Friday, February 26, 2010

A New Language-Day 3.1-the Bosque

I'm breaking this days pictures into two posts because I wanted to keep the set of heron photos all to themselves.

But I need to say something
about the light
yesterday afternoon.

It's like there's
Magic afoot.

I really don't ever recall
this color
anywhere else.

Or reflections like this.

Or this kind of tranquility.

A New Language-Day 3-the Heron

I continue to try to learn how to operate this beast.

Yesterday, I assigned what I hoped would be the correct settings for flying birds and set of to the Bosque.

My settings are still off, but I'm getting closer.

I would like to thank
this beautiful heron
for his patience
in sitting long enough
for me to get this first shot.

Then he took off



And away . . .

Life in, indeed, very good.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A New Language-Day Two

So today I started seriously looking at the manual for the Canon 7D.

Who writes these things anyway? Apparently, the same people who want to keep the photography language a mystery from dimwitted folks like me. It seems that you need at least two (if not more) copies of the manual, since there is hardly a page that doesn't refer to at least one other page.

And what a lack or organization!

Example: The first time you turn on the camera, it asks you to set the date and time. In spite of the fact that I'm fairly tech savvy, it wasn't obvious to me which ones of the twelve buttons (and several wheels) I should push in order to set the correct time and date. And you know where that information is in the manual? Page 42!

Oh wellI read a bit and decided that I would set the camera to TV (which for some unknown reason refers to shutter priority) and took it out for a few shots.

Now, I know that ISO and aperture and shutter speed all interact. I'm just not sure of how they interact. So for now I'm just playing with shutter speed.

It's a fairly bright day and I'm after birds, so hopefully the photography gods will smile on my feeble efforts. And remember, I no longer have that 18x zoom of the Panasonic, so I'm on a steep learning curve here.

OOPS, not a bird shot,
but I thought this was pretty funny.
I guess they have a lot of trucks
weighing more than
139,562 pounds
around here
so they felt the need to post this warning.

OK, here we go. We were quite a ways away from this guy, and remember that I don't have a zoom lens yet (my camera came with a 28-135 lens, a 300 should be here next week).

And please remember that I still don't know how to work this camera.

Anyhow, we saw this guy (I believe it's a Harrier Hawk, but feel free to correct me) sitting up in a tree, so I focused in and waited. In a few minutes he took off and I was able to get a few good shots (out of the many I took).

These really aren't as sharp
as they should be.
And there's some noise.
But I'm sure that when I learn
the magic formula between
shutter speed
I'll get better.

I hope.

For now,
I was just happy
to get a few shots
that showed the bird in flight.

Then we were done,
so we drove down this beautiful lane

And came home and made dinner.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Learning a New Language


Boy is this photography thing tough.

For years, I've taken pictures, manipulated them in the computer and dithered along. Literally dozens of people have attempted to explain the intricacies of photography to me.

Alas, all in vain.

The reality is I don't know an f/stop from an ISO from an aperture. I'm more of a shoot quick and fix it later kind of girl (as those of you who know me personally can attest).

I just love photography and all that it entails.

Except for that language thing.

I have long been of the opinion that photography is kind of like the old days of computers. Remember when, if you didn't know a gazillion lines of code, you couldn't open a document? DOS. What a gigantic pain!

God bless Apple for recognizing the need for a user friendly interface that made the computer a tool for the rest of us. (And I believe the iPad is the next step in that evolution, but this is a blog about photography . . .).

Anyway, back in the DOS days, it was kind of a good old boys club. If you didn't know the language, you really couldn't play.

And that's kind of how I view photography.

Get a bunch of serious photographers together and it's like they're speaking a foreign language. And no matter how many times you ask them to explain something, they just fall back into the same old language.

If you don't get it, tough.

Now I understand that back in the film days, the numbers may have been necessary, but in the days of digital are they still?


But I'm not sure. I believe someone (not me), should write a book, translating all this language into something that everyday people can understand. But people (read that as photographers) assure me that this is an impossibility. These numbers and phrases are necessary to the understanding of the magic that is photography.

So, instead of learning the language, I've just been wandering merrily down my own little photography path.

And, as regular readers know, I've been really happy with my Panasonics. I will be keeping one of them (and Terry will be keeping his), but I've decided it's time to step up.

My reasons are many, but mainly have to do with speed, detail and noise.

My Panasonic FZ35 is a great camera, I LOVE the 18x optical zoom (that's why I'm keeping that one) but it has limitations. If I want to shoot in RAW (a format I'm continuing to explore, where there is more "information" for the computer to use when processing), the Panasonic really slows down.

And you know how I like to take those hummingbird pictures. So speed is something I'm really after.

Then there's noise. In the digital world, noise is the grainy artifacts you see when there just isn't enough information for the computer to process. Smaller sensors (like those used in all point and shoots) are just noisier than their big brothers (the ones used in DSLRs,which by the way, stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras). Also, shots with inadequate light are prone to digital noise.

