Monthly Archives: May 2010

May 18, 2010 – Daisies / One Year!



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Well folks, we made it! One whole year. Holy effing crap, that’s way longer than I expected I’d keep this thing going for. Granted, the vast majority of you weren’t around to see those days, but whatever, you’re here now! (Actually, that’s not even true, most of you – “you” being defined as the set of people who subscribe to my RSS feed or otherwise regularly read the blog – don’t actually read the blog. So you’re not actually here now. But that’s fine, I’m going to count you anyway.) So.. Now that we made it to a year… now what? Hmm, good question. Let’s do some homework: your job (each and every one of you) is to go talk to no fewer than two of your friends, and convince them to become followers of the blog as well. Or, alternatively, explain to them why following the blog would not be in their best interest. The important thing is to have the conversation. And take notes, I want proof! And, you should also click on the Facebook like button down below (well, it’s only there if you’re actually looking at, not if you’re looking at this post in, say, Google Reader, so if that’s the case, click through!!) A few of you did a good job following directions when I first put that thing in there, but then the enthusiasm significantly waned.

As for this picture.. You may recognize it as the image that’s used as my avatar when I post comments, as well as the image that’s used as the favicon for the site (the little picture that shows up on your open browser tabs or in your bookmarks list). Also, it’s used as my profile picture on my Facebook page. It’s not that it’s one of my super-favorite pictures or anything though. The truth is, when I first made my Facebook page a year ago when I was bored, it was one of the first few images I saw, so I just grabbed it and tossed it up there. I figured it actually looked decent enough there, so I just kind of stuck with it. But I never got around to actually posting it until today. (Saying “I just grabbed it” sounds wrong – I did actually take this picture, it’s not like I just grabbed it from some random site on the internet or anything – and by the way, none of you are doing that with my pictures, right??) Occasionally I think about freshening things up a bit, and picking a new image to use for those purposes. But… whatever, it’s fine, it’s good enough, and I’m lazy. So this picture it is.

Okay, see you all next year on my 2 year anniversary!

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Quantaray 70-300 mm lens. 1/400s, f/8.0, ISO 100. Focal length: 300mm

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May 17, 2010 – Mt. St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens

Monday, May 17, 2010

Welcome back everyone, from the best weekend EVER! And by best, I mean “most recent”. My own weekend wasn’t any better than, say, any other weekend, but it’s certainly fresher in my mind. I expect that your experience was similar.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, tomorrow is the 30-year anniversary of the explosion of Mt. St. Helens, here in Washington state. Not too much was known about the peculiar dynamics of a volcanic explosion back then, and only a little bit more is known now. (And Louisiana’s governor Bobby Jindal would like to keep it that way.) But the last 30 years have provided a fantastic change to explore what happens afterward. I’ve covered all of this ground before (so did Mt. St. Helens – ha!), so blah blah whatever, go back and read one of those other entries if you’re interested.

Even the day after the explosion, the mountain started rebuilding itself. The rate at which it has been doing so of course varies over time, but just a few years ago the rate dramatically increased, leading some to suspect that it may go boom again. That of course didn’t happen, but it did spew a bunch of smoke and ash for awhile, so that was fun. Today’s picture is a view into the crater, at the new lava dome that’s been forming. Presumably this will eventually make the mountain resemble sometime like its former self, after it grows a bunch more. That’s sort of what these volcanoes do, as it turns out.

This picture came about via a nice big (and cheap!) telephoto lens, and a decent amount of post-processing to filter through the haze that was in the air that day. (And by “a decent amount of post-processing”, I mean I hit the “I’m feeling lucky” button in Picasa. I almost broke a sweat!) It’s pretty crazy to think that, even during the slower times, a couple dump-truck-loads worth of stuff is being added to the cone every single day. Or at least I think I remember reading that somewhere. God I hope nobody’s using this blog as a reference for their high school science homework. Just about every “fact” that I’ve mentioned is somewhere between loosely researched and poorly documented, and completely made up. So, on that note…

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Quantaray 70-300mm lens. 1/800s, f/8.0, ISO 100. Focal length: 227mm.

