Old dogs

23 05 2013

They say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. I don’t know why they say that. It doesn’t strike me as particularly well based in scientific research.

I’m feeling a bit of an old dog today – I just clocked up 49 circuits of the sun. Give or take a partial spin of the Earth for emigrating from the UK and immigrating into Canada. That’s more of a rounding error in the grand scheme of things. I also flew clockwise all the way around, so I’m not sure what that means in ABSOLUTE age, either. But I do like a new trick every now and then. I can be obsessive in my interests. To the point of annoying Mrs E. My most recent obsession is a newly refreshed interest in photography. I did all the usual mid-life male pseudo-crisis stuff and bought a new camera and lenses. Convinced myself I now took better photos. The usual.

It’s not surprising therefore that when pushed to state preferences for potential presents by offspring and assorted rellies, I came up with an assortment of camera and photography related items. It was a bit tough, as being reasonably affluent and of the male persuasion, I’m not shy of splurging out whenever I feel the desire for a new gizmo or trinket. Nevertheless, I was indeed pressed to name items I might not be averse to receiving, and so duly received even more baubles with which to play.

One such item is an Infra-red filter for my camera. More expensive than I’d have expected, so I’m even more grateful to my father-in-law for sending it.

I attempted to snap a few photos this morning before work. Nada. The images barely registered. I’d watched a video that had explained how hard it was to compose your shot because the IR filter blocks all visible light… kind of makes the through-the-lens viewfinder a bit useless for the non-bionic amongst us!

So I wasn’t looking to get any super photos, just something to see the promised ethereal effect of an IR spectrum shot. The video had mentioned that IR focuses slightly shorter to visible light, and that your focus ring needs to compensate, or you need a deep enough depth of field to handle the difference. Again, I wasn’t looking for super sharp images at this stage… just SOMETHING. The video had gone on to mention setting a small aperture to give that extra depth of field, but had just vaguely mentioned “the appropriate exposure time”. Thinking I was being smart, I set my fancy schmancy camera to aperture priority, slapped on the auto-focus, set ISO100 to try and get a low-noise image, set a small aperture for good DoF and let the camera do the rest. It selected a relatively short exposure (1/50s I think) and snap.

As I said… nada!

Time to leave for work, and a frustrating day pondering the puzzle.

I read more, and discovered that the camera’s sensor is confused by the narrow band of light reaching it through the filter and assumes there’s more light than there actually is. Exposures in the 10s range are more appropriate. Ah! So, once back home, I took care of the other little issue I’d read about – setting the custom white balance of the camera to deal with the strong red/magenta cast of using the filter – and then went about putting my camera on a tripod and having another go.

Here’s where I learnt one last new trick. It turns out that because of the aforementioned difference in IR wavelengths and the band of visible light, the IR light bounces around inside your lens a bit differently before it hits the camera’s sensor to be recorded. Depending on the design of the elements in the lens it may be prone to producing “hot spots” in the centre of the image. The good ol’ Interwebs provides a few sites listing various lenses and their suitability for IR photography. Guess what? My lenses are all on the “bad” list. All except my 100mm Macro.

Oh well – that’s a good excuse to buy more toys. :)

There’s a few tricks left in the old dog yet, it seems…

Image

Image





Liquid Sculptures: Pierre Carreau

4 05 2013

Sometimes I wonder why I even try to take photographs! These are just stunning captures of water (and light) in motion.

Liquid Sculptures: Powerful Waves Photographed by Pierre Carreau Seem Frozen in Time | Colossal.

I’m just reading a book at the moment from an old work colleague. (Read about it yourself here). One of the things I’ve taken on board is that you can take a negative experience and make it a positive one. I know, I know – a bit obvious, given that I work in marketing. Just look at the way Loblaws  is handling the Bangladesh factory collapse. I’d say a +40% delta in profits is “a disaster well managed”, wouldn’t you?

Anyway – I choose to remain in awe of the skill of M. Carreau, happily accept that I am unlikely to ever match it, but still be inspired to try. Not to replicate his work, but to know it is possible, and therefore that I should never stop trying to attain better than what I can do today.

Talking of doing more of what we’re capable of – I made my first ascent of The Stawamus Chief for the year today. First time up First Peak too. That’s all three peaks now “in the bag”. Lots of firsts. It was a lovely warm day. I think I even caught a bit of sun. Lululemon were doing their usual endless parade, sponsored by the young ladies of Greater Vancouver, and distracting all the old blokes like me who refuse to know better. I am supposed to be doing the Grouse tomorrow too, but it’s forecast to be 30 degrees! That’s 86 degrees Fahrenheit in “old money”. I know a lot of it is in and out of tree shade, but I don’t know… I might need some serious persuasion for that. And not all of it in Lululemon!

 





Photo Manipulations by Erik Johansson

1 05 2013

So I’ve recently started to muck about with GIMP – a freeware tool that gives most of the features of PhotoShop… legal and for free.

I used to be firmly of the opinion that if it came out of the camera “bad”, it was just tough. I still think one should be more careful about the image capture itself, and would like to think (with the help of some way more talented friends) I’ve got much better at making the camera do what I want.

However, I have also come to appreciate that there is a whole world of creativity that can begin with those captured images. They are not photographs per se, but are images, in the way a painting is a representation of an idea in the artists head, not necessarily a literal representation of what’s in front of her/him.

I saw “Go Your Own Road” a couple of years ago, but today I discovered more of the work by self-taught Erik Johansson. A couple of his pieces I think look really contrived, but most of the 18 here look very well executed indeed. See what you think.