Then there's detail. This math I understand. A larger sensor is better than a smaller sensor, allowing for more detail. Lately the camera companies have been playing a game, suckering the public into believing that more is better in the megapixel department. They continue to cram more and more pixels onto the same size sensor, resulting in more noise and less detail.

Lately, I've been noticing all of this in my pictures.

Since we've been here at the Bosque, I've had the opportunity to play with a Canon 7D. More and more, I feel I'm ready to move up.

But there's that language thing.

After talking with Terry, it was decided that I am ready to face the challenge of learning all these numbers and I placed the order.

It came today.

So I'm starting on a brand new adventure.

But of course I couldn't wait to play just a bit. We jumped in the car and went down to the Bosque for a few quick shots.

The shot at the top is one of the first ones I took. I love how sharp and clear the bird is. Actually, we were walking along and scared him (accidentally, and he couldn't get out of there quick enough!), but I still got the shot. I probably could have gotten this shot with the Panasonic, but it wouldn't be near as sharp.

Next there's this fellow. Not a spectacular composition, but this is probably 1/8 of a shot, cropped down. And I still have this detail. Remember to click any photo to enlarge.

Another shot that I could have gotten with the Panasonic, but there would have been a lot more post processing, since the light was so low. This was just cropped and slightly sharpened. I love these kinds of shots and will be happy to get more of them in low light with all this detail.

I'm trying to learn about Depth of Field, where part of your picture is in focus and the rest is kind of fuzzy. This isn't a great example, but I really like the color of the sky reflecting in the water.

This shot is included here just because I could get it. I shot this straight into a street lamp. This is only cropped, and look how nice and clean those blacks are. I'm going to be loving this camera.

One final shot . . .

I KNOW how unclear this is, but for me this will be the memory shot, the one I remember.

One of the reasons I wanted this camera was to shoot birds. This camera is very fast (8 frames per second) and I have high hopes of success. Unfortunately, this isn't a successful shot, but I wanted to keep it to remember where I started from.

I took a bunch of shots to get this, and they were all out of focus, because of user error! I had the focus set wrong.

But I will learn and my pictures will get better and I will look back on this and remember when I didn't know an f/stop from an ISO.

And I will
also remember
this beautiful bird
and the great day we had.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pictures with the 7d

Once again I had the chance to play with the Canon 7D and boy, do I like it a lot.

Here's one of the many reasons why.

As you can see,
I had no idea what I was doing.
This picture
is completely blown out.

But look at this.

Now I'm not saying
that this is a great picture,
but look what I recovered
from this mess a shot!

I'm going to be having a really good time.

And taking a LOT of pictures.

I can play with all kinds of settings . . .

Taking pictures of
things far

and near.

Looking at light
and texture,
reworking shots
to get different effects
(click to enlarge)


And even the moon.

Now this is a noisy shot,
but it was hand held
and directly overhead.

I'm excited!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

El Camino Real Heritage Center

We heard that today there would be a civil war re-enactment at the El Camino Real International Heritage Center. We've attended several of these and always find them enjoyable. There's usually a lot of folks gussied up in period garb demonstrating lost arts like cast iron campfire cooking, how to make lead bullets, treadle sewing, you get the idea.

So we got up unusually early and set out for the Center.

Once again, it was a gorgeous day.
Look at this wide open vista . . .

When we arrived, we discovered there weren't a lot of demonstrations going on, so we decided to spend our time in the museum. We had been there once before and had good memories of this beautiful facility.

Located some thirty miles south of Socorro, the center concentrates on the history of the El Camino Real which for centuries has been a major road stretching from Mexico City up to Santa Fe.

The museum sits on the edge of the Jornada del Muerto, the dreaded ninety miles of Hell. A truly barren stretch of desert, it has claimed many lives over the years. At first, it seems strange that such a modern facility would be located in such a bleak area, but once you understand the focus, the location really adds to the experience.

Inside, there's a huge array
of period detail.
I have to admit a particular fondness
for this display.

Here's a closeup of these animals.
Terry and I couldn't decide
whether they were sheep or goats.
Whatever they are, they're adorable.

What's really impressive about this museum is that instead of just placing artifacts in cases, they've recreated entire rooms and outside areas that add to the ambiance. I'm searching for words here, but let me show you a few pictures and maybe you'll understand better.

you can click on any picture
for a large version
which shows a lot more detail.

Are you getting the idea?

I liked this shot,
because I thought this spotlight
looked like the moon.

More interior shots.

There are also numerous displays

Isn't the design on this coin beautiful?

There's also a large display
of vintage photographs

The original road into Santa Fe.

The building
housing the museum is fascinating,
a blend of old and new.

This hallway is one of my favorite spots.
When you go out these doors,
you have a gigantic vista
of the Jornada del Muerto

And look at this sky

New Mexico clouds,
like nowhere else.

Here we are,
almost back at the Bosque

One final shot.

Another fine day
in the Land of Enchantment.