Friday, June 30, 2006

Abstract Masts

We had a fantastic day of sailing on Wednesday. I took my camera in hopes of capturing some images of a beautiful day. Unfortunately, there was enough haze in the air, that the photos I took of the mountains did not turn out very well. Would a polarizing filter help with that?

This is one of the pictures I took when we got back to the marina. There were several different compositions, but this was my favourite. I feel like I'm really having trouble coming up with interesting compositions these days, but I'll keep shooting in hopes that my creativity will return.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 25mm, f/8.0, 1/80 sec, ISO 50

Thursday, June 29, 2006


I couldn't get the composition I wanted. This fun looking daisy was growing in Bethany's garden and I desperately wanted to take its picture, but my equipment wouldn't cooperate. It's a long list of complaints, but basically my tripod is too tall and my macro setting has too wide of an angle.

I took a few photos of the daisy anyway, searching for a creative way of presenting this flower. None of the results were very appealing, but I kept them anyway, hoping CS2 would come to the rescue. I've been trying to avoid major Photoshopping, but for some reason this seems forgivable because it could be done in any of the free software that is available these days.

The blur was added because I couldn't get close enough to the flower with my tripod, resulting in a rather low-res crop. The blur covers up the low quality a bit, and hey, it looks nice too. I guess the point of this and yesterday's post is that although conditions may not always be great, you can use the flaws to your advantage. When life gives you lemons...

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/6.3, 1/25 sec, ISO 50

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Electric Orange

This picture is a bit of a cop out. I'm in a bit of a hurry this morning (going sailing with the famous Uncle Robert and Aunt Sylvia), and I didn't plan what I was going to share with you today. I have some decent pictures to show you, but I'm being indecisive, so instead you get another sunrise image (sorry Suby, better than a flower though, eh?).

I actually kind of like this photo. All that black appeals to me for some reason. I'm toying with the idea of cropping a bit more off the top, so that the amount of black at both the top and the bottom is exactly equal. I was really excited a couple of months ago when I discovered while photographing a sunset, that you can completely change the colours and mood of a sunset/rise by severely underexposing. Perhaps it is a bit gimmicky, but I think if the composition is strong enough, it can work really well.

When experiencing this sunrise last week, I became annoyed because there were so many power lines in the way. How can you have a nice nature photograph with all that electricity on the horizon? I once complained to the famous Uncle Robert about power lines. He told me I should use them, not try to avoid them. With that in mind, I created this composition.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 44mm, f/8.0, 1/500 sec, ISO 50

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tulip in the Nude

I chose this photo based on a continued effort to bring you photos that are without major processing. I have another version of this photo that was processed using the channel mixer and other such delights. I'm not going to let you see it. Well, maybe next week, if you're nice to me.

This photo was taken several months ago. To me, it symbolizes the progress I have made as a photographer. When I look at it now, I ask my self why there is such a large space of unappealing dirt in the background, just underneath the subject. Why didn't I lower my tripod a bit so that the green foliage was behind the flower?

I'll tell you why. Because at the time, I didn't know any better. I'm posting the picture anyways, because I still like it. If you don't like it, feel free to tell me. Just don't tell me you dislike it as a result of the patch of dirt behind the flower; that would really bug me. Any other constructive criticism is fair game.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 20mm, f/3.5, 1/30 sec, ISO 50

Monday, June 26, 2006

Grass, Barn, Mountains, Sun, etc.

Another photo from my most recent dawn outing. I was doing my best to find various compositions while staying in the same location. I didn't want to move because I was afraid I would miss that glorious moment when the sun finally makes its appearance, rising majestically over the mountains.

I'd be curious to hear your strategies for sunrise photography. Do most people stay within several yards of one location, or do they tend to take a few shots and move on? During my two dawn excursions, I have felt pinned down with fear and trepidation, knowing that there is only a finite amount of time in which the lighting is so magnificent. I don't want to waste all that great lighting and fantastic sky by driving or walking to another location, only to find that it isn't as good as my first position.

