Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Finally, the Last Lights

Many of these are nearly the same as I posted on the Flickr site, but I wanted to include some of them here. While the subject matter is the same, these shots were taken on my second visit to the Global Winter Wonderland, so, for my money, they're a bit better than those of my first visit.

This was one of my favorite parts of the venue.

I'm particularly fond of sun and moon images

These were so bright and carefree.

Definitely a family event,
it was really something
to see the faces of the children.

Imagine all this light and color,

then add in Christmas music!

While we don't do a lot of Christmas any more,
I love this kind of thing.

I especially liked this star.

And this snowman.

I liked how they portrayed
the landmarks from Different countries.

I tried to get the moon in this shot,
but it was too far away
to show up like I wanted.

A little better here.

A holiday shot.

Here's a close up of one of the displays.
The bottles have colored liquid,
then the light shines through.
At least that's how I think it works.

Pretty clever.

And finally, here's my first attempt
at posting a video.
They were selling these drinks,
I thought they were way cool!
I didn't have one,
but I did take this short video
with my iPhone.

And with this post,
I promise no more Christmas pictures.

I got an email the other day from a friend. He was asking what our plans were, saying we never mentioned much on the blog, mainly just posted our pictures. The inference was that this was turning into a photography blog!

And lately, I guess it is, so I figured a quick update might be in order.

We're still working on the house. It's a long process, but one only we understand, so please don't offer recommendations that we should bring someone else in, or just leave and sell it as is. I know those of you who write with these recommendations mean well, but trust me, I haven't put the whole story here. We are making progress, and have a handle on the whole thing.

I just figure continually posting "we're still working on the house" would get kind of boring, so that's why I don't mention it too much.

Maybe this is turning into a photo blog?

Time will tell.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

MORE Christmas Lights!

Going to the Global Winter Wonderland for the second time, I kind of knew what to expect, so my photography took a different turn.

We arrived right at dusk,
which is quickly becoming
one of my favorite times to shoot.

The moon was just a sliver.

The outer edge of the venue
is decorated with the most amazing trees.

Each has thousands of lights,
all of which change color
at different times.

The colors are mesmerizing.

They offered myriad opportunities
for pictures.

Most of today's pictures are kind of abstract,

but that's what I was going for!

Lot's of color.

this is my favorite kind of photography.

It seems like the purest form of light.

I'll have one more post on Christmas lights,
then I promise
no more.

Until next year!


Monday, December 26, 2011

Canon SX40, Zoom and Bokeh

I'm still playing with the new camera, and I have to say, I love the zoom on this camera.

Now, if it would only teach me photography!

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the concept of bokeh. I seem to have better results when my subject is far away. Knowing this, I tried a few shots from this vantage point.

The X in the middle
is about where this shot was focused.
Not too sharp but not bad.

The X off to the left
is what remains of our Japanese maple tree.
I thought all the leaves had blown off,
but it looks like some hung on.
Not too healthy, but they're still there.

Here I tried focusing
on the intervening branches.

And back to the dying leaves.

And again, the branches.
One thing I'm learning about bokeh,
it's good to have a colorful background.

I think the dying red leaves make for a perfect blend of color. I considered dealing with some of the digital noise in the background, but decided that, for this test I wouldn't bother. At the size shown here, the noise is barely visible, but if you click for as larger version, it's pretty pronounced. Still, these are just test shots.

At least I feel like I'm gaining a bit of control over the camera. The SX40 is so new, there isn't a lot of information out there yet, so I started a Yahoo group so there will be a place to exchange some information. Hopefully, some folks will be able to assist me with some of my questions.

On another note, I found an interactive eBook (actually an iPad app) called "Master Your DSLR Camera: A Better Way to Learn Digital Photography". So far, it seems to be really excellent. Sort of like a book, but with all kinds of interactive presentations. When they talk about, say aperture, you can actually see what each setting does. So far, I think it's well worth the $10.

And now I'm off with a friend for another visit to the Global Winter Festival. She was unable to go the other night and I figured there might be a few more pictures to take!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hugo for Christmas

At the last minute, we decided to spend Christmas day at the movies.

We went and saw Hugo.

WOW! Hugo

This is my favorite film in a really long time.

One note before I start . . .

It's filmed in 3D, which was okay, but didn't really bring anything extra to the story.

Not that Hugo needed anything extra, because this film was superb on so many levels.

If you read the reviews, they all mention that the film is based on a book called the Invention of Hugo Cabret. It tells the story of an orphan who lives in the walls of a Paris train station, his job being to keep all the clocks wound and running.

