Unlimited Wild Art

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181
Name
Ken
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Sometimes you're obligated to take a picture. Obligated by money or history or reputation, you're the individual who's expected to produce a picture of this, today. And you're generally happy to oblige.

But today you had no obligations. No expectations. Today, your only quarry was wild art.

Doesn't have to be a contest winner. Doesn't have to be the best picture you ever took. Maybe just the best picture you took today. Something you like. Something you'd like to share.

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My background is in newspapers. On slow news days, editors would send us out for wild art. Fill space. I tried to make something I liked. Parks and beaches were over represented. Regardless, I shot it, it ran, it was gone, forever. I still tried to make something I liked. Catch and release. The game's in the catch.

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Today I go hunting for light. Subject doesn't matter. My only obligation to the light. I was fortunate to watch the sun go down in Astoria, Oregon. It's a deepwater port at the mouth of the Columbia river. The city's architecture is dominated by a huge-assed steel bridge to Washington state on the north bank. It's tall enough to let container ships pass underneath.

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I considered adding this to the cityscapes thread.

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Peak golden hour. See that heart carved in the tree in the upper right? If I had noticed that when I took this picture, a picture of that heart would have been this picture.

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As the daylight ebbs, the nightlight creeps in.
 
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drsilver
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181
Name
Ken
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January 2 was my last vacation day before I went back to work for the last time. A few weeks later I retired. On that day, I took my brand-new-to-me Canon 80D on its maiden voyage. Not the most ideal conditions for a light hunter, but still, let's see what it will do. See what I can do with it.

Drove to Moses Lake. That's where they're storing the grounded 737 Max airplanes. Hundreds of them there. There were definitely shots to be made, but the lighting was tough, the place was tough, it was cold and I was working with unfamiliar gear. And I screwed it up. Big time. Unsalvageable. So I set them aside and I just looked at them again today.

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From Moses Lake I drove about 100 miles of backroads to the Grand Coulee Dam. Extra desolate that day.

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This print kind of captures the spirit of those backroads on that day.
 
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drsilver
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181
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Ken
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I've got a new-found thing for trains lately. I'm working on a project and I had a picture of a train in mind to illustrate a point. So for a while I was keeping an eye out for that shot. Tried and failed a couple times, then I found the shot I was looking for. So I got that shot.

But I'm still looking at trains. They're visually fascinating. When this one rolled by on Sunday, I couldn't help myself.

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Tracks near the ferry dock. I've never seen a train that clean. I'm pretty sure there's no tanker-car dealership nearby but they do look like they just rolled off the lot.
 
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drsilver
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181
Name
Ken
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Forecast said it was supposed to be clear this morning. First time in a while. Figured I'd go see the sunrise (and moonset) in Duvall. What an idiot move. Duvall is right on the river, and this morning, right in the middle of a patch of tule fog 40 KM long and 2 KM wide. Sunrise was a bust. Headed uphill.

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Spectacular day in the North Cascades.

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Snow melt at my elevation.

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But a little bit left below the timberline.

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Shed behind the mill.

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And a shop in Darrington.
 
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5,649
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Gary
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Gotta be the best post I've seen on here in ages. Loved the thought process that went into making the images.
I find reading that side of things very interesting and informative.

Gaz
 
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drsilver
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181
Name
Ken
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So I'm actively social distancing. I don't believe the virus can attach itself to light, but I'm not sure I've heard that question asked specifically. Put it on the list.

Learned my lesson last week when I started off the day by the river - in a fog bank. Went up hill today. Not hard to get uphill anywhere around here.

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I'm driving through a little town thinking, OK, the light's going to pop here in about 15 minutes. What can I shoot? I'm in the strip-mall part of town. Don't even bother. Driving a little bit gets me into auto row. There's a thread I could show these on. Let's have a look. (More of these over on the 'American Cars' thread.)

I keep driving up the pass looking for a good view of the big mountain. Closer you get, though, the harder it is to see.

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I did find this little nugget off a trail. I stole the idea from a picture I saw here on TP. Not a terribly good example of the subject, but I like it and I'll keep looking. Thanks for the tip. (No apologies for the pilfering.)

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On the way back around I stopped at this place that has rough-milled hardwood slabs on display in the parking lot. Always. If you're looking to build a custom conference table, there's some pretty fine lumber at the Hobart Market. Mainly I stopped for a picture of the pickup trucks under those boards. (American cars, right?)

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Cherry blossom time is starting up around here. Cherry trees everywhere.

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Any community of any size has cherry trees and they all look great when they're in bloom. They take to this climate like natives - I have a couple of giant ones in my yard - but you never see them in nature. You'd think you'd see the occasional wild cherry that escaped from captivity, but no. They only grow around people. I wonder why that is.