Given these fears, I did stay in one location for the majority of my time in Ladner. Attempting to find variety in my compositions, I tried ducking down into the grass. Without coffee, I didn't have my wits about me enough to try a variety of shutter speeds and focus options. Next time I try this, I will putting everything out of focus and use a long shutter speed and see what kind of effect I get.

In the meantime, this was the best composition I got while in the grass. I have the same photo without the grass, but I was curious to gauge your opinion on this one. Be sure to view the larger version, as the small picture seems a bit too dark.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 13mm, f/4.5, 1/125 sec, ISO 50

Friday, June 23, 2006

Up the Creek

Beside my desk there is a fly stuck in a bag filled with tissue paper. It makes a funny sound when it tries to get out. It kinda sounds like a cell phone on steroids. That was a weird thing to say.

When we were in Oregon earlier this month, Bethany took me to a beautiful park called Bridal Veil Falls. I brought my camera and eagerly took photos of a large waterfall and lovely river. I was feeling very intimidated because there were a few guys there with some really sweet cameras. Regardless of my dorky little camera and my feeble tripod, I endeavored to take some quality photos.

I had never taken photos of a river like this, but had seen some pictures of small rivers and creeks that I really liked. I'm having trouble figuring out what makes those images great. What can I do to better capture this kind of scene? Other than cropping a bit of the bottom off, this image has not been processed at all. I am particularly looking for photography tips, rather than processing help.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 9mm, f/8.0, 1/10 sec, ISO 50

Bike Butt

The response to yesterday's experiment was good enough that I'm posting another "risky shot" today. In reality, I was tired of posting photos of dawn and flowers.

This photo doesn't require much explanation. It has been sitting on my hard drive for quite some time. I liked the way the sun was reflecting off of the chrome. I know it kind of breaks my Photoshop fast, but I did the processing a long time ago. Besides, the only post processing involved was cropping and the vignetting.

I've included a second version of the photo without the vignette. I like the vignette version better, but it doesn't look very good on the web, I don't know why

Feel free to tell me this photo sucks; just make sure you tell me why. This is definitely an experiment, but I really do want to be able to create interesting compositions of a wide variety of subjects.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 67mm, f/3.5, 1/400 sec, ISO 50

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Stupid Lily Photo

See, I told you it would be stupid. On the weekend I mentioned to you that the more ridiculous of a position I am in when taking a photo, the more I feel like a pro. In the opening chapter of his book Photographing The World Around You, Freeman Patterson seems to imply the same, suggesting we begin to explore plants from underneath or (if it's a bush) from the inside looking out. It was with that in mind that I took this photo while lying in my wife's garden.

To be truthful, I chickened out yesterday. I was going to post this photo, but when I asked Bethany her opinion, the image did not get a favourable review. But today I have realized that it's okay to share my experiment with you. After all, this blog is to help me learn. I want to know how I could better compose a similar photo in the future.

Some will request a greater depth of field, specifically to accommodate that leaf in the bottom left corner. The lowest aperture I can achieve with my camera is f/8.0, so this is as much depth of field as you get. I actually kind of like it the way it is. I tried cropping out everything but the bulk of the flower, but I liked this best. As it stands, there was no post processing done to this image (except to clone out a stray twig in the sky).

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/8.0, 1/125 sec, ISO 50

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Not a Stupid Lily Photo

I normally like to change things up around here, but today I'm posting a second dawn photo. It was taken thirty minutes earlier than yesterday and I was facing southeast, instead of northeast. If that isn't enough variety for you, than you'll just have to trust that this is a lot better than the stupid lily photo I was going to share with you today.

The famous Uncle Robert has told me that the excellent light that sunrises provide does not last as long as the lighting conditions found in the evening. I have certainly found this to be true. I actually find dawn photography to be less peaceful - though perhaps more exciting - for this reason.

