Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Hey everyone! Happy Tuesday! Except that, umm, it’s Wednesday. Yesterday sort of didn’t really happen, at least as far as this blog is concerned. Whatever, get over it. It’s Wednesday! That’s awesome! And you get a bug picture today! Yesss!
There’s not many bugs up here in Seattle. At least, not in my neighborhood. There’s one kind of spider, and there are bees. So, that’s what I get pictures of when I go out to get bug pictures. Really, I should take some field trips to the woods specifically for bug pictures. Maybe I’ll do that at some point, and actually see some different bugs. Actually, that’s really not a bad idea. But it hasn’t happened yet. Well, it happened once, I went to Carkeek Park and actualy found some different bugs. But I mean I should do it again. As far as the flower, I keep calling these things orange daisies, but I actually don’t know if that’s what they actually are. They have a whole bunch of them planted right at the entrance to the south parking lot at the zoo here in Seattle, so I take a lot of pictures of them. Because they’re pretty. And I like to take pictures of pretty things. That’s the way this blog works.
Also, it seems like having a claw sticking out from right next to your eyeball could be useful. I’m not sure for what, but I’m sure you could figure out something to do with it. It’d be a bit creepy, sure, but man, that’d be handy for reading the newspaper and stuff. Or if you had a pair of broken sunglasses, you could totally still use them.
In other news… It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about it, so I’m going to go ahead and give another plug for Flattr.com. Flattr is based on a really cool idea: you pay a couple bucks every month, and then when you see a website or article or something you enjoy or find useful, you click the Flattr button (that looks like the one below). Basically, it’s like a Facebook Like button, except that, at the end of the month, everybody you Flattred that month gets an equal cut of your couple bucks. (Or, it all goes to charity if you don’t find anything you like in a given month..) It’s nice because it’s only a couple bucks, and it makes a big difference to small- and mid-size blogs and such that aren’t big enough to make any money from advertising (or, alternatively, don’t want to bother their readers with advertising. Hi! I’m Dave!) I’ve been doing it for a couple months now, and it’s very cool. The biggest problem I’ve found so far is that the number of websites that have Flattr buttons is still pretty small, so it can be difficult to find things to Flattr. So, if you have a site or a blog, you should absolutely sign up, and let me know! Okay, plug over, that’s the last you’ll hear about it for awhile (other than the boilerplate stuff at the bottom of every post and on the sidebar, but, whatever.)
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 90mm Macro lens, Phoenix macro ring flash. 1/160s, f/18.0, ISO 100. I think I may have also used an extension tube or two.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Hey everyone, here it is! This year’s first fall color picture! (Meaning, the first one *taken* this year. Obviously, it’s not the first one *posted* this year…) The forecast for nice weather on Saturday held true, so I took full advantage. I ended up staying up until about 2am Friday night trying to pick a trail though, so that made getting out of bed early on Saturday pretty difficult. The difficulty was because I was trying to figure out based on very incomplete information what the colors were doing and where. Also, I of course needed to pick a trail that would actually have the kind of plants that would be changing. Even if I nailed the elevation and location (eastern vs. western slope of the Cascades), if I had ended up on a trail with just evergreen trees, that wouldn’t have helped anybody.
I ended up settling on the Colchuck Lake trail, which is near Leavenworth, up Icicle Creek Canyon, and takes you into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. (You’ll notice that the title of today’s post is “Stuart Lake Trail”, not “Colchuck Lake Trail”, that’s because the Colchuck Lake trail branches off from the Stuart Lake trail 2.5 miles in. So at this point, it was before the junction.) In the end, I feel like I made a pretty decent choice. Down low, there were a lot of yellows and lime greens, and as you got higher up there were a few oranges and reds tossed in. It was mostly the lower ground-covery bushes and such that were changing, but that was all I was hoping for at this point in September. And of course, the payoff of the big lake basin at the end, while not being very fall-color-y, is still absolutely fantastic. Maybe I’ll post a shot of that here in a few days.
If you were curious about my methodology for finding where the color was, I used (as I do often) the website for the Washington Trails Association, http://wta.org. Their website has trail guide write-ups for a huge number of trails around the state, and they allow users to write up trail reports and include photos. So, I browsed the list of the most recently submitted reports, to look for people talking about fall colors, hopefully mentioning how far along they were, and even more hopefully including pictures so I could see for myself. Based on those reports, and the location and elevation of the trails they came from, I decided to aim for about 5000 feet of elevation, on the eastern slope of the Cascades. This trail fell right into that category, taking you from 3400 feet up to 5600 feet. This picture was taken at just under 4000 feet, for what it’s worth.
In other, completely unrelated news today: Amazon had a contest to create your own commercial for the Kindle. They just released the list of winners, and it turns out my cousin Deanne won the grand prize!! Here’s a link to the page with the winning videos, definitely go check it out. Also, here’s a link to her personal blog. It doesn’t look like she’s got an entry yet about winning the big contest, but that shouldn’t stop you from checking it out. In addition to making prize-winning commercials for Kindles, she also paints semi-professionally (sometimes using my photos as source material!) so she posts time-lapse videos of her working on the paintings. It’s awesome! Check it out! Doooooo it! Now, dang it, do it NOW!
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 17-55mm f/2.8 lens. 1/200s, f/7.1, ISO 200. Focal length: 17mm.
Friday, September 24, 2010
I’ve got a huge (huge!) pile of pictures that I got while I was up in Whistler a few weeks ago, and I haven’t been slowly doling them out like I intended to. Until today, I’ve only just posted the one. In hindsight, posting a completely unrelated picture from Blackcomb yesterday doesn’t really help with that effort, especially because I chose one from when I was skiing in basically the exact same spot where I was hiking. So, rather than using the image I had originally earmarked for today, I’ll instead use this one.
