Thursday, March 23, 2017

Polarized Filter or Not?

I watched a tutorial video by ON1 the other day and the photographer Scott Davenport.

The link goes to his website and some of the books, so it sort of is a shameless plug for him. His tutorials on the ON1 website are pretty darned good.
His photography is pretty amazing.

Well, let's just say, I don't think I will travel to all of the areas he does to get those incredible shots.
I have to stick around here for the time being. Farming, caretaking, and work all make it difficult to travel.
[However, I am looking forward to soon being able to explore as many State Natural Areas and State Parks as possible!...That is my dream goal.]

So I went down to the creek. The Awesome Creek. The sun was too bright for getting good 'water' shots, but I thought I'd not waste the opportunity and see what I could do.

I brought my Nikon D3100 with me along with that...Nifty 50mm lens. Of all lenses I could have, I think I like this one the best. It never disappoints me.

I had a rather inexpensive Circular Polarizer filter and a .6 ND [neutral density filter].

Here is a shot with the ND filter only. f16/ISO 200/1/5 second.
Same settings with a polarized filter and ND filter
The big difference is the ability to see the rocks through the water. I like both. The top shot shows more movement and the second shot clarifies the water.

So I tried another experiment.
I left the polarizer on and went to see how much reflection I could get off the water that was flowing.



And then I turned the polarizer filter and got this....


Encouraged by what I saw I thought I'd try some more.

However I learned that certain kinds of light and angles don't really have that much effect. I think I need to go out and do some more experiments.

However, let me say the filter did help me get a shot of the Trout on Sunday when I was in the Back Valley.

I hope to get out and try some more experiments.

Today I plan on using some things I learned regarding lighting and DIY lighting with flashlights to accent exactly what I want lit up in Still Life.

Low perspectives


The woods look pretty dreary and uninteresting right at the moment, but I still believe there can be interesting things found.

I grabbed my Nikon with the Nifty 50mm lens and decided to explore. The challenge is to not have a zoom focus but a fixed lens where you have to really think about getting the shot you want.

The shot of the creek bottom shows exactly how 'uninteresting' the woods appear to be. The shot of the Skunk Cabbage shows exactly how interesting the woods actually are!

When I came back from the woods, I found some crocus blossoms in the yard along with daffodils poking their brave stems out of the ground. I laid down in the yard to take some shots. There I was wiggling around trying to find the right composition, what did I see?

A little bug of some sort climbing around inside the crocus flower.  I peered at it after I took the shot and discovered that is was a very small bee and it was covered in pollen.

Imagine my surprise. If I stand up, the crocus plant is nearly impossible to spot. If one were to casually walk near the creek and not keep an eye out, they'd surely miss the Skunk Cabbage.

I'd place a skull next to the crocuses so that I could see them from further away and not step on them.
I was also surprised to see that a spider had climbed onto the skull!


And then there was the lone yellow crocus...it was very hard to find.

Yesterday some new crocuses came up and I didn't get out until the evening to get a shot of them while doing chores.


The daffodills are coming up around them and soon they will be gone. The daffy's will be the next blossoms to grace the yard.

Meanwhile out in the woods, under the debris I was able to see the very tips of Leeks just breaking the soil under the leaves.

They will come out when the weather is right.

The Robins however believe it is spring. This one sang the night song to me just before the sun blinked out of our hollow.


Lucky for me he perched on the branch long enough for me to attempt a shot.
This fit in my low perspective as he was higher than I was??

Well spring is coming and I believe I can say that I am looking forward to it. It was with deep regret that I put my cross country skis away yesterday and stored my snow shoes for next year.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Bones Bones Bones & Pine Cones

My morning started out just beautifully. The sunrise was amazing. However because I was feeling rather lazy I had coffee and watched the sky turn colors.

If I'd been really full of 'gumption' as my Grandma would have said, I'd have gone to the ridge to do a proper sunrise. It was 25 degrees out and hot coffee sure sounded like the better option.

My neighbor brought down her two youngest children to get some adult conversation after I'd done chores. I was raking the yard and picking up 'sticks'. Her kids helped a bit until they decided that looking for birds nests and collecting pine cones were more interesting.
Logan called them acorns. Allie tried to pile pine cones in a Robin's Nest she'd found from last year.

We talked and dumped some sticks into a pile and then decided to walk in the *Merry Meadow* [the summer pasture for the gals]. Logan left his ice cream bucket full of acorn-pine cones near the exit gate. Allie set down her nest with her pine cones.

We got near the spot I call 'the island'. Years ago it was an island of trees and a hollowed out shape like a bowl in the middle. Now it is mostly downed trees and brush that my husband has stacked with the skid steer.

