Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! I realized as I was tying that last sentence that today would have been a perfect day to post a picture from Mexico. I don’t have one handy though, and I’m not even entirely sure I have one at all. I’ve been there a couple times, but I’m not sure I got anything picture-of-the-day worthy while I was there. Sad. Instead, here’s a shot from our other North American pals, Canada.
This was shot in the 7th Heaven area of Blackcomb Mountain, at Whistler-Blackcomb Ski Resort. Those peaks in the distance are all part of Garibaldi Provincial Park, and that’s all I can think of to say about this picture.
In other news, one of my friends asked me yesterday for some camera advice, which isn’t that uncommon of an occurrence these days. After spending a decent amount of time writing up a fairly detailed response, which contained a lot of advice I’ve rehashed several times in the past, I realized that I might as well save that work for a larger audience. Thus, I posted it here on my blog. You can also find it by clicking “Camera advice?” up above. Note that this is in addition to the My Equipment page, which contains exactly what it sounds like it would. Note that this particular camera advice was somewhat tailored for somebody in my friend’s situation, which is that she was confident that she wanted to go the digital SLR route, but was wondering what to do about which one to pick, and what lenses to start off with. If you’re just in the market for a decent point and shoot, or a full-featured camera that’s not quite as much of a commitment as an SLR, obviously that advice won’t be really applicable. But, feel free to take a read, and set me straight if required.
Notes: Canon PowerShot S500 (Point and shoot). 1/800s, f/11.0.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
As I mentioned yesterday, this week I’m going to be posting only stuff from around Vancouver and Whistler. In honor of the 2010 Paralympic games. You heard me right, the Paralympics. Eff the regular Olympics, I’m doing this in honor of… the games that won’t start until March. But whatever, they will happen, and they are awesome, even though they don’t get the love and respect that the regular Olympics get. Or, maybe I’m doing it for ALL of the athletes who are only in it for the love, and not for the opportunity to put themselves in front of tv cameras so that they can build a public persona and score sponsorship deals. Or, perhaps the only reason is that I’m sitting on a lot of pictures from around the area and this way it makes it easier to choose which picture to use each day. Hmmm…. yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s the last one.
And, all that being said, I don’t actually have any pictures from around Vancouver. Mostly just Whistler. Actually, I think I have one or two, but they’re not online yet, and it’s even money on whether I’ll get around to digging them up before the end of the week. So, you get Whistler. And.. Blackcomb, like this one.
This is a picture that I took while hiking around the top of Blackcomb. They’ve always had the gondola on Whistler mountain open for hiking and mountain biking in the summer, but only last year did they actually start promoting hiking on Blackcomb. They did have one of the glaciers open for skiing though, but it was either not allowed or not encouraged or maybe just not publicized that you could go up there just to walk around. So this was the first time I ever actually got around to doing it. It’s a moderately less convenient experience than the Whistler option. On Whistler, one gondola ride and you’re up there. (Although you can also walk over to the base of the Peak chair and ride that up to the actual summit..) On Blackcomb, you have to start on the Wizard chair from the upper village, then you hop on the Solar Coaster. From there, you board A BUS that drives you over to the bottom of Seventh Heaven. You ride up that one too, and finally you’re at the top. Takes a good 45 minutes to get up there all in all. Then the skiing drops off the other side of the ridge from the Seventh Heaven chair. I heard they had recently designated a couple hiking trails up there too earlier in the summer, but I only had a little bit of time, so I just farted around the top of the lift for awhile. Definitely cool, but I think Whistler is better for hiking. If you’ve got enough time, definitely do both, but if you’ve got to choose, go with Whistler and hit up the Half Note trail.
That’s it for today! Have fun watching the games, just don’t buy anything that they’re selling.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm VC lens. 1/160s, f/10.0, ISO 200. Focal length: 55mm.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Hello again everyone, welcome to another Friday during ski season! To celebrate all of the upcoming turns this weekend, here’s a shot taken on the Glacier Express chair on Blackcomb Mountain. (Which is of course part of Whistler-Blackcomb Ski Resort, where the 2010 Olympics will be held.) I say that, but it’s not actually clear if I’ll be making it up to the hill or not this weekend. But a man can dream, a man can dream…
The day that this picture was taken was exceptional for a lot of reasons. It was taken over Thanksgiving weekend, and before we headed up there they hadn’t really gotten any snow at all, so all of the rooms were super cheap and there was nobody there. But once we got there it started Dumping. (With a capital D, did you notice?!) So the skiing was fantastic. Plus, while the weather on this particular day looked pretty crappy down in the village, once we got up top, as you can see, it was really beautiful. (Don’t believe me? Here’s another example.) That always brings a smile to my face. Know what else brings a smile to my face? The fact that all that great stuff happened on my birthday. Actually, that’s not the whole story. Birthdays don’t bring a smile to my face any more. This was in fact the last birthday that did so, because it was my 29th. Ah, those were the days.
Make sure you get outside and enjoy your weekend, it should be a great one! Even if you’re not a skier. What do you people do with your time between November and May??
