Mar 31, 2011

Waterfalls and Hog's Back Park

It's a pretty blah kinda day unlike the beautiful day yesterday.  Had to come into the city to attempt to get some chores done.  Got one done, one booked for tomorrow afternoon and half of another one done.  As a result I ended up with some spare time so decided to take a quick run down to Hog's Back park to try to shoot some waterfalls.  I've never had much luck but did a little better today.

It's a tough place to photograph due to the angles.  To get the right angle you have to stand in the spray coming off the water.  That area is still covered with ice and is unsafe.  That combined with not wanting to soak my camera gear killed that idea.   Shooting from above almost has to be done handheld because there is not place to put the 3 legs of the tripod.  Somehow I managed to balance 2 legs of the tripod and that combined with the Image Stabilization of the new lens I managed to get some longer exposures, 1/3rd of a sec, and combine them into a panoramic.    The light isn't exciting but it's better then I've done in the past.

Be sure to click the image to see the full size.

Panorama (10 images) of the rushing water at Hog's Back.  This is what it looks like using normal camera settings.

9 images, this is what it looks like when you extend the shutter speed to 1/3rd of a sec.  Smoothes the water nicely.  A very steady hand or tripod is necessary. 

 Zoom in on the water itself.

So for those who have ever wondered how to shoot waterfalls that's all there is to it.  Find an overcast and dark day, a tripod and 1/3rd of a second.   A little tougher on a sunny day as you'll need a filter to use slow shutter speeds.   If you can, combine it with a few shots and make a wide panorama.

I'm working off my laptop so hope I got the post processing done, can be tough being on a 14" screen versus my 27" at home ;-)

Weathers not looking the best for the next few days so not sure if we'll get out shooting or not.  Fingers crossed that environment Canada is wrong.

Mar 30, 2011

Mer Bleue

What a beautiful sunny and almost warm day!   Got up around 8c and the sky was a royal blue all day.  Even the wind was light, one of the nicest days this spring.  No way I was going to pass that up, had to get the camera and go somewhere!   Since I seem to have the bug to shoot panoramas I figured I needed someplace open and W I D E!     Did a search and discovered that Mer Bleue is open year round, so I figured what the heck.   Mer Bleue is a Peat Bog/Marsh located just east of Ottawa.  It's about halfway between my place and the city.  Here is a reminder from when Jen and I visited last Sept on a very sad weekend.  The colours are quite different from the late summer to end of winter!

The place was pretty deserted, expect for a few workers and people in business outfits?  WTF?  Strange place to go in your work clothes.  The mud wasn't to bad but was glad I had my boots on.   The trail isn't a loop right now as some of it is blocked for the workers to replace some of the boardwalk.

Shot some normal shots, as you'll see, and a pile of pano's.   Sorry for so many but I really couldn't decide which to post and which not, so said "the hell with it" and posted all the ones that I liked ;-)    I still need to work on my white balance on bright blue skies but I'm getting better.  You can see the blues not blending as nice as they should/could.  Think I might need to start using custom white balance.

Hope you enjoy.  Remember to click the image for a bigger version, especially the pano's!

 No software zooms, this was how close I could get to him.  I didn't bug him at all.

 One lonely stick.

 Ice is rotting fast.

 Spike?  Almost looks like a lizard.

Was trying to climb the small tree to jump to a bird feeder.

10 images blended into one.  As you can see the ice is still in but it's pretty rotted and melting fast.  Not something I would walk on.

 Only 7 images on this one!  This is how it looks in the summer.

 9 images.  This bog has always reminded me of Newfoundland.

 A whooping 15 images blended here.  Yes I was trying to get the symmetry of the walkway.

 8 images.  Going back over the really wet part of the bog.

and finally 15 images.  There were a couple of ducks hanging in the weeds but they wouldn't come out.  So got bored and did this shot while I waited.  Naturally they took off before I could switch the lens back.

Wonder where I'll go tomorrow? We'll see, I have to go into the city tomorrow for a few errands and then staying at Jen's for a few days. If I have time after the errands and the weather is good I might hit Hog's Back park or something.  I still haven't perfected shooting waterfalls and that is the only one I can think of that's close by.  My vacation is disappearing fast - doh!

Rural Decay?

I went out in search of Coyotes and found rural decay instead.  I hear the coyotes all the time around the farm and have seen them from a distance but never with a camera in hand.    They've been howling a few times this week and sounded like they were out back and to the side so figured I'd take a walk and try and see if I can find them, or indications of where they hang out.   But no tracks and no sign of them.  Some old tracks but look more like deer, hard to tell with the melting snow.

Around the farm and back in the woods are farm machinery pieces laying around.  Most are still usable but naturally they have rust on them this time of year.  But there was one piece back in the woods, not sure what it was used for, couldn't figure it out.   But rust and age lend themselves to using Lucisart.   The pictures were pretty blah with the grey skies and flat light.  Still no green, just brown ground and old snow.

Some people think things like HDR and Lucisart are just tricks and gimmicks.  Maybe, and not something I use very often but was fun playing around with it.  Makes blah pictures look a bit more interesting.  Not something I'd be selling but I do it just for fun.

Click the image for the fullsize. 

Panorama of the horses, they asked if I could do a group photo for them.   I didn't think it would work as they were all moving around but the photomerge in Photoshop CS5 did it's magic!   This one was a horizontal pano and the one below was a vertical.  5 images above and 7 below.

