Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Oh Deer!

Thanks for the feedback on yesterdays photo. It did look a little dark, didn't it? The larger version seemed a bit brighter, but I think I will probably brighten it up a bit to be on the safe side.

I saw this sign while driving in North Vancouver and had to stop and capture it. I actually passed it, not paying too much attention. About thirty seconds later I gave my head a shake and said "was that an elephant?" I was curious enough to turn the car around and investigate. Sure enough, I had seen correctly. It's not artistic, but I thought it was funny so I figured I'd share it with you.

The skies are still grey here, but the famous Uncle Robert chastised me in an email from Korea this week telling me that "everyone shoots photos when its nice; the real guys do so when its sucky!" Therefore, I'm out of here. Today I'm going out to that magical place where the suburbs meet the country.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 53mm, f/3.5, 1/125 sec, ISO 50

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Another Mountain Shot?!

I have mentioned in the past that I find it very difficult to take powerful pictures of the Greater Vancouver area. It's not that the beauty of my surroundings gets ignored, it's just hard to view this environment in a new and creative way. I see tourism adds for our city and wish that I could take photographs like that. I'm not going to give up though.

This photo was taken from the sea to sky highway, which is the road that connects Vancouver to Whistler. There are several "scenic view" stops along the side of the road, so I stopped at a couple of them and grabbed a couple of shots. I think this stop is only about 20 minutes from Vancouver.

As I said, this photo has little impact on me because I see mountains and ocean everyday. I'm curious to gauge the impact it has on those of you from different parts of the world. Does it interest you, or is it just another lame mountain picture?

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 23mm, f/8.0, 1/160 sec, ISO 50

Monday, May 29, 2006

I've hit a Wall...

The weather has been so bad this month that I feel as though it's been ages since I took a good photo. It hasn't rained a lot, but the sky has just been a flat grey for several weeks. If the weather doesn't change soon, I'll be out of material to share with you.

Not sure what to say about this photo. I took it during a downtown photo excursion four weeks ago. I didn't get many photos from that afternoon that I was happy with and this is probably the last of them that I will share.

The image you see here is a reflection on the Wall Center, one of the tallest buildings in Vancouver. It is kind of an oval shape so the reflection is very unique and it peaked my interest. I'm not sure what building is being reflected. There is some post processing on this image, but the reflection has not been altered in any way.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 16mm, f/8.0, 1/30 sec, ISO 50

This is another view of the Wall Center and the building across the street, just so you get an idea of the shape.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Stop looking at me

This is breaking my rule of only one post per weekend, but it's not a real post anyway. Someone was curious to see the original version of yesterday's photo, so this is it. Feel free to comment on this photo if you want, but yesterday's entry is the one that counts for this weekend. This one doesn't even exist...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

A Piece of Crop

I don't know enough about film to know all of the advantages of digital photography. I suspect one of the benefits of digital is the ability to quickly crop an image into any aspect ratio you want. Sometimes I take a picture knowing that I am going to crop out a small portion of it. In fact, because there is no such print size as 4x3, I rarely take a photo with the intention of using every pixel.

Unfortunately, I think that this ability to crop can lead to laziness. If I'm not consciously envisioning the final product, I have a tendency to include way too much in the original photo. Often, however, even if I carefully frame my subject at the time of taking the photograph, I don't like the final product anyway. The great thing is that every once in a while I can still take a small portion of the image and use it.

This photo originally had mountains and a ship in the background, and it sucked. It was too busy so I cut out the competing objects and was left with just the wave hitting the rock. I like this version much better than what I had intended when I took the picture in the first place.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 32mm, f/8.0, 1/160 sec, ISO 50

Friday, May 26, 2006

Simple can be good

I like my photos better when they are simple compositions. I tend to forget that when I'm taking the pictures. I need to remember to very carefully frame my subject, only including what is necessary and excluding the clutter.

Does a photo have to tell a story, or can it just be a pleasant image? Is this a pleasant image? I think so, that's why I took it. I don't know that it evokes any emotion in the viewer, but I think it's nice to look at. Perhaps that's all that counts.

