Happy Photo

(Scroll to the end to just see the photo! What follows is a brief update on my life and some info on my photography equipment and methods.)

Time for another happy photo! The main reason is that I don’t have the energy for a full post. And I’m kind of excited about this series. It gives me a chance to really use my photos and impute meaning onto them, rather than just looking at them from time to time.

So you may recall I mentioned in a recent post that I was probably breaking up with my bf. Well, it happened. As is often the case with these things, much of the pain was felt in the months and weeks preceding the actual event. But it still hurts a lot. I was with him for over ten years. Since my twenties, before I was a real grownup.

It didn’t happen because of anything horrible he did, or I did. It was just time for me to move forward with my life. I’m in a transition stage. I’m aiming high. But I have to tell you, right now I feel like one big fail. I’m weeks behind on reading my New Yorkers. Weeks, people. I had a lunch date a few days ago, and spent that evening drinking wine, watching A Letter from Fred, and crying so much I needed a towel to mop up the tears. (Please, Internet, please take that video down.)

Yeah, things are tough right now. Hence…happy photo! We all need one sometimes! For those who are not interested in the actual mechanics of photography, go ahead and scroll down now. I’m going to spend some time discussing my equipment and methods, just because.

A couple years ago I bought a used Nikon D5000 from a good friend. It’s a pretty good camera, what I think would be considered just under the professional-level model. It came with two lenses, the kit lens (a standard 18-55mm) and a telephoto zoom (55-200mm). Up until recently I used the kit lens exclusively, but was not totally satisfied with its performance. It’s not a high-quality lens, and in my opinion the images it produces aren’t very sharp (this could be because I’m not a very good photographer, though). Last month the zoom on that lens got stuck between 18-24mm. So I started using the telephoto, which has turned out to be great because I like the shallow depth-of-field effect produced with more zoom, and I’m now able to get some good wildlife shots. I eventually want to buy a 35mm prime lens, but I’m waiting until I can afford both the lens and an intermediate photography course. The only other piece of equipment I use is a polarizing filter I bought for the kit lens.

I shoot mainly in manual mode, because I’m trying to learn technique. So far the only controls I really know how to use are ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, but when I was out in Colorado recently I learned how to set my own white balance for taking pictures of snow. I also play around with the flash and exposure settings on occasion. So I guess you could say I know how to use most of the important controls, but not particularly well. For example, I still cannot take a landscape shot with everything in focus. Fortunately I don’t really like landscape shots anyway.

My favorite types of shots are close-ups with blurry backgrounds (bokeh). I also tend to like shots of interesting groupings of objects, or single objects against contrasting backgrounds. So far I have not had any interest in shooting people (haha). I use minimal processing for my photos, in iPhoto. Generally I increase contrast to bring out color, lighten or darken as needed, and sometimes pump up the color (I like the saturated look). On some photos I increase the definition, because I think it can impart a cool look for certain subjects.

Okay, on to the photo! I took this shot on the La Chua trail, right after my party was rescued by rangers when a gator crawled across the path and stopped, blocking us totally from getting past (and he grinned at us maliciously the whole time while we waited for the rangers to show up). It was certainly an adventure for my visiting friends, who had been hoping they might perhaps “catch a glimpse” of a gator on the hike.

I like this photo because it reminds me how clumsy large birds can look when they try to take off, which reminds me that nature (or God, if you are a believer) did not design us to be graceful or look good when meeting the challenges of life, but did design us to take them on.

Takeoff

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” (Henry Ford)

DSC_0172

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