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I like this shot but I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the cold, pre-dawn daylight.
 
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drsilver
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181
Name
Ken
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I live in the exurban mountains. I've convinced myself that the best method of social distincing is to scatter and head for the hills.

There's a herd of elk that lives nearby. They seem to spend most nights in a meadow over by the high school. We're talking several hundred elk. Couple of roads go through that meadow and you see them there a lot driving through.

I been telling myself for years, I gotta make pictures of this. Seems like easy pickings. A veritable pumpkin patch of elk. But when I go looking, I can never find them. I don't know where they come from and I don't know where they go when they leave. I've heard they ford the river. That would be a great shot. But I can't figure out their schedule.

Tried again last night. See what I could do with a 300 5.6 on a crop body at dusk. That's all I got.

Never got to test it. No luck. No elk.

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But you can't waste light like this.
 
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4,595
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Gareth (Not Gary!)
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I agree with @cargo , one of the best photo threads seen on here in a while.

I really like that last one especially. My time there was shot a couple of years ago but I loved it. My friend drove me through Astoria and over the bridge into Washington State. Where abouts are you actually located?

I hope to see more images of you documenting the area, the light and your thoughts.
 
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drsilver
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181
Name
Ken
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I live in North Bend, Washington, USA. About 30 miles east out the interstate from Seattle in the Cascade foothills. Don't know how I ended up on a UK site, but I do like the people here. I personally don't own any guns. Never have.
 
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Whilst walking through the woods in Norway, i followed a worn path and came across this chap, all on his with no other people or buildings nearby i think it was done by an eccentric character as about 200 yards further i found a couple of other odd things in wood, i really appreciated this persons art, it was a lovely experience. DSC00220 copy.jpg
 
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drsilver
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181
Name
Ken
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Not much to say here. Just dutifully sitting at home, camera within arm's reach. Insight to conception to capture to edit to post all happened within a few minutes. Never left my chair.
 
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1,029
Name
Chris
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I'm really enjoying the photos and reading the narrative - keep it coming, please!


Chris
 
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drsilver
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181
Name
Ken
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Haven't been out in a few days. People caught on to my scatter-to-the-hills idea, except they forgot to scatter. Mountains been crawling with people recently. They're getting their hands slapped. (Metaphorically, of course. We don't touch each other around here.) Kept me from going out.

I mentioned I spent 30 years away from photography. I spent that time fly fishing. Fished a lot. Fished all over. I know a lot of backroads that lead to pretty places where nobody ever goes. That might come in handy.

In the meantime, I pulled some stuff out of recent journeys that didn't make the first cut.


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There's a TP 52 category called 'Fence'. I've got a shot for that, but I'm not sure how to play TP 52. That's OK. I'll just watch. I look at a lot of it. Good stuff in there.

I saw this pile of bricks that were lit pretty cool. But they were behind a fence. Decided to put the fence in play. I think it helped. Without the fence it's just a pile of bricks. The picture is still just a pile of bricks, but the fence distracts you some from thinking about that. Or something. I kinda like it.


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This is the happiest looking mortuary I've ever seen. Not that I notice mortuaries much, but this one definitely caught my eye. This place looks like it'll send you out dancing to the next world.

I probably spent 30 minutes trying to find that picture. The dancing picture. Walked up and down the block. Both sides of the street. People looking at me funny. And this is the best I came up with. It's not nearly as fuchsia, or whatever that color is, as it looks when you're driving by. Picture doesn't say dancing. I blame the weather. You can always blame the weather.


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Shopkeeper knows marketing. Window certainly grabbed my attention walking by.

This was at sunrise. Coffee shop lady was setting up tables outside her shop next door. Just her and me on the street in the cold dawn. Otherwise, quiet.


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This is a poplar plantation. Pulp timber. They make paper out of it. You hear people say, use less paper, save a tree. It's one of these you're saving, and honestly, they grow back. They're a crop.
 
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4,435
Name
Terry
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Superb series.

Great to see you can still go out. After the PMs broadcast here last night I'm wondering when my first opportunity will be to take images in the great outdoors again.

"You don't know what you got 'til it's gone" ©Peter Cetera.

He's right.

I'll have to get the studio lights set up in my little studio (shed) again.

My model won't be too happy (dog) until she smells the treats.

Please keep posting these. A great series of a lovely place to be.

Terry.
 
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drsilver
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181
Name
Ken
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So I went out today. Went out to take pictures. My regular beat is back roads and small towns. I like to shoot mostly in civilization. Right now there's only 2 kinds of small towns. Ones that have rolled up enrirely, and are suspicious of strangers. And ones where everybody's essential and out working in it. I don't want to be in their way.

So I stayed in the city. Went to a little enclave I like. Shops and restaurants. All closed. Every one. Parking was easy.