18 Brilliant Photo Manipulations by Erik Johansson | Bored Panda.

Just to get an appreciation of the amount of effort involved, here’s a time lapse of the creation of “Cut and Fold”





Do you hear the ice cracking?

14 04 2013

Only because it’s a brave soul who could even contemplate using the phrase “average woman”.

I found this page via Twitter. It reminded me of a similar project many years ago – limited to the UK. In that version, there were male and female students used as the subjects. Each participant was “pure” English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish. “Pure” being defined as both parents and all 4 grandparents being born within the country.

By over-laying the images, similarities are reinforced, differences are blurred away. The experiment gives a somewhat blurred “average” face, but it’s distinct enough to recognise as “type”. For such a small, densely populated little group of islands, the UK’s regional genetic purity was astounding. When you think of the modern ease of movement, it’s amazing how distinct the regional variations have remained.

Here’s the more extensive, more global project.

The average woman from each country… – The Meta Picture.





Hilarious Zoo Portraits by Yago Partal | Bored Panda

29 03 2013

You’ve got to love it when creativity meets digital manipulation…

Hilarious Zoo Portraits by Yago Partal | Bored Panda.





Can’t explain why…

7 02 2013

… but I absolutely love this image by Igor Voloshin

1x.com – indigo by igor_voloshin.

Via 1x.com: Indigo by Igor Voloshin





Johan Thörnqvist » Pictures from my phone

7 02 2013

I happened upon these lovely, whimsical drawings – additions to otherwise quite ordinary every day phone photos. Johan Thörnqvist includes the original photo along with his modified version. Quite reminiscent of Hergé‘s Tintin, I thought.

Snarlik.se – Johan Thörnqvist » Pictures from my phone.





Silverback on Blipfoto :: Set Fire to the Rain :: 13 January 2013

18 01 2013

So Christmas right? You love it or loathe it. Or, I suppose, if you’re not prone to emotion, were born a Vulcan or something, you just float through it.

This year, I made a concerted effort to reconnect with long almost-lost friends and did the “Christmas letter” thing. I’ve had it referred to twice since as a Round Robin, so I guess that’s current parlance for it. Anyway, one college friend (we’re talking circa 1985 here) replied and pointed me at a photo site whose niche is that you can only post one photo a day. www.blipfoto.com is the place, if you want to check it out.

It actually started life in Scotland, and has lots of UK content, but it is most definitely open to anyone from anywhere. (Even Vulcans if you have the bandwidth). Anyway, while ferkling around today, I came across this awesome photo by “Silverback” as he was trying out some concepts before risking a model with flying sparks. I urge you to click on the photo or the link below and check out his other work.

Silverback on Blipfoto :: Set Fire to the Rain :: 13 January 2013.

And if that’s really got your creative juices flowing and you think you might like to give it a go yourself, check out the link and video I found below.

Long Exposure Photography using Steel Wool.





H2O – solid and liquid

12 01 2013

Busy day.

Began early (for a weekend at least) with a trip up one of the local “North Shore Mountains” – Seymour. Mrs E and a colleague joined me for a return visit to Dog Mountain via snow shoes. It’s a route I’d travelled a couple of weeks ago, but the intervening time had delivered quite a bit more snow, and the pretty sharp ups and downs were now much less daunting, requiring no hands in cold snow to steady my course. It was a lovely day, and despite hovering around -4 Celsius, the exercise kept things very pleasant. Almost at Dog Mountain we bumped into another colleague who had just left there with his girlfriend – the trails were busy with many people enjoying the pleasant day and spectacular views of Grouse and the city.

Later, Number 2 offspring joined me for a walk to White rock pier to catch the sunset and fool around with long exposures down by the beach. Here’s a few of the more choice results. I really enjoyed the “classic” trick of smoothing out the sea’s ripples into a milky smooth average over several seconds. Dusk was the perfect time to allow long exposures without losing colour.





2 for 2 – a weekend outside

9 12 2012

Well, I had a mighty fine weekend thank-you. Oh – you weren’t asking? Well I did anyway, so it doesn’t matter. Just go with it, OK?

Still here? Good! Where was I? Oh yes…

I became aware of an opportunity to go snow-shoeing on Saturday, so I added my name to what I felt would be a long list of hyper-fit 20-something year olds and awaited developments. In the end it was just myself and one Rover Scout. We opted for “Dog Mountain“, just off of Seymour Mountain, one of Vancouver’s “North Shore” ski resorts. In the end it was a great day, with around 3 hours on the hill. We were in low cloud, so the usual spectacular views of Vancouver and Stanley Park eluded us. However, we were treated to the cheeky Whiskey-jacks (see their January escapades on the same mountains here) once we reached the peak.

Today I had to go into town to pick up a Craigslist purchase – some Ilford Multigrade filters for my recently acquired B&W enlarger, and took the opportunity to check out the recent snow fall on Grouse Mountain – the middle of the three North Shore Mountains – with another snow shoe trip. During summer, the Grouse has “The Grouse Grind“, and they’ve tried to keep people coming by introducing a winter snow shoeing trail – “The Snow Show Grind”. I didn’t get to the top as I had to get back home for a promised trip to the REI outfitters in Bellingham. Coming down was – how shall I say? – interesting! It was fast and undignified. Let’s leave it at that.

So – I might not have been running of late, but I did get out and about and hiked around 2 of the 3 local peaks. I feel glad for that – we have such lovely scenery here in BC, and it really is a joy to be out there sharing it. You really do feel you’re in excellent company – there are like minded folks around, you’re breathing fresh air, and sharing very special moments in space and time.

There may well be no “meaning to life” beyond propagating our Selfish Genes, but hey – if I get to share those moments on the hills: “Frankly my dear… I don’t give a damn!”








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 134 other followers