Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Unlike the last few tropically-themed pictures I’ve posted, this one is actually *not* from my recent Hawaii trip. Instead, this one is from Jamaica. Specifically, Negril. Even more specifically, this was taken from the restaurant at the Rockhouse hotel just outside of Negril. That, my friends (and non-friend readers), is an amazing place. There is a famous 7-mile long white sand beach in the town of Negril itself, but the Rockhouse (and a few other hotels) are a little ways outside of town, on what is known as “the cliffs”. So, there’s no beach per-se there, instead it’s a rocky shoreline, where all of the rooms are about 10-ish feet above the water, and there’s all sorts of little ladders and stuff that you can use to get in to the water. But, there’s some pretty great snorkeling and such literally feet from the door of your room. Like I said, not a bad spot.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens. 1/250s, f/7.1, ISO 200. Focal length: 50mm.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
So as long as we’re on a Jamaican kick, I may as well keep it going. This is yet another shot that I got when I was in Jamaica earlier this year. This is a hibiscus flower. Or, this is *an* hibiscus flower. Normally, I tend to be one of those obnoxious folks that’s always snarkily pointing out glaring grammatical flaws. (My two personal favorites are using an apostrophe to pluralize a word (using apostrophe’s to pluralize your word’s), and using “less” instead of “fewer”. God I hate that.) But, in this particular case, I don’t know how I feel about it. I mean, I KNOW that you’re supposed to use “an” with words that start with h. But I just don’t buy it. It doesn’t feel natural. H is a consonant. It sounds like a consonant (most of the time, anyway). So why should we treat it like a vowel. Grrr, it eats me up inside.
Anyway, right, hibiscus. Cool, right? Yeah. I took this one with my ordinary walk-around lens (Tamron 17-50), but I used a cheap set of diopters aka macro lenses aka “a macro kit”. Basically, a couple little magnifying lenses that you screw on the end of your lens like a filter, that magnify the subject and let you focus closer. They’re a great way to dip your feet into macro photography, because they’re cheap. I mean, sure, if you’re a Canon purist, you can of course find a way to spend hundreds of dollars on one. But you don’t HAVE to, you can get an off brand (I have a set from Hoya and a set from Opteka. Different sizes, to fit different lenses, that’s why I have two) and only spend 20 or 30 bucks. I read a blog once from a guy that spent WEEKS researching which way to go, and eventually he decided to get the cheap ones, and he was just AMAZINGLY disappointed. He actually went so far to include the words “BIG MISTAKE” in his blog post. Yeah, that’s total crap. They’re not that bad. And besides, you spent 20 bucks on the goddamn things, how big of a mistake could it have really been? For things that are cheap like that, there’s no reason NOT to try them out. Sure, they may not be fantastic, but you may be surprised, and regardless, you’re only out like 20 bucks. Personally, I’m pretty happy with the cheapie cheaps. Sure, they’ve got their limitations, but as long as you realize that, you can work with it, and you can do some cool stuff.
Okay, rant over. Sorry I missed yesterday. I may also miss tomorrow, just sayin’.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens with Opteka macro kit. 1/1000s, f/4.5, ISO 200. Focal length: 30mm.
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.