Del Muerto

A statue of a Nun is bathed in the afternoon light.

When I was in Rio Rancho for Dylan's graduation, I snuck off with my brother Andy to snap pictures of a local graveyard.  Andy has always had a love of shooting things of such as graveyards and statues honoring the dead -- things which many tend to ignore.  He has an eye for seeing what we would normally try not to see, or would otherwise ignore.  Finding beauty in the old, long-forgotten stone guardians that punctuate an old graveyard such as the one we shot at.

A richly-textured angel statue stands guard.

There was a family there at the time, presumably visiting a relatives's grave.  We made sure and waited respectfully for the family to leave before starting to shoot, and were always hyper-vigilant to not tread on actual graves or disturb or deface anything.

The graveyard was in pretty poor shape.  Weeds growing everywhere, Christmas decorations left up, dirt that had been washed away by seasons of rain, threatening to disturb those resting there.

  

I think memorial (particularly religious) art and statues such as these are some of the oldest forms of art, and by definition hold more meaning than most contemporary forms.  Whether the statues are there to guard the dead, ward away evil spirits or to simply honor those resting there; those silent, well-weathered witnesses speak more to the fragility of the memory of our loved ones than its resiliance.

Spring Twenty Ten

With the vinegar comes the sugar, and in Champaign, that means that with the bitter Winter comes the Spring. And Spring has come, in a big way.

As one is apt to do, when the sun fights back the bitter cold, and the grass, birds and flowers come to life, I went outside. Actually: my wife, my dogs and I went outside. We went to Crystal Lake park in Urbana. Of course I had to bust out my camera, and Christina had to put up with me spending 10 minutes at a time peering at tiny flowers through my lens while she wandered off with Thor and Cleo.

Similar to my Fall Panorama I posted last year, I made a panorama of one of the better views of the park. I used Photoshop's built in "Photo Merge" feature, and I love it! I need to remember to use it more often, now that I have a machine that can do one in less than a bazillion hours. Click it for bigness!

A Spring panorama that feebly tries to convey the warmth and calmness of a spring day in Champaign.

And because I'm all about close-up, depth of focus effects, here is a shot of some tiny pansies that were growing in the grass. I love this shot, because it feels like it could be a background for Alice in Wonderland or something. Foolishly I was shooting at ISO 400, so it's a tad grainy. Oh well.

An army of tiny purple pansies

My new 50mm did not monopolize the shoot, though! I did catch a shot of this sunbathing goose using my long angle lens. I've heard that geese are mean, and I didn't want to test my luck with this one. I tried to bring out the warmth of the sun from the late afternoon.

A goose, catching some warm rays

And, finally, I tried another HDR shot. It's hard to do them anyway, let alone hand-held, and I think I kind of succeeded. Basically this shot was tricky because the bridge was under shade, and the clearing was bright. So I had to use two exposures, one with the bridge properly exposed, and one with the clearing properly exposed. Then I brought out the color and bumped up the contrast. I kinda like it

A lonely wooden bridge leading to a bright green clearing

By the way, so far i'm keeping up with my three shooting-sessions a week plan. I will post two more blog entries later in the week. COMMENT!

Breaking it In

I'm going to re-tool this site a bit and post more in-depth about photography and design.  What can I say, the spring sunshine has inspired me!  I want to go out and shoot at least 2 times a week, hopefully 100 shots per session

As a birthday present to myself, I bought a new lens.  It's a Canon 50mm f/1.4.  It's a prime lens with a wide aperture, and I got it particularly for the wide aperture, for shooting indoors, and for the narrow Depth of Focus and "Bokeh" effects that are possible at wide apertures.

Taking it for a spin.

I've been shooting with this lens for over a week, and every time I use it, I find new ways to exploit it to make good shoots.  A lot of times, especially indoors, I shoot manual-mode, so I have full control over the aperture and shutter speed.  It's more tedious, but it's been the way I've gotten consistenly-exposed shots indoors. Of course, I realize all the shots I'm posting today are outdoor shots.

 Here is a closeup of some tree bark, showing off the very narrow Depth of Focus.  I love exploring textures in closeups, and while the 50mm is not a Macro lens, the DoF effects really show when shooting as close as the lens is capable (about 12 inches).

This is probably my favorite shot so far.  Since the arrival of Spring, the light at dusk has been amazing, even more so when they create a halo effect around the plants, like so.

And it really wouldn't be a photo-post without my favorite subject, Thor.  I love the colors and the blurred-out background.  I just barely missed Thor in the DoF, so he is not as tack-sharp as the grass by his feet.  Still, I like this shot quite a bit.

I don't think the new lens has changed how I shoot, but I think it's allowed me to shoot the way I've been wanting to with my other lenses.  I have a very good Image Stabilized zoom lens for a lot of my outdoor shooting, but when I need to shoot indoors, or when I shoot portraits, I will be using my 50mm for sure.