Monday, July 31, 2006

One Sunflower, Hold the Sun

My internet is being rather flaky this morning, so I hope I can complete this task. Bethany has some sunflowers growing in the front yard. When I first approached it I was immediately struck by the interesting patterns at the back of the flower. In fact, it took me about twenty minutes before I ever brought my camera around to the front side of this flower.

This is a red sunflower, so the strange coloured petals are naturally that colour. This photo was taken at the end of a somewhat cloudy day. The light was already quite dim. I didn't bother with a tripod because it was pretty windy. I'm looking forward to exploring this plant more this week when there is a bit more light.

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

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Bowen Island Sunset

Bethany took me to a great little lookout point at Lighthouse Park this week. We enjoyed a picnic as we watched the boats entering English Bay. As the sun began to set behind Bowen Island, we both sat in awe as we saw the last rays of sunshine pouring through the mist over the mountains to the north.

I'm not sure of the best technique to capture this sort of lighting. I tried overexposing in order to accurately represent the misty quality, but the colours looked washed out. This probably would have been a good candidate for layering several different exposures, but the expansive scene required a panorama, so that just seemed like too much work.

I settled on a slight underexposure. It means I lost the details of the island, but I'm okay with that.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 28mm, f/3.5, 1/800 sec, ISO 50

Friday, July 28, 2006

Bethany's Dock

Yesterday I mentioned that Bethany had taken the best picture of the day. I don't usually bring her along on my early morning photo hunts, but I was happy that she joined me yesterday. She suggested that I post her picture on this blog, instead of hers, so here it is. If Suby & Sinem can share a blog, I guess I can give up a bit of my web space too.

This dock was right next to the pier I showed you yesterday. I love the quality of the morning light on the dock and piling. You have probably figured out that I have a thing for reflections, so that is just one more reason for me to like this photo. Not to mention the quality of blue at the bottom of the image.

As I have said in the past, don't be afraid to bring your significant other along with you every once in a while. It's always great to have them around, and the extra set of eyes can prove very useful.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 14mm, f/4.5, 1/100 sec, ISO 50

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Crappy Pier

I'm rather sleepy, so I'm going to keep this short; I want a nap. Bethany and I joined the famous Uncle Robert for a photo hunt early this morning. It was really just an excuse to hang out, and I didn't get many images that were worth keeping, but I look for every opportunity to practice with my camera. In fact, the best picture that my camera took this morning was taken by Bethany. Perhaps she will share it on her blog some time.

We stopped at a pier that overlooked a very peaceful portion of the Fraser River. The subject that interested me the most was the angles and lines of the wooden beams and railing. Unfortunately the railing was covered in pigeon crap, so I photographed the reflection instead.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 15mm, f/3.5, 1/60 sec, ISO 50

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Grass Practice

This was an experiment. I had noticed a city garden a couple blocks from my home that had some extraordinary long grass in amongst the flowers. After driving past it several times, I became determined to go and explore it. I say it was a garden, but in reality it was a space of only about 20 square feet beside the curb at the corner of a street.

Long grass fascinates me, so any time I see it I want to grab my camera and dive in. I like the way it flows in front of the lens and becomes almost transparent when I focus on a subject a few feet away. These dead flowers interested me, so I decided to focus on one of them while peeking through the grass. I'm sure the neighbours were mildly bemused to see a grown man crawling through the public garden.

As I said, this was an experiment. I was simply practicing the technique so that when a great opportunity presents itself, I will know how to get the results I want. Well, I think the experiment turned out well enough that I'm willing to show it to you. Besides, since the point is to get better at this particular type of photography, I could use any tips you may have for me.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 54mm, f/4.0, 1/40 sec, ISO 50

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Shadowy Slough

This is another image taken at Finn's Slough. As mentioned, the sun was pretty low in the sky, so the shadows created a bit of a challenge, particularly on the bottom half of most of the structures on the southern bank. I took this photo in an effort to get around that problem.

I liked the quality of the light that was on the top of this house, but because of the shadows I couldn't get shot that I was happy with. Then I noticed the reflection in the water. Of course, there were plenty of shadows to deal with in this composition too, but I believe the eye is much more willing to accept the shadows when the photo is more impressionistic.

I composed this shot so that the frame was divided into three distinct shapes. I also like the fact that the slope of the roof runs parallel with the lower bank. I added a mild watercolor effect with Photoshop. I felt that it aided the impressionism.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 34mm, f/8.0, 1/25 sec, ISO 50

Monday, July 24, 2006

Safeway, Sky, Subster

Last week the famous Uncle Robert remarked to me that people are too nice to me when it comes to commenting on my photos. Although I appreciate everyone's feedback on this site, I tend to agree with him. I would like to take my photography skills to the next level and Azhar has come up with a brilliant plan to help me do just that. It is called the Policy of Subster (see icon in right sidebar).