Knowing that sunrise photography is all about timing, I was rushing to my predetermined location when I saw this creek. I was anxious to get to my field, but I didn't want to ignore the opportunity to create this composition; so I slammed on the brakes (okay, maybe not "slammed", but everything seems more dramatic at that time of day), threw the car into reverse and hopped out with my tripod to capture this. Was it worth the minor delay?

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/8.0, 2.5 sec, ISO 50

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Panning for Gold

My wife has just noted that I was able to get up at 4:00 a.m. this morning "with zeal", while she normally has trouble getting me out of bed at 7:30 or 8:00. I would argue that there was no zeal. I woke up with what could be classified as reluctant anticipation. However, she is right; I no longer have an excuse for sleeping in regularly now that I have demonstrated that I can wake up at any hour I choose.

I attempted my second dawn photo shoot today, again combining it with a barn hunt. Today's location was Ladner, a small community with some farm land about 35 minutes from Vancouver. I arrived at 4:30 and walked through a farmer's field seeking a decent vantage point.

I found a suitable barn and lined it up between me and the sun and camped out for a half hour taking photos every few minutes. The photo you see here is actually four photos stitched together to create the panorama. Later this week I'll share a couple of the other shots I took from this field.

This pano may come across a bit blurry because it underwent some major resizing in order to upload it (it was originally 40 inches wide), but my copy of it is sharp enough. You may notice that the pole just to the right of center looks disjointed. That is a result of the resizing too (I think) because when viewed at a higher resolution it looks normal. Whatever the case, it is not a problem with the stitching.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 11mm, f/8.0, 1/20 sec, ISO 50

Monday, June 19, 2006

Rookie Dawn Treader Strikes Again

This is another image from a couple of weeks ago of my ill-fated dawn adventure. This has undergone some mild Photoshopping, but it only took me about twenty seconds to do' so maybe that doesn't count.

I found it extremely difficult to expose for both the sky and the ground, so I made two exposures, one overexposed (for the foggy ground) and one underexposed (for the sky). I didn't move my camera's position, so the processing was very simple. I just placed the underexposed image over the other and placed a gradient mask over the ground.

How do the film people take this kind of photo? This seems to be the only way I could get the correct exposure throughout the image. If you know how I can achieve this effect without the use of CS2, please be so kind as to share the technique with yours truly.

(I know the first sentence of this post sucked, [which is very disappointing because I really wanted it to be great] but that's what happens when you write this stuff first thing in the morning. Paragraphs within brackets cannot be blamed on the early hour [it's only 10:00 am after all], but are simply the result of this author having long since given up any pretense of being a spiffy writer. Why are you still reading this?)

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 10mm, f/8.0 (sky) & f/3.5 (ground), 15 sec, ISO 50

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Fuzzy White

Another macro today (still no Photoshop). I'd seen a few great photos of dandelions and I wanted to try one too. Plenty of opportunity, if you know what I mean. One of the things I enjoyed about making this photo was that I got to crawl around on the ground for a while. That always makes me feel like a real photographer. In fact, I need to learn to place myself in strange positions more often. I figure if people are looking at me strange, then I must be doing something right.

I am learning that an image sometimes has a greater impact if you don't include the entire subject. Placing the subject off center is usually wise, but if some of it is outside of the frame it seems to make it feel closer and creates a feeling of wonder. Or maybe I'm just blowing smoke, I don't know...

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/2.7, 1/500 sec, ISO 50

Friday, June 16, 2006

Fuzzy Pink

For quite some time, I have been trying to make photographs with selective focus. I have seen some excellent images that were taken through a veil of foliage, where the subject is the only thing in focus and everything else is severely blurred.

This was one of my earlier attempts, one of about twelve that I tried that day. It's not very good, but it's the best I've got. I think the technique itself worked pretty well here, but the composition is somewhat flawed. This would have worked better if the surrounding tulips were a different colour than the subject.

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

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Still Photoshop Free

Hi, I'm Tim, and I'm a Photoshopaholic. I've been Adobe free for seven days.

