Sad Sad Elephant

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting around the house with my macro lens.  I suppose there are two things I really like about it.  Seeing small things big, as simple as it sounds, can often reveal things you wouldn’t otherwise notice.  The second thing is that macros are notorious for shallow depth of field.

This shot isn’t new, but it’s also from my 100 mm macro.  It comes courtesy of the shots I did at the zoo way back when.  What it does share, however, is the super shallow depth of field.

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I love keeping things simple.  If you’re blessed with a subject isolated from a background, you’re all set.  If you’re (more likely) taking pictures of something with a distracting background, shooting for shallow DoF takes care of the problem for you.

If you don’t have a macro lens, you can still get shallow DoF, at least to a point.  Here are the steps:

1.  Open it up.  Whatever your available aperture settings (f-stop) are, make sure you’re using the widest (smallest number) possible.  This is often not a problem as unless you’re shooting under a lot of light, most cameras will do this automatically.  For the cheaters out there, the “Portrait” setting found on most cameras is going to pick settings to minimize depth of field for the same reasons as I describe above.  Use it as a quick way to get these settings.

2.  Get as close as possible to your subject.  Each camera and lens has a minimum focusing distance, and unfortunately this can be much farther than you want, but get as close as you can and still focus.

3.  Position yourself so that things in the picture other than the subject are as far away as possible – just get as much separation as you can.

That’s it – with any luck, you should end up with a sharp subject and buttery smooth bliss in the background.

The Ever-Wily Black Flag

The Ever-Wily Black Flag

“And here we see the reclusive Black Flag, in it’s natural habitat.”

Seriously though, the Zoo is a great place for pictures of almost everything, even when there are no animals around. I loved the lines and silhouette of this fence. I just keep staring at the picture, and I think it’s because it reminds me of something. Whatever it is, I like.

  • ApertureValue: f/7.1
  • DateTimeOriginal: 2008:12:16 15:24:54
  • ExposureTime: 1/640 sec
  • Flash: No Flash
  • FocalLength: 100 mm
  • ISOSpeedRatings: 200
  • Model: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT

Gorilla Points The Way

Gorilla Points The Way

This year, all the presents were photo-based. When I talked to my sister, she wanted something to decorate the baby nook. I was thinking animals and simple for the baby and artsy and somewhat interesting for them. This is what I came up with. The second of the two is after the jump and there are a few more that I think would make an even nicer set if I had time to match the background colors. I took the Gorilla about 3 hours earlier than the Elephant and the sun going down really changed the colors. To make them go together I color-matched the background on the Elephant. Seemed to work pretty well on a plain blue sky.

Here’s the other one I sent along with the Gorilla. I think they make a nice set together with both arrows pointed out. As I said there are two more, but I don’t know what to do with the arrow pattern after two, so I figured I’d quit while I was ahead.

  • ApertureValue: f/7.1
  • DateTimeOriginal: 2008:12:16 13:41:47
  • ExposureTime: 1/500 sec
  • Flash: No Flash
  • FocalLength: 100 mm
  • ISOSpeedRatings: 200
  • Model: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT

Seattle Icicles

Seattle Icicles

I’ve lived in Seattle for about 7 years now. I might not be a native but I’m hardly fresh off the boat either. As you might know, the show Grey’s Anatomy is set here in Seattle. I don’t think it’s filmed here, which makes a lot of sense if you actually watch the show (which I don’t – just sayin’). Anyway, some pretty ridiculous stuff happens on said show. They seem to think everyone commutes by ferry, and doing so only takes a couple minutes. Doctors who work 24 hour shifts seem to have plenty of time to hit the bars, and most recently, a doctor found herself being impaled by a massive falling icicle. It’s pretty funny to watch the icicles spontaneously break off and stab poor Christine but the really funny part is that Seattle doesn’t have icicles. It snows maybe an inch every year – more than that every five or so, but icicles take cold temperature and snow and lots of things that just don’t come together here. And then this last week, it snowed. Tons. And there were icicles almost everywhere. So I’ll take back my laughter at that particular item from Grey’s. As long as I can snicker about story lines involving sex with ghosts, I suppose I’ll be ok.
  • ApertureValue: f/8
  • DateTimeOriginal: 2008:12:16 13:48:15
  • ExposureTime: 1/250 sec
  • Flash: No Flash
  • FocalLength: 58 mm
  • ISOSpeedRatings: 100
  • Model: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT

Telescope Sight Zoo

Telescope Sight Zoo

Another view of my favorite telescope from yesterday. I broke one of the big rules with this one – the center of focus is right in the middle of the image. Rule of thirds says that’s a no-no and I usually agree. In my defense, however, the edges are in the right place and I love the diagonal lines. I shot this with my macro lens, which is great for close-up detail, but also does a great job separating the subject from the background. Who needs a studio backdrop when a couple feet of shadow gives the same effect? Well, also, I don’t have a studio or a background, so you takes what you can get.
  • ApertureValue: f/5.6
  • DateTimeOriginal: 2008:12:16 13:56:41
  • ExposureTime: 1/400 sec
  • Flash: No Flash
  • FocalLength: 100 mm
  • ISOSpeedRatings: 100
  • Model: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT

Telescope Focus

Telescope Focus

I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: old-timey crap is just a picture waiting to happen. I went to the zoo for some animals, but mostly for the other stuff. This is some pretty good other stuff. I love the kind of deco design, I love the chipped paint, and I love the built-to-last look. Having text in the picture makes me like it a lot more too.
  • ApertureValue: f/5
  • DateTimeOriginal: 2008:12:16 13:56:07
  • ExposureTime: 1/320 sec
  • Flash: No Flash
  • FocalLength: 100 mm
  • ISOSpeedRatings: 100
  • Model: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT

King Cobra

King Cobra

When it was too cold to do anything else, I went to the Zoo. I might have been the only one who thought it was a good idea because in three hours I saw maybe 5 other people. Lot of animals were surprisingly off display – maybe Africa in the snow should have been my first clue. It was a good day to shoot though – no crowds to shoot around and as some of my favorite stuff isn’t even alive, it didn’t matter how cold it was. I did see some animals though, and it made me reconsider what I was there for. While most animals don’t want you getting too close, some don’t mind. This King Cobra was right up against the glass. He knew I was there and didn’t care a bit. The whole “not moving much” part was nice too.
  • ApertureValue: f/2.8
  • DateTimeOriginal: 2008:12:16 15:37:08
  • ExposureTime: 1/5 sec
  • Flash: No Flash
  • FocalLength: 100 mm
  • ISOSpeedRatings: 200
  • Model: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT