Reflections on a year in 365 photographs

Posts Tagged ‘EF28-105mm II f3.5-4.5


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This image comes from Barker's Dam, Joshua Tree National Park.


I spent the day criss-crossing Joshua Tree National Park, taking more than 400 photographs.  The park is one of the most achingly beautiful places I’ve seen  in all my world travels.  I’ve developed a strong spiritual connection to the land in the four times I’ve been here.   I am continually amazed at the thriving ecosystem in a place most would consider stark and barren.

Deep in the heart of the area now known as Joshua Tree National Park, Bill Keys built a ranch near a hidden valley.  Later, Barker Dam was built to hold water against the parched summer.  Today Barker Dam still fills after the rains and last week’s torrents filled the pond near to brimming.  When I got to the site, the wind was blowing distracting ripples and breaking up the amazing reflections.  And just as yesterday, a bit of patience resulted in an outstanding image.

So taking another page from yesterday’s reflection theme, here’s number thirty-one…


Written by Brian Fancher

January 31, 2010 at 11:16 pm


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Sunset reflections on a lake.



Patience is a virtue.  I visited an extinct volcanic crater with some colleagues today and spent an afternoon shooting hundreds of images.  There were plenty of good photographs among them, but I still felt there were better images out there.  After the sunset proved mostly benign, we headed back toward 29 Palms.  

We had barely gotten down the road when I looked right and saw this image.  I braked hard enough to dump everything off of the seats, but quickly recovered, jumped out, and shot a good string of photos.  I knew they would jump off the screen.  I could have wished for a less regular composition, but there was no time to find a better angle before the fleeting light passed.

Written by Brian Fancher

January 31, 2010 at 1:59 am


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Following up on last night’s HDR airball, I went back to the same spot today, armed with the right settings on my Canon 40D to ensure a proper 5-stop, 3-image bracket.  As I headed downtown this afternoon, the sky promised some fireworks at sunset.  But as I finished an 8 mile running loop I saw the horizon start to become soupy and indistinct.  I took some brackets of the bridge but the sky in that direction was flat and grey.  

When things aren’t really working, turn around.  You never know what you’re going to find.  The sky here is still not exploding, but the bands of pink and magenta break up the greys and blues to make a worthwhile image.  

You can see the extra detail throughout this shot that is the product of an HDR merged photograph.  There are a few ways to make HDR images.  Photoshop has its own merging capabilities, but generally produces less than satisfactory images.  For this shot’s workflow I uploaded my CF card into Aperture 2.1 and then exported the three exposures to the Photomatix Aperture Plugin.  Once I had the image merged and tone-mapped I exported to Photoshop for a bit of curves adjustment, sizing, and sharpening.  There is a lot of information in this image that isn’t going to show up on a monitor.  With a couple of days’ work this image could actually pop right off of the page.  I will revisit it when I’ve got more time.  

So for today, I’ve conquered my camera’s bracketing with 2-second timer and mirror lock-up settings.  Success!  What have you done to challenge yourself to do better today?  

Check out my Flikr Photostream for more HDR images from today.

Written by Brian Fancher

January 21, 2010 at 1:35 am


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Lesson for the day:  Know your equipment.  Read the manual.  A lot!  I had planned this for an HDR image.  I took plenty of exposures thinking I had auto-bracketing on, with the base exposure at  -1 EV.  I was also using the 2-second timer and mirror lock-up.  Somehow that combination did not add up into bracketed exposures and I ended up with groups of three of the same image.

In my favor was that I’d set the base exposure for -1 EV so that the bridge was not blown out completely and could be salvaged in post.

Still, the HDR will be far more dramatic.  I think I’ll try this same shot next week with proper exposure bracketing.

Written by Brian Fancher

January 20, 2010 at 4:19 am


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Every kid should have a trampoline.  Or a friend with a trampoline.  So sayeth Mrs. Sojourns!  We bought our boys a trampoline for Christmas and they’ve instantly become the most popular kids in the neighborhood.  Oh to be a kid again.  They can jump for hours on end!

A perfect opportunity to try some shooting outdoors in bright sunlight.  I ball-bungeed a 580 EX II strobe with a 1/4 CTO to one of the netting uprights on camera right.  I set the camera white balance to “cloudy” and triggered with Canon’s ST-E2.  While I normally shoot with both camera and flashes on manual, today I decided to use ETTL flash and Shutter Priority because I didn’t want to have to climb off the roof to adjust the strobe settings.  With ETTL I could dial the strobe up or down without moving from my shooting position.  I also used AI Servo focusing to try to keep up with the fast-jumping boys.  All-in-all, this turned out pretty well and I had a couple of keepers in a relatively few shutter clicks.

Lesson for the day:  When shooting in this situation with these settings, it may be best to avoid blue shirts.  The other boy had a blue shirt on and he ended up with blue skin tones despite the 1/4 CTO on the strobe.  I suppose I could have also tossed on a 1/2 or 3/4 CTO instead, but that would have meant climbing off the roof.

Written by Brian Fancher

January 18, 2010 at 6:32 pm


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Hands can tell you a lot about a person.  Hands wear our daily duty with perseverance and patience like a comfortable, old, timeworn cloak.  With our hands we create or destroy.  With our hands we comfort or compel.  With our hands we rescue or cast away.  In times of need our hands build bridges.  In times of plenty our hands harvest the bounty.  What did your hands do today?

“Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Written by Brian Fancher

January 16, 2010 at 1:42 am


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Fifteen minutes and a polarizer filter; that’s all it took to create this image.  Having left work later than planned, I had scant time for today’s capture so I took a quick detour through a waterfront park hoping I could find something interesting.  The park teems with art and sculpture which might have made cool images if I’d had some lighting with me.  There were no ships passing close on the water.  And the cold temperatures had driven all the visitors into their warm cars to head home for dinner.

Enter the lowly rock.  You’ve seen one rock picture, you’ve seen them all, right?  Ok.  Add a bit of water and wave action.  Toss in a bit of twilight and we’re getting there.  Of course there was still too much light to get a properly long exposure for blurring the water.  The best I could do at a ridiculous f32 was a couple of seconds.  And I was running out of time to get home to dinner myself.  What to do?  Aha!  Pull out my trusty old EF28-105 II f3.5-4.5 on which I keep a circular polarizer permanently mounted.  That polarizer is worth about 1.7 stops which translated into a 13 second exposure; enough time to blur the water into an ethereal quality.  Perfect!  Just compose on a diagonal for a bit of drama and voila…something from nothing.

Lesson for the day:  Someone commented on another project photo that I might have had the tool at hand that I wished I’d had, but didn’t use.  So today, when I was racking my brain on how to get the image I wanted, I dug a little deeper in my kit bag and came up with the right solution.

Written by Brian Fancher

January 12, 2010 at 12:37 am