This week most surely conspired against its Weekly Photo Challenge, Early Bird. While I am often up early in the morning, doing so with the intention of taking photographs– without being away on vacation– was most certainly fraught with setbacks.
That said, I got some good shots in on Wednesday morning, from my home. It was nice to sneak outside, eyes sleepy and bare feet pressed against the cold concrete, with camera in hand (and tied around my neck, lol) while the coffee brewed. The morning air is always my favorite; cool and damp before the dry desert day sets in and the sun casts its long lines and draws the color out of everything. It’s unfortunately too early in the year for our most dramatic dawns and dusks, but the sky’s color gradient was beautifully tender and soft light made it easy to capture the garden’s colors and shapes.
I have slowly been working toward a IR converted camera for the last 6 months or so and it arrived back home yesterday- couldn’t help but take it out for a spin! The 720nm glass makes black and white feel like a dream-
while still offering me the option of surreal color processing-
For those of you who follow, I am working on a small redesign of the site/ my approach (including enlarging my standard image size), as my “all things I love” blog has shifted lovingly to an “I love photography” blog and my site structure needs a revamp. This is taking some time, with life and all, but I will be posting more frequently (and hopefully better!) going forward.
Two weeks ago I rented a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS lens to test out whether or not macro was a format I could dive deeper into, technology notwithstanding. After an initial meet and greet with the lens in the (relatively) controlled environs of my kitchen, confidence bolstered by the benefit of my tripod, a remote shutter switch, and nowhere else to be, I decided to give the stabilized lens a more real-world test. With only a couple hours to spare on Saturday (at high afternoon, no less), I took my camera back to UNM for a quick tour of the duck pond.
Generally speaking, this is a wide angle or standard lens location, full of students, fountains, ducks. geese, and families. While I wasn’t the only photographer on campus that day, I was certainly the only one crawling around the ground with a 12″ diffuser flared out behind my head like the feathers of a peacock. (Definitely need to work on a less ostentatious approach to light control…) I hadn’t used my diffuser much to date, but it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with it- that little thing may just salvage many a mid-day photography opportunity– a great gift indeed in this land of very hard sunlight.
It took a while to get the hang of swaying my body front to back to fine tune my focal plane (though far easier than trying to manually fine-tune the lens focus while accounting for my natural motion) and eventually I got the habit of breathing out before taking a shot. About 50% of my shots were technically acceptable on closer inspection, but frankly, while it was a fun outing, I still wasn’t overall thrilled about my compositions or the lens. (That changed, thankfully- though the bolus of photos I ultimately took with the lens has completely jammed up my post-production workflow and I am still trying to get them ready for posting!)
I leave you with a small gallery of the images from that first hand-held macro trip.
I rented a macro lens for the week to see what more a dedicated macro lens would make available to me. We got off to a slow start the first night, but each day I’ve found myself more and more enamored with the lens and the format. (As of this writing, I have about 300 prints to work on, after initial review, and still 4 more days with the lens!)
Here is a small gallery of my first night’s photos, while I work on post-processing the rest!
Last fall, the day before our first hard freeze, I slipped outside before work and played in the leaves and grape vines for a bit. Finding such beautiful details of decay and the back lit perspective courtesy of the early morning sun made my day!
Despite my enthusiasm, I (accidentally) stashed the pictures to work on later and just came across them for processing this week. A lot has transpired for me since these photos were taken – it feels like it was ages ago- and it seems only fitting to squeeze them in before Spring officially arrives!
The Geography of Fall
It was bound to happen at some point.
I noticed as I loaded new photos into Lightroom tonight that yesterday was a year to the day of my DSLR’s first click. I also noticed that it has taken me a week to even upload some of the photos– wholly on account of my hating them.
I had a bad macro run last week – working indoors with an unfamiliar setup late in the evening after work – surprise surprise- didn’t work out as well as I had hoped. And unlike my more recent trips to the botanical gardens, this experience didn’t make me want to get back out there and get those snaps. It made me feel overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of skill I have the never-ending opportunity to develop.
So I spent the week under a proverbial rock, reading articles and books on technique, feeling crappier and more anxious about trying again. To make matters worse (better?), taunting me from my kitchen counter were the other flowers I had bought to take pictures of, cascading like waves through the process of fantastic blooming. Tonight – having had enough of their teasing- I got out the camera and found some pictures I am very excited about. Relief- looks like I didn’t lose the last year’s lessons in one go after all, lol.
Interestingly, when I uploaded the pictures that had left me so disenchanted, they weren’t as bad as I remembered them. No, they weren’t as clear or lit for texture as I wanted and the depth of field was all but unworkable, but I found Freeman Patterson’s words from “Photography and the Art of Seeing” nagging me: “… don’t junk your digital images immediately!”
Taking a cue from some of my favorite shots at the botanical garden, I decided to go an abstract route and work with- rather than against- the images’ flaws. I actually like this set enough (now) to try printing a set of note cards for thank you’s and the like!
I am curious what you think of this batch of “lemonade”- gratefully, the the shots I took tonight are a little less of a stretch and I am excited to get them into processing and posted!