By abiding by this policy, I am inviting the most cruel critics to speak their minds. If you hate my photo, I want you to say so in no uncertain terms. The only thing I ask is that your comments are helpful. If you state that you don't like an image, please be so kind as to tell me why, and give me an idea as to how I could have made it stronger. You are allowed to like a photo, but I welcome your nitpicking too.

This photo was taken from the parking lot of Safeway, one of our local grocery stores. As I approached the store I began to appreciate the evening sky, but became annoyed that I didn't have a decent landscape or foreground to place in front of it. I grabbed my camera anyway, and challenged myself to come up with an interesting composition. I have been studying shapes a lot recently so I figured I would use this as an exercise.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 7mm, f/5.0, 1/125 sec, ISO 50

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Bike by the Dyke

The famous Uncle Robert took me on a photo hunt on Thursday evening. He took me to a very strange place called Finn's Slough, which is a very old fishing village beside the Fraser River Dyke in Richmond. It is a community of old (very junky) houses and boats that are inhabited by squatters.

Unfortunately, we arrived a bit too late in the evening and the sun was already a bit too low, creating severe shadows. We will have to go back later this year when the sun is setting further to the south, so that the shadows are not stretching across the width of the slough.

Because of the lighting conditions, I didn't have very many successful photos. In fact, I can't even claim much credit for this image. I was simply copying the famous Uncle Robert when I took this picture, it was his idea to photograph the bike in the first place. Imitation is the highest form of flattery though. Admittedly, it is a rather compelling subject. How often do you see a bicycle on a roof?

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 13mm, f/3.2, 1/400 sec, ISO 50

Friday, July 21, 2006

Looking up

Recently I got out of the habit of taking my camera everywhere I go. I passed up several photo opportunities because I didn't have my equipment with me. Today I was determined to get back into the routine of taking time out of my day to take a few pictures.

I brought my camera with me when I dropped the kids off at daycare. On the way to their school, I made a mental note of several locations that peaked my interest. I was sure to stop at these places on the way home. I didn't spend too much time, but even 30 minutes was sufficient for a very pleasant and peaceful photo hunt.

This was one of the photos I took this morning. Because I live in the city, it can be a challenge to find a composition that has an uncluttered skyline. This large chimney provided a composition with a unique perspective and lots of negative space. I used my new polarizer to achieve the deep blue sky.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/8.0, 1/100 sec, ISO 50

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Inside the Azalea

I love wet flowers. There is something magical about water pooling up on the petal of a flower. That is what attracted me to this azalea. I liked the way the sunshine was dancing on the surface of the water.

This is another photo from my archives. I like the composition, but I have always felt that the quality of the image was not quite good enough. This is another example of the colour red giving me a hard time. Whatever the case, I still love the way the water is collecting at the edge of the bottom right petal.

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Pacific Drift

This is one of those images that I like better when I see the thumbnail. When I view the large version of it, I become less interested. I don't know why that is.

I took this picture beside the ferry terminal the other day. I had a difficult time finding the correct exposure, as it was the middle of a very sunny day. It was a fun exercise in depth of field and perspective. It didn't turn out the way I had hoped, but I will probably try it again in the evening some time, when I can get a more even exposure.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 11mm, f/8.0, 1/80 sec, ISO 50

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Pink Tulip, Corner Pocket

Hey, this will be very brief. My brother Joshua and his wife Esther had a baby girl yesterday, so it is a busy time right now. We are all very excited.

Ya, I know it's another flower image. Tough. I have had this photo in my archives for almost three months. No Photoshop. I like it. Do you?

I told you this would be brief.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 72mm, f/8.0, 1/60 sec, ISO 50

Monday, July 17, 2006


I'm not sure what people are going to think of this photo. I like it and hate it all at once. I was just fooling around when I took it, so I didn't put in much of an effort. I think it could have been a lot better if I had been paying attention.

That said, I still think it's kind of cool. I had to boost the contrast quite a bit in order to get the white dandelion to stand out against the white cloud. I really like the perspective though, because it makes these look like giant flowers. They were actually quite tall, which made it much easier to obtain this angle.

I was going to yap about balance and tension (I've been reading about that lately), but I'm going to save that for another day. Just let me know what you think, and feel free to rip in to me.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/8.0, 1/320, ISO 50

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Sorry to post two flower photos in a row, but I really like this one and I wanted to share it with you. Actually, for the sake of variety, let's consider yesterday's image an insect photo.

This is another daylily from Bethany's garden. I have shown you a few abstract images of these flowers, but this was the first time I captured the whole flower in a manner that was pleasing to me. Again, I used the telephoto technique instead of the macro technique and I think it turned out very well.

