Thursday, October 18, 2012
As promised, here’s a small break from the bright yellow of aspens in autumn. This was taken earlier this summer in Seattle, in the shadow of the Space Needle. Yes, it does get warm and sunny enough out here to go play in the water. For at least a few days each summer. Okay, not many. And by warm enough, I mean 79 degrees. That’s warm, right?
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens. 1/1000s, f/9, ISO 100. Focal length: 22mm.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Oh no, fall color season isn’t over yet, it’s just getting to the peak here in Seattle! (Hmm, today’s post is off to a great start. “Fall color season”?? Really, Dave? Wouldn’t another name for that be, umm, “fall”?) Sadly, I’m stuck sitting here inside rather than playing around outside taking pictures. I can think of several places I’d like to go if I had the chance. Like, Discovery park or Carkeek park here in town, or up on Highway 9 north of Everett. But, not today. And by the time I get a chance, the gorgeous weather we’ve got today will probably be gone. Sigh.
Today’s picture was taken just a few days ago, in Woodland Park. Not the part that’s taken up by the zoo, but the other half, on the east side of 99. You all obviously know what I’m talking about, because you all obviously live in Seattle. Right? Hmm, maybe not. But, that’s where it is.
Now, stop reading and go vote! (If you’re not in the US, then instead of voting, go pursue your normal daily activities!)
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens. 1/320s, f/7.1, ISO 200. Focal length: 17mm.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Anyone?? Yeah, it’s been that kind of day.
This was taken inside Pike Place Market, in lovely Seattle. For a little while, we had a “club” here at work that would take a little field trip every couple weeks, to go take pictures. We’d usually just pick a direction and walk around the office, taking shots of whatever looked interesting. This was a result of one of those trips. Now, I’ve got to admit, I struggled quite a bit with it. I’m not used to taking pictures of “city stuff”, so it took awhile to find things that inspired me. And I never really got many shots that I really considered keepers (certainly nothing as cool as the other folks got). This is the first one I’ve ever posted from those little adventures, and it may be awhile before you see another one. (And this one I’m just posting because it’s, umm, topical.)
All that being said though, it’s a cool thing to make yourself do. Go out into a situation where you normally wouldn’t expect to find anything interesting to take pictures of, and force yourself to look at it in a way that you wouldn’t normally. You never know, it could push your boundaries a little bit, maybe spur some creativity next time you’re out in what you consider your usual element. And, hey, maybe you’ll even get something cool out of it! Or, maybe it’ll just be an excuse to go get some fresh air or check out a spot you’ve never seen before. All good things. So, cocktails?
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/160s, f/3.5, ISO 200. Focal length: 28mm.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Hey everyone, welcome back from the holiday weekend! Hope you all had a great Christmas if you celebrate that sort of thing, otherwise I hope you had a really great Friday. We had some gorgeous weather here over the weekend, which meant that I was able to get 2 or 3 post-worthy shots. They’re still on the camera, but you’ll see them someday I’m sure. This one’s actually from this last summer though. This is a view of the sunset (duh) over the Olympic mountains and Puget Sound, seen from downtown Seattle. Always beautiful, if the sun and the mountains are actually out.
Today’s picture gives me a chance to talk about one of my biggest pet peeves again: pictures that aren’t quite straight. It’s something that is really easy to take for granted, but is actually really hard to get just right. For a lot of pictures it really doesn’t matter (like yesterday’s picture of a rose) but anytime you have a shot that includes something that you would normally expect to be either straight up and down (like a tree or a building) or straight across (like the horizon), it kills me when it’s obviously tilted. And it doesn’t even need to be tilted by much. Even a degree or two can destroy a picture, especially if it’s something that stretches across the whole frame. This is particularly a problem for me, because for whatever reason my trigger hand seems to be a bit lazy, and it doesn’t want to hold the right side of the camera as high as the left. So it’s always something I have to explicitly ask myself before I hit the shutter: “am I holding it level this time?” In this particular picture I believe I just about nailed it (it’s oh so slightly off, but it’ll do), but there’s actually another variable going on here that can make it even more of a pain in the butt than usual.
