This is one picture of a cloud posted yesterday. Only this time it is much higher resolution. My camera, shooting in uncompressed RAW, can capture amazing gradations of tone in the sky and clouds. Then I compress that image for the web and everything is lost. Instead, I thought I’d try posting just one image of higher resolution and see what happens.
You can click on this image to get the full size. If anyone notices any improvement, I’d sure like to hear about it. I think it looks better and all that banding in the previous Gallery photos from 8/5/22 is much improved.
It’s likely that these images are compressed twice: once by me and another time by the WordPress protocol (probably).
Every time I head downtown, I make it a point to stop in at The Monroe Gallery of Photography. There you’ll see the originals of great photographers, both contemporary and past. I stopped in there a few days ago and asked the director if I could take some photos at a discreet distance, of course. She was so glad that I had asked and immediately said, “Sure you may.” I told her that I would be posting them on my website and she was fine with that too.
But what I didn’t say to her, because it didn’t occur to me at the time, was that in “post” it might occur to me to play “make believe” or “make pretend” and insert one or two of my photos into these magnificent gallery displays. Wishful thinking maybe. I am NOT in this Gallery by a long shot. They don’t even know who I am. This is just me having some, I hope, innocent fun. I am NOT in any gallery anywhere. So there. Full disclosure on that score. Just a little photographic prankster-ism.
P.S. If there are any lawyers out there who know of any law I might be breaking, do let me know. I think I’ve given pretty blunt full disclosure.
Believe me, I’m not doing anything to these clouds. This is how they look. People just stop what they’re doing to gaze upward. At least I’m not the only one! It reminds me of the movie, “Independence Day”, if any of you saw that.
Shot these with the Sony A7r3. I like hearing reports from others about their experiences with the cameras and lenses they’re using. I learn a lot from that. What it comes down to, of course, is a personal choice. How does the camera feel in the hand? Does it fit? Does its position of controls and options work with the way my brain works? That’s what it comes down to because here’s what I’ve discovered: all of the modern cameras and lenses are excellent. I should know. I have a quite an assortment in my Photo Stable. We have to split hairs to make an argument for one brand or model over the other. At least that’s what I’ve discovered.
Having said all that: this Sony A7r3 (I hate the naming conventions) is an absolute winner for me. We’re just a good fit. It’s beautifully constructed (that matters to me) and it’s light weight and easy to carry around all day with the small FE f4, 28-60mm lens on it. And the whole kit is weather and dust sealed. The “dust” part matters a lot out here. Anyway….we’re a good match. And may we live happily ever after.
The “big” moral question of the day is: Is it OK to feature color images on what is mainly a black-and-white photography blog? I just have this sneaking feeling that I’m cheating in some way.
But here’s why I can’t resist. Normally we’re quite dry here, but as I mentioned in yesterday’s posting, we’re in Monsoon Season. That means that the plants jump to life, including what’s growing in my garden. I just stand there and look at the patterns in the leaves. I love it. It’s mystical to me. It’s miraculous and I drink it in. So, OF COURSE when I come back down to Earth, I just have to take a picture of it. And the colors are intoxicating. Maybe we’re not used to it. The “palette” here is usually rather soft and pastel-like. So, these plants with their saturated greens and yellows just beg me to have their picture taken. Plants are like that. They can be quite vain you know.
Well, I hope I’m not boring everyone who visits “santafeandme” these days. But we are in our Monsoon Season and that means epically amazing cloud formations and lots of storms.
When I’m driving, I have to remind myself to: “Keep your eyes on the road.” It’s really difficult and more often than not, I have to pull over and “click”. Some of these formations look positively nuclear or Biblical, or both! Others look like highways in the sky. I can’t stop myself, it’s worse than chocolate. So “clouds” may be the theme on this blog for a couple more weeks…
…Oh, that’s not true either. Clouds and Sky are just a major facet of the scenery in New Mexico’s high country all year.
Raw is the right word to describe the landscapes here in New Mexico…especially when the weather is changing and the skies become very dramatic. These were taken just a few minutes before sunset. Because we’re at altitude (7000′) the air is crystal clear. Of course another reason for that is because there aren’t many people here! We’re in a rural area, so there are even fewer people and the air and the skies are even more clear than in town (Santa Fe). These low light situations with high contrast clouds as the sun catches them, “asks” a lot of the camera. I shoot RAW so I could lighten these quite easily, but I’m going for the mood of the scene and how it impressed me as I stood there. I should say, “how it captured me!” So there you have some silhouettes, solid inky black with little or no detail. The modern cameras are amazing for preserving detail and tone; and I know that I could have pulled that out of those areas.