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May 14, 2010 – Snow Ghosts

Snow Ghosts, Whitefish Mountain Resort

Snow Ghosts, Whitefish Mountain Resort

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hey guys. Today’s post takes us back to Whitefish Mountain Resort (formerly Big Mountain) which is just outside Whitefish, Montana. I realize I’ve posted a few pictures like this already, but I just can’t help it, those snow ghosts are just irresistibly photogenic. When you toss them in front of a blue sky, magic just sort of happens. They seem to be pretty common in the high country at most inland ski resorts in the northwestern US and western Canada. (I’ve seen them in Montana, Idaho and BC mostly, but I’ve hardly been everywhere, so what do I know.)

I realize that it’s basically summer now, so winter and snow is the LAST thing on most of your minds (do I have any southern hemisphere readers?? Anyone??), but I’m not quite ready to let go yet. In fact, my original plan was to head up to Whistler this weekend for one last gasp, get in just a few more turns before the long hot summer. But sadly it didn’t work out, so alas I’ll be hanging out in and around Seattle this weekend. Sigh, oh well. Hope it’s nice wherever you’re at!

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens. 1/320s, f/10.0, ISO 200. Focal length: 47mm.

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May 13, 2010 – The Matterhorn

The Matterhorn, seen from Zermatt, Switzerland

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Whoops, looks like I missed a day. Sorry about that. I would make up some excuse about how I was really busy, or I was really sick (both excuses I’ve used recently), or that something super important came up or happened that prevented me from posting a picture despite my best efforts to the contrary. But it’s not true. The truth is, I really like the picture I used on Tuesday, and I wanted to give it some more time to bake as the first picture you see when you hit my blog, before it got buried underneath some other mediocre picture that I would have posted yesterday. I figure the first picture that people see when they stumble on in through the door goes a long way toward determining whether or not they’ll decide it’s worth their time to stick around, so I figured I’d give that one an extra day, since it was posted sort of late in the afternoon. (That’s also why I tend to post somewhat better pictures on Friday – since I figure people will be looking at it all weekend. Nevermind the fact that almost nobody comes to my blog on weekends, let’s just go ahead and pretend that’s not true.)

So, now that I’ve given away all my dark and dirty secrets… Here’s a picture of the Matterhorn! As you can tell by the little bit of orange grassy stuff in the lower left corner, we were there in the fall, mid September to be more precise. It was a fantastic time to be in the Alps (although to be fair we got EXTREMELY lucky with the weather on our whole trip), as there were a lot of gorgeous yellows and oranges everywhere that would normally just be ordinary greens. Since I’m a sucker for fall colors, I was loving it.

This picture was taken near one of the stops of the Gornergrat Bahn, which is the train that takes you from the village at Zermatt (ski resort in Switzerland) way up into the mountains. It drops you off way above tree-line (above grass-line too, as it turns out), at a really cool viewpoint where you’re overlooking both the Matterhorn as well as a bunch of huge glaciers that drape the upper reaches of Monte Rosa. (Although it’s worth pointing out that, while Monte Rosa is awesome to look at, from that close it really wasn’t very photogenic, there’s just too much going on, and not enough of a focal point to really draw in your eye. It’s just a jumbled mass of mountain-stuff. Impressive, yes. But I couldn’t figure out how to make it work in the camera lens.) This wasn’t actually taken from the end of the line, rather it was taken I think two stops down the hill. We were still above tree-line there, but there was at least a lot of grass around, which had a really nice warm glow in the autumn sunshine. Lovely day, lovely day.

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300mm lens. 1/200s, f/7.1, ISO 100. Focal length: 71mm.

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May 11, 2010 – Negril Beach, Jamaica

7 Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica

7 Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Here’s yet another Jamaica picture. As promised, I’m dribbling them out to you guys one at a time. The last part of that sentence is actually not very interesting, as ALL of the pictures I toss out to you guys are “one at a time”. In fact, unless your eyes are ambidextrous, you would probably have difficultly digesting them more than one at a time, even if I put two of them right next to each other. So… umm. Right. Here’s another Jamaica picture.

