Monday, October 30, 2006

Autumn Floor

Another abstract fall photo, processed in Picasa. I drove all the way across town to the West Side. Why is it that the west side of every city is always the more classy part of town? In Vancouver, the folks on the west get bigger houses on bigger lots, with bigger trees and less power lines and telephone wires (I think they're all underground). On the east side of town, our streets are lined with lame little trees, and we get properties that are so small, that if the windows are open, I may as well be in my neighbour's kitchen. Sadly, they cook some pretty smelly Vietnamese food next door, so being in their kitchen can be a rather unpleasant experience (don't tell them I said that).

Oh, sorry for the rant. Anyways, I went to the west side to photograph their superior fall foliage. The famous Uncle Robert suggested I give myself an assignment, and I accepted the challenge. I decided to spend an hour in a parking lot. I could shoot anything in or outside of the parking lot, but I was not to step outside of the boundary of the lot. I had a lot of fun shooting a whole bunch of really bad photographs. An hour wasn't enough time either. I never made more than one parking space away from my car.

Some of my time in the parking lot was spent with my camera mounted on my tripod pointed straight down. I wandered the lot, exploring the shapes and colours that passed through the viewfinder. When I found an arrangement that was interesting I would stop and fine tune the composition. It was fun, though perhaps not as successful as I had hoped. I also have a square version of this, but I think I like this one better because the green lines seem to be pointing towards the red in the top corner. I'm mildly perturbed by the exposure because I trusted the auto exposure (aperture priority). My Canon tends to over expose on a regular basis, so I normally manually adjust it by one f-stop. I forgot to this time.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 72mm, f/5.0, 1/2 sec, ISO 50

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Leafy Layers

Sorry I missed yesterday's post. Blogger has been acting up again. This is another photo edited with Picasa. In fact, most of this weeks work was done on Picasa.

I have tried to approach the fall season in an abstract way. I live in the middle of the city, so it's pretty hard to compose a peaceful landscape of colourful trees without also including a tangled mess of ugly telephone wires. Perhaps it's laziness, but I just find it easier to point the camera down at the ground, and explore the shapes and lines.

This is another photo from the garden at the local community center. I liked the way the layers provided varying shapes and lines. I think the side lighting made the lines stand out a bit more. I wish that I could have had more depth of field, but there wasn't enough light, and my tripod wouldn't balance on the hill, so I had to open it up a few f-stops.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 72 mm, f/4, 1/100 sec, ISO 50

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Vivid Blue

Another attempt at the fall colours, and another Picasa editing job. I spent a half hour at the community center, crawling through the garden, seeking a composition that would be at least mildly interesting and original. This was one of the photos I came up with. I'm a little disappointed that the closest leaf on the right is out of focus, but the position from which I took the picture was an awkward one, so it was hard to get everything exactly right.

I tried a camera setting I've never used before. I set it to "Vivid Blue", in order to get the sky looking very blue. When operating in this mode, there are no manual controls for the exposure. Since I was using the "Vivid Blue" setting, I decided I would try to avoid over exposing the sky, so I metered the sky using the AE lock, then composed the photo. It was the middle of the day, and the sun was still bright, so I figured I could get away with it. Looks like the exposure ended up pretty even. I'm not sure how I like the sky though. I think blue might be a little too vivid.

It's kind of a weird composition. The tree trunk on the left and the leaves at the bottom form a bit of a frame. Normally they would be framing a subject, but there doesn't seem to be a point of interest back there (vivid blue notwithstanding), so the frame itself seems to be the subject. I don't know if I like it, but I thought I would put it out for discussion.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 6mm, f/8, 1/200 sec, ISO 50

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Keep On Trucking

Today's photo was taken while at the pumpkin patch a few weeks ago. I love that place. There are so many great photo opportunities. I wish I could have stayed to explore for hours, but I was with the kids, and they didn't find the compositional possibilities nearly as interesting as I did.

This is another Picasa grayscale conversion. I put it in black and white for a few reasons. I didn't like the picture very much, so I tried two things I always try when faced with an image that is "close but no cigar": I cropped it and I took the colour out of it. Both techniques were effective. When in colour, I found the buildings on the horizon to be a mild distraction. Also, I had trouble seeing Mount Baker in the distance until I changed it to b&w.

