about what photo I was going to take today, not having seen Scott's post from Sunday so I was going off of the post from Saturday. In any event, crazy enough we both went for waterfalls. Course I went a different direction but still waterfalls.

So my mind was on showing motion and immediately I thought about water and trying to show the motion of water. Of course this idea came to me while I was driving my two hours to Iowa City to return some stuff and check out Eddie Bauer's new fall line. Alas my OCD kicked in and I had to keep pushing it to the back of my mind. Heading home I realized that I still had to go grocery shopping and of course feed my child. The feeding of my child went quick, we pulled into good ole Mickey D's. I hate it but I wanted quick so yes I fed my child junk so I could go and play with my camera. Is that so wrong? By the time all that was done I was running out of light so I packed up my junk and drove to David's Chamber outside of Nauvoo Illinois which is a small, cute waterfall so I could get shots of moving water. Took several shots quickly and didn't really get any shots that I liked. So I chose one of the okay shots to post. I need to get more practice in. Not as beautiful as Scott's picture but hopefully you get the sense of motion, which is what I was going for.
Not sure who is going next Brandi or Jay'me. Looking forward to seeing what either one of them post next.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Anything For a Friend Part Deux

Canon 30d
Canon 24-70 f2.8L
Shutter 2.5, 1, and 0.5
ISO 100
Focal Length 24mm
Natural Light

This evening you get another round of Scott. Jay'me is traveling with her family and literally cannot get to a computer. I'm sure she took plenty of photos during her time in Florida and I look forward to seeing them! In the meantime, I'll pinch hit with this photo of the falls at McCormick's Creek State Park in Spencer Indiana.

These falls are magical for some reason. I spent a lot of time here with my family as a boy and again this summer as a father. You can't tell from this picture but you can actually climb right up the falls! I've done it and someday, my boys will too. This time around, E built rock houses in the shadow of the falls and B just tried to stay on his feet. It's just one of those magical places from my life that I wanted to capture and share. Now, finally, I'm able to do that. On to the techie stuff.

The connection is the technique I used in the previous post called HDR or high dynamic range. In technical terms, dynamic range is the ratio between the maximum and minimum measurable light intensities (white and black respectively). The human eye is fantastic with dynamic range. We can apparently see the difference between "cotton white" and "snow white" and 100 other whites (according to Benjamin Moore). Cameras have limitations and it's one of the many reasons one camera is better than another (read: MORE EXPENSIVE!!!). Thankfully, for those of us without money trees, the digital era has ushered in software to enhance dynamic range.

You will notice I listed 3 separate shutter speeds above (2.5 seconds, 1 second, and .5 seconds). This is where the process begins. It's very important to mention that each photo must be as much like the previous in composition as possible. I accomplished this with a good tripod, a remote shutter, and mirror locked in the up position. Even the slightest movement can cause major headaches later. Continuing with the shutter speed explanation, the effect of taking 3 identical shots with different exposures is that I have one adequately showing detail in the shadows (at the expense of the highlights), one showing adequate details in the highlights (at the expense of the shadows), and one average exposure.

The next step is to combine all three exposures with the goal of good detail in both the highlights and the shadows. One can do this with only 2 images but I used 3 this time. You need software to accomplish this and I used Picturenaut, a freeware program anyone can use. There are many others and I'm sure they are great. I'm just starting with this and I find Picturenaut to be both user friendly and highly effective.

Once you've combined the exposures it's time to edit the photo. Picturenaut spits out a TIFF file, which means it's huge. I think this one was 47mb. The good news about the TIFF format is that it's a loss-less file format, meaning you can edit like crazy, save like crazy, and as long as it's still a TIFF, you are not losing information. JPEG's don't do that. They compress each time you save thus losing information - something to keep in mind. Moving on, once I was done tweaking contrast, white balance, and sharpness, I saved it as a JPEG for posting and poof, out comes another HDR photo. It's such a blast playing with HDR! I strongly recommend it.

I should also mention that when taking photos of water a slow shutter speed is often precisely the ticket. This is how you create the smooth effect of the falls and anyone can do it with a good tripod.

Though I simplified the process a bit for the sake of brevity it really is rather simple as long as you set-up well. Like any photo, the best time to do things right is before you take the shot. Alright, that's it for now folks. Have a great week and try to notice something new!


PS - I broke the rules again...DARN IT! Not going to re-post at this point
PPS - Hope you made it home safe Jay'me! Can't wait for your next post.