Monthly Archives: March 2006

Freesia in the Morning

It rained hard over night. The kids were up early, and the sun came out bright through the clouds. Before we drove the kids to school, I was out photographing this freesia. Once again, a world in a flower. In this photo, you can clearly see the “flight path”–markings intended to direct dazed or not-so-bright insects into pollen central.

I didn’t know that freesias belonged to the iris family, did you?

Freesia 1

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Freesia 2

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Posted in Flowers, Photography, Water Drops

Julian and Nicky

They’re brothers, but they are so different! I like the comment on Flickr: “Watch out for Nicky, he looks so cheeky!”

Nicky would understand cheeky, but he’s nothing compared to Mathew his youngest sibling: a real force of nature.

Posted in Kids, Photography

Yosemite Falls from Sentinel Bridge

Sentinel Bridge is a classic spot for photographing the vistas of Yosemite Valley. Spectacular any time of the year, it’s possible that this spot may be most photogenic in the winter.

I multi-processed this image in Photoshop to expend the exposure range between the reflections and the sky area.

Posted in Landscape, Photography, Yosemite

Yosemite in the Snow

My recent two trips to Yosemite, with the valley still stuck in deep winter, leaves me hundreds of photos to process. My workflow is time consuming and demands precision. So, will I ever be able to go through all the potentially worthy captures in these sets? Stay tuned.

The point here is that I don’t really regard a photo as finished until I have post-processed it. Looking at the RAW file (even along with the camera-generated JPEG of the same image) it can be difficult for me to visualize the final result–and I’ve processed thousands of images, of course.

As I progress as a digital photographer, I’m coming to learn that digital photographs are different “animals” from film photographs. This corresponds to my shifting using of the noun (and verb) “capture” instead of “photograph” (and “to photograph”). The raw RAW image is really much more like a scan capture than a silver halide photograph; the RAW capture becomes something new after it has been post-processed.

There really should be a new word for this new digital visual thing, but for now I guess “photograph” will have to do!

Well, I’m pleased that I’ve captured (though not processed) the bulk of the images I need for my book, the “Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite and the High Sierras.” I’m pleased also that I need to go back to Yosemite and other parts of the Sierras to fill in a few “corners.” And I’m pleased that Julian and I have had such a great time in Yosemite, and look forward to many years of photographing, camping, and hiking with Julian (and his younger brothers).

That’s all a mouthful. Here are some more photos of the winter-bound Yosemite (and one of Julian making snow angels along the banks of the Merced):

Julian Making a Snow Angel

Along the Merced in Winter

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Watkins Pinnacles from Mirror Lake

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Glacier Point Cliff

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Half Dome

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Posted in Landscape, Photography, Yosemite

In the Sun

Today I used my macro lens and tripod to photograph this succulent backlit by the strong late afternoon sun. Have a look at it larger: I find that digital capture does strange and sometimes wonderous things to strong sunlight. Another example, this photo of a saxifrage.

Posted in Photography

Mirror Lake in Winter and Spring

This is a photograph I took last weekend in the snow in Yosemite Valley from Mirror Lake.

It’s fun (and instructive) to compare it with a photo I took from close to the same spot in the late spring last year:

Mirror Lake, Yosemite

Posted in Landscape, Photography, Yosemite

Flowers Forever

This is a round-up of some of my recent flower photographs in and around my garden.

The photograph above is of a cymbidium. Cymbidiums are orchids originally from the lower slopes of the Himalayas. They grow well outdoors here.

I photographed this cymbidium early this morning after an overnight rain. My cymbidiums are on our front porch. In the morning, they were in bright but overcast light. I was easily able to position my tripod with extension tube, macro lens, and +4 diopter close-up filter for a stopped-down aperture.

The new wisteria buds shown in the next two photographs hang over our garage. I photographed them yesterday hanging out of our living room window (for a moment there I was literally hanging, too!).

These photos are handheld, using a vibration reduction (VR) zoom and extension tube. They were brightly side-lit by yesterday’s late afternoon sun.

I think both photographs (but particularly the first one) are worth looking at larger.

