Day 212—Ala Carte

It was late in the day; I had taken no photos yet. Leaving the grocery store, I pushed my shopping cart into the long snake of other carts, and, stretched in front of me I saw my photo of the day!

Focal Length 50mm
ISO 200
f/5
1/60
SOOC

Day 211—Basket

The Ghanese market basket I bought in Redding last year at the Farmers’ Market holds my photography books. I emptied it for this morning’s photo. I think the most interesting thing about this basket is its leather-covered handle so that is the focus of this photograph.

I used the lowest ISO so I needed a slow shutter speed and, of course, the tripod. And, if you look closely, the light coming through the weave of the body of the basket, blurred by the large aperture, produced some tiny bokeh, a nice bonus.

Focal Length 80mm
ISO 100
f/5
1/2 second
SOOC

Day 210—Strum

I’ve been thinking about guitars lately because I’m reading “Life” by Keith Richards. Amazingly, it isn’t all about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Keith recounts (in a sort of stream of consciousness way) his early musical influences (primarily blues—The Stones started as a blues band). He explains how he discovered five-string open G guitar tuning (huh?) and how that discovery transformed the sounds his guitar made and the sounds the Stones are best known for: no 6th string on his guitar and keeping his guitar tuned to Open G. Then, this morning, the paper ran an article about a Santa Cruz company that makes artisanal guitars using vintage wood and I was intrigued by a photograph that accompanied the article, a closeup that shows the strings as they are threaded onto the guitar. Since I have two acoustical guitars, and I’ve been thinking so much about guitars, why not photograph them?

I was mostly interested in the angle and lighting of the newspaper photograph but I was unable to duplicate it. This is one of the photos I did like. I set the white balance to incandescent and fine tuned it until the photos matched the guitar color perfectly.

Focal Length 52
ISO 100
f/16
5 seconds
SOOC

Day 209—They Call It Mellow Yellow

The Thursday Farmers’ Market provides me with lots of colorful photo opportunities. Today’s market was no exception. I was torn between my photos of purple onions and these gorgeous yellow tomatoes. Some of each came home with me but I chose the tomatoes for my photo of the day. I used the Sunny 16 rule again today and today it produced a perfect exposure. Last time I tried the Sunny 16 rule at the Farmers’ Market, the red tomatoes were overexposed. I don’t understand why. Maybe it has something to do with the spectrum.

Focal Length 105mm
ISO 100
f/16
1/100
SOOC

Day 208—Reemergence

My friend Henry came over yesterday and cleaned the weeds and debris out of my side yard. It was his idea. When he was looking after my house during a recent trip, he noticed the jungle of weeds and overgrown plants, piles of broken and unused flowerpots, and the general messiness of the area that was detracting from the rest of my marginally attractive yard. By the time I arrived home from the gym, he had transformed the area and by the time he left at noon, several ferns I planted 20 years ago and had actually forgotten, had reemerged. They seem to be thriving.

I had to tweak this photo a bit. I had planned to use the tripod and a long exposure but my regular gardener arrived and I retreated into my house after taking only a few hand held shots. By the time he left, the light had changed and the photos with longer exposures and higher apertures were not as good as the few I took earlier.

Focal Length 130mm
ISO 100
f/5.6
1/100
Curves and Levels

Day 207—Lamppost

The Sierra Vista Bridge that crosses the railroad tracks in downtown Roseville has always intrigued me so I walked across it today. I think the lampposts are interesting and they look to be original to the bridge which was built in 1929. The lone pigeon standing sentinel atop the arch makes an interesting addition. I used the Sunny f/16 rule which seems to have provided the correct exposure. Still, I had to straighten the photograph a bit; I need to pay more attention to lines when I photograph something.

Focal Length 82mm
ISO 100
f/16
1/100
Straightened

Day 206—Thai Basil Reflections

All my basil is flowering and I was admonished the other day to pinch it back. But I like the flowers. This is Thai basil and I think the purple flower stalks are interesting. After looking at this photo, I was taken by the illusion that the front stalk is being reflected.

Focal Length 200mm
ISO 100
f/9
1/125
SOOC

Day 205—Anything But. . .

