Random Photos and Thoughts. Adventures in life as a Amateur Photographer.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sipder Girl?

DSC_4210, originally uploaded by jestrbob.

A few weeks ago I wrote here about our trip to the Pinnacles National Monument. This area is a true multiple use facility. Campers, backpackers, hikers, and equestrians, road and mountain bikers, .birders and wildlife watchers. there are even groups that watch and count butterflies all enjoy access to this area which is about 2 hours south of California's Bay Area. The area is well documented botanically (but no collection of flora is allowed). This time of the year it is loaded with wildflowers.

Here is a fine example of multiple use. A group is using this steep face to practice rock climbing. The people below are coaching her which hand hold to use and aiding her selection of path.

This photo is a little like Life. One person is working to achieve a goal. Often times it takes a good safety line, and dozens of coaches and fans to cheer you on from the side line as you reach for the next step.

So as life deals you those issues which force you to stretch yourself to the limits and pull yourself up to a next step, never fear because someone his ready to help you.

In this case the young lady decided to drop down and try again another day. It wasn't a loss or failure, but a victory. You're not always ready for the next step and just making the attempt is often good enough.

Hey, Tomorrow is another chance.

So the image I want to try for is still out there waiting the next time I have the right settings on my camera and with the experience I gained from today, I can make a better tomorrow.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Dream of...

Recently I had the honor of going to a quilt show with my wife.

I actually enjoy these events. I get to see art in a medium which is a real challenge for the artist. It is amazing to see what these Artists can do with simple pieces of colored and patterned fabric.

Quilts shows are ideal places to take pictures. They are mostly indoors and often have great lighting and high ceilings.

There are great people to watch at the show. Being a good photographer is a skill in watching people and capturing them at their best.

There there are the surprises. This yearly show, which I have attended several times over the the span of 20 years, also has a group of doll makers displaying their art.

These are amazing dolls. Works of art. the challenge is to make images which display them properly. It is not always as easy as it sounds.

DSC_3369, originally uploaded by jestrbob.

I am always looking for items to capture in photos photos. These dolls caught my eye. This one is about 8-10 inches tall. She is displayed with her companions looking on as if they are her audience. I have posted a few more to my Photostream on Flickr.

It was fun to take pictures of these dolls. The presentation of display and the artistry of doll maker made this quest easy.

What's that in the sky? A bird? a plane?

Or just a bit of whimsy.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Nothing much here, Just a blogger with nothing to much say!

Well, people that's the truth. This week has been a mishmash of trying to go through the images of the last photo crawl and playing catch-up with neglected chores. I've also been busy reading other people's blogs, my backlog of mail, trying to pick out an image or three for our incoming county fair and work. I ran across one blog which I have been following for a while, which I find worth taking the time to read. Face it, there are blogs like mine, which are just exercises in mind. There there are people which capture followers, and have important things which to impart to the world.

This Blog:

Is worth taking the time to reading. It is very well written and interesting and informative articles.

In his recent blog cited above he displays a small version of this image by Ben Matthews

This is something I saw like something I saw done in the 70's with a pinhole camera, and colored lights at night. This photographers use of color and shading creates an interesting picture.

The Image:
is worth taking looking at, it your are interesting in light painting. The same use of light and color to create a mood seem to be well executed in his images.

Congratulations go out to Ben for this winning image.

So people Where does this type of technique take you. How many are interested in doing something like this?

I am! What about you.

I had to reedit this enter some of the links changed as did the licsencing for the photo from Ben Matthews

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bits 'n' Pieces and Awful Parodies


In a recent discussion e-mail list which I participate from time to time, had an involved exchange on what different people should carry when you are off trekking with your camera. I, like most shutterbugs and photo enthusiast usually carry my Camera around my neck. That works for short trips, when I can dash back to the car in a few minutes to grab something I need. What about if you are going out on a longer (2-6 hours) hike?


* Water and snack foods, or a lunch. note I said water, not soda. If it is very hot, lots of water, I did see one very authoritative brochure from a government monument, [US park Service] suggested one liter of water per hour. I think a hydration backpack might be the thing to have.

Safety items
*1st Aid Kit That depends on where you are going and how many people are travel with you. While I was involved with 4H Camp. The Groups were generally 10-15 children and teens, and about 3-5 adults. I would often end up toting a full pack of 1st aid supplies, as well as camera gear and my own water. Now traveling just one other person, I would suggest a smaller pocket sized 1st aid kit. Most good outdoor stores have several options from which to pick.

