Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I'm Out Of Here

Hey folks, Bethany and I are headed out on a much needed vacation. We'll be gone for a week, as we explore some of the beauty that the province of British Columbia has to offer. I'll have my camera with me, so hopefully I'll return with some great photos.

This photo hasn't been sharpened or anything. I was in a hurry, so this is all you get. I figured an empty chair would be an appropriate image to place here during my absence. I'll be back in a week. Cheerio...

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 9mm, f/6.3, 1/60 sec, ISO 100

Monday, August 28, 2006

Neon Dahlia

As you may be aware, I have made a mild effort to stay away from Photoshop over the past few months. I have mainly used it as a tool to clone out unwanted objects and apply some sharpening. The main reason for this is because I want to demonstrate what can be done with the average person's equipment, such as a basic point and shoot camera and limited editing software.

With this in mind, I am posting this silly shot of a dahlia that I found in Bethany's garden earlier this month. I took this photo very late in the evening when she was watering the plants. This dahlia was a somewhat new flower, so it was just opening. I think it looks a lot cooler at this stage than when it is fully open.

There wasn't nearly enough light for photography by this point in the evening so I tried using my flash. I liked the way it reflected off the beads of water that were clinging to the flower. I thought I would demonstrate a very basic effect that can turn out kind of cool every once in a while and can be done on any cheap or free editing software. All I did was boost the contrast to about +60. Normally I would consider this on par with a lame parlor trick, but in this case I thought it worked pretty well. That hot pink gets me thinking about 1990...

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 69mm, f/8, 0.5 sec, ISO 50, flash

If you're curious, this is the original photo...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

My Birthday Rocks

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my family and friends, who contributed to a most wonderful birthday gift. Bethany made me an SLR jar. What is an SLR jar, you ask. It is like a piggy bank for grown ups who have their eye on a fancy pants camera, but don't yet have the budget required to obtain such a toy. The beautiful part about it is that my friends and family all helped to prime the pot. Thanks to their generous gifts, I am about halfway to a new camera (probably the Canon 30D). It blesses me so much that my loved ones have been so supportive as I explore this strange new hobby of photography.

I look forward to obtaining an SLR some time next year, but in the meantime, I will continue to test the limits of my beloved point and shoot. I know that there is still so much to learn about composition, and that can be done with any camera. I am very grateful to the famous Uncle Robert, who continually challenges me to improve and reminds me that it's not the camera, but the man behind the camera that makes a great photograph.

I normally opt for variety, but your comments regarding "photos wherein the sun is close to the horizon" interest me a great deal. I would like your feedback on this photo, particularly in comparison to the similar sunrise I posted the other day. I suspect people will like the other one better. People seem to respond more emotionally to bolder colours. However, I think I might like this one better. I think it's refreshing to see an image that has been overexposed on purpose. I'm interested in your opinion regarding the composition and the exposure. Are you still reading this? Wow, you're a trooper.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/8, 1/6 sec, ISO 50

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Spanish Sunrise

A couple of days ago we discussed whether or not sunset photos are lame. Today I'd like to pursue a similar discussion about sunrises. It feels like they are less lame because it takes much more effort to photograph a sunrise. A certain level of commitment is required in order to get out of bed and drag your sorry carcass to a predetermined location. Sunsets happen at a much more convenient time of day, thus lowering their intrinsic value.

This photo was taken from Spanish Banks East, a beach in Vancouver only a half a kilometer west of where I took the aforementioned sunset. I was at the beach with Bethany and my parents earlier this week, when I noticed that this section of the beach juts out a bit, providing an unobstructed view of downtown. I immediately decided that this would be my next location for a dawn photohunt.

This photo was underexposed for effect, in order to capture the deep golden and blue colours. I included the foreground in order to give a sense of depth and perspective. The back lighting and underexposure leaves everything but the sky and sea as a silhouette.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/8, 1/500 sec, ISO 50

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Koerner 2

This is an update of today's photo. The famous Uncle Robert recommended a little Photoshop TLC, so I did a bit of work on it. I gave the lamp a growth spurt and adjusted the lighting a bit, reducing the shadows and highlights. I forgot to give this version the web sharpening treatment I usually do, but I'm too lazy to change it now. See the previous post for the original.

Scouting Mission

Last week I went on a scouting mission to the University of British Columbia. No, I'm not going back to school, I was scouting for a future photohunt. I have been looking for new places to take early morning photographs. It has been well documented on these pages that it is best to have a very specific location in mind when working during early morning hours. There is no point in wandering the city aimlessly at 5:00 am, looking for a decent composition.

With that in mind, I wandered over to the UBC campus, hoping to find some inspiration. The light was bad because it was noon, but I attempted some photos anyway, hoping that I would come across a few good ideas that I could explore in better light at a later date. As it turns out, there is a lot of construction going on, mainly on the older stone buildings. I tried making some compositions that included the cranes and trucks and fences and such, but I'm not very happy with what I came up with.

