Sunday, May 31, 2009

What's Been Occupying My Time

My personal discipline of trying to post a picture every day got interrupted this past week due to this little guy. On Tuesday, May 26, my fourth grandson was born. This is the firstborn of my daughter, Terri and her husband, Bryce. They live in Port Alberni, B.C., where we live so this is the first grandchild who we will be able to see without a big trip across the water to the interior.

His name is Seth and he was almost 8 lbs. when he was born. I love the little fist he is making and I like to think he is getting ready for his three older cousins.

Specs: Canon 30D, 17-85 lens @ 47 mm, 1/15 sec @ f6.3, ISO 200.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New Grandchild

I just realized that I had not posted a picture today, mainly because things have been happening. My daughter gave birth to this little guy yesterday morning and I worked nights last night and tonight so I haven't had much time to get to a posting.

But, I'm trying to keep some continuity so here is Seth, today's picture.

Specs: Born @ 8:08 a.m. on May 26, 2009, 7 lbs., 14 oz. @ 21.25 in. length, status: doing well.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kamloops Lake

On our way back from Vernon on September 18, 2008, we went via Kamloops. This is a shot of Kamloops Lake. I used Topaz Filters for this one, Denoise to remove, well, noise and then two different Adjust presets, one to pop out the foreground and background and one to smooth out the lake to get this look. Some masking to combine what I wanted for the final image and this is it.

Specs: Canon 30D, 17-85 lens @ 70mm, 1/250 @ f11, ISO 500. (Hmm, I definitely need to learn to reset to ISO 100 or check it before I shoot. I could have easily shot at ISO 200 with a shutter speed of about 1/100 and been good.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Montreal Revisited

This picture was put up in an earlier posting but I revisited the other day to see what I could do with it in Topaz.

I took the PSD file I had from my original work on it and applied the Denoise filter from Topaz before playing with the Adjust filter. I liked a black and white preset that I have and so I applied it. I had used a gaussian glow preset in the original treatment with some masking and when I put it back in play (at 39% blend level) it brought back just a touch of the original blue while maintaining the moodiness from the black and white treatment.

I guess this kind of underscores the importance of saving files in PSD with all the layers still there because it leaves it open for further adjustments in the future. Hard drive space is cheap these days.

Specs: Canon 30D, 17-85 lens @ 53mm, 1/25 @ f5.6, ISO 400.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Purple and White

Had Sushi take out after painting the living room walls the other day. I liked how the light was shining on the little Japanese Maple tree my wife got for her birthday so I grabbed the camera to take some shots. The maple didn't turn out but I took a few shots of some flowers around, this one first, and liked how it looked, so here it is.

The only adjustments were minor ones to pump the contrast a bit and I did clone out some web-like stuff that I found distracting.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 200mm, 1/50 @ f4, ISO 200, taken May 21, 2009.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sunflower Visited

Here a favorite "grab" shot of mine. I like sunflowers and we were at Davison Orchard in Vernon, B.C. on July 20, 2007 when I took this shot as I walked by these sunflowers. I hadn't had my SLR for very long and was just learning how to use it (although I did have prior experience with a film SLR) and I was quite happy how this turned out since I don't consider myself a flower or a macro shooter.

I revisited it a couple of days ago and the only real change was that I used Topaz Denoise for a little cleanup and Topaz Adjust to give it a color pop.

Specs: Canon 30D, 17-85 lens @ 76mm, 1/320 @ f11, ISO 800.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ferry Chains

I took this shot on June 26, 2007, a few days after getting my Canon 30D. I was on the ferry going over to Powell River and thought these chains would be interesting. I took another look a couple of days ago and used Topaz Adjust to bring out some details.

Specs: Canon 30D, 17-85 lens @ 85mm, 1/13 @ f5.6, ISO 100.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

View From a Rest Stop

When returning from Vernon, we often stop at the Hunter Creek roadside rest just west of Hope. We stopped on May 7, 2009 on our way back (bathroom break) but I took a moment to pull out my camera and take two shots. This was one of them.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 70mm, 1/250 @ f4, ISO 100, Conversion to black and white using Topaz Adjust.

