Thursday, December 31, 2009

Week 35, Day 252, December 31, 2009, Cardinal

Happy New Year Everybody!!

I've heard so many horror stories about taking cameras out in the cold, it makes me nervous about taking my equipment outside.

So, today I cheated a little.  I took the screen off of our laundry room window, set up my tripod, opened the window, and took photos out my back window.

Lessons Learned:
  • This method, I stayed much warmer. (Although I wasn't heating the room at the time.)
  • I think it acted as a blind, and the birds didn't pay much attention to me. So, I was able to take several photos of birds.
Photo details: Exposure time 1/320 sec, Aperture f/5.6, ISO 1600, Focal Length 400 mm, Lens Canon 70-200mm f2.8L USM with a Canon EF 2X II Extender (Christmas Gift from my wife.), tripod

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Week 35, Day 251, December 30, 2009, Looking South

Today I had the pleasure of visiting a good friends house.  There house is incredible.  Its at the end of a road bordering on a State Forest.  They have 2 ponds, and a beautiful house that they built themselves. 

In this photo we are looking over a bench looking over a firepit, looking over a doc, looking over a pond, that looks to the south.  It's a great pond for swimming, but it would have been a little cold today.

Lessons Learned:
  • Snow continues to be difficult to photograph.  I need to continue to work on this.
Photo details: Exposure time 1/80 sec, Aperture f/18.0, ISO 100, Focal Length 28 mm, Lens Canon EF 17-40mm, tripod. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Week 35, Day 250, December 29, 2009, Cob Webs

I tried a couple of times today to take photos out doors.  I don't think it got above 10 degrees, and the photos didn't turn out that well.  I didn't have the fortitude to put up with the cold, and take my time.

So, I returned to the basement.  This is my second shot in the series.  A series on an old stone walled, dirt floor basement wouldn't be complete without a photo of cobwebs.

Lessons Learned:
  • Extreme conditions can make photography difficult.
Photo details: Exposure time 1/60 sec, Aperture f/5.0, ISO 400, Focal Length 26 mm, Lens Canon EF 17-40mm, hand held. 

Monday, December 28, 2009

Week 35, Day 249, December 28, 2009, A Walk in the Woods on a Snowy Day

This little trail is one of my favorite places.  It's only about a 1/4 mile from my house, and has a wetland on one side (left side of photo), and a amazing rock wall on the right side.  This photo doesn't do the wall justice.  It's about 4 foot wide, and about 6 feet high in places.

I just photographed this yesterday in the fog.  Today there was snow.

Lessons Learned:
  • I made a make shift protector for my camera today.  It was snowing very hard, so I put my camera in a ziplock bag, cut a hole for the lens, and used a rubber band to hold the bag on the lens.  It seemed to work very well.
  • The snow sticks to the lens very easily.  Luckily I brought along a special cloth so I could wipe the lens.
  • When the weather is right, take the photos.  About 30 minutes after taking these photos it stopped snowing.  The snow falling added a nice effect to many of the photos. (Although it's harder to see it in this photo.)
Photo details: Exposure time 1/2 sec, Aperture f/18.0, ISO 100, Focal Length 28 mm, Lens Canon EF 17-40mm, tripod.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Week 35, Day 248, December 27, 2009, Foggy, Icy, Sunday Morning Walk

Yesterday I mentioned that I was going to do a series of photos in my cellar.  I've postponed that for another day.  This morning was such an interesting morning, that I had to go outside and take some photographs.  It was a little below freezing, and it rained yesterday.  There ice on many of the trees.  It was also foggy.  A great combination in my mind.

Here is a photo of the back of my neighbors barn, and a rock wall.  There is fog in the background and coming in on the right of the photo.  There is also ice on the branches on the right.  The sun was also starting to burn through the fog, and the ice on the branches is reflecting that light.  Please CLICK ON THE IMAGE for a larger view.

