Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sledding #2...

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sledding #1...

On Thursday we went sledding on an impossibly steep hill that was very difficult to climb up. This picture was taken at the top of it and my son is the one with the orange sled (and yes, I know you can't see his face, that is by design).

Sunday, February 25, 2007

After the snow...

This is the view outside of a friend's cabin in Lake Tahoe -- after the snow.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Lake Tahoe

This was taken on our first day in South Lake Tahoe, Wednesday. The snow came on Thursday...

Trees runner up...

Another 'crying' evergreen tree.

This was the image I almost posted. I really liked the sharpness of the image and the general color, but it didn't really fit with my theme and the sap drop isn't as 'water-like' as I might like.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

DPChallenge: Trees

Here's my entry to DPChallenge Trees. It was a bit of a last minute entry, taken on Monday (left town Wednesday, was busy Tuesday). Not real happy with it, but I liked the color and general tone of the image (sharpness is lacking though). I also forgot it was a minimal editing challenge, so I didn't take the extra time to frame it to not need a crop.

Oh, and I titled it: Trees cry... slowly.

PS: Like usual, I'm actually setting this post up on Tuesday night because I'll be traveling (hopefully I can get to a computer to publish the draft. As usual, it is easier to queue up a bunch of images to save myself time.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Monday, February 19, 2007

Plumber Man!

Saw this on the side of a (plumbing) truck when I was driving up.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

San Francisco

I visited San Francisco (Noe Valley) for a meeting last Monday so the next few images will be from that trip. Luckily, the sky cooperated and turned some interesting colors.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


As required by my photography license, here are the mandatory dandelion pictures.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Another flower...

One or two more flowers from my "garden tour"...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Modern Biology

Here's my most recent DPChallenge upload; Modern Biology. I was attempting to make a comment on the fact that many pure sciences (like biology) are becoming more and more computer based. I didn't like the color in the original photo (screen and mouse were too blue, the rest of the scene was too warm) so I turned it to B+W. It is already scoring much better than my previous entries, although I know it could be better.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bug on an Orange Flower...

Here's a nice little bug in an orange flower.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Hidden...

There will be a series of macro photos the next few days -- I took them in a garden nearby. The flower above is nice looking, but relatively unremarkable -- until I realized that there were some little guys inside after looking the pictures on the computer.

Here's a close-up of the little guys. I think they are the baby version of the guy I'll post tomorrow.

Monday, February 12, 2007

An apple's worst fear...

Another DPChallenge entry. Just a simple little set-up in my kitchen.

I was trying to get a sense of tension between the apple and the knife. I used a single light with a kleenex diffuser off to the right (florescent, probably not a good idea in hindsight, the apple seems a bit too orange). But I like the blue in the knife.

We'll see how it does.

Oh, and it figures, but when I made the post to DPChallenge I titled it 'An Apple's Worse Fear'... Oops. First comment on DPChallenge pointed out my spelling mistake but it was too late to change it... Oops.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Even More Bees...

Obviously, I like to photograph bees. They're easy to find, relatively large (for bugs), and very hairy. I took these in the garden at about 1.5:1 macro magnification. The biggest difficulty is not blurring the image (hand-holding the camera) and managing depth of field (which is quite narrow for any aperture I can hand-hold).

I like this one because it clearly shows the pollen basket, an indentation on bees' legs where they store pollen as they collect it.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Pretty Flower

Taken with the 50 mm macro, approx 1.5:1 magnification.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Macro Photography with 50 mm f/1.8...

I mentioned before (for Table Sugar) that a reversed lens on the front of another lens makes a macro (close-up) lens. The problem is that with all that glass in the way the pictures aren't that sharp and vignetting is pretty horrible.

You can also do decent macro work with single reversed lens on the front of your camera. The most common lens for this is a 50 mm prime because they are cheap and have good optical quality. The advantages are decent macro magnification (about 1:1), good sharpness, and good brightness because you only have a single lens with a pretty big aperture. The downside, unless you shell out a lot of money for an adapter, is you lose ability to control aperture. (Obviously, a dedicated macro lens will tend to be a bit sharper and much brighter, but cost a heck of a lot more than using a lens you already own)

Before I bought anything, I decided to try it out just holding a lens up (backwards) to the camera and seeing how well it worked.

I decided to go ahead and get set up for a reversed Canon 50 mm f/1.8 prime. This is one lens pretty much everyone has because it is so cheap yet so good for portraits on a digital body with a less-than full frame sensor. The set up includes the lens ($80), a $11 52 mm reversing ring (which screws into the front of the 50 mm lens and fits into the 350D body like a lens), and a $18 extension tube set (fits between body and lens (or reverser) for a total extension of up to 65 mm). I bought the reversing ring and extension tubes from the same seller on eBay.

