Friday, April 30, 2010
According to the old saying, it should be raining today. And tomorrow? Flowers. Sweet, looking forward to that, for sure. Although glancing at the forecast leads to the question of what exactly the May showers bring. And I’ll tell you: the one year anniversary of me starting this blog, that’s what. Whooooo yeah.
Today’s picture was taken on the Ingalls Pass trail, which is accessible via a 20 or 30 mile long dead-end road outside of Cle Elum, Washington. Those trees are larches. They’re actually coniferous (pine) trees, but they’re fairly unique in that they actually change colors and drop their needles in the fall. They’re really pretty, but (at least in western Washington) pretty hard to get to. I guess there are fairly large swaths of them in some of the eastern Washington forests, and western Montana, and the Idaho panhandle, although my understanding is that those are a somewhat different species than these here that you’re looking at. (But that doesn’t change the fact that they, also, change colors and drop their needles.) Out here, they are only found at higher elevations at particular locations, which means you’ve gotta hike to find them. We got pretty lucky the year I took this: we had gotten a little bit of snow a couple days before, then a beautiful sunny day that fell right on a weekend right when the larches were peaking. Perfect timing really. I told Julie at the time that we needed to make a larch hike an annual tradition, but that didn’t end up happening yet. (Well, to be fair, the next year she was on the verge of giving birth to our kid, and the year after that we … didn’t really have a good excuse.) Maybe this year, check back in the fall, I’ll let you know.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300mm lens. 1/200s, f/9.0, ISO 100. Focal length: 39mm.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Hi! It’s me! I just realized earlier today that my RSS feed has been sitting there broken for a couple months now. That means the HORDES of subscribers that eagerly anticipate seeing my content via Google FeedReader each day have been under the impression that either I’m super lazy or that the Picture of the Day was totally abandoned. At least one of those is not actually true!! So, to all of my RSS subscribers, welcome back!!
Also among the things I realized earlier today is this: I haven’t posted a picture from Europe in quite awhile. (Months, really..) So, I quickly woke up, found one, and Wham!, here we go-go. (Too much of a stretch there?) This goes back to Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso (Gran Paradiso National Park), in the northwest corner of Italy. We fortunately had the time available to spend a whole day hiking there, and it was totally amazing in every way. Loved it, I need to go back.
I’ll stop here, since all of you RSS readers have a lot of content to catch up on today. Man, I bet you’re excited, huh?
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300mm lens. 1/160s, f/8.0, ISO 100. Focal length: 28mm.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I realized yesterday that I’ve been seriously slacking in posting more pictures from my recent Jamaican vacation. I posted one the day after I got back, but that’s been it. So last night I tossed a couple more online, and snagged this one for today’s post.
The island of Jamaica is kind of oval shaped, much longer east to west than north to south. Negril, the town where we stayed, is on the far western point. The main attraction of Negril is the famed 7-mile beach, which is really beautiful. White sand, turquoise water, all that good stuff. It’s fully developed though, so if you’re looking for privacy or calm, you should look elsewhere. But if beaches are your thing, and you don’t mind sharing with a few hundred of your closest friends, you can almost surely find a great deal on a place to stay. That’s not all Negril has to offer though. There’s also “the cliffs”, just up the road. My understanding is that Jamaica is primarily composed of volcanic rock, and that’s exactly what you’ll find up the road from the beach. There are a bunch of hotels that sit up on the rocky shoreline, anywhere from ten to I-don’t-know-maybe-50 feet or so above the water. It seems like most of them have combos of stairways and ladders to get you right in the water, so it’s not like you’re giving up that part of the vacation. If you need your sand, look elsewhere, but if you want sun, water, and quiet, the cliffs are definitely a great choice. (And they have the added bonus that there’s fantastic snorkeling and diving to be had right outside your room.) We stayed at the Rockhouse, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Fantastic place. Also, that’s where I took today’s picture.
Sunset shots are an interesting topic. It’s pretty cool that such an otherworldly, beautiful experience happens basically every day. They’re a natural thing to want to take pictures of. Unfortunately, a lot of the time something that is truly awe-inspiring when witnessed in person can turn out pretty blah and uninteresting in the resulting picture. (This happens a lot with big panoramic viewpoints too, for what it’s worth.) Why is that? Well, here’s a couple possibilities. First, when you’re living through a sunset, the sunset is all around you. The entire sky is aflame with color. Everything around you soaks in the deep orange glow. It assaults all of your senses. It’s really BIG! And, just as important, there’s DEPTH. There’s always a challenge when you try to capture a “moment” in a picture, but in inherently emotional times like these, it can be particularly difficult. Pictures are small. Pictures are flat. Pictures aren’t a whole-body experience. So a scene that can be powerful in its simplicity can be.. kind of boring in a 4×6 print.
