I went out to shoot the moon tonight, because it was a "supermoon" -- the closest full moon we get each year as the moon reaches its perigee -- and it was very clear tonight from Vancouver. I shot this with my 500mm Tamron f/8 SP macro lens and a 1.6x extender, and the lens didn't even attach properly to my camera because it was an old mount for my old Yashica. I haven't used it ever with my 5D yet, and that's why. But it was worth trying tonight anyway, and it worked. I just held it up to the camera body and shot. I shot it at ISO 200 and 1/200 sec. I don't know the f-stop (the camera said f/0, probably because I didn't have the lens mounted so it couldn't communicate with the lens). I used a tripod and self-timer to minimize shake. I was actually able to leave the lens kind of "hanging" off the camera body since the body was aimed up towards the moon and gravity held the lens on with no light leaking in. That was lucky, as it was impossible for me to hold the lens still enough with my hand at that shutter speed and focal length.
06 May 2012
03 January 2012
02 January 2012
I was going to go out for a walk today to take my picture of the day, but it was dark before I knew it. Fortunately the days are getting longer, so this issue will recede. This was shot through my upstairs window, of the Christmas lights wound around my balcony railing.
01 January 2012
I decided to do one of those photo-a-day projects that I've seen others doing. I think it will help me refocus on seeing the world that is out there, one of the main reasons for this blog after all. I'm going for spontaneity here, and the art of seeing, so no Photoshopping.
Today felt uncommonly warm for a New Year's Day. I went outside to check if the neighbor's snowdrops were poking up out of the ground already, and they were. No buds yet, but still, a nice early harbinger of spring. So much for our coldest winter on record that was predicted. I suppose it could still happen, but I'm not holding my breath, and I'm sure hoping the weather prophets were wrong.
11 December 2011
It's been a long time since I've walked to church and had the luxury of time to be attentive to what I was seeing along my path. I had my camera with me too, and was inspired to pull it out and take some photos. It felt good. It's been way too long.
This neighbor's front yard always draws my attention. But this time I saw that the owner, an avid gardener named Jim, had added another whimsical element to it: this structure which seems to be part fish, part bird. You must click and zoom in to see it more clearly! I later found out that my housemate Jo had helped him place it in its location. He wanted it oriented in the best possible way to catch the eye of passers-by. It worked. As I was admiring it, Jim came out to chat with me. He proudly told me he had just celebrated his 90th birthday yesterday. He is one of the bright sparks in the neighborhood. His garden brings joy. I'm glad to see he's going strong at 90!
22 October 2011
The winners of Wildlife Photographer of the Year have just been announced. This is my favorite photo competition in the world. The photos are stunning. I got to see the 2004 winners in person in the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow. Wow! Here's this year's Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year Award Winner: Still Life in Oil by Daniel Beltrá, Spain:
20 October 2011
Sorry this blog has been dormant for so long. I've been posting lots over at Faith and Technology.
I've come into contact with Alex Soojung-Kim Pang who is working on a book called Contemplative Computing, which is also the name of his blog. He's got quite an interesting post on photography as a technology that invites skill, essentially a contemplative practice. Made me realize I've let that practice lapse in my life, and I want to get back to it.
05 April 2011
I recently discovered a cool cache of useful Photoshop actions (free to download; donation requested; do give; I did) at The Light's Right Studio. I’ve been playing around with the TLR Edge Effects set and liking them.
You have to run one of the Create Unframed Edge actions first before you can run one of the edge effect actions, with the exception of Gaussian Blur Frame which requires one of the Create Framed Edge actions to be run first. Took me a while to figure that out, but now it’s awesome. My favorites are Gaussian Blur Edge, Frosted Glass Edge, Spatter Edge, and Sprayed Strokes Edge.
Here's what the image looked like:
And here's what it looked like after applying Create Unframed Edge and Gaussian Blur Edge actions (4 clicks):
You'll have to try it out yourself to see some of the others. There are a couple dozen different sets of actions, and I've only had time to play with one of them so far. Go to http://www.thelightsrightstudio.com/photoshop-tools.htm. And if you like them, do give a donation to support Glenn Mitchell's creative work.
14 February 2011
Finally got my new PC after more than six months limping along on my old slow laptop which kept me from getting much photography work done. So I'm back!
Just a pretty sunset image from a recent trip to Galiano Island for now.
I recently finished reading Enter Mourning: A Memoir on Death, Dementia & Coming Home, by Heather Menzies. Very profound and well written. She's a photographer, so she used her camera as a way of processing the whole experience of gradually losing her mother to Alzheimer's Disease and finding healing from old wounds that it was too late to work out with her mother verbally. She intersperses her reflective memoir with some shots she took while on a visit to her mother's old cottage after moving her into an assisted living facility. Here's a beautiful excerpt that grabbed me:
"I reached for my manual Minolta slung over my shoulder, and took off the lens cap The camera and all the actions involved in taking photos bought me some time, helped prop open the door to what I was doing. As an old friend Moira once observed, we ritualize the unknown as a way to face up to it, to wrestle it into revelation; my camera became my medium for doing this. Repeating the ritual motions--adjusting the shutter speed and focal length—-slowed me down and allowed me to dwell in my hands and eyes, opening my senses to the body of this remembered space. It brought me closer, helped me to be present to what I'd spent so much time absenting myself from over the years. I also used the camera to hone in, to find and focus in on what I had particularly avoided. I'd learned to divine for water when I was a kid at the farm, using a forked apple branch, and I felt I was doing something similar here in this quest. The camera was the stick while Mum's place and the tangle of the time we'd spent here together was the ground, the currents of water were my feelings running hidden beneath its surface."
I've done a bit of using my camera to understand my mother's journey into the ravages of the disease, and to study the bits of herself that she's left behind all over the house. It's too personal to share any images here, but I definitely find it a method that helps me process stuff.
Posted by Rosie Perera at 10:26 AM
19 July 2010
05 June 2010
16 February 2010
Someone over on a Flickr group I'm part of was asking us to post some wide angle portraits and pet shots. I didn't have any to share, but I did post this:
The widest angle I've got is 28mm. It was interesting that you asked this question, because that led me to discover a feature in ACDSee, the photo organizing software I use, that lets me search for photos by focal length. I was surprised to find out how seldom I used the 28mm focal length. (I have 28-70mm and 70-200mm zoom lenses.) I tend to do portraits and pet photos somewhere between 60-100mm.
I did a breakdown of what focal length I've used on all my photos since I switched to digital:
28mm - 491 shots
29-39mm - 3382
40-49mm - 4239
50-59mm - 3898
60-69mm - 2508
--> 70mm - 7288 *
71-100mm - 697
101-130mm - 564
131-160mm - 377
161-199mm - 347
200mm - 1879
By far my favorite focal length is 70. Not surprising, since that's the highest I can go on my short lens and the lowest I can go on my long lens, so when I'm stretching the limits and wish I had the other lens with me, that's where I'll gravitate.
It's also interesting that I prefer the 200mm extreme to the 28mm extreme, but the larger majority of my non extreme (including 70mm as an "extreme" because it's the end of the range on both lenses) shooting is done on the shorter lens. That's probably mostly a matter of practicality. It's lighter and smaller, and it lives on the camera (it's the only one that it fits in the case with on it), so if I'm going out and only want to bring one lens, that's usually the one that comes with me.
Wide angles lenses (smaller focal lengths; 35 and below) are best when you want to fit a lot into your photo, either a wide landscape scene, or an entire subject from close up (this was shot at 28mm):
Medium length lenses (about 60-90mm) are good for portraits (this was done at 70mm, from fairly close to the subject):
Long lenses (aka telephoto; about 135 and up) are good for close-ups from a bit of a distance (this was done at 200mm):
19 November 2009
Posted by Rosie Perera at 5:13 AM
31 October 2009
It's been a busy summer and early fall, and I haven't had time to post anything in a while. So here are a few of my best shots to catch you up with what I've been doing photographically (and otherwise) for the past three months. I'm now storing photos on Flickr, so clicking on these images will take you there and you can browse at some of my other work.
