Day 152—Ah, Hmmmmmmm!

I was outside on the patio in the late afternoon heat trying to find an interesting shot of the lone immature kumquat I found on my newly purchased kumquat tree., which I thought would be perfect for the daily challenge, “peek-a-boo.” As I moved around the plant trying different focal lengths and angles, I heard a hummingbird scolding me for being outside. I abandoned the kumquat, and followed the sound. As I focused on the hummer darting nearby then landing in the shrubs, I managed to get two shots of it as it tried to approach the fountain but was too timid because I was apparently encroaching. One of the shots is in perfect focus. I didn’t have a chance to increase the shutter speed or make other adjustments to the exposure so this was a very lucky shot. I cropped it for effect but I made no changes to the exposure (manual mode and, ahem, an ISO setting of 320, Melinda, outside!).

Focal Length 300mm
ISO 320
f/5.6
1/100
Cropped

Day 151—Everybody Loves Mady

Today, Mady and I drove to Benicia to visit fellow photoblogger Melinda so that she and I could use each other as “cooperative human subjects” to complete the remaining assignments for our photography class. Everybody at Melinda’s house, including her husband Lonnie and her son Matt were happy to have a golden retriever visiting for the day. Melinda and I made progress on our assignments and decided to add Mady as an uncooperative, nonhuman, subject for another class requirement, that of submitting photos for critiques that go beyond the specific lesson assignments and combine everything we’ve learned in the class, including composition, camera settings, exposure, focus, white balance and lighting.

I won’t be using this shot for any of the class assignments because it doesn’t quite measure up technically, especially because I focused on Melinda’s left eye instead of the eye closest to the camera and on Mady’s right eye instead of the one closest to the camera. However, I like the composition, the fact that Melinda and Mady fill the frame, and I think the exposure and lighting are good.

Focal Length 50mm
ISO 100
f/2.2
1/100
WB sunny
SOOC

Day 150 — It’s In The Bag

Today’s challenge theme is “paper.” It wasn’t until this evening when I came across this paper bag that I realized it would be perfect for the challenge and since I hadn’t taken a photo yet today, that was probably going to be it. I tried custom white balance but it returned an odd yellow color so I went with daylight, since the light from the dining room window supplied the light. I used my black backdrop to eliminate the light from behind.

Focal Length 85mm
ISO 100
f/1.8
1/8 second
WB Sunny
SOOC

Day 149—Made In The U.S.A.

Today we celebrate Memorial Day and fly flags as a tribute to the men and women who have served our country. A couple of days ago I bought a new US flag at Costco; and I bought it because it was MADE IN THE USA! I hoped to have it up this weekend for Memorial Day but I discovered that my old flag holder was too small to hold the new flag’s 1 and 1/4 inch pole. And when a friend stopped by this afternoon and offered to install the new bracket, the battery on my drill was dead and we needed it to drill through the stucco on my house. So, my lovely new US Flag, proudly made in the USA, stands in a holder in my backyard until I can get the new bracket installed, hopefully in time for flag day. I guess it’s a sad commentary that I am gleeful to find a US flag made in the USA but I think it would be a sadder commentary to find a US flag made in China. Today’s shot of the flag reflects my entire backyard and the back of my house in the finial at the top. I guess I’m reflected in there somewhere, and, if you look closely, the “made in the U.S.A.” label shows on the flag, near the union (and, no, I didn’t know until just a few minutes ago, that the blue quadrant of the US flag is called the union).

Focal Length 50mm
Manual Mode
ISO 100
f/8
1/80
WB Sunny
SOOC

Day 148—Strolling Through The Park

My friend Peggy and I went to see Wicked at the Sacramento Community Theater this afternoon and didn’t get home until almost 6PM. I still needed to take Mady for her walk so we headed off to Mahaney Park near my gym for an hour. I hadn’t taken a single photo today and was not sure what I’d find at the park. Not much, as it turned out, but I’m going with what I got.

Focal Length 28mm
ISO 100
Manual Mode
f/5.6
1/60
SOOC

Focal Length 28mm
ISO 100
Manual Mode
f/14
1/50
SOOC

Focal Length 28mm
ISO 100
Manual Mode
f/5.6
1/250
SOOC

Day 147—Big Red

I bought these beautiful red onions yesterday at the nearby strawberry patch. After chopping up part of one of them, I decided I should photograph them while I still had the chance. I used my shutter delay for the first time because I had the camera with the long lens at full extension on the tripod and, because I needed to use a long shutter speed, I wanted to avoid camera shake. I used custom white balance as well and actually heeded the camera’s light meter to set my exposure. The light came from the kitchen window and I propped the black side of my 5 in 1 reflector on top of a drawer to eliminate the background. Besides the gorgeous color, I love the look of the dried root fibers.