Lessons Learned:
  • In the summer time there are many leaves on the trees in this area.  The lack of leaves in the winter allows for some different types of photography.  
  • Once again the circular polarizer lens helps with the colors.
Photo details: Exposure time 1/3 sec, Aperture f/14.0, ISO 100, Focal Length 28 mm, Lens Canon EF 17-40mm, tripod. 

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Week 35, Day 247, December 26, 2009, Tools of the Trade

We live in an old farm house.  It was built in the middle 1800's.  The cellar is stone, and there are some old garden tools, and milk cans.  A great place to take photos.

This is the first in probably a series.  I'm going to try and take different types of photos from the cellar.

Lessons learned:
  • I think that the cellar has interesting potential.  It has a dirt floor, interesting walls, lots of spider webs, and old tools.  I think that somehow the places that we don't spend a lot of time are the most interesting to photograph.
Here's a photo challenge.  What strange places do you have where you live?
This Monochrome concept came from Aileni at The Monochrome Weekly

Photo details: Exposure time 10 sec, Aperture f/8.0, ISO 100, Focal Length 23 mm, Lens Canon EF 17-40mm, tripod.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Week 35, Day 246, December 25, 2009, Naughty or Nice?

It was a day full of fun, family, presents, eating, and playing.  There wasn't much time for photography.  I snapped a few photos of the family members as they gathered this morning. 

I hope that your day was filled in the way that you had hoped.

Merry Christmas.

Lessons Learned:
  • I played with some lighting to photograph some pottery.  I need to build a cool light box like Gary.  My photos came out horrible. You do a great job with your pottery photos Gary!
Photo details: Exposure time 1/60 sec, Aperture f/1.8, ISO 1600, Focal Length 50 mm, 35 mm equivalent focal length 82mm, Lens Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, handheld.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Week 34, Day 245, December 24, 2009, Sacred Moments

There are certain places, moments, or states of mind that are very special to me.  I call them sacred because I feel a greater sense than just myself.  I don't know how to describe them.  It's a feeling, but seems to be more than that.

Some of these places/moments/states of mind have been in the Adirondacks with the incredible beauty of nature in front of me, standing in Saint Peter's square at night with very few people around, and lying in bed in deep meditation.

These moments seem very much a paradox.  They feel very personal in nature, but inclusive of something much bigger than myself.  I also realize that I'm far from understanding them.

Usually I cannot predict when they will occur, but Christmas Eve seems to be one of those moments that's most consistent.  Tonight I carried my camera with me to the Christmas Eve service.  There is a moment at the end of our service that everybody moves to the outside walls of the sanctuary with candles.  The lights are turned down, so the room is only lit with candles.  We sing "Silent Night".  I had planned to take photos at that moment because it is the most beautiful to me.  This is the sacred moment that is most consistent.  Once again I felt the moment, and could not bring myself to take one photo.  I was once again caught in the moment.

Instead, I brought the bulletin and candle home and photographed this photo.  I like how the photo turned out, and think it will remind me of the moment.

I'd be interested in hearing about moments like this for you.  I also realize that they are very personal, and you may not want to share.  But if you feel moved, please do.

My wish is that all can experience these moments, and I hope everybody does.

Whatever your beliefs, and wherever you are in your journey, may you find moments to feel the sacred.  Have a joyous Holiday Season.

Lesson Learned:
  • There are moments when photography is inappropriate for me.
Photo details: Exposure time 1/2 sec, Aperture f/8.0, ISO 100, Focal Length 50 mm, 35 mm equivalent focal length 82mm, Lens Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, tripod.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Week 34, Day 244, December 23, 2009, Celebration

We had a beer at the Chapter House in Ithaca to celebrate the completion of another year at work. 

The Chapter House has a unique atmosphere.  There is a lot of graffiti, a lot of photos on the wall, free popcorn, and probably one of the biggest selections of beer on tap.

