The photographic explorations of a former film student.

Posts tagged “holiday

Fireworks and Luck

Photographing fireworks isn’t considered serious photography. The main ingredient is luck. The rest is pretty simple: low ISO, bulb setting on the shutter, and tripod. In college, they told us it was one of those things we did in high school because we thought it was cool. Well, dumb or no, I still think it’s cool enough to attempt it once a year. After all, I’m going to the show anyway. Might as well try my hand at photographing it. Here’s the luck I had this year:

Next Time: Car Show

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Annual Valentine Encouragement

Because this was a long week for me, and because I realized this will be my last post before Valentine’s day, no dictionaries this week.

Back when I was in college, my roommates would get flowers from their boyfriends for various occasions. I didn’t have a boyfriend (which I’m not sad about, because it was the right thing for me), so I would photograph their flowers.

Rose

It was good fun at times, especially when no one else was around and I could turn out the lights and experiment with LED flashlights.

FlashlightFloral

While we’re on the subject of boyfriends just a week from Valentine’s Day, I’m going to say it (like I have for the past couple of years): single people, please don’t let Valentine’s Day get you down. Not having a significant other doesn’t mean you can’t observe the holiday. Love comes in many varieties. Romantic isn’t the only one. So take some time to let your friends and family know how much they mean to you. Call, write, send a card, or make plans to meet for coffee. Observe the day as a celebration of the love you do have. Happy Valentine’s Day!


Belated Happy 4th of July

I just barely squished a trip to the fireworks into my 4th of July weekend. Since it was quite possible that my schedule for the next month or more would be tighter than usual, I decided to wait and post them as a regular post rather than a special 4th of July edition that weekend.

When it comes to photographing fireworks, just like many things in life, there is more than one school of thought. The way I originally learned involves very long shutter speeds where the light is entirely in trails. This allows me to have all the colors produced and include several bursts in one shot at the small town show I attend. The other method is to use a much shorter shutter speed and capture a lot of the sparkle we know fireworks for. This makes timing trickier. It also makes it more difficult to get multiple blasts in frame at smaller shows that are more likely to send one up at a time. Personally, I also tend to capture more smoke when I have shorter shots with a higher ISO. But sparkle is part of the fireworks, so this year, I experimented with getting a few of the blasts cut short a bit so I’d have some more.

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Next Time: Change and Archive

Well, it’s happening. I’m going to be rather occupied with other matters for the next month. A necessary pain to accomplish a much desired end. I will probably post some archive material that I’ve shot in the past few years and never posted. Who knows, I may even go back to college stuff. Anyway, squirrels will most likely figure in the mix somewhere. Maybe I’ll post my college photo contest finalist shot too.


Valentine Flowers

A bit of a late Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you. This is the time of year I really start wanting it to be Spring. It is also the time of year you can easily purchase a floral bouquet. Last week, I purchased a single rose and some “pompoms” at a local supermarket. I’m pretty sure “pompom” is just florist for big showy mum. Anyway, I set up the light and some backgrounds and pulled out the macro lens.

This was my pinkish rose. Lovely while she lasted.

BacklitRose

Twirly in the center and a beautiful hue.

ECURose

I stuck one of my old rings in it in honor of Valentine’s Day. There is nothing like a macro lens to show you how cheep your costume jewelry is. I spent some time retouching this one, and I’m about to swear I will never shoot it again. Nonetheless, it does look kind of romantic.

RingInRose

A little less seasonal, here is the “pompom”. This was more fun with the macro lens than the rose. I loved the long, spiky petals in the center.

LgPurpleMum

Kind of off topic, but I wanted to say I know this can be a tough day for single people. Personally, I think our culture is a little overboard when it comes to celebrating romantic love. There are other kinds of love and relationships in most people’s lives that are worth remembering and celebrating on this day. So if you can this weekend, take a few minutes to call or message a friend or relative and let them know you love them. And remember, the chocolate goes on sale tomorrow.

 

 


Kitty Under the Christmas Tree

Yes, that’s right under, not in. Being owners of an artificial Christmas tree, my family is fortunate enough to have a tree whose branches bend to the floor under the weight of a typical household feline. The cats are both resigned to this, but they do enjoy sitting beneath the branches and admiring the beauty. It’s quiet back there too.

This year, I thought I’d try to get a photo. Flash simply would not do, and dear Jen is a dark cat, so I turned on the brighter lights in the room and pulled out my tripod. Jen was a little bothered by the autofocus in the first shot. I also thought it wasn’t close enough.

JenVertical

I moved in, switched to horizontal, and used live view to focus. Fortunately, Jen was pretty still. It was brighter than I wanted the final shot to be, but I decided to take it down in post rather than risk getting Jen noisy or loosing detail in her fur.

JenHorizontal

Merry Christmas!


The End of Fall: Leaves in the Water

It’s been cold lately. Cold enough that I wanted to go check out the ice formation in a nearby park. I remembered that the ice on the stream winding through this park formed in all sorts of interesting patterns several years ago. Unfortunately, it hasn’t really formed yet this year. Instead, an array of fallen leaves and semi-frozen water presented me with other photographic possibilities. With nature and other things in life, there are times I have to find the best in what is there, even when it’s not what I was hoping for. What there is can be just as good.

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This applies more to US readers because we celebrate Thanksgiving here on Thursday, but I wanted to take a moment to remind us all to be thankful. I worry that we are losing a valuable holiday to consumerism. Thankfulness and reflecting on the good we have in life is healthy. Right now, I am thankful for nature, creativity, the ability to express myself through photography and language, the internet, the ability to easily communicate with people from all over the country and the world, and a holiday to spend with family.
What are you thankful for this week? Please share in the comments.


What do You See in Fireworks?

Last week, most Americans spent the evening watching fireworks in one way or another. Most marvel at the colorful bursts that appear and vanish before our eyes. Some of us have a different perspective. Why? We photograph fireworks and therefore become concerned with how the camera records what is constantly blooming and fading before us. When we press the shutter release, we never quite know what we’re going to get.

When I go to a fireworks show, set up my camera on a tripod and wait for the first blasts. After that, I typically pick my final location. Sure I guess when I first arrive, but there’s no way to tell for certain where I need to be untill I see some action. After the adjustments I begin to think about what I’m shooting. Do I want the trails from the launch in this? Maybe I should try to press the button a bit later and get less trail? How much should I let the fireworks drift away? Would a sharper approach give more sparkle? How many blast should I hold the button down for?

It’s hard to guess what to do. Experience helps, but chance is still a major factor in getting a good shot instead of this tropical paradise of chaos, or something worse.

 

 

For this one, I’m thinking Mexican fiesta for some odd reason.

 

 

Pressing the shutter release just as the fireworks are launched can record a long trail and may result in a flower-like effect.

 

 

 

This combination looks like some weird amoeboid life form or jellyfish.

 

 

Ones that come up from the ground in continual streams offer some more predictable possibilities.

 

 

Sometimes, I can get a nice patriotic grouping.

 

 

Others just come out pretty.

 

 

 

 

I’m saying goodbye to real fireworks untill next year, but for now I have my unique impressions to enjoy. What do you see when you look at fireworks?

 

Next Week: Old Playground Equipment  OR Adventures in Stock Photography Part I

I had a brief abstract look at some old playground equipment today, so that might inspire my next post. Otherwise, I may do an informative post on my experience with stock photography so far. I don’t have much information yet, and I’ve not made any money to date, but I can at least share my story and some things I wish I had known from the start (about 3-4 weeks ago?).