In the cases I mentioned before (trees, buildings, the horizon), it’s generally pretty obvious what the “true” orientation needs to be. But what about the case of a lake with a far distant shore? (Or, like in this picture, a sound.) It usually looks right if the far shore goes straight across, but what if the shore is actually curving away from you? Then in reality it should tilt upwards a bit, but in a lot of cases, that will actually make it *look* wrong, even though it actually isn’t. Frustrating, right? I know, it kills me!
I’ll go ahead and finish this post with the standard caveat to the “is it straight?” issue: you can straighten pictures after the fact with software. But I have always claimed, and I still insist, that doing so subtly degrades the picture. Why? Because of math. The image off the camera is a grid of colored pixels. In order to rotate the image, you’re re-mapping those pixels to different locations. Here’s the kicker though: the new locations don’t exactly line up with pixel locations in the image. Meaning, the center of a particular pixel will be moved to a point that’s a little ways between the original pixel location and the location of the pixel next to it. Meaning the new pixel value will need to be calculated as a weighted average of several pixels. Meaning, you’re going to lose at least a little bit of sharpness, as adjacent pixels that once had a certain amount of contrast from each other will now be blended together. Make sense? It’s not a huge issue, and if it’s a question of either straightening an image or not having it at all, definitely go with the straightening. But if you have a choice between a straightened one and one that was naturally straight, I’d go with the natural one every time.
Want a different way of looking at the issue? Okay, here you go. Imagine a sheet of graph paper. Let’s say you want to draw a horizontal line on that paper by filling in squares. Easy enough, right? You just fill in a row of squares. Same with a vertical line. A 45-degree diagonal line kind of works. But any other slope of a line, and you get into averaging. Meaning, you start doing things like filling in two squares next to each other, then you move diagonally for one square, then diagonally again, etc. If you look at it from far away, it looks like a line of the correct slope, but up close it’s clearly kind of a hackjob. So when you straighten an image, you’re doing the same thing. You’re taking lines that were originally at one slope, and tilting them along a grid. So the result will average out to look decent, especially from far away, but you will have lost some detail in the averaging. Long story short, it’s a better idea to just try to take the image straight the first time.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 28-300 mm VC lens. 1/320s, f/9.0, ISO 100. Focal length: 154mm.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Bleah, it’s Thursday again. Another week blown by. It’s not really fall anymore, but I’m still going to pepper you with fall pictures from time to time. I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but I generally try to mix up the themes, and not put, for example, too many pictures of flowers too near to each other. I kind of effed that up the last few days with a string of mountain shots, but I’m sure you’ll get over it. Actually, yesterday I had intended to post a big ole’ closeup of a flower, but then when I was paging through the shots I had conveniently available, I saw that one and decided to go with it before I realized what I was doing. Oh well.
Today’s image is kind of interesting, because I didn’t even really remember I had it. Pictures are kind of like children, in that I pretty much remember all of mine, for the most part anyway. But not this one. I pulled up Rate Dave’s Pictures to look for what I wanted to post today, and there it was. Most of the shots in there aren’t worth posting, so I won’t ever use them. Especially the older ones. But I saw this one, and, yeah, I decided to go with it. Also, it gives you all a break from the mountains. So, cool, there we go.
This also marks another interesting trend: this makes three days in a row of pictures from point and shoot cameras. I keep saying it (over and over and over), but it can’t be said enough: just because you don’t have a big fancy camera does NOT in any way mean you can’t get fantastic pictures. Not that I’m trying to say this is a fantastic picture or anything (it’s not bad, it’s got nice colors and stuff, but it’s clearly not **fantastic** or anything), but the point still stands. It’s true that there are some shots you can get with an SLR and some fancy lenses that you probably can’t get without, but if you understand the strengths and limitations of the camera you’ve got with you, there’s no reason you can’t come up with something wonderful. So don’t let lack of equipment be an excuse. Get out there, experiment, and figure out what you need to do in order to get the kind of pictures you want to take. At the end of the day, you’re taking pictures for yourself, so don’t worry if your idea of the perfect picture doesn’t match up with what somebody else says. If you take two pictures and like one better, then that one’s a better picture, period. Then your job is to figure out why, and go do it again.
I’m sorry, I’m still laughing at that second paragraph. Comedic genius I tell you. That’ll last me for the rest of the day, for sure.
Notes: Canon PowerShot S500 (Point and shoot). 1/400s, f/4.9, ISO unknown.