Here you can see three very different types of beers.  The beer from left to right are  a Saranac Black Forest, Hoegaarden, and Magic Hat #9.  Each has a unique look and taste.

The Gallow team also did very well in the foos ball arena.

A good time was had by all.

Lessons Learned:
  • This is probably cheating, but when I'm having a hard time with the white balance in a place I like to switch to black and white photography.  This is probably one of those bad lessons to learn because it's a short cut.  But, I do like black and white photography as well, so it helps in that arena. (Although I did play with the white balance to be able to get this photo.)
Photo details: Exposure time 1/20 sec, Aperture f/1.8, ISO 800, Focal Length 50 mm, 35 mm equivalent focal length 82mm, Lens Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, tripod. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Week 34, Day 243, December 22, 2009, Right Under the Basket

Tonight the basketball team played in a gym that has bleachers right under the baskets.  I was able to sit front and center, and use my fast 50 mm lens.  It was a great place to sit and be near the action.

I've never shot a whole baketball game with this lens.  I think it worked fairly well.  The lens isn't as fast at the autofocus as some of my more expensive lenses but it seems to do fairly well.

Lessons Learned:
  • I may try this lens more often in games. 
Photo details: Exposure time 1/320 sec, Aperture f/2.5, ISO 1600, Focal Length 50 mm, 35 mm equivalent focal length 82mm, Lens Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, handheld.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Week 34, Day 242, December 21, 2009 Rock Star Album Cover

It's silly photo time.  My daughter was given the guitar to hold onto for a few minutes.  She had some fun with it.  We now have her first album cover.  Now all she has to do is learn to play, record, and get a record deal.

Lessons Learned:
  • Silly moments can create silly photos that are fun.
Photo details: Exposure time 1/100 sec, Aperture f/1.8, ISO 1600, Focal Length 50 mm, 35 mm equivalent focal length 82mm, Lens Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, handheld. 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Week 34, Day 241, Moravian Star

Our church has a Moravian Star near the top of the pipe of our pipe organ to represent the Star of Bethlehem.   It is lit during Christmas time.

In this photo I like how the light illuminates the pipes behind it.

Lessons Learned:
  • Sometimes the photo that I end up using as the photo of the day is a photo that I didn't think I would be using.  This was one of those days.  I took some photos of the advent candles with the poinsettias behind it.  I thought that would be the photo, but when I returned home, I liked the effects of this one.
Photo details: Exposure time 1/125 sec, Aperture f/2.2, ISO 400, Focal Length 50 mm, 35 mm equivalent focal length 82mm, Lens Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, handheld.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Week 34, Day 240, Mexican Nativity Scene

Back in the late 90's I was in Tijuana Mexico.  I was walking along the typical tourist area where there were all sorts of items for sale.  Most things did not interest me, but this Nativity Scene caught my eye. 

All of the figures of the Nativity set are made out of folded paper, paint, and some sort of glue.  They have held up very well with time.  I'm amazed at how with such course details causes the imagination to create much greater details.  I think a true artist created these.  It is my favorite of all the Nativity sets that I have seen. Please Click on the Image for a larger photo to see the details.

Lessons Learned:
  • I feel guilty of taking photos of art.  I feel that the artist has created the beauty, and not my camera.  I felt that way again today, but also felt that this was something that I wanted to show you.  I hope you will enjoy.
  • Memory Cards from cameras do not do well when they are washed with the laundry.  RIP 4 gigabyte memory card.
  • In the North East in the winter we have a lot of what I call gray days.  The skies are gray, but there is no snow.  I like to photograph outside when the skies are blue, or when the skies are very dark and raining and snowing.  The gray days are the days that I have the most difficult time finding things that are interesting to photograph.
Photo details: Exposure time 6 sec, Aperture f/5,0, ISO 100, Focal Length 50 mm, 35 mm equivalent focal length 82mm, Lens Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, tripod.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Week 34, Day 239, Christmas Tree Revisted

It was another unproductive night of taking photos.  I wasn't happy with any of them.  Sometimes it's just like that.

