Thursday, June 30, 2011
Hey again everybody. I apologize that the last two mountain-y pictures I’ve posted have both been wintertime shots. That wasn’t really the intention, it’s just kind of the way things worked out. But, I figured this one was appropriate because I just used it (earlier today!) to enter some cheeseball photo contest that Crystal Mountain (the ski resort) is having. Normally I make it a policy not to enter photo contests. Officially, my reasoning is that photos themselves (and the “quality” thereof) is entirely subjective, and thus the judging of photos to choose the “best one” is completely absurd. That there can be no such thing as a “best” photo, and so to pretend that you are judging photos as such is kind of insulting. Unofficially though, the real reason is because I know I wouldn’t win, and then I know that would make me feel bad. I generally prefer to not feel bad, so I save myself the trouble and I don’t enter, convincing myself that the *real* reason I didn’t enter was the one stated above.
So.. why did I enter this one, then? Not really sure, I guess I was just in a photo contest entering mood. And that’s a total lie. The reason I entered this one is because they were showing some of the other photos that had been entered so far, and they all basically sucked. I mean, like, photos-taken-with-cell-phones sucked. So I basically qualified my reasoning from above, by adding the clause “once the photos meet a certain, fairly low quality bar”. As in, “Once the photos meet a certain, fairly low quality bar, there can be no such thing as a ‘best’ photo”. I still don’t think I’ll win, because I figure the chances are pretty low that mine will be the only “real” (ie non cell-phone) photo entered, and it’ll probably be fairly arbitrary which one is picked as the winner (meaning, “somebody else will enter a picture that’s actually really effing cool”), but hey, we’ll see what happens. The rules were somewhat strict, in that it had to be a picture of Mt. Rainier taken from somewhere on Crystal mountain. But, since you can basically only see Rainier from the ridgeline at the top of the resort, most of the photos entered looked… basically the same. This one’s just a little bit different from the standard view (an example of which can be seen here, which was almost the one I submitted), so I’m hoping that counts for something. I had some *really* different shots, zooming way in so you could just see some of the trees you can see in this shot against the glacier in the background, but it wasn’t readily identifiable as Mt. Rainier, so I figured that might be a bit of a stretch. So, I settled on this one, and then moved on with my life. Which is also a lie, because clearly I’ve been talking about this stupid little photo contest for two paragraphs here on my entirely unrelated blog, so obviously it’s been on my mind most of the day, which is absurd. But, there it is.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Canon 55-250mm IS lens. 1/200s, f/14, ISO 100. Focal length: 65mm.
Monday, June 27, 2011
I’m going to call this a daisy. It might not be a daisy, I don’t really know. I don’t even remember for sure which lens I took it with, so the one listed below is not much more than just a somewhat educated guess. Educated in that I know which lenses I own, so there’s a pretty good chance it was one of those.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens. 1/200s, f/9, ISO 200. Focal length: 50mm.
Friday, June 24, 2011
So, here’s a ladybug. I used my Tamron 90mm macro lens that I picked up used at Glazer’s a year or two ago. The more I use it, the more I’m convinced that it doesn’t result in quite as nice of images as my Minolta-mount Kiron 105 that I got on Ebay. But, it’s a heck of a lot easier to use. That’s because it’s actually a modern, electronic lens that is designed for working with a Canon body, as opposed to an old, physically actuated lens that was designed for a mount that I’m not even sure they make anymore. The reason that makes a difference in usability primarily comes down to the aperture. With modern lenses, the aperture is held wide open as you’re focusing and composing, then it’s closed down to the desired size when you hit the shutter button. The minolta-mount lens has the same idea, but it’s done physically – meaning there’s a little spring-loaded rod in the mount that, when moved to the side, holds open the aperture. When you hit the shutter button on a camera that uses that mount, it then moves something out of the way that was previously holding that rod in place, thus the spring that I mentioned then closes down the aperture. But obviously, a modern Canon-mount camera doesn’t support that.
So, the upshot of all that is that when you’re using the Kiron lens, you have to close down the aperture before taking the shot. Which means that you’re restricting the amount of light that you have to focus with, sometimes severely so. And, to make matters worse, you’re enlarging your depth of field at the same time. So it becomes extremely difficult to tell if you’re focused on just the spot you want, particularly so when you’re taking macro shots, where being off by a millimeter or less can ruin the shot. Yeah, it’s hard. So, that’s what I mean when I say the Tamron is easier to use, because you can use the wide open aperture to focus, and it’ll automatically step down when you take the shot. But the images aren’t as nice. So it goes.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 90mm macro lens with Opteka extension tube and Phoenix macro ring flash. 1/160s, f/16, ISO 100.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Well, how’s that for irony? I finally got around to uploading those pics I was talking about, and then I never got around to posting one. Whoops. Oh well, here you go, one day later than intended. And, as you can clearly tell, this is not a photo of the northern lights.
That’s because I didn’t see any northern lights.
Also, this is facing south-ish.
I was out looking for the northern lights, but I don’t think they were quite visible at my latitude. The forecast said they should be, but I was pretty close to the forecasted limit, so I don’t blame them too much. I know what you’re thinking though – why would I expect to see the northern lights from inside a big canyon? Yeah, yeah, I know.
The problem was, first I needed to find clear skies. And that turned out to be a lot more difficult than it should have been. The clearing that was forecasted (by a different set of forecast people) didn’t work out either, so I had to head about 3-4 hours east of Seattle before I could even see stars. I was at that point heading northeast from I-90, through Grand Coulee. That’s where I was when I took this. No northern lights, but a nice view of the sky. So I stopped to take a few pics.
Depending on how bright you have your monitor set, you can pretty clearly see the milky way here, and I believe some “city” lights (from the “city” of Soap Lake) down there at the bottom. This was a 45 second exposure, which I discovered was about as long as I long as I could go before the natural movement of the stars started showing up in undesirable ways. (Right, right, it’s not the stars that are moving, rather it’s the Earth that’s spinning. Shut up. The stars were moving relative to my point of view.) That was surprising to me. I mean, of course I know that you get a lot of movement in long exposures, but I figured I’d have to go an order of magnitude longer (like, say, 10 minutes or more) in order to actually see movement in the resulting image. But no, anything over a minute showed just enough blur to be annoying. I mean, sure, you can make cool pictures that have big long star trails. But in order for those to not suck, you have to have them be long enough to not just be mistaken for camera shake or for your focus being off. Plus, the effect was exacerbated since I was looking south. (Since the further away you get from the north star, the more movement you get.)
But anyway, here’s today’s picture. That’s all. Move along.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens. 45s, f/3.2, ISO 800. Focal length: 11mm.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Yeah, I forgot to upload those pics again. Sigh.
So, instead, here’s a picture of Echo Lake, with Mt. Evans in the background. This is in Colorado. You can actually drive to the top of Mt. Evans, and it’s paved the whole way. That’s noteworthy, because you can *also* drive to the top of another sort-of nearby fourteener, Pikes Peak, but *that* road is *not* paved the whole way. Pikes Peak is right outside Colorado Springs, which is where I grew up. Now you know.
So, right, Mt. Evans is not Pikes Peak, so that’s the last mention Pikes Peak will get today. Mt. Evans is near Idaho Springs, which is a little ways up I-70, west of Denver. Echo Lake is on the way up, but it’s before the spot where you have to pay. Because yes, you have to pay to drive up Mt. Evans. It’s worth it though. If you’ve got an afternoon to kill, it’s a great way to get up into the high country. And you can get some really nice photos after only barely getting out of your car. My kind of place!
Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300mm VC lens. 1/60s, f/18.0, ISO 400. Focal length: 65mm.