Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A touch of macro.

I have been using extension tubes for my macro work for a while now and I feel I have a good grasp of their idiosyncrasies.  Today I wanted to photograph the tiny flowers that we have growing in our indoor garden.  I decided to use my tripod today as I wanted to get fairly close in and I knew camera shake was going to be a problem.  The tubes, though good at getting the magnification, cut down a fair amount of the light moving through the lens.  This causes a few challenges.  The first is the need to use higher ISO's in order to hand hold at a fast enough shutter speed.  Second the extreme magnification also magnifies camera shake thus requiring a tripod to stabilize the camera.  Third there is an extremely shallow depth of field.  Finally one has to move the camera to help refine the focus.
These issues are difficult and can be overcome with patience and an understanding of what options one has available.  While I have handheld the tubes this has required ISO's in the 3200 range which does affect the sharpness.  Today I wanted as much sharpness as I could have so I wanted to stay at 100 ISO.  Using a tripod would give me the stability I needed and allow me to work at f22 to get the maximum DOF.  Shutter speed was reduced to 0.3 of a second and I used a cable release to trigger the camera.  Below are two images of the set up.
The first shot here is of a strawberry flower covered with pollen.
This image is a marigold flower and the pistil and stamen at the center.  I found it both colourful and intriguing.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Having an indoor garden.

With the fact that Calgary's growing season is so short my wife decided this year to start her plants inside.  We have a nice south facing bay window which is a perfect place for them to grow.  We have a lot of variety with peas, beans, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, peanuts, sunflowers and marigolds amongst the mix.  Having them inside has afforded me a chance to take a number of photo's as they flower and progress in their growth.
One of the main things is that I must pay attention as the light comes through the window throughout the day.  Since it can give different looks as it comes in at different angles I always have to be prepared when it is just right.  This evening it was coming in and giving a wonderful backlight on one of the peapods.  I went down stairs to grab my camera and I also brought up a small piece of black matt board.  This was necessary as the background with the window framing behind would have been very distracting.  I carefully positioned the matt board behind making sure it would not block the sunlight and taped it in place.  Using the 24-70 I got in as close as the lens would focus to get the framing I wanted.  My shooting data for this photo is 400 ISO, f10 and 1/100 sec..  Other than a little burning in on the leaf on the left edge to take down the tone there was no other post involved.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A project within a project.

When taking on a challenge like a Photo a Day one starts out just trying not to miss a day in the process.  As one progresses and it reaches a point where taking an image is incorporate into our life sometimes we have to add a twist to keep it a challenge.  This is why I have chosen to take a self-portrait every Sunday this year.  There were a few reasons I have decided to do this.  One is to try and unleash some creativity. Two is to record and share how I see myself.  Finally it is to see if there would be the same interest of photographs of a middle age male as there are in the photo's by a number of attractive young ladies that are popular on the internet.
So here is image number 20 in the series.  Shot with my GoPro Hero3.  I used it to record a shot of me outside with my car which I just got back this week after having the transmission replaced.
Even though I may have a set agenda for every Sunday I still try to take other images as well.  Though there are days when I only take one photo I normally do a few which I try to share here on my blog.  I took this image at my brothers house this evening as we were visiting for my niece's birthday.  This flower was on the table in this small glass bottle on top of a pink table cloth.  The light coming from the window cast a blue tone on the table cloth which the iPhone accentuated. I felt this was a very funky look and enjoy the result.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Back teaching once again.