This photo has not been processed in any way except for sharpening (and cloning out one tiny flaw). The overcast sky provided the perfect level of diffused lighting and allowed for a well balanced exposure with vibrant colours.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 72mm, f/4.0, 1/160 sec, ISO 50

Friday, July 14, 2006


Yesterday I got to spend some time in Bethany's garden taking photos. I'm not sure why, but I felt like I was getting better results than I normally do. My usual approach to her garden is with my macro setting. Yesterday I decided to change it up and use my zoom to get up close and personal.

I discovered that when using the zoom it is much easier to acquire the depth of field I require. The macro setting on my camera makes it very difficult to get a nice bokeh, no matter what the aperture is set at. As you can see in this photo, with the zoom I could throw the background completely out of focus.

The other benefit of using the telephoto was that I could observe the bees without bothering them. I had a great time snapping photos of this critter enjoying Bethany's passion flowers.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 72mm, f/4.5, 1/400 sec, ISO 50

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Fundamental Forgetfulness

I was actually able to get to one marina in Deas Slough. This reflection of boats on a rack interested me, so I tried a few different compositions. At the time, I didn't think I was going to like this particular photo. I wasn't sure about the ripples, so I waited a while for the water to calm down so I could take one without the disturbance. As it turns out, this one was my favourite. The ripples seem to add one more point of interest to a fairly simple composition.

Being new to the visual arts, I am still having a hard time remembering many of the fundamentals. Things like lines and shapes often escape my memory when I am composing a shot. Later, when I review my work, I find that the photos that I enjoy the most are the ones that make use of those fundamental design elements. I'm not sure how they got there, because I wasn't thinking about them at the time.

For example, this particular image interests me because of the way the circle (ripples) interrupts the horizontal lines of colour (boats). I would sound very pretentious if I told you I meant to do that. Instead, as I admitted earlier, I made a point of making another version that excluded this feature. Oh well, I guess that's why we take so many photos; that way we have options when we get home.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 29mm, f/8.0, 1/15 sec, ISO 50

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Deas Through Trees

Believe it or not, I actually took this photo while standing at the side of one of Vancouver's major highways. This is looking northeast at a small piece of the Fraser River, called Deas Slough. My original intent was to photograph the eight man rowing teams that practice in this area. I had imagined this ideal photograph of people rowing at dawn. I should have done my research though. It turns out, they can't row at dawn because the gated park that they launch from doesn't open until 8:00am.

That's why this photo is taken through the trees. Instead of being at water's edge, I was locked out and had to find a different vantage point. As it turns out, I didn't take many photos of this body of water. Instead I drove around aimlessly, stopping to take a photo any time something caught my eye. I had a nice time, but it wasn't very productive. Next time, I will do my research. Well, probably not.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 13mm, f/8.0, 1/320 sec, ISO 50

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Wide Load

There was some very good response to my daylily photo last week. I was feeling encouraged, so I tried a few more compositions with these awesome flowers. I had trouble being minimalistic when framing the subject with my camera, so I relied on cropping to create the right feel.

The beauty of displaying photos online is that just about any cropping ratio is acceptable. I presume it is better to stick with standard aspect ratios when dealing with prints. Having said that, I'm quite convinced that this photo would not have enough impact if presented in a traditional size. I guess this rookie is interested to find out if photographers ever print and frame photos that are cropped extremely wide like this image.

Oh, I also tried converting this photo to black and white. I was very pleased with the results, so I may post that version at a later date.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/5.0, 1/50 sec, ISO 50

Sunday, July 09, 2006

One Hundred

Today is post number 100 at Rookie Photographer Gone Wild. I got my first camera in March and fell in love with it. I've been sharing photos on this site ever since. I've had a great time and I think I have learned a lot. There are times when keeping up with a daily deadline has been difficult, but for the most part I have tried to stick to my schedule of six posts a week. The deadline is good for me anyway, it keeps me sharp.

Thank you all for your continued visits and helpful feedback. I have learned a lot about photography by reading your helpful hints and criticisms. I would most like to thank the famous Uncle Robert for getting me hooked on photography and giving me such a head start with some excellent advice and top notch literature. I should also thank my lovely wife Bethany, who has patiently accompanied me on many photo hunts, tolerated the alarm clock going off long before dawn, and put up with me hogging the computer for hours.

Feel free to look through some of my archives (see right side menu) and have a look at some of my previous images. I'd be curious to hear if you have noticed any improvement in my skills, or if there is a common weakness I could be working on. Also, I'd love to hear what your favourite image has been so far. I can only hope that my next 100 photos will be a vast improvement over these first 100.

For those wondering, today's image was taken this last week, in the same park as the dragonfly. This "sculpture" was erected in honor of Canada's 100th birthday in 1967. Sucks that there is crappy graffiti on it, but I guess there are dumb teenagers with spray paint in every city.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/7.1, 1/125 sec, ISO 50

Saturday, July 08, 2006

What Big Eyes You Have...