The horizon was tricky to get straight. I think that the curve of the tall grass in the foreground plays tricks on the eyes, causing me to think that the horizon isn't straight. I checked it with Picasa's awesome straightening tool, and it is indeed straight. While we are on the topic of lines, I like the layers of lines throughout the depth of the field. The parallel shapes of the mountain, the building below it, and the angle on the back of the truck also add an interesting element to the image.

I left a lot of negative space in the sky for a reason. I hope it gives the viewer the same feeling of freedom that I felt while standing in that field. Thanks for the encouraging comments on yesterday's post. It was indeed a reflection of a tree, in all its green and golden glory.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 22mm, f/8, 1/250 sec, ISO 50

Monday, October 23, 2006


I have been observing with fondness the beautiful autumn colours as they appear first on the trees, then on the ground. This is my favourite season and the colours stir up a great deal of emotions in me. It is almost as though my heart is caused to sing (poetry, isn't it?). The photos that I have taken of these colours stir up emotions of another type. Namely: anger, disappointment, confusion, nausea, dandruff...

Why can't I take a photo that accurately represents my feelings on this particular subject? I see red leaves that cause my heart to dance. My camera sees some dead, two dimensional foliage in the gutter. I gaze up at a huge maple tree as it dares the wind to blow harder. My camera shrugs, as it captures just another piece of wood against a grey sky. Can I blame it on my camera, the way a golfer stares at his putter after he has missed yet another two footer?

No, I'm just on a very steep learning curve, and I don't have the ponies to get up the hill. It seems to me that each new season presents a whole new set of challenges, leaving me perplexed as to how to compose a pleasing photograph. I'll figure it out, but it's going to take a lot of work. With that in mind, I leave you with this: the mass of gross colours that led to the nausea.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 38mm, f/3.5, 1/160, ISO 100

Beach Boy

This marks a first here at Rookie Photographer. This photo was edited using Picasa. I normally use PhotoShop CS2 for any editing I may do (I don't do much), but I recently downloaded this program from Google's ever expanding empire, so I thought I'd give it a try. Since this blog is all about stretching the limits of a point and shoot, perhaps it makes sense to use the software that most point and shoot owners would tend to use. Besides, it would seem that Google is going to take over the world anyway, so we may as well just give in. There are a few things that I really like about Picasa, especially the straightening tool. The black and white conversion is pretty good too.

This photo was taken at Stanley Park a couple of weeks ago. A few people have asked me about my unsettling habit of posting photos of strangers on my website. When suffering from the boredom that rests upon those who are unwilling to activate their bodies, I often resort to taking pictures of other people's kids while at the park. I realized that some parents probably wouldn't appreciate their offspring being featured on my blog, so I haven't been posting those photos recently. I figure this one is okay because there is no way to estimate the identity of this silhouette. In fact, I am so confident in this that I am willing to give my scientific calculator to anyone who guesses correctly.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 68mm, f/8, 1/400 sec, ISO 50

Sunday, October 22, 2006

More of the Same...

Normally I like to provide at least a bit of variety here, but today I'm ignoring that guideline. Obviously this is a very similar photo to the previous version. I think I like this one a lot better. As with the other, I like the shapes. I haven't had time to Photoshop this, so the annoying horizontal white line behind the thinga-ma-bob in the water is still there. I'll clone it out later. The lighting is a bit of a problem, but the shadows don't bug me too much. Is this better than the other one?

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 18mm, f/8, 1/200 sec, ISO 50

Friday, October 20, 2006

Rocky Outcrap

I'm feeling a little discouraged in the photography department these days. It feels like it has been a long time since I took a picture I was really happy with. I have some older ones that are pretty good, but I'm not going to put them up here for a while. I kind of feel like I've got to get some of the crappy ones out of my system (and off of my hard drive).

In that spirit, I present this. I like the basic shapes in this photo, but the colour of the ocean really bugs me. I tried altering it in Photoshop, but it looked stupid every time, so I just left it. I tried it in black and white too (always a maneuver of desperation for me), but it remained a lame image. Thus I give it over to you. You can have it, I don't want it.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 60mm, f/8, 1/250 sec, ISO 50

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Crumby Cranberries

This is a cranberry field. There are a whole bunch of these fields in Richmond, about fifteen minutes from my house. I stopped by these fields late in the day a couple of weeks ago. I regret that I didn't spend at least an hour there, exploring all the composition possibilities. Forget regret, I'm really ticked at myself. A cranberry field is a really cool subject, and if I had put in the effort, I'm sure I could have come up with some really interesting photographs. Instead I got this lame one. I must learn to slow down and take my time. Maybe this crop is better, but I don't think so.

