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Catching Up on Photo Things November 4, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in photography.
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On a few days now we’ve had some snow, I feel like fall is pretty much over even though it won’t be officially for some time yet. Not that the snow stays, but when that starts happening – fall is over. Fall is a couple brief bursts of colour, bright oranges and reds, before the muted winter grey sets in. So I thought it was time to update, hugely, on all the photo happenings of the last little while. And then … AND THEN! … a knitting update. Yes, it’s that time of year!

Onto the photos…

Goose @ Andrew Hayden Park
One of the last outdoor photo adventure days I had was to Andrew Hayden Park along the Ottawa River. It was a gorgeous day, we pretty much wandered around the park taking pictures of the boats on the river and the people enjoying the park. I remember there were lots of people with kites that day, it was nice. I tried my hand at HDR a few times but that was not so successful. Stay tuned for a post on HDR at some point, but for now that’s not going so well for me.

What did work out well was the following goose photo – teeth! Little teeth!

Canada Goose

Hockey @ Scotiabank Place
The first game I attended this season was a pre-season match between Toronto and Ottawa. I had to leave about halfway through the second period and when I left we were up 1-0 thanks to Mike Fisher, but I guess I was the only one cheering hard enough ’cause we wound up losing the game. Damn. Even though the Sens have been pretty touch-and-go this season, I’m so glad hockey is back!

Sens Pre-Season: Toronto @ Ottawa, XXII

Fall Colours
Thanksgiving was gorgeous and I enjoyed a nice walk around the pond with my brother. There were loads of people out, it was very nice. Got very lucky with the look and feel of the day for the photos, it’s hard to get out and get the fall colours sometimes ’cause it’s such a hectic time of year so you’ve gotta get the right time – not too early still so full of green but once the leaves have changed youv’e got a very small window before they fall.

Pond IV

Municipal Election, 2006
Lots of stuff going on, lots of resources for those interested in the Ottawa election – check out the coverage on CBC for mayoral coverage and ward-specific coverage. The following photo is from one of the mayoral debates, this one at Kanata’s Holiday Inn Select. If you view the photo on the Flickr page you will see notes that indicate who was where ’cause it’s totally not clear from the blurry picture I snapped.

Mayoral Debate @ Holiday Inn

Welcome to Canada
After work one afternoon I decided to wander over to Parliament Hill to snap a few photos despite the overcast weather. Just as I was crossing the street I saw this guy – completely made me smile.

I don't even have hockey skates...

On that same day I decided to visit The Famous Five on the hill, as we were drawing close to the anniversary of women being declared Persons under the law. You’ve all seen the Heritage Moment. So, here’s Nellie McClung made Black & White.

Nellie McClung, B&W

Congratulations, All Around!
A few of my friends had great news in October, two couples got engaged. The first, Vik & Karen, in a proposal shared with family and friends that was very lovely. The second, Mya & Jason, in a private proposal later shared with family & friends and as Mya’s bridesmaid my first duty was to take engagement photos for the happy couple. We took off to Mackenzie King Estate (specifically the ruins) in Gatineau Park and later to the Museum of Civilization for some photo fun. It was cold but compared to the weather surrounding the day, not too bad. While I’m very happy with how some of the photos turned out, I do have some serious work to do as a portrait photographer… still, I think they’re happy with some of their photos. The following is a photo of their rings and a photo of the Mackenzie King Estate house.

Engagement Rings

Mackenzie King Estate, Gatineau

Bailey
From yet another walk, I just like how this little series turned out – caught! with a camera by my brother & his girlfriend’s puppy, Bailey.

Caught!

So that’s some of the photo goings-on and nearly catches us up to November. Good stuff.

Riverfest & Knitting Again! October 1, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in knitting, photography, wip.
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There are quite a few things I’ve been meaning to blog about here, so why don’t I just dive right in..

First, the big news is I have now passed the 10,000 views mark over on Flickr. Woohoo!

