Finally back to the cabin

What with one thing and another (especially weather) it has taken me quite some time to get back out in the woods and pick up where I left off rather suddenly last fall.

Yes that’s snow.

Not only was there still snow in the dark shadows and along the road edge, but the road itself was like a lunar surface – after a heavy artillery barrage. The first 4 kilometers could best be described as “shredded”. After that … well they were grading the one section known for staying flat, hard, and smooth so I guess that explains it. No one told them they’re supposed to do the bumpy bits.

Think of it as ready-to-slice firewood.

Although not actually blocking my route, there are plenty of trees down. Again. Some of it will be fine firewood, other bits are just in the way. The notorious “new path” between the two routes is blocked again, as it is every year. Eventually there will be no trees left on that triangle of land.

Dock? Not any more.

Although the lake was not as high this year as last, it has done some damage. As of my arrival the wind was too choppy to put the water line out (I have no desire to be knocked over by a wave and drowned, or even just doused). Perhaps I can get to that tomorrow. When it’s supposed to snow. Spring? Not ’round here, mate!

Mr. & Mrs. Goldeneye (it’s a kind of waterfowl).

I brought along only two cameras this time: the venerable (if cantankerous) Nikon P610 and the Canon 1Ds (to try it out on landscape shots). The weather is cloudy so I didn’t get any beautiful snow-capped mountain pictures on the way in. Besides I forgot my concocted CF card reader so I can’t off-load from the Canon. I also forgot the micro SD adapter so I can’t check the video from my new toy:

New & cheap action/dashcam.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Other than snow, I mean. I have a huge amount of work to do all over the place here. Again. But at least nothing got destroyed over the Winter.

By the light of the super pink moon

Thanks to overdoing it, I was up after midnight on Monday (technically Tuesday, then) when the moon was full. Supposedly a ‘super’ moon and the ‘pink’ moon, but really the moon is the moon, whether April or June.

So I took some pictures with the Canon 1Ds. ISO 1250, 8 second exposure, f1.4 (except on the direct moon image where I stopped down to f16) with the 50mm Super Takumar. Post-processing to reduce exposure as it was all a bit bright (the 1Ds screen is useless for previewing images) and unsharp masking to enhance detail. And of course reducing to “Internet size”.

Looks like daylight, doesn’t it? The white blobs in the sky are stars.
See? Stars.
Tree and stars.
Stars and tree.
Stars and bare branches.
That ol’ devil moon.

There are three things that would make this a better nighttime camera: 1). higher ISO ability; 2). higher resolution sensor; 3). better LCD screen for previewing. All of these are available on more modern cameras, but at 10X what I paid for this one!

I don’t like getting up in the middle of the night so I’m not likely to do more star pics for now. Unless I find I am up at night anyway. Still waiting for the road to be clear enough to get to the cabin so I can try this camera on some landscape shots. On the whole I like it, but it’s not a “first choice” device. Great with set-up shots and the manual lenses, though.

Colour and Black & White

A few images taken with the Canon G11, demonstrating how colour sometimes gets in the way of a good picture.

Last year’s leftovers.
Remove the colour and see only shape and texture.
Strange colour for a cement truck!
In monochrome the machine’s shape is emphasized.
Engines look good in full tones.
Still look good desaturated.
Boxcar graffiti.
Graffiti becomes less evident in gray shades.

You can decide for yourself which way looks better for each picture: I’m just demonstrating the possibilities to encourage people to try it. Only seconds are needed to desaturate a colour image – or switch it back.

The train was at a siding in Williams Lake on my most recent visit to that city.

1 Dark sky

Further night experiments with the Canon 1 Dark sky. (Okay, you see what I did there.)

Changes from the last experiment including switching to the 50mm f1.4 Super Takumar lens and reducing exposure time to 10 seconds from 30. Note that you can tell if your exposure time is too long by looking at the stars in the picture close up: they will be elongated by the motion of the planet if the shutter is open too long. As a rule 20 seconds is the maximum to avoid this, but it depends on where you are and what you are trying to achieve. I found the star traces were about 3X as long as they were wide, hence cutting the exposure time to 1/3.

Although an interesting look, this image shows that the moon is a lot brighter than the stars.
I question the value of getting up at 11:00 PM to make photos like this.
It’s easier to do this in Winter around here, when the sun sets by 6:00 PM.
Despite very good noise reduction, some of the ‘stars’ are still actually noise.
This one I’m sure you’ll recognize.
The two moons of my world.

One of the hindrances of this experiment is the small (64MB) CF card I have: half a dozen pictures and the card is full! I’m shooting at Hi-res JPEG of course because I’m after pinpoints of light. I hate to think what RAW would allow me. Probably three pics. Fortunately the 8GB CF card I ordered has arrived, which will allow me to take more shots all at once with varied settings to see what ones work best. Providing I can convince myself to get up in the dark again.

