Friday, July 31, 2009
Once again, I’ve got to send out a big welcome to all of today’s new subscribers. We’re up to 224 now, so welcome, welcome, welcome!
When we passed 100, I told number 100 that she could pick out today’s picture, so this is the one she chose. It’s pretty similar to another picture from a month or so ago, but it’s still worth talking about.
This is Mt. Shuksan and (the very aptly named) Picture Lake. It’s in the Heather Meadows Recreation Area, just outside of North Cascades National Park in Washington State. It’s somewhat interesting to note that I’m standing about a quarter of a mile from what serves as the parking lot for the Mt. Baker ski area in the winter. This place gets A LOT of snow in the winter. In fact, Mt. Baker holds the world record for snowfall in one season, with 1,140 inches (29 meters, 95 feet) of snow in the 1998-99 season. As you can imagine, that amount of snow takes quite awhile to melt each year, so it’s well into the summer (sometimes into late August) until this area is snow-free.
It’s pretty simple to get a fantastic picture from this spot. Just about any time of day is great, but I’ve found that the ideal time is around 4 or 5 pm. The sun at that point is shining directly on the mountain, and the daytime breezes are usually starting to settle, so you start to get a really nice mirror-like reflection. (Not as much so in this picture as in several others I have, but hey, this was the one that was picked. What am I going to do, pick my own picture or something? Pshaw.)
Quickly worth noting: the other picture that I mentioned I’ve already posted was taken about 4 or 5 years later (almost to the day). I figured it would be worth heading back up there since I had much better equipment than I had the first time around, and the weather conditions were working out to be almost identical. Okay, now that that’s been said…
One of the themes I’ve touched on several times in the past was that you don’t need a big fancy camera to get some fantastic pictures. Don’t get me wrong, having a big fancy camera is awesome, and no, you can’t have mine. There are definitely pictures you can get with that type of camera that you can’t get otherwise. But just because you don’t have one doesn’t mean you can’t still get fantastic pictures. This was taken back in 2002. At that time, I usually carried two cameras with me: my old 35mm fully-manual SLR, and my **2 megapixel** pocket point-and-shoot. The idea was, since it was so much easier to take pictures with the point and shoot, and since I didn’t have the limitation of only a set number of pictures on a roll, I’d take most of my pictures with that one. Then, if there was a picture that I thought I’d potentially want to enlarge later, I’d bust out the 35mm.
This picture was actually the first big step I took toward fully adopting digital, and tossing the 35mm in a box in the basement. I took this scene with both cameras, and found that I ACTUALLY LIKED THE DIGITAL ONE BETTER. As in, the picture from the stupid little pocket sized camera with only 2 megapixels and the little tiny lens gave me a result that I felt was at least as good as that from the SLR. I enlarged both of them up to 12×18, and they both looked fantastic. This went against everything I had thought I “knew” about digital up to that point. It was a really earth-shattering moment for me. Since then, of course, I’ve gone through a whole smattering of cameras: a 3.2 megapixel (Canon), a 5 megapixel (Canon), an 8 megapixel (Fuji), a 7 megapixel (Canon), another 8 megapixel (SLR – Canon), and.. I’m losing interest in the list. Whatever. There were a lot of them. That’s the point. But after taking this picture and seeing the results, I only ever busted out the 35mm SLR a couple more times, but even then I knew that it was over between us.
So, don’t use your lack of expensive equipment as an excuse. Just take pictures. The concepts are all the same no matter what you’re using. The most important things are the composition and the exposure, and even those can be tweaked easily after the fact if you’re shooting digital. There, how’s that for inspirational? Don’t get used to it, I’ll be grumpy again next week.
Have a great weekend! And tell your friends!! (Also, for the new folks: You can also follow the picture of the day at http://davefry.net/potd – the quality of the images themselves is much higher over there, since they don’t have to go through Facebook’s shrink-it-down-for-web-viewing cycle.)
Notes: Canon PowerShot S200 (Point and Shoot). Details unavailable.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
First of all, I need to once again say WELCOME to all of the new fans of Dave’s Picture of the Day. This was my 2nd day of running Facebook ads, and we now stand at ** 195 ** !!! Welcome, everyone!
Today’s pictures is one of my all-time favorites, and I was saving it for the day when I finally passed 100 fans. So, turns out that’s today. You’re looking at Mt. Constance and Warrior Peak, on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. I’m fairly sure that all of the mountains you’re looking at are inside the boundary of Olympic National Park, but the point where I was standing isn’t – it’s in the Buckhorn Wilderness, just north of the park.
Many of you already know that I like to use little knobbly trees like that in my foregrounds – they add a lot of character, and they play nicely against the craggy, rocky background that you see in alpine environments. This one was the only tree that was anywhere near us at the time – clearly not an environment that was tree-friendly, so the fact that it was growing there at all was pretty remarkable.