I’m not gonna lie – you will probably see other pictures that are REALLY REALLY similar to the ones you’ve already seen at some point. I still haven’t had a chance to actually go through all the pictures I took on the trip (it’s a lack of motivation thing, not a lack of time thing), so I don’t actually know with any confidence that this is the “best” glass-bottom-boat-and-water picture got. All I know is that it’s “a” glass-bottom-boat-and-water picture. So, don’t be surprised. That’s all.

As you’ve probably been able to surmise by reading the, I don’t know, title of the page, this was taken on the 7 mile beach in Negril, Jamaica. As I’ve mentioned, it’s as beautiful as you would expect a Caribbean white-sand beach to be. Yes, the water really is that color. There’s also a reef a ways off shore, and a lot of folks have these little glass bottom boats that they use to take you out to the reef on a snorkel tour. I actually went on a couple of them, although neither one was done by this guy. (I went with “Famous Vincent” both times – if you’re in the area, ask around for him, he’s cool.) But, this guy’s got a cool looking boat, so… he wins. The snorkeling itself is great. It’s a nice shallow reef, lots of fish, all that goodness. I’m hardly a snorkeling connoisseur, so as far as I know it may really suck compared to other places, whatever. My guess is that it’s probably not “world class”, as in someplace you have to see before you die if you’re a hardcore snorkeler, but it’s probably right up there with lots of other “great” spots that you’ll find throughout the Caribbean. For what it’s worth, the BEST snorkeling I’ve ever done was on a boat tour of the British Virgin Islands on my honeymoon. We stopped at these weird finger-shaped rocks poking out of the water off some island, and there was just a huge wall of coral that we swam around. I have never seen such vivid colors before or since. It was helped by the fact that the water had an unreal clarity around then. I don’t know if that’s just due to the time of year (it was late June) or what, but it was truly fantastic. (In Jamaica, the water was definitely clear enough, but not as clear as on our honeymoon. As mentioned, that was June, whereas Jamaica was late March.)

Another note of interest: when I was walking along the beach on the day I took this shot (I had just finished my 2nd snorkel tour, and I asked Vincent to drop me off up the beach a ways from our hotel) I was walking at about the same pace as this lady. I kept passing her, but then she’d pass me when I stopped to take some pics. We struck up conversations a couple times, and she mentioned that she was a travel-planner type person, based in Kingston. (She said she herself was just out in Negril for a weekend holiday.) I felt that this was mildly interesting, and told her so. But then she decided to share her opinion that the best time to get pictures was either just after sunrise or just before sunset, that at the time that I was currently taking pictures (about 11am), I would most likely not get good pictures. I thought this was a very subtly rude thing to say. Basically “I see you trying really hard, it’s kind of sad that your pictures will all suck.” I explained to her that, under normal circumstances, yes, she was right. Normally noon-time light drains all the color out of stuff, and makes super harsh shadows. However, I explained to her, I had found from my own personal experience that at sunset, with the sun behind the water, all you could see was the orange from the sun, you couldn’t see the white sand or the turquoise water, which is sort of the whole point of being in Negril. In the early morning it’s also not ideal, and not just because I’d still be sleeping. In this particular case, the sun being directly overhead led to the best results, because that really lit up the sand underneath the water, which is exactly where the turquoise color comes from. That, combined with a polarizer filter to remove glare from the surface, I had found to be the best combination to get the picture that *I was going for*. I tried to illustrate for her exactly what I was talking about, showing her both the images that I was currently taking, as well as pictures that I had taken the previous day just before sunset. She shrugged me off as CLEARLY an amateur, and reiterated that, no, the best pictures cannot be taken at noon. And that was that. So I said thanks for the tip, and we resumed our similar pace down the beach. That wasn’t awkward at all.

What am I trying to say here? Not sure. Maybe this is just yet another example of the fact that there are no hard and fast rules in photography. Every rule is meant to be broken. Really, it’s all just guidelines. To get the most out of anything you learn about photography, you need to actually *understand* the rule, not just follow it. You have to know *why* it tends to be helpful, so that you can break it most effectively. That’s right everybody, listen to me, because I am awesome. Wooo!

Oh, one more thing, just to reiterate: don’t go NEAR a beach without a circular polarizer! I’m serious!

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens w/ circular polarizer. 1/200s, f/10.0, ISO 100. Focal length: 50mm.

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