Ottawa Riverfest @ Pinhey’s Point
In August I volunteered for the City of Ottawa as a photographer for an event held out at Pinhey’s Point Historic Site. This was a totally new experience for me and involved quite a bit of work. Normally I don’t take a lot of portraits so that was kind of new; also, I had to ensure that everyone whose photo I took was okay with me a) taking their photo so that b) the City could later use their image, either on the websites or in some promotional material or what have you. I did quite a bit of editing to the photos, especially since the day of the festival was not so nice, and eventually delivered the photos to the City.

Overall it was an interesting experience, here are a couple of samples:

Ottawa Riverfest, XVI (B&W) Ottawa Riverfest, XLV (B&W)
Ottawa Riverfest, XXXII (B&W) Ottawa Riverfest, XLI (B&W)
Ottawa Riverfest, LVIII (B&W)

For more photos visit the photoset – click here.
After that I began experimenting in HDR but have so far been met with, well, limited success at best. I will address that at a later date. There have been other photo-outings, the usual kind of nature stuff, some photos of the Ottawa Senators, and other miscellaneous pictures. Haven’t done too much – most recently, when dropping the photos off to the city I snapped a few quickies of the Billings Estate Museum.

Billings Estate, IV

It’s all about the weather.

Also I have returned to my knitting as the weather is getting *so* damn cold. I’m about 4′ into the Irish Hiking Scarf now and should have it finished before too long. I had left a couple of projects unfinished but hope to whip through them so that I can devote more time to a larger project.

From UFO to WIP again..!

There’s so much more to say!  But I’m tired, so for now that’s it..

A marvelous night for a moondance… August 22, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in photography.
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After enjoying an earlier evening’s long-exposure goodness my friend and I returned to try shooting the moon. Usually when you shoot things in the evening you go about it in two ways – one, you might try using a high ISO, wide aperture, to get things moving quickly; two, you might get out the tripod and use slower ISOs and smaller aperture settings and long exposures.

I had tried to take shots of the moon before and because it’s night I started with the above in mind. However, what one easily forgets when shooting the moon, is how much light the moon gives off. It’s incredibly bright so you don’t need the super long exposures or the wide aperture.

After some experimentation I came at the following result – and while things looked fairly focused on my camera, the final result is far too blury for my liking. I think that’s part of the problem with my lens but it could also be poor focusing on my part. Anyhow, here is the result.

The Moon, Bright Crop

Need to keep trying, but I think I’m heading in the right direction..

Y’know that night time… July 27, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in Admin Messages, photography.
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.. is the right time.

This might be a little jumpy, but what can ya do. First of all, I seem to have a small consistent readership so to those of you who check in regularly, thanks! It’s cool to see how I come up in people’s searches but it’s also pretty cool to notice that (I think, anyway!) a few of you are coming back. Cheers for that.

Before I get to what prompted me to post I just thought I’d share another PhotoStitch image and point out the new set I’ve created on Flickr: PhotoStitch Images. Figured I would keep all of ’em in an easy-to-find spot. I like the tags and I could do a lot of my organization through tags in lieu of sets (say just remember to click my “Ottawa” tag instead of having an “Ottawa” set) but – well, I like sets. I heard a rumour that someone heard a rumour that Flickr is working on super-sets/sets-within-sets, so I’m looking forward to that if it’s true!

Anyway. I may have mentioned previously that I first “stitched” an image in high school by creating a large panorama with a series of 8×10 prints in black & white (an image I’ve yet to really try to recreate, eugh!). I remember being very careful, using a tripod, wanting a smooth transition. With PhotoStitch software and how easy it is I’ve learned that I don’t have to do that – really, could’ve been more creative with the prints and didn’t have to do it then, either, but hey. So here’s an example where it works and click here for a sample of when PhotoStitch isn’t always perfect. I may be able to correct that by learning more about the software, I pretty much still just let it do its thing.