Mar 29, 2011

Vacation Continues

So far it's been pretty quiet.  Although it's been sunny for the most part the temperatures just have not cooperated.  It's been below zero most days and wind chills from -7 to -18c.   That has limited the outdoor exposures to walking between the truck and the stores ;-)   Any thoughts of real shooting has been quickly shot down when you stick your nose out the door.  Metal camera bodies and tripods just don't mix with the cold very well.  But hope is on the horizon, the forecast says it's going to be warmer the rest of the week.  Now I just gotta get out and find the shots.

But Jen and I did manage to get out for a few minutes to a legal Graffiti wall here in Ottawa.   Just under the bridge across from Carlton University on Bronson.   Some of these will look very familiar as Jen shot near the same thing with her camera and posted on FB a few days ago.  She did a great job and this is proof to her that mine weren't "going to be better".   She's a good photographer and just needs a bit of guidance as I did many years ago.

Be sure to click on the images to see them in fullsize, the pano's look best BIG!

 It's been awhile since I've done any Panorama work, not sure why I keep forgetting considering how much I enjoy it, but this is a shot of the underside of the bridge.  As I stated, this is a legal spot for Graffiti.  There is another wall closer to downtown that I hope to get to before the end of the week.

 Some of the artwork on the walls.
 The water has receded from many of the plants but has left some ice behind.  Put a little Lucisart on this to give it a bit more interesting of a look.

The pic on the above I stole from Jen's FB page ;-)   And we all know who the pretty lady on the right is!

 Was messing with the macro lens showing Jen how the DOF works.   These 2 shots are of the same cat, Fluffy, she has two different coloured eyes - HONESTLY!

That now empty's my camera for the week to date.  As I stated, wanted to get and shoot some more.  There are a couple of coyotes hanging around the farm and I would love to find where they are hanging out but not holding my breath at this point.   For now I sleep 9-10 hours per night recharging the batteries and my days are catching up on some computer work and waiting for the warm weather.  But the camera batteries are all charged and good to go!

Mar 24, 2011

Vacation Time?

Well maybe not vacation time but definitely some time off.   After a very hectic year and a stressful 4 weeks of dealing with the lawyer, financial statements, calculators and the outrageous bills that come attached to a lawyer, it's time for a break.   I haven't taken much vacation time this past year and as a result work has been threatening to take it back and cash me out.   Not if I have my way!   So I'm taking a pile of it over the next week and the boss will sign off that I will take the rest early in the next fiscal year.   Didn't get to Bermuda this past year and that definitely had an impact on my left over vacation time.

Not going anywhere, besides Jen's place.  Just going to take it easy, relax and recharge the mental batteries.  Also going to try and motivate myself to get out there with the camera.  Suppose to be sunny the next few days, although cool but spring is on the way and it's getting nicer each day.  Lots of Canadian Geese flying around, flooded fields from the melt and patches of snow.   If I can get away from the mud I should be able to find some cool pictures if I get motivated ;-)

So here's a few from this past week.  Nothing special but at least I'm out there shooting!

Click image for bigger view.

 Actually these pictures are upside down ;-)   The birds were at my feeder and hanging upside down to eat.  The tree in the background is a bit distracting.  These guys pick out the seed looking for the sunflowers and drop the rest on the ground for the other types of birds to eat.  Went away for 2 days and they have almost emptied the feeder.

I've had Color Efex for some time but have never played with it much.  I'm not much of a filter person.  Have tried them in the past and was never all that successful with them.   Since the pictures weren't all that special I decided to look at what the program can do.  Found this Polaroid effect.  Original on the left, Polaroid on the right.  Kinda cool. 

A rather boring sunset tonight, so tried out the Colour Efex again and put a "glow" on.  Neat look, not something I'd do every day though.

Mar 20, 2011

Biggest Moon in 20 years

BULLSHIT!   hahaha

News article - 'Supermoon' to loom large

Well ok, mathematically yes it was but I have seen much bigger with the optical illusion of the harvest moon.

Jen and I stood on the deck and watched the moon rise through the trees and burst into the sky.  It may not have been the biggest moon I've ever "seen" but it was definitely bright.   But to add to the show, the local coyotes started to howl as the moon came up above the trees, that was pretty cool!

Looking around facebook this morning I see a few people tried shooting the moon with their cameras but made the same mistake that I did the first time I shot the moon many years ago.  They let the camera do the work.  Normally I am a believer in using the P or automatic modes (why by a 1k camera and turn off it's brains?) but this is one of the few times where you need to use the manual or shutter priority.  If you don't the camera looks at the night sky and assumes it's night and gives a long exposure that turns the moon into a fireball.  The reality is that the moon is actually very very bright and you treat your photos the same as if you were shooting during the day.   During the shots below, as the moon was rising I started to play with different speeds.  1/200, 1/320, 1/400, 1/500, 1/1000 etc....    For me and my equipment I was using 1/200 as the moon came up and later in the evening when it was at it's brightest I was around 1/2000th!   Those are speeds that you use for race cars, definitely not night time speeds.  You can get away without using a tripod.  I used one as I was at a full 200mm and not all that steady ;-)  

(click for bigger version - but not for you to steal Dale! ;-) )

 An example of letting the camera pick the speed, but I wanted to show the "fireball" coming up through the trees.  Was around this point that the coyotes began to howl.

 Coming up out of the trees.

Later in the evening at it's full brightness.

Mar 6, 2011

Pink Sunset

This just happened a few minutes ago (6 Mar @ 6.10pm).   A lovely sunset.  Was running around outside in shirt sleeves to make sure I caught it ;-)   Froze by the time I got back inside, it's -6C out there.

All were shot HANDHELD with the Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 on my old D200.   I am liking low light lenses!

(click image for bigger version)