Tag Archives: Colorful

Sudderth Drive in Ruidoso, New Mexico

As I promised at the end of my previous post, here are more photos that I took with my new Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera. All but one of the photos in this post were taken using the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens, which I ordered as the “kit” lens with the camera.

We left Austin the morning of May 27th, and drove the 500 miles to Roswell, New Mexico, which is only about 70 miles short of our ultimate destination – Ruidoso. We didn’t go all the way to Ruidoso simply because the house that we were renting for 5 days wouldn’t be ready for us to check into until 3:00 PM the next afternoon.

Roswell, NM is famous for pretty much one thing, and that is for the “unofficial” UFO crash landing that occurred there in 1947 – officially known as the Roswell UFO Incident. While we were in Roswell, we never saw any real aliens from outer space, but we did have this friendly looking creature at the entrance to our motel’s parking lot. I took this photo the next morning, which happened to be Monday, May 28th – aka Memorial Day here in the US of A.

Roswell is in a very arid, barren region with an elevation of 3600 feet above sea level. Driving west toward Ruidoso, the terrain remained very desert-like for at least 35 miles, but we did start to gain in elevation. The last 35 or 40 miles quickly changed to green trees and then pine trees as we climbed all the way up to 6950 feet above sea level.

When we arrived in town, we stopped in at the Visitor’s Center, which was on Sudderth Drive.

The very nice, helpful lady there loaded us up with maps and all sorts of information pamphlets for various tourist and entertainment activities that we might wish to do during our 5 day stay. She recommended that we head on over to Village Buttery for lunch on their outdoor patio. That sounded great to us! It was just “a couple of blocks up the road”. Ruidoso was very crowded with tourist for the Memorial Day weekend, and it did take us several minutes to find a place to park the CR-V. We finally got lucky and parked just a couple of spots from the little café.

After we went in and ordered our lunch, we came back outside and got the last table (around the left side of the building in the above photo), and one of the very few that did not have an umbrella, but it was in the mottled shade from the large trees behind us.

At last, since I wasn’t driving, I had a chance to play with my new camera! I pushed the Macro button on the 12-50mm lens and slid the barrel forward until it clicked into the macro mode, which seems to be fixed at 43mm focal length (86mm on FF 35mm camera).

For lunch, I had a garden salad AND a fruit salad. Why not – I was on vacation!

Put the lens back into normal mode and took a photo of the view I had while I had eaten my lunch.

Yes, we were out of the desert now, and into the southern extent of the Rocky Mountains.

One more photo, back in macro mode, before we left the café and headed on down the street on foot. The Image Stabilization of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is outstanding – this macro mode photo was taken while I hand held the camera (but I did have my elbows on the table).

This stretch of Sudderth Drive is loaded with little arts and crafts stores, restaurants, and other shopping opportunities. Barb wanted to wanded around in about half of them, and I was more than OK with that, as it gave me the opportunity to stroll along and photograph all sorts of interesting, quirky sorts of photos, like these fabric flowers.

Sometimes I would go into the shop with Barb, and sometimes I would just hang around outside.

After I took the above photo, I decided that it would be a good idea to put the circular polarizer onto the front of my lens. It remained on for all but the last two photos in this post.

We hadn’t gone more than 5 or 6 stores down the street before Barb said she needed to find a restroom. I suggested that we go into the pottery shop where we were at and ask them where we could find one. They showed her to the back of their shop, while I hung around up front and took a couple of photos of their colorful pottery mugs – which were predominantly lit by the overhead fluorescent lights, but also from both side from the sunlight coming in from both sides due to the front and back doors to the narrow shop being propped wide open. The Auto White Balance on the E-M5 camera did a great job.

After Barb returned, we stepped outside the front of the shop and one of the sales ladies seemed to latch onto us, and insisted in introducing us to one of their artists. He was perched up into the bed of a pick-up truck in the parking lot under the shade of the trees behind the shop, while he worked on his pottery.  He we struck up a short little conversation with him – and then he noticed my silver and black Olympus OM-D E-M5, and commented that it had been a while since he had seen any tourists walking around with “a real camera”. As I raised it up to discuss it, he noticed the LCD on the back and instantly realized that it was not a film camera. I asked him if it would be OK to take his photo, and he very kindly agreed. He just went back to his work and I waited a few seconds before I took this photo.

OK, so now it was time to head on up the street.

We went into a very nice looking Irish Pub, named Grace o’Malley’s thinking it would be nice to kill some time and sit and have a beer (remember – we were on vacation!), but it was so busy with the Memorial Day crowd, that we decided we would come back later in the week. (We did and I am certain that I will create a post of the photos that we took inside.)

