Around the House I

December 1, 2012 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

This month we’re paying tribute to what makes our neighborhood home and gives us the glow of belonging to a larger picture of life.  Regrettably we have not yet captured the bald eagle in flight, but these are a few of the denizens and sights that bring us smiles.

A couple of these spent the summer with us (outside) and then there were cute, and elusive, baby lizards. They were charming all summer long.

[This guy is about as large as your little finger but with a tail out 6 inches.  He liked to hide out in our driveway but a little macro work tracked him down.  This was shot with the 50mm f2.5 macro lens at 1:1 on the Canon 60D, right down on the concrete.  Stopping down to f18 gives us the depth of field.  The articulated screen was pointed out so you don’t need to lie on the ground.  A Canon 320 flash was off to the side and being triggered remotely from the 60D’s internal flash.  Magic Lantern’s trap focus would fire automatically when we got a lock on the manual focus as I moved the camera in and out.  Many of those pictures were of the concrete so trial and error caught this shot.  Another picture was pretty good, but it turns out that lizards blink as well as people.]

These lizards are more properly known as Northern Alligator Lizards, and populate the Pacific Northwest territory especially in wooded areas. They’re usually pretty difficult to capture photos of since they hide under logs and stones and, when they do pose for a camera, it’s usually on a pile of sticks that match their scales. They’re also pretty small, usually averaging around 4 inches from snout to rump, and fast enough to escape a pouncing cat.

[Exposing for fireworks takes experimentation.  These were shot at f8 using ISO 100 with 9 second exposures.   There are two parts to the exposure.  Set the ISO low enough that the background is nice and dark.  Set the aperture so that the fireworks isn’t overexposed – it’s much like working with flash.  Put the camera on a sturdy tripod.  A remote shutter works well in the dark.]

Spider! Yuck. I’m told that spiders are useful and beneficial, but to me they are creepy and still a get-it-away-from-me-scream. Luckily enough Paul is only fascinated by them when they’re outside.

[This spider was shot on our deck on a bright day but even the sun can go to black at 1/250th f8 at ISO 200.  The Canon 320 flash was mounted right on the hotshoe but could still light the spider even though it was only a couple inches away from the Canon 50mm f2.5 macro lens.  And yes, Magic Lantern’s trap focus worked great to get a sharp hand held macro picture.]

Usually the hot air balloons just buzz overhead, but this one decided to skim the lake.

[When the familiar roar came, I went out with the 300mm lens and lucked into a shot with the basket right over a rowboat.]

[What do the moon and rabbit have in common?  Much cropping.  The moon was shot hand held with the Canon 70-200 f4 at 1/400th at f4.5 using ISO 200.  Even so, it only filled perhaps a sixteenth of the frame.  Likewise for the neighborhood bunny who held still for a moment outside my window.]

[These shots were just luck.  I had traded in some old gear and picked up a used Canon 70-200mm f4 lens and had my new toy with me on the way to work when these two deer were in our lower yard.  The lens has fine reach but some judicious cropping got the compositions I wanted.]

[Early each year, an incredibly hard working and dedicated bunch of photographers at Microsoft (http://www.photographersatmicrosoft.com/) pull together a 300 page photobook which they sell for charity.  The above tulip appears on page 136 among some truly excellent work.  Originally, I was going to submit something from the United States Air Force Museum (you’ll see this later in our blog) but I didn’t have time to get a proper release.  With the deadline approaching, I took three steps out our front door and got a quick macro shot of a tulip after the morning rain.  I cropped it down to show the simple yellow curve in the full red background.]

[Yes, daffodils are yellow.  But some days, those folds should be linen white with some deeper shadows as these ended up after some experimentation with Lightroom 4.  LR4’s Develop module has B&W Toned Presets and after trying Split Tone 1 through 3, I settled on Split Tone 4 which did a good job of cupping the brightness within the flower.    LR4’s Develop History logged each of the twenty adjustments I tried getting to this point – life is a process of iteration.]

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