Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pink Asiatic lily's turn to bloom

Yesterday, the day after the first of my yellow Asiatic lilies bloomed, I got to see the first blooms from one of the pink Asiatic lilies. To "complete" the blog representation, I went out and took more shots of that, and grabbed a few shots of broccoli crowns while I was at it.

Concluding today's post are two more images of yellow blooms and a look at one of two blueberry bushes I mentioned in Sunday's post.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Shooting HDR with the PowerShot G12

More than a year ago, I set on a direction, or objective, for Photo Potpourri: to be a photographer's log, presenting visual peeks at almost all of the shoots I spend time on, and to present those peeks as expediently as possible. A lot times the shoots are exciting for me; heck, most of them have been exciting to me. But sometimes they are not.

Today's post represents a few shots of shoots that probably fall into that latter category, but I present them nevertheless in the spirit of heeding this blog's direction. The photos were taken on separate dates and at different places, but because I used the same camera -- the Canon PowerShot G12 -- and the same memory card for both of them, I'm putting them together in the same post. It's a sort of a potpourri within Photo Potpourri.

The first batch is actually from the more current shoot. It was late Friday afternoon, at the north end of the Indianapolis Canal in downtown Indy. Earlier in the day, I'd come across an article online discussing the quality of the G12's in-camera high-dynamic range (HDR) feature. I had used the feature only a few times, and almost exclusively for indoor pictures, and never had I used a tripod. I'd simply rested the camera on the nearest or most convenient inert object and hoped for the best. Occasionally, I tried to hand-hold it, thinking the G12's built-in image stabilization (IS) would keep things steady, much like how my Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6/3 Di II piezoelectric drive vibration compensation (VC) lens does for my DSLR camera bodies. That didn't happen, however.

The article reported how the G12's HDR feature worked splendidly outdoors, delivering some dynamic images. Its performance indoors, however, left a lot to be desired, the article continued, largely because it did not have the technical capability to deal with resolving different lighting types (e.g., tungsten vs. fluorescent) in the same composition. My experience with the G12's HDR feature indoors was largely with single lighting (mostly tungsten), and the results had been OK, I thought. My complaint about the camera's HDR feature was that the IS apparently shuts down in the HDR mode, which is when you'd ideally want it to work the most. Most of my hand-held shots, consequently, were no good. Well, I had another complaint, too -- the in-camera merging of images writes the final picture into JPG mode. Even though you normally have the option to shoot in RAW format with the G12, you have no such option with the built-in HDR feature. (Note: Yes, you can bracket exposures with the G12 the usual way in RAW mode and do the HDR image melding in post-processing; you don't have to use the built-in HDR feature).

Because I'd never used the G12's HDR feature outside, I decided to take it with with me to a meeting I was to have at Creation Cafe that afternoon. The eatery is at the north end of the Canal. I arrived early and fired a dozen or so HDR compositions, resting the camera on level walls and bars wherever I could find one to compose the shot. I thought they turned out OK, but nothing spectacular. However, there were very few shots that actually had contrasting light in the same composition -- the optimum situation for using HDR. That's the story behind those shots.

The four other shots, at the bottom of this post, were taken about three weeks earlier during a walk through Garfield Park and along Pleasant Run Parkway. I did a leisurely stroll just because it was a beautiful day, and I brought along the G12 in case I spotted something picture-worthy. There wasn't much picture-worthy that day, except the interesting lines and patterns of the fencing along railroad tracks at the Pleasant Run Parkway overpass just south of Beecher Street.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The joy from gardening

Every May since I began to enjoy gardening eight years ago or so, the anticipation builds in earnest. I find myself constantly peeking out my kitchen window to observe or note any progress on the plants that will give me the earliest pleasure from my efforts to give them every opportunity to do what they do best.

By May, I've already seen the crocus and tulips (and hyacinth until I accidentally dug up the bulbs three autumns ago while trying to put fall plants into the ground) come and go, although tulips often linger into mid-May. After the tulips had withered, I usually had to wait until late May before the spectacular pastel yellow and pink Asiatic lilies would bloom. I've never seen Asiatic lilies with blooms this large and elegant, and would you believe I ordered the bulbs four summers ago from an ad I saw and clipped in USA Weekend, a magazine insert in my Sunday newspaper?