I've never really listed what camera mode I shoot in but pretty much everything taken without flash is shot in Aperture priority. Any portraits taken using a flash is usually shot in manual.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Rena!

Today is my wife's, Rena, birthday and I must put a picture of her up here on the blog.

Though Rena loves all of her grandchildren equally, there is a bit of a special bond with this one. Lucas was born prematurely last June, ended up briefly in Children's Hospital in Vancouver before eventually going home. Shortly after, Rena went to Vernon and spent a month helping Jen and Neil out with this one and his two older brothers. Naturally, she held this one quite a bit and bonded with him. So, everytime we see him, Rena wants a picture of him and her for her facebook profile. This is the most recent from May 6, 2009.

But, the main point is that today is Rena's birthday and I want to wish her a happy one. It has been a great joy growing older with her and I hope to celebrate many, many more with her.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tall Ship HDR

Whew, this personal commitment to post a picture every day has me scrambling to find and develop pictures I've taken in the past since I don't seem to be getting out and shooting much these days. Laziness, mainly. I need to challenge myself to at least go for a walk in the evening just around where I live and see what I can find.

Anyway, this picture was taken on June 30, 2008 in Victoria, B.C. There were some tall ships that had been in and were departing. This one was still sitting here so I took three shots at three different exposures which can be great for HDR photos. I merged them to HDR in Photoshop, did the minor Photoshop thing by converting to 16 bit exposure, but then used Topaz adjust to really get what I was after. This is the result. The photo composure could be better because the ship sits smack in the middle of the frame, but cropping away the left would mean losing the mast and I'd rather have that.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 89mm, f11 and three exposures with the base exposure at 1/200, and then 1 1/3 stops faster at 1/80 and 1 1/3 stops slower at 1/500. I know, it sounds backwards but I think I have it right. You get faster by opening up the aperture (ie. f11 to f8) or leaving the shutter open longer which means a slower shutter speed allowing more light in thus making it a faster exposure. I'm not sure if this is right terminology for shutter speeds but I know it is for aperture. A f1.4 lens is faster than a f4 lens. Any questions?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Beautiful Amanda

This beauty is Amanda, my future daughter-in-law, also taken at that ball game of Nathan's. Here she is playing catch with her fiance and my son, Jeremy. I won't comment on her catching technique.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 200mm, 1/800 @f4, ISO 200, Topaz adjust filter used.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Another Shot of Lucas

Here's another shot of Lucas at Nathan's ballgame. What is it about babies that make them so photogenic? All kids, actually.

Nothing special done to this picture, just a bit of contrast adjustment.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 111mm, 1/1000 @ f4, ISO 200.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Clouds and Split Toning

I know that this image is largely a bunch of nothing but I thought the clouds were interesting and I wanted a bit of the sun in the image as well. When I looked at it and started playing with it in ACR, I decided I best liked the split toning tab and adjusted settings until I got the gold and blue colors seen here.

I also played with it in Topaz Adjust and found some funky looks but ended up not using any of them. I did apply a Levels adjustment layer, but that was it.

There is something awesome and peaceful about this to me, so I like it and the colors. If you pay attention to f stops and shutter speeds you'll see that it is bright shooting into the sun.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 135mm, 1/3200 sec @ f11, ISO 100.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Grandson Nathan - The Baseball Player

Here he is. The guy we all went to watch. Here's Nathan hitting the ball off of a tee. Looks like a pro swing to me.

I used the same high pass filter processing as yesterday in this picture.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 155mm, 1/160 @ f6.3, ISO 200.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Grandson Ben

Here is a shot of my grandson, Ben, also at his older brother's baseball game in Vernon last week. (I'd better get a picture of the baseball player posted.)

I used the high pass filter in Photoshop, using a technique I read about in the May/June 2009 issue of Digital PhotoPro magazine.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 70 mm, 1/250 sec @ f6.3, ISO 200.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Grandson Lucas

My wife and I made a quick trip up to Vernon last week. We were able to my grandson Nathan's ball practice so I took my camera to get some shots of him playing baseball. I'll have some up in the next couple of days.

