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Old May 14, 2012, 11:39 PM   #1
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Default Week 10 of 52

One of the items on my ďto-doĒ list when I started the project was to take pictures in candlelight. I havenít played with this, the only flames Iíve tried to photograph were ones in the fireplace. So it was a new experience for me.

When my Mom moved into a small apartment, she gave me some things she no longer had room for. One of the items was a set of 3 oil lamps. I had always loved them, and so spent Monday night taking pictures of one of them. I would have taken pictures of all three but I discovered I donít have a funnel. I managed to get some oil into the big one without one (a struggle, to say the least) and proceeded to push the shutter.

The first series, taken before it was completely dark, showed up one thing I hadnít noticed Ė how dirty the glass was (if you want to see it, because it otherwise is a nice picture, itís here: http://mtngal.zenfolio.com/p487897818/e80ff1f5 ). By the time I had cleaned the glass, it was dark. I took pictures at various angles, and really liked the reflections in this one. (K5, FA31 for both)



Then I decided to try to get a really low-key shot, where the lamp was only somewhat defined. I spot metered off of the flame and got this Ė there are only hints about the lamp, from where the candlelight reflected off the glass. I'm not sure it's as effective as I would have liked - would love to know what others think:



One thing Iíve discovered is that it takes me a long time to experiment with low-light types of things. Itís not an area where I have a lot of experience so I spend quite a bit of time with trial and error. I got to bed very late Monday night.

With such a late night on Monday, I went looking for something easy for Tuesday. When I got home I took a walk around the block and liked how the evening sun (almost golden hour) lit these early spring leaves. (K5, Viv 105 macro)



Since I had a dental appointment on Wednesday, right before lunch, I stuck the K5 and (since I kept wanting something wide last week) the FA 31 in my purse. I was going to try to take some street photos but failed pretty miserably with that. Because I knew I didnít like any of the people shots, I also took some architectural shots as back-up choices. I ended up posting this one:



But now I think I like this other picture, taken at the same time, better. I took it at a weird angle and thatís why I ended up deciding on the leaded glass. Which one do you think I should have posted?



I got frustrated trying to get a half-way decent street shot, so I wasnít in a picture-taking mood on Thursday. Rather than try people/street photography again, I really played it safe and took a 2 frame stitched cityscape panorama. I wasnít exactly hand-holding, I had the gorillapod draped over a cement wall. My Ďpod has a small ball head on it that doesnít have separate panning control, so I was trying to hang onto the camera as I adjusted it for the second frame (the frames are 5 exposure HDR, the reason for the Ďpod). I didnít get it lined up right so I had to clone/patch the sky on one side. I did a quick, very poor job of it using CS4, since I took the CS6 beta off my computer (need the space). Iíll be so glad when I can afford to upgrade to CS6, I love content aware! (K5, FA31)



By the time Friday rolled around, I was convinced that I couldn't take a decent picture and I should just give up. But being somewhat stubborn, I put that thought aside and went about taking some more pictures.

Another item that Mom gave to me is a cut glass bowl. Iíve seen it around since I was a child, I donít know when or where Mom got it. A while ago penolta posted a picture of an antique glass plate that I thought was very cool. Friday I decided to try to photograph this pretty bowl. I played around first with a couple of other things but quickly decided that I wanted to do something sort-of along the lines of what penolta did. I used an old light table for the light source and put the bowl on top of it. Instead of trying to take a picture of the whole bowl, I chose to take a detail shot, and I thought the resulting abstract (converted to b&w with Topaz Labís b&w effects plug-in) was very effective. The glass is quite thick and until I looked at the pictures, I had never noticed the way some of the design is reflected in the deeper grooves. (K5, DA 35 macro)




While I was very happy with the bowl picture and had decided that perhaps I really could manage a good enough picture once in a while, I was still feeling uninspired Saturday. Rather than take a day-trip anywhere, I went to our local county park, which has a pond and lots of huge old oak trees. I wasnít all that happy with the pictures I took of the live trees, but I did manage some shots of the local wildlife.

I have no idea what kind of duck this is, I think it must be a transient as I donít think Iíve seen it in the past. If someone knows what it is, let me know. (K5, DA300)



While the focus on this picture is good, I found too many of my duck and geese pictures slightly back-focused.

When they built the county library across the street, they ended up cutting down a couple of the huge old oaks. Theyíve left some of the trunk logs for wildlife habitat, perhaps in the hopes that the woodpeckers might not keep putting holes in the living oaks to store their acorns in. The trees were pretty massive and I wanted to try to get something that would give you some size reference. As I was looking and thinking, this ground squirrel decided to use the stump as a stage and pose a bit for me. (K5, DA200)



There were 2 different trees, and as I was shooting through one of them (you could see all the way through it), I noticed that it was occupied. This little fellow seemed comfortable enough inside the log and in the shadow that I managed to take a bracketed series, since lighting was so difficult. (K5, DA200)



Sunday I adjusted the focus for the DA300, and went back to the park to see if I got it right. This time I only took the K5 and DA300. The AF is much better than it had been (no longer back-focusing) but a couple showed signs that I might have over-corrected a bit. But by and large, I was happy with the pictures I took.



The parkís pond is home to several geese and some volunteer ducks. I would imagine that a number of the ducks are year-round residents, like these two. They were on the look-out for hand-outs, lots of people throw bread to the birds.

