Archive for July, 2005

Snake Attack!

Sunday, July 31st, 2005

I was attacked by a snake out at Scottish Woods today. ‘Attacked’ might be too strong a word. It was more sort of him trying to hide under a rock while I laid next to it waiting for him to come up for air so I could snap his picture. Some anonymous guy pointed him out to me (thanks anonymous guy!), but I was only able to get two pictures that were even halfway decent. They’re in the newest gallery, at the end. There’s also some pics from downtown, a picture of a soft shell turtle that was one of many that this guy with a facemask and snorkel caught by hand (I gotta try that next time I’m out there). Some stuff from downtown, too. I’m starting to wonder if my camera’s fucked up, as some shots that I know were in focus in the viewfinder didn’t end up that way, and there is some vignetting at the corners at full telephoto. I’ll have to have it looked at or something. :(

Some random pics from lately…

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005

I gathered together some of the better of the sorry lot from lately and posted them here. Some of them are kind of interesting, I suppose.

*Yawn* it’s been a while

Tuesday, July 26th, 2005

I know it’s been almost three weeks since I posted anything to mah beloved blog here. I haven’t stopped taking pictures, I’ve just been concentrating mostly on technical stuff that mostly isn’t worth posting, and in my attempts to keep pushing at what I can do, have generally had a lot more failures than success lately. I will post some stuff of the stuff later, if not tonight then tomorrow or something.

Things I’ve learned:

  1. Always check your settings before you take a picture, if it’s been more than 5 seconds since you took the last one. Is focus manual or auto? What’s the white balance setting? Exposure compensation–where’s that at? Is macro mode on? What’s the ISO setting? Am I in manual, aperature, shutter, program mode? What’s my aperature/shutter set to?

    Failure to ask these questions has bitten me in the rear more than any single other issue, as I’ve set something to get a particular shot and not cleared it later.

  2. For buildings, get as far away as possible, unless you’re doing some crazy close-up. For everything else, the opposite applies.
  3. Shoot in RAW mode if you can. If you don’t blow out any pixels or leave any completely dark, this gives you four times the latitude (on my E-10; it’s more like 16-256 times on a badass camera) to lighten or darken a shot to compensate for exposure errors.
  4. Composition is really important, particularly with a low-pixel-count camera like mine. You can’t crop out much and still get a decent (200+, 300 DPI preferably) print at any reasonable size.
  5. If you’re shooting a panorama, don’t forget to set for manual exposure and a fixed white balance. Otherwise your stuff won’t stitch together for crap.
  6. Never try to use autofocus in the dark. If you’re shooting buildings at night, just focus at infinity.
  7. The little LCDs on cameras are never enough to tell if your picture was in focus, unless you zoom way in. It’s better to just shoot a whole lot, and review when you get home. If I were a professional, I’d take one of those portable hard drive/display thingies with me so I could do it on the fly.
  8. If you’re shooting macro, it’s generally important to make sure that the frontmost part of your subject is the most focused (see my albino squirrel pics in this gallery for proof through adversity). This is often difficult to tell by static focusing through the viewfinder. A good strategy in this case is to set the focus all the way in (or to a point where part of the subject is in focus, if you can’t get close enough), and then move the camera further away. The dynamic change in focus is easier to detect. This may not apply to cameras with a better manual focus mechanism than mine.
  9. When shooting macro, if you can’t review to make sure that enough of your subject is in focus, shoot several arperatures deeper to make sure you get one that is, or shorten the telephoto, or move further away. The last two will likely require some cropping, and the first sometimes requires a cable release.
  10. Cable releases make life easier in many, many situations, especially when there’s not a lot of light. It’s my next purchase.
  11. If you’re stuck with crappy on-camera flash, rig some kind of reflector up to send it off the ceiling or a wall, if there is one to bounce it off off. Reflectors are cool for fill light outside during the day, as well.
  12. Polarizers are very cool, in that they can fix your exposure and eliminate glare and reflections. The only important thing to remember is that not every picture looks better with glare and, particularly, reflections removed.
  13. If you’ve got consistent light and a white card, setting a custom white balance will generally give you the best results. If you can’t set a custom white balance, use a preset if the light’s consistent.
  14. You will never be happy with the camera that you have.

4th of July Fireworks pics

Thursday, July 7th, 2005

I took some pictures of teh fireworks from Zilker park on the 4th. The didn’t come out great, but, considering it was my first time, a couple of ‘em aren’t too bad.

Check out this lightning picture I took earlier…

Thursday, July 7th, 2005

It’s just a picture of lightning. Not cool enough to put in a gallery, but moderately cool to look at.

The Man With the Screaming Brain

Thursday, July 7th, 2005

I went to an exclusive Austin engagement of the new Bruce Campbell movie, The Man With the Screaming Brain. He wrote, directed, and starred in it, and was on hand to sign my copy of Make Love The Bruce Campbell Way. He also gave a hilarious Q&A about the movie and the current state of his career. The movie was shot for “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in Bulgaria, where he had to feed packs of wild dogs outside of his production house every morning to clear the way for the cast and crew.

He also mentioned that his next project was a movie for Dark Horse (straight to DVD) about a town with monster problems. The townsfolk decide that what they need is the guy from the Evil Dead movies. Of course, they go and get him only to discover that he’s an actor, not a chainsaw-wielding maniac, and, presumably, hilarity ensues.

Flowers. Yep, more flowers. Also some geese, and a bunch of other stuff.

Sunday, July 3rd, 2005

Today I took the E-10 down the hike and bike trail around Town Lake, to Zilker and the Botanical Gardens. Man, that place is hard to take pictures of, at least the bits in the Japanese gardens. The problem is that you’ve got a really high dynamic range–white rocks sitting in the sun, right next to shady bits with hardly any light at all.Still, I got some pretty good pictures.

A lot of the pictures are of flowers. Flowers and bees. I feel kind of bad taking so many picture of flowers, because it’s kind of cheating–it’s hard to take an ugly picture of a flower, and pretty easy to take a good looking one. Still, my newer ones are better. And I like flowers a lot, so there.

There’s also some pictures of these hard core geese that tried to shake me down for my bread crumbs underneath a bridge. They honked and they hissed, but I held firm, and so my belly is full now, and they’re hungry.

I got a few pictures of the gardens itself, a dragonfly, and some random other stuff. More worth checking out than the last coupla sets, that’s for sure.