What about camera gear? [It is what I really want to talk about right now, isn't it?]

Well you might pack and carry a photo-bag.

But then you ask how big and what type of bag?

Bags are personal choices and most people I know have several different type of bags and use them for different places. The bags come in all different sized and shaped. Backpacks, Hip Packs, Shoulder and Messenger bags are just few of the commons types.

So what should I put in the bag style of my choice?

*One small notebook, pocket size, one pencil, a penknife to sharpen the pencil. A penknife is a small knife, usually with a single folding blade. 100+ years they were used to sharpen quill pens.

*Your other lens. I tend to use my telephoto more than my 'wide' angle lens. So the 'wide' goes into the bag.

*Spare memory cards, in my pocket sized Pelican chip holder. It holds SD 10 memory cards. and On long trips I used most all of them.

*Camera Battery At least one fully charged 'Spare Battery' for you camera.

* Lens cleaning gear. Face it, everyone has managed to end up with dust on their lens, and no one wants to have a perfect shot ruined by 'dust on the lens', and no suitable way to clean it.

The awful random thought that escaped my normal, everyday self censorship:

All the prefect shots ruined by a dirty lens in a room and singing "All we are is dust on the lens." A parody of a song by Kansas.

I open my shutter, only for a moment, and the moment's gone
All my photos, pass before my eyes, a sad ending
Dust on our Lens, all they are is dust on our lens
Same perfect shot, just a mote of dirt in an endless sea
All those pictures, thrown to the bin, though we refuse to see.

Dust on our Lens, All our images end up ruined by dust on our lens.

Apologies to Kansas and Kerry Livgren

[I now return you to our normal mundane blog. I sure my wife will someday explain my insanity to you]

More Bits

* Close-up lens. I would suggest carrying a set of closer up filter lenses. +1,+2 +4 diopters. I like to get down and close to the plants and flowers. The most 'Plain Jane' will look completely different when seen through a close up.

This simple mustard with just a +1 close-up lens looks worlds different. By removing the background and looking closer, our Plain Jane turns in to a Delicate Wonder.

*Circular polarizing filter. Everyone should carry, and learn to use this wonderful tool it allows a person to control the reflected and refracted light in the image. With a Circular Polarizing Filter, the photographer can limit the light reflecting off a window in a landscape, or off a glass in still life. One can also increase the blue color in the sky by limiting the refracted light. The trade off is about one f-stop. which isn't bad.

*A set of Neutral Density filters. How often have you had a great shot but couldn't stop open the lens up enough to control your Depth of Field? These handy gadgets drop the amount of light which hits your lens. The real experts have supplied well written examples of how to use them correctly. Why should I reinvent the wheel. Good well writen articles abound on the web and in some blogs on the Web. Google is our friend as they. Wiki is often a good place to start.

Wikipedia's article on Neutral_Density_Filters

and in this instance the article is linked to this great blog.

What are Neutral Density Filters (and when and how to use them)

[this Blogger's latest entry is worth reading for the Links alone]

So what else do you need or want to carry?

*A hand full of pipe cleaners in greens and brown colors. Use them to make great stabilizers and stiffen up droopy blooms and branches).

*A few note (3x5) cards taped together that fold up (Light reflector or wind screen,. The unfolded size should be about 20 x 18. They can be taped together with hinging tape).

*A mini tripod, All round useful item. Really not that expensive, and can be used many ways.

* A couple of sets of stiff wires about (12 gauge) with alligator clips. ( they can hold the cards for you or be used to brace a branch or flower stem. With these items you can stabilize most flowers and get the light were you want it.

A few other small items you may want to carry is a

* A small beanbag to rest your camera on.

* Foam kneeling pads You can get them at the local garden store. They protect the knees and your clothing.

All of these items, except the kneeing pad and tripod can be carried in safari type vest or photobag.

*A small LED light. Either Head (miners style) light or a hand held flashlight. I like the head lamp because it leaves your hands free and will always shine the direction you are facing. (Make sure you have a set of spare AAA batteries.)

Rather than try to stuff all these items in a giant sized camera bag, consider the following

*A safari vest. These are the neatest of things. They are either 9 or 21 pocket vests. Most of them have a mesh type back that allows you not over heat. You have room for lots of carry gear, close up lenses, and a bottle or two of water. Your spare lens and tripod can go in smaller bags, rather than a single giant bag.