I also shot some other things including the baby of the family (at least until my daughter has her baby), Lucas.

This was shot in late afternoon light, with no flash of any kind. I did some adjustments in ACR and then used Topaz Denoise but not Adjust. I ran a couple of actions I have to increase contrast a bit and smooth the skin a bit. And I cloned out someone else's body part in the upper left hand corner.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 176 mm, 1/640 sec @ f4, ISO 200.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fall Fair 2008, Part 3

And one more from the Fall Fair. One of the things I enjoy about the Topaz Adjust filter is the ability to pop out the colors in all areas of the photo. So a picture that was taken that looked great to the eye and then looked a bit blah when you throw it up on screen, can now get back to something maybe even better than what you saw initially.

I have read some criticisms of this type of look saying it isn't realistic. While that may be true, it is also true that the human eye is amazing in terms of its ability to adjust for just about any lighting situation. The camera, as great as it is, is nowhere near the level of the eye. And so we use tools to try and get back to that level.

In this picture I was trying to get Mount Arrowsmith in the background through the foreground of the fair midway. I had made little effort at this particular shot but when I through the Adjust filter at it, it improved a bit. Not a huge keeper but the colors make it worth posting.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 111mm, 1/400 @ f8, ISO 200.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fall Fair 2008, Part 2

Here is another shot from the Fall Fair last September.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 700 mm, 1/125 sec @ f7.1, ISO 100, Topaz Adjust.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fall Fair 2008

We have a Fall Fair every September in Port Alberni. We usually try to get there on the first night because it is usually the cheap night.

I took my camera along this time and grabbed a few shots that I thought were interesting. And Topaz Adjust just makes the colors pop.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 70mm, 1/25 @ f 7.1, ISO 100.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Different Portrait Look

I realized today at work that I had no post scheduled for today so here is something I was playing with a bit last night. I got this idea and suggestion from a Tim Grey's Daily Digital Question newsletter (sign up here) and it supposed to simulate a look used in the Wall Street Journal by Kevin Sprouls. Now, if you look at the link you will see that this really doesn't look much like the work done by Sprouls, but it is still a pretty cool effect I think.

I did this fairly quickly on a picture of my grandson, Ben taken a couple of months ago and I'm sure I could do a lot better job on it with some experimenting, but, since it is already tomorrow in the eastern time zone, I wanted to get something up so my consistency of late is not broken.

Here are Tim Grey's instructions on how to do this from his May 8, 2009 newsletter. I created an action to make it much quicker and there is a lot to play with:

"Start by opening a portrait you'd like to apply the effect to. Then create a copy of the Background layer by dragging the thumbnail for the Background layer on the Layers panel to the Create New Layer button (the blank sheet of paper icon) at the bottom of the panel. With the Background Copy layer active on the Layers panel, choose Image > Adjustments > Invert to invert the colors on this layer. Then change the blend mode for the Background Copy layer to Color Dodge using the popup at the top-left of the Layers panel.

Next, choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Adjust the Radius to refine the degree of detail in the sketch version of the image, then click OK. Add a Black & White adjustment layer without applying any changes, just to remove the color from the resulting image. Then add a Levels adjustment layer. Bring the black point (directly under the histogram on the left side) inward to darken up the lines in the sketch, and fine-tune overall as needed."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Garden Shovel

A friend of my wife picked up one of these and my wife liked it so much that we bought one also for the garden.

Specs: Canon 30D, 17-85 lens @ 61mm, 1/125 sec @f8, ISO 100.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bird Bath

This is a lovely birdbath that our daughter and son-in-law gave to my wife for Christmas. I did use the Topaz Adjust filter just on the birdbath. (Layers are a great tool in Photoshop.)

The one other major adjustment I did was in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) with a great new feature in CS4 called the adjustment brush. In the original, the bowl part was quite dark. With the adjustment brush I was able to increase the exposure level and bring out the color in the bowl under the rim. Now, if I had made the effort I could have used a reflector, or a little bit of flash to do the same thing, but I was just grabbing a couple shots of the garden for facebook so it is nice to be able to make an adjusment in Photoshop.