Notes: Canon PowerShot SD700 IS (Point and shoot). 1/1000s, f/5.6.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
It’s full-on ski-pass-buying season now, so to celebrate, here’s a nice, snowy picture to bring back happy memories from last winter. This picture was taken from near the top of the Glacier Express on Blackcomb Mountain. Since I’m not afraid of providing every last detail no matter how mundane or obvious, I’ll go ahead and point out that Blackcomb is half of Whistler-Blackcomb, which is in British Columbia, about a 4 or 5 hour drive from where I live in Seattle. I actually thought I had used this photo awhile ago, so I was really surprised when I just went back to check and didn’t see it.
I’m pretty excited for this upcoming winter/ski season, since I now have an official “skiing camera”. I upgraded my SLR this summer (from the Canon EOS Rebel XT – Amazon link: http://bit.ly/O1fAh – to the Canon EOS Rebel T1i – Amazon link: http://bit.ly/kKTkV ), so now I have my spare camera that I can toss in my backpack when I head to the hills. My ski buddies will of course hate me even more now, because now each time I stop I’ll have to take off the backpack, unzip it, etc, etc, etc. But I’m pretty excited. It still won’t solve the problem that I only ever go to about 3 or 4 different places between November and May, but at least those 3 or 4 places will be documented in excruciating detail now.
Map: http://bit.ly/rSpSR (This one’s weird – they took the satellite photo when it was snowy, but then turned it green so it looks like grass.
Notes: Canon PowerShot SD700 IS (Point and shoot). 1/400s, f/10.0.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009.
I was going through some pictures from last summer recently, and I dug up a bunch from a quick overnight trip up to Whistler that Julie and I took. We were only there for one night, but we scored a great deal at I’m pretty sure it was the Fairmont Chateau. (Courtesy of HotWire.com)
Since she was fairly pregnant at the time, she decided to spend much of the next day hanging around the (extremely nice) pool sipping cocktails (virgin, presumably), while I wanted to head up onto the mountain to do some hiking. I had been up the gondola on Whistler several times in the summer (that’s where all the hiking is), but I had never gotten around to making it up on Blackcomb. (They have summer skiing on the Horstman Glacier up there, but not so much in terms of hiking trails.) So, that was the plan for me.
Whereas the Whistler side is nice and easy to get up top (one gondola ride and you’re there), Blackcomb is a bit more of a pain in the ass. You have to ride two chairlifts (Wizard and Solar Coaster), then ride a bus over to the bottom of a third chair (7th Heaven), then ride that one up as well. But, definitely worth seeing if you’re up there, and I’ve heard that they’ve actually added some real hiking trails on the Blackcomb side as well for this year.
Anyway, I spent a few hours up there walking around, and when I was flipping through my pics last night, I found a couple that I wanted to post here. (I’ll post one today, and one Friday. That means that tomorrow is going to be a SURPRISE!!! Not, like, the exciting kind, more of just the “neither one of us know what’s coming” kind.)
Both of the pictures are playing with the same theme: some cool rocks in the extreme foreground, and other stuff way behind. The big question mark when you’re taking a picture like that is what you want to be in focus. Assuming you make the stuff in the foreground sharp (which you don’t have to), changing how in-focus the stuff in the distance is can make for a completely different picture. To change that, you of course need to change the size of the aperture. A wide-open aperture means your depth of field is really shallow. Which means that only things that are very close to the focus point (close in terms of distance away from you) will be sharp, and everything else will be fuzzy. A smaller aperture widens the depth of field, to the extreme case where if your aperture is as small as possible, you can make both things that are close and things that are very far away come out in focus.
The two pictures I’m going to post don’t really show off the difference too well (both of them I used a pretty small aperture), but it’s still worth talking about. It’s of course nice if everything in the frame is nice and crisp, such that you can see all the detail in everything, but it’s not always desirable. For example, if only one part of the picture is sharp, your eye is naturally drawn to that spot, so it can be a great way to add emphasis to the subject. The rest of the stuff in there adds context and all that, but it doesn’t detract any attention from the point of interest. Also, differences in focus are another way of adding contrast – if everything is in focus it can be tough to tell what’s close and what’s far away, which flattens the picture and everything blends together. In this case in particular, that wasn’t necessary because the colors and the patterns in the rocks are completely different, but that’s not always true.
And of course there are other pitfalls to changing up the aperture size. Sometimes it would be really nice to use a small aperture, but there’s just not enough light to allow it. Using a smaller aperture means you’ve got to keep the shutter open longer, to get in enough light to expose the image. In bright sunlight this isn’t as much of an issue, but in other cases you have to choose between an image that’s got a really narrow depth of field or one that’s completely blurry because of camera shake. Not a hard choice, but it does limit your options. My general rule of thumb is to use the smallest aperture I can get away with (meaning my shutter speed is 1/200th of a second or faster), although in certain situations when a small depth of field is desirable, I go the other way. (I keep my camera in Aperture-Priority mode (“Av” on Canon cameras) when I’m taking outside shots. Although I use Shutter-Priority (“Tv”) for things like taking pictures of my kid, but I’m not going to go into that now.)
Man, after spending all that time talking about keeping the background in focus vs. making it blurry, I’m starting to reconsider the image I picked for Friday. Maybe I should actually choose something that illustrates this. Hmm, we’ll see. Regardless, get EXCITED about TOMORROW! Who KNOWS what I’ll be putting up here?!?! You’re right, probably a stupid flower picture.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm VC lens. 1/40s, f/32.0, ISO 400. Focal length: 119 mm.