I was a little nervous. Haven't been shooting in a while. At my age, atrophy is real. Has to be managed.

Beautiful, clear morning. I got out early enough when the shadows were still long.

---

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I'm not feeling it. Maybe just start with a couple of eye exercises.

There were people out. But for one exception, they were all inessentials, like me. We dutifully kept social distance. Everybody cordial, but paying attention.

---

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The only essential worker out was the woman the city sent to maintain urban landscaping. Specifically this morning, the flower boxes. I don't know, I found that reassuring. A little piece of civic humanity. We aren't savages. The flowers should look nice.

I should have taken that woman's picture. I'm kicking myself. I should have gone over and talked to her and had her let me take her picture. Didn't even occur to me until I got home. Lesson learned.

The least I can do is show some of her work.

---

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This is from a little project with Postit notes on the window of the closed art supply store. Inspiring. Reminds us that we turn to artists to get an accurate reflection of the state of our humanity.
 
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378
Name
John
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Some really excellent images here.

Only been to the US one time. California. This makes me want to return and try a bit further north.

Thank you.
 
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861
Name
Lindsay
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This is a brilliant series, keep them coming. Love the images and narrative, and the sardonic sense of humour. Jolly good show.
 
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drsilver
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181
Name
Ken
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Today was a work day. But I'm retired. I can go out and about, snapping pictures on a work day. Sort of.

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This is my obligatory see-how-empty-the-streets-are shot. Business district. It's a work day and there's nobody there. Most days there's somebody there. You'll have to take my word for it.


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Today, this is what a work day looks like. Go a few block up into the residential part of the neighborhood. This is where the work's being done.


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This is a triangular-shaped building. Sun coming through the trees on the right lit up that side of the building. Reflections off windows across the street lit the left side. Allowed for some symmetry.


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At the marina, shot a mass of masts while masked.
 
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1,029
Name
Chris
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Still enjoying this documentary series, thank you for posting the images. Please keep them coming.


Chris
 
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drsilver
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181
Name
Ken
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The other day when I took the that last set of pictures, I was driving across a bridge when I saw the Fishermen's Terminal down below. I was across the bridge before I could do anything about it. Went back today, see what I could see.

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Seattle is very much a maritime place. A large portion if the Alaskan fishing fleet spends the spring down here for maintenance and supplies.


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I kind of avoided the people, although there were people out. There's a slip where you can buy salmon off the boat and there were 8 or 10 people in line. For the crews, this is the offseason. Slips are full and a little deckhand work is going on, but it's mostly quiet. Like a lot of places around here.


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Lots of colors in a harbor. Light was odd. Relatively clear to the west, over the water. But this was in the morning and the sun was in the east behind an overcast. I guess maybe you'd call it filtered sunlight. I wasn't really sure how to use it. I'm surprised these came out as well as they did.


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I understand the Quandary. Vail CO is in the Rocky Mountains, some 1200 miles from the nearest ocean. I imagine there were several quanaries involved in getting this vessel christened.
 
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drsilver
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181
Name
Ken
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Weather's been glorious here in the Cascade foothills lately. Next town down the valley has a railroad museum in an old station. It's kind of the civic hub of this town. Whenever they have festivals or events, they happen right there. I mostly try to avoid those.

I probably drive through this town twice a week. I've been to that train station maybe twice since I've lived here. But I was driving through this morning and saw this light. And of course, nobody around. Had my run of the place.

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The angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection.

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drsilver
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181
Name
Ken
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So I broke down and subscribed to Lightroom a few weeks ago. Had to be done, I suppose. It's got a cool thing where you can filter by metadata. I only keep keepers in my catalog. That filter lets me see how each piece of equipment contributes to the catalog.

I got 2 telephoto zooms. An EFS 55-250 STM and an EF 70-300 USM. According to Lightroom, I hardly ever use either of them. There's no reason to have both. Went to Marymoore park for a shootout.

55-250 was mounted on a Canon 80D. 70-300 on a Canon 70D.

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EF 70-300 @300mm f/8
I've never taken a picture of a bird with any purpose. Seemed hard. But why not? I'm testing long lenses. Went to a local birding website. Marymoore park is on the list. I know where that is.

Marymoore is an urban park in Redmond, Washington. Just down the hill from the Microsoft campus. The couple times I'd been there it was jam packed. People are starting to go out a little more around here, but we're still keeping our distance. Plenty of room today.

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EFS 55-250 @250mm f/8
Birds are hard. I used to shoot a lot of sports. There's some skills overlap. But with sports, I could reasonably predict, this guy's going to run from there to here. So I'll stand here to get the angle and put the sun over my left shoulder... NOT WITH BIRDS.

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EF 70-300 @300mm f/8
The part of the park by the river is the off-leash dog area. The rest of the park was empty, but over here, a lot of people and pooches, even on a Monday at 9 AM with a hint of pandemic in the air.

