Day 151—Ain’t No Sunshine. . .

. . .But at least I have sunflowers.

I experimented with exposure today. The bouquet of sunflowers was backlit by a window and I thought the luminescence of the petals was pretty and I wanted to capture that while still being able to see detail in the center of the sunflower. I used my tripod (how did I ever manage this without my tripod?) and tried different shutter speeds and apertures. I even changed from my 18-200mm zoom to my 35mm prime lens. I think this photo captures the backlit petals beautifully and still has enough texture of the sunflower center. Other photos with more detail of the flower center resulted in washed out petals.

Focal Length 80mm
ISO 100
0.6 s

Day 150—All Gave Some; Some Gave All

Today I found myself at the California Viet Nam Veterans Memorial in Capitol Park. It is a very peaceful place. The black granite walls display the names of those who died in Viet Nam (every name was read aloud yesterday in a pre Memorial Day ceremony). The names are separated by home town. I read the names listed under Santa Rosa and was relieved that I didn’t recognize any. But I was struck by how young most of the men who died in Viet Nam were; the vast majority were 19, 20, 21. Just babies. The bronze statues were all bedecked with fresh flowers, beads, and flags. One look at the display and the tears started to flow. I was not expecting the emotions that overwhelmed me as I walked around and took photos, tears streaming down my face.

I spent about an hour there, most of the time talking to a former Navy SeaBee, a gentleman in his late 70’s who entered the memorial about the same time I did, using his walker and proudly sporting a cap that proclaimed his Naval service. I sat next to him on a bench. He told me he spent a couple of years in Viet Nam as a chief heavy equipment operator building and rebuilding Liberty Bridge at An Hoa in Quang Nam Province over the Thu Bon River. As we talked, people, all much younger, approached him with outstretched hands, shaking his, thanking him for his service, or recounting their own.

Focal Length 62mm
ISO 100

Day 149—Finally I Am Ready for Scarborough Fair

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme. At last I have planted all four of those delectable herbs in my garden, along with oregano and lavender (for Le Cachat, don’t you know). Simon? Garfunkel? Do you hear that? Over the years I have always had one or more of these herbs growing in my garden but never all four at once. In the past, it seemed easier just to buy the parsley and sage at the market. Yesterday, I found a particularly lush rosemary plant that I bought to replace my 20 year old scraggly, pot bound rosemary that was no longer producing readily usable stems and I planted it a few minutes ago. The red reflection in the pot is one of my red garden clogs as I straddled the pot trying to get the best angle for a shot. As you can see, I missed the angle so I had to straighten this photo a bit.

Focal Length 32mm
ISO 100
White Balance Sunny

Day 148—Neighbors

I’ve had it with the neighbors on both sides of my house. Yesterday, when I arrived home from the gym, my neighbor on one side greeted me in my driveway with the announcement that they needed to prune the xylosma plant that shields my yard from theirs; her explanation was that they needed to prune it to allow them to erect a storage shed because some branches protruded into their yard. I assured her that was no problem as long as they just pruned the parts that were in their yard and that they pruned nothing that was vertical. When I walked out to assess the situation, I discovered they had already pruned it and there are now gaping holes where lush green once blocked my view. Aarrgggh! So no photo op there. In fact, I have often used that lush greenery as a beautiful backdrop for other things. I hope it recovers quickly.

And then, this morning I looked out to see yet another toy laying in my yard from the neighbors on the other side. This time it was a colorful ball. The good thing is that I thought it might make a good photo op so a few minutes ago I walked out, knelt down, and snapped a few shots. This was my favorite. Only a small part of the grass seed head is in focus because I used such a shallow depth of field. Now the ball can go into the garbage can. They will NOT be getting it back. Am I becoming a curmudgeon? I guess I should welcome these things. This is the second photo op these people have provided for me (please check out Day 129—The Antelope 500). What will be next?

I did have to make one adjustment. I forgot to change the white balance from incandescent to daylight so I had to make the adjustment in Aperture.

Focal Length 35mm
ISO 100
White Balance set to Tungsten
White Balance corrected to Daylight

Day 147—Jump. . .

. . .Squat! I had a session with Noelle, my personal trainer, this morning and she had me doing jump squats, one of the more arduous exercises in her torture repertoire; today she added 5 pound weights to the exercise. Since she knows about this blog (her daughter has been featured in it twice) she suggested taking a photo of me executing a jump squat. She offered to take the photo but then my friend Cindy, who also has been featured in this blog and who has deftly handled my camera in the past, stepped in and took them.

I know that I’m supposed to take the photos that I post to this blog, but hey, it’s my blog and I’ll post whatever I want in it. I did set up the exposure and Cindy executed the shots while Noelle directed. Here is the jump squat series. Not great form but interesting action shots. I collapsed after these were taken. Thanks, Cindy for taking the photos and thanks, Noelle, for suggesting what is now my photo of the day!




