Today was a lovely day and ended with a nice evening with clear sky’s and not too cold. So I thought I’d pop out for a sunset or “blue” hour picture (just after the sun has gone down).

As I didn’t want to go too far I thought I’d go over to Kirkland as I haven’t been there in a while so I left home around 6:30 and drove to Lake Washington.

The sun was low in the sky but the water was pretty rough as there was a wind blowing. So I popped the camera on a tripod and put on a neutral density filter. This just restricts the amount of light coming into the camera so makes the shutter have to stay open longer. The result of which is that the water looks nice and smooth. But doing this you have exposure times of over 20 seconds so that tripod was really necessary.

I walked around the water’s edge taking loads of pictures looking for that great composition.  Once the sun had gone down over the horizon I found this little pier that’s right next to the place you put your boat in the lake.  Luckily for me everyone had gone home by this time so I had the area to myself.  Also the lights had just gone one and they cast a subtle glow on the pier.

I took a couple of shots and the images looked nice but they needed a little something else.  In truth the sun was really going so the sky wasn’t that interesting.  So I popped on a magenta filter too that gave the sky a nice purple hue.

Here’s the finished result.

This week I brought a new lens and after trying it out thought I’d post a “lens review”.  I’ve never really done this before as most of my readers are really here to see family pictures or the odd landscape shot.  Most aren’t really interested in the gear I own or how I use it.  But I thought what the heck, how hard can it be to write a review!

Well it appears the answer is VERY HARD.

As I started to type I figured there were somethings I needed to explain first and before I realized it I’d written a huge posting and hadn’t even got to the bit about the lens!  So I figured I’m not ready just yet for a full lens review, I should probable start with a few postings about general photography then I can refer to those when I tell you how wonderful my new lens is – and why.

So this means (I guess) I’m going to write up an “Intro to Photography” section in my blog.  For some I’m sure this will not be of interest, but I’m often asked how to do stuff and what to buy etc., so this new section (when I get round to it) will be more to answer those kind of questions.

So dropping the review here, let me tell you about this picture.

The new lens is a portrait lens and enables me to take pictures with a very narrow depth of field.  This means that I can photography a subject (Abi in this case) and only Abi is in focus.  Everything behind her (or in front) is softly out of focus.  In the image below you can see the garden behind Abi is all blurry this is called bokeh and a good lens can make this look natural and pleasing to the eye.

So why do this?  Well the idea is the viewer isn’t distracted by background objects and can enjoy the subject you wanted them to look at.  You’d think this was pretty simple, but the depth of field (amount of the subject in focus) can be tricky to manage.  It’s easy to make the depth too small or too big.

This was my first attempt with this lens and if you are super observant, you will note that Abi’s left eye (the one nearest the camera) is nicely sharp and in focus, but her right eye is slightly out of focus and a little blurry.  That said the image is sharp enough to post and with more practice I should get better at controlling the lens.

Abi kindly let me shoot her in the garden and went through numerous funny poses (most with goofy faces) until we got this one.

Needless to say I’m very happy with the lens and can’t wait to shoot some more portrait’s to really put it though it’s paces.

Hope you like the pic – thanks Abi for playing along.

I didn’t post any pictures last week as I had to work over the weekend and while I’m trying to post every week, this year I’m not going to get all bent out of shape if I miss a picture every now and then.  In 2012 when I posted a picture a day I would get hugely wound up that I’d miss a day and quite frankly it stopped being fun – and that’s bad.

But this week I had the time to pop out for a picture.  Saturday was raining all day but Sunday was nice, so I drove down to Marymoor Park to see what I could get.  Marymoor is a huge public park in Redmond where they have acres of space for kids and dogs to run and play.  There are lots of sports fields too, a massive dog park where you can walk your dog off leash and a model plane airport where you can see loads of planes dog fighting and doing acrobatics in the sky – all very cool!

A large part of Marymoor is set aside as a nature reserve, they have a lot of wild birds and small animals that like wetlands as the park backs onto Lake Sammamish.

As you walk further into the park you start getting closer to the lake and there are a number of broad walk paths that lead you to the waters edge.  I thought it might look nice overlooking the lake so that’s the direction I took.

Like most of the county we’ve had some pretty bad weather lately, for us that meant a LOAD of rain.  The result of which is the water level of all the lakes and rivers is higher than normal.

When I got to the main walkway to the lake I found all the paths were under water.  They have this one long wooden bridge that crosses some of the wetland and it was totally under water.  Loads of people were complaining that they couldn’t cross but all I thought was “what a great picture opportunity”.  What helped was that there were a few clouds in the sky too which were reflecting nicely in the standing water.

So I set up the tripod and started taking pictures.  I had to stand in water to do this but fortunately I didn’t get wet.  As you can see in the picture we are still in winter as nothing green has come out yet, but I still thought the scene looked cool.

When I got home I was happy with the picture, but also tried processing the image in black and white.  Both looked good but the black and white version looked MUCH colder so I went with the warmer color image.

Hope you like the pic.