I first tried some more Tilt-Shift simulations of a room, then I moved to outdoor photographs of the house. It's 15 degrees F right now, so it's kind of cold.  I ended with some photos of our Christmas Tree through the window.  The photo is ok, but not great.  Maybe I'll have better luck tomorrow.

Lessons Learned:
  • While photographing our house from outside, I really noticed the effect of having the lens being straight up and down vs tipped upward toward the second floor.  The effects were interesting, and each could be used in different ways.  I have read about this in the past, but just really began to notice it this evening.
Photo details: Exposure time 2 sec, Aperture f/8.0, ISO 400, Focal Length 38 mm, Lens Canon EF 17-40mm, tripod.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Week 33, Day 238, December 17, 2009, "Community Carols"

There are some neat things going on in our Village.  It seems that they are beginning to do more and more as a community.

Tonight in 5 degree F weather many members of the community gathered together to sing Christmas Carols around the Christmas Tree.  It was cold, snowing, and people had smiles on their faces.  Hot chocolate and Christmas sugar cookies were passed out while the carols were sung. 

Nice going Groton! Keep up the great work.

Lessons Learned:
  • Tonight's photos were completely manual settings.  The auto settings would cause the shutter speed to be to slow.  I worked hard to try and balance the photos to optimize the snow flacks, and the lighting on peoples faces.
Photo details: Exposure time 1/30 sec, Aperture f/2.8, ISO 1600, Focal Length 170 mm, Lens Canon 70-200mm f2.8L USM, handheld.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Week 33, Day 237, December 16, 2009, Sunset at 4:25 PM

As I left work to catch the bus, I noticed that the skies were starting to clear on the horizon, and the sun had already moved below.  The colors were vibrant.  I don't think this photo captures the beauty, but it is still pleasant to look at.

Lessons Learned:
  • I failed at several attempts at photographing a Christmas Tree from various angles. It may not sound like a lesson, but according to Edison it is. "I haven't failed, I've found 10000 ways that don't work."  I found about 50 ways that didn't work.
Photo details: Exposure time 1/25 sec, Aperture f/9.0, ISO 100, Focal Length 39 mm, Lens Canon EF 17-40mm, handheld.

Week 33, Day 236, December 15, 2009, Keeping an Eye on the Ball

You might notice that there is a pattern to the days that I haven't posted a photo recently.  On the nights of the basketball games, I take about 900 photos.  After the game it is late when I arrive home, and I usually eat my dinner after the game.  Needless to say, I don't have time to look at all the photos before bed time.  So, I wait until the next day to select a photo of the day. 

I like this shot because of the intensity of the defender looking at the ball.  I looked at a whole series of photos, and his eyes were always on the ball.

It was another great game, and a lot of fun to photograph.  The lighting was also very good.  I was able to push the shutter speed up to 250 in this gym.

Lessons Learned:
  • My lens has a switch on the side to help set the lens to the proper focal distance.  One setting is for photos under 1.5 m, and the other setting is for photos further than 1.5m.  I had the lens set for greater 1.5m, and the when the players were near me the camera would not focus correctly.  I realized it during the game and switched.
Photo details: Exposure time 1/250 sec, Aperture f/2.8, ISO 1600, Focal Length 180 mm, Lens Canon 70-200mm f2.8L USM, handheld.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Week 33, Day 235, December 14, 2009, Sometimes Simple is Better

I was meeting my wife in Cortland, NY for dinner tonight.  She finished work at 7:00 PM, so I had some time to kill.  I grabbed my camera, and decided to photograph the Christmas decorations on Main Street.   I did take some photos of the lights on the trees that line the street.

I decided to wander some of the sides streets, and came upon an old Episcopal Church.  It's a beautiful church, and had the lights turned on.  In addition it had two simple wreaths on the door.  This was the decoration that I was looking for.

