Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Update on the GoSkagit Photo Contest

For reasons unknown, the local paper has extended their Tulip Photo Contest. The new deadline for submitting a photograph is Monday, April 30th and the voting period is extended till the 18th of May. As of this writing my photo (shown on Monday's post) sits in 3rd place. For fun, here is the widget from the paper's site.

So far there are 30 photos approved and we'll see if any more end up submitted. Check them out and if you feel inclined to vote that would be great.



Monday, April 23, 2012

GoSkagit Tulip Contest - My Entry

April marks the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival and during this year's Festival our local newspaper & publishing company is hosting a Tulip photo contest. I saw the add in one of the publications and have been eyeing the lighting and looking for my opportunity to grab a good photo to take a shot at the contest. My submission has been approved and is one of 30 photos up for voting, which started Sunday the 22nd and ends on the following Sunday the 29th.

Evening Tulips

What really makes this photo for me is definitely the lighting. The late evening sun created a nice glimmer on the edges of the flowers. You can see the contest page at and see all the entries and even vote if you are so inclined.



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Spring Sunset

As I mentioned in my post from Monday night I love taking photos of a good sunset. There is just something about the nightly paintings God gives us that never gets old, either simply them observing or actively photographing the vibrant colors. Tonight's photo is the result of my drop everything and go take some photos impulse alluded to in Monday's post.

Spring Sunset

The sunset intensified while I was near the tulip fields and I ended up getting this shot, which was my favorite of the bunch. As I mentioned previously, I had a little off road adventure that occurred after my brain took a vacation from simple math, as in soft dirt + rain = MUD! That little excursion may have contributed to missing the shot I had initially set out to capture, but all was not lost as I came home with this photo that I am quite happy with. Another adventure in photography that led to a memorable photo with a memory and story to look back on with a laugh.



Monday, April 16, 2012

Nothing Like a Fiery Sunset

I will never tire of a brilliant sunset, either of just sitting (or standing for that matter) and enjoying the color show God gives us at night or of taking photos of a good sunset. Sunsets have always been one of my favorite photography subjects and they always will, though I do find myself much pickier in what I find to be a great sunset photo anymore. Some of my old favorites seem less than inspiring as I look back at them. But I guess that comes with the territory of being an artist and your own worst critic (when it comes to my photos at least).

In fact, as I was typing this post up I saw what looked to be a great looking sunset and dropped the computer, got in the car and drove down the road to the vantage point I was thinking would work well for an impromptu photograph. Well, this was one of those good idea, bad idea moments... Good idea: Drop everything and take a photo of a nice sunset. Bad idea: Leave wearing only slippers and park off the road in a soft muddy spot next to a tulip field... Well, as you can imagine I totally got stuck in my front wheel drive Saturn (thank the Lord someone helped push me out!) and caked my slippers in mud at the same time. Oops!! That will be a fun story for my wife when she returns from her ladies group tonight!!

So anyway, back to sunsets... I recently finished uploading a group of some of my still favorite sunset photos (with one sunrise in there) to my Flickr account for your enjoyment.  These photos make up a new set dedicated to Sunsets and Sunrises. The one photo featured in tonight's blog post was taken on New Year's Day at Fort Casey in Washington State. This sunset was one of the most brilliant I had ever seen and only continued to get better and better the longer we were there. My brother-in-law and I spent about 20-30 minutes taking photos that night and the colors continued to intensify with each passing minute - it truly was a spectacular sight we were blessed with that night. With the featured photo below the small portion of concrete in the very bottom of the frame looks very similar to the water seen in the bulk of the photo, something I think really adds to the photo.

New Year's Sunset

Next time I'll be wearing real shoes or avoiding the mud!



Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Meerkats at the Zoo

Not only is a local zoo a fun filled and educational afternoon, but they make great places for photography. The trip also makes a wonderful date, as was the case for my wife and I on our trip in the summer of 2010. One of my favorite exhibits they had that trip was the meerkats. These guys were fun to watch with no shortage of curiosity. They also seemed to be standing guard as if on sentry duty, all but the one on the right who is finding something quite interesting straight above them.

Curious Meerkats

Along with the meerkat photo, I also uploaded other shots and a new Flickr set for animals and wildlife. I also added a waterfall photo from Multnomah Falls to the Nature and Scenic set.

If you are looking for something to do for an afternoon, a casual and enjoyable day in the sun, consider a trip to the zoo. It will likely be a memorable several hours and you'll be able to come out with some great photos as well.



Monday, April 2, 2012

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Discontinued

Recently Sigma discontinued their non-optically stabilized 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. When exactly it was discontinued isn't clear, as it was available for purchase last fall and I haven't found anywhere online an actual date it was discontinued. This lens offered a relatively inexpensive option for a constant aperture in the 70-200 zoom range, selling for around $500 less than the Optically Stabilized version of the same lens from Sigma and selling for a much steeper discount over a stabilized Canon or Nikon lens of similar specifications.

I wonder if this is the start of a trend as image stabilization has grown from being a great option to being  virtually expected on any lens or camera as even the basic kit lenses all include image stabilization. It will be interesting to see if other lens manufactures follow suite, and I expect to some extent that they will. Currently Tamron appears to be the only 3rd party lens manufacture with a 70-200 f/2.8 that is not optically stabilized, though a recent patent posted on Photo Rumors shows what looks to be an updated 70-200 that includes Tamron's Vibration Compensation technology. And while Canon still sells a non IS version of their 70-200, it is predictable more expensive than not only the discontinued Sigma lens, but more expensive than Sigma's stabilized version as well.

While the lens is discontinued and not available at most camera retailers, you can still find it on Amazon and the secondary market. I have had some hands on with this lens, using it on a Canon Rebel T2i for the Yearbook & Photography club I advise at a local middle school. This is our sports lens used heavily at indoor school sporting events and the students have produced some fantastic shots with it. Even with the 2.8 aperture ISO 3200 is still the typical ISO used for fast enough shutter speeds in the poor lighting of a middle school gym.

Now we wait and see how many more non stabilized lenses are added to the discontinued list, and maybe of more interest - how many new lenses are made with out stabilization?