Photographic Fun

I recently purchased a 50-200mm telephoto lens as well as Bryan Peterson's Understanding Photography Field Guide. I've been learning a lot. I've been trying to apply the things I've been learning, so here are some pictures and commentary about what I've been up to. (Also, in case you are unaware you can click on each of these to see a larger version.)

When we were down near Monterey for our anniversary I took a whole bunch of pictures and posted a few to that post, but I wanted to do something a little more interesting with them. I went digging back through them and came back to one I posted previously mainly unedited. Here is my new version. I haven't entered it in competition yet, but I think I'll be titling it something like "Fading Memories."

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(f/32, 1/80 sec, 55 mm, ISO 400)

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Last weekend Jess had a campfire / pack meeting for Cub Scouts that we went to. I took a whole bunch of pictures, but only had one that I particularly liked. I used a tripod and took a 30-second exposure. The moon is completely overexposed, but I still like the idea.

(f/3.5, 30 sec, 18 mm, ISO 100)
(f/3.5, 30 sec, 18 mm, ISO 100)

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The camera club meets the first, third, and fifth Mondays of each month (if there is a 5th). The fifth Monday meetings are variable. This month we've been assigned categories to shoot pictures for. You aren't allowed to use old pictures; you had to have taken the picture during the 2 weeks prior to the meeting. Two of the categories are "White" and "Reflection." I came up with these shots:

(f/11, 1 sec, 30.6 mm, ISO 100)
(f/11, 1 sec, 30.6 mm, ISO 100)
(f/8, 1/4 sec, 67.5 mm, ISO 400)
(f/8, 1/4 sec, 67.5 mm, ISO 400)

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This morning Jess had training for Cub Scouts so I got up as well and went out to take pictures. Unfortunately, the sky was heavily overcast all morning so I didn't get any of the highly desirable, lower-angled, warm sunlight I was hoping for. I first drove up towards Del Valle where the aforementioned campfire had been. I had seen some S-curves in the road that I was hoping I could get some nice pictures along.

This one is a 4-second exposure.

(f/22, 4 sec, 50 mm, ISO 200)
(f/22, 4 sec, 50 mm, ISO 200)

As I was messing around with my settings a bicycler came riding up the hill, so I did my best to quickly set up something decent (I'm taking fully manual exposures to help me learn how each of the settings affects the exposure). I was able to get this shot.

(f/8, 1/80 sec, 200 mm, ISO 100)
(f/8, 1/80 sec, 200 mm, ISO 100)

After Del Valle, I drove back into town and stopped at Centennial Park where there's a totem pole. I know this image would look better if I had some good sunlight; with the overcast sky it's just kind of flat feeling.

(f/5.6, 1/125 sec, 200 mm, ISO 400)
(f/5.6, 1/125 sec, 200 mm, ISO 400)

There's a little rose garden near a bagel shop where we like to grab a snack and read on the grass. There's a statue there of three kids holding hands and twirling around in a circle. Sadly there's not any good backdrop in the area (naturally occurring anyway, I'm not to the point of carrying around fabric to create impromptu backdrops). So I framed this up with a cement wall. The wall got overexposed, but that's better than a car driving by, and I was able to just tone it down to a grey anyway which isn't too bad.

(f/5.6, 1/125 sec, 200 mm, ISO 400)
(f/5.6, 1/125 sec, 200 mm, ISO 400)

I tried to take some pictures of the roses in the garden. Peterson recommends overcast days for flower close-ups because you can get nice uniform lighting. This doesn't work very well, however, when the wind is blowing like crazy making the flower dance around. I tried some "artistic" shots of the blurry flower, but I didn't like how any of them came out. However, there is a fountain there as well and the overcast sky (along with my neutral density filter and polarizing filter) allowed me to have great control over my exposure. I started with some long exposures, like this 3-second one (using the filters).

(f/5.6, 3 sec, 115 mm, ISO 100)
(f/5.6, 3 sec, 115 mm, ISO 100)

Then I cranked the shutter speed all the way up to 1/3200 of a second and removed the filters. I got some really fun stop-motion shots of the moving water.

