Monday, February 28, 2011

Snapshots of the kids, 59/365

I've just got a couple casual shots of the kids today.  First, a shot of Claire and Matt dancing at the royal ball, in our living room.  Claire dances with me at the ball quite often, actually.  It's fun, I wish they could stay this age forever.  Anyway, I would usually use a large aperture to blur the background out of focus.  But, since my fast lens is still in the shop, I needed to get a little more creative.  I shot this with a shutter speed of 1/10 of a second, which is way too long to even hand-hold the camera, much less have a moving subject.  But, I also used the flash, which essentially stopped the action of Matt and Claire, but didn't light up the couch or Rachael very much.  So, the background has motion blur from the long shutter speed, but the subject is frozen pretty well.  Next is just a shot of Matt that I grabbed at the park after school this afternoon.  Rachael brought to my attention that I don't use pictures of Matt very often, and she was right.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Windmill, 58/365

Today, we celebrated the Science Bowl by going to Golden Corral for lunch after Mass, and then to see Harry Potter at the dollar theater.  Well, technically, Rachael bought the movie with her gift card.  Thanks Rachael!  :-)  On the way home, I stopped by the remains of an old farm south of Jewell.  There's not much left, but a great old windmill and small barn.  It's a very overcast, hazy day.  I like the low contrast, softer, old-time feel to the image.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Science Bowl '11, 57/365

The South Hamilton team competed at the Science Bowl at ISU today.  They won once in the pool round and once in the double elimination before they were out.  But, they all got some good questions, and Rachael had one particularly good round.  Here she is, ready to buzz in with an answer, and the team waiting for a round to start.  Rachael said that a few of the girls on the team unoffically named themselves the Smarticle Particles.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fuel Cell Car Races 56/365

South Hamilton TAG students competed in a fuel cell car race at ISU tonight.  Great job Rachael and the whole SH team!  You can see more of this racing action over on this gallery...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rachael's concert 55/365

Rachael sang and played flute at the South Hamilton Middle School/High School Chorus/Band concert.  The middle school concert was postponed, so they combined it with the high school concert.  Yes, it was a long show.  Since the whole thing started 1/2 hour before my kids' bedtime, I took Matt, Claire, and Noelle home after Rachael's part of the band concert and didn't stay until the end.  But, the students did a great job.  And, Rachael was mentioned for making it to Honor Band this year.  I'm very proud of her.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

End of the train, 54/365

Well, I've definitely had one of those days where I don't have the energy to devote to this project.  I got called at 1:00 this morning for an issue at work and worked on it until about 4:00 a.m.  Tonight, I scheduled some changes to resolve that problem, but can't start until after midnight.  So, I've had a long day and I'm in for a long night, and likely, another miserable day tomorrow.  I debated just snapping a pic  of myself with the laptop's webcam, and calling it done.  But, instead, here is a shot I grabbed quickly while waiting for a train after we dropped the kids off at CCD in Boone.  Hopefully, I won't get this lazy on too many more days this year...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Old Train Depot, 53/365

I was wandering around the east side of the river near downtown Des Moines today and found this great old train depot that I'd never known about before.  It's just Southwest of the Capital.  If anyone knows anything about this building, please share, because I would love to know more.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Horses, 52/365

I volunteered to help out with 4-H photo camp this year.  A couple years ago, I went and presented one thing there, but have been wanting to be more involved.  If you know any kids in 4-H who are interested in photography, it'll be three days of living and breathing photography.  Here is the website for more information.

One of the things that I am going to present at camp is High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography.  I'm not going to go into the details, but basically you combine multiple images with different exposures together to achieve one image with a greater range of tones than the camera sensor is capable of capturing in one shot.  In the past, I've used a third party program to create these.  But, I wanted to try it out with the built-in capabilities of Photoshop CS5.  So, I stopped along the highway on the way home and grabbed a few images of these horses.  Not the greatest HDR, but it was a good test anyway.  Don't forget to click on the picture to view larger.