These were taken, quite recently, with the Sony A7Riii. I’m pretty much in love with the camera. I love the size, the lightness, the fluidity in using it. It seems to read my mind, and who knows, with AI, maybe it is! I read a review of it by Ken Rockwell in which he referred to the A7Riii as “clairvoyant”. That’s really the perfect choice of words, so I’ll just lift that description from his article.
I used the very basic Sony FE 50mm f1.8 lens which “serious” photographers would probably scoff at. Well, I’m amazed by it and I am serious! And unless I were printing images one acre large, I bet that most of us would not be able to tell the difference between it and one of the breath-takingly expensive Sony G or Master lenses. Its clarity and performance are astounding.
Sometimes, not only is it a lazy day, it’s a “why bother to go anywhere else to shoot day.” That describes my backyard out here in the wilds of New Mexico. Sometimes an amazing scene appears out of nowhere and I’ll just grab the nearest camera. That may not be the best one, but light changes so fast around here that I can’t get particular. Since most of the focus is on sky and clouds, that creates a big problem when crunching these down as small JPEGs. Because there is so much subtlety and gradation in those clouds, they tend to become blotchy as they are compressed. So I have to compromise.
I was going downtown anyway to pick up some great olive oil at my favorite shop. I had already ordered it over the phone earlier in the day and they were holding it for me. So of course I just had to take advantage of another photo-op downtown. I had the “heavy-hitter” Sony AR7II with me, all hooked up with my favorite “nifty fifty” f 1.8 lens. Ready to rock-and-roll as the saying goes, but for one thing: mea culpa…I made a real beginner’s error and had not checked the battery before leaving. I must have been too preoccupied dreaming about all the interesting things that I could cook, bake or stir-fry with the oil I was picking up. So yeah, I got off one shot before seeing: “Battery Exhausted” flash onto the rear screen. That gets to happen once.
But, to the rescue, and always in my handbag, was the much-discussed Sony HX-99 with its tiny sensor, but huge zoom. Long story, but here are those photos. True, you don’t get the detail and dynamic range out of the smaller sensor, but somehow, for street shots, I don’t care. I almost prefer the softer image. So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Sometimes I say to myself, “Just step outside your own front door. Don’t go more than 20 meters in any direction, and see what’s there.” That is amazingly difficult. We had a nice blizzard the other day, but now it’s starting to melt. It was late afternoon when I went out, but it didn’t take long to become attracted to the strong light-play of pattern and design that was right under my feet.
Once again, I’m using a fairly “simple” camera by today’s standards. Well, not really. But it’s an older one, probably considered a “dinosaur” these days—and probably out of production. I think it does a great job with only a 1″ sensor. I love that the original Sony RX-10 (first edition) is weather-sealed, has a good Zeiss lens on it and a constant 2.8 aperture throughout the 24-200mm range. Macro is outstanding as well. I’ve kept it all these years because I still enjoy using it and I’m still impressed with the quality of the images. And remember, these images are crunched way down as JPEGs. The originals are RAW.
This is a rural part of New Mexico. Most of New Mexico is rural so that’s no surprise. The way we control weeds sometimes is to bring in a herd of goats (some sheep mixed in) and just let them graze. They do a great job. No pesticides needed. No one out here uses pesticides anyway. The place is still too pristine and pretty to allow that. And, we’re all fairly conscious about how that effects the bees. A lot of people out here like to grow their own food. I wish I had a greenhouse!
Here are some nice portraits of the kids I met today. They completely ignored me…too intent on what they were doing. Me too.
And, by the way…what’s the best camera? Ok, we all know the answer to that question…The one you have with you. I always have the little Sony HX99 tucked away in my hand bag. It does shoot RAW and has no anti-aliasing filter. That gives a boost to the small sensor. As I have mentioned before, if this camera were any smaller, I wouldn’t be able to operate it. It is a miracle of miniaturization.