I took this photo a couple of days ago when hunting for material out in the country. (I say the 'country' but I really mean the small amount of farm land that is yet to be swallowed up by suburbia.) I didn't get many images that I liked, but I decided to Photoshop this one a bit and gauge your reaction. I made the sky and the barn darker using curves and a saturation boost.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 21mm, f/8.0, 1/250 sec, ISO 50

Thursday, May 25, 2006

You decide

I'm really trying hard to learn to see things from a different perspective. Today's photo is the result of one such exercise. This is the same clematis that was featured a few days ago as seen from underneath. My wife and I disagree on this photo. Bethany doesn't like it, I do. Do you like it?

Again, I purposely underexposed, in order to get the sky the right colour. I think the flower looks better underexposed too. Although I was very intentional in my composition when I took this picture, I cropped the edges off this photo to get it to a manageable aspect ratio.

I ended up making this image even darker than it was. I have noticed that I much prefer a photo that is dramatically underexposed. Regardless of the metering mode, the auto exposure on my camera regularly gives me an image that is too bright for my liking. I usually find myself manually changing the aperture and shutter speed. Even then, I sometimes decide to make a photo darker in Photoshop. Is that common?

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/6.3, 1/100 sec, ISO 50

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Re-tread 1

I'm a bit short on time today, so I'll take this opportunity to post a revision of something I shared with you last week. Suby caused quite a stir (as he likes to do) when he chastised me for posting an unfinished work. I have responded by making some improvements and hopefully strengthening the image.

I cropped the photo in two different ways and took out the bothersome shadow. I have posted the two versions in separate entries because the website doesn't seem to allow you to see large versions of two photos in the same post. What are your thoughts?

I'll be back to original material tomorrow.

Retread 2

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Inspiration, wherefore art thou?

I'm feeling a little short on material today. Lots of pictures, zero good ones. This one is okay, I guess. I took this photo while walking on the beach with Bethany last month. I took many mediocre pictures that day. I was ticked when I got home and discovered that I had somehow set my camera to a lower resolution, meaning that my already mediocre images were of a sub-par quality.

This photo was taken from a dock, looking east towards downtown (the west end). It was a really cold April day, as evidenced by the fresh snow seen on the trees at the top of the mountains.

I am always interested to see photos that document other cities, but it's hard to capture an image that has an impact on me when taking photos of the city that I live in. Vancouver is said to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Why can't I figure out how to capture such beauty on film (yeah, I know it's not film, but you know what I mean). Tomorrow I will take a drive through the country. Perhaps inspiration will hit me there.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 18mm, f/8.0, 1/200 sec, ISO 50

Monday, May 22, 2006

Ma's Clematis

People seemed to like my flawed photo of the water on the peony a couple of days ago, so here is another "Flower: Up Close and Personal" image. I think this is a clematis. It was growing in my in-law's back yard, so I snapped a few shots when I was down there last week. I will probably share one more with you later this week.

I have decided that I like this photo, though there was much deliberation. I was very intentional about composition, using the rule of thirds when I composed the shot so I wouldn't have to crop it later. The shallow depth of field was simply out of necessity in order to get the correct exposure, but I like the result.

I was without my tripod again, so I had to underexpose in order to get a sharp enough shot. The exposure was then slightly adjusted in Photoshop, bringing out the highlights in the background. I know there is noise, and I did think about removing it, but I like it.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/2.7, 1/100 sec, ISO 50

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Trippy Trees

Recently, I have been trying a fun trick that the famous Uncle Robert showed me. I have been using long exposures and camera movement to create strange abstract images. This is one of my attempts. I zoomed in on some tree branches and moved my camera down after pressing the shutter.

Because the highest f-stop my camera is capable of is f/8.0, I cannot use as slow a shutter speed as I would like. I also have to find very dark conditions for this effect. Even then, the image is always in need of some serious tweaking in Photoshop. This photo was duplicated on top of itself seven times, each with the blending mode set to 'multiply'. I like the result. What do you think?

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 33mm, f/8.0, 1/4 sec, ISO 50

Friday, May 19, 2006

Blurry, but Good?

I took this picture in the middle of a very sunny day while in Oregon this week. While the conditions were not exactly ideal, this peony (I think that's what it was) had just been watered and I liked the way the beads of water looked on the flower pedals. The photo didn't turn out as well as I would have liked, but I thought I would share it with you anyway.

