Day 60—Expanding Horizons

I’m planning a road trip with my friend Honora down Highway One along the California coast. We’ll start in Carmel and travel to Big Sur, San Simeon, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, Santa Barbara, and the Channel Islands. The trip was my idea. I’ve never driven south of Carmel along Highway One and I’m excited but it’s a trip that will test my propensity toward acrophobia. In many places along the route the narrow highway snakes atop steep cliffs that loom over the Pacific Ocean. Just thinking about driving this road puts my heart in my throat. But I know I can do it. So, with this trip, I will be expanding my horizons and conquering some fears. We’re not leaving until after Labor Day, so I at least have 6 months to steel my nerves.

Focal Length 35mm
ISO 400
f/3.2
1/13
SOOC

Day 59—Getting Down To The Nuts And Bolts

Today’s challenge theme is “very big.” When I decided the 75 pound weights at the gym weren’t “big” enough for this challenge, one of my gym buddies suggested I photograph the bright red 80 foot steel sculpture that is seen from I-80 near the Roseville Auto Mall. Apparently, it is supposed to look like a rose when viewed from above and I was intrigued when Cheryl suggested it might look like a rose when viewed from below as well, if I lay on the ground and pointed my camera up. It’s not too far away so off I went. The first thing I discovered is that the sculpture is called Cosmos, and although it is dedicated to the people of Roseville, I can’t see that it could possibly look like a rose from above and the view from below was blocked by large steel sculpture pieces, so I’ll probably never know. I took a few photos from various angles and it looks sort of big but it doesn’t really loom enough in the photos. What struck me as VERY big are the nuts and bolts that anchor this sculpture. I didn’t measure them but they’ve got to be at least six inches in diameter. . . really big nuts and bolts. Maybe they’re not as big as the nuts and bolts that I photographed at the Space Needle in Seattle last year but they’re still really big nuts and bolts. Besides, they’re bright red and shiny and how often do you see shiny, bright red nuts and bolts? This closeup photo however, doesn’t include any reference point so you’ll have to take my word for it that they’re REALLY big nuts and bolts.

Today I experimented with setting my ISO to “auto” after reading a Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond) post about it this morning. I like to keep noise in my photos to a minimum so I usually keep my ISO set to 100, but I have discovered that my photos are frequently underexposed and it’s possible that’s due to my fixation about a low ISO. I’m more comfortable (I think) letting the camera adjust my ISO rather than either shutter or aperture and I limited the auto setting to a maximum ISO of 400 because I’ve read that noise in digital photos doesn’t show up much until the ISO is above 400 and when I was shooting 35mm film, I almost always used ISO 400 film because of its speed. Most of the shots I took around the sculpture today were bumped up to ISO 200 (maybe that should tell me something) but the photo I’m posting today was bumped up to 400. I”ll have to experiment with different exposure settings and lenses before I determine whether this will be a permanent change.

Focal Length 200mm
ISO 400
f/11
1/200
SOOC

Day 58—Purple Bokeh

On the way to pick up the mail a while ago, it occurred to me that my beautifully blooming hardenbergia will not be in bloom much longer so I decided it would be my subject today. I was intrigued by this shot with a mostly flowerless stem highlighted against a background of flowers, all turned to bokeh by the wide open lens. Plus, there’s some lens flare that I kind of like. One of these days, though, I’ll remember to attach my lens hood when I’m shooting into the sun.

Focal Length 200mm
ISO 100
f/5.6
1/125
SOOC

Day 57—Red Thread

A spool of thread is a rather mundane item but it meets today’s daily challenge topic, “Red.” I thought of lots of red things to photograph, none of which I had at hand, so feeling uninspired to venture out again today, I settled on what I had. There are three interesting things about this spool: 1) it is wooden, and thread is no longer sold on wooden spools; 2) it is mercerized cotton and I don’t think mercerized cotton is readily available any longer; and 3) it cost me 15¢! I took a couple of photos of the thread on a white background which was uninteresting so I put it on a black background, which was more interesting but it made the thread look disembodied, if a headless, bodiless thing CAN appear disembodied. So I set it on a piece of glass so the reflection would help anchor the spool and used my OTT lights to provide the lighting.

Focal Length 35mm
ISO 100
f/1.8
1/100
WB Sunny
SOOC

Day 56—Yes, But Is It Art?

I’ve posted some goofy things on this blog but I have to say, this one takes the prize for the goofiest. Today’s challenge topic is “art,” a followup to yesterday’s “deliberate blur abstract” challenge. When she read the topic, my friend and fellow photo-blogger, Melinda, e-mailed me that I might have to drive to Redding for today’s challenge because Art, my brother, lives there. At first I laughed but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it was a brilliant idea to feature “Art” in my “art” photo today. I printed out a photo I took of him, cut out his head and stuck it inside the eggshell. I don’t think anyone would mistake this photo for “art” but I can most assuredly say, “Yes, it IS Art!”