Here is another version of the same image, processed differently, in Photomatix.  Which do you like best?  I think each has their strengths and weaknesses, it's just a different look.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Claire by candle light, 51/365

Another weekend has vanished before my eyes, being busy does that to you.  I took Rachael and Noelle to the 4-H ice skating party this afternoon.  I was going to let Kim take them, but I think that her legs needed a break after she and Rachael ran 12 miles yesterday.  I only did 7, so I got to go skating.  :-)  Unfortunately, I didn't come up with any great pictures from the event, but I did skate with a camera around my neck the whole time.

So, I decided to try taking a picture of a candle flame tonight.  Well, as chance would have it, sometimes opportunity finds you where you don't expect it.  I had a candle set up on the dining room table, taking a few shots with the lights out.  Claire came in, very curious about the candle, and asked me to take her picture by the candle.  So, suddenly, instead of the candle being the subject, now I would use it for the light source for my new and improved subject, my Claire Bear.  I told her to look at the candle, and had her move in pretty close, because one candle doesn't put out that much light.  You can actually see the reflection of the candle as the catch light in her eyes.  I like the final results, and not just because it's Claire, although that certainly doesn't hurt.  :-)

By the way, from a technical standpoint, this shot is straight out of the camera.  I shot it with my 100 macro, wide open at f/2.8.  All I did in Photoshop was reduce the size for web posting.  I did not touch the levels, sharpening, or anything else.  I had the camera in black and white mode, so this is exactly as it was shot in the camera.  Do you like it?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Silhouetted Trees, 50/365

Silhouette shot I grabbed while helping with a 4-H photo shoot in Webster City this afternoon.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Colorful Apple, 49/365

Today's shot is just a little fun with a prism before the sun went down.  It's kind of ironic, Windows colors shining on the Apple logo...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Reflection, 48/365

It was a very busy day at work, but that is a good thing.  I'd rather be busy than the alternative.  I had a noon meeting today (darned Pacific time zone people), but did get out for a quick walk to enjoy the warm weather today.  Here is a reflection of the Principal building, on the Central location of the Des Moines Public Library.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fruit Centerpiece, 47/365

The wooden platter and fruit are from my great aunt Josie Berger's estate auction.  I presume that my great uncles made these, I know they did a lot of woodworking that still amazes me today.  

Another day has passed, where I am tired and not motivated to take pictures.  But, sticking with the Project 365 commitment, I thought, why not shoot the wooden fruit centerpiece.  My good, image stabilized, fast lens is away to Canon for repair, so I'm not well equipped for low light stuff right now.  So, I shot this on a tripod. I used a 4 second exposure, since it was on the tripod anyway.  Set everything up, shot one frame, and this is it.  Last picture of the day, now I need some sleep.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sunspots 46/365

Ok, I need to throw a little science in today, although, I find beauty and wonder here as well.  I needed to find a picture and noticed the moon when I was outside this afternoon.  I could shoot the moon, but I could do that any time.  It was daylight and I actually had time to image the sun.

Yes, this is really the sun, as seen in white light.  We are used to seeing those amazing orangish pictures of the sun, showing solar flares and prominences.  We'll I'd love to image like that too, but an H-Alpha scope is not in my budget.  So, I used my regular telescope, and made a homemade, white light filter with solar film I ordered from a physics supplier in Illinois.  Standard warnings here, never look at the sun, especially not with any type of magnification like binoculars or a scope.  That being said, this film allows 1/10,000 of the light go through the filter, making it safe to look or photograph through it.

I remember when I first saw images of the sun, it amazed me to see such a defined edge to it.  Somehow, it felt like there should have been giant rays of light coming out of it, like we used to color with our yellow Crayola crayons as little children.  Well, that's not quite the reality of it.  :-)

This solar cycle (about every 11 years) started off quite slow.  But, it's certainly active enough now.  The biggest sunspot on the lower side of the sun is sunspot 1158.  The next biggest one visible is 1161, toward the upper left.  And, you can barely see it to the upper right, but there are a couple tiny spots for 1157.  I uploaded a full size picture, so please click on it and it will open up large in a new page, allowing you to see the spots much better.

