Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Alien Jellies

I haven't quite got into the blogging groove again, but I was sorting through some photos this morning when I came across this one:

This was taken at the Monterrey Bay Aquarium in California a couple of summers ago. You will notice that the title refers to them as "jellies". Now, this really bugs me! I know, it is my own blog and I can call them jellyfish if I want, can't I? Well, I know quite a few people that get really upset when I call them jellyfish. They will snoot and snort and inform me, as if I were some quivering mass of stupidness, that they are not fish. Really!?! Here was me thinking that they were. Just as I think that a butterfly is a fly made of butter and that a seahorse is an aquatic hoofed mammal of the Equus genus. I have several birding friends who get very upset when I call a gull a seagull - apparently that is not correct, they are gulls, not seagulls! Well, excuse me! Common names are notorious for being inaccurate and very variable. If I say daddy-long-legs to an English person, they think cranefly, but here in Canada, everyone thinks of those spiders with small globular bodies on long, threadlike legs (harvestmen for all you Englishers out there). So, if you want accuracy, use scientific names - that is what they are there for - otherwise, let me say jellyfish and seagull and get over it!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Bird in a Box II

This photo was taken in the same manner as the first Bird in a Box photo, except more swearing was involved  -  black-capped chickadees are vicious little buggers that are the Houdinis of the bird world. 


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A Sigh of Contentment

There are certain things in life, little things, that make us happy. Small things that seem to be disproportionate in their simplicity and the amount of happiness that they bring us. You will be able to recognise such a thing since it will result in a little sigh of contentment. Here are a few of my little contentment moments:

  • Warm sun on your face after a long, cold winter.
  • The first sip of ice cold diet coke on a hot summer's day.
  • Slipping in between cool, clean sheets and snuggling down into a beautifully made bed.
  • The first burst of hot water showering over your head and shoulders after a week of cold, damp camping and not changing your clothes for a week.
  • Letting the floodgates open after really, really, REALLY needing to pee for a long time.
I guess you could start all of these things with "Happiness is......" So, here is my last one, the one that seems to bring me the most contentment, the one that I turn to when I am feeling a little bit down, a little bit sad, a little bit cranky.......

"Happiness is.......... to hug a warm, soft, furry-purry kitty cat"

Willow is very good for this, since she seems to automatically start purring whenever you pick her up. Still, you must not let that lull you into a false sense of security - she is still all claws and teeth, so one does have to be on one's guard. But even so, she is so warm and soft and when she purrs, all is right with the world.

Friday, 9 March 2012

To HDR or not to HDR?

That is the question.......
Actually, I suspect the question right now is, what is HDR?

First of all, lets get the "nerd alert" out of the way, since this post may start to get a little nerdy. Instead of getting all technical, let's have a look at two photos and then you can tell me what you think.

The Mittens, Monument Valley - 1 exposure, no HDR

The Mittens, Monument Valley - 5 exposures, HDR
So, in a nutshell, what HDR (high dynamic range) does is take several photos, at different exposures, and blends them all together, taking the detail of the light parts of the photo from the underexposed shots and the dark parts from the overexposed shots. The result - well, you can see from the photo above that you get more detail, especially in the dark and light parts of the photo.

The question is, do you like the effect that you almost inevitably get when you HDR a photo?

Here are a couple more to compare:

Dead Horse Point State Part, Utah - 1 exposure, no HDR
Dead Horse Point State Part, Utah - 5 exposures, HDR

The HDR photo has more detail, but it also seems to end up somewhat cartoony and artificial. I still can't decide if I like it or not.

What about you?

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Bird in a Box

So, more photos.......

How about this one? I call it "Bird in a Box 1".

It is an dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis), subspecies Oregon junco. Very plentiful around here in the winter and very obvious as they fly way, flashing their outer white tail feathers.

For those of you wanting details about how the photo was taken, well, here you go:

1. Catch the bird - I never said that this would be easy! Luckily, I have enough nery birdy friends that I have ready access to mist nets and captured birds.

2. Put bird into box - one something like this, although I do recommend removing the cat first. I also added a black drop cloth to the back, hence the black background.

3. Add front cover and insert camera lens through slit. I used a wide angle lens (12-24mm) with my Nikon D80, with a macro ring flash attached.

4. Ensure bird does not escape while trying to get camera set up in the right position.

5. Swear a little (or a lot, if the bird does keep escaping) and keep muttering under your breath about how much you "love" photography.

5. Take photo - f9, 1/80, ISO 400, camera on a tripod, with flash - keeping fingers firmly crossed.

6. Release rather annoyed bird.

7. Fix all the problems with Photoshop.

8. Revel in the glory of your new status of photography god!

Friday, 2 March 2012

What to do?

I'd be surprised if anyone even visits this blog anymore - it has been a while since I posted anything.......

So, the question is, do I just shut it down? I am seriously thinking of changing to a more exclusively photographic blog or even setting up my own photography webpage, since I seem to spend most of my time doing that these days. What do you think?

Dead Horse Canyon, Utah

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Upper Antelope Canyon, Arizona