Monthly Archives: October 2007

View from Sculptured Beach

In beautiful autumn weather, I hiked out to Sculptured Beach on the Drakes Bay side of Point Reyes, between Limantour and Arch Rock.

This was a thirty second exposure with my lens wide open, with the sun down below the horizon and lit by a waxing moon. My shutter was open for a long enough time that the pounding Pacific turned soft and feather-like in the foreground.

I hiked back to my car along the Coast Trail by light of the moon and stars. In the dark, I passed elk and deer, got close enough to an owl to feel it fluttering, and watched the green glow of coyote eyes as they tracked my passage. Nine miles later, foot weary but exalted: late night drive to a sleeping home.

Posted in Landscape, Photography, Point Reyes

Heads Up Heads Down

The Marin County marsh behind the shopping mall in Corte Madera was filled with water birds. Phyllis took Julian into the mall for a little shopping, with the promise to pick me up when they were done. I wandered round the fringes of the marsh, photographed these pelicans, and lusted for the new 500mm Nikon VR lens.

Posted in Bemusements, Photography

Wet Dahlia

What joy: to photograph water drops on flowers after the rain.

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Golden Gate Autumn

In a break in the early autumn rains, I headed for Indian Rock to photograph sunset. The sun glowed through the scudding clouds for a moment, and then a solid bank of gray quickly filled the sky.

[52.5mm in 35mm equivalent terms, 1/100 of a second at f/13 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Landscape, Photography, San Francisco Area

Day’s End

Phyllis and I ended the afternoon that began with a hike down to Cataract Falls and water drops with a visit to the wharf near Fort Point. In time for sunset behind the Golden Gate. We clambered down large, slick boulders onto this pocket beach, and camera on tripod I used a thirty second exposure to turn the waves silken soft.

[52.5mm in 35mm terms, 30 seconds at f/29 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Landscape, Photography, San Francisco Area

Happy Frog

This happy frog is a mosaic detail from the wonderful “magic stairway” at 16th Ave and Moraga in San Francisco.

[105mm f/2.8 macro lens, 157.5mm in 35mm terms, 1/15 of a second at f/36 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Bemusements, Photography, San Francisco Area


On Saturday, Rachel took care of the kids (God bless her!). Phyllis and I hiked down to Cataract Falls on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais. I carried a backpack of camera equipment and my Gitzo tripod (collectively described by Phyllis as “the other woman”).

On Friday, it had rained heavily and I was hoping that Cataract would be running hard. The rain was a bit unseasonally early, and the dry ground had absorbed most of the run-off, so the falls weren’t particularly impressive.

But deep in the folds of Mount Tamalpais, beautiful and bright sunlight glinted over the ridges, and struck fat remnant raindrops nestled in the trees. I pointed my camera up into a wet bough, directly at the water drops and sun.

[105mm f/2.8 macro lens, 157.5mm in 35mm equivalent terms, 36mm extension tube, +4 diopters close-up filter, 1/5 of a second at f/32 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Photography, Water Drops

How High Can You Go?

How high can you go? How low can you go? At least when the question is ISO…the answer depends on your hardware. In the case of my Nikon D200, high ISO (shown below) means ISO 1600. Low ISO (far below) means ISO 100, so there’s a 16 times difference in the amount of light being captured due to the sensitivity settings in the two photos, which were taken one after the other and post-processed in exactly the same way.

High ISO

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It’s important to understand that by increasing the ISO you are not really increasing a sensor’s ability to capture light, but rather just amplifying the signal with all the negative implications for Signal to Noise Ratio you might expect.

As a practical matter, bear in mind that noise shows more in dark areas than light areas (witness the lower left of the high noise version of this photo). The implication: in long exposure time and/or high ISO situations, where you know there will be plenty of noise, try to expose so dark areas don’t go really dark (at least if this doesn’t mean blowing out highlights).


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[Both images:142.5mm in 35mm terms, tripod mounted. High ISO version: 20 seconds at f/36 and ISO 1600; Low ISO version 30 seconds at f/11 and ISO 100.]