If you are up  during the night and live relatively far North, go outside in the dark and look North for possible auroras the next couple nights, compliments of sunspot 1158.  Once in a while, we'll have auroras visible as far South as Iowa, but not often.  Sorry, Texans, you're pretty much out of luck when it comes to auroras.  :-)  Enjoy!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Center Street Bridge, 45/365

Happy Valentine's Day!  Today, I'll share a picture of the Center Street Bridge over the Des Moines River.  It's a neat bridge to walk across, with a view of the dam and other downtown bridges.  And, it connects downtown to the Japanese garden on the East side of the river.  Unfortunately, I had to walk through a lot of mud on the West side of the bridge.  But, once the ground dries up and things start to turn green this spring, it's definitely worth taking a walk over the bridge.  Thanks, Noelle, for letting me borrow your little camera today, which is small enough to disappear in a shirt pocket, as opposed to my SLR, which is big, heavy, and screams for attention/suspicion.  Sometimes it's nice to blend in.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Noelle's 4-H Presentation, 44/365

Noelle did her presentation on the violin at the February 4-H meeting today.  She did a great job, showing parts of the violin, posture, and how to use the bow.  The first sound she played on her instrument was what happens if you push too hard with the bow, and it made an awful screeching sound.  I think the order of things was very effective, because people were then very surprised when she played a perfect rendition of Amazing Grace at the end of the presentation.  We heard comments from multiple people afterwards about how impressive it was.  I'm very proud of her.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Put your chipped foot in, 43/365

I took a family shot of our right feet, all with timing chips, ready for the race today.  Official times are not out yet, but Claire, Matt, Noelle, and Kim finished the 3 mile in just over 44 minutes, and Rachael and I finished the 5 in about 50 minutes 30 seconds.  It was a very pleasant day for the Red Flannel Run.  As a matter of fact, once I started running, it was rather warm to be wearing flannel.  I'll have to remember that if we run this one again next year.

We were mostly decked out in red flannel, but a lot of people did wear costumes.  There was one runner dressed as Cupid, complete with wings and bow and arrow.  Rachael and I saw him again around mile 4.  I yelled, "There's Cupid!"  He turned around and said he was going to use his wings to fly through the rest of the race.  The winning costumes though, were two guys, one dressed as a hunter carrying a toy gun, and the other was a moose.  I don't know how he could run in a giant moose head, but he did it.  We saw them around mile 2.  At that time, the hunter was actually ahead of the moose.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Race Numbers, 42/365

I picked up the whole family's race packets for the Red Flannel Run tomorrow morning.  Now, I'm out of energy for the day, and calling it a night.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Melting Ice, 41/365

Here is a picture of sheets of ice starting to break up on the Des Moines River, in downtown Des Moines.  With the warmer forecast, I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more water soon.  That should make the Canada geese happy, they were swimming on whatever open water they could find.  I actually saw a huge bald eagle in the tree tops by the river yesterday, but was driving and couldn't stop for a picture.  Hurry up, Spring!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Peppers, 40/365

A dedicated photo shoot did not fit into my schedule today.  I've noticed these colorful, red and green peppers in the grocery store before, but never taken a camera in shopping with me until tonight.  Enjoy!  And in case you were wondering, no, I did not buy peppers.  It was just a quick stop for our standard stuff we need every time we get to the store... milk, bread, bananas, yogurt, more milk, more bread, more milk...  You get the idea.  :-)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Vapor, 39/365

I've seen people do this before, but never tried it myself.  So, I took a pitcher of hot water out and threw it in the 0 degree air.  Much of the liquid vaporized in the air and never made it to the ground.  It was just a fun little experiment.

Monday, February 7, 2011

DIY macro technique, 38/365

Anyone who knows me is aware that I like to dabble with a million different photography techniques and do-it-yourself, odd ways of doing things.  Well, there are multiple different ways to do close up pictures, besides investing in a dedicated macro lens.  The technique I used for these shots was reversing lenses.  Basically, you take a lens which is not mounted on a camera, and reverse it to the end of a lens that is mounted on the camera.  So, the inside of the second lens is actually facing the subject.  It creates extreme magnification, probably even closer than the 1:1 ratio that my actual macro lens does.  I used my 50 mm lens on the camera.  For the second, reversed lens, I used an old Yashica 50 mm f/1.4, which came on a Yashica TL super camera.  $2 on a garage sale.  They make reverse filter rings to mount the lenses like this, but I just held them together by hand when I took the pictures.  Yes, there is vignetting on the edges, which I think just adds character to the technique.  So, without further ado, here are the results (make sure to click on them to view a little bigger)...

