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Old Jul 14, 2009, 12:09 AM   #1
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Default Weekend Hike, California Style

Mole constantly entertains us with incredible pictures of green Tennessee mountains and beautiful flowers and other plants. I get green with envy, but many of you might not understand why I would, living in California. So Sunday I went hiking, partly to see if heat alone was what was causing my K-7 problem and partly to visit an area that I hadn't visited in a year or two.

First, one of Saturday's morning picture (before the problem cropped up). What is it about thistles that makes me want to take a picture of them? They are considered noxious weeds around here.

Now to Sunday's hike:

The road to the trailhead is pretty, I always have to stop somewhere along it to take a couple of pictures:

This is about our normal green "forests".

We do have some tall trees. Notice the blackened bark but the fact that the trees are still alive. This area was burned several years ago in the Day Fire (the one that had us evacuated for 3 days). It's amazing how many trees actually are still alive, also how the brush, grass and other low plants are coming back.

But not all trees managed to survive.

Our corner of the world is well suited for recovering from fires, but life is still difficult. Trees grow where they can, even if it looks like an unlikely place.

Water is scarce so plants have to adapt. No beautiful waterfalls around us - this is the closest thing I can find within 50 miles or so.

Our wild flowers tend to be mostly small.

Animals take on the camouflage of what's around them, and that's mostly brown. This little fellow is a typical.

There were all sorts of butterflies around. I even managed to get a couple of OK pictures - they don't compare to Penolta's, but they are better than my usual ones. These weren't the only varieties I saw, just the two that were possibly recognizable.

I saw quite a few of these yellow ones (you can tell how much I know about butterflies - they are "that little yellow one" or the "sort-of whitish and black striped one" etc.).

This one is one I've only seen this once, I think. I was surprised I managed a picture of it, since it didn't hang around much.

A couple of these pictures are not exactly my best shots, but thought I would include them as they were appropriate to the topic. Any comments about them would be appreciated - I'm always interested in whether my likes/dislikes about my pictures is shared by others.

Thanks for coming on my hike with me. I spent several hours covering only about 3 miles - in other words, I was busier taking pictures than I was hiking. But I had a good, sweaty time (temperatures were in the 90s F). All pictures were taken with the K-7 and either the DA 55-300 or the Vivitar 105mm macro. The hike convinced me that the K-7 is a very nice, capable camera, I loved the HDR function and the exposure bracketing.

Mine is now packed up and ready to be shipped back for another one - while I could have returned it for a refund, I really like the camera and think its worth the expense for me, so I've asked for a replacement.
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Old Jul 14, 2009, 4:28 AM   #2
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Hi Harriet, a nice set of photos. Sharp, good colours. Particularly like the thistle. Did you use a dark backdrop? Thanks for sharing.
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Old Jul 14, 2009, 6:04 AM   #3
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Nice series, it's good to see nature coming back, No. 4 & 5 are my favourites,


My Flickr Photos

Pentax K-5 K20D K100D
Pentax DA 55-300mm 4-5.8 ED / Pentax M 200mm F4 / Pentax Tak K 135mm 2.5 / Pentax M 100mm F4 Macro / Tamron SP AF90mm 2.8 Di Macro / Pentax M 1.7 50mm / Pentax M 2.8 28mm
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Old Jul 14, 2009, 6:21 AM   #4
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Very nice..love when you take us along on your excursions! I really like the picture of the road to the trail head and of course the Thistle! Sorry to hear about your issue with the K7, but it seems to be taking great images all the same!
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Old Jul 14, 2009, 6:45 AM   #5
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Thanks for the hike, Harriet. I really like the thistle. And, I don't know what it is about them that I also like to take pictures of them. I was doing it Saturday in RI. And, I can still remember a shot I missed some 30 years ago up in the mountains outside Bakersfield where there was one right on the side of the road with a butterfly on it. But, my camera was in the back seat and we were about to be run over by a logging truck. We were on a dirt road similar to your scene above.

I'm sorry to here of your problems with the K7. Hopefully the replacement will be a different batch.

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Old Jul 14, 2009, 7:07 AM   #6
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Thistles are indeed lots of fun, even though they are a pest in the pasture or hayfield - such great textures! I especially liked the photo of the winding road - excellent composition and such layers that draw my eye in... Also the rich contrast and harsh textures of the whitened tree behind the blackened limbs - could look at that one for a long time! But all were great and give fine perspective on some very different, yet still lovely landscapes.
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Old Jul 14, 2009, 7:36 AM   #7
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I like the series Harriet.

The thistle is a wonderful shot against the black background.

The burnt trees with the blue sky background is also striking. All the pictures are interesting and well done.

Hope your 2nd K7 works out better for you. I am waiting till the bugs are worked out and more gets reported about the camera before I pull the trigger. I still love my K100D.

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Old Jul 14, 2009, 9:43 AM   #8
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Thanks, everyone for the compliments. The thistle was shot in the early morning, with the very bright sun shining on it. The background was dark pine trees and shadows cast by them, a very contrasty situation. I was interested to see how the camera's matrix metering would deal with this, and not unexpectedly, it tended to expose for the more expansive dark background and blow out the thistle. This one I used spot metering and metered on the green stem so the thistle was correctly exposed and the dark, distant shadows clipped to black, which is what I was more or less trying to get. I could have chosen a different one and shot from a different angle and would have gotten a brown background, but I wanted the high contrast.

Mole - I took a whole series of the burnt manzanita wood against the blackened pine tree trunk, some using various HDR techniques. I think this might have been one of the in-camera HDR versions. Like you, I was fascinated with it.

I'm not sure about the dead brown pine tree that you can see through the blackened manzanita (or other brush, but I thought it looked like manzanita). I think it might have barely survived the fire, only to be killed by something like the pine bark beetle or something like that. It's also one of the shots I thought I liked, but wasn't sure about.

I'm also hoping that Penolta will stop by and identify the two butterflies, especially the second one. I'm sure it's common but I've never seen one quite like this (that I've noticed) and I thought it was pretty.
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Old Jul 14, 2009, 10:13 AM   #9
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What is it about thistles that makes me want to take a picture of them? They are considered noxious weeds around here.
Could it be that they somehow address the sweet sweet melancholy, kind of desolation in us...as in the following lines of Poe in which both your thisle and lizard exists : )

Here, where the dames of Rome their gilded hair
Waved to the wind, now wave the reed and thistle!
Here, where on golden throne the monarch lolled,
Glides, spectre-like, unto his marble home,
Lit by the wan light of the horned moon,
The swift and silent lizard of the stones!

I too found out that photographing started to take more time than hiking on my hikes! Anyway, hiking is perhaps the best place one can bring oneself and one's camera, eh especially after the replacement!
Btw, (though I don't expect much) I would like to know if the on board hdr has any tolerance with moving objects as photomatix does through setting.
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Old Jul 14, 2009, 1:58 PM   #10
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That does seem like such an appropriate poem for what I was thinking as I was hiking. It's not like our mountains are an abandoned place of long-past glory, but rather that there isn't all that much there to begin with.

Back to cameras - the K-7 has no tolerance with cameras that move, I would assume that it's the same way with subjects that move. I posted my first attempt at in-camera HDR in another thread - it wasn't sharp due to a hair bit of camera movement (camera was resting on an uneven wood foot bridge and moved just a bit, because of my fumbling). I also posted another example taken with the camera mounted on a tripod and on a very still morning that came out much better, as were the ones I took Sunday on the hike (and tripod mounted).
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