a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: All About My Photos

Monday, May 21, 2012

All About My Photos

SUMMARY: The three ribbon winners from last week.
As noted in this previoius blog post, some of my photos won some ribbons. W00t!

The Sunnyvale photo club does this nice thing where the ribbon winners get to say something about how and where they took the photo.

You get a bonus--my notes *and* the original files for comparison.

Mystic Pathway

The Pole Field at Byxbee Park (adjacent to Shoreline and Baylands) is "environmental art" built atop an old landfill. The tops of the poles form a single plane, which gives a little bit of forced perspective, making the crushed oyster-shell path weaving through them take on an even more mysterious air of vanishing in plain sight. Taken in the evening of May 2, 2012, while on a brisk conditioning hike with the Sierra Club. These folks don't stop for nothin', so when I'm with them I take only my Canon S100 set on full auto for quick snapshots. But I'd never seen this Pole Field before and it resonated with me immediately. I let the group get way ahead of me while I found a composition that I liked. The photo was muddy and the sky bland in the automatic photo, so I applied a graduated neutral density filter in Lightroom to bring out the clouds and then brightened the shot in Photoshop Elements. (5.2mm, ISO 100, f/4.0, 1/200)



After the Rose is Gone

This rose hip is less than an inch across; lens about 18" away. Taken in January 2010 in my front yard. I was shooting all the flowers that were in bloom as a way to check out my new Canon 100mm macro lens on my Canon 40D and suddenly noticed that even the rose hips were quite colorful. You might laugh that this was also an auto exposure (because I was just testing what the lens could do). I switched to aperture priority and took several more shots at different angles, but after seeing them on the computer, I kept coming back to this spontaneously shot one. I played with exposure, contrast, saturation, and cropping for over an hour, but in the end, this is exactly as shot with only the contrast increased, which really made the colors pop. (100mm, ISO 400, f/4.5, 1/200, pattern metering, auto white balance, probably with a tripod)


As submitted:
Not how much clearer the red and green are, compared to muddy in the original, and the red seems to shine now and seem more 3-dimensional.

Another possibility:
The judge suggested cropping in one or both sides, and I've also read that sometimes an angle coming in from the left side draws you eye into the picture more (because we read from left to right). How about this?

Brown Pelican Fishing

In August 2011, I borrowed a Canon EF 100-400 lens specifically to try to get some bird shots with my Canon 40D. I often see some interesting water birds at Almaden Lake Park, so I went there, expecting to see Canada geese, mallards, and maybe some egrets. This was one of a few pelicans, and he was the only one to get off his wet butt and try feeding himself. I panned with him as he repeatedly scooped with a big splash and flew on, ending up with about 30 shots, most of which were useless. He was about 250 feet away, so even at 400mm, I had to crop in on this shot. It was noon, and the lighting was tricky with the reflections on the water, and--well, yes, i was in auto exposure mode AGAIN. Tried several different crops (including very close and also vertical) but liked this one with a lot of room in front of him because he was moving quickly and I think this crop implies that. Sadly, that cropped out his reflection; maybe that's a different crop for a different feeling. Tweaked the exposure and contrast in the raw editor until it looked right, and sharpened it slightly. (400mm, ISO 640 [set it higher to enable faster speeds], f/10.0, 1/1000, spot metering, auto white balance, had a tripod with me but not sure whether using it at this time)

What most of my shots looked like (this is cropped way in):



Couple of other possible crops:


  1. It's amazing the difference that the editor makes, especially when you know what you're doing. I usually just hit 'auto adjust' on the software that came with the camera if I even bother to do anything. One of these days I'll pony up the money for Photoshop and learn how to use it.

    1. Photoshop Elements is much less expensive and does most of the stuff you'd probably ever want to do anyway. That's what I use most of the time.

  2. That's what I was going to say too, so neat to see the "before" and "after". Really makes them pop.

    I have PSE and mostly only ever use the raw editor and levels feature... Oh and the clone stamp, love that. Would like to learn more about the program but you know, just one more thing on the to do list...

  3. I keep thinking I need to buy an editing program...I need to do some research.