And just in case anyone was wondering what this looks like, so you can try it at home...  :-)

Questions and/or comments are welcome!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Birdhouse, 37/365

Today, I was going to walk around town to find a picture for day 37.  But, it's a small town, and it seems like I always look at the same things.  I needed a different perspective on things.  So, I put my long telephoto lens on the camera and went for my walk with nothing but that lens.  I don't usually use it much, most of my shooting is with wide to normal length lenses.  So, this forced me to look for different things.  Instead of big picture scenes, I looked for small things that I could focus in on.  This birdhouse jumped out at me.  I like the shapes on the house, and the string of colorful lights across the top.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Noelle in flight, 36/365

I'm unusually tired tonight, after a 4 mile run.  So, I'm going to cut this short today.  We tried to go ice fishing, but that didn't work out very well.  Rachael and Noelle sledded down a pile of snow out at the lake.  When we were ready to head home, Noelle jumped off the top of the pile, and I caught a picture, mid flight.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Randall COOP, 35/365

First, I would like to thank the guys at the COOP for letting me walk around and take pictures.  When you drive through the countryside, the first thing you see when approaching a town is the COOP.  It's the most dominant landmark for small towns, even more so than the water tower.  This particular one in Randall stood out to me, because of the contrasting old and new looking structures.  And the warm, late afternoon sun and clouds were working with me too.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snowy Field, 34/365

I wanted to get outside to shoot something today, that wind was still bitter cold out in the open.  I made this image South of Story City this afternoon.  I liked the long shadows from the low sun.  You can't see it very well in a small picture, but the snow was blowing along the ground like a sand storm.  You can click on the picture to see a larger version.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Post-storm snow day, 33/365

With the ugly forecast, they called the school closing already last night.  I decided to take a vacation day rather than working today, so we played Horseopoly and messed around all day.  I did brave the cold to get a picture.  Snow seemed the logical subject matter for the day.  This bike rack by the pool won't be getting any use for a while, although I was happy to hear that Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this morning.  So we are supposed to be in for an early spring (I'll believe it when I see it.)

The sub-zero wind chills kept us inside for the most part.  And what better thing to do on a snow day than to get the dining room chairs and blankets and make a tent in the living room.

You have to be careful when you shoot snow.  It has a tendency to trick the camera's light meter.  The camera doesn't know that it's shooting snow, and thinks that it has to darken it to a middle gray (18%) shade.  Of course, that's a mistake.  Luckily, we are smarter than the camera and know that snow is supposed to be white.  To compensate, I overexposed by 1/3 of a stop.  It could have used a little more, but I didn't want to lose the shadow detail in the snow either.  The other thing I did was to shoot at ISO 200, even though it was plenty bright for a lower ISO.  The reason being, the 50d has it's peak dynamic range at that sensitivity.  With the combination of bright snow and dark shadows, I knew I would want to squeeze every little bit of range I could get out of the camera.

Well, time to go back out in the cold and blow out the driveway, although I'd rather be taking pictures of anything.  :-)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snow day, 32/365

It's actually hard to believe that I have one month of my 365 project done, and we're starting February.  Now I'm going to have to keep track of what number I'm on rather than just looking at the date.  We're experiencing blizzard conditions in Iowa, so school got out early.  But, at least they got there this morning, so it counts for a school day.

It's quite windy and blustery out, so I didn't go outside any more than I had to today.  Here are Kim and Noelle busy on the computers this afternoon.  Noelle is on Webkinz, which you can faintly see in the reflection in Kim's glasses.  She looks pretty serious about it, doesn't she?  I don't know what Kim was doing, but if I were a gambling man, I'd bet she was probably on Twitter.

I don't have much to say about the technical aspects of shooting this photo, except one thing.  NO FLASH.  If you've got natural window light, use it.