Day 244—Dip-de-dip-de-dip

And now, it’s less than an hour before the real blue moon reaches its peak of fullness. When I came downstairs this morning, my tripod was still standing by the front door where I left it last night and when I opened the door to get the newspaper, I couldn’t resist peeking out to see the moon’s progress. It was setting in the west and I knew that it wouldn’t still be there at 6:59 AM so I put down the newspaper, picked up my camera and tripod and marched out to the driveway for a few more shots. The redwood trees obscured part of the moon’s face as I snapped but I think it adds a little interest to the subject. The moon has turned (I suppose it’s on an axis) since I took the last shot I posted last night.

The camera is still set to DX mode, I used the sunny 16 settings but in post processing, I increased the exposure by 1 and 1/4 stops and added a bit of clarity.

Day 243—Bomp-baba-bomp

I fell in love with the song “Blue Moon” by the Marcels when I first heard it in 1961; I excitedly played it for my mother who was clearly aghast when she heard the doo-wop sounds of “bomp-baba-bomp a ding a dong ding, blue moon” emanting from the radio. “They ruined that song!” she exclaimed. It was news to me that it was an “old folks” song and that my mother actually knew it! Until that moment, I hadn’t a clue that Rogers and Hart wrote it in 1934 when my mother was about the age I was when I discovered it. I never played it in Mom’s presence again, but I still love that song and whenever I hear a standard version, it seems somber and doesn’t have the pumping rhythm that the doo-wop group gave to it.

I’m posting two photos of today’s “blue moon.” It’s technically not a blue moon today, although my Google moon phase app says the moon is full now. The blue moon, a rare second full moon in a calendar month–hence the phrase ‘once in a blue moon’–actually occurs, according to everything I’ve read, at 6:59AM tomorrow morning so I’m a little early. Although I posted a moon shot a few days ago in honor of Neil Armstrong, I have to thank my photoblogger friend Melinda who asked me if I was going to photograph it despite having recently posted a moon shot. Since I hadn’t taken a single shot today until I took the moon shots, I have to thank her for giving me my “photo of the day!” I cropped and added a cyanotype preset to turn the moon blue. The second shot is cropped but is the color of the moon when I took it as it rose in the eastern sky.

And . . . several hours later, here’s how it looked; photo taken in DX mode and cropped; lots of camera movement on all three shots, despite the tripod and my holding the lens still, but not too successfully:

Day 242—Glorious Morning

My neighbor’s morning glories beckon to me and I have taken photos of them before, even posting one to my blog last year. I love the shots I took today. The wind came up as I was shooting this morning, so I upped the shutter speed to 1/1250 to freeze the motion. I made several of Scott Kelby’s Camera Raw adjustments. I think I am finally comfortable with making adjustments to my photos to improve them. Here are two versions of the same shot. I couldn’t decide which crop I preferred so I’m posting both.

Day 241—Chain, Chain, Chain

I didn’t see a chain of fools but I did see a rusty chain around a rustier construction dumpster and I liked the earthy, worn metal look, especially since today’s challenge theme is “metal.” I added some contrast, increased the blacks a bit, and added a vignette. I took the shot at midday so the sun was at its peak creating crisp shadows but, the harsh light accentuated the rusted, eroded metal making the flaws even more apparent and that was the look I wanted. Ever since taking this photo, I can’t seem to get the sound of Aretha Franklin singing “Chain of Fools” out of my head. “Chain, chain, chain….”

Focal Length 300mm
ISO 100
WB Fine Weather
Cropped, etc.

Day 240—Let’s Boogie

When I was sixteen, I bought the sheet music to Jack Fina’s “Bumble Boogie,” a jazzed up boogie-woogie version of Rimsky- Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumble Bee.” At that time, all of my piano training was strict, by the book, classical instruction and I chafed under the rigid, stiff, and what I perceived as boring, musical genre into which I was thrust. By the time I got to high school, my mother had released me from my that regimen and once I was free to play what I liked, jazz, pop, and boogie became my passion. The day I bought this music, I visited my muscially talented high school friend Linda Moore and handed her the eight page score. She sat down to her grand piano and played it through without, as I recall, one missed note. I struggled with the piece and learned only three of the eight pages before I gave up playing when I went off to college. When I finally got a real piano about twenty years ago, I started playing again, even revisiting some of the old classical songs that I’d hated when I was learning. But learning “Bumble Boogie” all the way through was always a goal. And, after some practice, I did learn it. Boogie is so much fun to play; almost as much fun a playing ragtime. I’ve gotten a bit rusty in the past few years so I’m going to have to dust off that keyboard and get back to it. I miss that toe tapping boogie bass line that permeates the song.

