Saturday, November 29, 2008

More Velvia

More from my first roll of Velvia 50.

Well. That was certainly interesting. I can see finding a certain satisfaction in getting it "right" with film. When it all comes together, this stuff really delivers the color. All of these shots are taken straight from the slide. I didn't manipulate them in any way, except to have them scanned straight from the slide, so you could see them here.

Look at how cool the 3-D effect is on the rocks and the water in the last shot. Nothing I took on the digital that day looks anything like this. It's not so much the color in this shot, it's the way the picture looks so "real". If that makes any sense.

This is Velvia

The first shot was taken with a Nikon N90s using Fuji Velvia 50 slide film.

This second shot was taken seconds later with a Nikon D200 DSLR.

The Velvia delivers a "darker" or "richer" result than I've become accustomed on the DSLR. The sky is definitely much deeper blue. The film is thirsty for more light.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Live Oak at the Lighthouse

Blood Red Sky

This is a sunset over the Intracoastal Waterway taken without photographic trickery. The sky really did turn this blood-orange color. And about ten minutes later it did this.

I have to say, I miss the sun setting over water.

If you have a minute, check out the link to the Intracoastal Waterway. Prior to moving to the East Coast, I had no idea such a thing existed. But, it turns out you can drive a boat, on water, from Brownsville, TX to - basically - New York harbor without ever navigating into open ocean. Amazing. To me, anyways.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winter is an Island

I took a walk over the weekend, that passed by this reservoir. I set out on this walk, thinking of how to compose pictures of beautiful things, colorful things, expecting to walk along a great river with beautiful vistas. Instead, the beauty I found was distilled from the only available subjects: harsh objects and stark, contrasting light.

Not unlike the photographic subjects, the quality of the walk itself was harsh, unforgiving, and totally unexpected. I set out expecting a casual stroll. Instead, the walk I discovered was more like an arduous bouldering session than a relaxing stroll.

Hmmm. How will this coming season meet with my expectations?

Monday, November 17, 2008

This is Winter

A bit bleak.  More barren than we'd like.   Withdrawn and shuttered.

But beautiful and rewarding if you use it to regenerate and return stronger, wiser, and more energetic than before.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Technical Question

Most, if not all, of the pictures posted on this site are taken with a Nikon D200, and a Nikon 18-200 lens. It's a great camera that has been an excellent, convenient, and inexpensive way for me to begin to learn how all of the technical aspects of photography play together: aperture, shutter speed, film speed, lighting, etc. I take literally hundreds of pictures and the ones that don't turn out, I delete. No cost.

Recently, however, I've started using slide film with a very, very cool "older" Nikon N90s and Fuji Velvia 50 film. The results from slide film are a quantum leap ahead in terms of my input and photographic output. It's harder to use, more demanding mentally and definitely more expensive if I take "bad" shots.

One of the things I've noticed with using film, in contrast to digital, is that none of my shots is EVER out of focus with this setup. Whereas, a lot of my shots on the D200 are ever-so-slightly out of focus. Now, I understand out-of-focus shots with action shots, and I've started to figure out how to manipulate the D200 in "S" (shutter priority) mode, or "M" (full manual) mode to eliminate some of the variables that produce fuzzy results. The auto-focus can only move so fast. Fine. But, can anyone explain why so many of my landscape shots turn out to be slightly fuzzy on the digital? These are shots where the subject is not moving. It's almost as if the auto-focus sensor is purposely focusing 6 inches ahead or behind my subject. In fact, in some shots, there's no single part of a shot that is dead-on in razor-sharp focus. The whole shot looks like it's a close approximation of focus. This does not happen when I shoot slide film, only digital.

Is this because when I'm shooting film I'm taking so much more time to prepare a shot? Because I'm aware of the cost of film, developing, etc.? Is it something that I'm noticing only because I'm now able to look at each digital shot in such a huge format, whereas with slides, I'm still holding them up to a light or using a slide projector?

One thing I absolutely notice, is that if I turn the DSLR to manual focus and I shoot landscapes, I get razor-sharp pictures every single time. If I use auto-focus, only about 1 in 5 is dead-on. What gives?

Here's an example of what I'm describing:

This first shot was taken with a 200-400 F5.6 at 400mm; f13 @ 1/320 shutter, ISO 280 (Auto ISO). The sun was so bright I could afford to stop the lens up 3 or 4 full stops to broaden the depth of field, in an effort to get better focus. The camera was set to full manual, including focus, except Auto-ISO. Focusing was actually, easy, because the kayaker always stayed in the plane of focus. As you can see in the full-sized shot, the focus is nice and sharp throughout the kayak and the facial features. Everything looks sharp.

This second shot was taken with a Nikkor 18-200 f3.5-5.6 VR @200mm, f9 at 1/250 second, ISO 100 (Auto-ISO); taken in "P" or full auto mode, including auto-focus. Notice in this shot how the kayaker is *so close* to being in focus, but isn't quite. This is the same section of Great Falls, at the upper end of the short rapids where the first picture was taken. The kayaker is the same distance from the camera, and yet no matter how many pictures I took, every one in auto-focus mode came out like this. Why?


It's all about maintaining the proper perspective. 

Great Falls From The Maryland Side

I've long wondered if actual falls at Great Falls were navigable in a kayak.  They look like they should be, but until Tuesday, I had never seen it in pictures, or in person.  Impressive.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


I'm not a fanatic for restored cars, really I'm not. Especially not restoration-customs, like the car in this shot. But, as anyone who has seen any of the paint jobs on my bikes will attest, I really like intricately painted flames. So, when I drove by this yellow whatever-it-is the other day, I had to stop and take some pictures. Wow, this yellow on yellow paint work is amazing.

The Tower

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Sepia seemed right for this beautiful restoration of a '75 BMW 2002.

Note the auxiliary lights on both bumpers. The red light on the back bumper is for alerting drivers behind you when driving in thick fog, or heavy rain, when vision is impaired. It is always on the driver's side of the rear bumper, and, in modern BMW's in integrated into the reverse lights.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Egretta Thula

A Snowy Egret (Egretta Thula) in the San Diego River, December 2007

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Neon Lights and Irony

I love the neons, the colors, the glow.

Red Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

I'm starting to think this must be "cool pictures in strange places week" or something.

My wife and I were driving into the city for dinner, when she spots this raptor swooping up the street about a block ahead of our car. He was just beneath the trees, between multi-story downtown buildings, and just barely above the cars driving beneath him. When I pulled over at the intersection where he flew out of sight, this beautiful Red Tailed Hawk was perched on a lamppost about 20 feet above the street.

Pedestrians walked along clueless that this big, beautiful bird was hunting squirrels up and down their street.

Saturday, November 01, 2008