. . .cleaning house! My house needs a thorough cleaning because I have neglected it so I got the vacuum out to clean the floors and small area carpets. I’ll do just about anything to avoid cleaning house and today was no exception. After I lugged the vacuum into the living room and began to vacuum the carpet, I thought the light patterns from the carpet sweeper might make an interesting photo. Since I’d rather take pictures than clean house, out came the tripod and camera and I fiddled with exposure to get the effect I was seeking. Based on the light patterns, it looks like I missed a few spots. Not complete coverage here. I really took only about 15 minutes away from my house cleaning (honest!) to do this, but now it’s time for lunch!

Focal Length 105mm
ISO 100
f/36
13 seconds
SOOC

Day 204—Overexposed

A hummingbird has taken to bathing in my fountain early every morning. When I saw him this morning I thought he’d be gone by the time I got outside so I even took the time to attach my 300mm lens before stepping out. I was confident because I knew I had checked all my settings so when I went out I knew I could just focus and shoot. I saw him fly from the fountain to the photinea as I stepped out but as I peered into the branches I couldn’t find him. Then I looked down and he was again bathing in the fountain about two feet away from where I stood. What an opportunity…not! I had reset the ISO to 200 but in the shaded area where the fountain is, at that time of day I needed higher so I bumped it up to 500 just in time to see him fly into the branches again. Only this time he was in the light but I kept shooting as he preened. Of course they were all way overexposed, but oddly for me, in decent focus.

So I played with improving the photo: I fiddled with exposure, cropping, contrast, curves and luminance. This tweaking revealed blurred wings and tail as he shook off the water. I liked the results so I decided it’s my photo for today.

Focal Length 300mm
ISO 500
f/7.1
1/60

Day 203—Psychedelic

I was feeling pretty mellow (yellow) this afternoon after having a massage and celebrating a friend’s birthday with two margaritas. Luckily for me, the second margarita was served at the start of happy hour so not only was it half price, it had only half as much tequila and twice as much ice so it was pretty watery and had little effect on my driving. As I drove home, I decided to meander through Penryn and Loomis in search of an interesting photograph and found myself on Sierra College Boulevard. I followed another road off Sierra College and came to a concrete train trestle which reduced the roadway to one lane so I pulled over and took a few photos of it. I heard a roaring and felt vibration as a freight train rumbled slowly into view and over the bridge. The colorfully graffitied cars were an interesting contrast to the green and gold of the landscape. At first I thought the photo was a bit too underexposed, but I decided I liked the vibrant blue of the sky and the psychedelic look of the graffiti so I didn’t adjust anything.

FocalLength 27mm
ISO 200
f/16
1/200
SOOC

Day 202—Zip

I rode on a zipline today at Moaning Caverns in Murphys. I had to leave my Nikon camera behind and I couldn’t attach my tiny helmet camera to my helmet so I wrapped its strap around my wrist. It was an exciting 30 seconds or so. We zipped 1500 feet across scrub oak and pines and parched earth. I shrieked the entire ride. They had twin zip lines so Linda and I rode side by side. My wrist cam was not too effective because I couldn’t control where it pointed since I had a death grip on the straps. I managed to capture Linda on video before I mistakenly uncrossed my feet and spun out of control for a couple of turns before landing on the platform. The final photo is my death grip on the straps as I came in for a landing. These images were extracted from video.

And once I got my Nikon back in my possession, I took this.

Focal Length 50mm
ISO 640 (I forgot to reset it from earlier indoor shots; oy vey! once again)
f/16
1/200
Slight adjustment in Curves to compensate for the incorrect ISO

Day 201—Feed Me!

Today I visited my friend and fellow photoblogger, Melinda, at her home in Benicia. After a delicious lunch, we decided to take a hike to a nearby reservoir to see if we would be lucky enough see and photograph the osprey or bald eagle that have been sighted there. We had no luck. We failed to take into account the time of day (early afternoon) and the temperature (90’s). A turkey vulture was the only raptor we saw today and it was too far away to take any decent photos.