I didn't have my tripod with me, so I wasn't able to get the exposure I wanted. I would have liked to have more of the subject in focus, but, as we have previously discussed, my camera can't do it. I sharpened it in order to compensate. The dimensions of the crop are perhaps a bit odd, but I wanted to crop out any distractions such as leaves and the background.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/5.6, 1/160 sec, ISO 50

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Battling Mediocrity

Do you ever have a photo that isn't that good, but you keep coming back to it for some reason? This is one such image. I don't know why, but I regularly get sucked into a rescue attempt with this photo. I know it's not destined for greatness, but I try to convince myself that I can find it's hidden potential and bring it out.

I have tried cropping it in every way imaginable. I have attempted most of the funky special effects that are described in "The Photoshop CS2 Book" by Scott Kelby. I have tried both black and white, and duotone. Nothing seems to work. So why do I keep coming back to this mediocre picture?

The way you see the photo here is directly from the camera. I said that I tried every trick in the book, but the results were always disastrous. Any suggestions? I need the strength to throw this photo out if it needs to be junked, so don't hesitate to encourage me to send it back from whence it came. Is there anybody else that has had to fight this battle with mediocrity?

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 72mm, f/3.5, 1/60, ISO 50

Musings on Monitors

Being in Oregon has drawn my attention to an issue that I hadn't given much thought to previously. Namely, monitors. Earlier this year Bethany and I bought a new 19" LCD monitor. Today I am working on my mother-in-law's laptop. The images look very different to me on this display. I now realize that some images that I find stunning because of their clarity and colour on my monitor at home, have less of an impact on other displays. All I can say is that if you are at all serious about viewing or editing photography, make sure you have a good monitor, because it plays a big role in your experience.

I'm not normally one to toot my own horn, but I have to admit that I really like this photo. I took it when we went to the tulip festival in Washington. There was a pile of crates at the edge of the field and was able to take several different shots of the crates. This is my favorite, though I may post another one soon. To be perfectly honest, I did end up adjusting this photo slightly. I sharpened it a touch and then darkened it a bit (not much) so the background was not a distraction. Some of the background was cropped off the right side.

Is it awful to enjoy your own work every once in a while? I'm normally the self-deprecating type. I think it's dangerous to like your own photos too much because any criticism may crush you. I'm trying to develop a critical eye, so please forgive my ramblings. Criticize away...

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 46mm, f/3.5, 1/100, ISO 50

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Bricks and Flag

Yesterday's photo caused quite the stir. While I respect Suby's opinion that I should always do the work required, I do have an excuse. I'm away from home all week. I'm without my precious Photoshop, so I'm stuck with what I've got, finished product or not. It's interesting that people seem interested to see the final edition of yesterday's photo. I'll work on it over the weekend and post it again next week.

Today's photo was taken when I was downtown a couple weeks ago. I don't know what this building is, or why it interested me, but it did. I think it was just refreshing to see a red brick building amongst all the steel and glass. I know it doesn't necessarilly have a wow factor, but I like this photo because of the shadows and reflections on the wall and windows. I think the flag is a nice touch too. What do you think?

Tomorrow I will be posting one of my favorites. Stay tuned...

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 28mm, f/5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO 50

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Out of the Rust

The famous Uncle Robert pointed out on Friday that there are a million 'sunset' photos, so the wow factor is very difficult to obtain with such images. I think I will try to get back to finding the fascination in the things that normally escape our attention. I hope this image obtains that objective.

I found this little guy (I don't know what kind of vegetation it is) in a shipyard a couple of weeks ago. I like the way he is poking out of the rusty metal beam. I normally don't think too long about why I want to take any particular picture, but this time I did. I liked the new growth coming out from behind old junk. I have actually tried a few photos along this theme, but this was the first time I was satisfied with the results. I also liked the diagonal line that the beam creates and the fact that there are essentially only two colours, green and orange.