Lessons Learned:
  • I'm finding that I'm learning my way around the camera in the dark.  I'm getting used to pushing the buttons without being able to read them.  I think this is the advantage of using a camera for a long time.  When I purchase my next camera, I'm going to have to use it a lot before I'm ready to take it to events that need quick settings changes.
Photo details: Exposure time 6 sec, Aperture f/7.1, ISO 100, Focal Length 17 mm, Lens Canon EF 17-40mm, tripod.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Week 33, Day 234, December 13, 2009 Memory Icons

We decorated our Christmas Tree today.  My wife always asks me to put a lot of lights on the tree, and every year I have failed.  I think I finally succeeded this year, and put all of our lights on the tree.  We had to purchase more lights to be able to finish the tree.  She was right, more lights is much more interesting.

After the lights, we begin decorating the tree.  Each ornament brings back a flood of memories.  I think especially this year now that two of our children are no longer living at home.

When I was younger, and the children would bring home hand made decorations from school we would put them on the tree.  I always thought that some day in the future we would them out, and just put up our most artistically pleasing ornaments.  Today those hand made ornaments mean more to me then any of the expensive purchased items.  They contain something much bigger.  They contain the wonderful memories of Christmas that they made them.

What are some of your favorite holiday decorations?

Lessons Learned:
  • Our house is very old, and every movement causes all of the decorations to move.  This shot was difficult to get a clear shot.  Lighting and White Balance is also tricky.  I tried all sorts of settings.  I was able to manipulate the White Balance so the reindeer and the trees look good, but the lights are now too blue.
 Photo details: Exposure time 1/10 sec, Aperture f/1.8, ISO 100, Focal Length 50 mm, 35 mm equivalent focal length 82mm, Lens Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, tripod.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Week 33, Day 233, December 12, 2009, "More Basketball"

I end up taking a lot of good photos of this basketball player.  He's the only player that I know that can change directions in mid air.  (Ok maybe that's an exaggeration.)  He always has interesting moves for photography.

Today was also my first Exhibit in a local gallery.  A lot of friends and family showed up for the event.  I had a lot of fun talking about photography, and catching up with people.  Thank you all who came out for the event. 

Lessons Learned:
  • I learned in a new way that some people like some of my work.  This was the first time that I have attempted to sell any of my work. I was surprised by how much people bought, and I really appreciated comments that people made.  Although it's not a new photography lesson, it has inspired me to do even more.  Thank you for the inspiration.  I found the support overwhelming.
Photo details: Exposure time 1/200 sec, Aperture f/2.8, ISO 1600, Focal Length 90 mm, 35 mm equivalent focal length 146mm, Lens Canon 70-200mm f2.8L USM, handheld.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Week 33, Day 232, December 11, 2009 Ribbons

It was VERY cold today.  Right now it's 13 degrees.  We have our pellet stove cranking out the heat to try and stay warm. 

My wife has the Christmas wrapping paper and ribbons out, and is busily wrapping the Christmas gifts.  I on the other hand will probably wait until Christmas eve before I get to the wrapping.

While looking around for things to photograph, the box of ribbons caught my eye.  I like the loops, the bright colors, and the reflections off of the shiny surfaces.  I do enjoy Christmas, and having some time off from work to spend with the family.  It should be a great time.

Lessons Learned:
  •  Tomorrow is my first "Opening at a Local Gallery".  When I started this project, it was just photography.  As my skills increased, I could get a better photo in a shorter time.  Now I'm learning new skills with printing, matting, framing...  There's a lot to all of this.  The lesson learned is that I don't always have as much time to concentrate on the taking of the photos, but I'm still very involved with photography.  I have to be sure to keep the right balance.
  • It was very cold today.  I did notice some cool frozen water falls, and trees.  I didn't stop and take photographs.  Part of it was the time commitment, the other part was I didn't want to stand outside in the cold to take the photographs.  I must overcome that second part.  I think there's some great opportunities in the cold of winter.
Photo details: Exposure time 13 sec, Aperture f/8.0, ISO 100, Focal Length 32 mm, Lens Canon EF 17-40mm, tripod. 