Allie let out a howl of delight when she climbed the brush pile.
She spotted bones in the bottom of the bowl. Over the pile she went and down into the bowl. Years ago cattle used to graze here and I know that there was a horse buried there too.
Allie climbed back out with her arms full of ... bones.
Her sheer joy at finding pine cones and bones reminded me of how excited kids got over hunting for Easter Eggs.
I am guessing that pine cones and bones are much cooler.

Logan watched while sitting on a pile of sticks. Logan loves sticks and was carefully checking them out. I imagine he was looking to see if he could find the right one to carry and whack things with.

With the bucket of acorn-pine cones, the bird nest, and the bones, we headed back out of the pasture and towards the driveway where we parted company.

I finished what I was doing in the yard and put the rakes away.
My afternoon hike was to go back into the valley I'd visited last week and see if I could find that deer skull that had been frozen into the mud and dirt.

I wanted to see if I could find the trout again and take a decent shot of them.

Off I went with a shovel, my camera backpack, a bottle of water, and some determination.
I found this last week frozen in the mud and I thought it would be a good day to take a shovel back and see what was under the mud.

I walked fast and warmed up quickly even though there was a cool Northwest breeze. Once I headed back into the valley, I was out of the winds.

I was fairly surprised that the ice cave still had a nice formation. I could hear the water slowly seeping down under and over the ice.
I wished I had extra time to climb down and explore.

But I was on a mission of sorts.
And I wanted to see if the little cluster of trout were still in the place I saw them in last week.



They were and I had to sit quite still for a long time to get a shot of them.

I located the deer skull and antler. With my little shovel I carefully dug around the head.

Imagine my huge surprise when I discovered that there was a whole skeleton beneath the mud.


This Buck had been a monster. He was a 10 point buck with and 18" spread. This would have been a trophy for most hunters.
And I figured that he died in this valley during the wicked flash flood we had in September than covered this valley floor with waters rushing over 5 feet tall across the whole valley.

I sat down and brushed some dirt away from his bones, and then brushed the dirt and mud back onto them.

I created a sling out of twine and slung him over my shoulder.
It'll go into my collection of incredible 'found' skulls and things and may end up getting beautifully painted and displayed.

Nature is art and you can find that in bones, acorns, and pine cones.

Allie brought me this piece of art last night. She painted it and we placed it on my porch table.



Here is another piece of my bone artwork.

My son painted the stick for me when he was 10 years old. See? Even sticks can be art!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Mud Season

Me.
I look at the house and see the mud covered rugs and cringe. Our weather is changing back to Mud Season in March.

Him.
He sees no trace of dirt. Mud? He suggests I wait until mud season is over.

Me.
"I see muddy dog tracks on the new beautiful kitchen floor."

Him.
"Don't look at it like that. Don't look at the tracks!"

Me.
"I see them, they are there and the rugs are grey with dirt. Look at the dog tracks!"

He squints his eyes and tips his head.
"They don't seem to bother the dog much."

I sigh. It is mud season. But I like a clean floor.

Time to break out the broom, the mop and wash the kitchen floor and the rugs.

In a day or two I can repeat the process.

However I have set up the boot bucket outside with a brush to dip and wash boots before coming into the house.

Welcome March Mud Season.



Saturday, March 18, 2017

Tainter Hollow


After my haircut yesterday I decided to go to the Tainter Creek Public Hunting and Fishing area. There is a small parking area just past this sign.

For a while the area was trashed with remnants of little campfires and beer cans. After this sign was erected, I made sure to visit often and pick up trash.
Whoever was partying here has moved on and the parking area has been pretty clean for the past couple of years.

I call this area *Tainter Land*. There is a Tainter Hollow Road, a Tainter Hollow East, Tainter Hollow West, and a Tainter Road. These back country gravel roads all come in contact with Tainter Creek at some point.
Tainter Creek is fairly well known locally to trout fisher-people.

I like the area because it is so unique.
In the early spring the flowers near the parking area are amazing...
Last spring I found Trout Lilies along with the bluebells and other flowers.

Since it is early spring and the snow is gone, I decided to see how far along the creek I could walk.
There is a path that has been mowed, but it ends. I instead just made my own way along the creek.


The creek is clear and cold. Which I imagine makes it perfect for trout. In this shot you can see the tufts of debris still left on trees and brush from last September's floods.

I found a rather beat up soccer ball wedged in the roots of a toppled tree.


There was a beaver dam in this area last year, I don't know if the DNR removed it or the flood waters did.

I will let you enjoy some of the views I did.


 Oh yes...Val-Barbie shared the adventures!




I followed Tainter Creek until I came up on Tainter Hollow West at the bridge and then walked the road back to the parking area.

