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Old Apr 21, 2008, 5:03 PM   #1
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I took Friday off and went in search of more wildflowers. They are fading on the Gorman Hills, though blooming very nicely in near-by Hungry Valley. Even with two cameras with different lenses on them, I still missed getting a picture of a raven chasing off a red-tailed hawk because I only had the 50-135 on at the time, not the 300 (sigh).

I thought I was reasonably successful, though.

Gorman Hills:



Changed to the A*300 for this one:



Since there wasn't that much for flowers on that side of the freeway, I crossed over and headed to Hungry Valley, an OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) area. It has various off-road trails and protected grasslands (odd combination, but it seems to work reasonably well). Here's the "road" I was on:



I found out a couple of things on this trip - first, just how hard/frustrating it can be to take pictures when the light is flat - there were lots of light, high clouds so the light was constantly changing and not bright at all. I'm not sure I did all that well with it - it gave some unexpected results.

Second, I found a use for live view on the K20. As you can see, the "road" was a trail and only one car wide. I couldn't just leave the car to take pictures, in case someone came up behind or in front of me. So I turned on live view, rested the camera on the top of the rear view mirror, and used the LCD to frame the picture. I couldn't see it well enough to guess at focusing (I was using an AF lens, so it didn't matter) or white balance, but it was enough for framing.

Another shot in Hungry Valley:



Another fence in a different location. What was interesting to see was the difference a ridge line could make. Here's a picture that was a different fence than the one above:



On the other side of the ridge the terrain was almost completely bare - it had burned the year before and very little had established themselves yet on the hillsides.

Just to prove that I really did have two cameras - here's another poppy picture, this time taken with the K100 and the Vivitar 105 macro:



Finally, I decided to see if I could get a better picture using a circular polarizer. One of the things I found interesting is that when I uploaded this photo and looked at it on-line, it looked completely different than it had when I was looking at it in Photoshop. The colors weren't half as intense as they appeared in CS2. As you can see, the Gorman Hills are starting to revert to their normal brown state - the lovely wildflower display is starting to fade. Soon I'll have to go higher up to find pretty colors.



Moral of the story is - try the CP in the beginning, don't wait until you are on the way home to see what it does. It seemed to make a huge difference with the flat lighting.
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Old Apr 21, 2008, 6:03 PM   #2
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All I can say is, "Wow"! I love the last one with the polarizing filter. The zoom on the horse with the 300mm is great, also. All are superb.

I promised you some shots from our trip to the Poppy Reserve. I didn't forget. I'll get some posted soon. You make me wish I had a polarizing filter now, though! Time to get myself one. Or a few. I don't know if I'd get more use out of it with my wide angle or the telephoto end......
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Old Apr 21, 2008, 6:23 PM   #3
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Very nice perspectives on all! I especially like no. no. 5 for its excellent composition. I would add no. 2 to the list but I think itcan do with some straightening in reference to the vertical stakes in the ground.

Jay
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Old Apr 21, 2008, 6:40 PM   #4
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Did you bump up the saturation on that last one, or is that straight out of the camera and all due to the filter?
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Old Apr 21, 2008, 9:58 PM   #5
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#4 and #5 are my favorites - nice compositions. Difficult to believe that the wildflowers are fading in CA, while up here, our grass is just now greening up. Although I noticed some daffodils popping up in the neighborhood today.
Dan
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Old Apr 21, 2008, 10:22 PM   #6
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I didn't change the saturation, but did change the levels/histogram in Lightroom (could do the same thing in Photoshop, too). Polarizers sometimes fool the light meter and the two I took were a bit underexposed, so I adjustedthe lightest point and the darkest point (contrast), which really brought out the colors. The color saturation is due to the polarizer - it's so cool to look through one, rotate it and watch everything pop out at you. The sun does have to be in the right place, and the effect is stronger at higher elevations (you wouldn't have a problem with that!). I ended up buying one polarizer that is big enough to fit my largest lens - 77mm (that fits both the 12-24 and the A300), then got step-up rings for my other lenses - saves money as I wanted a good filter. The last one was taken with the DA*50-135.

I'm not completely happy with my post processing of these pictures - I think my monitor calibrator was confused and they don't look as good today as they did yesterday.

Jay - While I probably did rotate the camera a bit (I usually do), I don't think those fence posts are vertical. Those hills are quite steep, and I don't think you could have truly vertical fence posts and still have them have enough ground to grip. If you look a the first picture, you can see the posts start up the hill on the right, and as they go up, they don't look level compared to the ones on more level ground. I tried rotating the picture to have the posts vertical, and it makes the hill look far gentler than it really is. It does make the picture look better, but I don't think I'll change it.
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Old Apr 21, 2008, 10:29 PM   #7
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Thanks for the info! So, what polarizing filter do you have, specifically?
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Old Apr 21, 2008, 10:46 PM   #8
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These are awesome shots - can't wait to see them on my good monitor.

Mtngal, could you please explain, "I think my monitor calibrator was confused and they don't look as good today as they did yesterday."?
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Old Apr 21, 2008, 11:16 PM   #9
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They are all very nice, I love the 'road to nowhere' the 2nd fence shot is terrific and that sky is amazing.
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Old Apr 21, 2008, 11:37 PM   #10
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Yesterday I thought a number of them looked really too green/oversaturated, so I adjusted the white balance a bit to add some blue and redto tone down the greens. In a couple of them, I lowered the saturation of the greens, but now that I've re-started my computer, today the greens look flatter than they should - I really over-did it. I probably should have left them alone. I think the calibrator was confused - I had been using the laptop's monitor this weekend, rather than the big one, and I think the software was still correcting for the laptop's significant blue cast. My big monitor needs far less correction, and probably accounts for why I was having so much trouble, when I usually don't.

I have a B+W, which is supposed to be one of the better brands of filters. It's more expensive, but I've been very pleased with mine. I saved money by buying cheap step-up rings and will have to be careful with them - I think they are aluminum and very light-weight. The one thing you need to remember when using a larger filter and rings - you can't use the cap or the hood that belong to the lens since the filter is bigger than the lens opening. A minor point but one I didn't think about.
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