Week 32, Day 231, December 10, 2009, Power Through It.

After a fantastic football season, my son's basketball team is looking good.  Their record is currently 3-0.  I hope they continue to play well.  They have a large team with a lot of good players.  It should be a great season.

In this photo my son powers through to score 2 points.  You can probably tell that I'm kind of proud of him.

Lessons Learned:
  • For this night of shooting I just set my camera on manual, set the aperture to it's widest setting (f2.8), set the ISO to the highest setting (1600), and the shutter speed to either 1/200 or 1/250 sec.  Although the photos are underexposed, I was able to capture the photos better.
Photo details: Exposure time 1/200 sec, Aperture f/2.8, ISO 1600, Focal Length 105 mm, 35 mm equivalent focal length 171mm, Lens Canon 70-200mm f2.8L USM, handheld.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Week 32, Day 230, December 9, 2009, Mystery Photo

My creativity is running low tonight, so I decided for a "Mystery Photo Night". 

Can you guess what this is?  Post your guess in the comments.  Kari, don't answer because I know you know.  If nobody guesses by tomorrow evening, Kari will reveal the answer. (or I will if she is working, and can't get to a computer)

I look forward to hearing your answers.

Lessons Learned:
  • Creativity comes and goes.  Tonight it was gone.
No photo details because that may depict a scale.

Week 32, Day 229, December 8, 2009, Two Points

It was a late night last night, so I didn't have a chance to go through the photos to pick the one that I liked the best.  So, here is yesterday's photo.

To me this photo has a sense of movement, and action.  I also like how the ball is resting on the shooters single right hand. I like the results. 

In last nights photos I spent some more time watching how the basketball players dribbled the ball.  I would then try to capture the moment when they took off, or switched directions while dribbling.  I only caught a couple of them well, but I think I'll concentrate on them in tomorrow nights game.

Lessons Learned:
  • Waiting for the proper moment to take the photo is tricky.  I tend to wait to long.  I'm learning to try and take the photo a little sooner.
Photo details: Exposure time 1/160 sec, Aperture f/2.8, ISO 1600, Focal Length 105 mm, 35 mm equivalent focal length 171mm, Lens Canon 70-200mm f2.8L USM, handheld.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Week 32, Day 228, December 7, 2009, "More Decorations"

There are probably as many types of Christmas decorations as there are people who decorate for Christmas or other holidays.  Some people have huge blow up Santas, Reindeer, and various cartoon characters dressed as Santa.  Some have lights on every conceivable location similar to Clark Griswald  from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  Others stick to religious "light up" nativity scenes.  Now is your time of year to display your tastes in your front lawn.

This house belongs to our neighbors.  They have the type of decorations that if I had enough ambition, I would emulate.  I like their taste.  First I like white lights.  To me they seem classy.  (I did get a chuckle out of a friends message on facebook the other day.  She has little children, and she said she lost the battle and has to put up colored lights.)  Second, these neighbors don't overdo the lighting.  They have just the right amount of lights on the trees out front, and a flood light shining on their front door with a simple wreath, and a wooden sled with a red ribbon on it next to the door.  Well done Murry's, and thank you for letting me photograph your house.

Lessons Learned:
  • I'm finding that many times after I've taken photographs, and bring them back to my computer I want to change some things.  
    • In this case, I want to put a blind on this side of the flood light.  The one bush on the left is a little two green where the flood light spills.  
    • I really like this angle for the photo, but the wooden sled is behind the large tree in the middle.  I would like to move the sled for this photo to the other side of the door, so that it can be seen.
    • I want to try and take this photo when it is a little lighter, but snowing hard.  I want to capture the snow flakes in the air.  This will require a faster shutter speed.  I won't be able to use a faster shutter speed unless it's a little lighter.  
Perhaps the Murray's will be kind, and allow me to take the photo if those opportunities present themselves.  I'll be watching.  Thank you Murray's for sharing your beautiful decorations with the world.

