Saturday, August 23, 2014

Restaurant Mural

On our trips to Colorado throughout the years, our family has taken quite a few stops at quite a few gas stations.  But I don't think I've ever had a photo op quite like this one on any of those stops.

I walked out of the gas station with some of the younger siblings, and was fascinated by the beautiful mountains, clouds hanging over them.  I hooked up my telephoto lens, and shot a few frames behind the van.  But what really fascinated me was what I saw when I looked away from the mountains across the street.  An artist was busy painting up a mural on a Mexican restaurant (you can see the pink on the blue river painted on his right side), and was hunched over, inspecting every detail.

I cropped this photo to a letterbox shape to create a sort of panorama of the building.  I didn't notice that he was dipping his brush into the paint bucket until I viewed the photo on the computer.

I zoomed out for most of the shots, wanting to have empty space for cropping later.  The artist reminded me of something I had read in a  photography edition of a magazine: "If you start feeling like an artist, your photos will turn out much better."

I tested out some dodging and burning techniques I read about, and this one was taken when we pulled out of the parking lot, and (although it will never be good enough for Flickr) I think the blur that was caused by a slight bump in the road adds a little atmosphere. 

On our way home, I didn't get to see what the end product looked like, but I'm glad I siezed the moment when I could.  Sometimes, photographers (including me) forget to look up from the limiting viewfinder, and don't notice what else is around them.

Friday, August 22, 2014

In My Element (A Trip to a Camera Store)

I stepped out of my Dad's truck, camera bag in tow, and stood by the shop door as he opened it for me.  I walked inside, and saw hundreds of photography-related items for sale.  Oh my, I was thinking, this is awesome!

After taking a few minutes out to explore, I walked up to the counter where a  nice, older man was handling some lenses.  I introduced myself with a "hello" and opened up my bag, explaining my problem: my 15-55mm zoom lens was acting up, making a weird noise when focusing at certain zooms, and getting stuck between the 25-35mm mark.

He took a good, long look at it, then started to test the zoom.  After a few minutes, he told me that, honestly, it just wasn't worth the money to get it repaired, but to rather buy a 'new' one.  The man gave me a sideways glance that told me I was in for a real treat.  He took a few lenses from the counter's glass case, and chose one of them to place on my camera body (a Nikon D3200). 

Well, we "played around," as he called it, with a whole bunch of different lenses, including a heavy, $700 telephoto lens with a view that reached clear across the street and farther, and a funny little fisheye lens.  My little sister had accompanied me, and the man instructed me to point the fisheye directly at her nose.  Oh my.  Even just looking through the lens, I could tell it would turn out to be a very hilarious shot.  I took my eye away from the viewfinder, threw my head back, and let out a giggle.  I was definitely enjoying myself, to say the least.

The man was having a good time, too.  He enjoyed his work, giving me info, and liked toying around with my camera.  He told me quite a few things about it that I didn't know.  "I'm a Nikon man," he said.  He wasn't the kind of person who wanted to lure you in with the latest thing, and he didn't want me to just throw away my money.  In fact, nearly all the lenses he showed me were $99, used ones.

My Dad came over to the counter to hear about what was going on, and the man told him that he liked me, that I was a fun girl to be around, and that I knew what I was doing.  He said people like that make his job fun.  My Dad told him, "Well, that's what I think of her, too."  They were being a couple of sweet guys, and I felt all good inside...and the wheels in my mind were turning, trying to remember everything I had learned.

The photography world needs good men like that who enjoy their job, bringing that enthusiasm to younger people like me.  I didn't buy a lens that day, but somehow I knew I'd be back soon.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Why I'll (Probably) Never Shoot RAW Again

Recently, my family and I took a week-long trip to the awesome state of Colorado.  I charged my camera batteries, emptied my memory cards, packed my bag, and we were on the road (a few hours later, of course...with all the kids in tow, we don't get out the door as fast as some people!). 

We reached the mountains, and I started shooting with my camera set to different exposures, and fiddling with other settings.  I had 'puffed up' my knowledge of portrait photography with a lot of books from the library before we had left on our trip, but some of the ideas worked on landscape photos, too.

One subject I kept seeing was the ever-recommended "shoot in RAW, and don't look back."  Well, I thought, "Hey, why not try it out?"  My mistake.
I failed to read up on it, and switched my image setting from Fine to RAW.  I continued shooting like always.  Throughout the whole trip, actually.

A whole 32GB card filled with mountains, horses, plants, fish, and other things later...

I came home, and emptied my card.  Or, at least, I tried to.  Windows Media wouldn't let me see my photos.  Photoshop refused to open them for editing.  Picmonkey would only take JPEG.

I actually started crying (no kidding) because I thought I had lost all of the photos I had recorded.  The great ones and the blurry ones.  The family documentations and the just-for-fun shots.  Everything.  Period.

Google and my Mom came to the rescue.  After a while, we figured out that RAW is converted, and all that what-not.  But even the converter we downloaded didn't work.  So, I had to go through all. my. photos. manually.  I had to convert my photos, on-camera, from RAW back to Fine. 

But then, another roadblock occurred.  When I plugged in my camera to my laptop (my computer's card reader doesn't work), none of my manually converted photos showed up.  They had just disappeared! 

Well, I started crying again (hey, I thought I had just lost all my work!  How would you feel?).  Then,  my smart Mom told me something to the effect of "Quit being such a crybaby," and proceeded to experiment with the problem.

She booted up her Mac, and slipped the card into it.  And here comes the end of the climax. 

ALL my photos showed up!  I was SO excited. 

One problem, though.  ALL the photos I hadn't converted back to Fine were still in RAW.  And a 32GB card can store over 1,000 photos in my Nikon D3200.  And I had barely reached the 400 photo line.  And, yes, I'm still going through all my photos on my camera, converting them one.  by.  one.

But, the good thing is that my photos are okay.  Safe.  Secure.

And though all the photographers in all the portrait books I read shoot in RAW, I'm content right now to just stick with good ol' Fine.  And besides, when I had just got my DSLR, my photographer friend told me to set it on Fine.  So, that's where it stays for now.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll kick it back to RAW again someday.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Clock Face

I was practicing some amateur portrait photography with my little brother, who stood on a piano bench so he was close enough to eye level with me.  Wanting a solid prop, I took a clock from the dining room wall.  I told him to hold the clock up to his face, and he laughed so hard behind it!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Late Night Cake

One night not too long ago, my Gram bought a cake from Walmart for us.  After having a couple pieces (and, no, I don't want to know how many calories they were!), I was so tired that I lay my head down on the table.  The interesting perspective I saw was pretty cool, and I don't think I would have seen it otherwise.  I put my camera in the exact place and snapped this picture.  My Dad was tracking the calories on his phone, and I think it added a little humor to the shot.