As we stood on the steps of Grace O’Malley’s these two real photographers saw me taking their photo, but since I didn’t have “a real camera” they ignored me as they walked on by.

Now this was really interesting!  A few minutes ago an artist initial thought my camera was cool, and now these DSLR toting photogs effectively snubbed their noses at me once they saw my silver and black “toy camera”. For some reason this reverberated strongly with me – and I liked it!

We passed by some pretty corny art as we walked further up the street.

Since it was Memorial Day, lots of the stores had the American Flag on display outside their stores. While Barb went into a little shop known as Rebekah’s, I stopped to take a photo of their flag.

As I stood there, I noticed how the flag moved with the breeze, sometimes the sunlight was hitting the side of the flag that I was on (front light), like the photo above. However, what really caught my eye was how beautifully the flag seemed to glow when the sunlight hit the back side of the flag (back light). I waited and waited for it to occur again before I finally got a chance to take this photo.

As it turns out, Rebekah had been watching me from inside of her shop, and when I went inside to see what Barb was up to, Rebekah started talking to me about her flag. She had bought it from another vendor at a show she was selling items at in Las Vegas. Supposedly it would never get wrapped around to pole, due to the way it could rotate around the shaft. She asked me if I would send her a photo of her flag, and I said that I would, if she would write down her email address.

While Rebekah was writing on the back of one of her business cards, her sales helper asked if I would take her photo. Heck yes!  Sharon jumped up onto the stool behind the counter and mentioned that it would be really cool to have their old –timey cash register behind her. I said “oh, of course”, but was much more interested in using the large window to my right to light the side of her face, and not have it blow out the highlights in the background. (There was also a large window to my left, but it was 10 feet away from Sharon.)

The lens was all the way out to 50mm. The exposure was 1/6 of a second @ f/6.3, ISO 200. The maximum aperture opening for this lens at 50m focal length is f/6.3, which is pretty “dark” and is what caused the slow shutter speed of 1/6 second. The in-camera Image Stabilization of the OM-D E-M5 is very, very good, but I am glad that I took two photos of Sharon. Both were hand-held. The first is noticeably blurry when viewed at 1:1, but this 2nd shot seems to be razor sharp to me.

Note: a few days later I did email Rebekah the photos of her flag, and also of Sharon.

Moving on down the street, I just continued photographing anything that looked interesting to me – and continued playing with the settings on my new camera. Some photos were of objects in the direct sun – because I had no other choice.

About this point, we had gone 7 or 8 blocks, and decided that it was time to turn around and head back toward the car. This would be on the “sunny side” of the street……

This colored necklace was taken through a storefront window. Fortunately I had put a circular polarizer on the front of the lens by this time. I am pretty sure that I put the lens into Macro Mode to take this photo.

I like colorful objects, and can’t resist photographing them.

Here we passed by Grace O’Malley’s Irish Pub. We’ll be B-A-C-K!

At this point I noticed that my “low battery” indicator was flashing on the back LCD monitor. I think that the camera uses a lot of battery power when you wear it around your neck, and the sensor that detects an object close to the electronic view finder (EVF). That would be my belly. A valuable lesson learned about how to use the OM-D E-M5 efficiently – turn it off when you don’t need it to be on.

We got into the car and drove further up Sudderth Drive than we had walked. We went to a wine store that our friends had recommended – a place called End of the Vine. While relaxing there, we did a tasting of 4 New Mexico wines. While vintner Steve Willmon poured our wines and visited with us, I changed the lens on my camera the 45mm f/1.8 and took this photo of Barb under some pretty funky lights. I did use the gray portion of my ColorChecker Passport to correct the white balance setting in Lightroom 4.1.

After putting the two bottles of wine that we had purchased into the ice chest in our CR-V, we still needed to kill another hour before we could arrive at the house that we were renting, so we walked through a few shops in the same area. I put the 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens back onto the camera.

While in one store, Barb found a very pretty little sun dress that she will be wearing to our niece’s wedding two weekends from now. While she was trying on dresses, I thought I’d take this photo of the decorations near the ceiling of the store, just to see how the Auto White Balance would perform under these strange spot lights.

It was now time to head to the house that we were going to spend 5 nights in, so we got into the car and headed on out.

I know that these photos are just “vacation snapshots”, but I was very pleased with the results that I was getting from a camera that I now had been out with for a total of only TWO times!

CowParade Austin Calendar – June – Cowmaro

June is a hot month in Austin. The Chevy Camaro has always been a hot car in my book. Therefore, it seemed fitting to put the cow named Cowmaro into my CowParade Austin 2012 Calendar in one of the hot summer months.