For those who have never witnessed a cranberry harvest, I will briefly explain. The berries grow on short bushes near the ground (not unlike wild blueberries). Rather than pay people minimum wage to bend over and pick the berries all day, the workers are given machines. The field is flooded so that the berries will float to the surface. In order to keep the cranberries from clinging to the vine, the workers use machines that look like a giant snowblower. The 'blades' beat the berries off of the bush, and they rise to the surface of the water. Then another machine scoops them up.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 39mm, f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO 50

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bethany's Canoe

I'm back. Sorry, a busy week. I'm finally back, and I'm post a photo that I didn't take. Bethany took this while we were boating on Timothy Lake a couple months ago. Part of me feels rather jealous, because this is the exact kind of photo I wanted to take. Unfortunately, I was at the back of the canoe.

The entire scene was rather comical. The canoe was a rather tippy one, and I was extremely nervous that we were going to flip the boat. In fact, every time either of us shifted our weight, it felt as if the boat would do a barrel roll. I nearly wet my pants (in more ways than one). I didn't fear being immersed into the cold lake. After all, I'm waterproof. My camera bag, however, is somewhat porous. For that reason, there was no way I was going to contort my body in such a way that I could take cool photos.

I let Bethany have all the fun, and she did a great job. She placed both edges of the canoe perfectly in the bottom corners of the frame. The horizon is straight. She even had the presence of mind to take the photo is such a way that the bow of the canoe did not penetrate the upper half of the picture space, where the clouds had formed an interesting pattern on the water's surface. I believe this is a very good photograph. Way to go Babe.

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

Friday, October 13, 2006

This is a Mountain.

This is another photo taken atop the tundra in MacKenzie. I had taken a few photos similar to this one, which included a large rock with a funky plant growing on it in the foreground, and the rolling mountains in the distance. At the time, I thought the composition might be stronger with a smaller, more specific subject. However, I like this one better. I didn't include much sky because it was grey and hazy in the morning light.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 17mm, f/6.3, 1/160 sec, ISO 50

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What Are You Looking At?

A few weeks ago Bethany and I went out for a brief hike at one of the local parks with the famous Uncle Robert and Aunt Sylvia. We were walking along the shore when we happened upon this sleepy seal taking a nap in the sunshine.

After taking some photos from a distance (making full use of my 12x zoom), I decided to be a bit bolder, taking a step or two towards the seal. He didn't seem to mind that at all, so I continued to inch towards him until I was only about five feet away. I was taking lots of pictures, but I was a having a difficult time of it because their was very harsh backlighting, resulting in severe shadows.

I took care of that by climbing up onto the same rock as him and walking around to the other side so that the sun was now behind me. I was certain he would become frightened and swim away, but he stayed exactly where he was. He quietly barked at me once, as if to say, "Hey buddy, get your own rock." He never left, even when I got so close I could have pet him.

Because of the harsh mid-day lighting, I found that this photo works better in black and white. As always, I recommend that you view the large version of the photo by clicking on it. This one looks much better against the white background too. What do you think? You can see the original by clicking here.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 42mm, f/6.3, 1/125 sec, ISO 50

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I Feel...

This is not a pretty picture, but this is how I feel today: tired, deflated, and yet still puffy from last night's meal.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 18mm, f/8, 1/125, ISO 50

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Thank You Gourdo

It is Thanksgiving weekend here in the great white north. Those of you wondering why we do it earlier here in Canada won't get a satisfactory answer from me. I think it has something to do with the fact that our harvest comes a bit earlier in the year, due to the frigid climate (you know: igloos, dog sleds...).

Today I would like to post this photo to say thank you to my employer, Gordon Campbell, the Premier (Canadian version of a Governor) of British Columbia. Bethany and I work for the provincial government, and would like to thank Gordo for providing our employment.

We took the kids to the pumpkin patch yesterday where a table sporting a variety of ugly vegetables caught my eye. I need your help though. I can't decide which version of this image is better. The top (square) one is a bit sharper, but it includes a few distractions, such as the brown 'squigly' thing in the bottom right corner. The second (rectangular) photo places much more emphasis on the crossing stems, which is my favourite part of the image. What do you think; square, rectangle, or "doesn't matter, this photo is just plain stupid"?