Focal Length 85mm
ISO 100
f/16
1 second
SOOC

Day 55—Oh, Lei

I named my blog “In Focus Daily” as a reminder to me that my primary goal with every photo I take is to make sure I achieve the best focus I can. Today’s challenge topic is “deliberate blur abstract.” Hmmm, how can I reconcile my primary photographic goal with deliberately blurring my shot today? Well, I can’t so I took it as a challenge for me personally to allow myself to explore the more artistic side of photography rather than the technical side. Besides, it’s an abstract. It can be anything. I was quite amused that many of the participants in the challenge group were very distressed over having to deliberately blur their photos. Well, I, for one, felt some relief at not having to fret over trying to achieve perfect focus. In fact today, I stressed out over not getting enough blur in my photos. It’s all in how you look at things!

My subject today is a rainbow flowered lei that I picked up in Port Aransas, TX last month. Every year a small boutique called Gratitude in Port A distributes colorful leis or necklaces to anyone who visits the shop during the festive Dine Around event. It is a cheap throwaway item and until today, I kept thinking I needed to throw it away. Now I’m glad I didn’t because I think I managed to create interesting abstract compositions. I ended up with three that I really liked so I’m posting all of them. I used my 85mm prime lens and held it too close for the lens to focus on the subject.

Focal Length 85mm
ISO 100
f/5
1/2.5 second
SOOC

Focal Length 85mm
ISO 100
f/5
1/2.5 second
SOOC

Focal Length 85mm
ISO 100
f/16
8 seconds
SOOC

Day 54—Bird Butt and Other Oddities

I wasn’t focused on what to photograph today, nor did I go anyplace of particular interest, so I have a sort of potpourri of shots. My favorite photo turns out to be the rear end of a bird, which bird was, I think, a bushtit. I couldn’t catch him face on and as suddenly as he arrived, he and all the others were gone so I was left with the one photo of his butt. But I liked the light, the colors, and the composition. I looked across the street and was drawn to the late afternoon sunlight on the oaks and was intrigued that the oaks form a sort of archway. It reminded me of an enchanted forest, but perhaps one that Shrek might live in because then I noticed a goofy looking mallard that looks more like the AFLAC duck than a stately mallard. So what gives here? As I headed to my car, I glanced east on Pleasant Grove Boulevard and there, in all their glory, the magnificent Sierra Nevada Mountains. Since the wind was blowing steadily at about 20 mph with frequent gusts much higher, the ever-present haze was gone. The 300mm zoom compresses the view so much that it look as if the mountains are mere minutes away.

Focal Length 300mm
ISO 100
f/5.6
1/100
SOOC

Focal Length 102mm
ISO 100
f/13
1/80
SOOC

Focal Length 300mm
ISO 100
f/10
1/100
Cropped

Focal Length 300mm
ISO 100
f/20
1/100
Levels

Day 53—BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Once again, the location of my gym has provided me with my photo of the day. As I was getting into my car after my workout this morning, I noticed that the rosemary was blooming in the parking strip so I walked down to the lushest clump and took a couple of shots. Then I noticed the honeybees. I set my camera to a fast shutter speed (1/500) and I captured a few in focus shots of the bees. I was disappointed to see, however, that I didn’t stop motion in the wings. They seem to have completely disappeared; there is just the barest hint of a wing showing in the photo.

Despite my disappointment of the disappearing wings, I was lucky that today’s daily challenge is “sound” and I guess a photo of a buzzing bee is about as close as I can get to representing sound in a photo. I applied levels to brighten the photo because even though the lens was wide open, the fast shutter speed darkened the exposure a little. I also cropped it slightly because there was an awful lot of unintended negative space in the photo as I chased the bee with my lens.

Focal Length 200mm
ISO 100
f/5.6
1/500

Day 52–Baa Baa Black Sheep

One thing that photography has done for me is that it has gotten me out and exploring the region in which I live. Today I turned onto Sierra College Blvd. where it meets Highway 193 near Lincoln. There, in an idyllic pasture, at least a dozen lambs were in evidence, most laying down, and a few nursing. They were adorable and I couldn’t resist taking a few photos. I watched the little lamb who’s nursing in this photo as he struggled to his feet and wobbled about 50 feet to begin nursing, ignoring a much closer ewe who I guess wasn’t his mom.

Focal Length 200mm
ISO 100
f/5.6
1/80
Cropped/Levels

Day 51—Hard Water Spots

First, let me say I have very hard water. Hard water build up is my nemesis everywhere in my house, and there are spots on all my glassware. Today’s daily challenge topic is “empty.” And since this week’s Recording Images challenge is “reflective surfaces,” I opted to kill two birds with one stone by photographing some empty glass bottles. I combined techniques for photographing glass that were suggested at the Recording Images site with a how-to from my “Lighting Photos” book. Both sources warned that glassware should be impeccably clean when it is photographed. Well, I have hard water so I’m featuring the hard water spots today. I set the bottles on a narrow swath of black velvet that I attached to the blinds in my bay window and used a translucent reflector to slightly diffuse the natural light coming around either side of the black background. After I realized that the indoor lights were affecting the reflections on the glass, I turned them off. When I realized the water spots showed so prominently on the bottles, I also photographed an almost pristine wine glass. It, however, seems to have bits of lint on it, but not water spots.

Focal Length 85mm
ISO 200
f/14
1/5
SOOC

Focal Length 85mm
ISO 200
F/14
1/5
SOOC