This year, a year after I planted a strawberry starter, the plant produced its first harvest, and I've been picking -- and thoroughly enjoying -- the fruits of last year's labor for the past two weeks. I was so thrilled that I went out and bought and planted a blueberry bush last month. Next year at this time, I hope to be doubly fruit-thrilled. As a bonus, I was able to cut a sprig Monday from the first bearer of the broccoli seeds planted in late February.

The first Asiatic lilies to open -- from a plant with yellow flowers -- blossomed overnight yesterday. My eyes popped this morning when I saw the blooms when doing the aforementioned surveillance from the kitchen window. I decided it was time to take some photographs -- of the lilies and the strawberries, and to document progress on the cucumbers, broccoli plants, cauliflower, tomatoes, lettuce, a new hosta plant, roses, my new Earth Box and yet another first-year vegetable (not to mention perennial!) -- asparagus. I used my Sigma 105mm f/2.8 macro lens for all of these shots, beginning with the tight shot of a strawberry leading off the post.

I also grabbed some shots of my house and garage exterior as it looked today, about halfway through a new paint job. A crew spent four days last weekend water blasting and scraping, applying a good amount of trim and managing to get a modest layer of primer down on about one-fourth of the west side.

So today's post is about that shoot. I did the shoot probably right around the time the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race was beginning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, about 10 miles away. Many of these shots should be self-explanatory if you read through the above text; I'll add captions where appropriate. 

Above: One of the pink Asiatic lilies is bulging, certain to blossom in the next day or so. 
Above: The strawberry plant, which not only has borne fruit this year but grown and expanded. It's butting up against a day lily (stella d'ora) on the left. 

Above: Broccoli plants dominate the front row, which is what I call my genus garden (developed in a former grass median of an old-fashioned two-path driveway); a cauliflower plant is on the far left. In the background are cucumbers (left) and the Asiatic lilies (right).
Above: The whispy tops of the first-year asparagus plant.

Above: Closeup of the in-ground cucumbers.

Above: The Earth Box. All four seeds sprouted: Tomatoes (back right), cucumber (back left), carrots (front left) and one I can't remember.

Above: I took this thinking about how this painting project has been like turning my house upside down ... or something to that defect.

Above: A leaf on a first-year hosta plant. 

Above: A bloom from a rose plant that is the only plant in any of my gardens that has been with me since the day I moved into the house 21+ years ago.

Above: A shot of the narrow area between my garage and the next-door neighbor's fence.

Above: I started this post with strawberries, I figured I'd end it with 'em, too. I picked and ate these immediately after taking this picture.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Scenes from Geist Lake on race day

The Geist Half-Marathon and 5K in Indianapolis and Hamilton County (Ind.) marked its fifth year last Saturday, and I was there. I was invited to photograph the event this year, and I eagerly accepted. 

My primary images were committed to the contracting firm that hired me to take pictures, but I did manage to squeeze off a few shots on a personal memory card in the moments before the start of the race ... and in the boat rides to and from that start line. It was the first time I'd ever been on this lake in a boat.

The rich, bronze-tinged photo leading off today's post was grabbed as the boat I was riding in headed northeast toward Olio Road, the start line in Hamilton County, moments before sunrise on race day, May 19. The view looks northeast. Below, I'm on Olio Road, about 15 minutes later. The sun is just beginning to peek above the trees in the eastern sky, about 15 minutes before the 7 a.m. start of the half-marathon. 

Above and next three below: Estates along the lake, photographed during the boat ride transporting me to the start line at the north end of Geist Lake.

Above and next two below: Easily the most enjoyable moments prior to the half-marathon start were observing these youths, wearing purple shirts emblazoned with "Lawrence Township School Foundation," going through a distinct warm-up routine -- dancing and grooving to the lively hip-hop music piped over the P.A. system to help energize participants. Andre, the tall youth in the front, led the group through a synchronized routine.

Above: A look north down Olio Road at the extensive lineup for both the half-marathon, which started at 7 a.m., and the 5K, which began in a series of five waves at 7:30 a.m.

Above: These youths are obviously loosened up for the half-marathon start.

Above and next two below: Shots taken from the Olio Road over Geist, including a very early morning water skier (immediately below). In the second shot below, the splash you see on the far left is the tail end of -- quite literally -- a fish out of the water.

Above and below: Some more homes along the lake, as seen on the boat ride back to the Fall Creek causeway, near the finish line.

Above: A boat in front of us as we near the Fall Creek Road causeway on the return trip after the half-marathon and 5K starts. Both 5K and half-marathon participants crossed the finish line a short jog to the right in Geist Lake Marina.