Weekly Winner in online viewer poll.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Week 32, Day 227, December 6, 2009, One Hawk, Two Hawk

As I was driving to a friend's house I noticed a red tailed hawk in a tree.  I stopped to take a photo, and the hawk immediately flew to another tree with another red tailed hawk.  Very seldom do I see two red tailed hawks in the same tree.

When I was young there were very few hawks in this area.  I guess the DDT killed off many of them.  We did have a couple of red tailed hawks in our woods behind our house.  Because they were rare at that time, some people from Syracuse University came by to study them.  Even though there are many more red tailed hawks now, I still feel awe in watching them.

Lessons Learned:
  • I only had a few moments of photography with these two.  I wish I had my polarizer filter on my camera, but I didn't.  I figured it would be better to get a few photos before the left, then no photos at all. 
Photo details: Exposure time 1/500 sec, Aperture f/7.1, ISO 100, Focal Length 200 mm, Lens Canon 70-200mm f2.8L USM, tripod.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Week 32, Day 226, December 5, 2009, Groton Christmas Tree

Ever since I can remember our town has had a fake Christmas Tree on the hill above the village.  It's actually not even a tree.  It is strings of blue lights running from the top of a telephone pole to the ground.  On top of the telephone pole is speakers for the village's chimes.  These chimes/lights/tree sit on top of the hill above the village, so the tree can be seen from just about all parts of the village, and many parts of the surrounding town.
One year somebody destroyed many of the bulbs on the strings, and the village could not afford to replace them.  A decision was made not to display them that year.  Several of the local businesses and people in the town felt it was an important part of our community, and donated money to replace the lights.  I have to agree.  I've never seen anything quite like our fake tree. 

Lessons Learned:
  • Holiday decorations make great photo opportunities.
  • Things that are unique in an area make great photo opportunities.
  • At one time, I would have thought of these lights as kind of strange.  Today they bring back a lot of good memories, and are part of a pretty special community.
Photo details: Exposure time 2.5 sec, Aperture f/5.0, ISO 100, Focal Length 155 mm, 35 mm equivalent focal length 252mm, Lens Canon 70-200mm f2.8L USM, tripod, some photo manipulation to remove the reflection of the blue lights off of some of the trees behind the tree.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Week 32, Day 225, December 4, 2009, "The First Basketball Game of the Season"

This is the best action shot that I got this evening was during the Junior Varsity Game.  I don't remember the results of this play.

I had a few challenges tonight when I was taking photographs at the basketball game. I'll talk about them in my lessons learned section.

Lessson Learned:
  • In the past I've always used one of the preset settings for the White Balance.  Tonight I adjusted it manually until it looked about right to my eye.  I don't have a white board, or a grey board to shoot to set the white balance.  The manual setting seemed to work quite well.  I was happy with the results.
  • The Auto Focus Mode was set to single shot instead of servo when I first started shooting.  Many of my photos were blurry because of it.  I did realize it part way through the second game, and reset it to Servo.
  • Tonight I set the ISO to 1600 (highest setting), the Aperture to f2.8, and the shutter speed to 1/200.  I think it worked fairly well for most of the shots in this gym.

Photo details: Exposure time 1/200 sec, Aperture f/2.8, ISO 1600, Focal Length 110 mm, 35 mm equivalent focal length 269mm (picasa calculation), Lens Canon 70-200mm f2.8L USM, handheld.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Week 31, Day 224, December 3, 2009, In Case of Emergency

Tonight was the second monthly meeting of the Groton Photo Club.  We began by a discussion about night time shooting, and then proceeded to walk through the town taking photographs.  It's a great time of year because many of the Christmas decorations are up.  I think that people in town must wonder what's going on as about 15 people were walking down Main Street taking photos at 8:00 PM at night.  (Our Main Street is very small, it's about a 1/2 mile long with no traffic lights.)

