Lego Man Macro

Self Portrait
I’ve been experimenting again with Poor Man’s Macro with the reverse 50mm lens I mentioned before. What I’ve learned so far is that the focus ring on the reverse lens doesn’t make much difference. None that I could tell. It’s also better to use manual focus on the normal lens, otherwise it has to hunt around a lot, or you have set a single focal point and not an average. For this picture I think I used manual focus, but it can remember for sure.

It also helps if you can steady your hand against something while shooting to reduce forward-backward movement. Getting the focus just right is tricky, so you want to be as still as possible. This Lego man was on top of my dresser so I could steady myself on the dresser. The dresser is right next to the window, which faces roughly southwest so the sun was shining through quite nicely.

In terms of processing, I didn’t do much – just some contrast. The vignetting is from the reverse lens, but it worked nicely for this shot. I probably should have wiped the dust off before shooting. Next time.

Shot Details

Taken 8/30/2007 6:17 PM (GMT-8)
1/125 second
ISO 500


Bunker 3

Here’s the first photo from my Point Bonita shoot last weekend. With the eclipse, kids going back to school, and work it’s been hard to find time to go through the images and pick some to post.

To be honest, I wasn’t happy with my shooting that day. It was a fogging day, so everything looked really flat. Point Bonita has incredible views of the Golden Gate and the western part of San Francisco, but the fog made it difficult for me to shoot any nice landscapes. I ended up taking a lot of pictures of the old military bunkers. For some reason, they are good subjects for me.

I also spent a bit more time processing the images. Normally I do a little brightness and contrast adjustment, maybe some cropping, but not much else. For these shots because the lighting was so flat, I played with curves more to bring out the colors and add depth. For this shot I applied a colored filter to bring out certain tones and did some pretty drastic curves adjustments. I’m starting to experiment more with post-processing on some shots, but I’m not sure how I like it. I tend to be more of a “get right in the camera” photographer, but sometimes some shots just need more help. When I took this shot I planned on a lot of processing and intended it to be black and white. I guess the more abstract the shot, the more processing I’m willing to do. When shooting I usually do think about what level of processing I’ll do on the computer when I get home. I knew this image would have a lot or processing.

One thing I’ve learned while working with RAW images is that I need a faster computer with more RAM. My 1.5 GHz with 512 MB of RAM is just too slow. Maybe I’ll get a new motherboard and processor instead of buying some of the photo gear I’ve been planning on.

There are more Point Bonita shots on Zooomr; I’ll probably blog a couple of them this week. You can view this one on Zooomr with a GeoTag. Since Zooomr isn’t showing EXIF info, I’m including it on the blog posts. I’ll update this post later with that info.

Holy Joe

Holy Joe
This will be a quick post, trying to maintain the shot a day idea (although it has been a very long time since I’ve posted on consecutive days.)

Yesterday I went out to Point Bonita in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area with my family to hike around and shoot some pictures. We followed that up with dinner at Joe’s Taco Lounge in Mill Valley. Joe’s is the best Taco Lounge around. To this day I have not found a better chicken burrito. The decor of the place really makes the experience. The walls are lined with hot sauce, as shown in the image above. There’s also plenty of religious artwork and icons as well. It’s only a couple of miles of 101, so stop by if you get the chance.

Tonight I plan on getting up to shoot the eclipse, but have splitting headache at the moment, so I’m playing it by ear.

Shot Details:
Taken August 26, 2007
Mill Valley, CA
Aperture: 4.5
Shutter Speed: 1/100
ISO: 800

Blackberry Pie

Pie, after
Last weekend my family went out and picked some blackberries, so I made a pie. It was a good pie, especially with vanilla ice cream. It was decent year for blackberries, even with the low rainfall. The berries weren’t as big as I’ve seen them in the past, but were sweet. Picking blackberries is somewhat of a labor of love. It takes a quite a while to get enough berries for a pie and your hands end up stained and cut from the thorns. But then, there’s nothing like a warm blackberry pie.

Blackberry picking is somewhat of a ritual for us every year. We make a point of picking as much as we can, but as the years go by, summer gets busier so we don’t get out to pick as much as we used to. But we do get fresh berries every year. I’m hoping to get out again soon to pick more berries and make another pie. We’ll see.

Cracked Rear View

Cracked Rear View
Not much to say about this shot, just an old Chevy flatbed truck sitting in a field collecting dust and spiders. I’m sure the truck has seen more productive days, as have I. This summer seems to be slipping by, and I can’t really say where it’s gone. I’ve definitely not had as much chance to take pictures as I was hoping. The days just some how seem to fill up then slip away. I sort of wish I had more days like this old truck – nothing to do and no where to go.

I don’t have much information on the truck, other than it’s a 1940’s flatbed. It’s a pretty big and can haul a good sized load.

I think that’s about it for this post. Here’s an alternate shot of the truck, taken last year.

