Monthly Archives: November 2005

Stop in the Name of Love



Stop in the Name of Love, photo by Harold Davis. Click here to view larger size.

Stop! in the name of love
Before you break my heart

This is a photo of a rosebud in our garden covered with raindrops in the morning. What I like most about it is that if you look carefully at the upper two drops you can see the Stop sign that is at our corner outside the garden.

Meta information: Nikon D70, Lensbaby 2.0, no aperture ring, +14 macro filters, ISO 200, 1/250 second, routine post-processing in Photoshop.

Digital Noir

It was a dark and stormy night. Somewhere out there a dame was in distress.

But this time it was a digital dame, and–oh, no!–her pixels were breaking up…

This photo was taken with my Lens Baby and macro filters with the f/8.0 aperture ring. It’s part of an experiment to see what happens when I boost the ISO with Lens Baby photos. After all, these photos are not crisp anyhow–one may as well get the benefits of a high shutter speed!

The Digital Noir figure was lit with a combination of ambient daylight and a colored Tungsten spot. ISO was set to 1000. The shutter speed was 1/500 of a second. I accepted the default settings for Raw conversion, and did essentially no Photoshop processing.

Digital Noir

Solo Water Drop



Water Drop, photo by Harold Davis. Click to view larger version of this photo.

This is a photo of a single drop of water in a thin tree branch that I photographed yesterday morning with my Lens Baby and macro filters. I took the picture outside our dining “nook” while the kids were having breakfast, getting ready for school, and cackling about their Dad photographing outside in the rain.

The blue color comes from the blue paint used on the exterior sashes of of our windows, but I couldn’t figure this out at first. The image has almost no depth of field. The twig the water drop is dripping from is making a triangular motion effect.

I’m intrigued by how abstract this water drop has become. (There are more water drop photos taken with my Lens Baby to follow!)

I didn’t use an aperture ring (the Lens Baby equivalent of wide open) and exposed manually at an ISO of 200 and shutter speed of 1/125 of a second. I only performed routine level-balancing and sharpening work in Photoshop.

Farallon Islands

Considering all the rain we’ve had in the last two days, it’s easy to forget the long spell of clear and wonderful weather that preceded the rain.

This photo is from the bluffs near the Point Bonita lighthouse, taken only a couple of days ago. It’s one of the photos in the set with the sunset I posted recently.

The Farallons lie 27 miles west of the Golden Gate, across a windy, stormy stretch of open ocean–the Gulf of the Farallones. I seem to be photographing the ocean and coast surrounding the Gulf of the Farallones lately (for example, see Bolinas from Above).

These islands, actually the peaks of submerged mountains, are teaming with marine life–including, notoriously, great white sharks. It’s my plan to organize a trip out to the Farallons in the late spring or summer to photograph; but I have no desire to meet a great white (unlike some tourists who dive in shark cages just for that purpose).

Meta information: Nikon D70 Raw capture, AF-S VR-Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED at 200mm (appx 300mm 35mm equivalence); handheld using VR (vibration reduction).

Exif: ISO 200, 1/1250 second, f/3.2.

Focus: Automatic, at infinity.

Post: The Raw file for the photo was processed twice (once for the ocean and once for sky and clouds) and combined using a layer mask and a gradient. Once the layers were combined, I performed routine level adjustments and sharpening.

Red Red Rose



Red Red Rose, photo by Harold Davis. Click to view this photo larger.

Here’s another iteration from the set of red rose photos last seen in Beauty and Rose Spiral.

Working that Lens Baby Macro



Yellow Greeting Red, photo by Harold Davis. Click to view in large size.

A reader writes:

I’ve read your piece on photographing the lobelia flower with your lens baby, as well as the item you refer to with more information about this set up, and I still don’t get it. Could you please be a little more explicit?

OK. There’s nothing like a straightforward request, and the whole Lens Baby thing is pretty straightforward. But, before I get started, another photo:

Green Spikes

You get a Lens Baby from Lensbabies.com. It costs $150 plus shipping for the Lens Baby 2.0, and you need to specify the lens mount (Nikon or Canon and some others). The Canon version provides some exposure automation (I think), but there is absolutely no automation with the Nikon version.

Here’s another photo:

Centered

The macro kit for the Lens Baby consists of two glass filters that screw on the end. One is +10 and one is +4 diopters, and you can stack them together to get within 2-3 inches of your subject. These filters will run you another $29 bucks and come with absolutely no documentation. They do arrive in a sweet little carrying pouch that says “Lensbabies” in a kool typeface. (You gotta love this kind of packaging, elevating form far over function, as all of us visual people do from time to time!)

Here’s another lens, baby macro:

Lobelia 2

The Lens Baby itself has no ability to focus. Essentially, you have a “sweet spot” towards the center of the thing that is more-or-less in focus, and all the rest of the image is sweetly and pleasantly blurred.

