Thursday, July 23, 2009
I know, I know, yesterday I promised that I’d put up a new picture from Snoqualmie Falls today. But… well… it got late, you see, because I was at this concert.. and.. well… there were a few good ones, and I ran out of time to decide which one to post. (Some of them have rainbows! Unfortunately, none of what are the best overall pictures do.. hmm.. dilemma.)
So instead, here’s a shot of Shannon Creek, which is near Squamish, British Columbia. There’s a nice little park where Shannon Falls is the star of the show (I’ll post a pic of those falls at some point too), but below the falls there’s a nice little path along Shannon Creek.
You’ll notice that most of the stuff in the foreground is pretty dark. Normally I would try to avoid that, because then it’s at risk of becoming wasted space. That’s one of my pet-peeves, an otherwise nice, interesting picture with a large area of non-interesting stuff. Like any rule, it’s made to be broken (minimalism can be dramatic), but if all the stuff in the foreground is too dark to make out, it can suck. Fortunately, in this image, the little spot of sunshine and the subtle green reflecting off the little pool bring out just enough of the foreground to serve as a soothing bit of calmness that I think contrasts nicely against all of the noisy stuff going on in the background (both the turbulent water and all of the thousands of individual leaves on the trees.)
I’ll see about following through with that Snoqualmie Falls pic tomorrow (because I know how excited you all are about it! Yeah, stop laughing.) but I have to pack tonight for my trip this weekend, so it may not happen. Hmm.
Notes: Canon PowerShot S500 (Point and shoot). 1/80s, f/3.2, ISO unknown.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009.
Well hello again. These are rhododendrons, and this picture is the product of a quick trip by the Washington Park Arboretum (across the canal from the University of Washington), that I took one nice sunny day this spring when Julie was busy for a few hours. I was just going through the pics from that day last night, and it turns out that I actually a few pretty good ones. You may see a couple of them someday, we’ll see.
Rhododendrons are a pretty fascinating flower. I had never seen them before I moved out to Seattle, I had no idea they existed. Most of the year, they just look like an ordinary bush. (Or tree, in some cases..) But during the spring, all of a sudden they’ll burst out with thousands of these crazy flowers. And they’re BIG flowers too, they’re really incredible. And they come in just about any color you can imagine. Amazing. Also, they’re EVERYWHERE. You don’t realize it until they bloom, but they’re all over the place. I even have a rhodie bush in my backyard, didn’t even realize it!
I don’t think I’ve posted any pictures from Snoqualmie Falls yet, but I was just there last weekend, so I think I’m going to toss up a picture from that tomorrow. Now you’ve got something to look forward to.
Interested in reading more about rhododendrons? There’s a good writeup here on this blog.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm VC lens. 1/200s, f/20.0, ISO 400. Focal length: 135mm.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009.
Ahhh Venice. This of course goes back to that same Italy/Switzerland trip that I’ve already posted a few pics from. Venice was where our trip came to an end. (Well, kind of. The next day we still had to travel back across Italy to Milan, where we stayed one more night out in the suburbs before catching an early flight the next day. But.. whatever.)
To recap: we flew in to Milan, stayed a night, then took the train down to Vernazza (in Cinque Terre) for Trevor and Heather’s wedding. Stayed there a few nights, then headed along the coast with T. and H. (again by train) to Monte Carlo (which was actually quite a let-down.) Stayed there two nights/one day, then up to Torino. From there, Trevor and Heather went their own way, and Julie and I rented a car, and played around in the mountains for a week. We had no set itinerary, but we ended up hanging out in the national park (Gran Paradiso) for a couple nights, and crossed over into Switzerland, where we stayed in Zermatt. From there, we drove all the way across Italy (although, driving “all the way across” west-to-east is a lot less significant than north-to-south) to Venice, where we met up again with Treather for one more night (and dropped off the car.) Right, got all that?