As I was walking along I spotted this old fire alarm on the side of the Fire Station.  The lighting, colors, and shadows caught my eye.  I stopped and took a few photographs.  I think I might return here some day, and try some more.

Lessons Learned:
  • I think that I have more of a difficult time figuring out point and shoot cameras than I do SLR.  Several people in the club had point and shoot, and I had a difficult time figuring out what the different settings do.  We're encouraging people to bring their owner's manuals for next time.
  • Once again I made the mistake of setting an ISO of 1600 for one photo, and forgetting to turn it back when I had the tripod.  I think the newer cameras are better at this in that they display the ISO on the LCD.  Mine doesn't.  grrrrr.
Photo details: Exposure time 1/60 sec, Aperture f/1.8, ISO 800, Focal Length 50 mm, 35 mm equivalent focal length 82mm, Lens Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, hand held.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Week 31, Day 223, December 2, 2009, "It's Basketball Season"

Now that football is over, basketball season has begun.  Today there was a scrimmage. 

The scrimmage gave me an opportunity to practice my skills.  Each sport requires similar but different skills to photograph.  Some of the biggest challenges in basketball are lighting, and white balance.  Each gym is different, and so is the lighting.  I tend to use the highest ISO setting of my camera so that I can get the shutter speeds fast enough to capture the action.  I also have to use a wide aperture.  But this narrows my depth of field so it's more difficult to focus.  It all becomes a game of trade offs.

In this photo I tired my 50mm lens.  I can set the fstop to 1.8 which helps with the shutter speed.  This shot is far from perfect because of the blur.  With my equipment, I haven't been able to take perfect photos in the middle of the game.  But, I'll keep trying. 

Because it was a scrimmage, I was a little bolder, and sat against the wall behind the basket for this shot.  The referee joked about how he hoped he didn't get in my way.  I asked if it was ok to be there, and he said I was fine.  whew!!

Lessons Learned:
  • I'm finding that I can be a little bolder in my set ups for photographs.  I have to be careful not to step over the line.
  • I think the 50mm lens has some potential in basketball shooting.  (As long as I can get close enough to the action.)
Photo details: Exposure time 1/200 sec, Aperture f/2.2, ISO 1600, Focal Length 50 mm, 35 mm equivalent focal length 81mm, Lens Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, hand held.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Week 31, Day 222, December 1, 2009, "Getting Ready for the Show"

I have some exciting news.  On December 12, 2009 from 2:00-5:00 PM. there is going to be an opening at the Thou Art Gallery in Groton, and Nancy is going to be showing some of my work.

Nancy's a great person who has encouraged me to show some of my work. 

I'm not a great salesperson, so I'm just going to say it.  These items will be for sale, including note cards, photograph, and calendars.

If you're in the area please stop by.  It's a really cool shop with lots of local artist work.  Everytime I go into the shop it looks different with new items, and Nancy's a lot of fun to talk with.  She knows a lot about local artists, and has fantastic work of her own.

Lessons Learned:
  • It can be fun to stage a shot.
  • I've continued to play with the Tilt-Shift photography that I mentioned yesterday.  I posted one on my other blog.  It's a photo that I took when we were in Rome in 2005, so I couldn't use it as a photo-of-the-day.  I learned about what types of photos work, and what types of photos don't work for this technique.
  • It's really hard to stand still for 4 seconds.
Photo details: Exposure time 4 sec, Aperture f/9.0, ISO 100, Focal Length 17 mm, 35 mm equivalent focal length 29mm, Lens Canon EF 17-40mm, tripod.