This is supposed to be a site dedicated to black and white photographs only. But I’m going to make an exception here. This was the “Biblical” event in our skies that I was awed by as I drove home yesterday. It filled the entire sky and here is the jpeg-compressed pale imitation of what I saw. I had to pull over and just watch as the light changed. Luckily I had the Olympus M5iii with me. For a small sensor, I’m always amazed at how able it is. I haven’t added any color or contrast.
As usual, we got all packed up (me with camera gear) and headed downtown to see the lights and half of Santa Fe as they strolled up and down Canyon Road. Even the adults don’t tire of seeing the whole place lit up so prettily for Christmas. We had dinner at a lovely restaurant nearby and then walked from there. It was raining as we got started! It was supposed to snow. At least the rain stopped and it was a great evening. We love Christmas and so does this city. I took way too many photographs and have probably posted too many as well. But it sure was fun. A happy and safe 2022 to all who read this. (Sorry for slow download speeds. I’ve crunched these photos way down, but there are a lot of them.)
Earth and Sky. I never tire of these two as subjects. To some it might seem repetitive, but to me it’s always fresh and new. Some of these are from my backyard. But all of them are within just a few miles of home. Finding the “new” and “interesting” in your own, well-worn, backyard and town, might seem daunting; but I’m still enjoying.
We never get tired of the dramatic play of light in New Mexico. Because we’re at 7000 feet, and higher, we get these deep blue skies. Well, that translates into a deep gray in these black and white photos.
The picture at the top and bottom right was taken with a new camera for me. It’s been around for awhile, but curiosity made me give it a try. That’s the Olympus OMD M5 M3. I had one of the earliest Olympus OMs a long time ago. It was called the OM-1, a film camera, and it was unique for its time…small and beautifully crafted. I think I wore it out. The Zuiko lenses were fantastic even then.
So that was part of the influence that moved me to try Olympus once more. I liked the possibility of “focus stacking” in camera and the 1:1 format which I love but cannot get with the Sony A6500 (which is another gem). That image was shot with the lens which Olympus is now packaging as a kit with the camera body, the weather-proof, 12-45mm f4. That’s the equivalent of a 24-90mm in full frame terms. I’ve shot many more pictures since, and I am impressed. Really impressed with it. That’s a micro 4/3rds sensor that honestly rivals the quality of the A6500. Of course the 6500 can see in the dark when paired up with the Sigma 56mm f1.4, but the IBIS on this camera is astounding and nothing like I’ve ever experienced. The lens is also astounding. The weather-proofing is probably second to none as well. And it’s small and light just like its great, great, great, grandparent the OM-1.
The pictures on the sand dunes were taken at White Sands National Park in southern New Mexico. If you don’t have a weather-sealed camera and lens in that environment when the winds kick up, your camera is done for!
I see quite a bit of color-banding and hazing in some of the images. That results from crunching these pictures into JPEGS that will load reasonably fast. The color is NOT part of the original RAW or PSD files. I don’t know why that happened this time since I’m using the same procedure as always. I increased the resolution and I’m still seeing it. I think it’s due to the amazing subtlety and gradation of the clouds and sky.
Others shots show first snow in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Maybe it will be an early ski season? The other pictures of people walking were taken in my neighborhood. There’s a lot of space out here. Not many people. I like that.
This really is a case where “If Looks Could Kill”, I might not be here. I really don’t think this person was annoyed with me for the photograph. I was pretty discrete, just looking down at the camera. OK, I’ll admit it was stealthy, but the camera was NOT pointed in her face. (Such is the advantage of the flip-up screen on the A6500 as opposed to the swing-out variety.) So that leaves me with the conclusion that here we have a portrait of a human being having a bad day. She and her friend were wearing the same amulet. It appeared to be something from ancient Egypt. She could definitely use a little more of the Sun God in her life!
It was raining (finally) in Santa Fe, yesterday. I love to take photos in the rain and generally in inclement weather, so off I went to see what fortune had in store for me.
In Egyptian mythology, Ra was the god of the sun. He was the most important god in Ancient Egypt. He had many names, such as Amun-Ra, and Ra-Horakhty. It was said he was born each morning in the East, and died each night in the West.
After more than a year of being shut down, I became accustomed to NOT seeing anything in the sky except for clouds, birds and weather. It may sound strange, but this line in the sky caught my attention. I have to say that I liked the abstract quality of it.
