Toilets still have to be scrubbed

Since I bought this new camera back in December, I’ve spent a lot–a whole lot–of time taking photos and editing them on the computer.  It’s a blast to be outside in the fresh morning air, watching a beautiful sunrise, or chasing the setting sun before it slips below the horizon.  And it’s so rewarding to sit at the computer, click the mouse a few times and see those photos change before your eyes into works of art (at least in my own opinion!).

Unfortunately, I’m not independently wealthy so I don’t get to spend nearly as much time with my Nikon as I would like.  And sometimes, real life comes knocking and you remember that other things need to be done.  So tonight, I had to leave my camera in the bag, and spend my evening vacuuming, dusting, mopping and cleaning toilets.  Not nearly as much fun, but I’m pretty sure it was the right decision.

But I did manage to spend a few minutes revisiting some of the photos that I took at Out of Africa a couple of weeks ago.  I promised Adam that I would post a photo of the python without somebody’s foot in the picture, so this is for “High Dynamic Reality Photography”:

I took tons of pictures at Out of Africa, but most of them have a lot of wire fence in them.  In some cases, the wire was in the foreground and the telephoto’s depth of field disguised it pretty well.  Here’s a shot of some of the tropical birds from the aviary that illustrates this:

The wire is most visible on the middle bird, but overall I still like the picture.

So now it’s time to start thinking about a shooting project for the weekend.  I have a couple of ideas, but I also have to get the oil changed in the car, and I need to get a new set of tires put on it as well.  There’s also rain in the forecast for Saturday, but that could lead to some really interesting shots if I plan it right.

We’re also planning an overnight trip to Arcosanti in Cordes Junction.  I contacted the guest relations person there and they do allow photography with tripods, especially if you stay overnight.  I’ve emailed them to see if they have a room available in March, and I’m just waiting to hear back.  If you’ve never heard of Arcosanti (and most people haven’t), stay tuned and I’ll fill you in on our visit.


Uninspired and wishing for Spring

I took my camera to the office with me today, where it sat under my desk all day.  I had a couple of things to do at lunchtime so my first possible opportunity to do some shooting came after work in the short hour before the sun set.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of anything on my route home that would be worth rushing to.

I did drive by a couple of places just to check out the lighting and the access possibilities.  The first is the Nishkam Seva Sikh temple, that’s built on the side of the Hedgpeth Hills in north Glendale.  It’s a beautiful building with nine gold-leaf covered domes, and the setting sun really lights them up.  The building is even beautiful after sunset as the lights come on, leaving a unique silhouette against the blue light of dusk.  I definitely plan to visit this site soon, but I want to make sure I have permission to shoot there, so I’ll probably contact them ahead of time.

Then I drove over to ASU West on Thunderbird and 47th Avenue.  I saw some architecture there that I believe would make some interesting shots, so I’ll be going back there as well.  One issue at this location is parking…I don’t want to wind up with a ticket for parking illegally on campus, and I don’t want to have to feed the meter in the visitor’s parking spaces.  I’ll probably just park in the shopping center across the street and walk across.

So, I didn’t do any actual shooting today, but at least I got some scouting done and I think it will pay off this weekend.  At least on the weekend I can go out in my jeans and tennis shoes, rather than my work clothes!  I just can’t wait until the days start getting longer so there’s more shooting time in the mornings and evenings.  And I can’t wait to see what the wildflower season looks like this year.

One cool thing to report–a couple of weeks ago someone asked why I wasn’t shooting my night shots at ISO 100.  I checked my camera and the lowest ISO setting I saw was ISO 200, so I was a little disappointed.  However, I also saw some other settings below ISO 200 that were marked Lo0.3, Lo0.7, and Lo1.  I checked the manual and found that these are the equivalent to ISO 160, ISO 125, and ISO 100.  So, YAY!!! (And why couldn’t they just mark them with ISO settings??)

Finally, I’m going to check out a new tripod this weekend.  It’s the Sunpak Pro 523PX with the pistol-grip ball head, and Best Buy is carrying it for $199.99.  It’s a 64” carbon-fiber tripod with a bubble level and lots of other cool features.  There’s only one Best Buy store in the area that has it in stock, so I’ll have to go to Surprise to actually see it, but I don’t want to order it sight-unseen.  The price is right and the reviews on it have been good, so we’ll see.