In the hours that I was there, I saw one vehicle. I think that must have been the mailman/woman.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

New terminology

I've adopted a new set of words for common things since my 'new' neighbors moved in.

Their son Logan has some of the best little sayings. My favorite one that sticks with me is ....

"I'm Stucking!" uttered by Logan when his boots got stuck in the March mud last year.

We used to refer to the house on the ridge...well, as the house on the ridge.

No more. We've adapted the terms to seperate our households as *Upstairs* and *Downstairs*. We are the downstairs at the bottom of the hill.

I liked that.
Burdocks? Well it is okay and fun to call them *Murdocks*. I think that gives them a unique name for a unique place.
[My dad's unpublished book had Murdock as his main character. So Murdock sets well with me.]

Another new word. *Elevator*, this refers to the rope that I put on the steep bank above the creek after the ridge road was washed away in a flood.


When it is really slippery, we use it to assist us in getting up and down the bank. I called it the rope, however it was renamed, *The Elevator*.

The Creek.

I never referred to it in any other many except, the creek, our creek, the creek bottom...
However it has been renamed by the neighbor kids.

*Awesome Creek*

And yes, it is an awesome place to go and play.


The little dog loves it when he can have little people to play with. The fun never stops.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

I like night. Night shooting.

Well what do you do when you have to work the 'graveyard' shifts or get off at odd times of the morning and there is a clear sky and bright moonlight....

you almost can't pass up the chance to experiment a bit with night shooting in the moonlight.

The biggest issue is that even in bright moonlight your auto focus cannot pick up anything. I solved this when I had my friend stand and I could shine a light and focus on her. Without another person, it is a bit harder.

For this shot I turned on the vehicle headlights, got a focus and pressed the shutter with a 12 second delay. I ran back to the car and flipped off the lights.

Bravo! I got a 60 second shot!

Then I thought the moonlit road would be interesting.
And...it really wasn't interesting other than only being lit by moonlight.

And then a 'shot' in the dark. I used to moon to get a focus and then pointed the camera an tripod behind the car.
At least there are stars in this one and the colors are more interesting.
The picture is noisy and has some funky pixels in it.
I was too cold to continue at this point, the temperature was 10 degrees.

So I packed up and went home to bed.

Since I had to work another midnight shift, I thought I'd take a few moments on my way to work to try out some other night shots.

I went to the pedestrian crossing near the Genoa

This shot was a total mistake. I didn't use the timer to prevent a jiggle in the exposure and the plant lights were too bright.
But one has to make mistakes in order to improve.

6 seconds of exposure at f 4.5 was too much. I should have gone to an f 11 perhaps.
I didn't have time to really take other shots, I had to be at the plant in 10 minutes after taking this shot.

However I pointed the camera with the same settings in the other direction towards the dam and got this shot. The color version was a mixed back of odd colors from the bright lights at the dam and the different kinds of light they have, so I turned it into a Black and White shot.

This turned out much better.

It was cold and I had little time to experiment, so I wrapped things up and went to work.

On my way home I couldn't help but pull over and take a shot in Romance, WI. The Bad Axe river was steaming and the trees were full of frost.
I pulled onto a side road and walked through the ditch to try and get a decent shot.


The light was so glaring and different from Night shooting.
But it was worth the walk through the crunchy snow.

Tonight the 15th will probably be my last night for any moonlit shots for this month. I can look forward to this again in April.

Perhaps I can convince my night hiking pal to help me go out tonight and take some of the snow lit up by the moon.
We will see!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

IR Photography ~ No you shouldn't do that!

Well I decided to read instructions and try out some IR photography again.

IR is for bright sunny days with lots of blue skies and green leaves.
The colors are really quite different when using an Infrared Filter.

The above shot is from last summer on a hot day. The leaves are white, the blue sky is dark and the clouds are bright.
Heat reflection is what changes to white.

However I like to use the filter on items that aren't typical for IR photography.

Like animals.
A Gaggle of mules resting near the water tank. The exposure was 1/4 second at 1000 ISO with an IR filter on it.

Mica resting up near the equipment/training shed.

On these two shots, I let the pinkish colors come through. However, IR photography makes for fantastic black and white shots.


However the shutter speed is much slower so it isn't that great for shooting live subjects.
But I had to try.

Below.
WhoDunnit resting in the sun.
And then as it is meant to be used on a landscape.


The greens are white, anything that is warmed by the sun reflects a white color.

And there are always the long exposures that allow for interesting effects like this shot at Jersey Valley last fall. The sun lit up a small section of trees and the reflections were awesome.



But what the heck, if you don't experiment, you don't find new avenues of expression.