There are a few things that should probably be edited in this image, but I haven't really got time. As it stands, I sharpened the left side of the photo and adjusted the exposure just a touch. Bethany and I are heading down to Oregon for a few days to see our new nephew, Benjamin. I'll try to post each day that we are there, but no promises.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 42mm, f/5.0, 1/80 sec, ISO 50

Selective Focus

My camera has it's limitations. I don't know if my wife believes me, but it's true. When I took this photo, I tried several different ways of getting the smaller droplets of water on this blade of grass in focus. The only way I could do it was to bring the background into focus as well, and that looked crappy. I don't know if an SLR would have been able to do what I wanted for this shot, but I wish I had one so I could find out. That's probably enough hints for my wife, so I'll move on.

As it turns out, I like this photo just the way it is. I think the one large drop of water is fascinating, and stands out from the others because it is the only one in focus. Don't tell Bethany, but I think this photo turned out well because of my camera's limitations. I cropped this photo slightly, so that the blade of grass would be positioned perfectly. The image was also sharpened a bit. Otherwise, it's all natural.

By the way, I'm just teasing my lovely wife about the equipment issue. I love our camera and am very happy to have it. I hope to continue to push the boundaries of our point and shoot.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/2.7, 1/125 sec, ISO 50

Friday, May 12, 2006

Can't Decide

I like this photo too much. I can't decide what direction I want to take it. Sometimes when I look at it, I am convinced that the sunny portion of the photo is overexposed. Other times, I am satisfied with the exposure. I tried processing the photo to underexpose the sun, but I'm posting the original. I think I like it best. Maybe not. I don't know.

This picture is already slightly underexposed. I took a series of photos of the sunset last weekend, underexposing most of them for effect. There were several that turned out quite well that I will be sharing periodically over the next few weeks.

The other decision that I had difficulty with was cropping. The version you see here was not cropped at all. I tried cropping the top off so that it was a horizontal rather than vertical perspective. After trying that, I realized that I had taken some photos with that perspective already, and the reason I liked this photo in the first place was because of the expansive sky at the top of the image. Silly fool.

Enough of my rambling. What are your thoughts? Too bright at the bottom? Perhaps I will post the other version of this as well. On another note; does anyone know why Blogger refuses to put two spaces after a period?

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/2.7, 1/200 sec, ISO 50

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Wet Stuff

Not much response on yesterdays photo. I'm not sure if that's because people didn't like it or traffic is down significantly on my site these days. I'll have to look into that.

This was one of the photos that I took on Friday and waited until Monday to view. Those of you from the days of film might laugh, but it was really hard to wait that long to see my photos. When I did finally have a look, I was immediately pleased with this photo. I had taken several shots of various plants after the rain. Some turned out well, others did not. I like this one. There is no focal point, but I think it has a nice texture to it. What do you think?

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 52mm, f/4.0, 1/80sec, ISO 50

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Sorry I missed yesterday. I tried to post this photo yesterday, but there was a problem with the site and I couldn't log on. Thanks for your help with Monday's photo, there were some helpful suggestions, but people seemed to like the concept.

Today's photo was taken downtown last week. I manipulated the image because I found that when in colour there was too much clutter competing for attention. I tried it in b&w, but found the same problem.

I created two versions of this photo, one with an ultra sharp background and the one you see here, with a blurred background. I think like this background because, again, it keeps the focus on the subject. Having worked on this photo for a little while, the impact of this man's face has worn off on me. I'm interested to hear your first reaction. To be perfectly honest, I found this rather heart breaking when I first saw it. Your thoughts?

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 72mm, f/3.5, 1/80 sec, ISO 50

Monday, May 08, 2006


Thanks for the comments on yesterdays post, I always appreciate it when you take the time to give me thoughtful feedback. I don't have much to say today. I took this photo while downtown last week. I really like it, but I'm not sure why. It is very simple, but I think it works. Is this considered an abstract? I know that it can be difficult to make a meaningful comment on pictures like this, but I am quite curious to gauge your reaction. Feel free to leave a very simple comment, stating whether or not you like it.

I took a whole bunch of photos over the last three days. I have been exercising self-discipline by not looking at any of them. I promised my self on Friday morning that I wouldn't look at my new work until at least Monday morning, and I made it. I am hoping that the delay in viewing them will cause me to appreciate the good ones more, perhaps having forgotten that I ever took them. Having said that, it's killing me not to see them. I think I will probably have to have a look this morning. Cheerio!

