It Felt….. It Felt Good. Damn Good!

This morning while enjoying breakfast with my wife I suddenly thought “Holy shit! It has rained like crazy over the past two days. I wonder if the water fall at Charleston Falls Preserve is doing anything interesting?” Between loads of melting snow and over 2-inches of rain it occurred to me that the normally ‘dull’ waterfall might actually be a ‘real’ waterfall.

See… normally it looks like this (please forgive the rather heavy-handed post-processing effects):


(photo courtesy of my iPhone)

It is a pretty place, but not much of a waterfall to be frank. But what about after some serious rain? Well let’s just say it got a lot better!


(photo courtesy of my iPhone)

Now isn’t that better?

But the issue of the waterfall isn’t the real thrust of this posting. Nope. Instead, I guess this posting is, in a way, an extension of my last post regarding my attempt to get back into this photography game. Today’s adventure was a pleasure. A real pleasure.

My original intent was just to run out to Charleston Falls Preserve, see if the waterfall was more interesting photographically speaking, and if so snap some pics and come home to watch the inaugural Formula 1 race from Bahrain. As the above picture shows the waterfall was far more interesting than it has ever been before during any of my visits.

And so I puttered about snapping pictures from this position and that place and eventually found myself satisfied. Satisfied that I had done both what I wanted and needed (“need” being the need to get out and take some pictures again). But as I packed up my kit I thought “You know… I wonder if there are any other photographic treats in the park today?” After all it was perfect shooting weather in so many ways: 41-degrees Fahrenheit (5-degrees C), lightly misting, quite grey and overcast (soft, diffuse light with no shadows) and everything covered in water such that colours looked rich and dark. And so I took off on the trails in search of other valuable targets.

Now… I do not have any of the pictures from this excursion yet available as I haven’t yet gone through them. I’ve been busy since I got home. Sorry. But the tale is just as important in this instance because it was the simple act of getting out and enjoying myself that, in a manner, recharged my batteries for this hobby.

While out there I managed to nab a handful of pictures related to my first shooting assignment for my photography class and I spent about 30-minutes stalking a small herd of deer I chanced upon. Granted, the end result was a meager one photo for all the time I devoted, but let me tell you…. it was EXCITING!! Moving slowly and carefully with camera in hand I tracked them from the trail while they made their way through the woods, eventually leading me to a tall grass prairie where I managed my one picture. But the great thing is now that I know there are deer there AND I know a place where they congregate I can return one day (hopefully soon) and play the game of sit & wait in hopes of nabbing some additional pictures. (keep in mind I only got the one picture because I didn’t have my camera out and in hand when I chanced upon them – they were unexpected as I had never seen deer there before)

Of course, any great day must have its less-than-stellar moments, which for me was when I tried to snap some pics of the quite large vultures gliding in the grey skies above me. For whatever reason…. probably a brain fart or a bit of senility creeping in…. I turned my 70-200mm zoom lens to 70mm and began shooting wildly into the mid-March air. Wondering why the damn birds looked so far away in the viewfinder I put down the camera and took a quick glance at my settings where I discovered my 70mm boo-boo.

However, this very minor mistake is not going to ruin my otherwise perfect afternoon! Three hours of glorious hiking, stalking and photography more than compensate me for such stupidity.

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Really? Has It Been A Month?

Where does the time go, eh?

But I guess it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that I haven’t been posting to this blog about photography when I haven’t really been taking pictures. But that isn’t completely true. I actually have a pretty large catalogue of unprocessed/edited photos sitting on my computer. I have the intent to boot-up the machine and sit down and go through them all, etc., but I just don’t seem to make it to the chair. I wish I understood why the trepidation. But for now I refuse to get too worked up about it. I figure that like many of my creative moments in life it will come to me when it comes to me and there is no point in pushing it upon myself.

That or I’m simply a lazy sod.

I think I’ll go with lazy sod.

But all this laziness doesn’t mean I haven’t been something of a shutter bug. Please note:

Charleston Falls

I have found myself making no small use of my somewhat recently acquired iPhone and its camera. My previous mobile blowers also had cameras, but neither (the Motorola RAZR and Palm Centro) were of any particular use for taking pictures that one might wish to share in a forum such as the Internet. But the iPhone does a pretty reasonable job all things considered. And there is a wealth of iPhone apps dedicated to photo editing and I have downloaded a fistful and make good use of each on almost a daily basis. The above picture was captured with the iPhone while I was hiking and then edited using an app named Camera Bag.

A worthwhile moment to mention here, on WordPress, is that I both entered a local photography contest and walked away with second place within the category I entered. I haven’t entered an actual contest until this one popped up so I’m quite surprised and excited that I actually won something! The contest was via Woodland Cemetery in Dayton and winners were announced last weekend on the 11th. I had entered this picture:

Winning Picture

It is actually a Photoshop Elements processed picture I took back in February (I think). It’s one of the first pictures I ever fiddled with in Elements, but oddly enough and as much as I liked it, I never posted it to Flickr. Probably part of being a lazy sod, you know? But still….second place. Awesome.

