Monthly Archives: September 2009

September 30, 2009 – Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

So I guess I should start of by saying this: I don’t usually do the black and white thing. Some people are good at it, I don’t consider myself one of those people. My heart’s not in it. Sure, I get the fact that it can be more dramatic, and it makes you focus much more on the composition and the detail, instead of relying on the colors to make the shot. But whenever I think about trying it, I feel like the result is cheesy, over the top, and it’s overly obvious that I just took a color shot and turned it to B&W in Picasa because I wanted to make it AWESOME.

And besides, let’s be brutally honest here, black and white ain’t what it used to be. It wasn’t too long ago that if you wanted to shoot b&w, you had to commit. You’d load your b&w film in the camera, and that’s what you got. There was none of this just snapping the shot and then playing around with it later to decide if you wanted color or not. The folks who spend hours in the darkroom, those are the “real” black and white folks. I’m just a pretender.

That’s what goes through my head, anyway, when I think about clicking the Black and White button. Which is why I usually don’t. But in this case… sure, why not?

This was taken near the Wisconsin Dells, in, duh, Wisconsin. I’m still not exactly sure why or how I ended up there. I’ve got a lot of family (mom’s side) in Chicago, and one extended weekend when my immediate family met there (my parents live in Colorado, my brother in Tucson, and I’m of course in Seattle), we decided to spend a couple extra days together, hanging out in… Wisconsin. I think it was my mom’s idea, and it actually turned out to be a great one, it was a ton of fun. My first impression was that it was just a midwestern DisneyLand. There’s this big lake, and hundreds of these cheeseball resort places, waterparks, go-kart tracks, museums, and mini-golf courses. This was the first place where I was ever introduced to the concept of an indoor waterpark, although I still have yet to be inside one. It wasn’t until the second day that I realized there was actually something to see there – the Dells themselves, which are these cool rock canyon things around the lake. They’re actually really beautiful, I was really surprised. I actually want to go back there now that my camera equipment has matured. To Wisconsin. I want to go back to Wisconsin. Bet you never thought you’d hear me say that, right? Going back and re-reading that sentence, it still doesn’t look right. But it’s actually the truth.

Now that we’ve taken care of all that business, I’d like to remind everyone that calendars are still available. In fact, a couple of you requested them, but never gave me an address to send one to. If you want one, shoot me an email, dave (at), or leave a comment, or send me a Facebook message, whatever. 15 bucks-ish, plus whatever shipping costs. I’m selling them for exactly what they cost me, if you were wondering. Let me know!

Map: (I don’t remember where the pic was taken, so I just put the pin right in town.)

Notes: CAnon PowerShot S230 (Point and shoot). 1/60s, f/2.8

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September 29, 2009 – Snoqualmie Pass

Snoqualmie Pass - View from Summit Central

Snoqualmie Pass - View from Summit Central

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Today’s picture is in honor of “first snowfall”. Here in Washington State we’re supposed to get ours in the next day or two (up in the mountains, not 4,000 feet further down here in the city), Colorado got theirs last week, and I heard via my buddy Mike that Killington out in Vermont should be getting a taste too. It’ll be awhile yet before it starts looking anything like this, but the season is on its way!

This is a view from Summit Central, which is one of the four ski areas up at the summit of Snoqualmie Pass. (The others of course being Summit East, Summit West, and Alpental.) This was on a weekday morning after getting I think around 9 or 10 inches the night before. This is, in my mind, one of the best perks of having a season pass to Snoqualmie – getting to run up and get in a few turns before heading in to work. A lot of other folks have the same idea usually, but they all head to Alpental (Which, admittedly, is a much more interesting hill), meaning the wait over there (especially on chair 2) can be just as long as on the weekends. Summit Central, though, is a ghost town, even on primo days. You won’t see more than 1 or 2 other people before 10 am, so you’ve got the whole place to yourself. I may be totally giving away my secret here, but don’t worry, nobody actually reads this stuff. And besides, anybody who DOES read this stuff probably either doesn’t ski, doesn’t ski out here, or doesn’t do Summit Central. So I think I’ll be okay.