After being inspired by some of the reading I was doing for the Food Course, I bought a share in a CSA farm called Urban Grains, which grows organic wheat; well, UG partners with Cedar Isle Farm which actually grows the wheat. The shareholders took a field trip in July out to the farm in Agassiz, BC, to see the wheat fields and meet the farmer. The setting was stunningly beautiful, in the Fraser Valley with the Cheam Range of the Canadian Cascades off in the distance.
In late July and early August I went to Santa Fe for the Glen Workshop, put on by Image and CIVA. I also did some touring around that part of New Mexico, visited several cousins, and saw a lot of great Spanish Colonial art and stunning landscapes. No wonder Georgia O'Keeffe and others have been so inspired there.
In August I went back East for my family's annual vacation at our summer cottage in Vermont. The highlight of the week was of course getting to see my nephew Isaac again. He seems to get cuter every day, if there were any possibility of ever being more cute than he already is. Sorry no public photos of him. Friends can see them on my Facebook page.
In August, and late September to early October, I had visits from two dear old friends, spent time with them at Galiano Island, and did some fun things in Vancouver. Here's a B.C. Ferry, all repainted in preparation for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, going through Active Pass as seen from Sturdies Bay on Galiano Island. Man, if only I had the new "content-aware fill" feature that Adobe Labs has been working on for some future version of Photoshop! I'd get rid of that light post in front of the ferry. Too time-consuming otherwise. But take a look at a cool demo here.
I'm taking a portraiture photography class at Focal Point, the photography school which is a block from my house. (I'm so lucky!) Our teacher is Alex Waterhouse-Hayward, a well-known Vancouver-based commercial and fine art photographer who has photographed famous people including Bob Hope, Douglas Coupland, and Annie Liebovitz. He's also an avid gardener, so he likes to have us use plants as props in some of our photos, and he is teaching us to recreate certain historical styles in portraiture. He also sometimes is wacky and suggests amusing poses with props. Here are a couple of my best shots from a studio session.
This first one is heavily color adjusted in Photoshop.
We've had the most glorious October for fall colors this year. I went out shooting some of the leaves in my neighborhood a couple of weeks ago, and this is my favorite one. It looks like they're floating on water, but they are on the hood of my neighbor's car, with reflections of the trees overhead.
Finally, I got to attend the U2 360 Tour concert in Vancouver the other night. It was a great experience. Took my trusty G9 along with me and didn't see any signs or hear any announcements about no photography allowed, so I went for it. The stage was set with this giant space ship on it. Apparently it takes so long to set up (8 days) that they had three identical sets so they could be working ahead setting up the stages for the next two concerts while performing one. This tour cost them about $750K per day! Hmmm, you wonder how many poor children in Africa Bono could have fed or given AIDS medications to if they'd kept the budget to...oh, maybe $300K per day? Still, I know he inspires many and is very generous, so I don't complain too much. It certainly was quite a spectacle.
05 July 2009
OK, I’ve decided on a solution so that I can post my book. I added a page of text explaining the situation and posted the PDF as is. Hopefully I won’t get sued (apparently it’s not very likely: see “Can a Recipe Be Stolen?”), and maybe I’ll even inspire some purchases of the cookbooks that some of the recipes are drawn from.
Here is the link to the completed book on the SoFoBoMo page:
26 June 2009
I finished in perfect time! I started shooting on May 24, finished the PDF on June 23 and had 22 copies of it printed and spiral bound to give to the people involved, and got most of them distributed that same day. I had participated in a two week course on the theology of food, titled "Food: Creation, Community, and Communion." That was going to be the title of my SoFoBoMo book. I took photos throughout the entire course, of us working in the garden, cooking, and of course the food itself. I've put a selection of the best of those in my Food Course Flickr group.
But I shifted my project goal as the course progressed: I decided to create a cookbook with all the recipes of the dishes we ate -- the food was amazing! I began collecting the recipes (sometimes by photographing the page in the cookbook they came from, other times typing them in directly from a friend's description, or copying from emaikl). Fortunately, I had taken enough photos of food to illustrate the cookbook with a photo for nearly every dish (ended up using a total of 42 of them -- not always my very best shots overall, but the best of the food ones I did).