Here is a picture of me, looking rather rumbled and weird, next to my winning entry:
Contest Winner

After the winners were announced it became known to me that the cemetery was offering one of those walk-about type things where a guided tour is provided of some of the more important or interesting characters buried within the cemetery. At each of the graves of said folks there is an actor/actress who talks about the person as if they were the dearly deceased. Since I was already there I opted to stick around and take the tour, which lasted about two hours. During this time I snapped some pics with my handy Canon Rebel/400, but also clicked away here and there with the iPhone, thus obtaining this picture:

Cemetery Walk

It is actually a crop of the original (I removed the others on the tour) and I know…I know…he really should be in the left of the picture for a better sense of balance, but this was all done on the fly and from within the crowd of folks. The wasn’t a whole lot of time for getting the best angle, etc. so I’m lucky to have what I have. I made use of the iPhone app Photogene to perform the crop and conversion to something akin to sepia. I’m pleased enough with the results considering all things.

Lastly, the other day I was going through some pictures my cousin had uploaded to Facebook of a day trip she and her son took to some park near where they live. Some of the pictures were taken around the shoreline of a small lake and included lily pads. Lily pads always remind me of Monet, which always reminds me of the work of Impressionists. Wheels slowing clicking I emailed my cousin and asked for a full-sized copy of a particular picture, which included my nephew on a dock, laying, while playing with some of the lily pads in the water. Opened in Photoshop Elements (cuz I don’t have the grown-up version of Photoshop) I played around with it all morning to create an Impressionistic version of the image with the end result being thus:

Noel Upload

I actually created two versions and I still haven’t decided which one I prefer, but it was a somewhat fun way to spend a few hours this morning. I say “somewhat fun” because I really didn’t obtain quite the result for which I was looking. Both versions are close, but not quite there and I eventually grew both tired and a bit aggravated as my hoped-for results were alluding me. This might explain why I don’t particularly care to do this sort of photo editing, you know?

Damn it, damn it, damn it, damn it…

AUGH!

I absolutely hate it when I do something stupid. Then again, I imagine most everyone hates it when they do something stupid. But this blog is about me and not everyone else, so at the moment I’m very busy hating myself for doing something stupid.

Yesterday (Saturday, 25 April 2009) I hooked up with fellow Flickrites Edgar and Ron at Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm. We were going to stroll about the grounds (and then head over to Aullwood Gardens) in hopes of finding interesting things to photograph, but before we even got started Edgar realized he had accidentally left his camera at home. Not completely his fault, mind you, as they were waylaid by a last-minute telephone call, which put them off their game.

For this photographic adventure I had elected to instead make use of my car-camera: the Rebel XTi (400D for you European types) with accompanying lenses, instead of my more usual kit (the Canon 40D and such). As I had just been to both Aullwood Audubon Center and Aullwood Gardens the week previous, I didn’t feel the need to carry my more serious equipment and looked forward to the much lighter and more transportable Rebel. But now we had a man down, so to speak, and as such I did the valiant thing and offered my Rebel to Edgar. He was hesitant at first, but Ron convinced him to accept my most generous offer, especially since I was able to use my 40D, which was in the car anyway.

As Edgar uses a point-n-shoot camera we made adjustments to the settings of my Rebel to better reflect the way his camera would shoot and the way he uses his camera. One particular adjustment to the settings was to turn off shooting in RAW and engage shooting in JPEG, which I no longer do at all. For the most part Edgar was satisfied with the adjustments and went about taking pictures for the afternoon.

Once we returned to the cars and said our goodbyes I immediately set out to revert the Rebel XTi to my preferred settings so that said camera would be ready-to-go at a moments notice, as is its typical usage. Except for one thing: I forgot to switch back to RAW.

Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!

And I’m all “damn it, damn it, damn it,” because I took a quick trip today to a park which I had not yet visited: Charleston Falls Preserve (part of the Miami County Park District, Ohio). I called it a recce and as such wasn’t going to bring any camera, but at the last moment elected to bring along the ready-to-go Rebel. And I’m glad I did. I may have obtained a handful of decent photos from the excursion, but it was when I was only minutes away from the end of the trail (the return leg as I had been in the park for about 2-hours by then) when I realized that I had been shooting in JPEG all day!

Don’t get me wrong…there’s nothing really wrong with shooting in JPEG. Lots of folks never do anything but shoot in JPEG and they take awesome shots! That said, I much prefer shooting in RAW because it allows me greater control over the final product and, perhaps most importantly, allows me to sometimes salvage photos that might have been designated to the round file otherwise.

Damn it.