Because this sounded like a delightful premise and I love the films of Martin Scorsese, I decided it was one film I wanted to actually see in a movie theater (which we rarely do any more).

Building slowly, developing character and emotion (remember those attributes in film? They're so rare these days) it starts as the story of Hugo, but expands and grows into so much more. Characters who start as supporting players enhance the story and before you know it, this film has you completely engrossed.

Besides Hugo (played by newcomer Asa Butterfield), and his friend Isabelle Chloe Grace Moretz), Ben Kingsley gives a subtle, deep performance that for me, became the real heart of the film. Portraying a dour, mean spirited toy shop owner, his story arc was the one that really got to me. Hours after seeing the film, it still haunts my thoughts.

There is also a delightful turn by Sacha Baron Cohen (whose other work I despise). Who would have thought he could bring such delight and subtlety to a supporting role? It was a revelation.

If you're a fan of film, particularly the early pioneers, this film will hold special significance for you. And if you're not, it's still an amazing ride.

And the photo at the top? Well, we had a short walk between theaters and this display caught my eye. I love the idea of a bearded Lady Santa. At first I tried to get rid of the reflection, but after viewing it in the computer, I kind of like the whole look.

Here's another shot of a window display that was drawing all kinds of attention. From a distance, it looked very much like crystal snow. On closer inspection, the effect was created using nothing more than small foil circles. I loved it.

And finally,
in the true spirit of the holidays,
I include this.

The theatre had a standee for Star Wars and this young Father brought his sweet 3 month old baby girl up to have her picture taken. I asked if I could take a shot and he agreed. I don't think she liked the film at all.

That's it for today.
Hope your holidays are happy and bright.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hoping You're Warm, Snug and With Good People

Haven't been online in a couple of days, but have been busy.

We took a short trip "over the hill" to visit an event called Global Winter Wonderland. It was just wonderful, and since we went on an off night, not crowded at all.

I took so many pictures, I decided to post them to my Flickr stream rather than here, something I don't usually do.

If you want to see them, they're located here.

I'm not totally happy with posting in Flickr since I have little control over my shots, but occasionally, I do post there. Would you rather see them there or here on the blog? Personally, I like the way the blog is self contained, but who knows what the future may bring?

I hope, wherever you are, you're safe and warm, surrounded by those you love and hold dear.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Do You Decorate Your Motorhome?

We don't go overboard, but we do have lights, both white and colored. We put them up the first year we had the rig and they haven't come down since. Being that they're up all year, I guess they don't really qualify as Christmas decorations, but this time of year, I claim them as such.

The first Christmas we had the motorhome, we also got a small sparkly Christmas tree. Now that, we take down and put up as the season dictates.

It's hard to find a place for a three foot tree
in a 30 foot class C,
but I found one!

We hang it
from the upper cabinet above the beds
in the back of the bedroom.

When the overhead lights are out
and the tree is lit,
it's pretty festive!

the only decent picture I could get
was with the overhead lights on.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Playing with Bokeh

Bokeh | bōˈkā|
noun Photography
the visual quality
of the out-of-focus areas
of a photographic image.

I love bokeh, but I'm having a hard time learning how to achieve it. I've read lots of articles, but like so many things photographic, I'm finding it tough to put what I read into practice.

One thing I do know, you want your aperture set as wide open as possible. This insures that parts of your picture are in sharp focus while the background is blurred.

It sounds so simple . . .

Out of approximately one hundred twenty tries today,
I came up with three.

Not my best work.

I seem to have better luck
when shooting objects that are far away.
These are the lights
on our little outdoor Christmas tree.
I was about twenty feet away.
Poor composition, but that wasn't the point.

Here, I was actually trying
to get the lights in focus,
with a blurred green background.

This came out the best of all.
This is a thin strand of star tinsel
we have on our outdoor tree.

I'd really like to master this technique
while there are so many Christmas lights.

Maybe next year?

This is a totally failed attempt at bokeh.

Since living in the rig,
I've been very careful
not to add seasonal decorations,
but this little guy proved irresistible.
He's a mere two inches tall,
and I love his face.

Hope you are all having a happy!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Christmas Lights

We went out again,
I can't help it,
there's just so much
good stuff to see!

Today's entries
are all pictures
of one homes display.

And what a show it was!

If you really want to see the detail,
click each image to enlarge.

This display was so beautiful,
and so very detailed.

There must have been
a dozen of us taking pictures.

I wish I could see
everyone elses shots.
This was, by far ,
the best display yet.

I can't begin to tell you
how very Christmasy
these displays make me feel.

They make me happy!