We did see other birds and dragonflies and wild flowers and interesting trees and shrubs but I was unable to take any decent pictures. The majority of the photos I took today were blurry. I sometimes wonder if I have learned anything at all about photography because I have so many missteps. It was only after I downloaded the photos to Melinda’s computer wondering why they were so out of focus that I discovered that I had turned off Vibration Reduction on my long lens, which was extended to 300mm and when at full extension it is more prone to shake than when it is at 70mm. I have no idea why I turned it off but Melinda suggested it might have been because I had used it on a tripod. One is supposed to turn off VR when a VR lens is on a tripod and I probably turned it off when I went to the Folsom zoo to photograph the animals there a couple of weeks ago. When will I learn to look at all the settings on my equipment to make sure they are appropriate for the job at hand? I thought I was doing better at resetting things. Obviously, not. Out of about 100 photos I took this afternoon, just a handful are in focus. The two best were a dragonfly and a baby robin, which I chose because I just featured a dragonfly the other day. Unfortunately, the only baby robin photo that was in focus has a leaf in front of the baby’s eye. Fortunately, I used a wide enough aperture to blur it a bit.

Focal Length 300mm
ISO 200
f/8
1/100
SOOC

Day 200—Field of Sunflowers

There was an article in the Bee the other day about the Sacramento Valley being the center of the world’s sunflower seed production and this afternoon when I found myself heading toward Woodland, I decided to turn onto a side road and find a field of sunflowers. The sign said “no trespassing” and there was no one around to ask, so I decided to take my photos from the side of the road. The only trouble is that now that they are mature, regardless of where the sun is, the sunflowers are all facing east and I was on the west side of the field, so all I got was a lot of green and hints of yellow petals. The photo I chose features the bee hives that were brought in to pollinate the flowers. The Bee article is interesting and includes a slide show of sunflower photos actually showing flower heads! To read the article and view the photos, click here.

Sunny 16
Focal Length 98mm
ISO 200
f/16
1/200
SOOC

Day 199—Squab

While laying on the concrete patio (ouch!) trying to photograph bubbles and ripples in the fountain (I am studying the histogram in my photography class and I was trying to deliberately overexpose some photos) with my 300mm zoom lens, I quickly discovered that I was too close to focus on anything in the fountain with that long lens. I rolled over (ouch!ouch!ouch!) and a few feet away from me, under one of the patio chairs, was a young dove (they’re known as squabs—yes, that gourmet delicacy). It was smaller than the adult mourning doves that constantly copulate in my yard (that sad cooing that one associates with the mourning dove is actually the male proclaiming his prowess and is not a “mourning” sound at all!) with huge eyes and pinfeathers. It probably left the nest a day or so ago. It wary of me but not frightened. I took a few photos of it as it pecked at gravel on the patio and eventually disappeared in the shrubs. I liked this one the best, mostly because it was in focus, but also because the pattern reflected on its feathers from the mesh chair had an interesting effect.

Although I was trying to overexpose photos before the little squab came into my viewfinder, I managed to underexpose this so I had to increase the exposure and because I was laying on my side, the camera was a bit askew as I photographed and I had to straighten it as well.

Focal Length 300mm
ISO 100
f/6.3
1/160

Day 198—Pretty Bubbles in the Air

Today I went to a birthday party for a one year old. That’s definitely a new experience for me. I’m pretty certain the last birthday party I attended for that age group was probably my nephew’s almost 40 years ago. I must hand it to the mother, though. Beer and sangria were provided for the adults. It got me through. After I gave up on photographing a bunch of little kids running around, I turned to the bubble machine and discovered it’s almost equally difficult to photograph bubbles, but I tried. I had a real problem focusing on the bubbles as they wafted and blew around the yard because I forgot to change auto focus to continuous, perhaps because of the sangria and beer. This is the only one that didn’t require any tweaking.

Focal Length 200mm
ISO 200
f5.6
1/320
Aperture Priority
SOOC

Day 197—Come to the Cabaret, My Friend

Music Circus started again this week. “The Producers” was funny and fabulous and I continue to be impressed with the calibre of talented actors, singers, and dancers they recruit every summer for their productions. After the performance today, Music Circus put on a brief cabaret show for season ticket holders. It cleared out quickly once we were shuffled past the stars of the show and the champagne ran out.