The exact location of the sweet spot is impacted by a couple of factors. First, the end of the Lens Baby is flexible and bellows-like, so you can bend it around. This changes both the size and location of the sweet spot (although I’ve found that the way the photo comes out looking does differ from the way I see things through the viewfinder, through-the-lens viewing or not). In other words, chance and its guardian angel Sarah Dipity (serendipity) play a role with Lens Baby photos.

Here’s another photo:

Under the Flower Sea

The other factor that influences focus also influences exposure. The Lens Baby 2.0 comes with a bunch of different magnetic rings that you plop into place inside the barrel of the Lens Baby lens. (The Lens Baby comes with a little tool that allows you to easily remove the rings.)

These rings set the aperture of the lens. The smaller the opening in the magnetic ring, the smaller the aperture, and–to some extent–the greater the apparent sharpness of the Lens Baby due to higher depth of field.

At best, how sharp are we? Not very. That’s not the point of the Lens Baby:

Viola

As a practical matter, once you have the macro filters in place, particularly if you are using both of them, you probably don’t want to be bothered with changing the aperture rings (you’d have to take the macro filters off to change the aperture ring). I find myself using the Lens Baby “wide open” with no aperture ring, since it’s not the point of the thing to be sharp, and with the widest aperture you are most likely to get acceptable results hand holding in the part of the image that is sharp (because the wider the effective aperture, the faster the shutter speed you can use).

Yellow Belly of the Flower Beast

So, all the photos that accompany this story were taken with my Nikon D70 mounted with the Lens Baby, no aperture ring, and both +4 and +10 macro filters. There’s no focusing, and no exposure automation.

What you have to do is set the camera to manual (M on the dial for those of you who are acronym tone-deaf). The only control you have over exposure is setting the shutter speed.

Flower V Dance

The photos that accompany this story were taken at shutter speeds between 1/60 and 1/200 of a second in overcast, but bright, conditions. But trial and error is required. You’ll also need to review the results on your LCD display as you take the photos, and give praise for the bracketing inherent in the Raw format.

Having set the shutter speed where I guestimate it ought to be, the process of taking one of these photos is pretty intuitive: I get close, wiggle the Lens Baby, and when I like what I think I see, press the shutter release.




Be Afraid



Afraid, photo by Harold Davis. Click to view large size.

It is the lot of mortal man, woman, and child to be afraid of many things, and I think this face looks afraid.

Actually, as the driver of the diabolic Coca Cola truck, he should have nothing to fear.

These photos were taken with my Lens Baby equipped with macro lenses.

The snake below is much happier, indeed looks quite tempting!

Giving Tongue

View the Snake Giving Tongue larger.

Lobelia Lens Baby

No, it’s not Photoshop! I did nothing in post processing except to crop in a little, normalize the levels and sharpen the Raw file slightly.

This photo was created with my Lens Baby (described in an earlier post) which essentially will turn your (and my) expensive digital SLR (Nikon D70, Canon EOS, etc.) into a cheap, soft-focus camera with a disposable lens. Yeah for technology!

My Lens Baby is now equipped with a set of macro lens, so I can do groovy Lens Baby macros, like this one, baby!

Bolinas from Above



Bolinas from Above, photo by Harold Davis. Click to view large size.

Meta information: essentially the same as for Bolinas Lagoon.

I like this photo of Bolinas Bay and Duxbury Point–taken from the ridge leading up to Mount Tamalpais–because of the two different wave patterns that meet, and the golden glow on the water and in the sky!

Bolinas Lagoon

Meta information: Nikon D70 Raw capture, AF-S VR-Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED at 200mm (appx 300mm 35mm equivalence); handheld using VR (vibration reduction).

Exif: ISO 200, 1/320 second, f/9.

Focus: Automatic, at infinity.

Post: Dark blue gradient applied with darker blue towards the bottom of the image, center lightened, routine level adjustments and workflow, fairly strenuous sharpening for Gaussian blur in the central (lagoon) area of the image.

I took this image a few days ago on a “field trip” with Nicky from the ridge line in Tamalpais State Park. What interests me is the pattern in the tidal Bolinas Lagoon. The flats are shown here at low tide.

Bolinas Lagoon is a fantastic and wild place, inhabited by seals and many other creatures, and with a huge tidal variation. It’s neat to see the buccolic farms in the distance behind this force of nature.

Ocean Sunset



Ocean Sunset, photo by Harold Davis. Click here to see a larger size.

Meta information: Nikon D70 Raw capture, AF-S VR-Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED at 200mm (appx 300mm 35mm equivalence); handheld using VR (vibration reduction).

Exif: ISO 200, 1/2000 second, f/5.6.

