Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Let there be light...

Physics fascinates me even though I don't understand most of it. I did quite well in those classes, mind you--mostly because I knew which numbers to plug into which formulas. But to this day all I really know is that you flip the switch, the light goes on. Somehow.

Speaking of lights, I really wish I'd been able to study light more in physics class. Those high school and college courses seemed to have mostly involved projectiles, which is great for a doodler (you should see my notebooks!) but didn't delve much into light and how it works. Not that I would have come out with any more enlightenment [sorry, couldn't resist] but it would have been fun trying.

Normally a camera's aperture, the opening where light enters, is circular and controlled by a diaphragm that is adjusted by means of a dial. The diameter of the aperture determines how much light gets to the camera's sensor/film; this controls depth of field among other things.

Most of the Lensbaby optics use removable disks with varying sized holes to change aperture instead of a diaphragm. This also controls how much of an image is in focus and how much receives the LB blur.

But thanks to some I-don't-know-why-it-works reason, you can change the shape of the aperture to something other than round and still take a good photograph--with some additional, amazing results.

Any bright spot not in focus takes on the shape of the aperture. LB manufactures a set of shaped disks, but you can make your own, too. I hadn't planned on ever shooting with these but a post on the Lensbaby Addicts Facebook page prompted me to revisit the idea. And I happen to have a wee tiny oak leaf paper punch and one LB optic that would make this effect work... The photos are so abstract because I had to push the lens as far out of focus as it would go in order to make the effect appear to its greatest extent.

I also enjoy the irony that not one of the trees I was photographing was an oak...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Lensbaby Laurels.

Mountain Laurels, that is.

Kinda weird to have “mountain” laurels without mountains. We're lucky if high points in the county reach 20 feet above sea level! (We do have pine/oak habitat along the north edge, so in this case I guess vegetation trumps topography.)

Of course, I will also once again give laurels to the Lensbaby System. It’s perfect; it’s just the photographer who needs to learn to check the f-stop before hitting the shutter button and record which lens she’s using for which shots…

I actually remembered to check the status of the flowering (a thought prompted by a friend in North Carolina's posted photo of blooming mountain laurel) and so I finished off a day of errands by driving up to Belleplain State Forest late in the afternoon last week. Had to play a bit of peek-a-boo with cloud cover, but I lucked out and hit what looked like mid-bloom.

I was a bit startled to discover (upon sticking my nose into one of those bouquets) that these flowers have, for all intents and purposes, no aroma whatsoever...

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Good Morning, Sunshine!

So far there has been little more than mosquitos in the new in-ground pool in the front garden. (Well, there’s some other practically microscopic invertebrate something buzzing around in there too, and the male Indigo Bunting was eyeing it up the other day.)

While sitting on the bench on my front deck (which over looks the pond) the other morning I realized there was a bit more wave action in it than usual…

(No, don't focus on the plants, Camera! The turtle, the turtle...!)

Not quite what I was expecting to show up. I should have realized, though, given the number of comments I’ve heard about how much box turtles love going (intentionally) for a swim. Small pond, perhaps 15 or 20 gallons? Big box turtle.

I fished him out just in case he wasn’t big enough to get over the low lip. (Must ponder the best way to build an escape ramp…) He was the least fearful box turtle I’ve handled in some time; I earned a few short hisses before he seemed to think better of it. Normally, a box turtle realizes it has a pretty effective defense mechanism: “I have a hinged plastron and I know how to use it!” *thwunk* I had to plop him in a bucket when I went to get a different lens because I didn’t trust him not to scamper off faster than I could get back outside. (I’ve been keeping a haphazard photo account of box turtles I find in the yard; basically, I take their pic and there it will sit in the memory card and the computer until I get around to doing something a bit more scientific with it.)

As an apology and restitution in case he had spent longer in the drink than he had intended, I fetched out some lovely earthworms from a few inadvertent stashes I have. (Given a year or two the mulberry and grape leaves compost beautifully all on their own just lying around in a pile on my patio. Guaranteed to be full of earthworms.)

Because he wasn’t really afraid of me, it took him about two eye blinks (his) before he realized I had dropped breakfast in front of him.

*nom nom nom* And then the bugs (biting flies have been added to the list of the other blood suckers out and about, oh joy) got the better of me (although I didn’t come off the front walk with nearly so many ticks as I expected to) and I let him go on his way…

It was fun tracking his slow, meandering progress across the front yard by the swaying-out-of-time-and-direction-with-the-wind grass and vinca vines.