Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Penguins and lights

Nikon D7000, 10.5mm, 8 sec., f/8, ISO 100, adjusted

Last Sunday the family did the annual lights tour, driving around the city after dark and looking at some of the more elaborate displays. One of our traditional stops is Pauly’s Penguin Playground, a wonderful riot of inflatable, mostly penguin-related decorations. For some time now I’ve wanted good pictures of this spot, but in the past I haven’t brought the right equipment.

I’ve been reluctant to drag a tripod into the middle of everyone’s holiday fun, but without some kind of brace it wasn’t really possible to leave the shutter open long enough to get a proper exposure. The compromise: the monopod with its three-pronged base extended. It was still a bit more jiggly than I wanted, but it helped a little to use a remote rather than the on-camera switch.

They didn’t all come out perfect, but I was pleased with some of the results.

After that we mostly stayed in the car and drove around, which of course made it hard to shoot the long exposures required by low light conditions. However, I thought I’d have a little fun at one spot. The result can’t accurately be called a realistic depiction of the scene, but it’s kinda pretty.

D7000, 10.5mm, 8 sec., f/8, ISO 100, adjusted

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

O Christmas Tree

Nikon D7000, 18mm (18-55), 20 sec., f/6.3, ISO 100, adjusted

Faithful fans of the blog may recall that a couple of years ago I posted a fancy time exposure of our Christmas tree. This year we changed the decorating scheme a bit. But as before, a low ISO kept the colors true and long shutter speeds brought the lights out (harder this time because the new bulbs are smaller).

I shot the lead-off picture shortly after I put the tree up and got the lights on it. And then overnight it snowed, giving me another good photo op in the wee hours of the morning.

Nikon D7000, 24mm (18-55), 25 sec., f/11, ISO 100

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Light and fog

Nikon D7000, 200mm (28-200), 3 sec., f/8, ISO 400
Photographers are supposed to have a “thing,” a particular kind of subject or style to specialize in. I’m having too much fun with the art to settle down in any one area, but if I did have a “thing” it would probably be mist. I love how it feels to be out in it, and I love how it plays with light when it’s photographed.

Here’s a playful little piece I took last week. The neighbors’ Christmas lights looked so nice in the fog, I had to get a picture. Naturally this called for a slow exposure to get the light right.

Unfortunately, my good tripod was at work. So I used my travel tripod to brace the camera. Portable though it may be, it doesn’t hold the camera firm enough to avoid the small camera shake caused by pressing the shutter button. You can see the small dip the camera took, which shows up as little hooks at the bottom of the bright lights. Once the button pressure was off, the rest of the time the camera stayed still. Thus the dimmer parts of the picture (which took longer to expose) show no blur at all.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Happy holidays

Nikon D7000, Lensbaby Scout with single glass optic, 3 sec., sunburst aperture, cropped

Here’s something fun to help kick off the holiday season. This photo was done entirely with the camera. Other than a small crop, I didn’t do a thing to it in Photoshop.

What you’re looking at here is a six-inch-tall creche (propped up on a support) with our Christmas tree in the background.

I achieved the effect by using a Lensbaby Scout with a single glass lens and a sunburst aperture. Rather than a standard, circular aperture, the disk for this shot was a shape. You can see the edges reproduced in some of the less fuzzy sunbursts in the background. The in-focus foreground is unaffected; the creative aperture works like a plain old circular hole. But bright light sources in the out-of-focus background take on the shape of the aperture. It’s tricky to get it to work just right, but when it does, it creates some interesting images.

The single glass and narrow depth of field gave the foreground a bit of blur that added to the appeal.