This one was, as most of my ski pictures are, taken with a little point and shoot, with a dirty lens at that. I had to do a bit of cleanup with Picasa (mostly adjusting the contrast to clear out some of the fogginess from the sludge and pocket lint on my lens), so the result is a somewhat low quality image. It looks great at this size, but wow, look at it full-size, and the grit comes out. Eesh. It would actually be somewhat interesting to post the original here, so you can see what even just a little bit of touching up can do. Maybe I’ll do that. I of course don’t have the original handy right now, but perhaps I’ll add it later tonight. (I’ll only add it to the original post, at , not to the Facebook post, so if you’re interested, come by later and check it out.)

Sleep well everyone, and have powdery dreams!


UPDATE:  Here’s the original image.  This one’s actually not as dramatically changed as I thought, definitely not as much as a couple of the others from the same day.

Original image - no post-processing

Original image - no post-processing

Notes: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS (Point and shoot). 1/800s, f/11.0, ISO 200

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September 28, 2009 – Rose



Monday, September 28, 2009

I mentioned that I had a whole bunch of these, right? Yeah, I wasn’t kidding, really.

Actually, to be perfectly straight with you, I didn’t have this one until this weekend, it was not a part of the previous pile. I just added to it a bit. In the interim, I actually made a couple more changes to my equipment. I went ahead and made a decision on my overall lens strategy. You of course all remember that for the past couple of years, I’ve been exclusively using a Tamron 28-300 (actually, two Tamron 28-300’s, one without image stabilization, then later, one with – Amazon links here: , ), but earlier this year I decided that using a super-zoom meant I was making some sacrifices in image quality. That sent me on a quest to figure out what lenses I really wanted to use moving forward.

First, I filled out the wide-angle part of the range. I rented a Canon 10-22 (Amazon: ) just to make sure I wanted one, then I picked up a Tokina 11-16 based on the recommendations of the guys at the camera shop.  (Amazon: ).  But that still left me with the meat of the problem:  what to do about the mid range, where, let’s be honest, most of us take most of our pictures.  My lens budget was already running a bit thin (okay, it was way past thin), so I figured this one would be a challenge.  But it turns out Tamron makes a couple great lenses to fill that need, a 17-50, and a 28-75 (Amazon: ) that I ended up going with.  So far I’m really happy with it, and it’s actually more versatile that I was expecting.  (I was expecting that I would constantly find myself wanting to swap out to my old 70-300 mm telephoto that I’ve sadly had to start carrying to fill out the range, but I’ve found that the 75mm end gets me just far enough in that I don’t really feel the need for more except in rare circumstances.)

Today’s picture was actually taken with that lens, paired with an Opteka macro kit, which is the same thing as the Hoya macro kit that I’ve been talking about for awhile now, except a different size, to fit the new lens.  Good stuff all around.

By the way, I keep posting those Amazon links because if you actually use them and then buy something (I don’t think it even has to be the thing you clicked through to), I get 4%, which as I mentioned awhile back, is only 96% away from being totally sweet.  So far none of you have bought anything, but I’m still holding out hope. :)

That’s it!  Enjoy the crazy fall weather that seems to be rolling in everywhere!

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens w/ Opteka Macro Kit. 1/500s, f/6.3, ISO 100. Focal length: 75mm.

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September 25, 2009 – Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park

Friday, September 25, 2009

Today’s picture is another one that I took on a particular backpacking trip in August of 2007. I’ve posted at least a couple other pictures from that trip already, and you may or may not be able to figure out which ones those are. Actually, it’s not very hard, but I doubt you care that much.

When I took this picture, I was standing in the Buckhorn Wilderness on the Olympic Peninsula (in Washington State). But, everything (well, most of it anyway) you can SEE in the picture is inside Olympic National Park. Mt. Constance is in there, as is Warrior Peak. And some other stuff. I go back and forth about whether I like this picture a whole bunch, or think it’s somewhere between boring (there’s not much going on in it) or simply bad (the bottom is under-exposed and the rest is just… empty sky.) Today, I’m on the “I like it a whole bunch” side of things. Sometimes, I just like it simple. Maybe next Friday I’ll go even further and just post a picture that’s the same uniform color of blue or something. That would be awesome.