The artist who did Cowmaro is Dale Whistler, and you can visit his web site to see many examples of his art – many of which are virtually iconic to those of us who live here in Austin.  You can watch a short YouTube video of Dale, where he is interviewed about his past and some of his objects of art.

Dale was sponsored by the Central Texas Chevy Dealers to make Cowmaro.

Cowmaro was on display out on the front “lawn” at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, with 3 other cows. I say “lawn”, because when we arrived at the Bob Bullock museum on August 20th, central Texas was still very much in the clutches of the hottest summer ever on record here in Austin. The drought was severe, and water rationing was being practiced by everyone in the Austin area.

We arrived a little before 11:30 AM, and it was already blazing hot. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. This is just about the worst possible condition to photograph anything outdoors – especially an art object. The ONLY thing that I could do was to put a polarizer on my lens and pray. Even so, you can tell by the shadow at the top of this photo just how hard the direct sunlight was….

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The left side of Cowmaro had the image of the front of a Chevy Camaro painted on it, while the right side of Cowmaro had the view of the rear of the car on it. It was as if the car was somehow stuck inside of the cow!

Now I personally never owned a Chevy Camaro, but I always liked the look of one – they usually stop me in my tracks and I have no choice but to stare and wonder what fun it must be to drive one! Later on, (much later on – 1996), I owned a 1994 Chevy Corvette. It was the most trouble-free car that I have ever owned, and I’ve had lots of Toyotas and Hondas. I had that Corvette for nearly 3 years, and only put 11,000 miles on it…. although I would occassionally drive it hard, most if the time I babied it.

If you don’t remember the Chevy Camaro, here is one that I took a photo of in October 2010 at the Rolling Sculpture Car Show in Bee Cave, TX. I would guess that this is a 1968 Camaro SS.

You can see my favorite 100 cars at that show my going to my “Photo Gallery” button under the banner at the top of this page, and selecting the sub-menu for that car show.

OK, let’s get back to Cowmaro! I moved around to the opposite side, and of course, it was the shady side of the cow. To prevent my photograph from ending up as a silhouette, I put an external flash (Canon 580EX II) on top of my camera (Canon 5D Mark II), set it for TTL mode, with a flash compensation of -1 stop, and fired off these next two photos.

This is not particularly “artistic” photography, but not too shabby of a “journalistic” type of photography. But hey, that’s all we were trying to do anyway.

As an attempt to do something “artsy” while we were there, I composed this photo of Cowmaro on the burnt-up lawn, positioned over the cow named Mazy Moo that was done by Susi Alcantara.

(You  can see all 72 of the CowParade Austin cows by clicking on the  “Photo Gallery” button and choosing the CowParade sub-menu.)

As it turned out, we needed to return to the Bob Bullock Museum on Sept.17, as they had added a new cow (Once in a Blue Moo by Lewis Signs), and we needed to photograph it. This time, the lighting was much better, as it was a very hazy, overcast day. Still no rain to help the drought situation, but the overcast sky helped keep the temperature down below 100 degrees, and it was MUCH better light to be photographing painted cows with!

Even though it was almost exactly the same time of day as our previous visit (this time it was 11:13 AM), I did not need to use a Fill Flash on the “shady side” of the cow.

And finally, here is the shot that I liked the best, and so this is the one that I ended up putting on my CowParade Austin 2012 Calendar, for the month of June.

The overcast sky even made the shiny metal plaque look better!

A Gardening Shot with LED Lights

This week’s Project 52 assignment was to Welcome Spring with A Gardening Shot – with a focus on gardening. Supposedly the client is simply looking for something to catch the eye. They are a small hardware store and the image is for their “Get Ready for Spring” store promotion.

I wanted to bring a LOT of color to my gardening shot. I envisioned a “wall” of flowers behind some hand tools and some colorful seed packets.

So after work, I headed to my local nursery and cruised around looking for the most colorful (and somewhat color coordinated) flowers, hand tools and seed packets that I could find. My total cost was $56, which was well under the client’s budget of $1100.

I knew that I would have to shoot them that evening, as I had chosen the flowers for the way they looked right then, and didn’t want to risk any of them wilting over the next day or two. Although there was still more than 2 hours of daylight remaining, it was very windy, and I wanted the flowers to remain still while I photographed them.

So it was into the garage I went and simply arranged the items pretty much how I had envisioned them onto a folding table. Since I was going all-out for color, I brought out my blue backdrop cloth, instead of my boring gray one. For lighting, it occurred to me that this might be a perfect opportunity to try out the new Fotodiox Pro LED 312AS panels that Kirk Tuck had recommended.