Focal Length 300mm
Manual Mode
ISO 50
f/5.6
1.6 seconds
Custom WB (2981 K)
SOOC

Day 146—Lady Bug, Lady Bug

This was one of those days that my real life actually intervened and precluded me from pursuing my imaginary life of “cub photographer extraordinaire.” When I finally was able to take a breath and got out to take Mady for a walk, it was almost 6PM. I didn’t have much hope for a good shot of anything and decided to take Mady to a place I’d walked one other time in the hopes of finding something interesting. Nothing materialized and although I took a few shots of the clouds and the landscape, it wasn’t good enough. I was thinking about what I could photograph once we returned home when I glanced over at what I think is wild fennel and saw, in a misty sea of green, a tiny red ladbug standing out from the background. I have never photographed a ladybug before; it was in deep shade and I was shooting manual. I ended up with two shots in focus. I cropped this one.

Focal Length 300mm
Manual Mode
ISO 320
f/5.6
1/60

Day 145—She’s Baaaaaaaack!

Mady’s back. And she served as a marginally cooperative subject today as I photographed her in indirect light with the lawn serving as a reflector of sorts. We’re studying light this week so I encouraged Mady to lay in the shade on the lawn while I lay a few few away on the lawn in the sun. I even used a custom white balance. I couldn’t decide which of these shots I liked the best so I’m including all of them. You can see the main light reflector (the lawn) in her eyes. I used manual mode today and felt the kind of relief I felt the other day when I used manual mode again for the first time since starting this class because I had complete control again. Aperture and Shutter Priority modes have definite advantages and I know I will use them often, but I think I am most comfortable using manual mode. And I know when there’s a problem, I’m to blame, not the camera for automatically resetting one of the exposure elements.

I really like the composition of the first shot as well as Mady’s expression. And I love the last one because she’s looking straight at the camera. And well, I just plain like all the others; I just can’t put my finger on why. The first shot required a little help. I had to make a couple of adjustments in Aperture: the custom white balance didn’t seem quite right, perhaps because it was underexposed; I left the ISO set to 100 (I’m still hung up on low ISO settings). When I increased the exposure by 1 2/3 stops and changed the white balance to sunny (5500 Kelvin) the shot appears almost the same as the other shots that I shot with custom white balance at 7879 Kelvin and ISO set to 200. All were shot with the lens at f/5.6 and shutter speed at 1/60. I cropped the last shot slightly. The rest are SOOC.

Day 144—Not So Cooperative

Last week’s photography class assignment for “In-Camera Processing” required a cooperative human subject. Today, when I drove up to Williams to meet my brother Arthur and to pick up Mady the Golden Retriever for another ten day stay, I decided to take advantage of my brother’s charm, good looks, and general “nice guy-ness” and prevailed upon him to be my cooperative human subject for this assignment. I forgot he is also my big brother and the “big-brotherness” trumped any charm, good looks, and general “nice guy-ness” he might otherwise have exhibited. While we ate lunch at a picnic table across from Granzella’s in Williams (he did buy my lunch) I switched from RAW to JPEG, as required by the assignment, and cycled through the various in-camera picture styles, taking one or two shots at each setting while Arthur made it impossible for me to capture any reasonably civil photographs. These two shots, both taken in the “vivid” setting, most exemplify what it was like to grow up as this guy’s little sister.

In the first shot, I metered on the water bottle so the exposure of Arthur is dark (and out of focus as I used a wide aperture and shallow depth of field); since I was using Aperture Priority the shutter speed varies depending on what the primary focus is and I forgot to use my recently set exposure lock button to lock in better exposure. The second shot is better exposed than the first but the “vivid” in-camera setting made the colors too vivid and the skin tones too red. I have already returned my camera to RAW. I’d rather apply these kinds of effects in post processing, not while worrying about exposure and focus. However, nothing can be done with the subject’s expression.

Focal Length 72mm
ISO 100
Aperture Priority
f/5.6
1/160
WB – Shade
SOOC

Focal Length 72mm
ISO 100
Aperture Priority
f/5.6
1/60
WB – Shade
SOOC

Day 143—G Is For Garlic

Today’s challenge theme is “starts with G.” The other day I bought some garlic at the nearby strawberry farm that had been harvested that morning. My shot today features one of those garlic bulbs, still with its stem and lots of dirt, and two others I had on hand. I returned to manual mode for this shot and was relieved when exposure settings didn’t suddenly change as they do in Aperture and Shutter Priority settings. I was after a dark and moody look for this shot, sort of a low-key shot. I think the reflections add interest. I took the shot with the camera on a tripod, on one side of the counter facing my kitchen. The light came from the kitchen window to the left; I used a white reflector to add a little more brightness.

Focal Length 85mm
ISO 100
Manual Mode
f/1.8
1/40
SOOC