The Way I See It

Archive for the ‘geek stuff’ Category

Spring Arrives

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blossoms

blossoms

It looks like we are finally into Spring. As the weather warms, one of the popular gathering places is the quadrangle (“The Quad”) at the University of Washington, which boasts a 60+ year-old collection of carefully curated Yoshino cherry trees that always seem to bloom in unison. When this happens, residents and visitors alike descend on campus; on sunny days, it reverberates with excited oohs and aahs, joyful giggling and delighted shrieking.  Most people see the quad experience as a celebration of the season. I see it as a celebration of life.

kids in trees iuntitled

kids in trees i

This year, while most people focused on the beautiful pale-peach blossoms, I decided to concentrate on the people, for it is the people who give this spring ritual life. I made these images in sunshine, clouds and rain, conditions that are typical of spring in the Northwest. If you are one of the people featured here, do drop me a note. I’d love to get a print to you.

pink

pink

Photo Notes
A major impetus behind the creation of these images is my ongoing evaluation of the Sony NEX-7 system. As such, these images were made with the 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 (SEL1855) and 55-210 mm f/4.5-6.3 (SEL55210) “kit” lenses. When proper technique, the JPG images that came out of the camera were very, very good. Nontheless, I chose to process the RAW files in Lightroom to get more familiar with both ARWs (Sony RAW files) and Lightroom. Coincidentally, the resulting images look very much like the out-of-camera JPGs. 😉

love

love

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Market After Dark

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All-Way Crossing

All-Way Crossing

So I’ve been playing with this gizmo called a Sony NEX-7. One of the things that I’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 it’s crowded daytime glory so this is a somewhat stark contrast 😉 ).

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  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

Leaves on Dark Water

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Leaves on Dark Water

Leaves on Dark Water

I was walking around the lake, and stopped for a bit on the south side. By this late hour of the day, the shoreline was almost completely in the shadow of the adjacent tree-covered hill. The water was dark and flat, except for two, maybe three, feet from the shore, where the weeds grew. Here, their tops created a beautiful texture on the dark, shiny surface, occasionally broken up by the brightness of fallen willow foliage. As I stopped to survey the scene, a narrow beam of sunlight cut through the trees, bathing this patch of leaves in a warm glow.

Photog Notes
ISO 100, 1/25 second, f/8. I made this image with a Canon G12 point-and-shoot. The RAW file was processed with Canon’s Digital Photo Pro, then tweaked and finished off in GIMP. What you see is pretty much what came out of the camera. I applied a bit of curves adjustment and tone mapping to bring out a bit more of the richness of color and to focus attention, and that was about it. Apart from it’s heft, the G12 is a joy to work with. I particularly enjoy the build quality, the quick access to controls, and the beautiful balance of the instrument.

 

Somewhere Between The Cake and The Eggs

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Christmas Eve, 2011

Christmas Eve, 2011

My last two errands on Christmas Eve were to pick up the cake for the party, and the eggs for breakfast on Christmas morning. While heading to the cake shop, I saw that beautiful clouds were beginning to form on the horizon and surmised that with the current conditions there was going to be the chance for a decent sunset. After picking up the cake, I headed down to the water. All I had with me was the Canon S100 point-and-shoot but no matter, I had been wanting to try out it’s low light capabilities anyway.

Photog Notes
This image is a composite of two images, one exposed for the sky and distant water, the other for the foreground. Without the big camera and filter set up, I knew going into this shoot that the game plan would entail multiple exposures, then blending them in post processing to create an even exposure across the frame (aka a high dynamic range composite, if you will). Luckily, I had my regular tripod with me – this sturdy setup allowed me to set up in the water without any movement or change in position between frames.

In post processing, I converted the RAW files with Canon’s Digital Photo Pro, then built the composite in GIMP. Both images for the composite were shot in manual exposure at ISO 80, f/8 to allow the sensor to capture the most detail. I exposed the foreground image at 3.2 seconds to allow the water surface to glass over. The distant scene was exposed at 1 second to preserve the colors and patterns in the clouds. As expected, the S100’s sensor-lens combination performed like a champ when satisfied with the proper amount of light.

 

Brrrr!

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winter style

winter style

We’re pretty spoiled in Seattle. Our geography and proximity to the ocean (currents) provide us with mild weather all year round. Wet maybe, but definitely tolerable. December, however, blew in with some attitude. I made this image earlier this week on a morning when the frost was thick on the ground.

Photog Notes
This is another image from my ongoing test of the Canon PowerShot S100. I made this exposure at 1/200 second with the camera set at ISO 400. To control the depth of field, I shot the lens at a wide-open f/2. What I like most is the cool tones that the auto white balance imparted. In processing the RAW image, I tried a variety of settings but nothing came as close to reproducing the light and color that day as the in-camera white balance.

 

FlashBus 2011 Mini Review

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FlashBus 2011

I am primarily an available-light photographer. Landscapes, nature, travel. When the light is low, my trusty tripod and remote comfort me. Shoot with a Speedlight? Only when I’m forced to – and with some scepticism and a bit of apprehension. But when I read that two of the greats of modern strobe photography were putting on a road show (and heavens!, there was going to be a stop in Seattle!), I knew I had to sign up.

If you are a photographer who spends any time at all on the Web, you can’t help but recognize the names David Hobby (the Strobist) and Joe McNally (is there anyone famous that this guy hasn’t shot?). A combined 60 years experience between the two of ‘em. More magazine and website covers than you’d ever guess.

Hobby kicked off the show. His job was to ensure that we understood the fundamentals. This accomplished, he then guided us through his techniques and thought processes. McNally had the afternoon. Lots of “let’s do it right here, right now” show-and-tell. Both masters were entertaining beyond words. But more  importantly, they taught us stuff. Very, very useful stuff.

My takeaways?

1. Lighting with Speedlights is not magic. It’s science – primarily of physics and math. It employs elements of the scientific method – experimentation, measurement, prediction, repeatability. Do it enough times with the same equipment and you, too, can get that perfect exposure. Just like Hobby and McNally.

2. Making compelling images with Speedlights – that is art. It involves vision and experience and people skills. On top of the science, heap on gobs of creativity. Then turn on the charisma and the wit and the persuasion. Anyone with a human subject and a bunch of gear can make a portrait. But to get an already-jittery soprano to calm down and even agree to make an offbeat singing-in-the-shower image – that is what makes people like Hobby and McNally seem like gods among us mere click-happy mortals.

3. Bottom line – Flashbus is about light. How to see it, use it, bend it, shape it. As photographers, the more we know about light, the better we will be at our craft. My 100 bucks were incredibly well-spent.

You can see more here:
http://www.theflashbus.com/
http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/
http://www.joemcnally.com/blog/

Written by xinapray

March 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Blade

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Blade

I’d whined about how heavy my carry-on backpack was so she got me this. I am spoiled!

Written by xinapray

February 14, 2011 at 9:30 pm

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