The Way I See It

Archive for March 2012

Market After Dark

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All-Way Crossing

All-Way Crossing

So Iโ€™ve been playing with this gizmo called a Sony NEX-7. One of the things that Iโ€™m especially interested in is how it performs in low light…how the images look when shot at high ISOs. Last night, after dinner, the rain finally let up. I made a quick trip to the Pike Place Public Market and got in some shots of the place as it appears after hours (those of you who have visited Seattle have probably seen it in itโ€™s crowded daytime glory so this is a somewhat stark contrast ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

Red Jacket

Red Jacket

Photo Notes
All images were made with the Sony 18-55 kit lens, shot mostly wide open. What stunned me was how great the JPGs looked, right out of the camera. Nonetheless, I decided to process the RAW files in Lightroom, to see how things could be pushed and pulled. For these first three ย images, I applied a minimum of processing, mostly mimicking how they looked when they came out of the camera.

Take Me Home With You?

Take Me Home With You?

I was more heavy-handed with Chef. A tough scene to meter, I had underexposed it quite severely when I shot it. I thus applied an additional stop of exposure in processing. As is to be expected, the dark areas came out somewhat noisy, but Lightroom did a reasonable job in clearing it up (I tend to favor putting up with noise over losing detail).

Chef

Chef

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Sunrise in the City

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Kerry Park, 20120205

Kerry Park, 20120205

It’s been a sunny, warm, weekend. I have some gear that I’ve been testing so I got up early yesterday (Saturday) and went over to Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill, to the quintessential “sunrise over Seattle” viewpoint. Got there with plenty of time to spare, picked my spot, and set things up. “Uh-oh,” I thought to myself as the sky began to lighten. On the horizon hung a thin band of thick clouds. They lessened as one glanced upwards and finally petered out at 30-35 degrees from horizontal. Clear blue sky overhead at Kerry Park and over most of Seattle but where it mattered most, the vital first rays of the new day would likely be completely obscured. I hung around nonetheless, hoping that a break would form. 7:08 a.m. came and went. Still only dull grays and blues. Oh well. At least I got in a nice chat with a gentleman named Craig, who was visiting from Oregon. “I’ll probably be here again tomorrow” said he. “So will I, most likely” I replied.

This morning rolled around. I’d gotten up a bit late and hurried over there. “Morning” said he. “Good morning.” He pointed towards the horizon with his chin. “Doesn’t look good.” I concurred. Again we hung out, chatting about photography and life, hoping but not uttering the hope that somehow, good fortune would intercede. Not on this morning. We bid our adieus. As I drove home, I thought about how fortunate I was to be a sunset photographer. Before deciding to head out, I have the luxury of seeing the Western sky (from whence most Seattle weather originates) out my front window. From the city, there is a live webcam that I also check. Finally, there are the doppler radar readings. Sunrise photographers have almost none of these luxuries. They have to be ready before the first light hits the skies. They are essentially at the mercy of whatever that light reveals. I wondered if I could ever make sunrise photo shoots a regular habit.

And what of the image? It is from a more fortuitous outing not long ago. That’s the Space Needle and downtown Seattle in the foreground. In the back rises a snow-clad Mount Rainier.

I rationalize these past two mornings as putting in my time, as payback for the numerous 1-for-1 mornings with which I have been blessed. Or perhaps they are a deposit paid on some future jaw-dropping sunrise. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Photo Notes
f/8, 1/15 second at ISO 200. For this image, I decided to expose for the liveliness in the sky, while leaving the structured forms of the buildings in near-silhouette. This image is very much what came out of the camera…I only applied a bit of tone mapping to accurately reflect the variety of colors that I witnessed that morning.

 

Written by xinapray

March 25, 2012 at 6:54 pm

A Duck Encounter

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Houseboats, Lake Union, 2012

Houseboats, Lake Union, 2012

It had been a really intense work week. When Friday rolled around, I was dead tired but since there was a temporary break in the rain and there were big, puffy, luminescent clouds blowing over the city, I grabbed the cameras and headed down to the lake. One of the compositions that I tried was to juxtapose the boxy, man-made lines of the houseboats against the randomness of the sky. So there I was, crouched on the shore with camera at the water line, contorting myself in order to (barely) make out the composition on the (non-articulating) camera screen. A bit of swirling in the water caused me to glance up and there in front of me, almost eye level to eye level, was this duck couple. They had been messing around in the scrub several yards away but apparently the intense, awkward, human activity was something that warranted checking out. I laughed so hard that I almost fell over.

Photog Notes
f/3.4, 1/250 second at ISO 80 on an infrared-converted Panasonic ZS6. In post processing, I applied some sharpening and a bit of selective dodging and burning. I then adjusted the red and blue channels to get the tones that I desired. A teeny bit of curves adjustment finished off the image. In good light, the point-and-shoot ZS6 performs quite well (as is the case here) but I’m rather rapidly growing into the notion that I need to be shooting with an SLR-sized sensor ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

Written by xinapray

March 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Sunset, 20120304

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untitled

untitled

One of my favorite activities is catching sunset by the water. It allows me to decompress and recharge; a gorgeous blue hour keeps me in good spirits for days. But the confluence of weather and work this winter has offered me relatively few opportunities to participate in this favorite activity.

Sunday evening brought the potential to make a few frames. I arrived with lots of time to spare but as the big orange orb edged itโ€™s way towards the horizon, the anxiety began to build. It used to feel like I ran through each sunset shoot as if on autopilot. But today, I struggled with composition and finding the right technical settings. And as quickly as the sun was racing past the horizon, so my window of opportunity was closing. I hurried through several frames. This is one of the images that I was able to capture. Shooting seascapes is about relaxing and making a good memory. On this day, it felt like just really hard work. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Photog Notes
f/13, 1/4 second at ISO 200. To help tame the dynamic range, I applied a 2-stop hard-edged graduated neutral density filter when I made the exposure. But the histogram and on-screen blinkies confirmed that I still had blown highlights (where the sun had just dropped below the horizon and in the clouds directly above), so I snapped an exposure just for those areas and manually blended them into the overall image.

Written by xinapray

March 10, 2012 at 4:30 pm

That That Is Not Seen

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Carkeek IR No.1

Carkeek IR No.1

For some time now, I have been interested in Infrared photography. I recently jumped into the genre with an IR-converted point-and-shoot. I’ve been shooting it alongside my regular cameras and have been learning what works, what doesn’t, what subjects look good, what is absolutely boring. Here are a couple of my experiments.

Photog Notes
One thing that I quickly discovered with shooting in the infrared part of the spectrum is just how much light is required to make a proper exposure. Because my shooting style involves shooting in relative low light anyway, a great deal of my initial handhelds were discards. Exposing for IR takes 1 to 2 stops more light (or roughly twice to four times as much light as needed with a regular camera), so I’m toting the tripod around a lot more. I imagine that it’s quite amusing to people to watch the guy with the big tripod with the little camera perched on top ๐Ÿ˜‰

Gasworks IR No.1

Gasworks IR No.1

 

Written by xinapray

March 3, 2012 at 4:58 pm

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