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Eagles, 250mm. Herons, 300mm
BIF,F. Birds in flight, f***. I have neither the gear nor the skill to do this right. I shot a bunch. Holy moly, that genre burns of a lot of drive space. Still, even my best ones are awful. But those eagles are cool.

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EFS 55-250 @250mm f/8

So what's the verdict? They're both nice enough lenses and I can make good arguments for either.

The most significant difference is that one of them goes to 300. But even on a crop body, that lens wasn't long enough or sharp enough for what I tried to do today. If I was going to do this seriously, I'd have to invest in some first-rate big glass.

I had a blast today. This was seriously fun. I could see getting into this. Got my eye on a 400 5.6L. Maybe throw an extender behind it. Got to see what other gear is scoring poorly on the catalog chart. Turn it into cash.

But for today's shootout, it pretty much came down to the individual copies of each lens. I'm going with the EFS 55-250. It's just newer and crisper and has enough reach for when you don't need a ton of reach. It feels like a toy - a long lens should have a little heft -- but it's at least as sharp, and probably sharper than the EF lens.
 
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drsilver
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181
Name
Ken
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My quest for wild art has slowed to a crawl recently. Lockdowns were the obvious culprit, but they're easing a bit now though I still don't venture too far from home. But now that I can move around some, we get a week and a half's worth of non-stop rain.

I just bought a used Canon 400 5.6 and documented the unboxing in a thread on the equipment forum. Last evening, we got a break between squalls and I took it out again.

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I mentioned in an earlier post that there's a meadow nearby where you frequently see elk. Sometimes hundreds of elk. But they've never been there when I went to shoot pictures. Last night, when the weather cleared I tried again and found exactly five elk.

There's got to be some kind of symbiosis going on here. These birds live in the grass where these elk feed and they have no problem jumping up on an elk's back and riding around. They sit there like they do on a telephone wire. Elk don't seem to even notice.

I shot this at 5.6 and ISO 400. I had plenty of room to drop 2 stops. If I had to do it again, I'd go f/8 for a little more DOF and 200 because I could. But at this point I'm picking nits. (Is that what the birds are doing?) Plenty of room for improvement, but I'm new at this and just getting this shot feels like an accomplishment.
 
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drsilver
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181
Name
Ken
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At the last equinox, we were starting to get a few nice days where the sun travels low enough across the horizon to cast light at sharp angles. Photographically, conditions were good. And then they locked us down.

Now that we've crossed the solstice, things are opening back up. Moving about doesn't feel quite so dangerous. Government is on board.

Here at the 48th parallel we get 16 hours of daylight at the solstice. And 14 hours of that daylight is crap. It's often hazy and always straight overhead. It's easy enough to shoot in unless it's blistering clear. Then you have to fight the straight-down shadows.

Ordinarily it doesn't matter. Summer is when people congregate. You got festivals and barbecues, buskers and farmers markets. Sometimes all in the same place. That's what you take pictures of in the summer. Interesting light isn't as important.

Alas. We're open at the solstice, but not for that.

Here's some shots anyway.

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Dining al fresco.

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Checking into the AirBNB.

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1,029
Name
Chris
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Enjoyed seeing the images and reading the latest addition to your ongoing documentary series Ken. Please keep up the good work,



Chris
 
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drsilver
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181
Name
Ken
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FOUND 'EM

Couldn't sleep last night. Got up crazy early. Up before the sun. Long as I'm up, let's go.

I mentioned earlier there's a heard of elk that lives in a meadow nearby. Hundreds of them. But they were never there when I went looking for them.

Today I came prepared. Had the right gear. The light should get good. All I needed was elk. Lo and behold.

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A couple of roads run through the meadow and the elk are right there. I just parked in a patch of dirt and basically shot from there. There were probably 200 elk scattered throughout the meadow. This little patch you're looking at had maybe 40. Pumpkin patch. Fish in a barrel.

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When I first got out it was pretty dark and a low, thick fog hung over the meadow. That should lift as soon as the sun comes up. But from this spot, the sun would rise directly over Mt. Si (pronounced Mt. Sigh) and there's still some cloud cover to the east. I'm going to be in a damp shadow for a little bit. Took a few pictures, but mainly drank coffee and watched.

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Little hole in the clouds gave me false hope. It was throwing a stripe of sunlight on the hills behind the elk, but the meadow was still dark and misty.

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Getting close. Fog is lifting. Light's about to pop.

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Then BOOM. All of a sudden, it's easy.

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Fish in a barrel. So many pictures to be had I could pick my light, pick my composition, pick my subjects. Antlers are over represented.

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I could even pick out facial expressions. Gimme a little smile.

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Who you callin' a fish?
 
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