Pinhey's Point: Horaceville PhotoStitch

Both of the above were recent pictures from Pinhey’s Point in Ottawa, ON. Onto the night time.. a friend and I recently decided that we wanted to take photos at night. Try the moon, some stars, long exposure fun. Unfortunately we had this moment of genius when the weather sucked – the temperature was lovely, it was a nice night to be out, but it was overcast so that meant the sky was out. Fear not, however, traffic would be a good thing to try, too.

The set is here: Long Exposure with Kasia. Things worked just as expected – tried different apertures and different shutter speeds. Mostly shot in aperture priority, never used a flash. I have two shots that stand out as favorites for me and the first is actually a bit of a disappointment. The problem with the shot is I didn’t take the time to think about composition. I was preoccupied with timing and threw my usual thoughts of composition out the window – basically the angle of the shot bothers me, it’s just boring. Still, the whole light thing as the cars turn the corner is pretty cool.

Turning!

The other stand-out shot that I really like from that night isn’t of the traffic and the lights at all. The following shot is just some trees along the side of the road but I’m really pleased with it. It’s one of those things where you just kind of get lucky – with the trees, the clouds behind them, and the glow from nearby street lights. I’ve tried this shot in colour and in black & white. I like the B&W version but I think my preference is the colour.

Trees

This is definitely something I want to get out and do a lot more of, this night time thing. Hopefully these clouds will clear out soon and give us a chance to shoot some stars.

Ottawa BluesFest 2006 July 25, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in music, photography.
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Every summer in Ottawa we have lots of fantastic music festivals. I’ve usually caught at least one show at BluesFest each summer for the past few years, back as far as the festival was held at LeBreton. I saw Matthew Good Band as part of the festival as well as The Tragically Hip and Sarah Harmer. Last year I had really wanted a pass but couldn’t find enough people to go, so I just went one night – any night, I said, I just wanted to go. A friend and I went on the only night in the entire history of the festival, according to the news then, that a night was actually cancelled (not just delayed) due to rain (and, well, thunder – lots of it). We saw Xavier Rudd, Michael Franti, Dutch Mason, and Keller Williams. That was the first time I went and wandered from stage to stage checking things out – I had never heard of Xavier Rudd and he was so much fun that my friend and I each bought a couple of his CDs.

I was totally stoked this year to be able to get a full pass for the festival, it was definitely worth it. I saw a lot of great people and while I don’t have much commentary on photo-takin’-stuff I felt like sharing a bunch of pictures from the week. So, here’s who I saw:

Corb Lund (just a couple songs)
Seu Jorge
Great Big Sea
Ani DiFranco
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Blue Rodeo
Mobile
Nelly Furtado
Live
Etta James
Jim Bryson
Danny Michel
Metric
Sharon Riley & Faith Chorale
Meligrove Band
Hilotrons
Controller.Controller
Chicago Blues Reunion
KC & the Sunshine Band
Tavares
Sister Sledge
Gloria Gaynor
The New Pornographers

Some highlights:

  • Seu Jorge – very cool.
  • Michael Franti was outstanding and I’ve just ordered my copy of Yell Fire!. Check him out if you get the chance, you’ll have a good time and you’ll feel better.
  • Blue Rodeo was stellar, second time I’ve seen ’em and I’ll see ’em again if I can, too. You can’t help but want to make out with Jim Cuddy, seriously.
  • Much as I enjoyed Mobile, Live was the highlight of that night. Was surprised at how many of their songs I knew and how ridiculously happy those guys seem on stage. It’s very cool to watch a band really look like they’re enjoying themselves. Played a lot of old hits which I appreciated ’cause I knew ’em. Awesome stuff.
  • Etta. Freakin’. James. ETTA JAMES! What can I say; it’s Etta, baby, and she was fabulous. What fun!
  • Metric puts on a good, fun, high-energy show. Would definitely go see them again, would go see just about any of these people again but hopefully in a cooler setting – God it was hot out during the festival.
  • Ottawa’s Hilotrons were a real treat, my first time seeing them but not my first attempt to. They make you wanna get up and move, and many people did despite the heat. They’re another must-see-again band. Check them out, you won’t be disappointed.
  • Boogie Blast? Best crowd of the whole thing. We had a great time shmoozin’ with people who could’ve easily been our parents (hehehe) and I think Sister Sledge’s “He’s the Greatest Dancer” should’ve been dedicated to the dude near us in the crowd. Red Shirt Guy, you were awesome.