For those of you who like to keep track of this kind of stuff, this is another picture that I took with my point-and-shoot. When you’re taking pictures near twilight like this one, point and shoots (well, any camera, really) will usually try to make all of the “stuff” (the non-sky, basically) exposed properly, which means a couple things: one, since it’s usually pretty dark by then, you’ll need a really long/slow shutter speed, meaning your image will probably be blurry, and two, the sky will probably be overexposed, since it’s so much brighter than everything else. To get around that, a nice trick is to just point the camera at the sky, hold the shutter button halfway to lock in the exposure and focus, then frame your picture and push the shutter button the rest of the way. Up to a point, underexposing things can really bring out the colors. To put it another way, exposing things “properly” or overexposing them is the best way to wash out all the color. Which sucks. Don’t do that. (Fact: I set the exposure compensation to -1/3 stop on every camera I’ve ever owned. Just by default.)

Have a great weekend if I don’t see you. (And let’s be honest, for most of you, seeing me would actually be kind of creepy.)

Notes: Fujifilm FinePix F30 (Point and shoot). 1/450s, f/4.5, ISO 100.

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September 24, 2009 – Daisies



Thursday, September 24, 2009

And here we are again. Another day, another picture. I think these are daisies. But, to be fair, I think just about any flower I see these days is a daisy. There’s a lot of different daisies, so I figure if I guess “daisy”, I’ve got at least a 50-50 shot of getting it right, right?

This is another shot that I took in the Woodland Park Rose Garden. In fact, you’ve seen these exact flowers before – remember that shot with the bee? I mean, it’s probably not the EXACT flowers, but it’s at least part of the same bush. But, to be fair, they’re really photogenic.

What makes them photogenic? Funny you should ask that. So, everyone knows that flowers are pretty. That’s sort of the point of flowers. But not all flowers make for great pictures. Flowers that are really really red tend to turn out pretty badly for me. The deep red just overloads the sensor, so you get this jumbled mess than can be painful to look at. Actually, if you’re taking a picture that contains almost entirely one super-bold color, any color, your camera may have trouble with it. Red seems to be the worst for me, although deep blues and purples can be really tough too. (And the dark green trees we have so many of out here in the PNW make forest-y pictures pretty tough sometimes.)

So, I’ve found that the best flowers for pictures are the ones with the most contrast. Multi-colored petals (like these!) are awesome. It keeps the picture interesting, gives your eye something to chew on, it breaks up the uniform field of one color. Also, if the middle part stands out from the rest (don’t you love my grasp of flower vocabulary?), that’s even better. That’s another reason I love these in particular – they’re perfect!

There’s other reasons that certain flowers can be tough though. For instance, flowers that have a lot of depth are hard. Because then you have to choose which part of the flower you want in focus. Things like rhododendrons or [ fill in another flower with long spindly things in the middle ] are really bad for that. if you’re using a setup with a really small depth of field (well hello, reverse-mount lens attachment), this is especially a problem. Of course, you could also look at it as an opportunity to get really artsy, if you’re the optimistic type.

One last thing – with flower pictures, keep your background in mind. It’s easy to turn an otherwise fantastic shot into something that’s just ordinary by including something ugly, like a sidewalk or a building, in the fuzzy part of the frame. Keeping dark green plant-stuff or super-blurry other flowers can make something nice for your foreground to pop out of. It’s all about the contrast.

Before I go, one quick note: I’ve sold out of my original test-run of 3 calendars, so let me know SOON if you want one, I’m going to put in another order. They’re on sale right now at the website where I printed them (I used Shutterfly), so they’re about 14 dollars plus however much it costs to send to you (I’m not making any profit on these), but at some point they’ll go back to regular price, which is $20. I’ll order a few extras, but not many, it’d be easier if you just told me you want one now. Email me at: dave (at) .

That’s it, now you can go back to whatever you were doing before.

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Quantaray 70-300 mm lens. 1/250s, f/18.0, ISO 400. Focal length: 218mm.

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