Monday, January 30, 2012

Desert Weed Macros

Weekend before last I went on a little desert hike on the rocks behind the house. I took this panorama shot (3 photos total). Photoshop does a really nice job stitching together photos into pano shots. No tripod required... the program is able to intelligently splice photos together very cleanly. That's Copper Mountain in the background. Joshua Tree (the town) is on the left and 29 Palms and the Marine Base to the right.
Another view from the top of the hill (non-panorama):
At the top of the hill, I took these macro photos. I apologize, I have no idea what this plant is (hence the generic 'desert weed' title), but I like the way it came out.  Linking to Macro Monday.  Have a great week!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Seal Beach Pier (Part II)

So Dutch Girl, Lap Dog Knits, Man in Black, and I went down to Seal Beach Pier on photo assignment and to get a burger at Ruby's Diner late afternoon yesterday. If you're not familiar with this part of S. CA, there is a Ruby's Diner right at the end of the Seal Beach Pier, so a fun place to take a nice walk, check out the various activities, and grab a bite to eat. Let me set the stage: Saturday afternoon, high in the low '80s in central Orange County, great visibility, light breeze... in a word, perfection! It was literally impossible to stay indoors! Turns out we weren't alone in our thinking, as there we're many other folks enjoying the weather down by the pier.  I had a similar post a while back (Seal Beach Pier), but today I planned ahead and brought various lenses and a tripod.  I'm pretty sure there will be a Seal Beach Part III (and perhaps Part IV) because I have so many photos I want to share! I guess that's a good problem to have.  Anyway, a very fun afternoon.  Oh ya, and thanks to Lap Dog Knits and Man in Black for treating us to dinner last night!!  Check out her post for more fun pics from yesterday afternoon.
Seal Beach generally doesn't get good surf, but today was an exception. There was also a nice offshore breeze.

Blurry, but I like the sense of motion and water movement.

Fishermen on the pier, with Catalina Island so clear in the background
 it looks like you could swim out to it!
We even got to enjoy some live music! Amazingly, these two musicians loaded an acoustic piano (mic'ed and run through a speaker), a vocal mic, electric base and amplifier, saxophone, and lord knows what else, into the back of an old pickup truck and gave a darn good impromptu concert! Good times!!
Lucky shot... didn't know I would get these great water droplets!

I really like the light refection off the water.  This was shooting down from the pier.
Photographer at the end of the pier capturing the sunset!
One of my favorites... north side of Seal Beach Pier.  Glad I had my tripod!
I'll post "Seal Beach Pier (Part III) in the next few days.  Thanks for stopping by, and hope your weekend is going great!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sunday Morning, Scarlet Skies!

Let me be clear... I can't take credit for any of these photos. Yes, my camera, but I was still in bed when these photos were taken. I've admitted in other posts that I'm not much of a morning person, but I really missed out last Sunday!  We were in 29 Palms in the California desert, and the approximate sequence of events were [1] my wife got out of bed, [2] she looked out the sliding glass door and let out an audible gasp and [3] quickly exited the bedroom. I stayed in bed just a while longer. The scarlet sky only lasted about 10 minutes at the most, and then the show was over. By the time I got out of bed, the colors were gone. All I can say is I'm glad my wife was up and quick with the camera, and she's got a good photographers eye!!
I like the way the cactus are reaching up to the sky!

The skies are already starting to lighten in this photo.
Linking to Skywatch Friday
Check it out for great skies from around the world!

"Edit Me" Photo Challenge

So I stumbled across a photo challenge blog called "Edit Me". A picture is posted weekly, and the idea is to let everyone take a whack at editing the photo as they see fit. Since I'm trying to teach myself Photoshop (fits and starts), this sounds like a fun activity and an opportunity to learn editing approaches and techniques from other bloggers and photographers. Here's the original photo to be edited. Cute little guy... let's call him "Bubba" (no offense, Mom! He just looks like a little bruiser to me!!).
There were two things about Bubba's image that jumped out at me right away: [1] His face is in the shadows and could use a little light and [2] Bubba is looking left, but the photo is too cramped on the left... no space for Bubba to look. So here's my first edit.
I used Photoshop to lighten the face, add a little saturation for flesh-tone/pink color on the face, and slightly darken the harsh light on the upper left side of the sofa.  The second edit was just a crop to put more space on the left (the direction Bubba is looking). Not bad... I like it better than the original.

Bubba reminds me a little of the Gerber Baby from the '50s, and I like his overalls! This got the creative juices flowing a little, and I decided I wanted to give Bubba an old-time '50s look.  I used a texture edit to try to create an old photo feel.  I excluded the face from the texture. Not 100% happy with this, as it looks a little washed out and perhaps lost some detail.  If I wanted to invest more time, I would go back and try different textures.
I probably should have stopped here, but I thought it might look cool to have mirror images of Bubba, and position them so they are looking at each other (I know, over the top, right?). In Photoshop you can horizontally flip an image, which is a nice feature. Do other programs have this option?  Anyway, here's what Bubba's flipped image looks like.
For my final edit, I used the "place" function to position both images on a picture of a book. The book is the background layer, and the two Bubbas are placed on top.  Lastly, I blended the images using "color burn", and edited the face so the texture didn't discolor it.  I did a final edit in camera raw just to adjust darkness and clarity. It's a little dark, but overall I think I like the effect. You can (hopefully) imagine this being an old post card or magazine add from the '50s. Bubba, thanks for letting me play around with your image. You're a good sport!!
To see how others have edited Bubba, 
please check out Edit Me weekly photo challenge.
Edit Me

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Succulent Droplets

My wife has a succulent garden in the front yard. The other morning as I was sitting in my office doing e-mail, I noticed light reflecting off water on the succulents. Setting aside my e-mail for a second (any excuse, right?), I grabbed my camera / macro lens and went outside to investigate!

