Sunday, September 30, 2007

Architecture Photos

One thing I wish I could do is take really stunning photos of architecture. Here's one of the better ones I've taken recently:

It's an SOOC shot from my visit to LSU in May 2007 for my cousin Cat's graduation. Ironically, her degree is in Architecture, and this photo was taken inside the Design building. I liked how the light was streaming in from the skylight and making the shadows on the wall, with the ceiling reflected in the second story window, too. It's not a wonderful pic, but as I said in my last post, I don't have a great eye for composition. (Yet.) I've been trying to read up on it (here and here, among others), and pay attention to good examples (like here and here). If you have any suggestions, or other great photo-blogs to look at (in all my spare time - ha!), please let me know!

(I did manage to get some good architecture shots when I was in Italy - it's hard to take bad pictures in such an amazing place. I'll try to dig those up sometime!)
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I heart computers. (Most of the time.)

One day, I'll graduate to Photoshop. For now, I can rock Picasa and Paint. Yes, Paint. No laughing. =)

One morning this summer, I was up at the mine, waiting, hoping, and praying that campers would show up for a tour. I know it was morning because I was bored enough to take this picture of myself:

Sometimes I like to pretend to be serious. =) It's an ok SOOC pic, but I see (at least) five problems:

(As always, click for bigger. The numbers show up better in the big one.)
(1) Big zit on chin. We didn't have running water. Cut me some slack.
(2) Greasy hair. See (1).
(3) Fly on hat. Again, no water = no shower. And the flies were bad no matter how delightful you smelled!
(4) Distracting ore bucket and rocks in the background.
(5) My arm.

Thanks to the computer, I can knock out all of those problems! First thing's first: crop! I love cropping, because I'm still not very good at composing pictures on the spot. I do much better looking at an image on a screen, and then figuring out where I want my focal point to be. I like the rule of thirds a lot. That probably is because I like fractions a lot. Sue me. So anyways, in this pic, I cropped out (3) the fly, (4) the distracting bits, and (5) most of my arm. I also got my eyes close to one of the rule of thirds lines.

Ok, so now we're left with (1) zit and (2) greasy hair. Hair is easily taken care of by ditching the color. I think lack of color also works well since I was portraying a miner in 1922, and we like to think that "the olden days" were black & white or sepia, since those are the only pictures we see from then. (I wonder what people from back then would think of that. Obviously they lived their lives in full color. Would they think it's strange that we think of them as black & white?) Anyways, back to the photo. Here's the b&w:

It's alright, but sort of ick. I don't like b&w pics of me. I think it has something to do with my skin tone. Here's the sepia:

I sort of hate sepia because it looks washed out and faded. I have enough problems looking washed out and faded because of my pale skin. I don't need the computer to help me out on that one! So instead, I "warmify" the b&w. Warmify is a command in Picasa that I love. It helps rescue color pictures where the white balance is off, and can be layered on top of the b&w to give this:

I suspect it has an equivalent in Photoshop, because Ree does a similar thing to her pictures. So that hides (2) the greasy hair, and I like the tone. Last but not least, (1) the zit. Open that baby in Paint, magnify, and pencil over it, sampling colors from all around to get a good blend. If you look closely, you can see it's still a bit smudged there, but I'm ok with that. If you didn't know what you were looking for, you'd never see it. I also added some glow in Picasa. (I like to think of it as a combo of two of Ree's favorite Photoshop tricks: Portraiture and Slight Mug Shot Pop.) Et voila!

My new Facebook photo. =)
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Friday, September 21, 2007

Eye-Candy Friday!

I miss these trees. I'm 99% sure I took this pic on the way from French to Pueblano one afternoon. It's pretty much my favorite hike on the Ranch, in part because of trees like this. Other highlights of the trail include: following the mighty South Ponil Creek the whole way, the change in the landscape as you drop in altitude, the fact that it's mostly downhill, the cool mining remnants you pass, and the fact that there are always loggers at the other end! Have a great weekend y'all! =)
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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Wild Roses, and Depth of Field

I took a ton of flower pictures this summer, because I love flowers, and because there were so many. Northeast New Mexico has been in a drought for a long time, at least as long as I can remember. This past year, however, was really wet, and some of the old-timers think this is going to keep up for at least the next few years. *crosses fingers* That would be excellent, if true. Enough water means so many good things for the region, including great flowers! We had more wildflowers this summer than I've seen in ten years of going to Philmont, and luckily I had my sweet new camera to capture them.

Over the course of this blog, you'll probably see most of the good ones (or you can go check them out on Flickr...see the sidebar badge), but for now, here are two pictures of the same flower, a wild rose, and a mini-photography lesson.

Disclaimer: I know very very little about photography. But I am capable of reading (thank goodness) and am teaching myself, little by little. To learn more, click here and here.

Ok. Back to the photos:

Do you see the difference? In the top photo, the petals are in focus. In the bottom one, the stamens are. I like the bottom one better, because...well, I don't really know why, I just do. This is one of the things I really like about my D40, is that I have control over where to focus. I also have control over depth of field.

Now, up until about three days ago, I didn't really understand depth of field or aperture settings or how they are connected. I always got shutter speed, because that makes sense to me. (The faster the speed, the less light comes in, the darker the pictures. And vice versa.) I shot on S a lot, and let the camera control aperture. I had a vague idea that aperture had to do with how wide the lens opened to let in light, but didn't really understand how that made a difference. I decided that I should probably learn. I found these two great articles (one and two) and they made a ton of sense. I also liked the Wikipedia article on aperture because it explains the math. (Yay math!)

Which got me thinking about the flower pics. I reckoned that the aperture must have been set very wide (which corresponds to a low number...) to get such a shallow depth of field that I could have either the petals or the stamens in focus, but not both. So I zipped over to Flickr and checked out the Exif data (for some reason I prefer to look at it on Flickr instead of on my computer...don't ask me why...), and sure enough, the aperture for both was f/5.3, which is close to the max for my lens at that zoom level. This means the lens opened really wide to let in a lot of light, and, as I suspected, made the depth of field very shallow. Cool!

I hope you enjoyed this mini-lesson, and that it made sense. Please feel free to comment and let me know other cool things about aperture, depth of field, wild roses, etc. (Also, please let me know (kindly!) if I have said anything incorrect.) Ooh, and if you know how to blog multiple Flickr photos into one post (I can only figure out how to get one photo in the post using 'blog this'), please please let me know!

Thanks y'all! Have a great week! =)
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Friday, September 7, 2007

Eye-Candy Friday!

A few of the blogs I read do "Eye-Candy Friday" features, posting pretty pics on Fridays. Here's one for you...with the focus on the "Eye" part of "Eye-Candy".

I took this at the beginning of the summer, when I spent a morning over at Cattle Headquarters watching and photographing the ordeal that is shoeing all the horses after the winter. Horses are pretty dumb, but beautiful anyways. =) You can see some other great horse photos here. Have a great weekend!
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This blog is feeling neglected... here are some pictures taken in my family's backyard back in May. Enjoy! =)

I think this one's especially striking in B&W.
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