Give me liberty, and respect

Give me liberty
I saw this flag by the side of the road as I drove to work last week. I didn’t have my camera, and figured it would be gone the next time I drove by. It wasn’t. It laid there for several days. I finally stopped to take a picture and collect the flag. I don’t know how long it had been there, but it was pretty battered and dirty. It had obviously been there a while.

I was surprised to see it there to begin with, and even more surprised it stayed for so long next to a busy road. I don’t consider myself overly patriotic, but I still thought someone should have picked up the flag. It is a symbol of our country, and whether or not you agree with the policies of our current administration, I think most Americans at least have a fundamental respect for the ideals of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights (even if our current Administration doesn’t seem to respect either) and what the flag represents. It does not represent policy or a political party or misguided trust in a power addled president. It represents hope and freedom and opportunity and justice for all people – regardless of where they come from, what they believe, or who they fall in love with.

I thought it incredibly sad and ironic that hundreds of people drove by this flag, tossed by the side of the road along with fast food containers and cigarette butts, but no one thought to pick it up. I wonder how many of these people think it a crime to burn the flag as form of expression. I guess if people don’t care enough to stop and pick up a flag, then they can’t be expected to speak up for what the flag represents. I’m not even sure I should have taken a picture, but that’s what I do, and the scene touched me.

People fought and died for this country, then others fought and died for rights everyone deserves. Now, in our modern times, people can’t even show a small sign of respect. It makes me sad. I hope that shows in the shot.

I just can’t keep up

I’ve been trying to get five minutes to get a post up, but life seems to conspire against me. A quick note, then the photo.

First, check out 6 Million Peopleon flickr. I came across this from Thomas Hawk’s blog post, and the next day made my first contribution. Go take some portraits, post them, and honor those that died.

Now, the photo for the day (or week, as it seems to be lately)

Weight of the worldWeight of the world Hosted on Zooomr

I made a point last week of getting out at lunch and taking some pictures. Actually, I think I only took pictures of this fruit stand. I geotagged it on Zooomr if you’re interested in the actual location. I’ve driven by this place thousands of times and never
stopped. It’s located on a busy commute route, so lots of people drive by. This one time, early in the morning there was a guy leaning on the outside wall, reading a newspaper and I thought, what a cool shot. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera. I went back the next day and took some shots. I’d realized, again, that the things I see everyday hold great shots. This shot isn’t spectacular, but it captures the old time feeling of the fruit stand.

I hope to find a few great shots in my everyday life.


CrossroadsCrossroads Hosted on Zooomr

The trains stopped running in Petaluma years ago, but the tracks are still around. These tracks are behind a hay and feed supplier that’s still in business, but not using the railroad. This shot is actually the bottom of a wider shot, but the tracks were the best part, so I cropped the image. This was also one of the first shots I took in RAW, and I’m glad I did.

This part of the original was in deep shadow. I had to adjust the brightness and contrast a lot. I could not have done it with a JPG file. The RAW format saved this shot. I was shocked at how much flexibility I had, even in Picasa. Picasa isn’t really designed for photo editing, but it did the trick with this image. I didn’t care much for the original shot, but thanks to some cropping and exposure adjustment, it was a favorite from that day. I’ll be shooting a lot more RAW, and buying a 4 gig compact flash card to make sure I have enough room.
See Zooomr for the geotag and a few other shots I did in RAW the same day.


OctagonOctagon Hosted on Zooomr

Wow, it has been a while since I posted. I need to change the blog title.

This is a shot of the ceiling in an octagon my father-in-law is building. It’s sort of a hobby for him. There is actually a lot of history behind the building, but that’s completely unrelated to photos. There are more photos of this building on my Picasa site. The ceiling of this building really is cool. I wish I had a really wide angle lens to shoot this with.  All the wood is unfinished, and I didn’t do any color correction to the photo. It’s really cool building, being an octagon instead of rectangle really makes it unique. This photo looks cool, lots of angles and wood. Check out the other photos.
As always, it’s on Zooomr.

Aerial Shots and Photoshop Lightroom

This is not a photo post, but some links.

I found this on Digg today. Some impressive aerial shots from around the world. I wish I had a nice helicopter to use for photography.

Also, Adobe moved Photoshop Lightroom out of beta today. If you have $200 to drop, it’s yours. I’ve only looked at the online promo video for it, and at first glance it looks a lot like Picasa. I like Photoshop, but it is way out of my price range. I’m hoping Lightroom has the features I would like without all the extra stuff I never use. At first glance, I looks like it does. I stopped upgrading Photoshop at version 6 and have used up through CS2 at work, but can’t afford it for my personal use. However, Lightroom is much closer to my price range, although not as close as Picasa. It is definitely geared for professional photographers with a lot of export/printing functions geared toward pros, but the simple exposure and touch-up features are intriguing.

I’ll download the trial version and see if it is worth $200 more than Picasa.  Being a photo-hobbyist, it may not be worth the money.  But’s its worth looking at.
Maybe I’ll download the trial version and see how it behaves.