Sunday, 16 December 2007

Backyard Photography

I am a firm believer in the idea that one’s best photographs are made in places close to home rather than exotic and picturesque locals. I think is particularly the case for nature photography. It is simply a combination of more time to truly explore the photographic potential of your area, as well as a more intimate knowledge and understanding your personal landscape. I’ll take this one step further and say that the best place to practice photography is your backyard. Is there any other stretch of nature you know so well?

I’ve been thinking about this topic again because as a result of my recent move, my new backyard offers significant opportunities for photographic exploration. With a large partially wooded lot and lake frontage, I could probably wear out my K10D without going more than 2 minutes walk from the front door. For example, the image below was made at the lakes’ edge, late in the afternoon with ice just beginning to form along the shore. I used a Cokin Blue & Yellow polarizer to emphasize the blue and gold highlights of the reflections on the water and the rocks. I think the overall effect is nice, but I’m not really happy with the harsher blue & yellow highlights. This is a problem I’ve noticed when using the Blue & Yellow on a digital camera; it tends to make for some gaudy looking highlights. I’ve tried Darwin Wiggett’s suggestion to adjust white balance in the RAW conversion to compensate, but they don’t seem to work for me (possibly due to the fact he’s using the Singh-Ray filter not the cheapo Cokin version I have). Any one have any ideas?

Monday, 3 December 2007

Back Again

Three months between blog postings is not really a good record when it comes to keeping 'up to date'. Normally I would have some excuse that, in the end, would really be nothing more than a manifestation of an amazing ability to procrastinate. This time I have a rock solid reason for neglecting my online life, as the family and I spent the fall moving across the country from Alberta to Nova Scotia. Check your map; that's a lot of miles.

So with all the work of changing jobs, selling/buying houses, packing/unpacking and all associated hassles, photography and blogging have been on the backburner. But now that life is settling down to normal again, I hope to be able to devote some time to both ... assuming Christmas doesn't slow me down.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

There's a Reason it's Called "The Rock"

A couple of images from this summer. Both from Newtown, Newfoundland.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Yes, This Blog is Still Alive

Yep, just about two months since my last post. Summer has come and largely gone in it's usual whirlwind, and I just never seemed to get around to posting anything. Well, one of the things that keep me busy all summer was travel and photography, so I will have some new pictures to post over the next few months. A trip back home to Newfoundland, a couple of treks to Jasper and Banff National Parks for camping & hiking, and a visit to the dinosaurs of Drumheller, AB resulted in a pile of images to sift through.

These first couple are from the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller, a real Mecca if you're into dinosaurs and all other things prehistoric. These two images illustrate some of the reasons I’m quite happy with my Pentax K10D. These were both made in a dark museum at slow shutter speed (around 1/8 - 1/20s if I remember right) and ISO equivalent of 1600. Oh, and these are both hand held. The shake reduction feature of the K10D really shines in these types of shooting conditions, and I was quite impressed by the result I was able to get with handholding down to as low as 1/2s and 1/4s shutter speeds. I would have never dreamed of trying this with film.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Books: Around the World in Eighty Years

Eric Newby is best known as a travel writer. Written with a wry, self deprecating humour, books such as The Last Grain Race and A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush have become classics of travel writing. He has, however, always photographed his travels as well. I first came across his photos in a book called What the Traveller Saw, a collection of short essays and photographs. And I was impressed. So when I came across this volume of his photographs, I had to pick it up. It is a fine collection of photos from both well known locations such as Bali and places probably not on most tourist maps such as Haiti and Albania. It’s a little disappointing that there are no images from his year sailing from the UK to Australia and back again as a crewmember one of the last commercial sailing ships. But that’s just a personal bias. I was particularly drawn to the photographs of children that are in the book; these photos have a great power and intimacy, more so than most of the others. The photo of the boy on the boat in Macao the one of children at a camel fair in Rajasthan are two of those that really stand out. Overall, an interesting collection.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Spring is in the Air

Now that spring seems to be here to stay (it's taken it's sweet time this year), it's now officially the season for flower photos. I've been playing around using extension tubes and a mix of old lenses on my K10D. Trying mostly for some abstract images, but really just trying whatever strikes me at the time. Digital is great for this, as I can review my images as I to see what is working and what is not. And it doesn't fill the garbage can quite as full of tossed slides either ...