Today’s challenge theme is “song” and since this is one of my favorites, I chose it for the challenge. I used my 24-70mm lens on a tripod. ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/30, WB Fair Weather. The first adjustment I had to make was to white balance. It was set to fine weather and once again, the camera’s LCD showed the same as I could see, yellowish brown, aged paper. But when I downloaded the shots, the white balance was completely out of whack on the computer screen, making the sheet music look almost orange. This has happened twice now so I guess it’s something I need to investigate. I have never noticed this happening prior to two days ago, and it is a bit disconcerting. To make it presentable, I used Lightroom’s Preset light antique and added a vignette as well as changing the white balance and making a few other tweaks.

Day 239— “One Small Step. . .”

“. . .for man. One giant leap for mankind.” Those were the words of Neil Armstrong as he stepped onto the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969. Yesterday, Neil Armstrong, age 82, died. I cried as I read his obituary in the Sacramento Bee this morning. It brought back a flood of memories about that time when everyone knew the names of all of the astronauts and they were our heroes. That day marked the culmination of an incredibly spectacular journey that began a decade before when in 1960 President Kennedy challenged the United States to put a man on the moon within the decade. I have always felt a part of that journey because my father’s company, Sunset Line and Twine, Co., played a significant role in the space program during that era and my family watched, hearts in our throats, every Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo flight as they settled back to Earth on the parachute cords manufactured by his company. Sunset manufactured parachute cord during World War II and continued to produce it during the space race with the Soviet Union. I am sad that Neil Armstrong is gone but at the same time, I am proud that my family had a part in that incredible journey, regardless of how small that role was.

When I read Neil Armstrong’s obituary, I knew that I would photograph the moon today for my blog. I went out a few minutes ago and there it was, a 77% waxing gibbous moon, not full, but big enough to pay tribute to Neil Armstrong. The sky is still light but I took the photo at ISO 100, f/16, 1/100, the Sunny 16 rule. Once again I used Scott Kelby’s Camera Raw tweaks to make it pop. The Sunny 16 settings made the sky darker than it really was when I took the shot. I set the camera to timed release. I took three shots, and on the third, this shot, I held the lens to keep it still. It was set to 300mm and the weight of the lens and the camera cause camera shake even when it’s on the tripod.

Day 238—Watermelon

Today I was inspired to try to make a salad I had the other day when the Anderson’s treated me to dinner at Lucca in midtown Sacremento. It is an heirloom tomato and watermelon salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. I have a tiny seedless watermelon and a single heirloom tomato, well, sort of an heirloom; it’s actually a hybrid of Brandywine and Better Boy called Brandy Boy. To date it’s set only one tomato and that one’s ripe. I don’t know how my salad will turn out as the ratio of tomato to watermelon at Lucca was about 4 parts tomato to one part watermelon and I suspect my salad will be the opposite. Once again, I followed the Camera Raw steps recommended by Scott Kelby and boy did I need it today. I have no idea what’s going on but the downloaded photos looked nothing like the photos on the camera’s LCD screen, nor immediately after downloading. For some reason, as soon as the files loaded for me to view them, the color intensity increased to overwhelming redness. I had to make major adjustments to exposure. I also changed contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, clarity. But nothing looked right until I adjusted white balance. The original setting was fine weather and despite the fact that the natural daylight overwhelmed the weak overhead incandescent light, I needed to change the white balance to overcome the distinct yellowness of the shots. This was shot with my 50mm lens at ISO 100, f/1.4, 1/40 and it’s cropped as well.

