Rainy day, new photo tent…

I recently picked up a cloth photo tent to replace my DIY lightbox. The setup is still a far cry from anything resembling a serious rig but does a better job to diffuse the light (I think). It also doesn’t stick in the room like a sore thumb, or, actually, it probably does but it’s less… sore-y. Also, it was dirt cheap, off Amazon. That’s nice too.

Today’s rain, or should I say tropical downpour, is still going strong and with nothing better to do, it was the perfect opportunity to play with this new toy. It’s weird but I never feel like trying my hand at this kind of photography with a nice weather. Wait, that isn’t weird at all.

As subjects I chose a bunch of different stuff, bounty of a quick hunt around the house: a nice fat plant covered with small red berries, a wood giraffe, a blue stylized cow made of ceramics, a steel surfing man that moves (almost) on his own… I’ll get around to my action figures next, I suppose.

Here’s the surfing man:

This is how it looks when he’s motionless…or, yeah, shutter speed is enough to freeze it. The Surfing Man was a Easter Egg gift. It was pretty dusty, it shows, and I did clean it beforehand. But I like it anyway.

This ceramics cow, I honestly have no idea where it came from: some travel souvenir, for sure, but not mine. I’d rather fancy visiting a place where they make blue cows, so I’ll make sure to find out.

I must admit I’m pretty happy with these three. DPP (and the RAW format) was again my friend: the black wasn’t quite this black out of the camera. It still isn’t full black, but it’s very close now. Close enough, I’d venture.

There’ll be a general wind theme

We’re getting warmer and nicer weather by the day now in my corner of the world and beach activities are picking up. One such involved one I would hardly had interest in if I didn’t like taking pictures: a Flying Kites Competition/Festival. My relationship to kites is pretty much akin to Charlie Brown’s, with a pivotal difference: he, at least, usually gets to fly his though it always ends badly. Mines stubbornly refused to.

But I’m all grown up now so I picked up my camera and went to watch people who are really good at building flying kites that actually fly (or possibly they’re good at flying kites in addition to building them). Anyway, I mostly used my standard zoom but brought along the Tammy 70-300, for two reasons: it’s my longest lens and, in a situation where sand and wind are involved, I’d rather have a € 130 lens than a € 600 one. In retrospect, I regret not using the Tammy a lot more. On site it felt like shorter and wider was the way to go but watching the pictures I miss not having a few more close ups. And my two favorite shots came from the Tammy. This guy making his kite soar:


And this close up:


In addition to slapping a polarizing filter on the 18-55 (I don’t have one that fits the Tammy) I used the Landscape picture styles in DPP on all the pictures: this picture style enhances the blues and the greens so I think I reached really unhealthy levels of too-blue-to-be-true skies and general oversaturation. I look forward to browse these pictures in a few months and recoil in horror.

kites11complexkite03  kites01 kites05  kites12

Kittens make stupid currency but are great for snapshots

Photographing cats is usually very rewarding because cats are unable to look bad. Really, what feline isn’t amazingly photogenic? So the chances of taking awful pictures are low and confined to technical issues. Cats can be tricky, of course: they move fast, they’re unpredictable, they have special personalities. Our happy mom, for instance, hates to be photographed. She always moves or hides her face as soon as she sees me with the camera, I’m not kidding. The kittens, and I almost wrote “the kids”, are another story, they’re playful and curious about everything, plus completely adorkable, something adult cats can never be (they’re still adorable, though). The coloring of this litter, all that black and white, makes it a bit difficult to expose correctly but that’s what full manual controls are for, assuming one knows what one’s doing (which isn’t always my case).

I simply adore this one above, because it looks like they were posing and pulling faces to boot, at least the one on the left. He (or she: we’re still a bit uncertain about the genders) was, of course, yawning. But I like to think otherwise.

As I said, adorkable. One more:

Sunday, cars and a kit lens

The so called “standard zoom” is the lens I used the least. Point of fact, I still have the original kit lens (Canon) even though, as every Internet-indoctrinated newbie photog can tell you, I’ve been thoroughly enlightened on its awfulness (we’re talking the 18-55 non-IS version here: the newer model is supposed to be better optically, aside from having image stabilization on its plus column. It doesn’t get the hate the old model does, anyway). I just don’t use it enough to make it a priority upgrade: even now, after a couple of years, a better standard zoom is probably 3 or four on my shopping list, far behind a ultra wide-angle and a couple of fast primes.

This strikes me as odd: this focal range is called “standard” for a reason, after all. And yet. Anyway, this preamble takes me to my Sunday activities, namely shooting a vintage cars showcase with my not-so-standard-for-my-habits zoom, equipped with a polarizer since it was outdoor, a very bright, very sunny outdoor. Polarizers are a wonderful thing as far as I am concerned, I use mine too much (skies too blue to be true? Yep, I’ve got plenty of those). Well, it was fun, though in retrospect I kick myself for shooting just the cars mostly. The people ogling them were interesting, too. Next year or next car show, I suppose.

This is my favorite shot of the day:

This one is a cheat: it’s twice a cheat, actually. It’s a cheat once because in the pre-processed photo the car was in focus and it’s a cheat twice because the fake bokeh effect (and the b&w with just one spot of color) were done using Picasa’s presets and not slaving hard (assuming it requires hard slaving, I didn’t try) in Photoshop or similar “serious” photo editing software. I think it looks nice, though:

This is, I think the word is curious, not the picture though, just the subject. All I have to say is, this old Jaguar came very well equipped. And I’d love to have such a cool tool box in my car (which is not a Jaguar, either old or new. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t have one):

I also shot cars in their entirety: but for some reason I always like the details better than the whole picture (pun mostly intended). Maybe that’s why the standard zoom doesn’t work as a standard for me.