Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Sharper Image

I originally cropped this photo out of another. I was only using about half of the original image, so the quality was poor. I worked on it for quite some time, trying to sharpen it and take out the noise. I was getting quite annoyed with my lack of progress; despite my best efforts, the photo still looked bad.

I like the composition. And the colours make me feel good. I liked it enough to post it, regardless of its digital flaws. When looking through the file folder, in order to check the EXIF data (the camera settings I include at the end of each post), I once again came face to face with the knowledge that I am a dope.

Right there, next to the file I had been working on, was a very similar photo. It seems that I did, in fact, take a photograph with this exact composition. After taking the photo, I had zoomed out and taken one at a wider angle. Somehow, I didn't see the tighter composition when I started working today. I wasted all that time trying to improve the quality of an image, when I had a relatively clear and sharp original sitting right beside it in the file folder. I'm glad I had the presence of mind to approach this subject with a variety of compositions.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 34mm, f/8, 1/60 sec, ISO 50

Friday, September 29, 2006

Snarly Tree

I'm not feeling very well, so perhaps that is effecting my judgment. Regardless, I'm pretty sure the rest of the photos from our vacation suck. I might show one or two more, but we're scraping the bottom of the barrel here folks.

These trees were everywhere. I tried taking several pictures of them, but I couldn't get one that I was satisfied with. The lighting was part of the trouble. It was the middle of the day and the sun was very bright. I used my polarizer, but I didn't have much luck with it.

I decided to display one of the tree pictures here anyway, because I think the tree itself is rather interesting. I'm content with this composition, I'm just not happy with the exposure. Eight hours earlier this might have been a decent photo.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 12mm, f/8, 1/80 sec, ISO 50

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Abstract Rusty Stuff

It would seem that my comfort zone lies in landscape photography. As Suby and I have discussed, I don't even dare approach portraits. Abstracts, however, interest me a great deal. I think I will do some reading about how to create better compositions when photographing subjects that are a bit more abstract. Correction; I wish to learn how to approach subjects in a more abstract manner.

This is a piece of very old farm equipment I found on a farm property just off the highway up north. I found the tool (I believe it was some sort of till) to be somewhat of an oddity. I tried photographing it at a wide angle, but couldn't seem to find an interesting way to present it. That's when I decided to change my approach from a documentary style to that of an abstract style.

I got down on the ground, opened the aperture as wide as I could, and started exploring the spokes and bolts. I'm not terribly satisfied with the results, but I figured it was worth sharing the experiment with you. One thing that bugs me is the bolt in the bottom right. Why didn't I shift the lens slightly so that the bolt had a bit more "breathing room"? I think that type of minutiae is the sort of thing one has to consider every time they compose a shot. This is often the difference between a good shot and a sucky shot. Perhaps this picture never had a hope of being a good shot, but I wish I had at least given it a fighting chance.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 58mm, f/3.5, 1/200 sec, ISO 50

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

This is a truck.

This is the truck that took us to the top of the mountain. It's a thing of beauty. I cropped it so that there is an even amount of blue (sky and mountains) and brown (forground) with the truck intersecting both. I think this provides a sense of balance. I don't have much else to say about this photo. Anything I could have done better?

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 7mm, f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO 50

Monday, September 25, 2006

f/8 and Be There

As Suby eluded to yesterday, being there is the only major requirement of taking photographs like these. The thing is, it takes a lot of effort to arrive at such a vantage point, especially if you want to get there before the sun comes up. I would say it was well worth the effort, but the only work I put in was getting out of bed. Joshua was the one who had to drive the truck up the mountain (next time I'm wearing a helmet), while Keith drove up the really crazy stuff.

At the time, I felt I was having a great deal of difficulty with composition. It didn't occur to me that the scene itself was magnificent, and all I had to do was point and shoot. For some reason I felt I had a huge responsibility to capture the moment for those who were not on the mountain top with us that day. That's crap. My only concern was to make sure I had enough space on my memory cards and some backup batteries. The rest took care of itself.

Sure, some of the photos are better than others. But come on, there's sky and there's mountains; how many different arrangements of those two shapes could there be? When faced with a simple scene like that, I think the one thing that lingers in my mind is the rule of thirds, and even that can be ignored from time to time. While the basic shapes of the scene don't change much, the colours do. For that reason, I took a heck of a lot of photos.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 10mm, f/8, 1/200 sec, ISO 50

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Glory of God

My brother Joshua is very good to me. Very good. He took me up a mountain in a massive diesel truck at five in the morning. He really wanted to bless me, and that was a perfect way to do it. Keith had heard us discussing our plans and decided to come too. The three of us had an amazing morning on the Canadian Tundra. If you use Google Earth, I believe you will find the mountain upon which we were perched at 55° 25.5' N 123° 02.00' W.