For some reason, however, I like the way this photo turned out. This is the Keorner Library. It interested me because of all the glass and straight lines. I took several photos of it, but I like this one best. When I give it a critical analysis, it seems to lack any point of interest, but I like it anyway. I would have liked to have placed the lamp a little higher up so that it occupied the top corner, but I couldn't arrange it that way without covering up the library with the tree.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 21mm, f/8, 1/200 sec, ISO 50

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sunsets: Just Another Tourist Trap

It's just another sunset. Are sunset photos lame? Are there just too many of them? A sunset happens every day. Who needs a photo when you can simply look out your window in the evening? Does anybody actually buy this sort of thing? I suspect not. Except perhaps tourists who want to remember the beauty they saw while on vacation. Tourists are suckers, perhaps I could make a buck or two.

Okay, admittedly some sunsets are more equal than others. Bethany and I went to the beach last week to play Scrabble and watch the sunset. It was a lovely evening, so I naturally brought my camera. The sunset was the sort that changes appearance regularly, leaving me with a variety of images that are rather pleasing to the eye.

Poor Bethany has to put up with me bringing the camera along on each of our outdoor dates. We live in such a beautiful city, so inspiration tends to hit me with some regularity. It must look funny though; me, my girl, and my tripod, all cuddling together on a blanket at the beach. She beat me at Scrabble, so I'd say we're even.

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

Monday, August 21, 2006

Worth the Effort

Sorry I missed my post this weekend. This will sound strange, but I kept on forgetting to do it. A busy weekend I guess. Thanks for your feedback on Friday's photo. I must admit, I was surprised so many people liked it. I tend to agree with the Famous Uncle Robert, it just seems "heavy" to me.

This will be the last photo of the Flora Lake series. There is no way I'm climbing that mountain again, so I won't be taking any more pictures of this beautiful lake. I did however learn that in order to capture much of the pristine beauty that every photographer longs for, one has to burn a few calories. I look forward to more opportunities to explore the incredible back country that Canada has to offer. Next time, however, I will pick a location I can get to without blowing out my knees.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 10mm, f/3.5, 1/60 ISO 50

Friday, August 18, 2006

Flora Lake at Dawn

Stop. Make note of your first impression... okay, now you can read. I planned to post this photo today, so I will. However, I must admit that my enthusiasm for the image has waned significantly. I think I liked it at first because it had certain connotations that made me feel good. When I take a step back and look at it with a critical eye the shapes and the symmetry kind of bother me.

I have stated that it was cloudy and rainy throughout the entirety of our trip to Flora Lake. The morning of our departure was the one brief exception. We awoke to a beautiful sky reflecting off of the misty lake. We were in a hurry to break camp, but I took a few minutes to study the scene and attempt a couple of different compositions. As you have no doubt discovered, the reflections on the surface of the lake were always begging to be included in the composition.

While the light is always beautiful early in the morning, most brains are not yet functioning at full capacity. I wish I had spent a few more minutes exploring the possibilities that morning. This particular photograph will have to suffice, but it does not do the scene justice. I did have the presence of mind to take three different exposures, accounting for the sky, the trees, and the reflected sky. This image is a combination of all three exposures and is the only heavily processed photo in this series.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/8.0, ISO 50
Sky: 1/50 sec, Trees: 0.6 sec, Reflected Sky: 1/13 sec.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

"I Caught You a Delicious Bass"

When we were at the lake, I had a good deal going. Allen and Paso would catch all the fish, and I would eat them. Oh, I tried fishing, but it turns out I suck at it. The other guys, however, were fortunate enough to catch me a meal. The fish were trout, not bass, but Mr. Dynamite's immortal quote was too good to pass up.

This is the first image of this series that has undergone any significant processing, and it wasn't that significant. I was looking at Paso's photos of our trip when I saw a really cool silhouette of Allen by the water. I was instantly annoyed at myself for not having taken a similar photo. I looked through my archives to find an image that I could make into a silhouette.

Admittedly, this is not the way I would have taken this photo if I had the idea in mind from the start, but I'm determined to learn from my mistakes. I modified this picture by adding a blue filter and playing with the levels. It wasn't exactly a highly technical procedure, but I think it worked.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 52mm, f/4.5, 1/100 sec, ISO 50

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Flora Lake Done Right

On Monday I posted a photo of the south end of Flora Lake, where I was camping with friends after hiking over a mountain. I received some very helpful feedback, particularly from Laurie, who was able to voice my own dissatisfaction with the image and many similar photos. Namely, it lacked any particular point of interest.

I took today's photo because the scene interested me a great deal. Specifically, I was drawn to the various triangles that were arranged in such a way that begged to be photographed. The bushes in the foreground also serve the purpose of creating a sense of perspective and depth. I tried to position the camera so that the foreground triangle was parallel with the grey triangle that surrounds it. Is this an improvement over Monday's "nice but boring" photo?