And now for a few photos… :

City Hall

Location, Location, Location: Ottawa City Hall

 

Blue Rodeo Crowd

Bein’ in the Crowd: Blue Rodeo

 

Live

Live @ Main Stage, BluesFest 2006

 

Metric

Metric @ MBNA Stage, BluesFest 2006

 

Hilotrons

Hilotrons @ Blacksheep Stage, Bluesfest 2006

 

Ani DiFranco, Sea o' People!

Sea o’ People

 

Parliament Buildings

Ottawa @ Night

 

It was a great week, a lot of fun, anyone who enjoys live music should get to Ottawa and go. Best part of the summers, here, in my opinion.

Ooh baby I like it RAW July 18, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in photography.
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I’m not entirely sold on going all RAW all the time with my digital photos but I think it really is useful in some instances. I’ve found myself really paying attention to the image type/quality settings now depending on what it is I intend on shooting and what I figure I’ll be doing with the photos. I generally shoot in JPEG at the highest quality format just in case I get a really great shot with which I’d like to make a great print. However, for certain things I have used a medium-setting just to get more images. The big adventure, though, was trying RAW.

As usual, Wikipedia has a good article on RAW to fill you in on the details of what the RAW image format is. Basically, RAW stores all kinds of unprocessed data and necessitates some work on your computer before you can share your photos. It gives you a great deal of control and flexibility in your digital darkroom, so you need software that can view and edit RAW images in order to make use of this feature of your camera. The file sizes are quite a bit bigger, so you won’t get nearly as many pictures on your camera.

I first tried using RAW when I was working with some Macro photography. I took photos of a bunch of cufflinks that had belonged to my dad and my grandfather. First I took some time to set things up and then spent some time working with the RAW data on my computer. The programme that my camera came with was Canon Digital Photo Professional. It has some options for working with RAW image data and RGB data. There are some good tutorials and explanations, from the looks of things, on that site.

Fish

I managed to do a good job of things working in RAW but I wasn’t quite convinced that RAW was leaps and bounds ahead of working with JPEG, simply, and I managed to create very similar and sometimes even better effects working in JPEG. It may be a comfort-level thing with the programmes I use or it may just be I wasn’t really in the right application of RAW.

 

After my issues with the lighting in concert photography I decided that the next time I went to watch my friend I would take more shots, this time using RAW so that I could work with things later. I still think the light is so incredibly harsh that I’ll never rid my images of it completely and re-create natural looking images, but in the mean time the colour effect has gone over well with the musician. I think RAW may work best when you know you will have little control over the conditions in which you shoot.

Chad @ Urban Well I: Original Chad @ Urban Well II: White Balance Chad @ Urban Well III: Black & White

The first shot is the original shot, how things really looked – way way red.  What you can see in the black & white version at the right is that the light is actually good, it’s nice and bright, my camera settings for the light are fine.  The red is just so harsh so something has to be done about that.  Since I was shooting in RAW, this time I tried adjusting the white balance to see what kind of colours I could get.  Now I haven’t learned enough to be able to really customize this but it’s not too bad – the result is a kind of interesting tone and I’m quite pleased with the difference.  Trying to adjust the colour levels in JPEG left things far worse, so in comparison I much prefer this.

Still, I mostly like the blakc & white which is something I am able to achieve equally in JPEG.

 

That’s what I’ve learned so far with RAW – in some instances it is great/ideal even because you may have little control over your surroundings so RAW leaves you with the most flexibility later.

 

More photo stuff to come soon.. !

Far Away & Close Up June 29, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in photography.
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Wow, I haven’t updated anything in over a month and in that time I have huploaded 18 pages worth of photos to my flickr account. Eesh! That’s a lot of photo work I’ve been doing to catch up on, so some of this will get a brief drive-by point-to while others may get a little more in-depth discussion.