If only it were Springtime

Of course 19°C (66°F) is pretty Spring-like, but watching the satellite picture says there’s still snow out at the lake. The forecast says no lows below freezing now, so perhaps another week …

In the meantime I have started working around here as there are a few things to deal with. That’s why I moved 600 lbs. of stored papers out of one shed and into another; so I can get at other stuff and perhaps make enough room to complete the modifications the local Mafia, er government, wants to a shed that has been standing for years without incident. I am and engineer you know. Bureaucrats need to prove they have power over everyone, though.

Papers away! (G11)

All that off to one side, I tried out the Canon 1Ds on some night shots and need to do some tweaks before I take more. First of all, the 64MB CF card is horrible for hi-res as it only holds <10 pictures. Can’t do much experimenting with that. Second, the camera’s maximum ISO of 1250 is real but pretty low for star shots. That can’t be helped, so either I take ‘trace’ shots (30 second exposures are about 3X too long to prevent this) or do lots of enhancing post-shoot. I need to try it with the 50mm f1.4 lens I was using the 35mm f2 because that’s what was on it when I woke up in the night and decided to try. It’s one more stop of exposure anyway. I can see where a real ISO of 3200-6400 would be of great use here, but the camera hasn’t got it. At least it does a good job at the speed it has, and the ‘noise reduction’ (second image method) is more effective than with any other camera I have. The biggest problem is that it’s not really dark until 10:00 PM now, so night photos interfere with my sleeping habits.

Nighttime is little light time. (1Ds)

Many other things are going on around here right now, some of it rather stressful. Vaccine? Nope. Surgery? Ha! Our hospitals are full-up with COVID patients (cases are out of control and the government isn’t even trying to stop the spread now) so that’s not happening. I need to get equipment ready for this year too (including fixing the trailer), and … well just all sorts of things.

In storage. (G11)

I had fun doing the IR photos and still have some more experiments to conduct with the 1Ds but they will have to wait for now. I have even toyed with the idea of selling it and everything else I’ve got to go for a 5D, but I suspect my equipment wouldn’t bring enough to cover the cost. C’est la vie photographique!

Ghost plane. (P610)

I’m still using the Nikon P610 a lot, and it is still malfunctioning. But it hasn’t quite completely. Yet. Which is good because I can’t afford to replace it. I still want to shoot more with the G11 and now that the weather is better I should be able to. Previously every time I’d go to town it was so miserable and cold that taking pictures was right off the list.

Infrared roses

A little tweaking of the Canon 1Ds set-up for infrared. First, I swapped the 50mm f1.4 Super Takumar for the 35mm f2 because it has not IR ‘hot spot’. Second, I adjusted the exposure a bit which allowed me to get a more accurate white balance shot and thus better final results. Third, I increased the resolution setting to maximum for JPEG as the shots tend to be fuzzy anyhow. Fourth, I experimented with post-processing techniques to get a consistent plan for realizing the results I wanted.

When it comes down to it, you can produce a huge range of unusual colouration from infrared filtering. It’s mainly a matter of what sort of crazy results you want. Knowing when to stop adjusting is at least as much of an issue as knowing what to adjust.

Ranch house
Shed shot
Dramatic view
I don’t usually take pictures of people, but this old guy is interesting.

The last two images are the least processed and the most processed ones. Camera settings: ISO 400, f11, 8 second exposure. Really it could stand another 1/2 stop in initial exposure (using a 720nm filter). Also, the long exposure times mean the balance between aperture and shutter speed (also ISO) are not as even a trade-off as they are with normal photography. There is a lot of experimentation and guesswork involved, no matter how much you shoot.

Frankly a display of many IR shots gets boring quickly; I can’t see the point in doing a whole portfolio of them or limiting yourself to just the one style of photography. But putting one in every once-in-a-while will really liven up a showing and make people stop and wonder.

Bad craziness

Initial experiments with infrared using the Canon 1Ds.

Pic #1
Pic #2
Pic #3
Pic #4
Pic #5
Pic #6
Pic #7
Pic #8

Some notes: this camera seems to be more sensitive to IR than it’s T100 sibling. I have used a variety of processes here to bring out the images, mostly having to do with exposure compensation and sharpening. I can see where some adjustments are needed, for example I was using ISO 1250 (max on the 1Ds) and it is grainy. Most of the images were at f16 to avoid focusing issues. I can see where lower ISO and longer exposure time would be advantageous. Also I am not satisfied with the initial WB setting as the exposure for that is off. Images were taken without a tripod, using fence posts and rails instead. You can see this lens (the 50mm Super Takumar) has a ‘hot spot’ for sure.

Unfortunately I have to start all over because of the limited space on my only CF card. I will keep experimenting until I get results I want, even though my aim for this camera is not IR photography.

Bunch o’ birds

Some miscellaneous bird pictures that have been piling up in the Nikon file.

Robins. Trust me.
See? Robins.
Except this one is a varied thrush.
And this one is an Oregon dark-eyed junco.
Robins again.
I’ve got my beady little eye on thee! (Robin of course.)
Guess what?
Slate-coloured junco and his Oregon cousin.
Northern flicker pretending to be a robin.
The Robin Tree. So-named because we have had a huge number of robins this year and they like to hang out in this tree. (Look for the blobs.)