Thursday, October 22, 2009
Hey everyone! It’s still fall out there, so here’s a bit more color for ya. Taking pictures of good fall color is harder than it should be, or at least it seems that way to me. It’s so beautiful to just look at, so my gut instinct is that it should just naturally make for an effortless great picture. But it never quite seems to work out that way.
You of course need to decide what kind of role the leaves are going to play in the picture. Are they going to be the subject? Or are they going to just help set the scene? Are you going to try to emphasize the leaves themselves? Or focus more on the tree (or bush.. or whatever) as a whole? The amount of detail in a tree that’s changing for the season is both a blessing and a curse. There’s a lot of interesting stuff to look at, but it’s way too easy for that to end up just adding too much chaos and complexity to the picture. That just ends up leaving my eye confused. It’s a fine line between having that much detail enhance a picture, and having it just give the person looking a headache.
This picture is obviously going the “color as subject” route. I keep walking around and seeing individual leaves that are just astoundingly beautiful, with sometimes 3 or 4 distinct colors. There’s got to be SOME way of turning that into a great picture, but it never quite turns out the way I want it to. It’s hard to have it tell a story, instead of just saying “oh, yeah, there was this leaf there.” I guess what I’m trying to get at is, it’s hard to present it all such that the viewer’s eye is definitively drawn to a distinct subject, instead of just perceiving the photo as a jumble of lines and colors that aren’t really coherent. I’ve seen some really fantastic examples, and every time I do, it just seems like it should be so easy. When I wrote that last sentence, I was visualizing this picture that my friend Nina took, it’s got this brilliant red leaf all alone on a bunch of gravel. So simple, yet so maddeningly hard to capture. I’ll try to track down a link to it, you really should see it.
Not really applicable to this picture in particular, but I also have trouble when I try to capture a really pretty tree when I see one. When I do see one, it instantly just puts me in that fall state of mind, which I love. So I try to capture that in pictures, I want a picture that recreates that mood. But I almost always just end up with either a shot that contains a pretty tree along with a bunch of boring ordinary stuff like power lines and/or buildings, or I get a shot looking up at a tree, which when I look at it, makes me say “yup, looking up at a tree”, but it doesn’t put me in the mood like I’m looking for.
Man, I’m afraid to go back and read all that crap I just wrote. I honestly don’t even know if I used complete sentences or not. I’m running on 2 hours of sleep here, and I was interrupted twice. Meh, maybe it makes sense, maybe not. The sheer number of words I used sure looks impressive, so I’m sticking with what I got. See you all tomorrow!
Details: Canon EOS Rebel T1i. Tamron 28-75 mm lens. 1/200s, f3.5, ISO 100. Focal length: 68 mm.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Hey everyone. You may have noticed that my Picture of the Day efforts this week were a big fat fail. I’ve been sick the last couple days, and absurdly busy. But, I didn’t want to let it slip three days in a row, so here’s a pic for today.
This is Mt. Baker, in northern Washington State. It’s a big volcanic peak, just like Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and several others that stretch along the Pacific crest from California to British Columbia. Not much else to say here, and I’ve got to get back to work. Enjoy!
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, 18-55 mm kit lens. 1/400s, f5.6, ISO 200. Focal length: 22 mm.
Friday, October 16, 2009
This is the 100th Picture of the Day! Pretty incredible, right? I figured I would have lost interest a LONG time ago. But no, 100 pictures, in 100 days (more or less, not counting weekends…) So far, I’m still doing just fine on the picture supply too. (Sure, I’ve posted a couple duds this week, and will no doubt do so again quite a few times in the future, but hey, without the crappy ones, how would you recognize the good ones??)
I started this knowing that there would certainly come a day when I would just run out of usable pictures. Obviously reusing them is an option, one that I haven’t ruled out, but it feels kind of wrong. Of course, I can push that day back by continuing to take more pictures, but if I add fewer than 5 to the pile every week, that doesn’t solve the root problem. Overall this summer I did a decent job keeping the pile about the same size. But this winter may be tough. It’s a lot harder to get out in the winter, and even when I can, the weather tends to suck (out here anyway.) We’ll see how it goes I guess. As it is, I think I’ve got at least another hundred in me, give or take a couple.
Here’s how the stats are looking: I’ve got 361 fans on Facebook. The majority of those arrived via the Facebook ads that I was buying for awhile (I bought ads for about a week, but that was awhile ago…) I’m not actually sure how many of those folks actually ever see any of the pictures though, they’re certainly quiet on the comment/like threads. On http://picture-of-the-day.com, I’ve got 17 more people who check the RSS feed every day. That’s pretty cool. I know one of them is Will Cothen. Because Will Cothen is cool. Will Cothen also just had a baby. Congrats Will Cothen!