I have to confess that I was pretty cranky about some of the responses to yesterdays photo. I was upset because I am trying to go without Photoshop right now, yet many of you encouraged me to cave in and use the cloning tool. I nearly gave up. I nearly posted an image that had been processed to high heaven. But instead I will remain strong; for one more day at least.

Having said that, I realize that if I'm going to abstain from the fancy software, I need to do a better job with my compositions. The bird growing out of Pigeon Boy's ear was probably unavoidable, but in the future I will be attempting to only include that which is necessary in the image. The battle with mediocrity continues...

This photo doesn't really need explaining. The thing that fascinates me about this image is the perfect sphere that is the droplet on the right. Unfortunately, I couldn't seem to get it in focus . I learned that I could have used a slightly smaller aperture and still had a good bokeh. This is one of those weeks that reminds you, the viewer, of my status as "rookie". Sigh...

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/2.7, 1/80 sec, ISO 50

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pigeon Boy

I haven't posted a portrait photo on this site before. It's not really my thing, and I haven't yet learned how to make it my thing. Sadly, I'm in one of those creative funks (I'm sure we've all had them), and I haven't taken a photo that I like in quite some time. Bethany really likes this photo and suggested I share it with you, so here goes nothing...

One of the advantages of my little point and shoot camera is that it has a flip out LCD screen. Normally when taking photos I use the viewfinder to frame my shot, but there is one instance when I use the LCD a great deal: when taking photos of strangers. It's brilliant because I can be sitting nonchalant on a park bench, appearing to be minding my own business, looking at the pavement. In reality I have the LCD screen cradled in my hand with my lens trained on some unsuspecting stranger that I happen to find interesting.

I was able to capture Pigeon Boy (that sounds like a super hero) in this manner while at Granville Island this weekend. I know that the picture isn't perfect, but again, I am abstaining from Photoshop these days. I tried cropping it a few different ways; this version was the least disagreeable.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 47mm, f/3.5, 1/100 sec, ISO 50

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Bee Gees

Not much reaction to yesterday's photo. Strange, as it was my favorite of the series. Those who did comment seemed to indicate that their opinion of the image improved over the course of a few minutes. Everything is subjective I guess...

I wish I had my tripod for this shot. The top of the plant is sharp enough, but the stem is a bit on the blurry side. I took this photo for two reasons. One, I loved the way the light was peeking through all that foliage to highlight this little plant. Secondly, I had finally found a background that would work. Of course, I had found hundreds of plants similar to this one that were lit in the same way, but this one was far enough from the trees behind it that I could get a good bokeh.

One of the first things any rookie photographer needs to learn is that the background is often more important than the subject. If I don't take the background into consideration, I end up with a very low impact photo and sometimes wonder why. Obviously, when photographing a landscape this does not necessarily apply, but when taking photos of a plant, animal, or person, the background definitely needs serious consideration.

If the background is busy, with various different colours or shapes, it calls attention to itself and draws the eye away from the subject. It didn't take me long to learn this, but it is taking me a really long time to master the techniques I need to acquire the appropriate background.

Other than cropping there was no post processing done to this image. I'm trying to take photos that don't require any Photoshopping, but it's a real challenge (hey, film guys had darkrooms right). The challenge is good for me though so I'll keep trying.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 54mm, f/3.5, 1/60 sec, ISO 50

Monday, June 12, 2006

Nisqually at Dawn

This photo was taken about fifteen minutes after the highway shot, at around 5:30am, in the Nisqually Basin just north of Olympia. I must say that the lighting truly is magnificent at that time of day. I was amazed by the soft colours that appear in the western sky. Especially considering the fiery colours that were burning in the east, as seen in the previous photo.

In his books, Freeman Patterson recommends that I overexpose by one or two f-stops when shooting at dawn. I tried that on a few photos, but for the most part I found that the sky was getting washed out. Am I doing something wrong, or is it just my camera? For this image, I actually underexposed at touch in order to capture the definition of the clouds. I know that means that the field and trees are a bit too dark, but I'm okay with that.