The wind was howling at the top of the mountain. Tripods were utterly useless. Poor Keith set up his tripod, only to see his camera make a crash landing on the rocks; amazingly his lens was unharmed. It was hard to see through the tears streaming down my face as the wind strived to dry out my eyes. I'm sure we were a funny site as we huddled in the truck waiting for the sun to appear in all its glory.

I mention the word glory. I am certain I gained a much greater understanding of the glory of God that morning. As we looked out over the barren tundra, it felt as though this scene of unending beauty had been created just for us. As for the photography, it was simply a matter of pressing the shutter...

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 21mm, f/4.5, 1/200 sec, ISO 50

Friday, September 22, 2006

Pretty in Pink

While in MacKenzie, we had a great visit with my brother Joshua, his wife Esther, and their newborn baby girl Justice. Joshua's friend Keith was kind enough to take Bethany and I out for an evening of fishing in his small aluminum boat. It was a beautiful calm evening, but the fish weren't biting. It did give me some time to snap a few pictures.

Taking photos from a boat in low light provides some challenges. Obviously I couldn't use slow shutter speeds, so my only option was to underexpose. This can work great when your scene is backlit. As you know, I love reflections, so the chance to capture the reflection of this silhouette of the forest (created by an exaggerated underexposure) was warmly welcomed.

Okay, I've abstained from Photoshop for quite some time now, but the potential for this photo was too much to pass up. In actual fact I didn't do too much to it, I basically removed the yellow.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 21mm, f/7.1, 1/100 sec, ISO 100

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Timothy Lake Exposed

As I said, the lake was right beside the garden, so I didn't have to go far for this photo. I had made the same composition the night before, but I wasn't happy with the lighting. I like this one a lot better.

I'm glad the clouds were there. For one, they reflected the soft pink glow of the early morning light, making the photo more interesting. Secondly, they made the sky darker, meaning I could get a more even exposure. If the sky had been brighter, I would have had to underexpose in order to ensure that the sky wouldn't be washed out. That would have left the boats in almost complete darkeness. As it stands, I underexposed by one f-stop and I think it worked out pretty well.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 7mm, f/8, 1/100 sec, ISO 50

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Is There Anybody Out There?

I haven't been here in a few days. Sorry about that. My schedule was a little funky for a while and I've had some connectivity problems, but I'm back now. I believe we are part way through the BC Interior series. We were speaking of the bed & breakfast...

I know it was my vacation, but I did get up early on two occasions to take some photographs when the light was good. My first early morning photohunt was at the b&b. Our hostess had a beautiful garden and I was excited to go out and explore it with my camera. Okay, I wasn't too excited when my alarm went off at 6:00 am, but I was excited about it when I set my alarm for 6:00am. To be honest, it was with a healthy dose of grumpiness that I dragged myself out of bed, but I knew I had a unique opportunity. How often do you wake up with a beautiful flower garden and a lake right outside your bedroom?

This was one of the photos taken from the garden. I had been looking for a very simple composition, but found it difficult with such colourful surroundings. Eventually I found this flower (I don't know what it is) growing in front of a pine tree. I used my zoom and the widest aperture in order to blur the crap out of the pine tree. I like the simplicity of this composition, and I think the delicate flower looks good too.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 72mm, f/3.5, 1/20 sec, ISO 50

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Tungsten Sky

Yesterday's sky seemed to interest people, so I figured I would give you another sky of interest. Bethany and I stayed at a fantastic B&B located on the shore of Timothy Lake. We got to spend some quality time together on the dock, roasting marshmallows over a campfire, drinking tea, and watching the sunset.

Truth be told, we didn't quite make it to the sunset. As you can see here, some storm clouds moved in and it started to rain on us. Before we retreated to the warm comfort of our basement suite, I was able to take a few photos of the magnificent clouds. In order to enhance the drama, I opted for a significant underexposure. This led to more definition in the clouds and left the landscape as a silhouette, meaning that it can't compete with the sky for attention.

I achieved the blue hue by adjusting the white balance. I have a blue filter on my camera, but I've never liked the results it delivers. Instead, I switched my white balance to Tungsten. This setting is supposed to be used indoors, toning down the yellow cast given off by lightbulbs. My indoor photos look terrible when I use this setting, but I think outdoor, low light situations are an interesting opportunity to make use of the Tungsten setting. I know I could have done the same thing in Photoshop, but I thought this might satisfy the purists.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 13mm, f/8, 1/500 sec, ISO 50

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Blue Skies

Bethany and I stopped at a forest ranger station while driving through the Caribou Forest Region. The station is a tower at the top of a mountain, where the ranger spends weeks observing the surrounding forest, looking for possible forest fires.