Focal Length 70mm
ISO 2000
f/5
1/60
SOOC

Day 196—Melon

By 6PM I still had no idea what to photograph today. When I sliced open the cantaloupe I bought yesterday I decided it was as good as anything else I had to photograph today. It smells wonderful and I hope it tastes as good as it looks and smells.

I set the white balance to tungsten and adjusted the WB color so that this photo is exactly the color of that luscious looking melon. And, I remembered to reset the camera back to my usual settings.

Focal Length 135mm
ISO 100
F/8
.6 seconds
White Balance Tungsten +
Tripod
SOOC

Day 195—Tomato Basil Soup Anyone?

The Thursday Farmers’ Market at Mahaney Park is providing me with lots of photo ops. I started out using Aperture Priority with the aperture set to f/16. I was curious to know if my smart camera knew the Sunny 16 rule. Well apparently, it does not. I was quite surprised to see a photo of tomatoes in the bright sun to be overexposed because of a slow shutter speed. I quickly switched to manual and set the white balance to “sunny” and the shutter speed to 1/100 since I’d already set the ISO to 100. I could tell immediately that these photos were perfectly exposed. The proprietor of this stall at the Farmers’ Market is also a photographer and I’ve talked with her before about our cameras. In fact, I used a photo of her produce on Day 153, “Beets Me.” I think I’ll print this photo and run it back over to the market to give to her.

Focal Length 62mm
ISO 100
f/16
1/100
White Balance Sunny
SOOC

Day 194—Abstract

Continuing my efforts to improve my exposure, I went out onto the patio and snapped a few pictures using Aperture Priority mode. After shooting several mundane shots of emerging crape myrtle blossoms and the messy weeds on the side of my house, the bright blue of the neighbor’s DoughBoy pool showing through the slats of the fence boards caught my eye and I took several shots. It was only after I came inside and downloaded the photos that I realized the shutter speeds were too slow to hand hold the camera because it metered on the darkly shaded fence and not the bright pool behind it. At that moment, I had an epiphany: I still need to participate in taking the photo even if I use some of the pre-programmed settings, like determining whether I need to use a tripod or make other adjustments to make sure I get the photo I want.

I didn’t feel like seeking out another subject for my photo today, especially after spending too much time on the phone with a condescending CalPERS employee, whose attitude soured MY attitude and made me even more embarrassed to tell anyone I am a retired State employee. Just for the record, I was NOT like that!

After examining the photos I had taken earlier, I decided I really liked the abstract effect that my inability to keep the camera still brought to the photos and I actually had a hard time deciding which of three was the best. I cropped and straightened them before choosing the most interesting abstract.

Focal Length 200
ISO 100
f/16
1/6

Day 193—A Fortnight

Just give me two weeks. I need two weeks, a fortnight, to get my act together. I have been screwing up so badly on exposure and peripheral settings that I need to go back to some of the basics. The primary thing I need to do is make sure I reset everything after every photo session. When I bought my camera, I also bought an iPhone App for the Nikon D90 written by Ken Rockwell. He resets everything every time he uses his camera. When I first read that advice a year ago, my camera was so new and so daunting to me that I could not imagine ever being able to remember the basic commands let alone being able to reset anything. After a year, I am familiar enough with the camera that I can make setting adjustments by feel without looking. It is time that I at least make resetting a daily ritual, if not every time I use the camera, so that I don’t get so many disappointing results due to settings I’ve forgotten I changed. I am also going to return to using Aperture and Shutter priority settings for a while. I am comfortable with manual settings and using the camera’s built-in light meter but I don’t always get the kind of results I see when I use Aperture or Shutter priority. So, back to basics.

My photo today is of a fortnight lily that was next to my car at the gym this morning. It will be my symbol for getting my act together in two weeks. They bloom in two week spurts, hence the name, and today they’re starting to explode into bloom again. When I saw them this morning, I took a couple of shots using manual settings but they were either over or underexposed. That’s when I decided to try Aperture priority and I got lots of usable results and at shutter speeds I would not have thought to use.

Focal Length 130mm
ISO 200
f/6.3
1/3200
SOOC