We got in to Venice around 1pm, so we had most of the day to fart around. We basically saw the same stuff you’d see on a bus tour, as in, we didn’t get away from that central touristy part at all. (Do they even HAVE a non-touristy part there?) But, Julie had never been there, so she made me promise we’d go at least for a day. Now, about the picture…
Pictures like this can be hard to take. Anytime you’re trying to include both stuff that is illuminated by sunshine AND stuff that’s in shadow, it can be tricky to get right. Usually, either the bright part is overexposed (and all the color is washed out if you can see anything at all), or the shadow part is underexposed (and is completely dark.) I know I’ve covered this before, but it’s such a common issue that it’s worth going over again. Basically, our eyes have a much higher sensitivity range than a camera does. We can see a scene with both bright parts and dark parts, and make out the detail in both. The camera can only handle a much narrower range. So usually you have to make a choice about which part you want to be subject of the picture, and thus which part gets exposed properly. (Or, you can try to average it out, which sometimes works. Or, you can play games like with HDR photography where you basically combine multiple images after the fact, but I haven’t yet gotten into stuff like that…) There’s of course also the option of a split neutral density filter (which is a filter with one half clear, the other half darkened), which can make the difference a lot smaller, but I never think to carry one of those around with me. (Well, the bigger problem is that I don’t actually own one.)
And then, of course, you can just cheat, which is kind of what I did here. Nowadays, there’s lots of software tools that you can use to touch up photos. (Maybe you’ve heard of them? Nah, probably not..) So, assuming your picture doesn’t have too many areas that are either so bright or so dark that you end up losing data (once something is bright enough such that the values for the data point are maxed out, if something right next to it is slightly brighter, you won’t be able to tell the difference, and thus the data is lost), you can use software to lighten or darken certain areas of the picture. I didn’t do that a LOT in this picture (because I’m too cheap to buy Photoshop), but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t play around with it a little bit.
Map (Right, like I remember where in Venice this was…): http://bit.ly/D9Gy4
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/250s, f/6.3, ISO 200. Focal length: 30mm.
Monday, July 20, 2009.
This was taken last summer, when Julie and I took advantage of a sunny Saturday to go on a drive around the state. This was at the end of June, so I was surprised that there was still that much snow up there. (The original plan was to have a picnic next to the little alpine pond that would otherwise be right at the bottom of the frame.) We had driven east over White Pass (Highway 12) out to Yakima, then back west over Chinook Pass, which takes you through Mt. Rainier National Park. The ideas for 1) a drive and 2) a picnic in the high country came about because of the ridiculously HOT weather. (It topped out at 102 near White Pass – unheard of for western Washington!!). This way, we would be nice and cool in the air conditioned car, and when we DID get out, we’d be so high up that it’d be a lot cooler.
I was just going through these pictures last night (for the photojournal), so I figured I’d go ahead and post one, even though they didn’t turn out quite like I had hoped. But, this one serves as a decent example of how the haze introduced by looking towards the sun can have a nice (instead of detrimental) effect on a picture. If the haze wasn’t there, you wouldn’t be able to see the edges between the dark trees in front, and the ridgeline in the mid-distance. Plus I felt that the increasing haziness did a good job of providing the depth between each of the three main layers. I’ll be honest, I don’t really like how on the right edge of the frame, I cut off the peak on an up-slope. For me, it makes it feel incomplete, like part of the story is missing. As in, if it was cut off on a downslope, it’d be like “Okay, there’s the peak, that’s what I’m looking at”. As it is, it’s like “Okay, there’s one peak, I wonder what’s just to the right there…” A very nitpicky feeling, but that’s the way I am with my pictures. (And when I tell people to “figure out exactly what it is you like and don’t like about the picture so you can keep that in mind next time”, that’s exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. And, now I’ve got everyone thinking negatively about this picture and focused on its weakest point. Lovely. What a crappy picture.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/800s, f/7.1, ISO 200. Focal length: 100mm.
Friday, July 17, 2009.
I decided to post another skiing picture today, because I feel like I’m ready for winter again. I mean, don’t get me wrong, summer’s nice and all. But this season, I never had a chance to get my “farewell” run in. Usually, on my last day of skiing for the year, I take a few extra moments to appreciate my last run, I pay a little bit more attention to how each turn feels, to try to burn it into my memory, since I know it’ll be a long hot summer before I get to head up on the hill again. This time around, I was very confident that I had at least one or two more days left, so it didn’t even occur to me that the turns would be the last. Sigh.
All that talk about this last season, but yet this picture isn’t even from then. it’s from 2007. This was a nice sunny spring powder day at Crystal Mountain. Well, it started off as a powder day, but as you can imagine, bright sunshine in the springtime meant that the slopes facing the sun (those that face south-ish, like this one, called “Sunnyside”, duh) got pretty sloppy. But that’s fine, you expect that sort of thing in the spring.
Yeah, I guess that’s all I’ve got to say about this one, have a great weekend!
Notes: Canon PowerShot SD700 IS. 1/1250s, f/8.0, ISO unknown.