Sunday was also the first really hot day of the season. This Golden Retriever obviously thought it was too hot and helped himself to a dip in the pond. Iím sure this is discouraged, but this elderly fellow wasnít at all interested in harassing the ducks and geese. When the dog put the ball down, I focused on it, with a vague thought of showing the abandoned ball or something. Just as I went to push the shutter, he shook, which I thought made for a funnier picture. I thought this picture was such a typical pose for a Golden Retriever, I could just see mine doing the same thing when he was alive. If we were out hiking and there was any water within a quarter mile, heíd find it! But I ended up posting the duck picture above to the project, thought it was also cute and a better, sharper picture.



And so ends another week of picture-taking. I found myself feeling less inspired and more ready to put off doing anything this week, Iím staying up later at night and the lack of sleep took its toll. Last week I thought I could see lots of improvement since I started this project, but this week Iím not so sure. Iím still having fun and hanging in there, hoping that Iíll really manage to do this for a year.
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Old May 15, 2012, 8:00 AM   #2
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Like the first candle and the bowl. The B/W is a very creative way to shoot that.
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Old May 15, 2012, 5:16 PM   #3
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Great picture of the squirrel. Looks like he/she is on stage...a natural bowl type stage ...
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Old May 16, 2012, 12:18 AM   #4
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Thanks, Paul - the bowl is definitely my favorite picture of the week. Don't entirely know why but it really appeals to me more than any of the others.

Thanks, Les - while the bowl is my favorite, I think the squirrel, taking a bow (more or less) is the funniest.

I forgot to say that one of the reasons why I posted the lizard photo is that while I see many lizards - or rather often catch a glimpse out of the corner of my eye - I never manage to get a picture of one. They move too fast and are too good at hiding.

Does anyone have a preference between the stained glass and the ceiling of the promenade? Or are both equally boring shots? I realize they are both rather uninspired, guess I'm done taking architecture pictures for a while now.
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Old May 16, 2012, 3:08 AM   #5
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Hi Harriet,

My favorites are the lamp, the bowl and the squirrel.

With the lamp, I think the exposure was right to keep the flame from blowing out (photographically, not physically). Maybe a reflector or some card stock could have given more definition to the lamp glass without adding too much to the exposure.

With the bowl, I think I would have pulled out a little to get the tips of the three large petal shaped cuts in -- but I'm not great at composition, so YMMV for sure.

I think the squirrel is a terrific shot, and your comment about it being onstage is right on target -- exactly my impression before I read the text.

You're doing well with your project. Keep it up!

Scott
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Old May 16, 2012, 3:29 PM   #6
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Scott - thanks for the idea of the reflector, didn't think about that. While the low-key shot is what I was aiming for, I don't think it made a particularly good photograph. I'll have to play around with the reflector to see if I can add a bit of light, without overpowering it.

I had thought about taking one more of the bowl, and did take others a little further out. The lines do weird things, they aren't as semetrical as the picture I posted here implies. I'll have to look at it again, to see if I could make it work without them looking rather weird.

Do you know what kind of duck this is?
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Old May 16, 2012, 5:54 PM   #7
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Thanks for you efforts Harriet, love the peek into where you live and how you view it.

Simon
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Old May 16, 2012, 10:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
By the time Friday rolled around, I was convinced that I couldn't take a decent picture and I should just give up.
Now, what is that supposed to mean? You need to stop demeaning my favorite photographer!

Seriously, the Westwood "panorama" is really nice - I'm glad you kept at it, and that on-stage squirrel photograph is classic. Couldn't be better.

That bowl is some piece of glass - a most complicated cutting. I am gratified that I could provide inspiration to you, and you did really well with it - I do like the composition - the arcs are positioned just right. If you try different exposures - reduced brightness or reduced highlights, you bring out more depth as well as more details in the lightest areas and get different effects. They remind me of some of Ernst Haeckel's classic black background illustrations of complex Radiolarian and Diatom skeletons.

Keep challenging yourself - it drives you to explore new areas and developing new techniques.
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Old May 16, 2012, 11:36 PM   #9
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Penolta, do you know what the dark duck is? I couldn't quite match it to any in my field guide. And thank you very much for the compliment on the bowl photo. I'm going to photograph it again, I like your idea of reducing the brightness some to see if there's additional details I might have lost, especially in processing it (I didn't adjust for having a mostly white picture so it was fairly grey originally. I brightened it some in post-processing). Take pictures of it in different lighting conditions - a light table originally designed to view dental x-rays (long story) is pretty bright, though at the same time, rather soft. Also, I want to take it from different angles, too. And there's another, deeper bowl that Mom gave me that I'll try photographing, haven't looked at it closely enough to see if it has as complicated a pattern.

Simon - I have a different sort of life compared to most Californians. There's an endless variety of things when you can photograph an urban cityscape at lunch and cattle grazing in the fading evening light on the same day.
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Old May 17, 2012, 1:16 AM   #10
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Harriet, the dark duck and the other two are what I call "mostly Mallards" as they are hybridized with who knows what - mostly domesticated ducks of Mallard stock (white Pekins are domesticated mallards).

Try a black background for the bowl under light from two or more sides and/or above.
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