Monday, December 29, 2014

Revisitng and Re-Developing Old Photos

I'll have to admit, this post was indirectly inspired by my brother and one of his panoramic photos of Crater Lake in Oregon. For Christmas I helped my mom get his photo printed on a 16x48 canvas from Costco and seeing the print really got my wheels turning about some of the panoramic photos I have taken in the past. While I liked the photos in my archives, there were different flaws in them to where I wouldn't be happy with how they would look printed out (tilted horizons or the colors turned out flatter from the camera than how the scene looked in person).

Fast forward a few years and now I have more experience with editing software and I was able to correct the shortcomings of my old photos. Now I can look at the digital image and picture how it would look on a printed canvas and be excited about getting the print made.

For comparison, below are two versions of a panoramic photo taken on New Year's day several years ago at Fort Casey on Whidbey Island. The first photo is the original panorama I had created, followed by the newly re-created and developed version.

Original from 2011, no edits - simply stitched

Fort Casey Sunset Panoramic
Newly re-done image. Re-stitched and further developed

All stitching was done with the Hugin Panorama Photo Stitcher and the image developing was done with The Gimp.

Revisiting older photos is something I would definitely recommend. Looking over older photos with a time removed eye, might just uncover a new favorite. Throw in a sharper skill set for digital developing and you just might find some new shots for your profile.



Monday, December 8, 2014

Renting a Lens with BorrowLenses

There are two major camera gear rental companies in the US, LensRentals and BorrowLenses. They offer high end equipment that might be out of budget for many of us hobbyists, giving us an opportunity to try out the coveted gear or even try something that may be in our price range before purchasing to see first hand how it stacks up.

Knowing about these companies, I have been interested in giving it a shot and renting a lens that would be a step up from the kit lenses that came with my Nikon D5100. Well, as my wife was nearing her due date for our daughter we wanted to do maternity photos but didn't have the extra money for a professional shoot so I had the idea that we could rent the same lens the photographer used to do our son's one year photos (Nikon 50mm f/1.4). After thinking a little more about it I thought we could go with the 50mm f/1.8 instead. Going that route, if we really liked the lens and the results we achieved with it, it would be more feasible for us to save up the $216 the f/1.8 sells for over the $425 price tag of the f/1.4.

We wanted to have the lens through the weekend as well as the coming Tuesday (Veteran's day) that I had off from work so we could take some maternity photos. So on Monday I placed the order with the desired delivery date of Thursday. The seven day rental was $19 plus $24.95 to cover round trip shipping. The lens arrived at a perfect time Thursday morning and came with a lens hood and UV filter as well. When the next Thursday rolled around, thankfully the last FedEx ground pickup time at the local drop FedEx store was 6:00pm, so I wouldn't be frantic trying to get it post marked on time after work.

From start to finish the entire process went off without a hitch and BorrowLenses was easy to work with. A nicely designed site, simple rental procedure and no hassles made the experience a pleasant one and I would not hesitate to recommend their services or rent from them again - especially given that there are plenty more lenses I would love to try out. What I will likely not do again is rent the 50mm f/1.8 simply because a second rental would mean almost half the purchase price of the lens was spent on renting it, which seems a poor financial decision to me.



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hummingbird on a Cold November Morning

I always enjoy watching (and listening) to the hummingbirds that frequent the feeder we have hanging on our front porch. Their little chirp is a pleasant sound and the hum/whoosh sound of their wings is really enjoyable to hear buzz by you. We recently had a week long cold snap, colder than we usually experience in late November in Western Washington, that froze the feeder contents solid as the temperature dipped into the high teens over night.

On the cold Sunday morning while getting ready for Church and the rest of the day, I noticed one of the resident hummingbirds was frequently perching on one of our hanging baskets waiting for the frozen food to thaw out. I of course thought photo opportunity and hitched up the 55-300mm and waited for him to come by. Once I saw the little bird, I slowly cracked open the front door (with the camera settings all set - zoom, focus etc...) aimed and took a few shots. Below are my favorites: one of him sitting and looking about and one just moments before he flew away.

Perched Hummingbird
Perched on a hanging basket, waiting for food to thaw

Hummingbird About to Take Flight
Spreading his wings to take flight

I typically see what looks to be the same bird sitting in nearly the same spot when I get up for work during the week. So hopefully I'll grab a few more shots of him in some different lighting, or even more fun shots of him spreading his wings out.