The sensor on the Rebel XT (350D) is 22.2 mm wide, so to get a 1:1 macro we'd need a field of view of 22.2 mm. Using the extension tubes and reversing ring, I found the following:

  • Unreversed lens: 150 mm field of view (1:6.76)
  • Unreversed lens w/ full 65 mm extension tube: 15 mm FOV (1.47:1) but only a 3-4 cm working distance from the object.
  • Reversed lens, no tubes: 30 mm FOV (1:1.36), 10 cm working distance
  • Reversed lens, min tube (14 mm extension): 21 mm FOV (1.04:1), 8.5 cm working distance
  • Reversed lens, full tube (65 mm extension): 11 mm (2:1), 6.5 cm working distance
I highly recommend extension tubes with the reversed lens. The increase in working distance is very useful because the smaller range causes the camera to block most of the light.

Also, to set the aperture, put the business end of the 50 mm prime back on the camera, set the aperture in Av mode, push the depth of field preview (little button underneath the lens release button) and while holding it down, remove the lens. This causes the lens to have the aperture stuck even though it is off the camera. Obviously, this is not a recommended way to use the lens, but it works. Even better might be finding an old 50 mm prime at a flea market that has aperture options.

This set up tends to have a really small field of view (common for all macro work, actually). In particular, it is hard to get a decent field of view without stopping down the lens too much and getting a really dark viewfinder. But... putting the camera on a tripod helps a lot in terms of setting up shots and preventing camera shake. Just make sure you turn mirror lockup on and use a remote release to avoid vibrations.

When reversed, for whatever reason, the focus wheel on the lens does nothing. I haven't figured out why yet.

Also, reversing the lens can be pretty hard on the lens (which is why you want to use a cheapy like the 50 mm f/1.8). After all, you'll be inserting/removing the lens a lot (on both sides), the weight of the lens will be held by the end-cap, and you'll be putting a decent amount of force on the filter threads. But, if I break my 50 mm prime, I won't be too disappointed because they are so cheap.

Thursday, February 8, 2007


These crows are huge birds with a taste for garbage. Literally the size of chickens.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Princess and the Hayman

My daughter loves it when I make up a princess story for her, so I thought that the above title is appropriate. I got special permission (from my wife) to post this because my daughter is not identifiable and personally, it is my favorite picture of the Makin' Hay series (maybe just because my daughter is in it).

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Makin' Hay

Here's a photo I submitted to DPChallenge's Personification II competition. It was literally a last minute submission, so I didn't get to tweak it quite as much as I'd like.

Table Salt hasn't done that well (around a 4.7 or so) and I don't expect Makin' Hay (from the sculpture in the Stanford Foothills) to do much better. It seems like pictures really need to have great contrast and extreme colors with a strong overall image. Details matter less, mostly because of the 640 pixel maximum. I've become a member, and I'm planning on submitting many more images (but it will take me a while to do well, I expect).

Monday, February 5, 2007

Meet David's Admirers...

Later, after I took the first images of David, I walked by the same gallery and saw these other people admiring the sculpture. I thought it'd make a good picture, so I put my camera to my eye right as this guy turned around to imitate David's pose.

Yeah, he saw me. And yeah, I didn't stick around...

Sunday, February 4, 2007

David: Slab-Man

David is not real -- David is actually a work of art called Slab Man by Duane Hanson that was made 1976 (yes, David is older than I am).

But, boy, does David have a presence.

The first time I saw David at the Cantor Center I didn't actually see David. I was looking around the museum and came upon a gallery that was still under construction. The two outside areas (near the doors) were complete, but the center was still under construction. So, I walked in, noticed one of the workmen (a rather large, husky guy) taking a break, and avoided eye contact while I looked at the art. After all, it was near the end of the day, and this guy's body language was saying he was tired and didn't really want to be bothered. I finished with the gallery and moved on.

It was only a bit later when I went by the same room and saw other people looking at David that I realized he wasn't real. So, yes, I was alone in the same room with David for 10 minutes... while I was looking at each piece of art in turn... and never noticed he wasn't real.

Furthermore, even when photographing David, when you invade his space, you feel it. In fact, I took a few shots right in front of his gaze, and it was quite unsettling.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Meet David...

More about him tomorrow...

Friday, February 2, 2007

Table Salt

A close-up of some table salt. Probably about 5:1 magnification (versus life-size, in terms of the image on the camera sensor).

It is kind of gross, but I have no idea what the hair is in the image.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Table Sugar

This is an image that I submitted for the DPChallenge Table Shot II challenge.

Some of my comments on it:

This is literally sugar sitting on my table.

I reversed my Canon 50mm f1.8 on the front of my Tamron 70-300mm at 70mm to give approximately 1.2:1 magnification. Masking tape held them together. I also stopped down the 50mm to f2.8 because it caused some distortion wide open. As it was, to get decent depth of field I had to use a really small aperture on the Tamron, resulting in a ton of vignetting (most of which was cropped off).

And yes, I did arrange the sugar crystals with a toothpick. The full word was a little less than 1 cm long.

Final processing was aimed to make it look like an electron microscope image (or similar) to excentuate the feeling of magnification.