Sunday, February 22, 2009

Saturday Morning

This past week all of my "photography time" went to preparing that post on histograms and messing with a timelapse sunset video that I've been rather unsuccessful with. So by Friday night, I was really eager to just go out and shoot!

Saturday morning presented lots of fun photography opportunities.

We live in the downtown area of Santa Barbara, which means an itty-bitty house and a pretty busy street outside, but it's a lot of fun to be able to walk downtown or out somewhere to eat. One of our favorite places to hit up on the weekends is The Daily Grind, a coffee shop that serves some good food and superb pastries. Our favorite is the raspberry streusel.

I noticed this Porsche Cayman pull in to the parking lot, and it had kind of a strange license plate, "LKYCAR2".

Then Jess pointed out the license plate frame...

Pretty crazy!

The Daily Grind attracts a lot of very beautiful, earthy people (Santa Barbara's full of them)--people loaded with character that would be fun to photograph--but I'm not nearly bold enough to point my lens at a stranger. Any thoughts from people who take these kind of pictures?

The real photography highlight for me was this old army jeep that's usually parked around our block on the weekends. Most weekends its parked on a less interesting part of the street, usually under a tree with little light and between some other cars. I've been meaning to photograph it anyway, though, but today I had a special opportunity--it was parked across the street from our house, all on its own.

Whenever I spot something interesting to photograph, there's a strong urge to just put the camera to my face and snap a photo, without much thought for composition or anything. I call these photos "tourist shots" because they're the kind of photos most tourists take while documenting the places they're visiting. I ended up with a couple tourist shots of the jeep before I came to my senses :).

The sky was a boring grey and the jeep was parked in front of a big green bush, so there wasn't anything to provide a good contrasting background for just a "shot of the car", so I mostly photographed its details. Here are a couple of the whole jeep, though, so that you at least know what I'm photographing.

This jeep is covered in interesting details, so I took it as an opportunity to practice some composition. I tried pretty hard here to think through each shot and compose them carefully. It's tough, though; I think I get impatient and fire away even if I'm not totally sold on what I've framed.

After that, we did yard work for a couple hours. One of my favorite things in life is chopping wood. You take big round logs and split them into beautiful little wedges ready to be tossed on the fire. It also reminds me of the scene in the book / film Shane, where Shane and the boy's dad heroically hack away at the old stump that's blighting their farm. And it's just fun to swing a sledge hammer!

There was a tree that had to be cut down in our front yard, and I've gradually been splitting the logs.

I've kept you here a while, now, so I'll just say a few things about the photograhps.

They were all taken with our new Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, which we're loving. I think it's very true that working with a fixed-length lens can do a lot to inspire creativity. It also produces noticably sharper images, and allows for a very shallow depth of the field which was key for some of these shots. Not to mention, at $90, it's cheaper than either of our zoom lenses!

I was a little "lazy" with the processing of these photos... I just used Picasa for all of them. Picasa is an awesome editor; it has some very powerful features presented very simply, and it's got a surprisingly complete set of tools. It also has a small enough set of tools that you can safely experiment with them without feeling overwhelmed. There have been a lot of times where I've spent a half hour messing with a picture in PhotoShop trying different things, and never feeling that great about any of them.

I pretty much applied the same set of effects to all of the photos.
1. Crop
2. Auto contrast
3. Increase saturation
4. Sharpen

I also adjusted the white balance on some of the photos--it was a cloudy day, giving everything a bit of a blue cast--so I adjusted the color temperature to warm it up a bit. It bothered my brain to see the photos looking warmer than I remember the subject being, but I think the photos look better for it.


  1. My brother used to live in Santa Barbara. He "worked" at the Church of Skatan for a while. I've never been there, but the pictures I've seen are spectacular.

    Speaking of spectacular... love these! I love the detailed shots of the jeep and the splitting wood shot was great. Reminded me of my Grandpa splitting wood to heat the house in Montana.

    As for shooting strangers, I'm not gutsy enough to do it yet either. So I have no advice on this, but I want to do it as well. Maybe we can make a pact to just do it. Like a dare!

    I dare you to take one picture of a complete stranger in the next two weeks. I'll do it, too. The due date is Sunday, March 8th. Ready... set... GO!

  2. Alright, you're on!

    I think I'll start by doing some research.

  3. Now... I wasn't very happy with the shots I got, but I did post them. Where is your random stranger photo? Do I win the dare?