Posted in Photography

Faerie Rose on Black

This is a Faerie rose from a neglected part of our garden, first on white, then via an inversion of the Luminosity channel in LAB color, on black.

By the way, the original Photoshop files for these two images are huge, each a bit larger than 12″ X 24″ at 300 dpi (this leads to a file size of a couple of hundred megabytes, no wonder my hard drive space disappears so fast!).

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Faerie Bouquet

This is an intentionally overexposed photo of a spray of Faerie old-fashioned roses, taken with my new Canon G9. I placed the rose spray on a bright, white background, and lit the photo using a tungsten spotlight with an attached difuser.

The Canon is a little hard to use precisely, but certainly creates great files shooting in RAW mode, all 12.1 beautiful megapixels of each capture. Very impressive, considering the wonderful small size and low weight of the camera.

[Canon G9 at approximately 150mm in 35mm equivalent terms, 1/4 of a second and f/8 at ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Forest Floor

On an overcast but bright day in early October, my kids and I wandered the Yosemite Valley floor. By the side of the Merced River I set up my camera and tripod, and made a few exposures while the kids played on the river bank. Then I packed my gear up, and we walked along the banks round the bend, where a great bear was lumbering along side the river towards us.

[27mm in 35mm equivalent terms, 1/4 of a second at f/22 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Landscape, Photography, Yosemite

Trawling for Moonlight

The fishing trawler was returning to port through the Golden Gate. As the boat headed for the channel of moonlight, I realized that a long time exposure just wouldn’t do. I wanted to capture the trawler in the moonlight, not an abstraction of the boat rendered into colored lines of motion over the exposure duration. So I boosted the ISO to 1,000 and opened the shutter for a brief (for night) period of 2/5 of a second.

Trawling for Moonlight

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[300mm in 35mm equivalent terms, 2/5 of a second at f/5.6 and ISO 1000, selectively post-processed for noise, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Digital Night, Photography

Boy and Bug

We took the kids and their bicycles (always a production) to the Prospect-Sierra yard. Julian spotted this praying mantis, and the boy and the bug became fast friends. Before we left, he brought it gently to a nice bush.

Posted in Kids, Photography

Weight of Water

Back from my quick trip to Yosemite with the kids, Phyllis reminded me that I don’t need to go anywhere to take pictures. Sometimes one’s own backyard is more magical than any destination. Thanks, Phyllis!

This photo shows a translucent Dahlia petal with water drops resting on the petal and refecting a peony bush in California’s moderate autumn. The petal was blowing slightly in the wind. In order to get the depth of field I needed at a fast enough shutter speed to stop the motion (1/40 of a second), I boosted my sensitivity setting to ISO 640. Raise high the ISO, photographers!

In post-processing, I edited out noise from higher-than-my-normal ISO selectively. I didn’t do anything about noise in the petal or water drop areas, because diminishing the noise would have softened these elements, and I wanted them to stay crisp.

You’ll notice that I used quite a combination of macro equipment for this extreme close-up (see below). The Nikon 6T is a + 2.9 diopter close-up filter, and the 5T is a +1.5 filter. Since stacking these filters is additive, I get +4.4 diopters magnification using this pair, and relatively good optical quality in the bargain.

[200mm f/4 macro lens (300mm in 35mm equivalent terms), 36mm extension tube, Nikon 6T and Nikon 5T close-up filters stacked, 1/40 of a second at f/36 and ISO 640, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Photography, Water Drops


I thought it would be interesting to see my image of Church Towers from the Yosemite Valley floor in winter as it might have looked as a palladium or platinum toned print.

First I converted the image to black and white in Photoshop, using the so-called Ansel Adams effect (results below). I converted the black and white image to grayscale, then converted the image to Tritone, picking colors and adjusting the curves to get the effect I liked. As a last step, I converted back to RGB added a red-tinged adjustment layer in Color blending mode to pick up a hint of red for my “toned” digital image.

Beyond the Forest: Black & White

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Posted in Landscape, Photography, Photoshop Techniques, Yosemite