Not sure why these droplets make these star reflections, but I like the look!

I did a close-crop on the drop in the 3rd photo and then flipped it 180 degrees (so the drop is facing up). I can see a fairly detailed reflection in the drop... one of our cars on the driveway, our light post, neighbor's house, etc.  Very cool!  To join the macro fun, please check out Macro Monday. Have a great week!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Watching TV in the Desert!

Two weeks ago we went out to Wonder Valley (East of 29 Palms) to photograph old desert cabins and homesteads. It's an amazing area, and there are always lots of photo opps! My wife took the photo below... I'm hunched over, shooting through the viewfinder of my Kodak Duaflex II. The resulting photo is the third in the series.
Weekend fun... on 'photo assignment' at a burned-out desert cabin.
The only time you are likely to see me on TV!  Photo credit
to my wife.
TV-watching in the desert!
With a little help from Photoshop... B&W TV on the left, color on the right!
Here's the kitchen.  See the yellow phone above the stove?
Call waiting??  When was the last time you saw
a rotary phone?
Hope you are having a great weekend.  I plan to post some macro shots I took this weekend either tomorrow or Monday.  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Big Huge Lens!

Earlier this week, my sister, her son (who's quite the photographer!) and I went over to the Summit House restaurant in Fullerton to take some sunset photos. My nephew had rented a Canon ER 600mm f/4L IS Super Telephoto lens... this thing is a real monster! I think they sell for right around $10,000, so no surprise there is a rental market. Click this link to check it out: Lap Dog Knits.  I took the liberty of cropping the photo my sister took... here it is:
Cool, eh? I also had my kit zoom lens, and my sister was shooting through a telephoto zoom.  It's interesting to see how the photos compare, all taken from the same location and changing lenses.
Kit Lens:  Focal length 18mm, f10, 1/50 exposure, iso 100.  This shot captures
the biggest chunk of sky.
Kit Lens:  Focal length 55mm, f10, 1/200 exposure, iso 100
Telephoto Zoom: Focal length 150mm, f18, 1/200 exposure, iso 200
"Monster lens" shot!  Focal length 600mm, f18, 1/800 exposure, iso 1600
Focal length 600mm; f18; 1/25 exposure; iso 1600
The shot above is taken away from the sunset (southeast direction) and captures a few California hillside mansions. I like the lavender sky.  Happy Skywatch Friday!  For skies from around the world, please check out

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Desert Wire Macros!

 I took these photos last weekend out near Joshua Tree. Something about old barbed wire in the wide open spaces of the desert is irresistible to me! The photo above is taken through-the-viewfinder of my Kodak Duaflex II. The rest are straight through my macro lens.
Old cable wire wrapped around a wood screw.

For more macro shots, please check out Macro Monday. Have a fantastic week!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's a Mixed Up World!

On some of the blogs I follow, I read about people dreaming of moving beyond their point-and-shoot cameras to a DSLR. I see other bloggers (and I fall into this category) wanting to move from an entry level DSLR to the next level.  Case in point, my nephew is visiting from Sicily and has a Canon 7D.  He let me try it out (big mistake!) and now I have a really serious case of camera envy.  It's a big, solid, built-like-a-tank camera that makes my Canon Rebel T1i feel like a plastic toy!  High end or entry level, DSLRs are expensive, sophisticated and incredibly well engineered pieces of equipment.  So, why in the world would someone what to use a sophisticated DSLR to shoot through the viewfinder of an old Kodak or Brownie with lens distortion, dust, and light leaks?  Why is one of the best selling photo apps for iPhone the Hipstamatic app that makes your photos look like they were taken in the '60s on a little cheap plastic camera?  Go figure.  All I can say is it's a mixed up world!  Oh, and it's really a lot of fun!!
Above is one of my favorites from last weekend in the CA desert near 29 Palms.  These are two images taken through the viewfinder of my Kodak Duaflex II placed side by side.  There was a beautiful late afternoon moon (image on the left).  We were exploring this little homestead cabin. Our Jeep is in the photo on the right.  A perfect afternoon!
Above are some of the places we came across last weekend.  The people living out here are way, way off the grid.  Talk about hardy and self sufficient!  It's many dusty miles to anything.  Most have electricity, but that's it.  They haul out their own water. The photo on the lower left that looks like something out of a sci fi movie are two water storage tanks with gravity feed to a homestead cabin.
Above is a late afternoon big desert sky shot straight through my DSLR... clean, clear (might have been even better had I remembered to take my tripod!)... none of the old timey look of going through the Kodak viewfinder.  I think each approach has it's own good and bad points.  What's your preference??

Check out Skywatch Friday for awesome skies from all over the world!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

TtV Macro Monday!

Keeping with my through-the-viewfinder theme from last post, I took my newly constructed  contraption out in the backyard for some macro shots.  Here's what my setup looks like:
It actually does a pretty decent job with macro photos.  And I had a good laugh about a couple of the comments from my last post.  Truth be told, I am having more fun with the box the monopod came in than the monopod itself!!  I carried the contraption all over the desert this weekend... totally filled a 4 GB memory card with photos of old desert homestead cabins on other old stuff, which is where TtV photography really shines!  I got some great shots...I'll post some in the near future.
Backyard gnome

Maidenhair fern

Cyclamen flowers
Hope everyone is coming off a great weekend.  Please check out Macro Monday for some excellent macro shots.