One of the greatest things about flickr is the kind of feedback you get. On June 16th I hit the 5,000 photostream views milestone! Roughly one in six of my photos receives comments and having people add your photos to their favorites is pretty darn cool. But since becoming a paid user of that website, I have loved the sets feature the most.

All of my photos are put into at least two sets, one geography-based set (all of my photos from around Ottawa are in one set, for instance) and one camera-based set. I know, I could use tags for all this kind of thing but I like the sets function. So all of my Rebel XT photos are in a set, all of my EX-Z30 photos are in a set, polaroids in another, and so on. I have some event-based sets and some theme/style-based ones, too. So that’s something that has had quite a bit of work recently, updating and maintaining all of these sets.

Some recent sets worth checking out are my walk in the Glebe, creatures, wild & otherwise, and flowers.

So this past month the two big things I’ve done quite a bit of work with are using my 75-300mm lens (for some wildlife photography and sports photography) and macro photography (some found-stuff but mostly tried setting things up and doing some work with RAW images).

Telephoto: EF 75-300mm Lens
This is the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III lens. As the USM model page explains, it is a great lens for sports & wildlife. As it’s spring, of course this means animals everywhere and lots of babies .. so I went to get some pictures late in May of the baby geese. I wouldn’t have been able to get these kinds of up-close-and-personal shots without this kind of lens, it was a lot of fun being able to really get the kind of composition I wanted without disturbing/getting too close to them. The thing I learned here, really, was that depth-of-field makes a huge difference in a shot and that you have to be patient and set your shot up sometimes hoping you’ll catch something. You’re kind of at their mercy, so for some shots patience is key, and others just shoot as much and as quickly as you can ’cause they’ll be gone as fast as they came.

Baby Goose, III Red-Wing Blackbird, IV

 

Essentially the same thing can be said about sports photography. Your settings have to be such that you can take pictures quickly to capture the movement, sometimes you get something great and other times you’re not quite quick enough .. and if you’re lucky, that works out okay too. For the complete set, click here. For now, here are a few previews from The Churchill Cup, Canada vs Scotland @ Twin Elm Rugby Park.

Rugby, XXVI: Line Out Rugby, IV: Kick for Two Rugby, XXVIII: Scrum

 

Macro Photography: Close-Up Filters
Wikipedia, as always, has some useful information on Macro Photography – including the classic definition of macro photography requiring a 1:1 ratio but that commonly it’s anything that appears life-size or larger on standard print. In my macro photography set, you’ll find way-close-up stuff in addition to plenty of images that are in the latter classification.

Having a prime macro lens for these kinds of shot would be brilliant, but being kind of broke lately I make due with close-up lenses or close-up filters (I refer to them as filters). I have +1, +2 & +3 which can be combined to get anything from +1 to +6. These filters work much like a magnifying glass and enable you to focus closer to the subject than you would normally be able to with the lens you are using. Anything I have taken with my SLRs uses these filters. Anything I have taken with my EX-Z30 or other digital point-n-shoot is using the camera’s built-in “macro” function.

Flowers are a great subject, hence the photo-set dedicated to them exlusively. I got to Ottawa’s Tulip Festival too late to actually catch nice looking tulips in bloom, but that didn’t stop me from taking shots of the worn down, droopy from all the heavy rain, open tulips.

Macro Tulip, Purple I

Some shots, like the above, are taken as-is. Come across the subject and shoot. Others, like the following, I took the time to think about how I would want the final image to look and set things up. From a bouquet of flowers I received I decided that instead of whatever wall they sat in front of a much nicer backdrop would be the sky. Outside they came (inviting quite a few bees to hang out with me, not so cool) and I rearranged things to get the shots I wanted. That’s a big thing with macro photography is working hard to get the exact composition you want.

Yellow Roses, IV

That is, of course, the image I have now used in my header 🙂 Have I mentioned yet how much I am loving this custom header thing, getting to use our own images? Fantastic!

