Day 181—Kelly

Today I learned a little bit more about taking portraits. My friend Cindy’s daughter Kelly, a student at Arizona State University, is excited to be a finalist for a position as a Phoenix Sun’s Dancer and I volunteered to take the head shots she needs for her interview in a couple of weeks in Arizona. I set up my studio in my sewing room taking advantage of the afternoon light from corner windows. I also had white reflectors everywhere and brought in every available lamp to enhance the lighting. I used my 18-200mm lens and discovered that it was necessary to slow the shutter speed to the point where I had to use the tripod and I attached the Scoop so I could deflect the flash to add even more light.

Kelly brought several changes of clothes and I had several backdrops of different colors and textures that her Mom and I bought at Joann’s yesterday. I downloaded photos to the computer frequently so we could evaluate how we were doing. The photos were good and I managed to get her eyes in perfect focus but something was missing. We tried different colored tops and changed the backgrounds but although the photos were in focus and well exposed, something was missing; I finally realized it was the lack of highlights in her hair. For all the lights and reflectors I had set up, I didn’t have an overhead light to reflect down on her hair. Luckily, Cindy had accompanied her daughter and she spent the rest of the afternoon holding an OTT light over Kelly’s hair. That made all the difference in the world and we finally got the results we were seeking.

In my opinion, it would be hard, if not impossible, to take a bad photograph of Kelly. I’m not sure which of the many usable shots she will pick for her interview. We all liked this photo but she felt it was a little too casual and not quite the “sexy” and “professional” look they were expecting and she preferred several others. But it is my favorite so when I got her permission to use one of the shots for my photo of the day, I informed her that I get to pick this one!

Focal Length 75mm
ISO 320
f/5.6
1/40
SOOC

Day 180—Keep Out

I’m trying to catch up with the photography class assignments I missed while on my trip. Today I took on my lesson 2 assignment, shooting tall and hyperfocal distance. A smaller aperture gives a greater depth of field and hyperfocal distance is the spot one focuses on to give the photo the maximum sharpness. Since focus continues to be one of my issues, I thought this would be an appropriate challenge for me. We were instructed to use a wide angle lens so I attached my 35mm prime lens. We then had to photograph a scene with something in the background, something in the middle and something in the foreground and, in order to keep everything in focus, we had to focus on the foreground.

I stopped at an area along a nearby road with a sign that I find interesting and set up my tripod. I love this sign. It is obviously made out of a discarded piece of metal, perhaps a hubcap? With the barbed wire and the star thistle, I doubt it was necessary but it gets the point across. I focused on the yellow flowers in the foreground, the sign is the middle ground and the mostly obscured tree is the background. It all seems to be in focus.

Focal Length 35mm
ISO 100
f/16
1/100
SOOC

Day 179—Self Portrait. . .In a Rain Drop

It’s raining again today; not just sprinkles but hard rain and thunder. By late afternoon I still had not taken a single photo and I thought I’d try water drops again because the water was pouring off the roof giving me a steady source. I set up the tripod in the front doorway and focused my 70-300mm lens at the drops; all my efforts were either out of focus or too dark. I switched to my remote trigger thinking I was shaking the camera on the tripod. Still bad photos. Then I got a brilliant idea to use fill flash. Brilliant except that the built-in flash on my camera syncs at 1/200 and will not allow the faster shutter speeds needed to stop water drops. Note to self: look into external flash units. I then thought I’d shine a bright light onto the drops but couldn’t find a good light source until I hit upon the idea of using the 300 watt work light over the workbench in the garage. That didn’t work either because it’s permanently affixed and wouldn’t reach the drops. But, because I was now in the garage, I noticed another drip from the edge of the garage roof that allowed me to set up the camera with lots of natural back light. I bumped up the ISO and matched that high ISO with an even higher shutter speed and stopped down the lens to f/8. None of the photos I took was spectacular but in one I realized that the black reflection in the drops was me. This has to be it for today. I need to go make a pot of soup to have for dinner on this dreary day.

Focal Length 280mm
ISO 1250
f/8
1/2000
SOOC

Day 178—Monday, Monday, Can’t Trust That Day

Or my reading ability, for that matter. My class assignment was to go to a zoo or someplace with animals in cages and take photographs using a tripod and manual settings. I checked out the hours for the Folsom Zoo which is closer to me than the Sacramento Zoo and drove off. I had packed my 70-300mm lens so I could get better closeups of the lions and tigers and bears (oh, my!) than my 18-200mm lens affords me and I fashioned a carrying strap for my tripod out of the strap for my laptop…only to find that the Folsom Zoo is closed on Mondays. The chickens roaming everywhere ended up being my subjects. Not exactly caged wild beasts but it worked for me.

