Tuesday, April 30, 2013

lensbaby spark - horse

Here are some pictures I took of a horse. Lensbaby Spark again.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

lensbaby spark

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that my existing EF-S lenses are left behind with my upgrade to a full frame Canon 6D. Fortunately, the 50mm lens I've had and loved for years still works... but I definitely need something with some more reach for portraits, and something to go a bit wider. So I stare, and stare and stare at the Canon Lens lineup page.  I read every customer review between the 85mm and 100mm on Amazon (currently leaning towards 85mm). And then go back and forth on a 28mm or hey, why not just buy another camera?

And what do I do after all that? I buy another 50mm lens. But wait, it's sort of justifiable! I went to a demo for the LensBaby Spark at Calumet and figured it might be an inexpensive way to get more creative. This is an odd little lens that you focus by pulling on and tilting the accordion shape body. You focus on only one area and there is a nice blurred effect on the edges. So, for less than 100 bucks I have a new lens to play with. I'm going to go ahead and give it a thumbs up.

The below are from my first day walking around with the lens.  Focusing is a bit of a skill to be mastered. I do have to say it makes you think more about composition because you only are going to have one area in focus. Also important to note, it's fixed at 50mm and at f/5.6, so not incredibly versatile, but I haven't run into problems with that yet. This gets me all kinds of excited about taking more photos around San Francisco and the Mission. It is haunting me that the TEL in Hotel are not more in focus in the first shot, I'll have to go back (UPDATE: I did).

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Panoramas are fun and easy in PhotoShop. You just launch PhotoShop and select File/Automate/Photomerge...select your images (I leave defaults - layout to Auto and keep Blend Images Together checked) then...wait for it...wait for it... done.  Hopefully afterward you are pleasantly surprised/clasping your hands in joy. The key is to have your original images overlap by a good measure. I aim for about 50% so that there's some fudge room. And be sure not to peter out near the edges/top or bottom or you'll end up with a skinnier or shorter final picture than you expected.

Here are some that I've put together... Clicking on the images should enlarge them.

NYC skyline from the boat to Ellis Island (which has an amazing museum, btw, which I believe is so powerful because of its use of historical photographs). Ten original photos.

The view from the High Line in Chelsea with the Empire State Building, also NYC. Eleven original photos.

Big Sur on a beautiful hike

View at base of Mount Diablo. I like this one.

And some views from Mount Diablo, these are old, and I can't remember why they turned out so blue/green

Monday, April 22, 2013


I've always loved the look in photos where sources of light shoot out rays like multi-pointed stars. I've always thought, wow, that photographer knows what time of day to catch the sun just right like that... or there must be some special filter I don't have. When really, I needed someone to say "let me google that for you."  Recently, I got wise and did go to google. Turns out, it's a function of aperture. Who knew? This guy did. The "sweet spot" is between f/8-f/11. On a recent trip to Tilden Park I tried it out and voilĂ , starbursts! The three below are taken with my 50mm lens set to f/8.0.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

new york city

The camera upgrade to a Canon 6D has been a bit good news/bad news. Good news: new, amazing camera! First bad news: Lightroom 3 doesn't work with a 6D, gotta upgrade to 4 (or install a free DNG converter and build a more complex import routine). It is a particular kind of bummer if you haven't realized this until you and are ready to upload your first shots with your new camera. The second piece of bad news is that the EF-S lenses I use with my Rebel won't work on the 6D because it's a full frame camera. This lens issue is more complex to solve and has led to a ton of internet research. Or really, just hours and hours of my staring at this web page.

In order to find out what's next for me, lens wise, I've been going back through photos and seeing what focal length I typically use, given my existing lenses cover 18 - 250mm. On a Fall trip to NYC, the winner was the 50mm f 1.4 (which is fortunately EF not EF-S so still works on the full frame). However, I did make use of the full zoom of my EF-S 55-250mm. Lens search: to be continued...

First, caught in a downpour in the Garment District, with the 50mm:

Then, more building pictures using the full 250mm zoom of the EF-S 55-250mm lens. (My poor man's Michael Wolf impression).

And back with the 50mm...  my hostess and dear friend's cat, Harlow.  An East Village Himalayan. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

new year, new camera

Blog hiatus over! Back in full force with new equipment. Have been thinking for a long while about upgrading from my Canon Rebel and finally pulled the trigger. I'm now a happy owner of a Canon 6D. My biggest Rebel issues were low light performance/noise/finding focus. The 6D is amazing in all these respects and more.  On top of my excitement about the upgrade, I stumbled across this article and learned it takes multiple exposures! Check out more pics on the photographer Sara Byrne's website with a combination of portraiture and trees/flowers. So creative! So pretty!

Today was one of my first days out and about with the new 6D. I took some pictures of trees and flowers on a post-brunch walk through Lower Haight. TONS to learn,  particularly about this new multiple exposure thang.  Here are some of the shots from my walk: 

And some without multiple exposures. I swear this new camera body is making my 50mm super-preform! 

And one last little dark one from right where the yellow flowers pictures were taken.