With the weather being questionable at best some days over the last little while I continued my set-up-macro experimenting in the house and tried shooting in RAW for the first time. That’s another subject for another post, maybe I’ll get to the whole set-up and post-production thing later this afternoon 🙂

Concert Photography May 22, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in music, photography.
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Normally I bring my point n' shoot, Casio EX Z-30, to take pictures when I go to shows.  I'm just looking for the odd fun shot, a quick snap to help remember things.  It's easy to carry, I can put it in my pocket when I've snapped off a few that I want.  Finally, though, I tried out my SLR at a live show.  I went to see a friend of mine play and brought along the Rebel XT and let me tell you – it's quite difficult to take photos in that kind of setting.

Chad @ Urban Well, I: GIMP Edit

 

In this particular setting, Urban Well, there wasn't much apart from a single harsh red light over the stage.  All my photos came out red & black – looks kind of cool, representative of what things actually looked like that night, but hard on the eyes.  So I did what I could using both The GIMP and Canon's Digital Photo Professional  to remove some of the red and usually was left with almost sepia-toned images.  I like how they turned out but I'd like to have some more natural looking colours.  Will have to read up and learn how to make adjustments on my camera to account for the strange lighting.

 Chad @ Urban Well VI (B&W)

I tried most photos as they were originally vs as they look in black & white vs as they look with some editing.  Still, honestly, undecided as to what I prefer.

 

Check out the complete set here: Showcase Saturday @ Urban Well, Ottawa.

More with the GIMP. April 10, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in photography, tutorial.
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My previous post on The GIMP dealt mostly with the 'selective colorization' technique. I've also been working on the Gaussian Blur Overlay tutorial. I tried a landscape that wasn't so great for the shot – in fact it's the very same landscape I used for the other tutorial. For my second attempt, I went with a picture I took in February of some lovely orchids I was sent. Here again is a before and after shot. Or rather, after and before.

from

GIMP Tutorials April 9, 2006

Posted by jessicraft in Links, photography, tutorial.
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About a year ago I abandoned (well, mostly abandoned) my desktop computer – quite the ghetto box running Win98 – for a totally hot, totally enjoyable iBook. At the time I needed to find some image software that was – free – and so I went with The GIMP, The GNU Image Manipulation Program. I would highly recommend this to anyone – in fact, anything I’ve come across with the GNU philosophy has been impressive and it’s just a neat idea. Open source, yes please. And this is from someone who is far from a developer of any kind whatsoever, just someone who uses computers and likes free stuff.

Anyway – so iPhoto is pretty great, for someone like me who was way late into digital and someone who generally doesn’t do much manipulation of any kind. I have been (mostly) satisfied with it. iPhoto Buddy has really upped the satisfaction as my library grew too big and I started using multiple cameras. I have an EX-Z30 Library & a 350D Library, for instance. iPhoto has its limitations, though, it really is for the most minor of touch-ups and if you take good photos that should be fine for the most part. However, some digital darkroom techniques are just too cool to be so in the dark about them. It’s not the same as spending time in the dark & stinking of chemicals, but I am enjoying this on another level.

Anyway – I have had The GIMP for quite some time and I understand that it’s a powerful program – I understand this because I don’t know how to use most of it. But, I figured it was time to learn. And what better place to start than The GIMP’s own TUTORIALS.

I began with the Tutorial on Selective Colorization – that is, taking an image and having most of it be black & white with only a few small things (or one small thing) in colour. Y’know, like greeting cards with two little kids in black & white holding a bright red rose or something. Like that.

I found the tutorial very easy to follow, so if you’re just starting into this sort of thing I would recommend diving right in with it. You just follow their easy steps to create your image and it can be such a dramatic effect that it is terribly satisfying and will give you the confidence to try more techniques and eventually play around with this one to see what you can do. Here’s what I came up with, the second image I tried though I think it’s much cooler than the first.

I used the tutorial on a picture I took in Toronto of a street car crossing Spadina somewhere..

I’m a fan of the technique and will surely be looking for places to use it!