Sunday, March 21, 2010

March 20: DBG in Spring

Owen and I took a trip to the Desert Botanical Garden yesterday. It was a beautiful day, I wanted to get Owen (and myself) out of the house for a while, get some exercise, and I wanted to see the butterfly display they had before it got too hot. We had a great time! Owen wasn't visibly excited to see the butterflies, but I can tell he was intrigued and enjoyed the trip as a whole. The Garden sets up a tent (kind of like a green house) with lots of flowers and they release (or hatch maybe?) a bunch of butterflies. You get to walk around in the tent with the butterflies, so you get to see them up close, and occasionally they'll even land on you. It was interesting how many people were out with some fancy camera equipment.

You can see the rest of my pictures from the trip on my Picasa site.

From Desert Botanical Garden March 20th, 2010

155mm, f/4.0, 1/125s, ISO 100, no post-processing

  • I picked this photo because there were 3 butterflies and I liked the colors.
  • I think this is a bit bright. I used aperture priority mode and didn't play around with the settings on the camera because I mainly wanted to make sure that Owen had a good time. I didn't want to ignore him too long playing with the camera.

From Desert Botanical Garden March 20th, 2010

200mm, f/4.0, 1/250s, ISO 100, no post-processing

  • The Garden also has some Alan Houser statues exhibited throughout the walkways. This one struck my eye before we got close to it on the trail. I've heard a few different people say that you need to be creative when photographing other people's art, otherwise it's just their art, not yours.
  • I like the perspective of seeing her from afar, mixed in with the vegetation.
  • This may be improved if I cropped it to use the rule of thirds (instead of having her right in the middle of the frame).

Friday, March 19, 2010

March 19: Tomato Harvest

I left work a little early today, and WOW, it was beautiful outside! So I knew I had to do something outside. I knew a lot of the tomatoes in my garden were ripe (and some were overripe), so I decided to harvest all of the red ones. I definitely have way too many to just eat plain, so I'm planning on making some sauce. But before I cut into them I wanted to take a picture (or a bunch of pictures!). Since I missed posting yesterday, I'll post two today. Some of the others that I took are in the Runner's Up album.

From Runners Up

50mm, f/3.5, 1/50s, ISO 100, no post-processing
  • I took this in manual mode because I thought aperture priority was making the pictures too bright.
  • I like how this shows both the cherry tomatoes and larger ones (I don't remember what kind I planted), the bowl, and a bit of background, but not so much that there's any distractions. It doesn't do the best job of showing just how many tomatoes I had, which is partly why I wanted to take the picture.
  • I wish that just a tad bit more was in focus, say the three tomatoes that make up a triangle in the center of the picture.

From Runners Up

50mm, f/2.2, 1/125s, ISO 100, no post-processing

  • For the second batch of pictures I put the colander on it's side and arranged the larger tomatoes in front of it. I was going for a cornucopia kind of a look. I had a hard time choosing which picture to post here.
  • I like this one because of the colors and the fact that only the one tomato in front is in focus. I also like that the colander in back is so out of focus it just looks like a plain white background.
  • You may notice at the bottom of the photo you can see the tile edging up on the left. That could easily be fixed by slightly cropping the photo, which I havn't done so you can learn from my mistakes. :-) The same applies to the bit of shading at the top right corner.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March 17: 2nd attempt at multiple exposure layering

  • Ug. I'm not happy with today's outcome, but hopefully I've learned some lessons and know what to try next. I tried taking two different exposures and layering them in Picasa (under the Collage feature).

From Runners Up

  • I set the camera on the table and tried very hard not to move it to take the two different exposures. That worked better than the last time, but I am unhappy with the other aspects of the picture.
  • I tried taking two VERY different exposures and combining them. Then I even increased the shadows on the darker picture, which I think helped with the background (and suprisingly didn't seem to have an effect on the bottle itself). Next time I will try exposures that aren't so far apart. I think I specifically washed out the bright picture too much, leading to the lack of color on the table.
  • I will probably also try a different background next time. There may have been too much contrast in this since I got more sky in the picture than last time.

Here are the original two pictures if you're curious:

From Runners Up
50mm, f/2.2, 1/60s, no post-processing
From Runners Up

50mm, f/2.2, 1/1000s, increased the shadows a lot in Picasa

Well, live and learn! I may just determine that I actually need to buy Photoshop to do anything fancy like this (Picasa doesn't allow for as much adjustment as Photoshop), but I'm not willing to fork over that much money right now (I would need the professional edition). You can get it for cheaper as a student, so once I'm ready I'll probably take a class just to get it. :-)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March 16: Remake of Rose in Sepia

So I'm kind of cheating today. Ok, I'm not just kind of cheating. I am cheating. I didn't take any photos today. Thought about it, but didn't feel inspired enough to get out the camera. But I was reading on the about great black and white photos. So I thought I would go back to some of my old photos and see if any would look good in black and white. I started to sift through ones that I thought didn't look that great in color, but figured out that could take a while (I have a lot of not-so-great photos :-) ). So I checked out my recent Rose picture, which I really like because of the color. It was ok in black and white; I actually like it better in Sepia:

From Runners Up

  • Black and white (and sepia, as well) pictures need to have good contrast. This has pretty good contrast, except in the rose petals themselves. So I upped the shadows in Picasa on this one.
  • A lot of people commented on the reflection in the water in my original post. I think in this version it is a bit distracting.