Unfortunately, I can't post it on the web, because it ended up being a cookbook (with photographs of nearly all the dishes), and some of the recipes came from copyrighted sources, and I didn't track down sources in all cases. Even when I did, I'm not sure what the legality is of republishing a recipe from a published cookbook without permission. So, while I have the personal satisfaction of having finished, I don't get credit on the SoFoBoMo website for being among those who did. Oh well, at least I learned I can finish such a project, and will be better equipped to do it next year.
Here's the front cover, at least;
07 June 2009
I'm back from Galiano Island now and am still not quite sure what hit me. It was an amazing experience, hard to put in words. It was pretty exhausting -- hardly a moment to sit and think. Our routine (weekdays) was usually: breakfast at 8, morning prayers around 8:45, class from 9-12, lunch around 12:30 or so, about an hour of free time (which was all the free time we had and we had to use it to do our daily assignments), a couple of hours of work projects (either work in the garden, kitchen cleanup and meal prep, or working with our teams to research and plan the meal we were going to present), dinner, evening prayers, and occasionally a class-related movie in the evening (e.g., "The Future of Food"). Any gaps between those items were filled with walking back and forth between the Wilkinsons' house, where classes and meals were held, and the cottages most of us were staying in; showers after working in the garden and getting all sweaty; and quick checks of email.
I took 2074 photos in all over the two weeks. I'm now into Phase Two of SoFoBoMo, which is selecting which ones to keep for the book. I also want to share a larger subset of them with all the people I took the course with, so I've begun a first pass, which I'm about halfway through. The ones that haven't been weeded out so far are up on my Flickr page. A very interesting phenomenon, by the way: I was somewhat apologetic about posting a couple of potentially disturbing photos showing blood and guts from slaughtering a lamb, but those have been the most popular ones for people to go and visit -- three times as many visits on those as the average for all the other photos in the set. Go figure. I guess people are into blood and gore.
I haven't done much editing yet, other than fixing the exposure and shadows/highlights on a few of them. I'm finding I like the exposure editing features of ACDSee Pro quite well and am so far doing all the work in that, rather than Photoshop. However I know I do prefer Photoshop for detail touch-up work. It seems to preserve the pixel resolution in the vicinity of the editing better than ACDSee does. Before I went out to the island, I did a very thorough clean of my camera, including cleaning the sensor, but I still wasn't able to get rid of a few visible dust specks. So I'm anticipating I'll have to do some spot removal. I guess I will have to have my camera professionally cleaned.
11 May 2009
The Humane Society of the US has created this short film (26 minutes) about the importance of stewardship of animals as part of God's creation. Apparently they are realizing the value of enlisting the help of people of faith in this important work, and people of faith are waking up to their responsibility to care for their fellow creatures. This is good news!
Thanks to Matt Humphrey, one of the TAs for the Food Course I'll be taking later this month, for the pointer to this video. I'll repeat his caution:
WARNING: There are some disturbing images here of the treatment of animals. I think it is essential that we become people of truth-telling, which means to face the facts rather than hide behind slogans like "that can't be true - farmers wouldn't do that." This is a call to action and faithfulness which demands thoughtful reflection and creative action.
Watch and pray.
I should point out that at about 13:49 in the video, Rev. Dr. Laura Hobgood-Oster relates a story about Jesus stopping a man from beating his mule. This is extra-biblical (it's from the Coptic Gospel found in the Nag Hammadi library). It's a nice story and quite in keeping with what Jesus might well have done, and surely many of the stories written down about him by others besides the Gospel writers really did happen. But it's non-canonical. However there are in the Bible passages that clearly talk about taking good care of animals, e.g. Proverbs 12:10 ("The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel."), Deuteronomy 22:4 ("If you see someone’s donkey or ox fallen on the road, do not ignore it. Help the owner get it to its feet."), Deuteronomy 25:4 ("Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain."), and of course the extending of the Sabbath command to animals in Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15.
05 May 2009
I've got my computer back up and running for the most part. Still some software yet to reinstall and some settings that aren't quite the way I had them before the crash. But at least it looks like I'll be able to go ahead with SoFoBoMo. I've been getting warmed up with some more food photos lately.