Two last items (really three but the last one is really important.)

* A monopod. This doubles as a walking stick. There is even one with retractable legs. Mine has a ball head mount.

* Insect repellent. No one wants to be buzzed by the gnats and mosquitoes, or have an encounter with the meat bees.

*Sun Protection [two sub items here]
* Sun Screen, applied to your face, hands ears and neck. Read the directions on the bottle. Apply as directed and reapply as directed also. Those little sunburns will detract from your overall experience outdoors and in the end hurt you.

* A Good Hat, to shade your face, ears and the back of your neck. I don't like baseball styled caps (billed hats) for this protection. While they may shade your eyes and face, they offer no protection for your ears and the back of your neck.

So, JestrBob. What do you think makes a good hat?

A wide, 3 inch brim. Maybe with tie to hold it down in the wind. One with a ventilated crown is great for summer outings. The wide brim will protect your face, ears and neck. I found a great hat in a local store that sells work clothing for the outdoors.

Now that you are all outfitted for your outing why are you still sitting at the computer?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Horse of Different Color or They're and Swiming Off

Yesterday was the scheduled opening of the new Secret World of Seahorses.

This peek through the door shot was taken. I asked to take a walk though for pictures for my blog, they said no. Or Well. So I was just happy to see the Aquarium was still going strong after these years. A weekend trip to the California Coast is always an adventure for our family. So everyone, Get up off the couch, go somewhere with your family or spouse and take a walk.

One of the Things I have noticed is every public aquarium has at least one exhibit with Clown Fish. Disney's feature film Finding Nemo gave an entire generation the interests in these fish.

At least everyone that has visited with a camera has tried to take a picture of these fish. They are very photogenic.

They are good practice at this type of shooting.

The move slow enough you don't have to track them and move enough to be interesting.

Are these fish an ideal model fish, or is that an ideal fish model?

What I want to say, is some fish seem to move so fast they are nearly impossible to track in the low light/flashless conditions. While other fish don't seem to move at all.

No matter what your technique happens to be for taking good images of these creatures, it is a skill worth developing. No tripod, no flash and low light/usually a nice bulb placed above the tank to stimulate the native light conditions.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has these impressive tanks which model the nearly the Monterey Bay from the waterline to about 50 feet below sea level.

Then if you get tired of fish watching. You can always people people watch.

Do you ever wonder what people are thinking when they watch fish?
It is almost as interesting as watching the fish. I asked one of docents about how the fish seemed to interact or react to some people and the colors of clothing they were wearing.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Step Right Up!

DSC_4486, originally uploaded by jestrbob.

Step Right Up Folks!

This was the cry of the circus barker, inviting people into the show tent.

And that's what this blog is about.

Going back to a recent theme of one of my older entries:

Where do you go to take pictures?

One of our club members answered: Zoos.

He had displayed a interesting picture of a young tiger taken at the Fresno Zoo. Shooting in a zoo often allows people to experience the excitement of taking pictures of animals with little cost and risk.

In this image and the next two images. I took my shots in an enclosed area at the Aquarium.
This is possibly the best chance most people could do, short of laying out on a beach in a blind.

It is good to practice these shots in low light without a flash. and will hone a person skill at taking the shots of birds or animals so they can get the best possible shot when they are in the blind.

These were shot back to back, with a few seconds between the shots. I shot about 30 or 40 shots in this enclosure alone.

An Aquarium or Zoo building is also a great place to practice shots with no flash, using the available lighting. Most Zoos dislike you using flashes as it tends to upset the animals.

Inside at the Tanks the goal is to avoid the reflections and ghost images.

Can you see my reflection?

I didn't use a polarizing filter, which might have eliminated the reflection, but most polarizing filters tend to drop the amount of light available.

Then there are the extreme reason you can't use a flash.

This is a Amazing relative of the Seahorse called the "Sea Dragon"

They are very photosensitive and there are dozens of signs around on the wall "Not to use flashes" and "No Flashes" in the area.

I have a few more images, taken at the Aquarium which I still have to process and post.

A good reason for returning to your local zoo or aquarium, never forget there are new displays being built and opened.

It just so happens one will this very next weekend. I did manage to get a preview shot through the door.

I need to do a bit of post processing and will try to post the preview image tomorrow.