(f/5.6, 1/3200 sec, 200 mm, ISO 800)
(f/5.6, 1/3200 sec, 200 mm, ISO 800)

And this one:

(f/5.6, 1/3200 sec, 200 mm, ISO 800)
(f/5.6, 1/3200 sec, 200 mm, ISO 800)

Those have been my photographic adventures for today. I'll definitely be entering many of these into the camera club competitions. I'm having a ton of fun. I need to start learning how to take good portraits at some point, but Jess does not like the idea of modeling for me.

Vindicated!

I was just telling Kyle last night that I really struggle with reading text on roads because I can't read it bottom-up like they want you to. I guess my brain realizes there's more to it and just skips ahead or something. Anyway, I never read "SCHOOL CROSSING AHEAD" but, instead, "AHEAD CROSSING SCHOOL," and then I have to stop and sort it out.

Okay, so that's not a very interesting blog post. Until TONIGHT!

For you xkcd novices, don't forget the hover-text!

A quick trip to Utah

At the end of July we made a quick trip to Utah. We got up Wednesday morning and got loaded up in the car and headed out. We stopped at the Donner Party memorial to stretch our legs and then continued on to Winnemucca for lunch.
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After lunch we filled up the tank and pressed on to Utah. In case you were wondering what Nevada looks like at 80mph:
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And what does it look like once you've driven through it? Mostly the same as before you've driven through it, but this time in a mirror!
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There are some occasional hills:
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Can you tell that the drive is pretty boring? Jess drove from Winnemucca in to Utah, so I got to play around with the camera. We actually listened to Harry Potter off of Jess' iPod most of the way. Having something to let the 80% of your brain not needed for driving in a straight line concentrate on was rather nice. The miles seemed to go by more quickly. We got to the hotel in Orem around 10:00 or so I think.

On Thursday I went to campus to work on upgrading the Board server to the latest and greatest software we've been working on. In the evening we drove up to Pleasant Grove to attend Brady's wedding reception. It was good to see him and meet his wife. Josh came up from L.A. too and we all got to chat.
IMGP3310s

Friday involved hanging out at Erin's house and doing more work to get the Board server ready to run. That evening was the Board 5.0 launch party where we officially started the new software. It's been a lot of work, but we've made massive improvements to the system and built it on top of the incredibly well designed Django framework. This change will allow us to be far more effective with our time and hopefully find a new developer to take over responsibility of the server.

Saturday we had lunch with Erin, Bryce, Will and Sawyer at Tucano's. Then we spent some time hanging out with friends. For dinner we met up with Brady, his wife, Josh, Josh's brother Aaron, and Aaron's wife. We went for the traditional California Pizza Kitchen cuisine and enjoyed having more time to hang out with everyone.

After dinner we went down to campus to try to get a picture I want. The glass front of the new JFSB building reflects the mountains brilliantly at sunset when the sky is darker but the sun still hitting the mountains. It was kind of cloudy so I didn't know if I'd get the image I wanted or not, but we setup the camera and waited around for awhile. The light never really did cooperate so I didn't get quite the picture I'd hoped for. All well, maybe another time.

I tried some pictures of the fountain in the JFSB courtyard. I got three shots off when the bell tower chimed and the fountain shutoff.
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As we drove away from campus the sunset started making some nice colors so I snapped a few shots to see what I could get:
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Sunday morning we checked out of the hotel and piled back in to the car. Along with 9 loaves of Grandma Sycamore's bread, which Jess loves and laments being unavailable in California. So we stocked up and loaded it into the freezer when we got home. The drive back was just as uneventful as the drive out. Though passing through Truckee is a bit stressful. They've got the mountain pass under construction and for much of time you're driving through a windy, one-lane gauntlet created by concrete barriers. That part is not particularly fun.

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Oh, you see how those cement barriers are smaller sections than you normally see? They've got this huge machine that trundles along moving the entire barrier a lane at a time. It was the craziest contraption I've ever seen on the road. We came up along side it and it looked like it was just magically spitting out cement barrier. But as we passed it we saw it was acting kind of like a zipper, taking the cement barrier from the left side of the lane and lifting it up and pulling it over to the right side of the lane. I'm not sure how else to describe it. It blew our minds.

Sweet, I found a picture! (from this site)
moveable_01That was pretty much our entire trip. It was quick and tiring. But it was nice to see friends and family. Will and Sawyer both seemed to recognize each of us so I guess we haven't been gone for too long yet.