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 8mm, f/3.2, 1/100 sec, ISO 50

Friday, October 06, 2006

Abstract Orange

The other day Bethany sent me out to rent a movie for the kids. As per usual, I brought my camera along, because you never know when a photo opportunity might present itself. When I hadn't returned after 45 minutes, she called me to see what was taking so long. I'm afraid I got a little side tracked.

On the way back from the movie store, I made a quick stop at the Knight St bridge to take a few shots of the river as the sun set. Unfortunately the sun was already a bit too low, so there wasn't much light reaching the river. I did, however, find these strange looking trees growing beside the bridge. I liked the branches, so I used the setting sun to accent their strange shape. I underexposed by several f/stops in order to get a silhouette against a nice orange background.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 72mm, f/8, 1/80 sec, ISO 50

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Not much to say here. These bridges caught my eye while on a recent field trip with the kids. I was standing on the deck of the HMCS Winnipeg, a Canadian Patrol Frigate that recently returned from the middle east.

These bridges span the Fraser River. The suspension bridge is for the SkyTrain (our version of a subway), the orange monstrosity is a traffic bridge/death trap, and the in the background there is a rail swing bridge. I liked the look of them because I thought the layers were neat. So I took a picture of them.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 28mm, f/8, 1/250 sec, ISO 50

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Is This Boring?

Oh brother...Tim's posted another stupid sunset picture. Well everyone else was taking pictures of it, so why couldn't I? Sure, it's just another sunset, but each on is unique and I like that.

I'm sure everyone has there own preference when it comes to exposure. I like to underexpose by at least on f/stop usually. My camera starts in aperture priority, where I take a few photos, just to get a feel for the lighting at different angles. After I've got a feel for it, I switch to manual and close the aperture by a step or two. If I'm already at f/8 (the smallest available on my camera) I adjust the shutter speed.

I took a lot of photos of this sunset. This was the first one, when the camera was in aperture priority. I like this image the best of the entire set that I took that evening. Go figure. I should have it in auto mode. Actually, there are a couple of other cool ones, but this is definitely the winner.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 9mm, f/8, 1/100 sec, ISO 50

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

This is a Fountain

That's the end of the road trip series. I have more photos that made the cut, but they are similar to the ones that I have already posted here. I will probably share a few more with you throughout the next month.

This is a fountain that I found while on a recent photo hunt in Burnaby. I spent several minutes exploring it from a few different vantage points. I also enjoyed exploring the garden that you can see in the background. In fact, my favourite part of this image is the blurred garden in the background. I wish that I had taken a photo of just the garden completely out of focus, just as it appears in this photograph. I like the blend of purple and green.

It seems as though I regularly look at my work and regret the fact that I did not approach a subject in a different way. I should make note of my afterthoughts so that I can go back and take the picture again in the way that I wish I had in the first place. Perhaps I will start a little note book, with a list of photos I would like to take. Good idea, but let's face it, I'll never get around to writing that sort of thing down.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 61mm, f/8, 1/80 sec, ISO 50

Monday, October 02, 2006

Hey Tractor, Look At ME

Throughout our road trip, I became increasingly aware of what my next photography purchase must be. No, not an SLR, not a better tripod, not even a set of filters. I am in desperate need of a step ladder. I came across so many fantastic fields, with interesting barns and farm equipment, but a barbed wire fence was always standing between me and a much better composition.

You can imagine the look on my wife's face every time I attempted to climb over such a fence. Her dismay was probably two-fold; she was afraid I might tear my pants on the wire, and she was possibly thinking there was a chance I would get shot at by some cranky property owner. Fair enough, but I've learned that if you want a great photo, sometimes you've got to go to great efforts to get it. If I had a step ladder I would be able to get over the fence without the need to mend my jeans, leaving Bethany with only one thing to worry about. And let's get real, this is Canada, not a Harrison Ford movie; I won't get shot at.

I really want to like this photo, but I can't. I love the lines of cut grass, especially the way they frame the tractor. However, there is one major flaw in the composition. The tractor is facing the wrong direction. It leads the eye directly out of the frame. I believe that the same photo, with the tractor facing towards the lens, would be really cool. I would have been able to take such a picture if I was wandering freely through the field. As it stands, it stinks. Why am I posting it? I guess I just wanted to talk about step ladders.

Canon PowerShot S2 IS, 47mm, f/7.1, 1/125 sec, ISO 50