This photo also does a good job of illustrating a situation where you want to deviate from the normal exposure settings suggested by your camera. If you’re using any mode other than full-manual (I use aperture-priority, but I won’t go into that here), your camera will do it’s best to expose the picture “correctly”. (Meaning, it will adjust the aperture, shutter speed, and sometimes ISO (depending on the camera) to try to allow the correct amount of light to reach the sensor (or film), such that it’s exposed properly. Too little light, and the picture will be dark, and some sections may even be completely black. To much light, and all the color will drain out (particularly from the sky), and everything will be too bright. Now, of course, the concept of what’s “correct” is entirely subjective. You can make some blanket statements, like you probably want to limit the amount of the picture that’s totally black or totally white (because that means you’re losing data), but other than that, it’s totally based on preference. (In general, in my opinion every camera I’ve ever used tends to overexpose by just a bit, so the first thing I do when I pick up a camera is to adjust the exposure down by 1/3rd of a stop, but that’s just me.)
Now, that’s all fine and dandy if you’re taking pictures in the middle of the afternoon, but if you’re taking a picture like this one, when it’s clear that it’s just before twilight, having the picture turn out kind of dark is actually desirable, because *that’s what it actually looked like*. So, to more accurately recreate the feeling of the moment in the image, it was necessary to step back the exposure almost a full 2 stops. (You can do this via the manual mode of most point-and-shoots, but even if you can’t, you can simulate it by pointing the camera at a bright point – the sky – and holding the shutter button down halfway to “lock” the exposure settings.) This also had the added benefit of bringing out the nice blues and purples in the sky, since if the camera had been able to use the exposure that it wanted, the sky would have turned out completely white. (Although you’d then be able to see more of the detail in the nearby mountains too.)
For tomorrow, I decided to let the person who was the 100th fan to sign up (Heather Wotton) to pick one. She picked one that’s really similar to another one I already posted, but I suppose that’s excusable, given that she just signed up. 😉 So, see you all then!
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Quantaray 70-300 mm lens. 1/400s, f/8.0, ISO 400. Focal length: 70mm.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Before I get to today’s picture, I’ve got some news for everyone: yesterday I decided to go ahead and start buying Facebook ads for my page! I’m not sure what led me to decide to do that, but it’s probably some combination of boredom and the heat getting to my brain. BUT – they actually worked, and I got a whole *army* (well, a small one) of new fans! Woooo! (With Mr. Feker Belay leading the charge and being the first one to click on my ad) Welcome everyone!! It didn’t last too long though – it only took about an hour to max out my daily budget, which is a whopping buck fifty.
Right, so, the picture.
This was taken along the Pacific Crest Trail near Harts Pass. Harts Pass is at the end of a 25-ish mile forest road that basically parallels Highway 20 in Washington State (the highway that takes you through North Cascades National Park), but runs just north of the park boundary. It’s notable because you can drive up to 6200 feet, which is pretty rare in Washington, it’s right up there near treeline, way up in the alpine, and there are great views of some of the rocky, craggy peaks inside the park.
The PCT runs right through there, so it’s a great place for scrubs like me to see it. (While I was on the trail that day, I came across three people who were doing Canada-to-Mexico!) Harts Pass is basically the first real landmark along the trail (if you’re starting from Canada), so all of the thru-hikers I met were only on day 3 of their cross-continental trip. Anyway, it’s really pretty up there, definitely worth checking out.
This picture was right near the beginning of my hike, probably about half a mile from the trailhead. I had slept in the car the night before, so I got a really early start (7 am or so – really early for me, anyway), which worked out really well. As I’ve mentioned several times, the light during the middle of the day can really suck (today was no exception), so the early morning sunshine put a nice warm glow on everything.
The frustrating part of the hike was that my go-to lens, my 28-300 mm do-everything lens with image-stabilization, STOPPED FREAKIN’ FOCUSING RIGHT! It would THINK it was focusing (it would beep and tell me “Yeah, I’m focused, right on that spot over there”, but it would just plain be WAY off.) When you’re as obsessed as I am with taking pictures (that’s honestly the only reason I was up there), it’s truly heartbreaking when your equipment malfunctions. The day turned out to not be a total loss, as I was able to revert to manual focusing, with mixed results. Usually, you should avoid manual focus at all costs if possible, because if you’re even slightly off, you probably won’t realize it until you get home and look at it on the big screen (which is obviously too late to do anything about it). But since focusing is essentially logarithmic (the difference between focusing 5 and 10 feet away is huge, but the difference between focusing 5 and 10 MILES away is basically nothing), as long as I kept my subjects pretty far away, I could mostly get away with it. Also, I bumped up my ISO for most of the day, letting me use smaller apertures, which meant my depth of field was pretty big. So even if my focus point wasn’t exactly on my subject, it was generally close enough. Thus, this picture.
