Photo #30: Parallel Paths

I waited until about an hour before sunset to leave the house again. I’d finally spotted an old barn that looked promising, so I headed back to that spot. Unfortunately, it was now in the shadows, preventing me from getting a good shot.

But I continued driving down the road, because I knew just a little further was another of my favorite subjects, railroad tracks. I’ve been hoping to catch a train throughout this project, but as of yet, haven’t been successful. However, like roads, the railroad tracks themselves also greatly appeal to me as a subject.

I found a spot where the road ran parallel to the tracks. The setting sun was illuminating both. I liked the lighting and the juxtaposition. I shot several frames, manually adjusting the shutter speed to get the light right.

I think this one turned out the best.

Photo #30: Parallel Paths

Photo #30: Parallel Paths

Tech Details:
Equipment: Sony NEX-5R, 18-55mm standard lens.
Image: 1/4000 sec exposure, f/5.6, ISO-3200.

Photo #29: Self Portrait

I wanted to include a self-portrait in this project. This was a very tricky shot.

I went to the gym, late at night so no one else would be around. Fortunately, the place was pretty empty, and I had an area of the weight room all to myself. I set up my tripod, and attached the camera. I shot a few test pictures, then adjusted the shutter speed to bring out the shadows a bit more.

The problem with self-portraits is that the camera focuses before the shutter is pressed, and doesn’t refocus. This meant almost every image I took was slightly out of focus. But I was shooting solo, so I didn’t have anyone to stand in for me so I could focus, and I don’t have a way to press the shutter remotely. To make it more complicated, I had ten seconds to press the shutter, get in position, and I had to ensure the tripod wasn’t visible in the mirror behind.

This is another subject I’d like to play with a little more, but it wasn’t bad either. The biggest problem was truly the focus, which I had anticipated. The result was less than perfect, but I’m going to share it anyway. I had a few decent ones, but I picked this one more for the composure than anything else. I like that you can see my eyes, but not the rest of my face. (Maybe I’ll put it in Photoshop and see if I can fix the focus.)

Photo #29: Self Portrait

Photo #29: Self Portrait

Tech Details:
Equipment: Sony NEX-5R, 18-55mm standard lens, tripod.
Image: 1/320 sec exposure, f/4, ISO-3200.

Photo #28: Stone Arches

It was a good evening for photography, clear skies, good sunlight. So, I set out about an hour before sunset, looking for something intriguing. Again, I was hoping to find a good barn, but I was open to any possibilities. I drove around on the backroads, through the fields, looking and finding nothing.

If I were back out west, this method would yield a subject quickly, but it’s a little bit trickier around here. I found myself still driving around as the sun sank closer to the horizon. I turned north, still looking for barns. The road dipped down through a valley. At the bottom, a small stream ran between the fields. Here, the road necked down to one lane, crossing the stream. The bridge had concert guardrails, arched somewhat like an old Roman aqueduct. Through the arches I could see the setting sun reflecting off the waters in the stream.

I drove across the bridge, parked the car and walked back. I hadn’t seen a single car on this stretch of road, and it was quiet and calm, so I walked out to the center of the bridge. I took a few shots of the setting sun through the arches, framing it with the concrete. I was pleased with the result.

Photo #28: Bridge

Photo #28: Stone Arches

Tech Details:
Equipment Used: Sony NEX-5R, 18-55mm standard lens.
Image: 1/80 sec exposure, f/4.5, ISO-160.

Photo #27: Time Lapse

I took a few pictures earlier this afternoon, one of which I was certain would be good enough to make the cut for my blog. When I pulled them up on the computer, however, I was pretty dissatisfied. I tried a few variations on my original theme, before abandoning the idea altogether.

The problem was it was now after dark, and I was without a good photo.

So I grabbed the camera and the tripod and drove a few just down the street. There’s a road was a nice curve to it, which always has some traffic, no matter what time of night. I set up the tripod, set the camera for a long exposure and waited for a car to come along.

