Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How often do you ride through corn fields?

OK, so this is not about photography but I did have my camera with me, and look, I took a picture...

Now that summer is almost over (stores are already opening up their Fall displays!!) I finally have my bike in working order. After putting off and putting off getting it fixed I eventually broke down and realized that it wouldn’t fix itself. Last summer…or even earlier maybe…Sarah was riding my mountain bike when the drive side (right) pedal fell off! Turns out that it has stripped itself off and the only way to fix it is to buy a new crank arm. I soon found that I couldn’t just replace the arm but I needed to also replace the entire crank because it is such an old model. I took it into a local shop, found a good deal and ended up replacing the bottom bracket (all the ball bearings that help turn the pedals) while they were in there. Replacing the bottom bracket marks the point where everything on this bike but the frame has been replaced…it sorta begs the question, “at what point does a bike no longer hold on to its original identity, and where does the soul of a bike reside?” hmmmm… but that is another post, I was talking about riding!! Anyway, I get it fixed, race home in my jubilation, throw on the pedal and head out to discover all the trails I have been dreaming about. About 8-9 miles out I realize that I can’t go any further (mostly it was my backside yelling with pain) so I turn around. No sooner do I do that then my pedal falls out AGAIN!!! Ok, now I am upset!! I am mostly upset because as I look at it I see that there are shavings of crank on my pedal, therefore when I put on the pedal I must have done something wrong in my haste. I now have taken the bike back to the shop and turns out there is a very easy and cheap way to fix this (why didn’t we do that first, huh?) you just drill out the old threads, and tap in a tube that is threaded for the right size… done in an hour. So I again, came home in my jubilation, and head out for another ride. This time though, I took the pedal in with me to the shop, so that they could put it on right! : )

wide angle zoom, meetered to ambient light on the corn stalks and with a shutter of 1/30th to create the blur.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

now its the 4th!

Now it is the 4th, after almost a week of neighborhood fireworks it is finally the actual day of fireworks. After moving out to the Midwest, I now see other differences, here it is legal to have your own fireworks shows, I guess if helps that the brush is very green here compared to dry and drought ridden California. Anyway, enough babbling. Went to a show with some friends, took my camera, the rest are photos.

Everyone likes kids; here is a friend’s son who thoroughly enjoyed his first Sparklers.
Technical Jumbo:
Simple shot, wide angle zoom, manual meter for ambient light.

This got a little fun, ambient light was almost gone so I broke out the strobe (actually brought it this time, good job Matt) and put on the borrowed wide angle zoom, metered for ambient light, in this case leaving some color in the sky, and placed the strobe at -1 stop. Getting the strobe off camera is the key here; some are in my left hand away from camera zero, some I placed the strobe on the ground facing up at people. The long exposure shot I just cycled to a slow shutter, and its respective aperture to maintain same exposure and let the iTTL compensate for smaller f-stop.

Decided what shots I wanted before hand and waited for those shots, I then enjoyed the show from there. I knew I wanted the lake shot to have some color in the sky, so I shot it in the beginning so that I could still have some light in the sky, I exposed for that color and tried to get about a 2-4 second exposure; shot off about 5-8 shots and went back to the group. Shot with a wide angle zoom on a tripod, couple seconds at f8 or so, iso 400.

Next I know I wanted to get the trail of the launching fireworks so I switched to a telephoto zoom, metered for a longer exposure and there it is. (Actually the important part of the exposure in the aperture, after dark the shutter will give you longer “trails” of light and not necessarily a brighter image and the aperture will control brightness of the trails. Flash works very similarly.)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Almost 4th of July

There is a fireworks show that happens in Madison every Saturday before the 4th of July, it is known all around as the biggest show in the Midwest… well my wife and I had to check this thing out.

And of course, there was another fun sunset!

We went downtown to a park to watch it across the lake with a couple work friends. It was pretty big, to put into perspective, these shots are across the lake, through 3.5 miles of atmosphere.

click to see the new star nebula and the happy face?

Technical jumbo:
All of these shots were with a telephoto zoom (+ digital crop factor) on a tripod. I was hoping to get better shots, more than just the same shots all the time, but I guess it is ok, I was not there to photograph the event but to enjoy it. I was really hoping to get a wide shot but the setting didn’t allow for that. I guess this goes to show that a photographer must be ready and adapt to whatever the situation presents, oh and take gear that will let you adapt (I hate carrying all my stuff everywhere, but I was glad I brought it this time.)


The one thing that I have had to get used to here in Madison is the fact that you photograph sunsets different. In Santa Barbara I would just get in my car, drive up the hill, or down to the beach, voila! But here that are no mountains, there are no beaches close by, and the horizon is nowhere to be seen! But what we do have are these really dramatic afternoon storms that sometimes stay around till sunset, and then it is, “make sure you are ready Matt, because God will show you his wonder!!”

Going wide...really wide

This last weekend I was able to borrow a really wide-angle lens, and boy is it crazy, reminds me of my film days; basically it is ‘almost all that you can see with your eyes’ wide.

I took it down town and had a lot of fun, above are some friends at a coffe shop, and my empty Caramel Role Latte mug, mmmmmm... As sunset was approaching I relized that it would be good to be a couple miles away, so I ran about mile (glad I only had one camera and a light lens!) and boy was I surprised at the sunset.

More so, there was a group down at the park that caught my eye! I have seen them before but this time I actually got some pics, interacted and chatted with one of them. Basically they are a medieval times type of gang, they have really crazy battles, real armor, shields, bows and arrows, and group tactics. They just look a little funny because the tips of the arrows, and the ‘blade’ of the swards are covered in high-density foam! After talking to one of the guys I found that they are designed per individual specifications and have fiberglass handles and blade cores. There was even a guy there with a replica of an Elvin Blade from Lord of the Rings!!!

Technical jumbo:
All of these shots were with a extra borrowed wide angle zoom(+ digital crop factor.) I love carrying only one camera and lens, I usually get better pictures with less gear, here there was a point I thought I wanted a telephoto or something tighter, but after working the subject into the gear that I had with me I realized that I could get a better picture with what I had. Kinda wish I could have had an off camera strobe to the side or something, but that would have meant a light stand and a flash…oh well.