So, what does that mean? Well, it means that to get a cool sunset picture, you may have to spice it up a bit. How? Well, there’s a lot of different ways. One is to just add some depth. Put something in the foreground, that’s a neat trick that almost always works in just about any situation. If the viewer can see depth, it’s easier for them to put themselves in the scene. Another option? Add extra drama. Having a ton of color can sometimes work, but even better is to have contrasting colors. Clouds can be great for this, since they turn all sorts of crazy shades just before the sun goes down. (Clouds can be great for adding depth too.) Essentially, sunset pictures seem to work better for me if there’s something going on in there other than just the sunset. Although, to be fair, that’s not always possible. If you’re looking at a sunset over the water, and there’s no clouds, and there’s no boats, all you’ve got to work with is an orange ball and a horizon.. well.. I guess you’ve just got to work with whatever’s there. (Then again, it could be argued that half of what goes into making the perfect image is just dumb luck, being there at the right time to capture something cool. You win some, you lose some.)
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens. 1/800s, f/4.5, ISO 200. Focal length: 26mm.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
As promised, here’s a picture taken using my new macro tools that came in on Friday and Saturday. (To refresh your memory, I got a set of macro extension tubes, and a cheap macro flash.) I spent a little bit of time playing around with them over the weekend, and so far I’m pretty happy with the results. I’ve been using the setup almost exclusively with my 50mm prime lens so far, and it’s been working out fine.
It doesn’t seem like you can get in as close with this particular setup as you can with the reverse mounted lens, although that was sort of expected. (Although I wasn’t sure how dramatic of a difference it would be.) This picture was taken using 2 of the 3 tubes, so I could have added the third to get in closer, but it’s pretty unwieldy as-is with the flash attachment and everything on there, so getting close enough to the subject would be pretty challenging. (The tip of my lens was about an inch away from the bee as it was.) I need to try it out on different lenses though, to see how it reacts with each. (The longer your lens – not focal length, actual length – the less dramatic the effect. Makes sense, really, since if you’re 3 inches out from your sensor to start with, adding another 3 inches means you’re doubling it. If you start 12 inches out, adding 3 more is less than 30% of an increase..)
The flash is pretty awesome though. It of course takes a little bit of time to refresh, so my old strategy of just taking oodles and oodles of frames as I slowly swayed back and forth (to try to ensure that I got at least one in focus) needed to be adjusted somewhat. But, the benefit of being able to use a super-tiny aperture (f/18, even at ISO 100!) outweighed that. After shooting with the reverse-mount for awhile, having the extra depth of field is reeeeeally nice, and it has the added benefit of covering your butt if your focal point is a tiny bit off. It’s definitely a little bit unwieldy, especially when you mount it on a short lens. Having a longer lens (like a 100mm macro) that allows you a greater distance to your subject would be really handy for getting into corners and stuff. But, if you’re on a budget like me, this setup seems to be working out great so far. I’m sure this won’t be the last you’ll see of it.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, with Opteka macro extension tubes. 1/160s, f/18.0, ISO 100. Phoenix macro ring flash.
Monday, April 26, 2010
HEY! Guess what!!!! Oh, you already knew this was the 200th post? Oh. Well. Umm. This is awkward.
I made it to 200!! I never thought I’d make it past 50, much less up to 200. Also, I thought at this point I’d be totally scraping the bottom of the barrel looking for pictures each day. But, in a rare moment of something other than modesty, I’m going to point out that I’m NOT. I’ve got A WHOLE LOT of mediocre pictures left to post! Don’t be surprised when I’m celebrating my 300th post, is all I’m sayin’. I’ve been doing this for almost a whole year now (sshhhh, don’t tell anyone, but the one year anniversary of my first post is coming up real quick here too.) Feel free to congratulate me if you feel it’s necessary. I mean, it totally is… The ball’s in your court, that’s all I’m sayin’. That, and that you shouldn’t be surprised when I’m celebrating my 300th post. That is all I am saying. That, and all this other stuff that I’m saying.
This picture was taken in Craters of the Moon National Monument, which is in southern Idaho. It’s called that I think because of the expansive lava fields that you can’t see any of in this picture. Something relating to that, anyway. I was driving through shortly before sunset, so I didn’t get much time to explore. But, it was pretty, so it’s on my list of places to go back to when I’ve got more time. This picture is interesting for another reason too. As I was driving through, I obviously stopped several times to take what pictures I could in the failing light. But I also snapped a fair number of pictures with the point and shoot while I was driving past. A “hey, that looks pretty, I should grab a picture so I remember what it looked like” kind of thing. Most of them are good for just that – reminding me what places looked like. But they’re driving pictures. They’re blurry, they’re tilted, they often miss the thing I was trying to take a picture of. But, occasionally (very rarely, but not never) there’s actually something cool in some of them. This is one of those times. Originally I had passed over all of these pics as generally worthless. But way after the fact, I decided on a whim to look a little closer, and lo and behold, I found something worth keeping. Awesome.
Okay, that’s it for today. Don’t forget to become a fan of or “Like” (whatever they’re calling it these days) my Facebook page if you haven’t already. Big numbers there make me feel awesome, and feeling awesome makes me feel good. Hope you all stick around for the next 200!
Notes: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS (Point and shoot). 1/160s, f/2.8, ISO 80.