I went on a very brief photo hunt yesterday with Bethany. The only time we had was right in the middle of the day, so the conditions weren't great. That didn't stop me though because it had been a while since my last photo session. I had one specific subject in mind (which I will show you on Monday), but while I was studying various options for that subject Bethany was looking for other opportunities.

There were a couple of lovely gardens nearby. She called my attention to several interesting plants and then found three dragon flies basking in the sunshine. This one in particular caught my eye. I like his blue and brown camouflage.

I was very careful not to bump him with my lens, but as you know, I have to get very close with my lens in order to get one of the desired compositions. As it turns out, this guy was so intent on getting his afternoon nap, he didn't mind getting bumped once or twice.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 72mm, f/6.3, 1/200 sec, ISO 50

Friday, July 07, 2006

One Sunset, Hold the Sun

I have stayed away from sunsets for a while, so I figured I could probably get away with posting one today. I took this from Richmond in two months ago. I have a similar picture that includes the sun, but for some reason I like this one better.

Not much else to say about this one. I'll be out taking photos this weekend, so I hope to have a bunch of new stuff for you next week. Thanks for the comments on yesterday's image, I have one or two similar ones that I might share with you soon.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 72mm, f/7.1, 1/2500, ISO 50

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Hey, I'm back. Sorry about yesterdays absence, Blogger was acting up again. Bethany has day lilies growing in her garden. I saw them last week and was looking forward to photographing them. I was busy at the time, so I waited a couple of days before heading out to the garden, camera in hand. Much to my dismay, the lilies were gone.

Apparently, these flowers only bloom for a day or two and then they shrivel up. I was shocked and dismayed. Luckily, there were lots more growing so I only had to wait a couple more days before I got another chance.

I'm still trying to learn to photograph subjects in creative ways. In that spirit I entered Bethany's garden, tripod in hand, prepared to see the flowers in a new way. I tried a variety of compositions, giving my tripod quite the workout. I even had to take time out to clean my lens after I accidentally got pollen all over it. Most of the results were lame, but it was certainly a worth while exercise. The photo you see here was the best of the batch. It's still not quite right, but I'm getting there.

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

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


I am posting this very late today because I have been trying to find a decent image to share with you. It is becoming clear to me that I am developing a better eye for photography, at least as a critic, though perhaps not as a photographer. Due to my effort to always deliver a high quality image, photos that I would have shared with you two months ago no longer make the cut.

Now you are probably thinking this is a good thing. I, however, am thinking this is a bad thing. The problem lies in the fact that I can't seem to take very many photos that meet my new higher standard. Today I spent an hour looking through my archives looking at possible candidates for today's blog. I would open a folder and say "next"; open the next folder, sigh and say "next".

Based on a conversation I had with my Dad, I am led to believe this is just a part of the natural development of an artist. Hopefully soon I will come out of this horrendously limiting "self editing" stage, with the ability to take pictures that satisfy my new desire for excellence.

Oh yeah, the photo is of some girl I saw at the park a few weeks ago. I though she was cute, so I was trying to find an interesting way of framing her, using the playground. Do you think this works? I'm new to photographing people, so any hints you can give are more than appreciated.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 69mm, f/3.5, 1/100 sec, ISO 50

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Bolt and the Beautiful

I like the idea of this photograph, but I'm not satisfied with the execution. I've had this sitting on my hard drive for a couple of months. I wasn't going to share it, but your constructive criticism has been so helpful of late that I thought you could help me with it.

I looked at several different cropping options, but never found one that had the correct impact. If I were to take the picture again, I would try a couple different compositions, including one in which the bolt is centered, though I'm not sure that would work either. Another composition that could be stronger is a wider angle, setting the bolt even further to the left. What are your thoughts?

This photo was taken in Coal Harbor, North Vancouver. I was there admiring yet another location where mountains meet the sea. While looking up at the majestic scenery, I remembered to look down as well. I'm trying to learn to find the little things around me that we rarely take the time to examine.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 44mm, f/7.1, 1/250 sec, ISO 50

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Happy B-Day Canada

Today is Canada day. As a nation we are celebrating our 139th birthday (I think). In honour of our nation I am posting a photo that was taken in the United States. I guess I'm not very patriotic. I did look for a decent photo that was particularly Canadian, but I couldn't find one.

This is another image from my trip to Bridal Veil Falls in Oregon. There is a large waterfall to the left of these stairs, but I'm not satisfied with the way I photographed it. I didn't like this photo when I first saw it last month, but, after cropping it, I have changed my mind.

The depth of field isn't quite what I would have wanted. I climbed up a steep hill to take this photo, so I couldn't use my tripod on the hill. In order to get a fast enough shutter speed I had to open up my aperture quite a bit. Oh well, it doesn't bother me too much in this image.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/4.5, 1/50 sec, ISO 50