When shooting on the tripod, I’ve learned to automatically set a ten second delay. I envisioned getting the taillights of the car, vanishing into the distance. I totally timed it wrong. The car was halfway down the road by the time the shutter opened.

In the thirty seconds the shutter was open, several cars and a diesel went by. The result was pretty awesome. I was so pleased, that I didn’t even take a second shot. This is pretty rare for me, since my philosophy is to always press the shutter a second time, just in case. But, it was late, there wasn’t much traffic, and long exposures like this take a while. Maybe I’ll go back and experiment a little more when I’ve got some time.

Here’ the photo:

Photo #27: Time Lapse

Photo #27: Time Lapse

Tech Details:
Equipment: Sony NEX-5R, 18-55mm standard lens, tripod.
Image: 30 sec exposure, f/5.6, ISO-400.

Photo #26: Evening Kayak

The weather improved today, so I decided to spend some time at the lake before attempting my photo for the day. The lake is one of my favorite places for photography, it has plenty of opportunities for large, open landscape shots, wildlife to turn the telephoto on, trees, both dead and alive, flowers and frequently people. While I was waiting for the sun to set, I wandered around the lake, photographing whatever caught my eye. I was fortunate to capture several very successful shots.

My planned photo for the evening was to get the runway lights at the airport. I headed over there just after sunset. Unfortunately, I had left my tripod at the house. To get the frame I wanted, I needed the telephoto lens, but the telephoto is best with the tripod, and for anything but short exposures, pretty much requires it. To capture the photo I wanted, a longer exposure was necessary. As a result, I got a few decent photos, but most had just a touch of blur.

So I decided I will try that one again later, this with the tripod. Instead, I selected one of my photos of the lake. I haven’t featured any photographs of people yet, so I give you this kayaker, enjoying an evening of fishing on the water.

Photo #26: Evening Kayak

Photo #26: Evening Kayak

Tech Details:
Equipment: Sony NEX-5R, 55-210mm telephoto lens.
Image: 1/100 sec exposure, f/5.6, ISO-100.

Photo #25: Fly Me Home

The weather was grey and rainy most of the day, meaning I wasn’t going to be taking pictures outside. I was left with trying to do a long night exposure, or finding something indoors. And I didn’t really feel like going out.

I keep thinking I’ve run out of creative ideas in the house, but I managed to come up with one more. My initial thought was to take a photo of a model car (I have an old matchbox Mustang) sitting on a page of my old road atlas. But then I realized, I wasn’t even sure if I still had a road atlas. And the size of the page is limiting.

So I decided to switch to a sectional chart instead, primarily because these are much larger than the page of an atlas, and would give me a good backdrop. I dug one out, and picked up a small model of a Jenny biplane. I selected the Jenny because it was the best replica I had that wasn’t a fighter aircraft. I spread the sectional out on the table, did my best to flatten out the creases, and placed the Jenny on top.

I tried several angles, before setting the camera to toy camera mode. This darkens the edges of the image, which was a fitting effect for this particular photograph.

Here’s my best shot.

Photo #25: Fly Me Home

Photo #25: Fly Me Home

Tech Details:
Equipment: Sony NEX-5R, 18-55mm standard lens.
Image: 1/60 sec exposure, f/4, ISO-800.

Photo #24: Cat Scan

My schedule for the day was pretty full, leaving me little time for pictures. As a result, I once again found myself at the end of the day with no photographs, no where to go to get one, and no good ideas.

For the most part, my subject material for this project has been landscapes, plants or inanimate objects. I haven’t photographed much in the way of people or animals (at least, not that I have decided to feature.) So I turned my lens to the other living subjects in the house. (Some were more willing to be photographed than others.)