Focus: Automatic, at infinity.

Post: Considerable post-processing in Photoshop; see below.

I took this picture from the forts of the Marin Headlands this evening when I was exploring the area around Point Bonita Lighthouse with Julian.

The Raw file for the photo was processed three times (once for the ocean, once for the cloud zone, and once for the sky above and below the clouds) and combined using layer masks and gradients.

Once the three layers were combined, the final step was to perform routine level adjustments and sharpening.

There’s nothing more romantic, I think, than a beautiful sunset over the ocean–especially nifty on this fog-bound coast (the Pacific near San Francisco has more days of fog per year than any coastal area of the United States except parts of the state of Maine).

San Francisco Sunset



San Francisco Sunset, photo by Harold Davis. You can see more details in the larger version.

Meta information: Nikon D70 Raw capture, AF-S VR-Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED at 175mm (appx 262mm 35mm equivalence); handheld using VR (vibration reduction).

Exif: ISO 200, 1/125 second, f/5.6.

Focus: Automatic, at infinity.

Post: Considerable post-processing in Photoshop; see below.

Iconoclastic Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown once likened the cities of East Bay to Italian Hill towns. This is a little disingenuous from the chief executive of the city whose rough barrios spawned the Black Panthers. But there is something organic about the architecture of the Bay area, as I think this photo shows.

In the aggregate, houses and other structures seem to be part of the landscape, are one with the hills, and form patterns in the fog.

This photo was taken from Marin Headlands looking across the Golden Gate towards the Presidio and the Sunset district.

In Photoshop, I used the Image > Adjustments > Selective Color dialog to increase the saturation and detail of the background areas. Next, I applied a warming and split-gradient filters to slightly improve the tonality and colors of the image.

The last step was to perform routine level adjustments and sharpening.

Point Bonita Lighthouse



Point Bonita Lighthouse, photo by Harold Davis. Check out this photo in a larger version.

Meta information: Nikon D70 Raw capture, AF-S VR-Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED at 82mm (appx 123mm 35mm equivalence); handheld using VR (vibration reduction).

Exif: ISO 200, 1/80 second, f/9.

Focus: Automatic, at infinity.

Post: Considerable post-processing in Photoshop; see below.

For 150 years the Point Bonita Lighthouse has been helping mariners navigate the recalcitrant currents, dangerous shoals, and incessant clinging fog outside the Golden Gate. This lighthouse marks the entrance to the channel into the San Francisco Bay, and is still in operation.

What I like about this picture is that you can see the lighthouse beacon if you look closely. Once you see the beacon, there’s a moment of sensory adjustment when the scale of the photo–which is of an immense seascape–becomes clear.

I took this picture from the forts of the Marin Headlands the other day when I was clambering around and exploring with Nicky.

The Raw file for the photo was processed three times (once for the ocean, once for the fog and cloud zone, and once for the sky above the clouds) and combined using layer masks and gradients. Essentially, the exposure for each of these three areas was quite different, ranging from the dark ocean to the mid tones of the fog and cloud belt, to a bright sun-filled sky.

I also added a little to the lighthouse beacon with the Clone Tool, added a flare to the sun with the Lens Flare Filter, and used a dark blue gradient overlay used to enhance the sky.

The last step was to perform routine level adjustments and sharpening.

After the Rain

Meta information: Nikon D70 Raw capture, AF Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 (157mm 35mm equivalence).

Exif: ISO 200, 1/320 second, f/8. This was an exterior, daylight shot with considerable wind and motion, and handheld.

Focus: Manual, about 0.45 meter (around 1.4 feet).

Post: Cropping for compostion, routine level adjustments and workflow, sharpening for both Gaussian and Motion blur.

Drops

It started raining last night, and was rainy and foggy this morning. I took the kids out to play in the rain, and they enjoyed getting wet and jumping puddles.

About noon, the sun came out and the rain stopped, leaving these wonderful water jewels behind.

Wet Leaf

Water Droplets

After the Rain

Beauty



Beauty, photo by Harold Davis.

Meta information: Nikon D70 Raw capture, AF Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 (157mm 35mm equivalence).

Exif: ISO 200, 1/320 second, f/8. This was an exterior, daylight shot with considerable wind and motion, and handheld.

Focus: Manual, about 0.45 meter (around 1.4 feet).

Post: Cropping for compostion, routine level adjustments and workflow, sharpening for both Gaussian and Motion blur, color enhancement with a graduated dark blue overlay in Photoshop.

Well, I’ve stopped with the bromeliads and “disgusting” figs, and I’m back to beautiful roses. This is another photo of the spiral rose.

All I can say is that I think this rose is really, really beautiful–and I give thanks every day for the beauty around me, for the eyes to see it, the camera to capture it, and the computer to process it. This rose has beautiful bits.