Onions are pretty amazing, you know. I've recently finished reading Robert Farrar Capon's The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection, which is a wonderful combination of cookbook and theological essay. In Chapter 2, "The First Session," he guides the reader through a truly spiritual encounter with an onion. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book. I'd been exposed to the onion exercise in a class at Regent once before (The Christian Imagination, taught by -- surprise, surprise -- Loren Wilkinsons). But it was fun to savor the chapter from which the onion experience came.
Some choice excerpts: "Once you are seated, the first order of business is to address yourself to the onion at hand....You will note, to begin with, that the onion is a thing, a being, just as you are. Savor that for a moment." Later: "But look what your onion has done for you: It has given you back the possibility of heaven as a place without encumbering you with the irrelevancy of location."
Still farther on, one of the best sections, worth quoting at length:
"Note once again what you have discovered: an onion is not a sphere in repose. It is a linear thing, a bloom of vectors thrusting upward from base to tip. Stand your onion, therefore, root end down upon the board and see it as the paradigm of life that it is--as one member of the vast living, gravity-defying troop that, across the face of the earth, moves light- and airward as long as the world lasts.
"Only now have you the perspective needed to enter the onion itself. Begin with the outermost layer of paper, or onion-skin. Be careful. In the ordinary processes of cooking, the outer skin of a sound onion is removed by peeling away the immediately underlying layers of flesh with it. It is a legitimate short cut; the working cook cannot afford the time it takes to loosen only the paper. Here, however, it is not time that matters, but the onion. Work gently then, lifting the skin with the point of your knife so as not to cut or puncture the flesh beneath."
Later on: "Perhaps now you have seen at least dimly that the uniquenesses of creation are the result of continuous creative support, of effective regard by no mean lover. He likes onions, therefore they are. The fit, the colors, the smell, the tensions, the tastes, the textures, the lines, the shapes are a response, not to some forgotten decree that there may as well be onions as turnips, but to His present delight--His intimate and immediate joy in all you have seen....With Peter, the onion says, Lord, it is good for us to be here. Yes, says God. Tov. Very good."
Later he touches on his idea which he elsewhere calls oblation: "Man's real work is to look at the things of the world and to love them for what they are. That is, after all, what God does, and man was not made in God's image for nothing. The fruits of his attention can be seen in all the arts, crafts, and sciences....But if man's attention is repaid so handsomely, his inattention costs him dearly. Every time he diagrams something instead of looking at it, every time he regards not what a thing is but what it can be made to mean to him...[r]eality slips away from him; and he is left with nothing but the oldest monstrosity in the world: an idol. Things must be met for themselves. To take them only for their meaning is to convert them into gods--to make them too important, and therefore to make them unimportant altogether. Idolatry has two faults. It is not only a slur on the true God; it is also an insult to true things."
I think a photographer's calling is very connected with this idea of attentiveness to things, of oblation (offering them up to God and to others by really seeing them and loving them).
Ron Reed, in his blog Oblations, quotes the core exposition of this idea of oblation from Capon's chapter "The Oblation of Things" in his book An Offering of Uncles. My church, Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship, is going to have Ron as a guest speaker on Sunday, Sept 6, to give a version of his talk "Oblation: The Artist's Holy Calling." Lucky us!
11 April 2009
Woe is me. My computer crashed and the hard disk is toast. I stupidly had it configured as RAID 0, not RAID 1 (I hadn't really understood all that stuff) so I don't have a duplicate drive to jump back in and keep going as if nothing had happened, as I thought I would. My latest full external backup of the drive was over four months ago (again, stupid; I should be doing them nightly). I've got the disk down at a data recovery specialist place and they will be able to retrieve it all, but it doesn't sound like they will return me a bootable drive exactly identical to the one that died. I think they're just going to get my files back for me and put them on an external drive. I will have to start fresh with a new install of the OS and reinstall all my software, etc. Very time consuming. Bleeacchh! This is a major setback and might put my entry into SoFoBoMo at risk.
No photos to share today, as I haven't been taking any, since I don't have anywhere to put them to process them and don't want to get too far ahead of myself until the computer is back up and running.
Posted by Rosie Perera at 12:20 PM