I have been attempting to present these photos without any Photoshop magic. Other than cropping, the last four pictures that I posted were untouched. I should mention that I used the blue colour filter that is built into my camera on the foggy barn/brain shot.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 15mm, f/8, 1/20 sec, ISO 50

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Dawn Over Interstate 5

I'll continue to fill you in on my early morning misadventures from last Tuesday. After taking several shots of the only two barns I could find I decided to hop in the car and head back to the highway in search of a different county that would have a higher barn quotient. This was my second fatal error.

I had forgotten that Interstate 5, which runs north/south along the entire length of the west coast of America, takes an unusual turn towards the west in that area of Washington. I had been hoping that I could simply exit off the highway and immediately be in a position to point my camera eastward and capture the sunrise.

The problem, I discovered, was that it was nearly impossible to point the lens eastward without including the I-5 in all its glory. Keep in mind that I was very groggy, having spent only an hour and a half sleeping in the car, and I was in a hurry to capture the sunrise before it was over. Because of my foggy intellectual state I was not in the best mind-space for problem solving. The image you see here is the best I could come up with. Next time I'll be sure to bring coffee.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 58mm, f/8.0, 1/40 sec, ISO 50

Friday, June 09, 2006

My Foggy Brain

I mentioned that my early morning photo hunt was met with mild success. That may be a bit optimistic. I spent a few minutes last night looking through the results of my desperate search for the magical lighting that is said to exist at hours that are to fierce to mention. I found the images rather underwhelming.

My early morning excursion was more of a learning experience than anything. The one lesson that I learned was one that my Father-in-law has recited many times before: "You make your plan, you work your plan." I should have heeded his advice. My original intention was to wake up at 3am and drive to an area I had mapped out in the Skaggit Valley, photographing barns and the sunrise over the mountains. My propensity for hitting the snooze button caused me to alter these detailed plans.

Instead I decided to drive all night to a different location south of Seattle and then sleep in my car after choosing an appropriate area. All this to avoid rush hour traffic in Seattle. Silly, silly Tim! It didn't occur to me that I didn't know this area at all. It's pretty hard to find a new location at 2am with no moon. I woke up in the back of my car at 4am to find that there were only two barns near by, and that I was in a mostly residential area. Silly, silly Tim!

The photo you see here is one of the two barns that were near me when I woke up. I overexposed this photo in order to accurately represent the fog and the sky. I'll tell you more about my early morning blunders in the coming days. It was my first time having my eyes open at such an hour, let alone taking pictures at that time, so there were blunders aplenty.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/8.0, 15 sec, ISO 50

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


I apologize for posting so late today. Blogger has caused me considerable grief of late, and today was no exception. I regularly find that I cannot access my account, my site, or the comments page of my site. I am fed up with Blogger's flakey behaviour. In fact, I'm seriously considering taking this blog elsewhere. Any thoughts on this issue? I'd be curious to know if anyone else is having similar trouble with Blogger. Which host would you recommend for such a photoblog as mine.

This photo was taken about six weeks ago when I was at the park with the kids. I had taken many pictures of plants and animals while at the park, but I didn't like any of those photos. I found this lock on a metal panel on the ground and liked the rusty colours and the side lighting. My wife included this image on her blog last month, but I decided to post it here too. I'm afraid I forgot to take note of the EXIF data when I uploaded this, and I can't get it now because I'm in Oregon.

I'm travelling back to Vancouver tomorrow, so I may not have a chance to post until Friday morning. I'm hoping to be able to visit your blogs tomorrow evening. My early morning photo hunt was a mild success and I'll tell you all about it on Friday.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I don't do mornings...

Although you are reading this on Tuesday, I am writing it on Monday afternoon. I'm am writing it now because tomorrow morning I am driving to Bethany's parents' house in Portland. My intention is to leave really early in the morning. Really early.

I have been talking about early morning photography for a really long time, but I've never really done it. I got up at five once, when we went to the tulip festival, but we didn't start taking photos until closer to seven. Tomorrow I intend to wake up just after 3am. Sick, eh?