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/8.0, 1/250 sec, ISO 50

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Enough with the Gulls Already

I have a problem. I take too many pictures. I take pictures of dumb stuff all the time. Maybe it's a common ailment, but I assume that it usually afflicts rookie photographers rather than the consummate professional. One of the side effects of this "shutter diarrhea" is that when you live on the coast, you take way too many photos of seagulls. I'm so tired of seagulls. So why do I keep doing it? Like I said, it's a sickness.

Today's photo was taken from the same place as Friday's photo. I turned around and this stupid bird was looking at me in a sinister way that said, "Come on, I know you want to take my picture." This gull obviously knows a rookie photographer when he sees one. I gave in and took his picture, despite the fact that I already had a lot of pictures of gulls. I'd love to be able to tell you that I haven't taken any photos of this hideous beast since then, but you and I both know I'd be lying.

All that being said, I actually kinda like this photograph. I think I like the overall blue tone. Other than cropping, this is straight from the camera. Looking at it again, I realize it needs a bit of straightening, but that's life. What do you think of the photo? Is there anybody else out there that suffers from being just a bit too trigger happy with their camera?

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 46mm, f/3.5, 1/15sec, ISO 50

Friday, May 05, 2006

Rain on the Straight.

This is another shot of rain falling in the Georgia Straight, as seen from West Vancouver. I had trouble cropping this because I love both the sky and the ocean in this photo. What do you think? Very little photoshopping done here (in accordance to yesterdays helpful comments), just cropping and slightly adjusting the exposure level.

Thank you all for your help yesterday. I took your advice and went out and took some photos just for fun this morning. So far, I have resisted the urge to even look at any of this morning's photos. Perhaps if I just enjoy taking them for a few days, I'll appreciate the photos more when I finally take a look at them.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 11mm, f/8.0, 1/8sec, ISO 50

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Long Post (please read)

Wow folks. I'm having a lot of trouble with this photography thing these days. I've got a truck load of pictures that I have taken over the last few weeks. I'm sure some of them are very good. For some reason, however, I don't like any of them enough to share them with you.

I think my problem originated last week when I bought a book about Photoshop CS2 by Scott Kelby. The book is a fantastic introduction to the program, teaching my about every technique I have wanted to know about. Problem is, now when I look at my photos, all I can think is that I could make them better with a bit of tweaking. The second problem is that I don't have time for tweaking, keeping up my blog, continuing the 450 page CS2 book, and checking out the other photoblogs.

Traffic on my blog has been down this week, with fewer comments than normal. I presume this is a combination of me not visiting all the other sites I normally frequent and because my photos this week have been lame. Well, today is no exception.

Today's photo is of some fern I found in a garden downtown yesterday. I haven't Photoshopped it at all (it needs it), it is direct from my camera to you. I can't promise anything better for tomorrow, but I will try. Sorry for the long post, just getting my frustrations out I guess...

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 56mm, f/3.5, 1/160 sec, ISO 50

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A Tulip's Demise

I'm reading a book by Freeman Patterson about nature photography. One of the things that he talks about is taking pictures of both life and death. The tendency for me is to want to only photograph the lovely looking things. Patterson encourages photographers to include photos that will tell the complete story of the circle of life (okay, he didn't word it quite so Disney like).

This is one of my attempts at photographing death. This flower was on the path between tulip fields when we were at the tulip festival last week. It had obviously been stepped on and driven over, but it caught my eye.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 36mm, f/8.0, 1/25 sec, ISO 50

Monday, May 01, 2006

Poor Man's Velvet

When we were at the tulip festival last week we saw a lot of different tulips, but I didn't see any that looked like this. This flower was growing in my wife's garden. It's fascinating, and funny looking. I think I captured it a little past its prime, but it's still pretty neat.

Last week I observed the famous Uncle Robert using a piece of black velvet cloth to create a nice background for his macro shots. I don't have a fancy piece of velvet, but I wanted to try the technique anyway. I did have my wife's black coat, so I hung it on my tripod behind this funky tulip. As it turns out, that looked stupid. However, it did make it easy to create a mask on Photoshop, and then insert my own black background.

I sharpened this photo, but I'm still not happy with some of the edges. More sharpening didn't help. Any hints?

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/3.5, 1/80 sec, ISO 50