[art] - Recent Photographs

Jul 20, 2006

Aaah this is a post I've been avoiding! Unlike art (which takes a LONG time to do but very little time to write about), photography takes very LITTLE time to do, but a very LONG time to write about! :0

Recently... probably about a month ago, I finally got a DSLR! I bought a Nikon D50.

It was something I had been wanting for a really long time! Or at least, since my parents wouldn't let me use their Pentax manual film SLR anymore :P I spent about a week trying to figure out how the buttons worked and, aside from some 'test' shots, didn't really venture too far from my apartment.

Outing 1 - Front Yard

I came out into the front courtyard of my apartment because I had noticed some Calla Lillies out there. They're not your normal 'hay let's stick this in our garden' flower, and they are also the graduation flower for my sorority ( :) ) so I thought it was a great opportunity to test the basic functionality of the camera. I like the shots, the flowers were mostly taken using automatic shutter and aperture settings but manual focus, the fountain was taken using shutter speed priority (ooo smooth water) but automatic focus.

Outing 2 - Granville Island

I think I decided to walk down to Granville Island because I wanted to buy a sketchbook... but it was a total loss, Opus closes at 6 :'( Because of my job that kind of bars me from all non-Saturday Opus trips, too. Boourns. But at least I got into the Granville Island market before 7pm. That is where I took the photos of these really beautiful flowers. Flowers are kind of basic fare for photography, in my opinion. Flowers and landscapes. Both are inherrently beautiful, and sit still so you can dally about with aperture and focus. I'm not saying that it's a non-art... you have to work *quite* hard to make an *outstanding* flower or landscape photograph... but you can get a very pretty picture without much effort. (which is what these are XD) I also saw an amazing artichoke flower while I was there! I had never seen an artichoke bloom before... this other lady was there too and she said "gosh, I have never seen anything like this before!" so I didn't feel too stupid. I am quite sad that that area was low light, though, so it's out of focus :(

After that, I went down to the duck pond and ate a bagel that I had bought. The duck pond is kind of a fond place for me, I liked to go there when I was taking a class at Granville island, but otherwise it's kind of a filthy place filled with agressive water fowl. And children, but I usually don't mind the children. There were some cute children there... for some reason I don't mind the parents at Granville island because they come here *for* the kids, they're not just dragging around an accessory they're spoiling. But I digres. I was pretty bored with the geese, but I had to get the telephoto out for BABY DUCKIES! I'm a real sucker for baby animals. These photos were taken using autofocus. It was then that I realized that autofocus, while *excellent* for portraits and buildings and more or less everything else, it is NOT good for complex compositions like these baby ducks. Quite often I foudn that it had focused on the 'wrong' duck in the composition. Which is fine by me, I actually really like using manual focus, but it's a lot harder to gauge when you're actually *in* focus... and I'm slower at it too. (less good for baby animals and other zoomy situations).

These last two are just some interesting shots from on the way home. The first is that same pond I was from above... Granville Island is situated under a bridge! I kind of liked the way the bridge-shadow was in the composition. The second was just an interesting sticker at the end of the bridge.

Outing III - Protest and Aquarium

Or, in other words, 'thank goodness for Photoshop batch actions'! The protest is not something I went out of my way to get to, I want to make that quite clear. So I'm not going to officially side or not-side with any of the individual signs or the protest as a whole. It was just one of those by-products of living downtown. I'm just chillin', doing my own thing, listening to some distant drumbeat, when all of a sudden Trevor walks in and says 'hey, did you know there's a massive protest outside?' The first three photos (and all of the ones in the gallery that look like they're 'from above') were taking from my 15th floor apartment with the telephoto. I don't think the shots are that bad, considering! The protest was *massive*, something like 10 000 people I heard, and it was just a fascinating cross section of people! It took us awhile to figure out what the protest was actually *about*, because of all the different signs and causes out there... but everyone had some kind of peace message ... except for the BC Teacher's Federation and the Brazillians. Later we found out that the demonstration was because of the global peace summit happening at the time.

We went downstairs as they started coming down *towards* our apartment on the *other* side. This is where I got some really interesting shots, I'm really glad I got down there in time. Taking pictures of this protest felt a lot like firing in a crowd... I look through my viewfinder to see something interesting, snap a picture, but I don't really get to examine what I've caught unti later. Sometimes there are really funny details.

Of course there were the obligatory anti-Americans... but they did put a concerted effort into their messages. (Yes, that's a Saddam-esque gold statue of president Bush holding a puppet of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.)

Then later that day we went to the aquarium which, photograph-wise was a total WASTE. I should have lugged around my tripod (even though it was too heavy to take on the bike), because the darkness of the inner aquarium made it way too hard to get a focused, well-exposed shot. The beluga show was a total waste of time because they decided 'no... we're not going to do a show today.' The most they did was spit some water. The dolphins were anti-social, the seals were mentally imbalanced, and the otters were just swimming in extremely fast circles and I could only shoot them through horribly scratched-up plexiglass.

Yes... there are problems at the aquarium, everyone knows it. If you think the beluga looks shaped a little... strangely, I agree. (Of course the attendant said that there was absolutely nothing wrong with it...)

Outing IV: Nanaimo

Last weekend, we went on our annual trip to Nanaimo. Trevor's family runs a bed and breakfast (that they built, incidentally), where they let us take over their basement for one weekend a year. It's really fun, we had about 18 people out this year. The location is really beautiful, on a quiet lake. The weather was questionable, but did have some nice moments. Nanaimo also has Arbutus trees, which are probably among the most interesting trees I know. Well, them and monkey puzzle trees. Arbutus trees are a cousin to the Eucalyptus (somehow), and they have this ... unique colour of brownish-red bark that is very smooth, and peels away constantly! There is something about the climate on the island that is necessary to their growth. They grow like weeds on the island.. but if you take them over to the mainland, they won't survive! (except for sometimes on the coast...)

On the dock, I had a wonderful encounter with baby animals! I later figured out that these were baby minks! Did you know minks can swim? Quite well in fact! These photos were NOT taken with my telephoto... that's how close they were! These photos were also all taken with manual focusing. I had learned my lesson from the baby ducks! Speed is still an issue, as is my skill at detecting focus, so there are some iffy shots and a lot of rejects, but there are also quite a few really great shots! I'm pretty pleased with the batch.

People aren't usually my thing (because I'm kind of shy around people...) but I got some nice action shots and some nice portraits.

And I also got some miscellaneous photos I'm proud of:

To me, photography is like hunting. I've never liked hunting, because there's always the object of hurting something else. Photography is like the thrill of exploring and adventure and searching and the 'precision shooting' of huting... but instead of a dead critter you get a beautiful photo out of it.

I also have come to realize something I probably already knew. I really like taking picture of wildlife and really tiny things. Wildlife because animals are beautiful and getting good shots of them is a huge challenge. Tiny things because I find it really artistic... it's like looking at mundane things in a way nobody ever really cares to. Hence, I need to invest in a really powerful telephoto and a really good macro lens. I could probably stand a portrait lens, too.

Why do I pick up such expensive hobbies, again?