Specs: Canon 30D, 17-85 lens @ 61 mm, 1/125 sec @ f8, ISO 100, Topaz adjust (on the birdbath and a mild contrast pop on the entire photo).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Daffodils Again

Here is another shot of two different daffodils from the garden.

I definitely need to make the time to get out and do some shooting. Between work and painting at home and just plain laziness I haven't ventured further than the back yard so there will be a couple more shots from the garden over the next couple of days.

I'm off on a quick trip to Vernon to deliver some furniture so maybe I'll have a chance to shoot something a little different.

Or not.

Specs: Canon 30D, 17-85 lens @ 85mm, 1/400 sec @ f5.6, ISO 100

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cruise Ship

Between living on Vancouver Island and having family in the interior of B.C., my wife and I spend a lot of time on the ferry. In fact, I was on the ferry yesterday for a quick trip to Vernon (but, because I pre-post these, it is actually the wee hours of April 29 as I write this.) This shot was taken last July 24 on my way home.

Sometimes I take my camera up to the passenger decks with me and sometimes I don't. (I should always because you never know.) This was one time I didn't take it up. But we came back down to the car a few minutes early and I noticed a cruise ship off in the distance so I pulled the camera out and took a few shots. And then the shot basically just sat there until I started posting regularly to a blog no one really looks at, but is nonetheless a good exercise for me. I played with this shot a bit in Adobe Camera Raw, mainly giving it a warmer look and I like the golden sky, the monochrome mountain in the backgroun and the bright reflection of the sun on the side of the cruise ship. I'm glad I rediscovered it.

Specs: Canon 30 D, 70-200 lens @ 200mm, 1/400 @ f11, ISO 100. Topaz Denoise.

Monday, May 4, 2009


I like Marigolds. Not really sure why, just something about them appeal to me. Especially these mixed color types. The red and yellow together are just somehow extremely pleasing to my senses. My wife know I like Marigolds and so she bought a bunch for some planters we have around the house. And I took a picture of this one.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 200mm, 1/80 sec @ f4, ISO 100, Topaz Adjust for a mild contrast boost.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Two Tulip Views

I took this shot in my wife's garden on April 22. Just like the daffodils I mentioned in an earlier post, I don't think we've ever had tulips, either. I have found it a bit fascinating to watch these flowers grow and develop and I found the formed, but unopened (at the time) flowers to have an interesting look about them. The reddish color at the top of the bud is an indication of the beautiful color of these tulips, but it also reminds me somewhat of lips and The Little Shop of Horrors. Beautiful, exotic, but with just a touch of danger about it.

Especially when you rotate the picture 90 degrees clockwise! It takes on some alien look in my mind.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 200 mm, 1/125 sec @ f4, ISO 100. Contrast pop in Topaz Adjust.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Victoria Street Scene

Even though I am getting very few visitors to the site, I am enjoying the exercise of posting every day for the simple reason it forces me to review pictures and eventually it will drive me from my complacency and get out shooting some more.

One nice thing as I go through pictures is to discover ones that I had forgotten I even took. I can be a rapid fire shooter, just wandering around and taking pictures of anything that looks interesting, not spending a whole lot of time. I believe this is the only shot I took of this group of young people on the streets of Victoria, B.C. making music. I think I shot from across the road, and, the color snaps out with the use of the Topaz Adjust filter. Taken just up the road from the Victoria Harbour shot posted yesterday. Also from June 30, 2008.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 135mm, 1/50 sec @ f4, ISO 100.

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Different Ferry

Last summer, my wife spent a month in Vernon with my son and his wife, after their third son was born prematurely. She went just to help out in those first few weeks. So we drove down to Victoria, B.C. on June 30, 2008 so she could fly out the next day. We stayed with my daughter-in-laws parents who lived in Victoria at the time.

This is a little ferry in the Victoria harbour that takes you around from place to place, kind of like a little water taxi. I thought it made a nice shot.

Specs: Canon 30D, 70-200 lens @ 70 mm, 1/320 sec @ f4, ISO 100.