Elsie and Me

Reverse engineering photography, random thoughts and other stuff


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Nature’s tree lighting ceremony

treelights

I love these early evenings when the sun is low in the sky and illuminates the foliage just so. I drove past at least half a dozen photo ops on the way home tonight before capturing this one from my deck. Did I mention I love having the Hudson in my backyard?

Elsie chose a shutter speed of 1/100 and f5.5 for this. That was in Auto. I shot the same scene a few minutes later using her Landscape mode, and while she chose the exact same settings, this was the result.treelights2

It wasn’t that much later, but this one doesn’t pop like the first one. What do you think?

On a related note, lately Elsie seems to be going through batteries like Sherman through Georgia. I’m going to start taking them out between uses and see if that helps. I know it does with some devices that use conventional batteries. Otherwise I’ll wind up putting myself in the poorhouse and the Energizer Bunny’s kids through college.

Happy spring! Warm weather is returning soon.


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Here’s to the morris

douganddon

Morris dancing — or as my significant other likes to refer to it in the presence of non-morris folk, “that weird dance thing we do” — is one of my favorite subjects to photograph. It’s colorful, and sometimes I can catch the dancers in midair (like this), or capture a perfect facial expression, like in the shot above.

Elsie and I shot this on May Day in Washington Park, Albany, N.Y. The two gentlemen are Doug and Don from the Pokingbrook Morris Dancers, Albany’s local morris team.

I used Elsie’s sports setting (very handy for shooting morris) and continuous drive mode. She chose a shutter speed of 1/400 and f2.6.

If weather permits (and that’s a big if), we will be back in Washington Park on Saturday, May 13, to dance at the Tulip Festival, with a dance stand earlier in the day at the Apple Blossom Festival at Riverview Orchards in Clifton Park.

On another note, I want to thank Chuck Miller, formerly a Times Union community blogger who now blogs here, for the shout-out and link. Chuck is an award-winning photographer who does some amazing work. He’s a master of thinking outside boxes and pushing envelopes to create one-of-a-kind images.

You can see some of his best work now through June 30 in the gallery at St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands. (What? Of course a cemetery has an art gallery. Don’t they all?) His “Vivaldi’s Pond” absolutely must be seen in person — it’s both breathtaking and mind-blowing.

Chuck is also a talented writer. His Collarworld stories are pure brilliance — he has created an afterlife for animals that is moving without being maudlin.

Oh, and he’s also a total sweetheart. I met him at the reception for his gallery show, and he couldn’t have been more welcoming and supportive.


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Bringing down the house, continued

As promised, I took more shots of the house that’s being taken down, using different settings, and while they all look good, Elsie made some diverse choices.

This was shot in aperture priority mode:housedown2

I set the aperture at f4.0, and Elsie chose a shutter speed of 1/318.

This is shutter priority mode:

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Shutter speed 1/807, f2.6. Result: some washed-out color.

And this was Elsie’s landscape mode:

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Shutter speed 1/50, f4.0. This might be my favorite because of the color definition. What do you think?


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Sunday in the backyard

fireplace

Elsie and I spent a recent Sunday afternoon in our backyard with the neighbors. I took advantage of the lovely weather to shoot some photos, including this one of the fireplace I share with the good folks downstairs.

I shot this in Auto, and Elsie chose a shutter speed of 1/60 and an f-stop of f4.5. I think she made an excellent choice.

Stay tuned for more photos from this scenic afternoon on the Hudson.


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I sprayed. I prayed. I got this.

airborne

“Spray and pray.” That’s an insulting term that some professional photographers use to describe the “fauxtographer”* method of taking a whole bunch of shots and praying that a few come out.

I don’t take offense at it because I’m not a fauxtographer (more on that below), and because the technique works for me when I’m taking action shots. When I shoot morris dancing, I use Elsie’s “sports” setting (she also has a “kids and pets” setting for the same purpose — capturing moving subjects) and continuous shooting mode.

I took dozens of shots using sports setting/continuous mode at this particular morris event. This is my favorite. It’s not a great shot, because the dancers could be in sharper focus, and there’s distracting stuff in the background, but … airborne! I just love capturing morris dancers in the air.

Elsie chose an f-stop of 4.0 and a shutter speed of 1/160 for the above. When I go to this event again this summer, I hope to have a better handle on settings and get even better airborne shots.

*Re “fauxtographer”: It’s generally used to describe folks who get their hands on that first “fancy” camera (often an entry-level consumer DSLR) and decide they’re ready to go into business, offering their services as a portrait or (the horror!) wedding photographer without knowing even the basics of technique. They tend to charge peanuts and send the wrong message to potential clients, who think, “Why should I pay Skilled Professional $3,000 to shoot my wedding/senior/baby pictures when Fanny Fauxtog can do it for $100?” Short answer: Fanny’s work sucks.

I don’t consider myself a fauxtog because I’m not in business. I’m just an amateur with a point-and-shoot who occasionally gets lucky. I do have some of my “lucky” prints available for sale in a friend’s gallery space and my company’s craft fairs, but that’s about it. I’ve sold all of two!

You can read more on the “fauxtog” phenomenon here and here.


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Happy barrels!

barrelsportnozoom

barrelsport

Could you keep smiling if you had to sit outside all winter with a big, heavy piece of wooden dock on your head? I’ve been wanting to photograph my landlord’s dock barrels since I first noticed their happy little faces.

I shot them both using Elsie’s portrait setting. The first was shot without zoom and then cropped. I used zoom for the second one and did only minimal croppage. For the first one, Elsie chose an f-stop of 2.6 and shutter speed of 1/250. For the second, she chose 4.5 and 1/60.

I like the first one better, because the detail in the second one kind of ruins the happy face effect. What do you think?