Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lost in Port Townsend

On the last day of our 17 day trek across Washington and Northern Oregon we had a full day to enjoy ourselves on the way back to the Seattle - Tacoma airport.  We visited a few places in Olympic National Park that we had missed earlier, checked out some tide pools looking for sea life, and visited the Jardin du Soleil lavender farm in Sequim.   All along we had the airport programmed into the GPS so we knew exactly how long it would take to get to the airport from where ever we were. 

You can click any of the photos to flip through larger versions.

One of our stops along the way was Port Townsend.   They advertise themselves as a victorian seaport with a maritime heritage and a touch of urban chic.  National Geographic calls Port Townsend one of the most sophisticated places west of Seattle   It reminded us of downtown Asheville NC.   We explored the town for a while, ate at The Elevated Ice Cream Shoppe, and wandered the streets.

There were some people set up selling some things (we weren't sure sure what and didn't stick around to find out).   One lady had a bunch of old dirty bottles lined up on a bench.  Behind her was a boat with bicycles arranged on top that were wrapped in Christmas lights.  The bottles were interesting but I guess that bicycle art looks better at night.

There are a number of signs painted on brick walls of the historic old buildings, including an old Bull Durham sign.   I find these old signs to be very interesting and the older the better.

Some the most interesting parts of the old historic buildings are in the details, such as this old door.   Old and weathered I wonder how long it's been there and what has happened in Port Townsend during it's time.

We stopped at an old historic home that is now an Inn. The Ann Starrett Mansion was built in 1889 and is a beautiful Victorian home painted in pastel pink, red, blue and green.   Some stairs going up to a porch caught my eye.  The diagonal line and flower pot repeating pattern make for an interesting composition.

After we left Port Townsend we stopped at Port Gamble then headed for the airport.  A short while later we realized our GPS had routed us to a ferry.   We knew nothing about the ferry, the schedule, or where we would end up so we decided to take a different route.  The GPS then routed us to another ferry!   It took us a while to get back to the main road because we had wandered farther afield than we thought.  Lessons learned - allow plenty of time, don't rely 100% on a GPS and bring a good map as backup.  In the end we had just enough time to get to the airport and catch our flight home.

I hope you enjoy these photos from Port Townsend.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

When to use IS/VR

IS is Image Stabilization.(Canon term)
VR is Vibration Reduction (Nikon term)

The both mean the same thing.  Technology built into a lens or the camera senses camera movement and makes constant micro adjustments to compensate for that shake.  It's a great technology that allows you to shoot hand held is situations that would result in blurry photos if you didn't have it. 

If you have IS/VR turned on and your camera is not moving, such s when it is on a tripod, the IS/VR will actually introduce vibration trying to adjust for movement that is not there.   Under most conditions you want to turn it off when mounting your camera on a tripod.  Don't forget to turn it back on when you go back to shooting hand held or you will be disappointed when you look at your photos later.  Some of the newer lenses can sense when there is no movement and turn the IS/VR off.  None of mine do that so I have to rely on my memory, which is why I get more blurry photos than I should.

5D Mark ii, 300mm, 1/40 second
I recently learned that there is an exception to this rule.   I was in the Palouse region of Washington State on top of Steptoe Butte, which is a quartzite island jutting out about 1,000 feet above the rolling Palouse hills.  Because there is nothing else around to slow the wind it gets pretty breezy up there.   I was shooting with my 300mm telephoto firmly attached to a tripod but the camera was being blown around by the winds.  My fist shots were disappointing because they were blurry.   I then turned IS on and the change was dramatic.   The blurriness caused by the camera motion was gone and my images were sharp.

5D Mark ii, 105mm, 1.3 seconds

5D Mark ii, 300mm, 1/8 second

These are all shot with either a 300mm lens or a 24-105mm @ 105mm on a Canon 5D mark ii with IS turned on.

As with most things, there are exceptions to the rules.  Don't assume that if you are following what you were told you will always get great results.  It's important to be aware of conditions and make the appropriate adjustments to the rules.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The most important photography investment you can make

Photographers know that there is an seemingly endless list of photography things we can buy.  Just browse on over to Adorama or B&H websites.  You can spend hours just browsing the cameras, lens, filters, tripods, memory cards, lights, back packs, software, computers to process and store photos, and loads of other gizmos.   We tend to contract an infectious disease of that spreads among photographers - GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome).  The manufactures of camera gear don't help when they bring out new versions every months.

We all have a budget we are willing to spend on our photography.  For some it is modest and others it may be pretty high but it's not infinite.   If you were limited to buying one thing that would make your photographs better, what would it be?  What one photography related thing would you spend your money on?

For me it's not something you can buy at Adorama, B&H or the local photography store.   It's that thing behind my eyes and between my ears.   My experience is that money spent learning is a much better investment than the latest gizmo, gadget, or software.   There are many ways to improve photography knowledge and skills.  You can take a class in a classroom or online.  You can read books.   For me the best was to learn is to attend a workshop with top notch leaders and other photographers that are interested in improving their photography.   It's like being immersed in a cloud of photography knowledge that you absorb just by being there. 

Before signing up for a workshop you should do a little research.  What is the objective of the workshop?  Some are more guided trips that get you to interesting places at the right time but don't provide any real instruction.  Make sure the instructors are familiar with the places you will be going.  All outdoor photographers know that the weather influences what you can take and when. 
Chuck in A Fog
You need an instructor who knows the area and can adjust the workshop plans to accommodate the weather.   You should learn if the instructor is a good teacher as well as good photographer.  I know some great photographers who are not strong teachers.  Your leader should be both.

I recently attended a workshop with His Light Workshops led by Bill Fortney.  Bill has a great team of instructors that are there to help and make sure everyone gets the most out of the workshop.   This was my third workshop with His Light Workshops and I have already signed up for another in July.   I've known Bill for a number of years and know he is a great teacher that is passionate about photography and teaching others.   In addition to his staff of instructors, Bill brings in special invited guest instructors.  We were blessed to have Matt Kloskowski on this workshop.  
Don't jump guys!

I've been to other workshops with other instructors and keep coming back to Bill's because he is a strong Christian who attract other strong Christians to his workshops.   It's not unusual to have prayer time before heading out.   It doesn't get much better than being in God's creation with great people who love the Lord.

Here's some more photos from the workshop in Palouse Washington,  Mount Rainier National Park, and Olympic National Park.

Looking for the best spot to shoot Palouse Falls

Workshop participants are all outstanding in a field

Going to the edge for the best shot.

What, me worry?

At the end of the week I had to say goodbye to old friends and new friends.   But I know I'll see them again in a future workshop.

The end of the day
I'm working my way through my photos from the workshop and also the prior week when June and I were in vacationing in the Washington and Oregon coast region.  Watch for other blog posts.