I took a huge panorama shot that was made up of five photos but I'm not going to show it to you. The pano has a flaw that this one lacks. It taught me a lesson though. I am learning to pay attention to portions of nature that fluctuate throughout a period of seconds or minutes. In this case, I did not pay enough attention to the shadows that were cast on the forest by the clouds. The bottom half of my panorama is almost completely covered in shadows, causing a major distraction.

The photo you see here lacks those shadows, not because I intentionally waited for them to pass, but because I got lucky. I did, however, learn my lesson. Last night, while shooting a sunset from the beach, I was very intentional about when I pressed the shutter, paying close attention to the timing of the crashing waves, which formed distinct lines at the bottom of the frame.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO 50

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sheddy Photo

This old crappy shed was in a field just down the street from the yacht club (see yesterdays photo). As you can see, I was shooting in the middle of the day. Yes, I know the lighting sucks at that time of day, but I was on vacation. As we were driving through towns we would stop at any point of interest. We happened to be passing this old log structure in the middle of the day, so I was stuck with the conditions that existed at that moment.

I used my polarizer, but not very effectively. Truth be told, I learned a lot about my polarizer on this trip, but this photo was taken during that learning process. I find it difficult to see through my view finder when it is very bright, so I didn't do a very good job of exposure on this photo. I like the blown out clouds and the lens flare, but the exposure on the shed was much too dark.

I'm posting this picture regardless of it's flaws because I think the composition is strong. Besides, those beams of sunlight are pretty cool.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/8, 1/320 sec, ISO 50

Monday, September 11, 2006

Lone Butte Yacht Club

While driving through a town called Lone Butte (a butte is small isolated hill, it is not the large piece of flesh on your posterior; you're so immature) when I noticed about five of old crappy boats lying around in a dried up marsh. It looked pretty strange, but it became downright comical when we noticed the sign.

I have several compositions of this scene. I found it really difficult to create a composition that would present the scene in an interesting way. Why is it that I can see something that I find intensely interesting and yet fail to capture it in a way that will convey the emotions I am feeling?

My difficulty with this scene was communicating the information to the viewer. I think a broader view of the scene would make it more clear that their was no water anywhere near the group of boats. However, when I used a wider angle, the frame was too cluttered with unnecessary items and lacked a sense of balance and order. In the end I decided that it was best to decide on one point of interest, rather than encompassing the entire scene. This photo doesn't make me feel the same way I did when we drove past the boats, but I believe it adequately conveys some of the humour of the scene.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 34mm, f/8, 1/60 sec, ISO 50

Friday, September 08, 2006

Foot Bridge

Many of the photos you will see in the coming days are of the Fraser Canyon. The Fraser River is the longest river in British Columbia and we basically followed it from where it empties into the Pacific Ocean in Vancouver, all the way up to the interior of BC.

This photo was taken from the highway on a bridge. It was a bit of a tricky picture to take because I ended up holding the camera down by my feet, poking the lens between two bars of the railing. I don't really know anything about the old suspension bridge that is featured here, except that it is now used as a foot bridge to enter one of BC's provincial parks.

There was significant cloud cover at the time of taking this photograph. It resulted in an even distribution of light, without a whole bunch of highlights and shadows to worry about. Unfortunately, it also leaves the photo looking a bit dull. I toyed with some yellow filters, but decided to leave it au naturale.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 37mm, f/5, 1/80 sec, ISO 50

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Road Trip Reflections

We're back. Last week, Bethany and I journeyed to Mackenzie, a town in the northern interior of British Columbia. On the way, I took over 500 photographs. Some of them are pretty decent, some of them suck. To be perfectly honest, I'm not looking forward to combing through the rubble that is my memory card, searching for survivors. I won't let all of the images die, but I suspect many will be crushed under the weight of the delete key.

My beautiful wife was very supportive as we made the trek through this fine province. Not once did she become annoyed with me as I stopped at every point of interest, determined to capture at least a fraction of the wonder that each scene presented.

She was even a good enough sport to take this photo when I told her to. We were in a slow moving traffic jam at the beginning of our trip when I noticed our reflection in the wheel of a truck. It's not perfectly centered, but it's still pretty good considering we were moving at 20 km/hr. Perhaps it's a bit of a gimmicky shot, but I figure it's a good way to begin a series of road trip photographs.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 45mm, f/4, 1/250 sec, ISO 50