All three photos:

Focal Length 24mm
ISO 1000

Day 146—Rescue

Today I got another rescue call from the California Foundation for Birds of Prey. A baby hawk had fallen from a tree and needed to be picked up and brought to the clinic. My photoblogger friend, Melinda, who was visiting me when I got my first rescue call a month ago, was visiting again. What are the odds? She rode with me to the location and volunteered to sit in the back seat of my car on the return ride to the clinic to make sure that the baby hawk was secure in its box. She volunteered despite her fear of birds. Thanks, Melinda. You’re a trouper!

I took a few shots at the clinic where Vincent, one of the clinic staffers, held the downy bundle up for us to photograph. As we fumbled with camera settings, he urged us to hurry. When we returned home, I found that my shots were perfectly exposed but completely out of focus. Melinda’s were underexposed and we won’t know the status of her focus until she returns home and downloads her pictures. We may be intrepid photographers but we seem to have a long way to go before we’ll be able to take pictures under duress. Maybe the third time will be a charm!

Focal Length 170mm
ISO 640

Day 145—Red Daisy

I’m experimenting with still life today because I have a life and won’t have time to take a photo later today! I bought some lovely red gerbera daisies yesterday and thought this single blossom would make an interesting composition. I experimented with different shutter speeds and this one resulted in the best exposure for the look I was seeking.

Focal Length 42mm
ISO 100
1 sec.

Day 144— Fascinating Rhythm

Blurred motion is something I’m interested in, both because my photos frequently get unintentional blurred motion but also because I find intentional blurred motion fascinating. Today I decided to dust off my metronome and see what kind of blur I could get. I set my camera on the tripod and experimented with apertures and shutter speeds. I took photos in three sets, downloading to my computer after each. This photo is from a set that produced the best blur of the metronome but because I was not careful when I placed the camera back onto the tripod, the level was off. I had to straighten it. So, this photo is not straight out of the camera. I grabbed the stiffest piece of sheet music that I had for background, which was Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune. I should have selected Gershwin, given the title of today’s blog entry. But on closer scrutiny, the time signature of this piece is 9/8 which is a pretty fascinating rhythm. What happened to 4/4? So I guess it’s no wonder I could never play this piece all the way through!

Focal Length 82mm
ISO 100
2 seconds

Day 143—Tower

The latest assignment for the photography class I’m taking gave us several options. I chose architecture, which proved to be more difficult than I thought it would be. We were asked to find a picturesque building that is at least two stories tall. We had to shoot the building at its full height and in at least two other angles. We were challenged to create converging lines in at least one picture, and correct them to some extent in another. We could also shoot details and alter the perspective. I tried everything. I had more success with some shots than with others.

I chose to follow advice on shooting architecture that was provided on one of the reference sites for this lesson. The advice helped me to set up the shots in other than my usual random and haphazard way. The primary advice was that buildings don’t move. That’s stating the obvious, I guess, but it went on to say that in order to achieve adequate sharp focus in an architectural photograph, it is necessary to use the camera’s lowest ISO (ISO 100 in my case) and to set an aperture that provides a large depth of field (I alternated between f/16 and f/22). A slow ISO and small aperture require a slow shutter speed (1/30 resulted in the best exposure for me) and thus it is imperative to use a tripod.

I chose to photograph the historic Tower Theater in downtown Roseville. Vernon Street was almost deserted at midday today and I felt free to set up my tripod and try different compositions and angles. When I got home and viewed the photographs I took, I was generally disappointed. I took only 37 photos which is a small number for me; I took only 4 or 5 in each of 8 different poses. I discovered that I don’t know how to position the scene well when using a tripod. In many of the photos, minor adjustments I made in the position of the camera on the tripod resulted in vastly different and many unacceptable composition changes I hadn’t recognized through the viewfinder. I also discovered that I didn’t adjust the camera to level in both vertical and horizontal positions on the tripod. Tripod use is obviously something I need to practice.

Contrary to my usual and intended practice to post photos straight out of the camera, today’s photo was one of those photos that was not perfectly exposed and I had to apply Curves adjustments in Aperture. When I realized my exposure was wrong and made the adjustments in shutter speed to achieve correct exposure, I failed to return the camera to the same position and the composition was poor. I chose composition over correct exposure today, but to show that I can do get the exposure right, I am posting the correctly exposed, poorly composed photo as well.

Focal Length 20mm
ISO 100
Curves Adjustments

Focal Length 18mm
ISO 100

Day 142—Freedom

Today, the California Foundation for Birds of Prey held an open house. One of the highlights of the event was the release of a rehabilitated juvenile red-tailed hawk back to the wild. They held a silent auction to determine who had the privilege of actually releasing the bird. The winning bid pledged $135 to the CFBP. I was thrilled to capture the instant of his freedom. He quickly disappeared into the thick woods nearby.

Focal Length 112mm
ISO 400