Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Back from Washington State

I just returned a few days ago from a 10 day trip to Washington State. I have family in the Seattle area, so I went to visit them, but I used the nearby scenery as an excuse to get out and take a few pictures....1201 pictures, to be precise.

The weather the first few days was kind of crummy...either lots of rain and sunshine, back and forth, or just cloudy most of the day. However, after those first few days, the weather turned very nice, and I had some nice photo trips. I managed to photograph a lot of subjects while there:
Space Needle
Seattle Aquarium
8 lighthouses up close or at a reasonable distance
3 lighthouses from far or very far away
1 lightship from a medium distance
Snoqualmie Falls
Mt Saint Helen's
Mount Rainier
North Cascades
Hurricane Ridge
Hoh Rain Forest
Daytime and Sunset on the Pacific Ocean
Tidal Pools on the Straights of Juan de Fuca
Cape Flattery

After several hours of looking over the course of 2 days, I've completed my first pass at the pictures and weeded them down to about 150. Now I need to make another pass to narrow them down more, then look through all the pics again to make sure I didn't leave anything out. Then starts the time consuming work of processing all of the images.

Hopefully by weeks end, I'll have my pictures ready, printed, and uploaded to the web site.
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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens is repaired

A few weeks ago I finally got around to sending in my Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens for repair. The FedEx guy showed up on Monday with my repaired lens. The upside: Canon replaced the front element and reassembled it good as new...focus appears to be fine. The downside: Canon insists that the lens sustained an impact (not sure how that happens to a lens that has never been dropped and is stored in a well padded area of the camera bag). As a result, they wouldn't fix it under warranty, so they charged me $40 for the repair and $5 for return shipping. Including my original shipping, I got the lens repaired for $50 with a total turnaround time of 3 weeks (the lens was in my hands exactly 2 weeks from the day I faxed in the repair authorization).

I guess it's not a bad deal. It saved me about $25 compared to what I would have paid to buy a new one. It's about the same price I would have paid to buy one used off of ebay. I still would like to upgrade to the f/1.4 lens, but this saves me from having to dish out that money right now (difficult to afford with some summer trips coming up). And if I later do decide to upgrade, I can probably sell this on ebay and get the entire $50 back.

I'm also happy that I finally got this thing fixed. I'll be able to use it on my upcoming trips to Seattle and Copper Harbor. That makes me quite happy simply because this lens takes such wonderfully sharp pictures.
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Monday, May 09, 2005

Tulip Time - Holland, Michigan Tulip Festival

This weekend we took a trip to Holland, Michigan for the tulip festival. It was our first time visiting for the festival, and it sure was a treat. Tulips everywhere in town.

Our first stop was at Windmill Island. Here there were plenty of tulips, to be sure. But more importantly, true to it's name, there is a giant windmill named "De Zwaan" (The Swan), which is an authentic windmill from the Netherlands, build in the 1700 and shipped to Holland, MI in 1964. We actually got to go up into the windmill, see how it was used to mill grain, and walk around the deck.

Unfortunately, there was a huge crowd touring the windmill, and with so many people in a confined space, I wasn't able to get many shots of the inside.

Out next stop was to the Veldheer Tulip Farm. This is where you can find pretty much any variety of tulip you never even knew existed. They have 30 acres of tulips for you to wander in, and each section of tulips is numbered so you can look it up in the catalog and order bulbs to grow your own.

The rest of the tulip photos can be found here:


The weather wasn't all that bad. I was hoping for blue sky with some spotty clouds, but the sky just didn't cooperate There was some blue sky with a few thin wispy clouds to the northeast, but the sun was to the south/southeast and it was pretty well overcast anywhere to the west.

However, at least we were able to get enough sunlight earlier in the day to help bring out the colors of the tulips. Later in the day, as the sun moved west, the clouds moved east, and around 1:30 or 2:00 the sun pretty much disappeared for the day. By then, we were off to get a few shots of some nearby lighthouse.

First we hit the Holland Lighthouse (AKA Big Red) then we traveled south to hit a few other before heading home. Here's a shot of Big Red.

The rest of the lighthouse shots are here:

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Prints, Papers, Matting, and Framing

Over the last few weeks I've been working more on getting some images ready for sale. I took 4 of the collages and prints that I've done previously, and re processed them to make them look a bit better quality than the quick prints I made for myself. Making prints to sell is a bit more difficult. Whereas normally I look at my photos and decide I like it or don't like it, now I find myself critically evaluating every little detail...noticing everything I don't like. I eventually convince myself that the photo looks like crap, only to look at it again later and realize it actually looks nice, and I'm just nitpicking.

I've also been cutting up my matboard into sizable pieces. I now have a stack of 8x10 and 11x14 pieces in about a dozen different colors. I also took 2 pieces of each color and of each size and bevel cut out the center in 2 different width so that they can form a top layer and a bottom layer. Now as I work on new photos, I can start mixing and matching colors for mats to determine which color combinations work best for that photo.

Last night I took a swing by the art/crafts store and picked up a few more frames. I'm planning on selling mostly matted, unframed photos, but I do plan on having a few pieces onhand that are framed...both to show of my work and get peoples attention, as well as to provide for those people who don't want to frame it themself or can't quite imagine what the print will look like in a frame.

Finally, I started looking into different paper types. I've been using the Canon Photo Paper Pro for almost 2 years now and have been very happy with it. The color is great, and it seems very resistant to fading (no problems yet, except that the white yellows slighly in exposure to sunlight). However, I decided it would be interesting to at least begin exploring other paper types. I picked up a pack of Ilford Gallerie Smooth Pearl last week. I was at the store looking through samples and just loved the texture of that paper.

I did a few test prints and it seemed to work quite well. It looks very nice. The only downside so far is that it's not 100% water resistant. After letting it dry for several hours, I ran the corner under some tap water. I could instantly see a change in color, and even after letting it dry out I could still see the change. I let the print dry a few more days and tried again and it was much better this time...it was barely noticable after the water dried off, but still a slight difference. Of course, this was in the sky, where it was easy to see the difference in a solid blue area. When I tried wetting down the trees, I couldn't really tell the difference after letting the print dry out again.

So I definitely think (based on a quick evaluation) that the Ilford Gallerie Smooth Pearl could be a wonderful addition to my printing repertoire. I'll have to do some more longer term tests to ensure I'm still satisfied with the paper before I consider selliing photos printed on it.

Anyway, as I said, I've got 4 more prints all ready to go. I post some matted mockups of those this week.
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