Sunday, August 24, 2008

A wider point of view

As most of you have noticed, this blog has spent a significant amount of time focused on our visitors and on food. Now that's not a problem for me because we love seeing everyone who comes to visit and I get to eat all of these wonderful meals that Max fixes, but we are in a quiet time for visitors and some of you may not be so interested in how to make the perfect biscuit. I must admit that I am quite involved in these food experiments, but only as a pair of hands which are mostly involved in cleaning up the mess.

But I do have my own interests which really haven't been broached in this blog. Now, one of them is gardening, but that has to be satisfied by a few potted plants that are arranged near our windows in the apartment. Watering them on occasion is about all they need. That doesn't leave a lot to talk about. My other hobby is photography, and I must say that California does offer a wide variety of subjects to digitize. So if you like pictures, but not the technicalities about them, just enjoy the views. If you are more of a photo buff, here is some experimenting I did with my new lens. And for reference, my camera is a Nikon DX 50, SLR digital.

My latest acquisition is a fish eye lens that provides a 180 degree photographic view of the world. There is one problem with this wide view and that is that the lens brings in the full 180 view both from a vertical and a horizontal perspective, and then it places it on a flat rectangular image. This is the old round peg in square hole problem, so to make it fit the edges do get bent so they will fit. Some of the distortions are pretty amusing and my first experiments with this lens have been a lot of fun. So this post is a photo journey with a very wide point of view.

This picture of Max and her Too Cute show some the distortion issues with a fish eye. Note that the car looks even more like an egg and although this picture looks like the car is parked right on a corner, it's really in between these two cars on a straight street.

Here is another example of fish eye distortion. This is a house around the corner from us that is up for sale. If you have an extra $45 million it could be yours. Again, this looks like a shot from the corner, but it's also taken on a straight street.

So what use is a lens like this that makes everything look so crooked? Well, if you focus on the distance you can get some wonderful wide angle scenery shots. This picture was taken a couple blocks from our apartment looking towards the bay with the fish eye and you can see that the trees on the left are bending in a bit. The wind does come from that direction, but they aren't quite bent that much.

Here is the same view taken with my wide angle zoom lens that is an 18-55 mm zoom instead of the 10.5 mm with the fish eye. Note that the steps aren't even visible in this one although I took it from the same location.

This last weekend Max and I took a short road trip down the coast on Highway 1 to Santa Cruz, and then we came back up to San Francisco driving along the crest of the coastal Santa Cruz mountains, stopping along the way at Big Basin State Park, the oldest state park in California and the home to some wonderful Coastal Red Woods.

We decided to take the Too Cute again. It is really comfortable in the seats- Don's back doesn't hurt- though is BUMPY- and of course Don loves how it takes the corners. But at our first stop a Harley pulled up right beside us- and the "guys" had a talk about their machines. Notice that the Harley is just a tad longer than our Too Cute! And it's engine is 60% bigger and it costs about $5,000 more.
This next shot was taken along Highway 1 from some rocks right on the beach, but focused toward the horizon

Here is what it looks like when I focused on the incoming surf. It looks like a shot taken from out space with the curvature of the earth.

And while Don was taking pictures of the ocean- I was taking pictures of Don taking pictures. Now for those interested in the technology- I have a little (will fit in the pocket easily- and does dry out successfully- I sat it in a puddle by the sink yesterday- it stopped for a while but does seem at this point to have recovered)- this little Sony Cybershot- the perfect BLOG CAMERA- I have it with me at all times- and it never weighs as much as my water bottle- which I also have with me at all times. And this camera is EASY- BIG TIME EASY- just what I need.

This one is looking up the coast from cliffs above the beach with the fish eye and the one after is taken from the same place with the wide angle zoom lens.

Then we came to the Pigeon Point Light House which offered some interesting perspective between the horizontal lines of the fence and vertical lines of the lighthouse. The fish eye actually worked pretty well here as long as I centered the image on the lighthouse.

Our photographer at work!

And this crevice in the rocks at the light house was an interesting subject. I took this picture with the fish eye and then substantially cropped it down to this view. I probably could have gotten the same view with my wide angle, but this one came out pretty well.

Big Basin is a redwoods state park in the Santa Cruz mountains. It is on the coastal side of the range, but only accessible from the east. We drove along the crest of the mountains and then dropped down to visit this wonderful state park. The two prominent trees in the park, adeptly named the "Mother" and "Father" of the forest, were two enormous redwoods that were just a short walk from the parking lot. I could do neither of them justice with any lens, but these are with the fish eye. The "Mother" tree is 15 feet in diameter and the "Father" is 16 feet in diameter.

And the fun of the fish eye is looking straight up into the trees from right beneath them.

We first saw the "Mother"...And then to the "Father"...

We meandered through the mountains of Santa Cruz- stopping at lookout spots for the view and the pictures- with my little camera...

This was the sunset we almost missed- missed because we didn't even know it was going to happen. We were driving through the mountains of Santa Cruz, stopping from time to time at a look out spot- never in a hurry- taking pictures with my little bitty camera...

And then we rounded a corner and there it was- UNBELIEVABLE- I'd never seen anything quite like it- a sunset above the clouds- the fog had moved in and we were above as the sunset in the west...

So we quickly parked- and ran to the edge- and just stood in awe- what beauty- what wonder. Maybe we'll get so lucky again.

As we hurriedly parked and walked to the overlook I realized that my fish eye was still on the camera and the other lenses were in the car, so this is the shot I got as the fog was creeping over the hills. Not exactly the greatest picture since a wide angle makes the horizon look so far away.

But through the magic of Photoshop I was able to "enhance" mother nature to give me this view. I know, it's not nice to mess with mother nature, but with some cropping and light adjustment, I gave her a little help. I'm sure it must look like this sometime.


The Life and Times of Poose and Hawk said...

gorgeous! i must send on to the "other" photographer, shannon.

Beyond The Strip said...

Wow, fun new toy! I really like the second lighthouse pic, the ocean that looks as though you are in outerspace and the "doctored" image! What a great day. love,b

fiddleheads said...

so cool don. you are sooo cool.

those sunset pictures above the clouds are unbelievable. what a moment to witness! very cool new lense too. the pics are so very dramatic. i can't wait to see more as you get even better with it. the pictures of the same subject using 2 lenses is great to show us the difference. i loved seeing the different results.

Anonymous said...

I must admit that the food blogs only make me feel inferior and rather food retarded as we continue to eat simply and poorly! But I do love to hear what you are up to no matter what it may be! But the photo blogs, I LOVE!!! Keep them coming!