Ships At Work

I grew up in San Diego.  We had ferries there, or at least a ferry.  Up here in Washington, things are totally different.  Back there a ferry was maybe 50 people and a few bikes.  Up here it can be thousands of people and hundreds of cars.  So what if they sport 60’s decor and sometimes massive rust holes?  It just makes the journey that much more exciting.  You don’t feel like you’re just going somewhere – you feel the adventure!  This is The Hyak:

Washington State Ferry Hyak - Bridge

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The Bees of Spring

It may be basic, but when you think about macro photography, the first thing you think… bugs, right?  Other than the fact that they move and they’re hard to control, especially outside, there is good reason.  Here’s my bumblebee:

Bumblebee macro picture

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With my 100mm macro lens, things get really big, if you can get close enough.  While this is great, it also means you have a pretty darn shallow depth of field, which means that your bee looks more like this:

Macro Bumblebee picture with focus on the wings

Nice bee wings but I was going for a full-bee type of thing.  Anyway, getting distracted.  Cameras these days are pretty darn good – my 3-generation-old Digital Rebel XT still leaves plenty of room for cropping, which is what I did on the picture above to give it just about the same look as the closer picture below.  I guess the parting thought is that although it is always good to try and shoot what you want to end up with, sometimes cropping is a useful tool.  Want a little tip?  Hit the jump.

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Dandelion: Full Of Possibilities

Dandelions have got to be the most taboo (and therefore alluring) weed… well… maybe second most.  Other than their abilities to be turned into wine, and to sell specialized gardening implements, what other plant tempts you so much to just go over there and send all of its little seeds airborne?  If other weeds were so fun to spread, they’d do much better.


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I shot this one portrait style – maximum aperture for minimum depth of field.  It’s not the most original picture.  Lots of people have seen a dandelion before, but I really like how the grass just dissolves into a sheet of green.  As one reader with much better skills than I have said, the rule for wildlife photography is to nail the focus on the eyes.  I guess my correlary is when shooting weeds, nail the part that would be the eye if this thing came to life.  And then watch your back – you never know when the anthropomorphic dandelion zombies might get you.

Love in the Springtime

Seattle doesn’t rain as often as most other people think, but days are short and gray most of the year.  Spring is the time when things are different up here.  I saw this tree on my walk up the hill and I’m sure it’s been this way forever, but spring is when I notice.

heart carved into a tree

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It also doesn’t hurt that the return of the sun means that there is actual natural light outside.  I really like low-light and different lighting techniques, but nothing does for colors what natural light does.

Black & White – So Many Choices

Like most things in life, when you want to convert a color photo into black and white, there is more than one way to get the job done. When you want good enough, life is simple. Got Picasa? Hit that Black and White button. Even in Photoshop, you have a few options:

  • Image -> Adjustments -> Desaturate
  • Image -> Mode -> Grayscale

Black & White Conversion - How To

Want to learn about a few more choices, by all means, click for the rest of the post.

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Lighting Can Be Cheap

As you’ve heard, we went to see the tulips last week. Brought some home too – very nice but they don’t last forever. On the way out they still have a nice look. Here was last night:
Closeup of a Tulip

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Since it was dark and I was using the macro lens, I had the tripod out.  Yes, I was attempting to do things correctly.  After cranking the aperture wide open to blur the background, I thought I’d try something else and go the other direction – want to see more?  I, personally, think it is worth hitting the link.

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Tulips As Far As Your Panorama Can Pan

When you see the fields of tulips in the Skagit Valley, it’s hard to translate the feeling into a picture.  The beauty is there, but the sweeping view disappears.  Of course it was cold and of course there were too many people and of course I didn’t put in the effort to be diligent and bring a tripod, but I decided to pull together some panorama action anyway.  Sure it’s lumpy, but what do you think?

Panorama of Skagit Valley Tulip Fields

Also, I’m going to try something a little different here.  Thanks to the wonderful features of Photoshop CS4, there is a built-in flash-based panorama generator. Want to see it, click the link.

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