I was hoping not to include a photo of my cats in this project, simply because I photograph them all the time. It’s not really stretching my skills to use a familiar subjects. However, capturing a good photo of a living thing can be tricky, especially a cat. They move, they don’t like the flash, they’re impossible to pose. And given they’re sense of free will, it can be hard to catch them in a spot with a good backdrop.

This image turned out the best.

Photo #24: Cat Scan

Photo #24: Cat Scan

Tech Details:
Equipment: Sony NEX-5R, 18-55mm standard lens.
Image: 1/13 sec exposure, f/4.5, ISO-3200. (Note: This image was cropped.)

Photo #23: Evening on the Road

Once again, evening rolled around, and I hadn’t taken a photo, nor did I have a good idea for one. It was another sunny day, with perfectly cloudless skies, so I decided to take a drive before the sun set. I headed out of town, and turned off onto the country back roads. I was hoping to find an old barn, but I was open to anything that caught my interest.

It didn’t take me long to get out in the middle of nowhere, or at least as out in the middle of nowhere as one can get in the Midwest. I found myself surrounded by lush green fields. The terrain was slightly hilly. I pulled off at several spots along the road, just to take photos of the landscape.

Roads themselves are a draw for me. I love the visual of a solid black strip winding through the natural landscape. This is particularly true when both the road and the landscape are devoid of human life. I revel in the solitude of a road going nowhere. Roads also appeal to me because of what they suggest: travel, the unknown, desolation.

The sun was sinking fast and I was losing light. Sunsets are another favorite subject of mine, but the lack of clouds meant there would be no color tonight. Fortunately, I had found a rare spot around here, a place where the horizon isn’t blocked by buildings or trees. I shot a few frames of the sun touching the hillside. My favorite of the day incorporated both the sunset and the empty road.

Photo #23: Evening on the Road

Photo #23: Evening on the Road

Tech Details:
Equipment: Sony NEX-5R, 18-55mm standard lens.
Image: 1/50 sec exposure, f/5.6, ISO-100.

Photo #22: Reflections

I didn’t want to wait until the last minutes to get my picture tonight, so I took the opportunity to go to the park before the sunset. It was already fairly low on the horizon when I got there, so I missed some of the good light, but not all of it. I wandered around a little, and found a variety of subjects that I hadn’t get captured on my earlier trips.

The park is centered around a decent sized pond. There are “No Swimming” signs posted at intervals around the lakeshore. One of these happened to be well lit, and jutting out of the water at an angle. The surface of the pond was fairly still, casting a good reflection of the sign. Although it wasn’t my only subject, the sign turned out to be my most compelling photograph. Sometimes, simplicity rules.

Here it is:

Photo #22: Reflections

Photo #22: Reflections

Tech Details:
Equipment: Sony NEX-5R, 18-55 mm standard lens.
Image: 1/160 sec exposure, f/5, ISO-400.

Photo #21: The Transparent World

I guess some days you just have to admit defeat. I really didn’t get any great photos today. I tried several different ideas, but some times things just don’t translate well into photographs.

It was late and after dark again when I got serious about photography today. Unfortunately, that limits my options. And some days my creativity doesn’t work. After all, there’s only so much to do around the house, at least in terms of styles of photographs.

I initially was looking at a pair of my boots, a little worn, laying on the floor. I thought I might be able to tell some story with them. I tried several different arrangements, and tried to vary the lighting for effect, but none of my pictures conveyed what I wanted them too.

Then I tried photographing a glass globe that sits on my end table. I put a few different model planes behind it, hoping to refract the colors. These turned out okay, but not great. Plus, they had some outside glare.

Finally, I went back to the story-telling idea, this time photographing the stuff on my nightstand. This time, I was hoping to convey something about the person who owned the stuff on there, but again, the message got lost.

But, I have to pick something. So here’s a photo of the globe.

Photo #21: The Transparent World

Photo #21: The Transparent World

Tech Details:
Equipment: Sony NEX-5R, 18-55mm standard lens.
Image: 1/30 sec exposure, f/5.6, ISO-3200.