The famous Uncle Robert remarked to me last month that there are millions of sunset pictures, but a comparatively tiny number of sunrise photos. The implication, of course, was that it's much harder to be awake when the sun comes up. I'm finally going to try it, and I'm going to do it in Washington where the good barns are. Then I can photograph these barns in the supposed excellent lighting conditions that exist at that unholy hour.

The photo that I have posted is a representation of how I feel when awakened at an inconvenient hour. Believe it or not, this home is in our neighbourhood, only a few blocks from our home. It struck me as very odd, because we live in a decent neighbourhood, in a city that is seeing unprecedented construction of new dwellings. It seems strange that such a decrepit building could be left standing as the rest of the city is surging into the future...

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 14mm, f/6.3, 1/80 sec, ISO 50

Monday, June 05, 2006

Feeling Blue

My wife has been out of town for the last couple of days, so I'm not exactly on top of the world these days. I'll be seeing her tomorrow though, so there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Bethany accompanied me last week on a photo hunt out in Langley. I was specifically hunting barns. I love photos of barns and have wanted to try a few of my own. I tried some a few weeks ago, but I wasn't pleased with the results. I think the barns in these parts suck, so I'm going to go to Washington tomorrow morning and find some better ones.

I thought I was happy with this one, but now that I look at it again, I'm not so sure. It seems time plays funny tricks on me, changing my opinion on the photos I have taken. There are some that do not appeal to me at first that end up being some of my favourites. Others, like this one, seem to lose favour with me as time passes.

I'm not sure what to make of this opinion shift. Should I ignore it, adhering to my first impression; or should I interpret it as gained perspective, believing that there is such a thing as a second chance at a first impression? Anybody else ever notice this "opinion shift"?

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 18mm, f/8.0, 1/100 sec, ISO 50

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Sea 2 Sky

This photo was taken from the same road as Tuesday's image, just above the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. I actually hadn't intended to post this photo, but people seemed to like the other Sea to Sky photo so I figured you might enjoy this one too.

I was pretty intentional with the framing of this image. I tried another composition that made further use of the rule of thirds, placing the mountain range closer to the bottom of the picture space and leaving more sky above the sun. When I compared the two compositions I preferred this one.

I don't have much else to say about this photo; so instead of reading any more of my mundane thoughts, I recommend you take a minute, click here, and watch this funny music video. Don't forget to leave a comment though!

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/8.0, 1/1000 sec, ISO 50

Friday, June 02, 2006

Making the most of it

As mentioned several times this week, the weather has not been very good in these parts, presenting flat grey skies and cold winds. A few times I have attempted to conquer the elements by going on photo hunting expeditions regardless of the conditions. The results were varied.

For the most part I tried to compose shots without including the sky, attempting to take advantage of the diffused light. Not a lot came of that, though a few macro flower shots (such as yesterdays) turned out fairly well. The compositions that included the sky required a lot of work in Photoshop. I decided to use them as an opportunity to improve my Photoshopping skills.

I used post processing to intensify this image that was otherwise unusable. While this is not necessarily a perfectly accurate representation of what I originally captured, the original composition has not been changed. I like the composition and hope to take a similar photo when the weather is being more cooperative. In the meantime, this remains a Photoshop practice piece.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/8.0, 1/30 sec, ISO 50

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I Lost My Poppy

Last week Brent mentioned that red is very difficult to capture well. This is indeed true. I took several pictures of this massive red poppy and was very disappointed that there was almost no definition on the red pedals. I liked the composition of this shot, but as it was, it was unusable.

A little Photoshopping brought this poppy back though. Believe it or not, the textures you see here are actually very accurate, though they may look manufactured. The pedals of this flower are very thick and feel almost waxy.

If anyone out there has any tips on how to photograph the colour red and maintain well defined detail, please share. I tried several different exposures and never got the desired result. Photoshop worked, but what did they do before Adobe was around to bail us out?

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 42mm, f/4.5, 1/100 sec, ISO 50