It’s kind-a funny the things you chose to shoot and post when you do this kind of “picture-a-day” nonsense and tonight’s posting is a great example of what I mean.  30 years ago when I was but a “slip of a lad” (well I was actually 19 then but I was definitely young) I really didn’t notice much around me, that is of course unless there was a sign saying “Bar Open” or there was a very pretty girl in my field of view.  In fact put a pretty girl in an open bar and World War III could have taken place behind me and I wouldn’t have noticed.  I’m sure you get the idea.  (Oh and before any of my American friends get all moral on me, the legal drinking age in the UK is 18, so finding open bars and pretty girls was a common pastime for me and my friends.  (The fact that I worked in a bar when I was 17 is neither here or there – but I digress.)

The mere thought of me stopping to stare at a sunset, or field of flowers was just out of the question, in fact I can feel 19 year old Tony inside cringing as I type this.  But age does many things to a man, we become more open to our surroundings, have an higher appreciation of natural beauty and are willing to look a complete dicks arse (friend joke) staring at something beautiful a 19 year old would point and laugh at.  Don’t get me wrong, I still like staring at a pretty girl (as Lisa will attest) but 30 years ago did I every think I’d post to an online web site a picture of a fallen tree stump?  Clearly the answer is no, I mean the web didn’t exist 30 years ago, but I think you get my point.

I should point out that I had a couple of beer’s tonight so I’m rambling a little here but what the heck, only 38 days to go, I should enjoy this opportunity.

Anyhow, back to the picture.  I was walking along a beach on Bainbridge Island and I came across a fallen tree.  So what I hear you ask.  Well the tree was rather uninteresting, but the roots at it’s base had turned almost silver and gold.  I looked pretty amazing and I found myself staring at the said tree trunk for far too long (pretty sad eh?)  Anyway I thought I’d take a picture as I really liked the way it looked and figured it might make a nice image.

So not your everyday traditional picture, not sure if this should be classified as a landscape, or macro image, maybe it’s just “arty” either way I like the way it came out and am posting it tonight.  (Hopefully this is not the beer talking).

Tonight the guys decided to play a game of golf – thank you Valerie for loaning the set.

The rain let up today for about half an hour so I grabbed my gear and headed out.  It’s quite funny what you see when you walk around looking for something interesting to shoot.  I was was driving out of Redmond towards Duval and I was driving down the hill I live on around this really windy road.  On either side of the road was heavy woodland and something caught my eye.  So I turned round and went back for a look.

Just off the road in the trees was a fallen tree trunk and someone had carved this bird on the bottom.  I had to dodge traffic and jump over a barrier to get the picture so I risked life and limb for this one.  But how cool is this?  Firstly I’m shocked I saw it, but after checking it out really close I’m really glad I did.

There was a lot going on around the carving (loads of trees and plants etc.,) but I wanted the focus to be on the bird.  So I selected a pretty narrow depth of field so plants behind were out of focus and added a vignette to the picture so the bird carving is the lightest item in the image.  I actually took a few versions of this art work, some from further away and others really close up and tight.  But this version was my favorite, it showed you all of the carving and placed it in context in the wooded area too.

Master Chief brought Carter a gift today, his own “Grow Tiger”, cool eh?  Now he just needs to find some water.

So the goal today was to go out and get some really nice pictures, but there was a kink in the day’s plans.  The weather was terrible, I mean really awful.  We had a major storm overhead and the rain was coming down unbelievably hard.  Now I don’t mind getting wet, but I can’t take the camera gear out in those conditions.  So I needed another plan.

Instead I thought I’d do something “arty”.  So while Lisa and I were out I popped into Home Depot and brought a couple of white tiles.  Then this evening I laid one of the tiles flat and placed the other behind it standing up.  I suspended one speed light over head and also suspended a pipette above (both on light stands).  Then the camera went on a tripod and I got out the cable release out.  I got some red paint out and watered it down and loaded up the pipette – you still with me?

Then the fun started, if you can call it fun.  I squeezed the pipette and took a picture, trying to time the picture for when the paint drop hit the tile.  This is the first shot I got. No it wasn’t, I just lied.  This was maybe the 50th picture actually.  But once I got the timing right I got loads of these.

Once I got all the pictures in to the computer we started a family “discussion” ove which picture or drop crown, looked best.  We all (Lisa, James, Abi and myself) had our favorites but we operated a very democratic mechanism to pick the best.  Yes, we chose Lisa’s.

Anyway the end result came out really well.  Paint crown looked amazing and the I got the shot I was looking for.   Hope the rain stops for tomorrow.

After doing something “arty” Carter and Master Chief offered to clean up – which was nice of them.

Tonights image is a little different.  Last week I lead a photowalk around Redmond town center and I found this painting on a building wall just off the high street.  Now I would guess that this graffiti was made with a stencil but I thought it looked really cool.  There were some cars parked right in front of the wall so I had to get pretty close to get a clean picture.

I thought the bricks looked great too and love the lines disappearing out of focus into the distance.  Ideally I would have got the shot from the other direction so the lines led you to the image, but there was a huge truck in the way and right behind me was a great big bush and it didn’t look as good in the image.  While the image appears black and white, it’s actually color, that’s just the color of the bricks and the paint.

I think the thing I learnt from the walk was that you really can find great things to photograph by just walking around and looking.  Going to Maui is nice for a beautiful sunset or landscape, but you really can get compelling images anywhere.

Tonight the guys wanted some chicken so they decided to carve one up themselves.

So today I was feeling all creative.  It happens every now and then so I thought I’d better jump on the moment and do something different.  So I shot the water drop below.  So how did I go about doing this, and more importantly can you do this too?  Well the answer is yes, you need a little gear, and a lot of patience.

Here’s how to get your own version.  Firstly I did the dishes, not mandatory but I needed the sink in the kitchen and the dirty dishes were in the way.  Once I had a clean sink, I placed a large cutting board over one of the sinks.  Then I sent Abi off to find some of her more colorful dresses and tops, she came down with half her wardrobe (so be specific if you have a 9 year old when you ask the same).  I picked out this cute orange, yellow and purple leotard and placed it on the board.  Next I got a small glass bowl and placed that on top of the leotard and half filled the bowl with water.  With me so far?

OK, next I got some lights.  You can’t really do this with natural light as you need to shoot at a pretty high shutter speed and small aperture.  So I grabbed a couple of speed lights and set them up on either side of the bowl.  You could do this with one speed light you just might not have it evenly lit on both sides.

Then I grabbed the macro lens and placed the camera on a tripod and turned on the faucet – and the dripping began.

Now you have to start taking pictures and trying to time it as the drop hits the water in the bowl.  The lights fire and freeze motion and hopefully you get a nice picture.

It takes time to get the focus right (you need to do this manually) and you need a pretty small aperture (I used f/16 here) so you have a big depth of field (which using a macro lens is really no more than half an inch).

Tonight I took 687 shots and ended up with 49 that I really liked and kept.  Out of the 49 this one was my favorite.  You can see the leotard in the background which is in soft focus, but you can also make out the leotard’s patten in the water drop, which I think is pretty cool.  The whole thing took around an hour and it’s actually a lot of fun – go ahead, give it a go.

The guys were playing hide and seek tonight, Master Chief had a great hiding place but they found him in the end.