I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Blue Hour

The blue hour is a photographic term that describes the time of day when the light takes on a strong blue tone. The sky becomes a deep and rich blue that appears to have almost a smooth, creamy texture.
This is not an easy thing to do. I went out at what my Exsate caculator said was the right time last week. I think the image above was a little too early and the sky had some clouds to block the true blueness of the sky at that time of night.
This one was more what a blue hour image looks like but it's too light.
... because I had to lighten the image in Picasa to see the flowers and the donkey. The image was too dark.

The blue hour isn't really an "hour" at all. In reality, what photographers call the blue hour really only lasts about 20 minutes. The blue hour lasts approximately 20 to 30 minutes just after sunset and just before sunrise. The exact time of the blue hour will vary with location and will change depending on time of year and things like air quality.
So I waited... thinking that it wasn't dark enough and I got this...
You can see the blue sky on the right side of the image but this is more interesting because of the garden light and the light from the living room window.
And this one, of my garden shed  with a nice reflection in the small window. 
But still... this is not a true "blue hour" photography. I need to work on this when I'm downtown at night (which doesn't happen very often) or when I'm staying at someones house in a town. It's recommended that you take shots of city views, beach landscapes, sunsets and architectural images.
So I used the only outside, "lit at night", model  that I could find.
 A concrete lady with light reflecting from the solar garden light that I bought at the Tractor Supply store.
I love the reflections of light that moved over her face. You can see the blue tone to the photo but this isn't what I was trying to do. The walkway was picking up the "blue hour" blues but there is no sky in the photo. And, again, I had to lighten the photo to see it.
And then, faster than I expected, the sky was too dark... so I just call these "night shots".
and... "solar light in the hollyhocks".
 So, my first venture into Blue Hour photograpy was a bust. I still have a lot to learn with this technique. I think I need buildings or town lights. I also need to put the camera on a tripod and try my Tamron wide angle lens during this "blue" period of creativity. I suspect that some of the examples of "blue hour" photography on Google images are Photoshopped to death and have a fake blueness to them. Still some are beautiful and I'm the amateur. I've have a long way to go before I really know what these photos entail and learning to actually produce an image that I would be happy to call "blue hour".
It's a good chance that I may have caught one blue hour images in Germany two years ago and didn't even know it.
I found this one... taken as my sister and I walked to a Christmas Festival in Berlin one night. This, I believe, is a true "blue hour" photo... and I didn't even know it then. Sometimes ignorance is no excuse. I need to work on this.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Snake Encounter: A chance meeting. (Not for the squeamish.)

Yesterday I drove to town. When I got about half way up to the highway, I saw something in the road. I realized that it was a snake, so I pulled over.
This is snake country. We only have one really poisonous snake here. That's the Rattlesnake. We have lots of them, but we also have the gopher snake that, at a distance, can look much like a Rattler.
So my next move was one of caution.
You never confront a snake in the road, without checking to see what it is. We have lots of gopher snakes in this area that look a lot like a Rattlesnake. They are both beautiful snakes but one can leave you in a world of hurt and there better be a hospital near by.
There are very distinct differences which are really good to know wherever you live.
Here they are...
This image really shows you how the heads and bodies differ.
I walked up to this snake and took a good look at it.
It was a beautiful ol' gopher snake being very still and it seemed cooperative.
"Hello there, snake."

No snake every looks really friendly. From their biblical reputation, most folks think that this is a sly, conniving and dangerous dark angel, that would offer you an apple and change your life forever. But it's not.
It's one of the most interesting reptiles that we have around here and I have gotten use to living in their world. 
This one seemed a little non- responsive, but I think it was either sunning itself (you know how you feel after lying in the sun on the beach? Warm, sleepy...) or it just came out of its hole from hibernated all winter. Either way, it seemed all right with me taking its picture and I was able to get some great shots. It didn't move... except for its black tongue, which was moving back and forth. It knew that something was there and this "something" was about to be a problem.
I finished with the "photo shoot" and reached down to touch its tail. I gently encouraged the snake to get off the road and be safe. While it didn't appear to mind me being there, it did not like being touched. That was a no-no.
It turned around, started shaking its tail like it was a big, mean Rattler and moved away from me, into the grass.
And then... it turned around and starts out to the road again. Like, "Hey lady... I was nice and warm out there and you are getting on my nerves."
I knew it was going to have to be woman against snake here. I move in front of the snake near the edge of the road. Like a weird game of checkers... the snake moved, then I did... and again we danced. Then the snake, wondering what the heck was going on, stopped and only moved its head from one side to the other.
  Snakes really can see.( I looked this up.) It's a misconception that snakes cannot see. They can, but they are very near sighted and they have trouble seeing things that aren't moving. Snakes have cones in their retinas which perceives color in hues and shades. He knew I was there by my actions and possibly, my plaid shirt. Whatever it was that wasn't letting this snake back onto the warm tarmac was getting on its last nerve and I guess that I had exceeded the bounds of what the snake was going to tolerate. 
In the photo above.... Can you see the hole in the upper right corner? Well, this snake saw an out. This snake was tired of playing checkers with me and it moved like greased lightening into that hole. I mean that snake moved so fast that I almost didn't get this photo below. He was ~Gone in Sixty Seconds~ ( even less..). Nicolas Cage would have been amazed. 
 I love the way my camera caught the speed of the snake moving into that hole. You can't even see the diamond pattern on its skin as it made its move. I love this camera. I love this environment.
So, I looked down the hole and didn't even see a tail. I got back into the car and drove into town. On my way back home, I looked for the snake, but there was no snake anywhere near the previous point of encounter. Guess it decided to find a more hospitable place to catch the sun. 
Today it's overcast and much cooler. I suspect that the snakes stay underground on days like this... but you never know. You always keep an eye out for them around here. I thought about it when I went out to feed the chickens this morning. You never reach into the egg boxes without looking first. Snakes LOVE eggs.
Well, now that I have given you all the heebe geebe's... Have a nice day.