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 11mm, f/8.0, 1/100 sec, ISO 50

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Paso's Bod

Since Suby is positively salivating at the opportunity to see a portrait a la Timmybomb, I give you this. This is my friend Paso. He helped drag me up the mountain to Flora Lake, where we enjoyed fishing and drinking fine beer such as Boddingtons. I like taking pictures of Paso because he has a take charge attitude and it comes across when he faces the lens.

I think this lake provided an excellent backdrop for portraits. I love the way the forest reflects off the lake, resulting in a beautiful green background that isn't too distracting. I was concerned that the rocks behind him might compete for attention, but I think the depth of field solves that problem and his facial expression commands enough attention anyway.

I decided against any special effects for the photo. Since he is in a naturally beautiful environment, I didn't want to alter it in any way. The one bit of processing I did was to tone down his sweater, because it was very bright and mildly distracting. Later this week I will post a photo of Paso fishing. I will also introduce you to Allen and his mighty 'fro.

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

Monday, August 14, 2006

Flora Lake

After hiking for seven hours on Tuesday, we arrived at Flora Lake. It is a small, but beautiful lake tucked between two mountains. I will be showing several photos of the lake to give you an idea of our incredible surroundings. I'm even going to include some photos of people, something I rarely do here.

One thing that really bugs me about some photos I see on the net is oversharpening. I presume it's simply a matter of preference, but I think oversharpening can really wreck a photo. It seems to occur regularly on photos similar to this one, where there is a significant amount of green bushes.

I suspect that when they come out of the box, many cameras are set to maximum sharpening by default. If you find that your bushes are looking particularly abrasive, check you camera settings. Sharpening is a tricky thing with photos like this. It's difficult to strike a balance. I still don't know if this image has been sharpened sufficiently or if I over did it. What do you think?

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 14mm, f/4.0, 1/80 sec, ISO 50

Friday, August 11, 2006

I Climbed a Mountain

Hey folks. Thank you for your concern during my brief absence. I'm sorry I left without any warning. I was having a bit of internet trouble last weekend, and then I left town for a couple of days. I'm back now. I may not post again this weekend because I've got some catching up to do around here. We'll see.

This week I climbed a mountain. I don't know the name of the mountain, but I do know it was pretty big. I'm an out of shape slob, so I nearly died a few times this week. Thanks to my very supportive friends, Paso and Allen, I made it up a combined vertical of 1500 meters. I'll be posting a few photos of our trip over the coming days.

The weather was cloudy and rainy all three days of our trip, but it was still beautiful. I didn't take very many photos while hiking up or down the mountain because I needed to focus all my energy on not dying. This photo was taken from the southwest face of the mountain, looking west.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 18mm, f/8.0, 1/250 sec, ISO 50

Friday, August 04, 2006

I'm Lovin It

This was an experiment.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Georgia Straight Sunset

Bethany and I joined the Famous Uncle Robert and Aunt Sylvia on their boat last night. It was a beautiful calm evening. Not much wind, but it was a very peaceful time as we relaxed on the Georgia Straight.

With the exception of some mist on the horizon, the sky was clear. It made for a beautiful sunset. The sun was a massive glowing orb casting its long reflection over the calm water. It looked incredible as it lowered itself toward the horizon, settling just behind a distant pier. I hadn't had an opportunity to photograph a clear sunset like this from the middle of the water, so I was very excited to get my camera and capture the beauty.

I didn't bother with any processing because I'm too anxious to show you last night's sunset. I don't think it needs it anyway. This is the beautiful sunset, just as my camera recorded it. Isn't it stunning?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Enough With The Flowers

Another flower photo today. I bought some gerbera daises for Bethany last week and I like the way they look wet. I took several photos of this one, but it didn't want to cooperate. I guess it was a bit camera shy, because I couldn't straighten out that left side. Oh well, I kind of like the way the water drops look at that angle anyway.

I found that I needed quite a bit of sharpening to get this looking the way I wanted it to. I really love the way the water beads on the petals. I'm going to try a few different crops of this one, and I'll probably go back and study this flower some more later this week.

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

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Nothing Glorious About It

Well, yesterday I posted a happy plant. Today I bring you an evil plant. This is the morning glory. It is a vile weed, a vine that swallows everything in its path. Fear the morning glory.

This plant is all over the place in Vancouver. I presume its evil plan to take over the world has commenced in many other cities too. We used to have it in our garden, but Bethany did battle with it a few years ago, and for the most part it has retreated.

I took this photo near the port of Vancouver. I liked the way the green looked against the orange container. I had to strike a balance when it came to lighting. I wanted direct side lighting to accent the vertical lines on the container, but I didn't want too many shadows on the plant itself. On looking at it now, I might have taken this just a touch too late in the morning. The flower is bright white, so I'm actually satisfied with the exposure in that regard. This will be added to my long list of compositions that I will attempt again, in hopes of making improvements.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 30mm, f/6.3, 1/100 sec, ISO 50