I’ll go ahead and stop here before I take up TOO much room in your news feed, I don’t want to scare away all of these new fans that I literally paid for out of my own pocket. 😉 Once again, welcome! (And, as long as I’m going to call out Feker for being the first, I may as well round out the rest of the top 5: Drew Mortvedt, Ryan Rizzuti, Monika Alvarez, and Terina Wahab. Thanks for signing up! That goes for the rest of you too, btw.)
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 28-300 mm VC lens. 1/160s, f/7.1, ISO 200. Focal length: 109 mm.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009.
Alright, here it is then, that picture of Snoqualmie Falls that I’ve been promising for a week now. See? Not a bad picture, but not really worth the hype. Well, the imagined hype, because I was actually the only one talking about it. Whatever.
You probably also noticed that I didn’t post a picture yesterday. I was pretty busy, so I just didn’t get to it until later, and by then I figured I’d just as well wait until today.
So, Snoqualmie Falls. The falls are about 30-45 minutes out of Seattle, right near the town of… umm… Snoqualmie. There’s a super-nice resort hotel, the Salish Lodge, at the top of the falls. I’m sure it’s a great place to stay (one of the movie award ceremonies a year or two back (not the Oscars.. the Golden Globes or something) gave out a stay as part of the goodie bags they gave to everyone), but it adds an interesting challenge for pictures of the falls. Because, the hotel is RIGHT next to the river. From down here at the bottom, obviously it’s not a problem, but for pictures from up top, you either have to suck it up and accept the fact that you’ll have a hotel in your picture, or you’ve got to get pretty creative with the composure. Also a factor is the fact that there is a hydroelectric power plant there, so a couple hundred feet or so off the top of the falls is some related stuff for that. It can also be composed around, but it’s definitely not ideal. (Well, not ideal for picture taking. I do, however, enjoy electricity, so I’m not going to complain.)
There’s a nice overlook at the top of the falls (you’ll probably eventually see a picture or two from up there – maybe not from the overlook exactly, but somewhere nearby), and there’s a half-mile or so trail that leads down to the bottom of the falls. You have to jump a fence (next to a huge sign talking about how you shouldn’t jump the fence) and scramble down a rocky slope to get down to the rocks next to the river, which is where this was taken. I’m not as much of a rebel as I sound though, there were literally hundreds of people down there. Enough so that it was a serious challenge finding a vantage point without any of them in it.
As long as I’m on the subject of photographic challenges around the falls, here’s another one: waterfalls kick up a lot of mist. And mist gets all over your stuff. Including your camera lens. So I would only be able to take one or two pictures before my lens was basically completely covered with little water droplets. I’d then clear the lens, and have to set up all over again, hopefully getting a picture or two snapped before a breeze came up and drenched me. But, those are the lengths I’m willing to go to for the benefit of you, dear reader.
I went back and forth over which picture to post here today. In this one, you can kind of barely see a faint rainbow in front of the falls. That was actually the 2nd rainbow, and there was a much brighter rainbow below it and to the left. (You can see the very beginning of it just above the rock on the left). So I had a couple other pictures that really emphasized the rainbow. But, it wasn’t really in a location that played well with the falls. So it basically turned into two pictures in one: a picture of a waterfall, and a picture of a rainbow. Still interesting, and striking in many ways, but technically, this one is definitely the better picture. Or that’s how my thinking went anyway.
Map: http://bit.ly/39exMG (I used terrain mode instead of satellite for this one, because the satellite image was worthless.)
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/320s, f/16.0, ISO 400. Focal length: 28mm.
Friday, July 24, 2009.
Yeah, the Snoqualmie Falls thing didn’t work out this week, sorry about that. (And now I’ve built it up enough that it’s going to be a big ole’ disappointment when I *do* finally post it. I mean, it’s a fine and dandy photo, but it’s not earth shattering or anything…)
Instead, here’s a picture from a group trip out to Whitefish Mountain Resort (back then it was called Big Mountain Resort) several years ago. Big Mountain is a FANTASTIC place to ski. Definitely in my top 3 all-time. (Along with Mt. Bachelor in Oregon and Schweitzer in Idaho. And as long as I’m naming states, Big Mountain is in Montana, right near Glacier National Park.) It makes for a great trip from Seattle too, because Amtrak takes you right out to Whitefish. It leaves in the afternoon and gets you there at 7am, so you don’t even need a hotel room for that first night. Great stuff.
Not sure if any of you noticed, but I normally do my best to avoid having people appear in my pictures. But, this one turned out so well that I decided to make an exception. From left, that’s Pat Roby, Mark Buckner, and of course my wife Julie. While we were there, they had this crazy inversion which filled the whole valley with these clouds, and left us skiing in the sunshine with jaw-dropping views every way we looked. Pretty incredible trip.
Enjoy the weekend, see you all on Monday!
Notes: Canon PowerShot S500 (Point and shoot). 1/500s, f/13.0, ISO unknown.