It is so nice to be back teaching again.  Three night's a week at SAIT and Wednesday mornings at the Kerby Centre kept the past 5 days very busy. I don't mind as I have always enjoyed sharing with others and teaching photography has helped me grow both as a person and a photographer.  I am so fortunate to have this opportunity as it allows me to meet all levels of photographers and to guide them along in learning not only their equipment but also developing their eye and technique.  Although I did get out and shoot a number of images this past week. 
May 13.  I took a quick walk in Nose Hill Park and this view of the pathway and power lines with the prairie clouds rolling in caught my eye.  A quick iPhone capture and a little post in snapseed gave me this wonderful look.
May 14.  It was field trip day with my seniors from the Kerby Centre and we headed down to the Devonian Gardens.  I knew I wanted to take a photo of this fountain so I made sure I brought my tripod. Both images are shot with the 7D and the 24-70 f2.8 lens at 100 ISO.  The first is shot at f4 and 1/10 sec.
You can see a more smooth look in the water in this second shoot that was done at f22 and 4 seconds. It was fun to show them this technique and to help them learn their equipment.
Walking out of SAIT at 10:00 in the evening I was taken by how blue the sky was at this time of the evening.  We get longer days now here in Calgary so I was able to get this nice view of the skyline.
May 15.  The tulips are close to blooming and I like the sensual look they evoke when they are at this stage. There are in our front garden and I shot at f5.6 to have a shallower depth of field.
May 16.  An absolute gorgeous evening to go for a walk and I headed out on the pathways of Dalhousie with my camera.  I wanted to travel light so I only had my 24-70 with me.  When I first spotted this little guy his colour made me think that he had escaped from someone's home.  Then I saw a second and realized it was wild.  We don't see many colourful birds in the city and I was not sure what it was but after sharing it a number of my friends identified it as a Western Tananger.  Although I am fairly happy with the result as this is cropped in a fair amount off the original frame I would like to see if I can spot it again when I have my 70-200 with me.
I am not sure why one of our neighbours has this net hanging in this unique configuration but it caught my eye.  Getting down low I moved around until there were some clouds incorporated in to the background.
At the Dalhousie LRT station the curved lines and shadows created a great abstract.  After downloading it to my computer I used some grunge in snapseed to finish it.
A reflection in a puddle was an interesting subject.
May 17.  We are growing a large number of plants in doors as we wait for the weather to stabilize so we can transfer them to the garden.  Some of the sunflowers are a couple feet tall already and the buds of the flower are appearing.  I used my 24-70 with a 36mm extension tube to capture this macro shot showing the fine hairs on the plant.

Monday, May 12, 2014

A salute to our nurses.

Today is the start of Nurses Week here in Alberta.  This afternoon they held a small gathering down at Calgary's Peace Bridge to hand out coffee and cake.  My wife is a dedicated ICU RN and we came down to show our support for these wonderful people. 
Health care is an important aspect of any society and the nurses are always on the front lines. I know that lots of jurisdictions are struggling to balance budgets and keep services but these are the people who need the support.  Lives hang on them and they should not be ignored. I think that most of them really just want fair wages and safe working conditions.
I know I am proud of my wife and the work that she does.  I hope that you never have to be treated by her because that means you are in a critical state.  All that I know is that if you do end up in her care or in the care of any of our nurses you will be in fine hands. If you know a nurse give them a pat on the back and a thank you for being there.

A quick shadow selfie taken after I took the above group photo.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Up to date, and ready to rock.

This post will bring me up to date with all the photo's of the day.  It has been a struggle at times but as you will see with the images here the last couple of weeks have been more productive. There have also been some steps forward in my business direction and this will hopefully move me forward.  As you see my photograph's and the stories you will learn more.
April 27.  The start of a productive two weeks.  It started in the afternoon with an iPhone capture as Cool read the prayers of the faithful at a special mass.
Once I returned homed I got home I saw this toy on the kitchen table and loved the colours so using the iPhone and Snapseed for some post processing.
Sunday Self-portrait series No. 17.  After a number of ailments over the last few months that held me back I am ready to start working out again.
April 28.  I plucked this dried flower from our front garden and using a soft box from behind and a mirror to reflect back the light created this composition.
April 29.  These Calla Lilies in Walmart made for an excellent subject.  The iPhone comes in handy taking photo's in public areas.
April 30.  A new opportunity is being presented to me as The King Edward School is becoming an Arts Incubator and they are putting out a call for tenants.  I attended an information session and I think it could be a good fit.  I need to submit a letter of intent this week with the final proposal due in July.  This is the push I needed to figure out what I want to do with the Calgary Institute for Photography.  I will use this time not only to write the proposal but also develop a business plan and direction.  I may not get in but at least it will make me develop a road map. Here is a look at the outside of the school which is currently going under renovation.
May 1.  I took a walk in Nose Hill park as we finally had a beautiful morning.  It resulted in a bundle of pleasing photo's using the 7D and 70-200 mm with the 2X convertor for the first three images.
I then switched to the 24-70 and found some crocuses to shoot the first I used a 20mm macro tube before taking it off for the next two.
As I walked back to the car I saw this lady and her dog and their reflection and made this shot.
When I arrived home I saw that we had a daffodil blooming in our front garden, the first bloom of the season.  I did a full and a macro shot.
Later in the evening I had purchased an orchid to give to Cool's vocal coach. While waiting in the car for him to finish I shot this photo.
May 2.  Our first rainy day of the spring and it was worthwhile to take a quick walk as the water drops make for an interesting subject.
However later in the day that rain turned to snow and here is an iPhone shot of what I saw from our front window at 11:45 pm.
May 3.  Here are some shots of what I woke up to this morning. Snow everywhere.
It was at least 18 cm deep on this plastic table on the deck which shows how much actually fell.
This same branch was the one I took yesterday with the rain drop.  Now the leaves are holding a blanket of snow.
One good thing though is my wife has started her garden growing in the front bay window and her beans are coming up nicely.
May 4.  I love to walk through garden centres and today it was Rona's.  They had some clematis plants with some nice flowers and here are two of them.
Sunday self-portrait series No. 18.  Happy Star Wars Day, May the Fourth be with You.
May 5.  We are in Edmonton and staying at the Sands Hotel.  It has been a long day so a quick iPhone capture of a quiet waiting area.
May 6.  This is what life is all about, helping once children's with their dreams.  Today it was to audition again for YTV's "The Next Star", a singing reality show for kids under 15.  Cool auditioned last year in Calgary and did very well and he is determined to keep going until he is to old or they choose him.  He had another great audition this year and you will have to watch YTV starting July 14 to see if he is on it.