I don’t know what kind of chicken this rooster is but he strutted his stuff and cock-a-doodle-doo-ed the entire time I was there. I like the composition of this with his body diagonally bissecting the photo and the black background that accentuates his upper body.

Focal Length 155
ISO 200
f/14
1/100
SOOC

Day 177—Pesto

I’m home and the basil I planted before I left is thriving and flowering. Can’t use the flowers for pesto so I harvested enough to make a batch of pesto and pinched the flowers off the rest. I got so involved in making the pesto that I forgot to take photos as I went. Food photography is quite a challenge and I know why so many food stylists often use other-than-edible food to make those magazine covers so enticing. When I decided to take some pictures of the finished product, I got so involved in setting up the shot that I noticed the pesto was started to discolor so this shot (the thirteenth) is a little darker than when I finished making it.

Focal Length 35mm
ISO 200
f/5
1/13
SOOC

Day 176—Foxtrot Mary

Foxtrot Mary played for the Auburn Alehouse Brewery and Restaurant’s fourth anniversary celebration tonight. They had the place rockin’. Here’s Michael St. John and Tim Brisson jamming on Poke (Polk?) Salad Annie (or something comparably bluesy).

Low light levels and slow shutter speeds conspired against me once again so I converted the photo to black and white and then added sepia which seemed to work better with the grainy photo.

Focal length 105mm
ISO 3200
f/5.3
1/50

Day 175—The Public Market without the Bustle

Friday was the last day of our Pacific Northwest adventure. We awoke early to bleak skies and rain in Seattle. I looked out the window of our room to see the empty streets and the empty Pike’s Public Market. It had not yet come to life and the fish, vegetable, and flower vendors were just starting to stock the tables and display cases with local catches and harvests. The market would come to life later with hordes of tourists and shoppers crowding the stalls but we were long gone when that happened. It was interesting to see the emptiness of the market at that early hour. I’m glad the bustle and excitement of the place had not yet begun because that it made it easier for us to leave.

I took this photo leaning out the fourth floor window of our room at the Inn at the Market. And, yes, we could open the window and there were no screens. How refreshing. I leaned a little too much to the left so I had to straighten it just a bit.

Focal Length 18mm
ISO 800
f/8
1/100

Day 174—Welcome to the United States

Today we took the Black Ball Ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles. We had to get our passports checked before leaving Canada and although the checkpoint, in Victoria, said “Welcome to the United States,” Canadian Customs officials staffed the office. While I waited, I took a photo of the tattered plastic American flag bunting that adorned the chain link fence.

Focal Length 52
ISO 640
f4.8
1/200
SOOC

Day 173—The Hostess With the Mostest

Tonight we dined on the covered patio at the highly recommended (by the locals) Flying Otter Grill which is on Victoria’s inner harbor by the sea plane terminal. It’s a lively, crowded restaurant with staff who seem like your friends by the time you leave. We savored local beer at the bar with Scott while we waited for a choice patio table. Scott assured us that if the halibut burger I was considering for dinner was not the best I’d ever had, he would buy it for me. He was right; and he was off the hook. It was the best of all the burgers I’ve had on the trip, including lamb, salmon, and halibut.

When a table on the patio finally opened up, Eve, our lovely, personable and divinely decorated hostess showed us to our table. I have to admit that since I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and I was a little tired after driving all day sightseeing, I was already feeling the first beer when Eve showed us to the table, so I’m not exactly sure how it came to be that I was suddenly photographing the artwork on her thighs but the male patrons in the restaurant seemed to enjoy it and I was quite taken with the mermaid on her right thigh. I had to do a little tweaking because the setting was a little underexposed but I like the results. So, Eve, thank you. You are my photo of the day.

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Focal Length 18mm
ISO 200
f/16
1/200

Day 172—O Canada

We’re in Victoria, BC staying at the Magnolia Hotel just down the block from the British Columbia parliament building. Last evening, I looked out the window of our hotel room and could see the corner of the parliament building outlined in 3300 lights. So this evening after dark, Susan and I walked down to the wharf and I took some photos of the building. I didn’t bring my tripod so I took a chance that I could hold the camera still enough for a slow shutter speed. Today is the Summer Solstice and even after 10 PM, when I took this photo, it wasn’t completely dark so there is still some color in the sky and the boats in the wharf in front of the Parliament building are barely visible in the fading light.

Focal Length 34mm
ISO 250
f/4.5
1/8
SOOC