Monday, November 16, 2009
We’re almost a week into ski season, and I still haven’t even SEEN snow. What’s up with that?! I don’t have an answer to that. What I DO have is a picture from Whitefish Mountain Resort in northern Montana. (Formerly known as Big Mountain resort – in fact, that’s what it was called when this picture was taken.)
Those peaks in the distance are inside the boundaries of Glacier National Park, if that helps out with your mental map. I’ve said it before, and I’ve said it again. Whitefish mountain is a FANTASTIC place to ski. It’s one of my all-time favorites, in fact. (Along with Schweitzer in Idaho, Sun Peaks in BC, and Mt. Bachelor in Oregon.) This picture, and a few others, were used by the hotel we stayed at last time we where there (the Kandahar lodge) in various ways (in brochures, at ski shows, in banner ads online, etc..) although at the time I was taking it I had no idea that it would be. Had I known that was a possibility, you can bet I would have brought along more than a point and shoot. In fact, the folks at the hotel have asked when I’m coming out next, I guess they’ve got some more pics they want for a new brochure. So as if there wasn’t enough reason to go back as it was, now there’s that too. So assuming the rapture doesn’t come before then or the Cubs don’t win the world series, I will MAKE IT OUT THERE again, THIS YEAR. Wanna come?
Notes: Canon PowerShot S500 (Point and Shoot). 1/250s, f/13.0.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Welcome back, I’ve missed you all! Well, most of you. Today’s picture is from Colorado Springs. The foreground is the Garden of the Gods (specifically, Kissing Camels), and in the back you’re looking at Pikes Peak. I’d love to be able to tell you how hard I had to work to get this picture, that I had to hike miles and miles into the wilderness, blah blah blah. But no, I was driving by, saw that it looked really nice, so I stopped in the parking lot of the Garden of the Gods visitor’s center. Oh well, they can’t all be exotic, right?
Remember: if you’re trying to take pictures where you want your foreground to be super dark and you want to be able to see the color and detail in the sky, you need to underexpose it, sometimes severely. If I had just pointed the camera and let the light meter do the work, you’d be able to see the foreground, but the sky would be an uninteresting white blob. In general, the best way to ruin the color in a picture is to overexpose it. And, if you ask me, every camera I’ve ever owned likes to overexpose your shots by default. I mean, there are exceptions where, for a particular shot, it gets it right, but I’ve found that I’m much happier with the results if I leave my exposure compensation on -1/3rd stop all the time. Sometimes I bump it back even more. Having vivid colors is more important to me than having all of the detail be “properly” illuminated. Who decided what illumination is “proper” anyway? Not sure. But everyone seems to agree on it, except for me. Anyway, there’s a couple quick tricks that you can use to bump down the exposure if you find that a picture you want is coming out too bright. The first is of course to set your camera’s exposure compensation. Bump it down to -1 or more, see if that helps. Of course, that only works in manual mode. If you want to stick with automatic (or you have a camera that won’t let you set the exposure compensation), just point the camera at the sky, and push (and hold) the shutter in halfway. That should lock in the focus and exposure settings on the sky (which is typically much brighter than everything else – thus making the camera think it needs to allow less light in to the sensor). Then, frame your shot as you like. Voila – nice, rich colors. Probably worth mentioning: this isn’t that effective if your foreground isn’t far away, since when you lock in your settings against the sky, your camera will almost certainly be focusing on infinity. I could go into more detail about what I’m talking about here, but I’ve used up my quota for keystrokes today.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens. 1/320s, f/14.0, ISO 200. Focal length: 16mm.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Hello everyone. You probably noticed that there was no post yesterday. I was sick, as it turns out. I promise not to let that happen again, EVER. (The getting sick thing. There will PLENTY of days with no posts, because I possess a mix of both laziness and a desire to make your life more difficult.) I’m somewhat recovered today, which means that you guys get a picture today! That may not be a positive thing, but it’s too late for that now.
This is, of course, Mt. St. Helens, in southwestern Washington state. Yes, this is the volcano that exploded back in 1980. And yes, I realize that a lot of you reading this blog weren’t even alive then. As I’ve said before, it’s a fascinating place to visit, just to see the devastation that was caused. Even now, almost 30 years later, the landscape has only begun to recover. This spot in particular is pretty illustrative: there used to be thick forest right here. And when I say “thick” I’m not kidding around. Some of you have seen the forests out here in Washington (Seattle has a reputation for being rainy for a reason), and some of you haven’t, but we don’t eff around with our forests. When we decide to put a forest somewhere, that forest is going to be serious. As in, unless you cut a pathway through it, you won’t be able to walk between the trees. And now? All gone. Demolished. As if there wasn’t anything here at all. In the blast zone, bushes and such have started growing back (like these flowers) but it’s a much different landscape than it was before the explosion. Also interesting in this picture: you can see the new lava dome being formed in the crater, and you can see the jet of gases being expelled. It’s still quite active, for sure.
To switch gears a bit, I’ve hinted several times at how anal and picky I can be about my pictures. Today’s picture is a great example. I’ve had this picture for quite awhile, but I’ve never felt right posting it, there was just this one glaring flaw that made me think it wasn’t worth it. Now, finally, today, I did something about it. Normally I don’t bother with using Photoshop to touch up pictures (beyond brightness/contrast/sharpening/etc), mostly because I don’t know how. But today, I decided it was worth it. (Well, I used the Retouch feature in Picasa, not Photoshop, but it’s the same idea.) What’s that? You want to know what the one little flaw was? The flaw that made me decide this picture was essentially worthless unless it was removed? Well, why don’t you take a look for yourself, and see if you can find it. Yeah, like I said, I’m a little bit picky.
Have a great weekend out there everyone! If you live in Washington, hopefully you can make it out on the hill for some turns! I can’t, but I’d love to live vicariously through you!
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, 18-55 mm kit lens. 1/250s, f/7.1, ISO 100. Focal length: 25mm.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Bees and daisies. Not the first time I’ve posted a picture like this, and it absolutely won’t be the last. Not a whole lot to say about though, we’ve already covered this ground.
Notes: Canon Eos Rebel T1i, Quantaray 70-300 mm macro lens. 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 200. Focal length: 300mm.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Welcome back everyone! I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about this picture. It was taken in the Washington Park Arboretum, just south of the University of Washington in Seattle. I went there one day this summer to take some flower pictures, and I snapped this one too while I was there. At first, I shrugged and decided it wasn’t really worth posting. But then this weekend I was going through some older pictures, and this one caught my eye. It kind of grew on me a bit. I think there are definitely some cool things about it. But, as a whole… I just don’t know. I keep going back and forth.
Thoughts? I also have one without the ripples, with just nice smooth glassy water. Maybe I’ll post that one too in a couple weeks, just so you can see the difference. That one’s the same way: it’s kind of interesting, but it’s still just dot dot dot I don’t know, ya know?
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm VC lens. 2/250s, f/10.0, ISO 400. Focal length: 65 mm.