IMO an important part of growing up is learning how to work. I’ll say the caveats up front: We’re not slave drivers, we have a lot of fun too, blah, blah, blah. We’ve finally had our burn ban lifted since we’ve been receiving some rain lately. Our burn pile has been growing, and growing, and growing — especially since it includes an old carpenter ant tunneled playscape. The boys have been anxious to get the fire going (all boys are pyros, no?) so I put off the rest of my to-do list and spent the afternoon burning. Once it was stoked we really couldn’t add wood very fast (at least not if we wanted to keep it under control) so the boys played in the wood pile and one even built a mini fort inside the pile. I reminded him to watch for snakes and he just said, “All I see is sticks”. After a long pause I heard him mutter, “But I guess the snakes match the sticks…”.
I had my daughter bring out my Canon 50D so I could grab some pics. I had only snapped a couple and it started to rain so that camera got put away. I would have liked to switch lenses as the telephoto lens compressed the scene a bit much for my liking, but the weather didn’t cooperate. [It was a typically unpredictable Texas weather day: hot and sunny in the morning, thunderstorms whipped up and it poured, went back to bright and sunny (and humid), and as I write I hear thunder again] I did get out my Canon S90 later and got a couple more pictures. The top photo was the 50D, bottom was the S90.
My wife and I (and several in her family) attended a luau while in Hawaii last week. I have no idea what an old traditional luau was like or how authentic the festivities were but in any case it was immensely enjoyable. Knowing that the main show would be after dark, I fitted my camera with my 50mm f/1.4 lens. Night photography has never been something I’ve been good at (maybe that can be said about all my photography 🙂 ). I’m always going back and forth with myself on the best combination for getting good exposures — shutter/aperture/ISO. Noise is always a consideration (not so much now that one of my bodies is a 5D Mkii).
For much of this show I wanted to mostly freeze the motion (like in the second shot above) so I shot in manual mode with an aperture between 1.4 and 2.8, shutter speed in the 1/500s – 1/640s range, and ISO 1600-3200 (the stage lighting varied from act to act and I tweaked settings accordingly). Depth of field wasn’t much of an issue because my focus point was quite far. However, I also spent time trying to capture some of the motion in the dances. I was shooting handheld so I did have to consider that when deciding how long to open the shutter. I played around with various shutter speeds and came out with some fun shots. For the fire shots I had hoped to be able to reduce the exposure enough to avoid blowing out the highlights of the flames completely but in doing so I ended up underexposing everything else much more than I liked. In the shot above I like the balance between capturing motion in the flame yet keeping some clarity in the dancer. Some shots blurred things more (see image below) and that’s interesting in its own right but I prefer the balance in the shot at the top of the post.
Processing was quite simple for all these shots. I shot with daylight white balance so that I effectively captured the colors consistently. The color turned out rather well. I used a bit of clarity and sometimes bumped the exposure up a hair in Lightroom. Finally, I exported from Lightroom with a preset that ran the images through a noise reduction action (using Noiseware) in Photoshop.
People who have really “lived” have fascinating stories to tell. Some are fascinating just because they took place in such a different time than we live in (back when people walked barefoot through the snow, uphill both ways, to get to school). Others are remarkable because of the people they involve. You know, those stories about someone they knew or befriended as children who eventually became someone famous, maybe an important political figure or famous athlete. Many of their stories are of interest because they took place before so much of our culture became so sissified…back when kids were allowed to climb trees without signing waivers and lawyers weren’t hanging around everywhere like vultures.
“Bearpa” is shown above telling stories to my wife and a couple of the kids by the fire one evening. We recently spent a (cold) weekend camping on their ranch while we hunted for deer. Between hunts and during meals Bearpa shared many stories of interest to all. He’s a wise man and imparted much of his wisdom and knowledge — about hunting and life in general — to all of us.
I only had the camera out here and there (was busy hunting and skinning myself) but when I did it was usually in very low light. I used 1600 ISO most of the time yet some shots were still very challenging. If I left the camera in “normal” metering mode it overexposed much of the image since so much of the background was dark. So, I switched to partial metering (which on the Canon 50D is essentially spot metering using 9% of the center of the frame) and this allowed me to expose based on the brightest portion of the frame and keep it from being blown out. I also used an exposure bias of -1/2 all the way to -3/2. Notice how the picture of Bearpa beginning to skin a deer has deep black shadows in the background and how he himself is just a tad underexposed. This captures the scene perfectly in my opinion. This was taken out in a barn late at night, and the slightly underexposed picture reflects this. I cleaned up the night shots with Noiseware, which works magnificently.
Due to my back pain (this was pre-surgery) I was limited on how much I could twist, turn, and get into good positions but I did manage a few other shots. The trophy wall below is an HDR from 6 exposures and the one from in the blind was taken with my iPhone.
I’ve got Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” playing through my head these days. I haven’t heard the song since, oh, 1985 but I thought of it when I viewed the sunset above. When I saw those clouds (I didn’t even manage to catch them at the peak of brightness and color), the first thing that popped into my head was the phrase “fire in the sky”. The clouds looked like flames. My 3 year old asked me if the sky was on fire — even he thought it looked like fire. Frankly, the image doesn’t stand on its own but I thought the uniqueness of these clouds made them worth sharing.
An hour before this sunset the sky looked like this:
I figured we’d have a great sunset after seeing those clouds but I was busy throwing the football around with the kids so I missed the best part of it. I would have loved to zip over to a nice vista to take this shot but I settled for the back-porch version.
Smoke on the water…fire in the sky. Someone please make the music in my head stop 🙂