Anyway, here’s today’s picture. It’s from Heather Meadows, near Mt. Baker, just outside the boundary of North Cascades National Park, in Washington state. I’ve posted a couple pictures from there before. In the winter, this spot would be under about 20 feet of snow, solidly in the backcountry of the ski area at Mt. Baker. In fact, even as late as July it’s still usually buried several feet deep. But it’s got some nice colors come late September. Lots of blueberries too, good stuff. It’s a great day trip, heading up there. It takes about 3 or 3 and a half hours to drive up there, but there’s a number of little trails that you can knock off with just an afternoon (this photo is from one of the short ones – the Artist Ridge trail). There are of course longer trails too, some of which cross the boundary into the national park, some of which head toward Mt. Baker itself. Somehow I always seem to end up there at least once a year, which is nothing to complain about.
That’s it for today, have a great weekend, and enjoy the next 100 pictures!
Canon EOS Rebel XT, 18-55 mm kit lens. 1/320s, f7.1, ISO 200, focal length: 31mm.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
This isn’t the first picture I’ve posted of Snoqualmie Falls, but it is the most recent. Not the most recent picture of the falls, but the one I’ve posted most recently. Unless you’re reading this sometime after Thursday, October 15, 2009, after I’ve posted another picture of Snoqualmie Falls, because then it won’t be any more.
The last photo I posted from the falls (here: http://picture-of-the-day.com/?p=133 ) was taken during the late summer. Summers are dry here in normal years, and this year was exceptionally so. So at that time, the flow was understandably fairly low. This, however, is what the falls look like in the spring, ripe with snowmelt. I didn’t have time on the day I took this picture, but I would have loved to head down to the bottom to see what they looked like from that vantage point. Maybe next spring I will.
I’m going to start including some of the specs from these pictures down at the bottom, when they are available. I don’t actually keep track of this stuff, but fortunately most of it is in the EXIF data in the image files themselves. How thoughtful. I’ll probably start going back and updating older entries too.
Details: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm VC lens, 1/200s, f11.0, ISO 100, focal length: 28mm.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Today’s picture takes us back to Cinque Terre, in northern Italy. If you recall, Julie and I were there a few years back to see our buddies Trevor and Heather get married. (To each other, as it turns out.) We were staying in Vernazza, but this picture is from two towns down the coast, Manarola. Trevor and I were hanging out there a few hours before the wedding. I mean, what better activity on the day you’re supposed to get married than a little bit of sightseeing, right?
The Cinque Terre towns are all built into the cliffs along the Mediterranean coast. The buildings are all crammed together, all painted really bright colors, with little tiny alleyways and staircases in between. Just simply walking around the little towns was an experience unlike anything I had before. It’s magical, really.
Now, a few notes about the picture itself… As you probably realize, I’m primarily interested in landscape photography. I have very little interest in pictures of buildings and such, so consequently I have very little experience and skill taking them. I’m a horrible city tourist, because to me, a city is a city. I’m typically much more interested in seeing the landscape surrounding a city than the physical buildings that make up the city itself. While I was here, walking around these little villages, I of course tried to get the best pictures I could, but as I mentioned, I haven’t developed those instincts for what makes a great shot and what doesn’t. So I did some experimenting, with some good results, and some … not so much. I can’t decide how I feel about this one in particular. There’s definitely good parts to it (the tightly jumbled, chaotic-yet-orderly buildings, the vibrant colors, the focus on the sunny patio), but there’s other parts that are ho-hum (the cheeseball fake texture on the right side, the ugly gutter drain, the fact that I cut off that turquoise building at an awkward spot, etc). But this is how it works – you take a picture that’s pretty good, decide what the good parts are, and figure out how, next time, you can cut down on the not so good parts, so that the next picture you take will be that much closer to being great.
And that idea doesn’t just apply to your own photos either. If you’re trying to improve as a photographer (I certainly am), every time you look at a photo, figure out what you like about it, and what you don’t. You can get a lot of great ideas for your own pictures by looking at what other people have come up with. I keep harping on this idea, because it’s really the best way I’ve come up with to improve. It’s a gradual, incremental process, with no finish line. Am I a better photographer than I was a few years ago? Without a doubt. Am I as a good of a photographer as I can possibly be? Not even close. I’ll save that for next week!