This is Fitzsimmons Creek. It runs down through the lowlands, basically right between the village and the upper village. The water in the creek is very milky, because it’s got a lot of glacial meltwater running through it, which tends to be really silty and full of minerals and such. (Basically the same idea behind the White River that flows out of Mt. Rainier National Park and all of the crazy aquamarine water in North Cascades National Park.)
So, I’m not sure if this picture has the same effect on anyone else that it does on me, but for some reason the color of those rocks in front just does something to me. For whatever reason, that’s what drew my eye in originally when I was walking past, and now I can’t stop looking at this picture. It’s inexplicable, but it eats away at me. Weird, right?
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens. 1/250s, f/6.3, ISO 200. Focal length: 41mm.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
So, as promised, here’s a shot of some fall color, to officially welcome autumn! Well, it wasn’t really promised per se, it was more sort of vaguely hinted at. But that’s as good as a promise in my book! (Probably explains why I’m habitually disappointed by everyone around me.)
This picture of course comes from my favorite fall-color hike: the Merritt Lake Trail, which is along Highway 2 a little ways east of Stevens Pass. If there are any east-coasters reading this that find themselves stranded here in the Pacific Northwest and missing the colors found in the sea of deciduous trees out there, they should totally check this trail out. At least the first couple miles of it anyway. Most of the forest out here is of course coniferous, which means you don’t get any fall color. But you can find pockets that are spectacular. Specifically, there’s a lot of color in the lowlands, there tends to be a lot of oaks and such along rivers in the mountains, and here and there you’ll find random pockets of color like along this trail. Also, the little bushes and such at higher elevations tend to have some nice color displays, but you have to work a little bit more to get to those.
As far as when to go, that depends on your target. The high country is probably showing some really nice color *right now*, and potentially for the next couple weeks. The mid-country (like this trail) shows some really nice color in early/mid October usually (this picture was taken on October 11 last year, although the year before it wasn’t quite this far along that early), and the lowlands tend to peak around the end of October, maybe into the beginning of November. It’s of course tough to know how things are looking up there until you’re actually out there, so it can be a real bummer if you guess wrong, and aim too high or low. (Yeah, been there, believe me – last year in fact, I thought it was still high-country time, so I did a hike up at Mt. Rainier, but instead of seeing any fall color I ended up just hiking around in 3-6 inches of snow the whole day. Still awesome in its own way, but not quite what I had in mind.) I’m actually super curious to see what’s going on this year. Since the weather’s been so atypical all summer long, I have no clue when all the different colors will come out. They’re predicting about a day and a half of decent weather this weekend though, so I’m hopefully going to find out. My absolute fear is that this nice weather will land too soon, and nothing will be changing yet. We’ll see.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens. 1/250s, f/5.0, ISO 100. Focal length: 37mm.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
So since it’s about to be fall (later tonight), I suppose I should start thinking about posting some fall color shots to get everyone in the mood. Perhaps I’ll start hitting that up later this week. In the meantime, you get winter. This is (yet another) shot from Whistler-Blackcomb Ski Resort. As with the last picture I posted from the area, this is from the 7th Heaven area on Blackcomb. (Although, that one was just taken a couple weeks ago while *hiking*, not skiing. And, I’ll be posting several more shots from that hike in the next couple weeks.) It’s totally true that the area around Whistler (including Squamish) have been represented more than their fair share of times in this blog. But, quite frankly, it’s because the area is probably the prettiest area that I go to with any frequency.
When I took this picture, back in 2003, I had some weird practices for taking pictures. First, this picture was also taken in that period between when I used my 35mm SLR and when I got my first digital SLR, so I used a pocket point and shoot digital exclusively. (I used the word “also” because I posted another picture a week or two ago from the same general time period, if you were wondering.) I suppose that’s not “weird” per se, but roll with me here. Next, associated with Moore’s Law, flash memory is a heckuva lot cheaper now than it was even a few years ago. Or, to say it in a way that’s more applicable to the discussion, flash memory was a whole lot more expensive per-byte than it is today. So, back when I shot this picture, I was using a 128 mb memory card in my camera, that cost more than the 8 gb card I currently use in my SLR. That’s pretty ridiculous. It also meant that I found myself needing to download the images off my camera pretty frequently. And, related to that, it meant that I spent a fair bit of effort strategizing about what image size to take my pictures at.
Wait, what? Yeah, whereas these days I just leave the camera set at the largest size and highest quality, back in the day I’d take the vast majority of my pictures at a very small size (640×480 for my first camera, incrementally larger with the next couple), and then if there was a picture that I thought I may want to blow up or something some day, I’d bump it to Large. (Most of my pictures were just of my buddies and stuff, so the large size wasn’t needed. But if I was, for example, taking a picture of a mountain, I’d bump it up.)
So, why does this all relate to this picture? Well, because, I umm, took this picture at 640 x 480. Meaning, you’re looking at the full-size image. Meaning, if you loved this picture and wanted it printed out nice and big and hung on your wall, you’d be out of luck. It’s unfortunate too, because I like this picture. When I took it, I didn’t realize it was set on small until after I took it. So I then moved it to large and “took the picture again”. It was bright sunshine out though, so I couldn’t really see the details to see if I had actually gotten the same shot again or not, I could just basically see that the sky looked basically the same. Of course I realized later that the full-size version was crap, and only the little tiny one (this one) was any good. So, whoops, live and learn. That actually burned me a couple times before memory cards actually got cheap enough to just leave it set on Large all the time.
So, there you go. Not only was today’s picture taken with a point and shoot, it was taken with a point and shoot set to the smallest picture size that the camera could do.
Notes: Canon PowerShot S230 (Point and Shoot). 1/1500s, f/9.0.