There is ALWAYS something artistic or theatrical going on in this town. We’re a quite small city with a very large art scene! I think there’s something for everyone. I happen to appreciate both modern dance and traditional. Our philharmonic is wonderful as are our choral groups which famously perform every Christmas Eve. Of course they perform throughout the year as well.
The light in this part of the country never ceases to amaze. You can be the worst photographer in the world and still come out lookin’ pretty good! I’m transfixed by it half the time. But, camera is always with me.
I just got the fairly new Sony 28-60mm “kit” lens. I like this lens because #1 it’s weather sealed. That’s important to me, and not just for moisture, but for dust. When it starts to blow out here in New Mexico, we end up with half of the Nevada desert settling on us. The winds do blow out of the West. I guess that’s why they refer to them as the “Prevailing Westerlies” huh?
The lens seems to be wonderful, but I am NOT a pixel-peeper. I just want it to work well in all conditions and be VERY easy to carry. That way I’m encouraged to always have it with me. It did great this morning with snow falling.
After all that bragging about New Mexico light: full disclosure: the photo in the upper left is from Sicily and the one in the upper right is from Florida. So there, we can all have good light and no one should get too stuck up about it, right?
The advantage of always having a camera with me is that I can capture light and scenes that sometimes only last for minutes. As I have mentioned before, my camera of first choice is the Sony A6500. But, when I am skiing and involved in other outdoor activities like that, I still use the Sony HX99. It’s SO small, yet has all the adjustments of the A6500 or nearly so. I hope everyone out there in the Ether is staying safe. Cheers.
I think, as I’ve mentioned before, that I don’t really start out with any particular intent regarding what it is I want to photograph. It comes to me, or it doesn’t. Sometimes, it’s just “no picture” and that’s all there is to it. Other times it’s like a flood. This is a very rural state, not many people and lots of wide open spaces. Even downtown Santa Fe isn’t really very big compared to other cities. I like that aspect of living here. No pollution. No crowds. But the light is often times, magical.
Every year, on December 24th, we look forward to the “Walk on Canyon Road“. This is a long and winding old street that is mostly filled with galleries, shops and restaurants. There are bonfires burning along the entire walk. In traditional New Mexico lore, the purpose of those fires is to light the way for the Christ child. All of the businesses decorate with lights and garlands. The galleries are open and often serve small sweets and sometimes hot drinks. It’s great to get inside, not just to look at the latest art, but to get warm! Santa Fe is cold on a December night. (Sadly, that Walk was cancelled this year.)
The picture up there of the kids in a tree house, is from one of the galleries. This is a life sized sculpture, nestled in the branches of a very old and very large tree.
This year, the entire Canyon Road Walk was cancelled due to you-know-what. I’m at the point of saying ENOUGH. It’s an outdoor event, in the bitter cold. No COVID would last for 2 seconds in that. We barely do. But, the event did not occur this year. So, last night I decided to go walk around anyway with a neighbor. There were some lights, hardly any people and no traffic. I still think it was worth it. Then we went over to the Plaza which was in fact brightly decorated as usual. We both agreed it was worth the effort.
I used the Sony A6500 with a Sigma 56mm f1.4 lens. That combination can literally see in the dark. I let the camera choose the ISO, and the highest number it “chose” was only 6400. I am amazed at how little grain there is. Cameras have come a long way since I started doing this. All this, in a very light and easy to carry package. The Sigma lens is also weather-protected as is the 6500. A very nice duo indeed!
Happy New Year to All! Here’s to a much better 2021.
This is my favorite photographic “haunt”—city streets. Most of these were taken in my home town of Santa Fe, New Mexico. But the two of them with the long shadows were taken in Telluride, Colorado. Telluride has EPIC skiing and is a wonderful village as well. The restaurants are also excellent.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling lazy or preoccupied by something, I’ll take the point-and-shoot Sony and just sit on my back porch and watch the parade fly, flitter and soar by. I’m fascinated by flight and I never tire of watching these little guys. They are amazingly tame out here in the boonies where I live.
The tool I’m using for these shots, what is called a “Super Zoom” camera, is amazing for what it can do. It’s like having a telescope with a camera attached to it. The trade off is—not very high quality images. Some of the newer versions allow RAW capture, but the one I have does not.
I rarely use it, except for this. It might be time to get a telephoto for the “good” camera. But still, there is a place for these Super-Zooms and here are six examples. These feathered friends would never let me close enough otherwise.