These continuous lights (as opposed to “flash” lights) have a knob to adjust the color of the light being output from 5600K (color of daylight) down to 2300K (color of a tungsten lamp). I set the knob to the 5600K setting, and set the white balance in my camera to 5600K.

Notice the strong magenta color cast in the gray card (by definition, gray is without any color cast).  Something wasn’t right!

In his LED Lighting Book, Kirk had cautioned about the “green spike” in the color spectrum that these LED lights would produce, so I was very careful to perform a custom white balance in the camera. After making that adjustment in the camera, I took this photo, and you can see that the camera completely neutralized the magenta color cast!

Now I admit that I’m not sure why the color cast was magenta, and not green.  I know that the two colors are opposite each other on the color wheel. Kirk had to use “minus green” gels (which are magenta in color) over the face of his LED lights in order to neutralize the “green spike”. I can understand that concept, but I don’t understand why when the light was set to 5600K and the camera white balance was set to 5600K, the resulting initial image had a strong magenta color cast. (At any rate, I have ordered some 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 and Full MinusGreen gels made by Rosco to put over these lights in the future.)

OK, so I can’t explain the science, but I was glad to see that setting a custom white balance in the camera corrected it. Now on to my Project 52 assignment!

This first photo is very much how I had originally envisioned it.

It was certainly colorful, and would catch your eye at the hardware store, but I thought it was “too busy”.  To simplify it, I removed the gloves and the sprinkler head, and moved in a little closer.

That was better (to me), so I knew that my lighting was getting close to its final arrangement and power levels, so I took a photo with my ColorChecker Passport in it. Using this photo later in post processing, using software from X-Rite, I could create a custom “camera calibration” for my camera using these LED lights at this 5600K color setting.

The photo looked better but the angle didn’t seem right, so I got a little lower and took this one, which I liked the best (and it’s the same at the first photo in this post).

And finally, here is my set-up shot, which shows the 3 LED panels that I used.  Note that the top one didn’t have a fabric diffusion panel. It was there to light up the tops of the three colorful flowers in the back. It was positioned close to them, using a boom, and the power was turned way down in relationship to the other two lights.

Wildflowers in March

We’ve had a mild winter, combined with more than average rainfall. As a result, the wildflowers in Austin are popping up everywhere!  Dad and I went out to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center this morning to take pictures of whatever we could find.

I put my circular polarizer on my 24-105mm f/4 lens, and used my Lastolite 48″ Tri-Grip 1 Stop Diffuser immediately above the flowers that I photographed.  This is not my specialty in photography, but I certainly enjoyed seeing the beautiful flowers on a gorgeous day. I hope that you enjoy seeing them too!

The next two photos are of the same scene. The first one has a pretty shallow depth of field, while the second one increases it.

The next two photos also play with depth of field. The first one has a pretty shallow depth of field, while the second one increases it.

The next two photos also play with depth of field. The first one has a pretty good depth of field, while the second one intentionally kept it to be rather shallow.

This next flower is a very rare giant metal species….

I hope you enjoyed seeing the wildflowers!

Colorful Umbrellas

It’s been raining for days here in Austin.  That’s great, as we really, really need it – especially Lake Travis. We have right at 2 inches in our rain gauge out on our patio now.  That’s the accumulation for the last 3 days.  The rain is very much welcomed and needed, but it has been very dreary to be outside for the last few days. Sort of leads a person to cabin fever.

The photo above has nothing to do with the rain in Austin right now. It’s just one of my favorite colorful photos.  After the dreary, rainy days I just needed something colorful to cheer things up a bit around here!  This photo was taken last August in Jamaica. They are some vendors who rent “sticky shoes” at Dunns River Falls. What ‘s that?

Dunns River Falls is a section of a river that cascades over a series of rocks while dropping a hundred feet or more in elevation. Someone thought that it might be great fun to “walk up” this rocky stretch of a river. Somehow that got turned into a very popular tourist attraction.

(Hint: you can click on the image to see a larger version, but if you do, be sure to hit the “Back” button on your browser to return to my story.)

Now you know why the vendors make a good living renting out “sticky shoes”!

Barb and I didn’t get into the water. We simply walked up and down the stairs next to this mayhem and took pictures.

I didn’t mean to get into a story about Dunn River Falls in Jamaica…. I just wanted to post something colorful to cheer up everyone while the rain continues to fall.  The good news about this rainfall is that we should have a very nice wildflower season this year!

Hey maybe just the act of making this post has helped. I think it’s actually starting to get sunny outside right now.  I think I’ll get cleaned up, grab my camera, and head outside for the afternoon!