Category: Glimpses

Ceanothus

Ceanothus is also known as California Lilac. it is a shrub with glossy green leaves (as you can see in the photo!). It comes in other colors, too, but the blue is the original color. To me, it is always the sign that spring is on the way – and today I found it, along with a lot of other plants in bloom. I was as busy as a bee!

I used my Nikon V3 and 70-300mm lens, which, with a 2.8 crop factor, makes the 300mm closer to 810mm. It allows for great shots and I totally forget, until I use it, what a wonderful system it is.

Red

This morning the sky is mottled with clouds and the light is soft. Bright red flowers seem even brighter than ever.

I keep meaning to find out the name of these – never seem to find their label in the garden. Time to set about on a hunt, like I do annually for the daffodils and narcissus.

A Patch of Daffodils

This is a panorama shot with a very narrow DOF. The focal point could have been better, but it is the row of daffs in front of the trees. The third clump in the very front from the left is best in focus, but I probably could have focused on the blooms in the second clump. Oh well.

I probably took 60 or so images here, and got a really well-covered area. The point is to see the different layers of in and out of focus areas. The foreground is sort of in focus, then the daffodils, and then moving back, the trees become increasingly more blurred. Sometimes doing these big panoramas can produce exciting pictures – other times, rather meh to downright worthless.  If you enlarge the picture, you will be able to see the levels of focus more clearly.

The beauty of digital! So much can be thrown away, so much can be play, so much can be a learning experience that is cheap – film does not make this an economic adventure at all.

Making Panoramas in LR and PS

My interest in panoramas was sparked by the wedding photography of Ryan Brenizer and what has become called the Brenizer Method.  Essentially, Ryan Brenizer became famous for creating a very narrow DOF in panorama portraits of couples.  I think they’re great!  I have used it in landscapes and still lifes with some success.  It’s where digital cameras are so good to have in your camera collection.

Taking panoramas is fun with a DSLR or whatever D style camera you use.  I think smaller numbers of pixels help if you tend to shoot a lot of images.  I know I do.  My Df is a 16 megapixel camera, and sometimes i just take a scattergun approach to shooting – lots of images covering more area than I think I want.  I try to take a picture of my hand to show where my pano pictures begin and start.

To get consistent image exposure, it’s necessary to use manual exposure and turn off auto focus.  Consequently, I like to take an image using my preferred f/stop and do everything else on auto.  Test images are important and worth the few minutes required to do. This will give me my shutter speed and iso.  If the image is too light, I might drop the EV and so on.  Once I like what I see, I set up the manual techniques, take a picture of my hand – often out of focus – and begin to take pictures.  On a conservative day, I take maybe 20 images; on others I have taken as many as 130 or so.  Fewer images taken  works out better – easier on you (that camera gets heavy) – and easier on your software and computer when stitching the images together.

I have also done panoramas using digitalized film images.

Once done, I import my images into LR.  Looking for my hands, I export the images into subdirectories labeled, conveniently, Pano 1, Pano 2, etc.  Use whatever you like.  During the export, I change everything in size, using, for instance, 1024 as the length of the long side of the image.  When you have a 100 images, reducing in size is important.  You can also apply filters globally across these smaller images.  These details I assume you know how to do, or learn.

After reducing all the images in size, I do a Cntl-A in the subdirectory to get all the images, and do, in LR, Edit, Merge to Pano in PS (down at the bottom of the pop-up menu).  Off to PS and after clicking OK, the magic begins.  It can take awhile.  The nice thing about using PS as opposed to LR for a photomerge is that any ones which cannot be used in the pano are kicked to their own spots in the final image.

Here is an example of a panorama I took the other day.  All told, 137 images.  You can see that PS decided some did not belong in the final merge.

This pano was also just plain bad. I redid it and this was the result:

The panorama in PS can be more than huge! Make sure you go to Layers and choose Flatten Image. If you try to save it without doing this, PS will bug you to remind you. Do it. Then save it and it will go back to whatever directory you have the original images in LR.

After cropping and editing, the final result was this one you see at the top of this post.

Just Washed

I am not a fan of washing dishes, or housework in general, so modern conveniences like dishwashers are much appreciated. However, some things are just not meant to be sent through the dishwasher. These include wooden cooking utensils, such as this one made by my husband, teflon pans, Le Creuset, and so on.

And, besides not liking housework, I must admit there are times when immediacy is a true pleasure. That pleasure can be found with the digital camera! If you have been following along here, you know that film is by far the dominant photo force these days, but yesterday after spending several hours cleaning up the side patio of last year’s dead things, it was nice to pull out the Df and wander around. I wandered around the house, the back yard, posed my vase of daffs, observed my porch lamps, and so on. Nothing exciting, just enjoyable. The dogs were even well behaved and I got a couple of cute ones there, too.

So, en route to the Valley – the San Fernando Valley to be specific – I will drop off a roll at the nearby photo lab – and await its return. Meanwhile, the Df is back in action, and will be now that the weather has sweetened up a bit. Digital and film are great companions when you are out and about.

Ready to Plant

Today is a day to spend cleaning up the side patio – aka “The Dog-Free Zone” or DFZ – getting rid of dead, dried stems, old planting soil, digging up bulbs to replant and share. The usual gardening stuff. And, to plant some peppers: Mirasol chilis.

There is something that got my eye with these chilis. The plant is tall and upright, and the peppers stick upright, like fingers, from the far end of the stalk. The flavor is good, too.

So, into some coconut planting containers to see if, in SoCal, I can get these seeds to germinate in our mild weather. I plan to date the planting containers and move through them over a course of several weeks to see if they will pop up. No idea if they are self-fertilizing, so we will see what we will see.

Nothing like spring cleaning before spring planting!