July 2016

So the summer continues and I continue to do very little.  Well, there’s this.

This is something I’ve been working on over the past couple of months or so.  It’s not finished but it’s getting close.

Another one no one’s going to want hanging in the living room….

See you soon, and thanks for coming by.

The Doldrums

I haven’t really done any creative work in the last few weeks.  Well, I have, but not the kind of work that–well…

Personal circumstances continue to disintegrate.  Since this blog is not an autobiography I won’t go into details, except to say that the work I’ve managed to do is dark…dark even for me.

Here’s an example.

Tell me you want that hanging in your living room.

See you next month.

Birds

I don’t know a lot about birds.  I think the specimen below is a heron of some kind, perhaps a “Great Blue Heron.”

A different specimen on a different day.

Not sure about this one.  He looks like he would rather not be photographed.  One of the benefits of a long lens.

I thought this guy below might be a gosling, or a baby swan, or whatever they’re called.  But there were bunches of them all swimming together without a big version leading them.  They’re great, by the way.  Their voices sound like soda-can pop-tops being thumbed.  (UPDATE: thanks to Cthulhu, this is most likely an American Coot.)

The bird below was very cooperative about being photographed.  This is fairly unusual, unless the birds think you have food.  Usually they turn away.  But he (or she) let me take some nice close-up (not too close though) shots.

Of course,  I suspect he thought I was a lot less threatening than this fellow, who was circling overhead.

Seagulls like to take bad photos.  So you’ve got to take lots to get one good one.

I guess they figure if you’re not giving them food, for free, you’re not worth cooperating with.

Now, this was an interesting photo day.  Just seeing through the viewfinder, I thought a predator bird had found a seagull nest, and the seagulls were trying to drive the predator away.  But looking at the pictures now, I can see that predator bird has caught a fish.

And then a seagull shows up.  “Hey, you caught a fish!  I like fish.  Can I have your fish?”  “No, go away.”

“Oh, come on.  I really like fish!  Can I have yours?  Is it okay if I just jump in and grab it?  I’d like that!”  “No, go away, or I shall call the gendarmes!”

“Oh, come on!  That’s a big fish!  You’ll get fat if you eat it all, and the guys won’t dig you!”  “Hm…well, if you want the fish…move in closer.  I’ll only hold the fish with one talon!  Yeah, yeah, closer!”

“Oh, cool, thanks!  Say, why are you…hey!  Okay, I guess I don’t need that fish.  It’s full of fat anyway, and you’ll get fat from eating it, too bad!”

Great Blue Heron at sunset.

Thanks as always for stopping by.

 

Paintblog March 2016

This used to be a stand-alone work that, quite frankly, didn’t work for me.

Seized with the urge to brush, and not stopped by the urge to preserve something that didn’t work, I did the above.

Who knows where it might go?  Well, it compelled itself to be posted, so there’s that.  Other than that, I wouldn’t take any wagers.

With any luck, we’ll all be here to see how this goes.  Or I might post puppy videos!  In the meantime, thanks for visiting!

ND Photography

“ND” refers to “Neutral Density” filters.  These are varying densities of gray, designed to block varying amounts of light in order to have long exposures during the daylight.  Normally, having an exposure time of 4 seconds or so would just give you a blank white image; that amount of time in sunlight would just saturate the camera’s CCD.  ND filters are designed to counter that.

The two most prevalent types of images taken with ND filters are those of running, foaming water (it gives the water a misty, dream-like look) and public attractions like monuments (long exposures mean that the people milling around never stay in one place long enough to register on the image).

You can find an excellent article on using ND filters here.  That same article also discusses a different way to get the same result–by using two polarizing filters, a circular one attached to the lens, and a linear one attached to that filter.  That gives one a bit more flexibility than a standard ND filter, which is usually a single strength.

So having read the article, I decided to try my hand at it.  My camera is a Nikon D70, and my lens is a Quantaray 18-200 zoom.  The filters are Kenko (linear) and Promaster (circular).  Of course, all of the shots below were taken using a tripod.  I couldn’t think of any local monuments, and I also couldn’t remember any areas with interesting running water, but I chose the latter nonetheless.  None of the shots below have been enhanced in any way.

The above was taken with the camera on Auto.  Exposure 1/125, F/5.6.  Below is the same area, also at F/5.6 but with an exposure time of 4 seconds.

In addition to making bubbly water mist-like, it can also smooth water surfaces.  Below, an “Auto” shot at F/5.6 and 1/125.

The same shot (slightly reframed, mostly via zoom) at 4 seconds, and F/32.

The reason for the reframing was (I think) something to do with the angle of the light.  Because when I tried to do the ND shot with the original framing (20 seconds at F/11) I got this–

–which is, in its own way, quite lovely but not really what I wanted.  Even messing with it in PhotoShop* didn’t really get me what I wanted.

So, it’s definitely not an exact science.  Which is one of the nice things about digital cameras–mistakes don’t cost you anything, and in fact are a good learning experience.

A few more examples below.

6 seconds at F/9:

20 seconds at F/16:

20 seconds at F/18 (slightly tweaked in PhotoShop for exposure):

15 seconds at F/20:

Now, to find some waterfalls…

Thank you as always for stopping by.

*The folks referenced in the link above make a really nice image editor called Zoner Photo Studio.  It has a lot of the same functionality as PhotoShop but is a lot less expensive.  It’s well worth checking out; alas, I’m pretty well wedded to PhotoShop for the foreseeable future…but I do have a copy of Zoner.  Who knows what might happen in the future?