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Red Gate

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Near Dade City, FL
One of the few places in Florida that has hills, and elevation is actually above 150 ft!! Lots of oak trees, and horse stables. Neat Area.
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Charge Ahead

I can hardly keep up with this high energy Jack Russell terrier, especially a puppy.
Nikon D80 with the 80-200mm lens.
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Nikon 35mm Portrait Attempt

Available Light Portrait of our friend Ivana.
Shot with Nikon D80 manual setting
1/20 exposure
ISO 640
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Follow My Lead

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

From Flagler Beach, FL.

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Small Water Fall - Oak Creek

Saturday, December 12, 2009

both were shot with Pentax DL, kit lens at f32, exposure time, 3 seconds.

I am always surprised by the performance of the DL camera/kit lens combo.

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More from Devils Bridge

Sandstone mount across from the bridge.

Sandstone steps

From the top of the bridge.

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Iowa bound - part 2

Made it to the hotel, Sheraton, downtown Iowa City.
Monday night, snow storm has not reached Iowa yet.

Tuesday Morning, here we go, it's here. Good thing for shuttle service to the university, I didn't have to drive in the icy condition.

Temperature didn't go above 20 during the day, and hovered around 1 degree at night. The streets are covered with ice. I stayed in the hotel as much as I can, :), especially my good winter coat was stolen during my last trip to Troy, Michigan.
Students from the university had a big snow ball fight, trying to beat the record set by University of Wisconsin at Madison. I don't know if the Hawkeyes were successful with their record breaking attempt, but they were brave to hang out in the freezing temperature, and the wind chill brought on by the high wind accompanying the snow.

Well lit alley way. Downtown Iowa City.
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Iowa bound - part 1

Business trip to Iowa City last week, I wasn't sure if I can even get out of Flagstaff. Good thing I had arranged for my flight to depart in Phoenix. A little trecherous on the highway, but not too many cars in the ditch yet.
At 7000 feet elevation, snowing pretty good. Already had about 6 inches of snow by our house, where's the snow plower?

Down to 4,000 ft elevation, now it's just raining, but low cloud creates another hazadous driving condition.

Made it to Phoenix! Green grass, palm tree, but temperature is mid-40s.

No delay, whew. 3 hours to go to O'Hare.

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Vultee Arch

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Further down the same forest road (Dry Creek Rd), will take you to more trail heads, one of which will lead you to another arch. It's called Vultee arch, in memorial of 2 aviation pioneers that died in a plane crash around this area, in 1938. The trail is about 1 3/4 miles in length, fairly easy hike.

I think there's another trail that will let you go up to the arch, but we were pretty tired after hitting 2 trails.

It looks a little too symmetrical from a distance.
Looking back towards direction of the trail head. It was mid 40s and cloudy, so the sky is a little over exposed.
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Birding with new lens.

I just purchased an Olympus 70-300 lens for the extra reach, which is equivalent to 140 - 600mm on the Olympus bodies. Nice. So far, it's just as what other people have reported, nice, sharp lens, but hunts a great deal when light condition is less than optimal, and it's not really for action shots, unless you want to go with pre-focus, or even manual focus. I bought this lens, hoping that my wife will be more interested in photography. I hope it doesn't discourage her with the slowness with action shots.
Eastern Blue bird - I wasn't sure how well the lens will do with this shot. There's a lot of distraction around the bird. But the camera locked the focus on the bird really well. I was about 15 feet from the bird, and I didn't want to get any closer, as they are fairly skittish. Picture above was not cropped.

Canadian Geese - in flight. I wasn't sure who well this camera locks on to focus with them in flight, but it did a pretty good job with it. I did notice a red tail hawk in the distance, no, it wasn't chasing the geese, it was heading in another direction. Uncropped. I don't recall distance, maybe a hundred feet or more away.

Black headed Junco, I think the correct name is Dark Eyed Junco - I don't see much of these guys in the Summer months, only the gray headed ones, with a splash of orange on the body. I am not sure if the color changes for Winter time or not, but they are my favorite year round birds in this area. I like the way they claw around the ground looking for seeds, occassional jumps on the feeder for a quick peck at seeds. Although they should be all over U.S., I don't recall ever seeing them while I lived in Florida. Uncropped, about 25 feet away. I had to crank up the iso, so noise is a little high.

Mountain Chickadee - Usually this bird hangs on the side of our ponderosa pine, and picking out insects and stuff. This time it was on the feeder stuffing itself. It is getting colder, maybe it's not that easy to find insects any more. About 25 feet away, uncropped.

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Along the trail

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bark of an aligator juniper.

Bark from another type of juniper. A little like sycamore pattern.

This is from another juniper. A lot of juniper along the trail.

Pine seedling.

Lots of birds along the way, we also saw a coyote, but I wasn't fast enough to get a shot of him/her.
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Devil's Bridge

Devil's Bridge. This is a moderate hike, but it does take you to a pretty neat looking arch at the end. The hardest part is getting close to the trail head in your car. Many people just parked their car and walk the 2 mile distance to get to the trail head, then hike up to the arch/bridge. You need a high clearance vehicle to get on this forest road, there're a couple of places that I thought our Honda Pilot would have a problem. We did see a couple of cars made it all the way to the end of the forest road, but I wouldn't recommend it. I think they were rentals, :).
From the bottom looking up.

I only brought my 35mm f1.8 Nikon lens, so it's not a wide angle lens to shoot this arch, but this one turned out ok.

My wife being brave, I stayed clear from the middle of the bridge.

This one shows the scale of the arch. Some people posed for me.
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Food Photo in Natural Light

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Practicing food photo, I avoided using flash this time, just utilized available light. It's a cloudy, snowy day, but there's enough light from the reflection of the snow coming through the window.
Prop - raw bokchoy, sushi dish, cutting board, granite tile, Santoku knife, few sage leaves, all sitting on our breakfast table, which is made out of recycled wine barrels.

E500 with kit lens 42mm at f5.6
First attempt - I placed the bokchoy on the granite tile, but way too much reflection, I can't control it too well. That's out.

E500 with kit lens 42mm at f5.6
Bokchoy on the sushi dish, looks better than the granite tile. But this shot's way too boring. Nothing in the background, the table top is out of focus, but its not enough interest.

E500 at 42mm at f5.6
I placed the cutting board behind the main subject, and it doesn't look too bad this way, I may crop out some of the foreground space.

E500 at 42mm at f5.6
Placed the cutting board in front, but the sushi dish is a little obscure, and knife is hidden.

D70 with 35mm at f1.8.
I like this shot a little better, but I don't know if the bokchoy should be in focus or the knife. The sushi dish is easy to see in the background, and well out of focus, just as I like it. Now I am looking at this shot, I wish I had tilt the cutting board a little, so the grain would be more of a diagonal, just to see if there's a difference.

My biggest problem was composition, placement of my props is hardware than I thought. The other issue for me was the details. This time, at least I cleaned up the table surface before I start to shoot, but that's something I typically would overlook. But I should have seen that the dish was hidden from view when I have the cutting board in front. When I was looking through the view finder, I was too busy seeing what's in focus, rather than seeing the whole picture, there was plenty of time, I should've taken my time.

here's the site that inspired me for today's exercise: Mitong. It's in Chinese, but the pictures are really nice.
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