When I started this project I wrote that I didn't plan on doing much post-processing. But here I am with two posts in a row where I did major changes in Picasa. Hmmmm...

Monday, March 15, 2010

March 15: Champagne

This is a bottle left over from our dinner party last night.

From Runners Up

50mm, f/2.2, 1/160s, ISO 200, no post-processing
  • I wanted to play with under and over-exposing a shot in front of a bright background, so I used manual mode with this.
  • This is the best shot I took in that it was somewhere in between being able to see the details on the bottle and not completely overexposing the background. I was disappointed with the result, and then I remembered that I noticed a superimpose option in the Collage feature in Picasa:

From Runners Up

  • Superimposing is something that I thought I had to have Photoshop to do, so I was super excited when I noticed this feature in Picasa. It is probably better in Photoshop, but Picasa is free afterall. :-)
  • Obviously this is something you need a tripod for, but you can see if the pictures were lined up how much better the result is than the first picture! I am definitely going to play with this more.

Mar 14: Baby Felicity

I am writing this a day late because Sunday was a fairly busy day. Ultimate practice in the morning, 12:30pm mass, home for a nap, then prep for, and the actual, dinner party. Our friend Emma who moved to St. Louis, and who recently had a baby, was in town, so we invited her and some common friends over for dinner.

From Runners Up

50mm, f/1.8, 1/20s, ISO 1600, no post-processing
  • Obviously not a very good picture, mainly because there was not enough light to get a fast enough shutter speed, and I didn't want to use the flash, as Emma was trying to get Felicity to sleep. But I wanted to capture at least some pictures.
  • I am bummed at myself for not getting the camera out earlier in the night (this was almost towards the end). Earlier I would have had much better light, a happier baby, and more subjects to shoot as well. I really need to work on remembering to get the camera out.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

March 13: Overgrown

I'm back! Well, at least for today. I'm feeling pretty good today, but I'm not quite out of the 1st trimester yuckiness. I'm in my 14th week, so any day now I'll get over it. Today is a beautiful day here, so I spent some time outside.

One of the blogs I read raised the question of whether or not you can take a good picture of chaos. I was thinking of that as I looked at my very overgrown garden. We've had rain at least once a week for something like the past month or so, which is pretty unusual for us. So I haven't even had to water my garden in quite a while. And since I've been feeling crappy, I haven't done any cleanup of the garden. The lettuce and brocolli has grown past the eating stage and is flowering. It's pretty neat to see what happens to them after they fruit.

Anyway, I think the answer to the question is that the only way to get a good chaos picture is to have one area of focus. Which, by definition, is a bit hard with chaos. So I didn't get a good picture that truly shows the chaos of my garden right now, but I was happy with the pics I did get.

From Runners Up

185mm, 1/250s, f/4.0, aperture priority, no post-processing

  • I like the mix of shadow and sun light leaves in this, it adds some interest to a some-what boring plant.
  • It took me a while, but I am finally remembering that if I have trouble focusing with my 70-200mm lens that I need to change the switch on my lens that adjusts the focusing for close distance versus long distance (<>3m).
  • And since I'm so delinquent, here's some other photos from today's shoot. Here is what so much rain produces: Lots and lots of WEEDS!

From Runners Up

185mm, f/4.0, 1/250s, aperture priority, no post-processing

  • Those are weeds. All of them. We are going to use a lot of vinegar on our yard this year.
  • I liked the effect of the old pot and new growth.
  • I tried using manual mode on this, but with the bright sun I couldn't see the readings in the view finder. I could use the screen on top of the camera, but I was having trouble aiming at the same time. Anybody have a trick they use??

From Runners Up

144mm, f/4.0, 1/1250s, aperture priority, cropped

  • This obviously isn't in my garden, but the rose did come from a plant of mine. (Which, funny, enough, soon after I took this picture, Keith came home with a dozen roses! Isn't he sweet?) I put this on top of our grill (with a black cover) so that I could get the blue pool in the background. I love how that turned out!
  • Since the rose is white a lot of my pictures did not have enough contrast between the petals. Which is why I chose this one and cropped it.
  • I was hoping to add a vignette to this to try it out, but apparently Picasa doesn't have that feature. Boooooooo.