Go out, get wet

The rain did eventually stop yesterday. 102mm later.

We went out as things were beginning to let up a little and walked by some roaring water. The camera came along, because it always does, and you never really know what you’re going to get with the weird light that follows a day full of cloud and gloom, together with a hint of golden hour hanging around.

Monochrome (or close to it) was certainly still the order of the day though. Whether it was the angry water in the canalised Liesbeek River:

Or the dangerously slippery footbridge going over it.

We came back damp, but happy.

Another lighthouse

I have no idea where this one is or who togged it – people just send me photos of lighthouses and I share the ones I like.

I’m not sure I have seen a standalone yellow lighthouse before. Especially one with a huge blackboard on the side.

Also, rule of thirds: 10/10.

I’ve been looking at options for a mini-photography expedition next week, using professional tools like PhotoPills and everything. I think I may have formulated a decent plan involving an overly shared local icon and some sky, but it is (as ever) weather dependent (plus whether I can actually be arsed once the time arrives).

Right now though, with 8 days still to go, I’m full of enthusiasm.

Pano play

Photography homework this week for the boy was to use a freeware manual panorama maker (Hugin) to manually make a panorama.

I like the approach of the photography teacher: they have lessons on hardware and software, then they get to go away and try what they have learned. But not everyone wants to (or can afford to) go down the route of paid-for editing software, and so they are learning how to use freeware like GIMP and… well… Hugin.
They also have critique sessions, where they can – as a group – praise others’ work and suggest ways to improve. It’s a great way to work and they’re a very positive, enthusiastic group.

Hugin is free, and it does what it says it will, but it is cumbersome and time-consuming. Simply as a comparison, we took the same photos, fed them into Lightroom and pressed the magic Panorama button.

Here’s the result:

You can have a look at the full 63MP version here.

This isn’t perfect, but given that it was a last minute dot com effort from a bridge near his school, with the light fading and after he had been hiking all day in a Scouting competition, I think it’s pretty good.

The Hugin version was not as good and took longer to make, but as I mentioned, it was free.

And while we’re on about photography, I found myself waiting outside a coffee shop this morning, waiting for it to open. Wandering into the park opposite, I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera along: the mist was subduing all of the colours aside from the bright yellows and oranges of the American Sweetgums. Fortunately, I had my phone, but this quite nice image could have been really nice.

Always have your camera with you.
That’s something else they should be teaching the kids.

Several (or more) reasons why my photos of the hike aren’t great

Here we go. It’s excuse time. Or, if you prefer, “valid reason time”.

The photos I took on the hike aren’t as good as I would like them to be. There are several reasons for this.

Me: I’m not a great ‘togger.
The new camera: Yes, it’s fancier than the old one, but I’m still getting used to it.
The light: Blindingly bright, start to finish.
The timing: This wasn’t a photography session, it was a hike. People weren’t there for me to take photos, they were there to walk up the mountain. There was (understandably) no time to stop and compose.
The brief: That said, I did have to try and get some usable photos of the pack walking up the mountain.
The brief (pt 2): I also needed to get some point-and-shoot shots to show Mrs 6000 where we were and where we went.

Those will do for the moment, right?

All said and done, there are a few shots I like (and a few more that I might add later), and that’s without including the ones documenting the climb for the Cub pack.

I really enjoyed the hike, but there will be better days to go out and take photos. And one those days, the photos will naturally also be better.

Now on Flickr…

…(finally) some photos from the last week or so.

They’re here.

And when they were lined up, I couldn’t help but noticed the sharp juxtaposition between the photos taken in Cape Agulhas last week, and those taken on Table Mountain just a couple of days later (not least the ‘grass-in-the-bottom-left-hand-corner’ pics, top left and fourth middle):

Check out the washed-out, near-monochrome top four, compared with the bright, heavily contrasted, colourful selection below them. But that wasn’t merely my photographer’s eye: it’s a genuine representation of what was there.

Cape Agulhas was sunny, full of vivid blues, greens and whites, busy skies and reflective seas. Table Mountain was the complete opposite: greyscale, dull, grim and sullen. ‘Togging the Victorian infrastructure of the dams on the mountain top was easy in those conditions: the dour, powerful, solidity fitted perfectly with the elemental, moody, unforgiving weather.

I enjoyed the fresh air and the walking on each of the days we were out and about, but it’s interesting to note that I probably wouldn’t have taken any photographs at all had the weather conditions been reversed for the two locations. It just wouldn’t have made sense.

Good job I was there on the right days, then.