Day 237—Balloons

I gotta hand it to my gym for providing me with seemingly endless photo ops. This morning as I walked in, a bouquet of colorful balloons being used to mark the entrance to a job fair also being held there this morning, caught my eye so before I even started my workout today, I had taken my photos for the day.

I shot into the morning sun because I thought that made the most interesting light and it created nice shadows and reflections. I used Scott Kelby’s 7-point Camera Raw system except no “adjustment brush” and I added a vignette to the first one. I think I’m beginning to like the modest adjustments I’m making to my RAW photos and I’m beginning to realize that I really need to do something to make them better. So, I’m thinking that the SOOC label that I used so smugly for a year and a half really wasn’t showing my best work and that if I’d shot in JPEG instead of RAW, my photos would have looked better SOOC. I also cropped both shots, the second one in the wide screen 9:16 ratio. I haven’t tried Scott’s wide screen ratio, 1:2.39. Maybe tomorrow.

I used my 50mm lens set at ISO 100, f/4.5, 1/1250, WB Fine Weather

Day 236—Day and Night

Today I shot an abandoned bank deposit box because today’s challenge theme is “letters” and I rather liked the cut out letters that say “Day and Night Deposit” on the aged metal box. I used some of the techniques I learned yesterday at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop workshop and then I applied one of the presets that Melinda gave me called “Newsprint” that gives an even more aged feel to the letters. Then, I cropped it severely using the 16X9 preset crop that I believe is the normal setting on HDTVs these days.

Focal Length 50mm
ISO 100
WB Auto

Day 235—Great Scott!!

My friend and fellow photographer and photo blogger Melinda and I spent all day today at the Sacramento Convention Center participating in a Photoshop for Photographers workshop given by Photoshop guru and photographer extraordinaire Scott Kelby. We’ve been waiting for this for quite a while. We first tried to see Scott in mid July only to discover that Melinda and I were the only two pre-paid participants not notified of his schedule change. Kelby Training, however, instantly refunded our money and comped our tickets for today’s event. It was well worth the wait and well worth the money, except that we didn’t have to pay any money for it!

Despite my obsession with posting SOOC (straight out of camera) shots, Scott made me realize that post processing is a natural progression of the photographic process. I learned so much today. He has a great stage persona and he really knows his stuff. Plus, he cuts to the chase and makes the complexities of Photoshop disappear…at least some of its complexities. The workshop lasted from 10 AM until past 5PM and we were not bored for a moment, nor were the more than 400 other people who attended. Our front row seats also made the workshop very pleasant as did our rather nerdy seat mates. We sat directly in front of Scott so we did have to turn a bit to see the giant screens on which he demonstrated his Photoshop techniques but it was nice not to have to lean one way or the other to see him. I really do plan to start processing my shots. Especially since I shoot raw and raw files really do require processing.

I used my 50mm lens and I processed each of the shots I took today using some aspects of Scott’s 7-point system for Camera Raw that we learned today. I didn’t do all 7 steps for the photos but at least I’m learning to process a bit. I had to use really high ISO which continues to bother me but I am going to work on reducing noise in Photoshop, only not tonight. I’m too tired after today’s session to attempt anything beyond simple things I already know how to do.

Here is Melinda, photographing me before the workshop. I didn’t get the colors or the white balance quite right but at least I’m trying now.

Scott is very accessible to his legions of fans. I took these shots of him interacting with the hordes of people surrounding him during breaks, but I cropped them out in camera.

Scott, Melinda, and me after the workshop, photo taken by one of our front row seat mates. He took three shots, the first two were unusable due to various anomalies but when I got home, I discovered a third that was really quite nice. I made some exposure adjustments but I think it still a bit underexposed.

Afterward, the Andersons treated me to a fabulous dinner at Lucca in downtown Sacramento and of course Melinda and I entertained the waiter with our photographic shenanigans. Since I love the blue water glasses at Lucca I had to photograph one.

Here, the waiter offers my Malbec.

One of our workshop companions recommended the zucchini chips at Lucca so we had to try them and they were wonderful.

Finally, Lonnie and Melinda toasting a successful and fun day.