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

'The Online Photographer" Writes Again

One of the most entertaining and knowledgeable photography writers on the net is probably Mike Johnston. I started reading his The Sunday Morning Photographer column on Luminous Landscape 3 or 4 years ago, subscribed to The 37th Frame, and then followed his blog The Online Photographer since it started over a year ago. You don't have to agree with his opinions to appreciate his knack for writing about photography (and a wide range of only mildly related topics as well).

Anyhow, his blog apparently went into some sort of spambot meltdown over the weekend. It's now up and running again on it's own The Online Photographer domain. If you've never read, it's well worth following.

The Best Place for Photography is Where you Are

I've been busy with work and home lately, and haven't gotten very far to indulge in my photography habit. But I do try to make the effort to get out and shoot whenever I can, even if it means not leaving the confines of the backyard. All it takes is to look around you and there will always be a subject that catches the eye.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Photo Lesson #385

I was out in the backyard capturing a few photos of the sunset reflection in the back window when I realized something I hadn't noticed before; the reflection and the glass are not at the same depth of field. Viewing through the camera, I could get either the reflection or the window and frame in focus, but not both. I suppose this makes sense, but I had never really noticed it before ...

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Two Views

I'm just sorting through some older scanned slides, and thought these two views of Edmonton made a nice contrast with each other.

High Water - Black & White

I've been meaning to post this one for the last week or more. However, I have been too busy moving a huge pile of garden soil from one end of the yard to the other. And I don't garden ...

Here's the black & white version of the 'High Water' image below. I tried several different 'mixes' using channel mixer, but never did get a version I really liked. This is one of the better ones, but in the end I think this is better in the colour version. Your thoughts?

Thursday, 10 May 2007

High Water

This railing is usually quite high and dry. Lots of spring run-off this year.

Do you think this one would be better as black & white?

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Pentax K10D Meets Whitemud Ravine

Most of my photography takes place with a couple of kilometers of my house. Partly that's me being lazy, party busy, and partly fortunate. Edmonton has a great park system that stretches from one end of the city to the other following the North Saskatchewan River valley, and access to it is a short 5 minute walk from my house.

Here are a few of my first photos with the K10D, made in one of my favorite areas to photograph in the river valley, Whitemud Ravine.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

The Last Film Image

I recently made the transition from film to digital. For the last few years I've been shooting mainly Kodak E100VS with a Pentax MZ-5n camera. I bought a Pentax K10D about a month ago, and this image was the last frame on the (probably) last roll of slide film I'll be shooting. At least for the short term. Nostalgia may kick in at some point :)

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Aurora November 2004

Speaking of Astrophotography, here are a few shots from one of the awesome auroral displays we were experiencing a few years ago.

These were made from the centre of a city of about 3/4 million (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), so that should give you some idea of the brightness of this particular display. Shot on Kodak E100VS slide film and later scanned.

Why Photography?

How did I end up with an interest in photography. Like many people, I've owned and used camera(s) of the 'point & shoot' variety for years, but would never have considered it a hobby. I actually came seriously into photography through another hobby of mine, amateur astronomy. Like many people with an interest in that hobby, I wanted to try my hand at astrophotography. So I got myself an old second hand Pentax ME Super (still one of my favorite cameras ever) to start out with some simple wide-angle astrophotos. Well, I did shoot some astrophotos, and one or two weren't too bad. But what I soon found was that I just loved using that camera everyday. The feel of the camera in my hands, the crisp view through the lens, and that satisfying 'schwink' sound of the shutter. And over time I learned more technically about photography, and started more to consider the art of photography. Now, it is the satisfaction that comes with creating an image that keeps me coming back for more.