Didn’t really feel like doing much in the way of processing tonight, so I just fooled around with a landscape shot that I took last Sunday.  Here’s a view of the San Francisco Peaks as seen from Camp Verde, with the red rocks of Sedona in the distance as well.  It’s not an outstanding image, but I certainly enjoyed getting to see the snow, even if it was miles away.

San Francisco Peaks as seen from Camp Verde


Rule No. 1 – Get Closer (especially for wet giraffe kisses)

After our visit with family members ended tonight, I processed a couple more photos from our Out of Africa trip this past Sunday.  I find that most photos are much more interesting when the subject is up close (landscapes are the exception, of course), and I was delighted with this extreme example:


We took a ride in a unimog (a truck with seating in the back for paying customers on the “safari”) into the Serengeti area of the park where many of the animals came running to greet us.  They were, of course, accustomed to being fed by the people in the unimogs.  Our tour guide had provided each of us with a handful of animal treats and we were encouraged to interact with the animals.  This giraffe was very friendly, and so I was able to get some great shots of him through the open roof of the unimog.  I was using a 75-200mm zoom lens, which proved to be overkill for this type of shooting.  I would have been much better off to have used the standard lens, but I didn’t want to waste time changing lenses.  The clear blue sky was a perfect background for the headshot of the big guy.

The tour guide, Jeff, let us know that the giraffe would even take the treats from between our teeth if we were willing to risk a kiss from a giraffe.  So my hubby, being the clown that he is, decided to give it a try.  I missed the exact moment that the treat was exchanged, but I did get a clear shot of the stream of giraffe saliva that they shared after their big wet kiss:

Giraffe Wet Kiss

Some people celebrate Valentine’s Day with chocolate, some with roses, and some with giraffe kisses.


It’s all about quality, not quantity

How is it possible that I took 244 photos at Out of Africa yesterday and came away with so few that I was really excited about?  After getting home so late last night and then having to go to work today, I’m just now getting around to reviewing yesterday’s shoot and doing a little editing.  Yes, I took 244 shots (that includes a few that I took at the rest stop on the way up to Camp Verde).  First of all, let me just say that I’m glad I had the new 8GB SD card (thanks, Andy, for the early Valentine’s Day gift!).  Secondly, I’ll just point out that my camera battery charge indicator never budged the entire day, while two other cameras in our group died from lack of juice.  So far I’m very pleased with the D5000’s power consumption.

Anyway, back to the photos.  There were several reasons why I came back with so many photos that weren’t acceptable to me:

  • Stupidity – Once again I forgot to check all the settings on the camera before I started out and I didn’t realize that I still had the auto-bracketing turned on.  I kept wondering why some of my shots looked so dark and some looked so bright…until my internal light bulb came on.  By then, I had missed some great shots in the Serengeti area of the park.
  • Chain-link fencing – I will give this park kudos for the little observation decks at many of the exhibits where you can get a decent shot of the animals without obstruction, but I couldn’t help wishing there were more of them.  Some of the exhibits did not have the decks at all, and on a brightly sunlit day like yesterday, the chain link is so shiny it’s hard to get a decent photo of the animals.
  • Little people – most adults will at least try to stay out of the way when they realize you’re aiming your camera at something, but kids have absolutely no sense of propriety when it comes to the photographer’s right-of-way.  They will run right in front of you and just stand there, waving their little arms in the air, jumping up and down, and making all kinds of noise while they do it.  Pardon me while I vent…

I did get some shots that I really liked, though, and I’ll post a few of them at a time as I go through them.  I’m editing them in Paintshop Pro, and I’m doing a little experimenting with different settings as I go, so I don’t want to rush the process.  Besides, I’m still extremely tired from lack of sleep, so I’m going to call it an early night tonight.

I’ve posted some new shots to Flickr, but here’s one of my favorites that I worked on tonight:

Sleepy Lioness

Visit my “Out of Africa” set on Flickr to see the others.


Out of Africa – A Busy Weekend

We had family visiting from out of town this weekend, so we stayed on the road quite a bit exploring some of the sights in and around Phoenix.  Today we spent most of the day at Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde, about 90 minutes north of the Valley.  I took almost 250 photos, but we just got home and it’s late and I’m not about to start processing all of them now.  I do have to go to work tomorrow, after all.

But I couldn’t resist doing at least one of the images just to get a sample.  Here’s one of the tigers we saw there:

This was shot with a 200mm zoom lens, and the image was processed in Paintshop Pro to adjust color balance, contrast, saturation and sharpness.  Can’t wait to see how the rest of them turn out!