Monday, April 28, 2008

More birds

About 1/2 mile north of the Wedding of the Waters, on the Big Horn River.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Where the heavens begin no man knows

"Where the heavens begin no man knows" Nikon D80, Nikon 18-70mm, 70mm, f4.5, 1/2500s, ISO 500. "Filtered B&W, red" in Google Picasa2.

Quick: can you figure out where the snow-capped mountains end and the sky begins in the above picture? I couldn't. Click on it for the full size version.

I've had the chance to play with a fair number of photo editing toys in my day, from Adobe's Photoshop, to the GIMP (a free knockoff, but without any of the negative connotations of "knockoff" -- really a fantastic piece of software), to Picasa. At any given time I may well have Adobe Bridge, Picasa and Photoshop all cruising along my computer. Picasa, I've discovered, can do some neat things, and many of them with much more ease than Photoshop. But for some things, well, for some things PS remains the gold standard. I wish I had a chance to upgrade my computer to something can run PS/CS3 with some dignity. Maybe when I get my "economic stimulus" check. Maybe.

I really liked this shot in the original color (with some minor corrections for the D80's tendency to overexpose every damn thing), but I was messing around just now and looked at it in the filtered B&W. The original appears below (well, after some basic color correction). I had the camera stuck on "Vivid" that day, which explains the redness of the sand and dirt on the right of the river, but, if anything, the river does not appear here as blue as it was that day. The sky is still hard to discern from the mountains here.

So: better in color or filtered B&W?

Smoke in art

From commenter Sarah:

I was just reading the David Lynch interview book "Lynch on Lynch" and he was talking about why he has so many smokers in his films. He talked about smokes ability to be ever changing and it's organic movement. He also had a few things to say about photographs of smoke, you should check it out. Good book. (Emphasis mine.)
For those who don't know -- and I was in this category until I pulled up the book on Amazon -- Lynch was responsible for Lost Highway (never seen it but always enjoyed NIN's "Perfect Drug" from the soundtrack) and the television show Twin Peaks (hmm, never seen that, either -- I'm sheltered and uncultured).

The key word, as I've indicated with italics, is organic. In the most scientific essence of the word, smoke is certainly organic: there are a lot of carbon atoms flowing around in various molecules of smoke.

More important than the specific scientific notion of the word, though, is the idea that smoke is alive somehow. Its movements reflect the inputs of everything around it: to exhale near the plume of exhaust from an incense stick is to watch the effect of your breath. Smoke's closest relative is probably water (in the artistic, not scientific, sense).

But while water is so fascinating because of its devotion to gravity (as it splashes over rocks for centuries and centuries wearing down rock, for example, like the Wind River Canyon just south of my home) smoke struggles against that force of attraction.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Untitled 3524: Nikon D80, Nikkor 70-300/f4.5-5.6 G-ED (AF-S); 300 mm, 1/60, f5.6, exposure 1600. Clearly aiming for a very shallow DOF here, and achieved.

Untitled 3525: Nikon D80, Nikkor 70-300/f4.5-5.6 G-ED (AF-S); 185 mm, 1/60, f5.3, exposure 1600. With this particular lens, you can crank open further depending on focal length (hence the f4.5-5.6 notation in the lens description). By backing out from 300 to 185mm, I was able to stop up.

Untitled 3527: Nikon D80, Nikkor 70-300/f4.5-5.6 G-ED (AF-S); 300 mm, 1/60, f5.6, exposure 1600. Including the fern shots in the last post, I think this is my favorite shot. The smoke acts almost as a bend in space here: notice the red flowerpot it in the background and how it seems to change dimension around the smoke.

I started rebuilding a Tamron SP 80-200 Friday afternoon and I'm afraid I will be unable to finish the job. Some of the screws are rusted into the housing and I don't know if I can tap/die them without screwing things up. Too bad. That SP is also f2.8 across the 80-200, with some other figures that belie its original $2,200 cost (if I'm figuring inflation right). Currently, this lens, completely manual, runs about $400 per on eBay, 28 years after its introduction. I wish I could solve mine.
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A little fun with noise and DOF

Untitled 3513: Nikon D80, Nikkor 70-300/f4.5-5.6 G-ED (AF-S); 300 mm, 1/60, f40, exposure Hi 1. The D80 tops out at ISO 1600, with Hi .3, Hi .7 and Hi 1, which is what I shot here. Lots of noise, like Tri-X pushed to about 3200 (and, uh, in color). Even at f40 field isn't as deep as I was shooting for, but I enjoyed the effect all the same.

Untitled 3516: Nikon D80, Nikkor 70-300/f4.5-5.6 G-ED (AF-S); 300mm, 1/60, f13, ISO 1600. This photo, taken only about a minute after the above, is opened up to f13 as opposed to the fully stopped down f40 in the above, and so I was able to turn the ISO down to 1600. Notice the lack of noise, and even less depth of field. I was as minimum focus distance and the background was about eight times further down the glass.
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Sunday, April 6, 2008

A long overdue update

Ah, yes, here we are. I must admit that work has consumed these last several months, and precluded me from making updates here. Well, truth be told, I've failed to make the time. But, anyway, here we are, as I said. Oh, I got a dog: Mama (inside joke of the ironic sort).

Here's a photo of home, Thermopolis. I live down there somewhere.

This is a photo of the Boysen Reservoir about 20 miles south of town on the Wind River. It was much fun driving to the spot to take this photo -- one needed to exercise care in not whacking a hole in your oil pan.

More will be forthcoming, if I don't disappear camping again this next weekend. Maybe I'll get something put together after the next newspaper goes out, Wednesday.