Here he is standing in line as a light snow came down in Edmonton.  It was 6:00 am and we were not looking forward to standing in the cold for a few hours.  However they were kind enough to open the doors of the Edmonton Expo centre and let everyone in.
The whole family came along to show our support and we had someone take an iPhone capture as we sat in line.
His wrist band was Number 100.  If you ad a C before the 0's it spells out his name.
Everyone from YTV remembered him from last season and he was a popular person in-line.  They shot a variety of video with him.  Here he is about to do a dance of with "The Next Star" host Carlos.
I thought this was a cool shot of Carlos's shadow as he walked the audition line.
The camera men also remembered him and had him do a few different promo lines.
The other YTV celebrity is Suki who does a lot of their on line content.  He shot an instagram video of Cool and Luke which you can find if you follow this link. http://instagram.com/p/nqCD4aM9GU

I shot this as he filmed the segment.
The last image from the day as after this they were in restricted areas.  They were giving out samples of Clean and Clear and asked you to tweet a photo in front of the banner.  We were lucky as Cool won a gift bag of the product by sharing the photo I shot.
May 7.  We spent some time at my aunt's farm in Bon Accor before heading back to Calgary.  She has a lot of plants and flowers and I had fun photographing them.  The first is a macro shot of an Iron Cross Begonia leaf. 
I loved this ball of flowers on the Hoya plant.
Some baby tomato's on the vine.
Walking around the farm I found this lovely old vehicle and shot these two photo's.
May 8.  An action shot of Luke at his soccer game.  The last one I will get to see as I start teaching next week on his soccer night.
May 9.  Cool wanted to see the Amazing Spider-man 2 so we went to an early show.  I took the straw from his collectors cup and used it to create this shot.
May 10.  I don't get downtown often but the boy's had a dress rehearsal for their concert that evening.  While they were at Konx United Church I wandered down the street to the Bow Building.  The giant head out front as to be one of the most photographed pieces of public art in the city and it is hard to do something unique.  I saw the shadow on the ground and incorporated it into the shot.  I then used photoshop to eliminate the busy back ground and snapseed to add the grunge for the effect.
In it's short existence having opened only a little more then a year ago, the Bow Building has become an iconic structure of the Calgary skyline.  Many photo's have been taken and I was looking for something a little different.  The Family of Man statues form EXPO 67 that stand on the old Board Of Education site proved to be useful in adding another element. I got down as low as I could to capture this photo.
There are also metal cut-outs of horses down by the old court house.  I photographed one from a low angle positioning the buildings behind the way I wanted.  Using both snapseed and photoshop I created this abstract image.
The concert in the evening was nice and as it was the last of the season and I wanted to capture a couple of photo's. Here are Cool and Luke on stage.

May 11.  Mum's for Mom on Mother's day.  A quick iPhone capture of the flowers for my wonderful mother.
Sunday self-portrait series No. 19 - The World is Mine.  I feel I am starting to get my groove back.  A couple of weddings booked, an extra class at SAIT due to a long waitlist and the proposal for the King Edward.  Lot's of work ahead but hopefully good progress as well.