Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Break (part 1)

Erin and I took a week long vacation at the beginning of April. It was Erin's spring break (Spring Break! WOOOO!), so we decided to take a trip to Charleston, SC to see my dad and some of the rest of my family. We also decided to take a side trip to Jekyll Island, GA for 2 days. We managed to fit in a fair amount of activities during our trip, (and way too many photographs) so I'm going to split this into a few entries.

Day 1 was a trip to Summerville, SC to see my cousin pitch for her high school softball team. It was a tournament, and we missed the first 2 or 3 games they played, including the one she started, so it was looking like we weren't going to actually get to see her pitch. But she got in for the last few innings of the game we did see. And her team won, so I guess Erin and I were good luck. Yay! Anyway, I took some pictures, but didn't feel like she particularly loved them so I won't post any.

After the softball game, we headed over to Azalea Park, which turned out to be a great decision. The azaleas were in full bloom, and we got there just in time for some great light.

Photobombed by a spider!

I love the dark background on this one. Almost like I did it on purpose...


Clich├ęd walkway picture


The golden light I wish I always had

The more pictures I take, the more I realize I'm really interested in texture. That makes me want to get a macro lens. :sigh: Photography is turning out to be a very costly hobby!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Photo Scanning

Who needs Instagram?
I recently decided to undertake a long-term project of digitally archiving some old family photos. First up on the list are pictures from my parents' wedding and honeymoon. This all came about because my dad was trying to clear out some clutter, and he was showing me some old photographs asking if I wanted any of them. There were several that were very interesting to me, and I decided it would be a good idea to try to get them digitized since some are showing signs of their age. I'm hoping to get everything scanned eventually, though it's a large undertaking.

To get started I did some research on scanners. The Canon 9000F Mark II seemed to have pretty good reviews, so I settled on it. It can scan both prints and negatives. I haven't gotten a chance to try any negatives yet, but so far I'm quite pleased with the results of print scans. It's also fast compared to the all in one scanners I'm used to.

So my plan is to post here periodically with updates, some before/after postprocessing comparisons and maybe eventually I'll post some pictures from the vacation to South Carolina and Georgia Erin and I took a couple weeks ago.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Star Trails!

My first attempt at a star trail picture
I'm very pleased with this end product. It wasn't terribly difficult to produce either.

Erin sent me the guide here a while back: http://www.jamesvernacotola.com/Resources/How-To-Photograph-Star-Trails. It's a great introduction to what it takes to shoot a star trail. I've had it in the back of my mind that this is something I'd like to try and tonight presented a decent opportunity. I had originally set out to photograph the (waxing) crescent moon. I failed miserably there, but the star trails are a nice consolation I think.

Equipment used:

  • Canon EOS 6d camera
  • Canon 24-105 f4 lens
  • Cheap tripod
  • Vello Wireless ShutterBoss

Here's what I did:

  1. Setup the camera on the tripod
  2. Framed my shot
  3. Fired off a few test shots to try to get the exposure reasonable. I had to balance a pretty bright neighborhood with still trying to get a significant number of stars showing up. Luckily I managed to hide the worst offender (a street light) behind the tree. I finally settled on 24mm, f5.6, 30s, ISO 400.
  4. Set the camera to bulb mode, with the settings I settled on above dialed in.
  5. Set the intervalometer to continuously fire off 30s frames. I ended up with 120 frames, exactly 1 hour's worth.
  6. Load all the frames into Lightroom. I adjusted the white balance, cropped out the little bit of my house that I had in the top right corner (oops) and darkened the overall scene by 1 stop of exposure (the houses and tree were much too bright. I then synced those to all of the frames.
  7. Exported the frames and loaded them into Startrails.
  8. Made the star trails image using Lighten-Screen-Blend mode.
  9. Then made a time lapse video. I tried to set the resolution higher, but it just caused Startrails to crash, so I settled on 480 pixels wide. The default setting was for 15 frames per second, but I think that's a bit too fast for just 120 frames. I ended up using 5fps for the video below.

Around the 8 second mark, you can see where Erin and I were playing with the green laser pointer.