Wisteria 1

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Wisteria 2

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The last photograph in this round-up is a young ranunculus bud. It’s kind of a weird photo: for an extremely close-in flower macro it has a lot going on. The flower also looks slightly X-rated to me, but that may only be me…

I photographed this flower a few days ago in Julian’s garden (Julian is my eight-year old) straight down on a tripod.

Young Ranunculus

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Posted in Flowers, Photography, Water Drops

Force of Nature

Mathew, our youngest, looks like he’s an angel. Particularly when he’s asleep. It’s hard to reconcile this with the fact that he is the most self-willed of our kids, has an incredibly loud screaming voice, and will temper-tantrum heaven and earth to get what he wants. Who’d know?

Posted in Kids, Photography

Away Only a Few Days and There Are Ribbons

Away only a few days, and what changes! The season progresses, and the ribbons on the leucospremum start to emerge. Click here and here for some earlier photos of this plant in my garden.

Here’s another view of the ribbons coming out:

Emerging Ribbons 1

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Posted in Flowers, Photography

Coming Home

Coming home from Yosemite and winter, Julian and I descended from Altamont Pass in the coastal range and headed north on Interstate 580.

As Julian said before we left Yosemite Valley, “This is like Narnia when the White Witch ruled. I know I’ll miss snow tomorrow, but can we go home now?”

The sun was setting over the Golden Gate, and I had to take a last capture before home and normal life.

I triple processed the RAW image to get a full exposure range, and put the different exposures together in Photoshop using layers masks and gradients.

Posted in Photography, San Francisco Area

Yesterday Was a Perfect Day

Yesterday was a perfect day for photographing flowers close to home. The rain stopped in the late morning, and then the sun came in and out of clouds. I photographed these daffodils backlit by the sun handheld using vibration reduction (VR) technology. Since these daffodils were, as Wordworth put it, “fluttering and dancing in the breeze,” there would have been little point in a tripod in any case.

Next, I turned to the holly flowers shown below (this time with tripod and extreme close-up field rig). Yes, by golly, these holly flowers start out yellow, turn red, and then become the red “berries” that we associate traditionally with holly bushes.

It’s worth taking a look at the holly capture at a larger size, I think. If you check out the water drops in the photo, you’ll see what a close macro this actually is, and how tiny the buds are!

Holly

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Posted in Flowers, Photography, Water Drops

Snow in the Hills

Coming down from Yosemite yesterday, Julian and I saw snow covering the hills on the western slope of the Sierras, down to as low as 1,200 feet. (There’s even some snow on the tops of the coastal range nearer home, but that’s another story.)

This capture was taken along Route 140 near Mariposa.

Posted in Landscape, Photography

Spadix

Spadix

This is a stick-your-lens-and-nose-in-close capture of the spadix of a calla lily. The spadix is the central spike you see in the calla lily. This photo is looking straight down into the flower.

Another bisexual flower, the small male blooms are yellow-orange and on the column on the left of the capture. The female ovaries are the nubbly things at the base of the spike.

Photographed a few days ago in my garden using my new-old extension tube rig.

Posted in Bemusements, Flowers, Photography

Entering the Sanctuary

This is a capture of the entrance to Yosemite Valley last month. It seems very appropriate for me to post it this evening because I’m heading back to Yosemite tomorrow for more of that sublime “winter experience.”

I think this photo works because of the small snowy trees on the lower left. They give a sense of scale to the entire composition.

My title for the image is “Entering the Sanctuary.” I’ve given it this name because this is how I think of Yosemite: one of nature’s great sanctuaries, or holiest of holy places, on this green earth.

The photo was taken during a temporary break in blinding snow conditions. This textural rendition of the snow, sequentially a few frames on my memory card before “Entering the Sanctuary,” will give you some idea of what it was like:

Snow

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Posted in Landscape, Photography, Yosemite

The Ribbons Emerge

This is a leucospermum “scarlet ribbons” that I planted in my garden in January. I’ve photographed it many times since.

The point is that these tendrils are about to unfurl, creating a huge fiber-construction of a flower. I can’t wait!

Here’s another capture of the emerging ribbons:

More Emerging Ribbons

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Posted in Flowers, Photography