Sometimes the most interesting thing to photograph really is right behind you.  This proved to be true today when I shot this “interesting” tree in Bellevue.  There I am, walking about with my camera looking for something cool to shoot and I’m not feeling that inspired.  So I literally lean against this tree.  While I was thinking of how frustrating it can get some days I turned and looked at the tree trunk.

I don’t know what type of tree this is or what was happening to it, but it looked like the bark on the tree was splitting and peeling off.  Then I looked up and noticed that the sunset had given the sky an interesting hue.  I also liked the small number of leaves in the tree, the fact that they had all nearly fallen kind of helped the picture I think.

It was getting a little dark so I needed to put the camera on a tripod to take this one.  But I was worried that if the wind blew too hard the branches and leaves would all have motion blur. So I took lots of shots hoping that one of them would come out well.  Ironically they were all pretty good, but the one I’m posting tonight had (I think) the best focus.  The texture in the tree trunk is really cool here.   Quite gnarly with bits falling off and the sky is very interesting.  I shoot all my pictures in raw (that means I have all the data the camera saw when I get home) and while I usually leave the camera’s white balance setting on auto, I can fully change it when I get home.

Once I loaded the picture onto the computer the tree color was slightly off so I color corrected for the tree and the leaves and this is what gave me the blue / purple sky.  What I saw was kind-a dark blue, but this looks really nice so I left it.  I do think the tree and leaves are pretty close to what I saw.

Tonight Carter challenged Master Chief to a marshmallow tower building competition.  Let’s be honest, he didn’t stand a chance!

Tonight’s picture is another one from the Japanese Gardens in Seattle.  I caught the lake and the surrounding trees in this one and as this was taken just before all the leaves fell, there’s still some color in the image.

There were quite a few people on the other side of the lake and I had to take them all out in Photoshop.  But I liked the little bridge crossing the lake at the end of the picture.  If it looks like I’m standing in the middle of the water it’s because I kind of am.  At this end of the lake there were these huge stones in the water (and I mean huge), so I just walked out into the lake and took the picture.

For those of you who don’t live in the Pacific North West, you won’t know that it’s pretty green here all year round.  We are called the “Evergreen” state after all.  We have a load of evergreens here so it’s never really that brown, but the oranges and yellows definitely leave us.  We do suffer from pretty grey skies though.  In fact it’s raining outside now as I type this.

I’m actually off work all this week so I’m planning on going out each day to shoot some cool pictures.  I only have 40 odd days to go on this resolution and I’m going to see if I can get a large number of pictures to post while I’m off work (I do have around 150 pictures in my backlog but I don’t like those ones anymore).  So look for something new and different tomorrow night.

Tonight Carter and Master Chief sampled some nice Minty Balls, apparently they were very nice.

I went into Redmond today to buy a new Windows Phone.  I was having difficulty deciding whether I should get the Nokia 920 or the HTC 8X.  Ironically I didn’t have to make the final decision as there was a line of people out side the shop and down the road.  They told me it would take around 2 hours to get to the front of the line so I decided not to wait.

Anyway, I had my camera with my and even though it was raining I thought I’d see if I could get a picture for tonight.  So I went for a walk around the town center.  Now from past experience I’ve learnt that you need to be a little careful in the town center when you have a camera, the security people there don’t like it.  So I had the camera in a bag and pulled it out every time I saw something to shoot. (Sneaky eh?)

I walked over to Starbucks to get a coffee and there was a huge line in there too, so no coffee for me.  But when I walked outside I saw the huge Christmas tree and “Santa’s Grotto” across the road.  Now in our house we don’t start to celebrate Christmas until December 1st because Lisa’s birthday is November 28th and we like to enjoy that first.  But people seem to be celebrating Christmas here earlier and earlier these days.  All the decorations are in the shops, some people have their house’s all lit up and Redmond town center has clearly decided it is the time to be merry.

So I thought I’d shoot the tree and see if I could get a nice image.  Luckily there weren’t many people walking around (there were all in the AT&T store and Starbucks) so the sidewalks were pretty empty.  Also not many cars drove past so I had lots of chances to get a shot.  So I grabbed a few pictures and the one below was my favorite.

I liked the clouds in this picture and reflection on the wet road.  The colors came out really well in this picture too and you can just make out Santa standing in his house.  All in all I’m happy with this one.

The guys fancied some fruit tonight so they got a couple of satsuma’s and dived in (Master Chief did any way).

Today’s image was again taken at the Japanese Gardens in Seattle.  I was walking around the lake looking for interesting subjects and I came across this rickety gazebo built against a tree and standing in the water.

I immediately thought this would be interesting as the texture on the tree and the bamboo used to build the gazebo looked really good.  So I started taking some pictures.  Unfortunately it was pretty dark under the gazebo, there was a lot of shade so this wasn’t really a surprise, but i really wanted to show the latice work in the roof.  So I again resorted to HDR (I love this).  I captured three images each with a different exposure.  One was correctly exposed, one was over exposed by two stops and one was under by two stops.  Then I used Photomatix to merge the three images together to get the picture below.

This came out really well.  The shadows were brought out and you can really see the roof of the gazebo and the texture in the wood.  The water looked nice too and I even got some of the stones in the picture in the bottom left corner.  So I’m quite pleased with this one.

After too much candy the guys decided to just enjoy some gum today.

I’ve mentioned that the Japanese Gardens in Seattle have a lot of water, well today’s image is a shot of the biggest lake in the gardens.  The water is a pretty dirty color in the picture and in truth it looks kind-a yucky when I was there.  All around the lake are paths that take you past the water and manicured trees and bushes.  You can see that this was a lovely time to go to the gardens and the fall colors are really beautiful.  I love the reds, oranges and yellows in this image.

I wanted to take this picture but there was a group of kids standing on the bridge at the far end of the lake.  They were laughing and messing about (pretending to throw each other in etc.,) and taking their own pictures.  So I just took a seat and waited.  While I was there a number of other people came by and took a picture and I heard them complaining about the kids on the bridge, but at the end of the day you just have to be patient.  The kids weren’t doing anything wrong, they were just enjoying the gardens and eventually they moved on.  That’s when I took this picture.

The challenge with pictures like this is that I wasn’t allowed to take a tripod into the gardens, so I had to raise the ISO (sensor sensitivity) so I could get a decent (fast) exposure.  Then when I got home I had to de-noise the images and that add’s image artifacts (artifacts are digital errors that appear in the image).  However as my camera is so AWESOME, the noise wasn’t too bad and the image looks great.

Master Chief and Carter were super excited tonight as their copy of Halo 4 arrived.