J R learns the D200 - Day 28
Fair Park: A Great Place to Explore Space
Day 29 — April 2, 2006: Driving into Fair Park today we looked up and, it took us awhile to figure out what this thing was. A hooded creature with a horn and a bird? — something strange yet wonderful, perhaps free-form sculpture, but like the best of art, it's real — the top of a tree wrapped for protection.
Through the fence (too tight a weave to stick a lens through) I could see a line of dead baby palm trees I would have liked to photograph also. But we had plenty else waiting for us further inside the fairgrounds.
Usually when I shoot something with wires in it, I want to wipe them out, cloning blue sky over their dark tones to disappear them. This time, I liked the rhythm of all those wires and added four more on top (carefully masking them, so they didn't bock the sculpture's arms).
The weirdness of the shape is probably accentuated by tilting that wide a lens back and shooting up into it. Like this:
I was entranced with shooting this, one of the two largest Ferris Wheels in the world. The other one, this size exactly, is in Canada. Only partially because it is so big. I liked containing it in my lens' view. II stood as close to it as possible while still fully subtending its circle in my rectangular frame.
Silly, because the closer I got, the more the Star looks like it is falling backwards. Or does it? I like the frame of trees around it, the dark density of the sky behind it, the bright letters and tiny cabs.
when I noticed the state flag-like hub, especially with all those radiating tines, I had to have it. The hub itself is sharp, but the spokes seem out of in the full-size version. By the time it gets this small, however, almost anything can look sharp.
Then I saw (the photos on this page are in chronological order.) a colorful commotion of contrasting stripes, spars, screens, fences and other shapes this side of the noisy — we later discovered a band playing just outside of the — Cotton Bowl jutting up at the top of this photo.
The issue at hand is which of these two shots is better. Or is either of them worth the silicon they used briefly today and the oxide they occupy now? I like the clutter and clatter of competing patterns, even that bare sliver of pink, green and purple curved stripes mid right. The Midway is a riot of color, even when it's not in Fair mode.
Too bad shot into a major shadow in the upper image. Flaggy Tents II is simpler, a little more organized, doesn't have as much shadow area, and may be growing into my fave.
The first of several shots of the elegantly designed State Fair Band Shell, where Shakespeare In The Park was for many years, where I've seen sympathy orchestras and rock 'n roll and the bird show every October during the fair. I like the contrast of simple shapes, and I walked nearly all the way around to the back of it, trying to find an in. Instead, I stuck camera, lens and big, obtrusive lens hood through the wide-mesh fence back there and shot this:
It looks strange for a couple reasons. Mostly because the multi-colored shell itself was standing in its own big, curved shadow, from whence I rescued it, masking it back from the sky along its own and the top of nearby trees. Because it has a sharp edge, there was not much issue with the concrete. But the trees were recalcitrant, hanging onto the subtle blues of sky and white of clouds around their tiny top branches and leaves, leaving a bit of unsightly halo.
Sometimes I really get into perfecting masks. This time, I didn't mind being sloppy about it, because I'd already altered much of its sunshine reality, and what's a little halo among net browsers? If I were to prep it for printing, I'd make it a lot better. This is just a test.
While I was sucking light out of darkness, I noticed grainy texture where once there was smooth shade. That probably adds a tad to the overall impression of something wrong here. But I love this photograph. I also painted just a daub of brown into the bottom left corner.
It felt like I was walking on some giant's unraveled tongue exploring this Antonio Gaudi rip (inspired) extended sculpture in and around the lagoon. That color, rounded edges and in some places there's a recessed center. I've got obese photographing this thing later in the last century.
I didn't realize till after I'd named this image that I was mixing religious metaphors, er... Gospel.
The large, floating swans in the background add to the surreality of the scene. I lightened the tongue in the foreground, so there'd be some slight visual interest among that darkness and increased the shadows among the swans, so we could tell that's what those were, even that small, but mostly this scene is as I found it.
I wish they'd gone all the way with the Gaudi theme and embedded the walls with brightly colored tile. Not that this is ugly. Just that I've always wanted to visit Barcelona to explore the master's parks and buildings and Sacred Family church. Those are some spaces I'd love to explore.
Something else Anna told me about later I hadn't noticed when I was this close — those stupid little hats. Cute, eh? I'm guessing they mark a different model or version of the paddle boats.
I'd still like to disappear the family walking in the far back background (I tried it; it'd be easy, just a couple strokes of the clone tool) to further simplify the action here — a little boy looking at the turtle.
These turtles are much braver than the ones at White Rock. Guess they're used to crowds.
More tongues tied.
The reason for this photograph, which stands out among those too-similar others of the tongue, is the barest trace of reflection from the Ferris Wheel just left of the upper center of this image. Unlike the next one, i barely altered this one.
As I walked toward this bull elephant statue, I thought I should use a flash to fill in that dark shadow I couldn't shoot around. By the time I'd got there, huffing and sweating, I forgot my own advice. I shot it straight.
If I'd synchro-sunlight flashed it, I might have injected some small amount of texture into the darkest darks that impede my (and probably yours, too) enjoyment of this image. Yes, the background is too light. I didn't want to have to mask this guy, so I sacrificed the background. Not that it helped.
This is the exact same original, masked nearly to death. Trouble sometimes is in density that dark, it's difficult to discern where the object ends and the background begins (like his hind right leg). I lightened and lightened and lightened this dour hefalump until it turned silver. Not bad for a Great Silver Bull Elephant, except of course, it's really the color of the image above. Still, it was one solution to the issue, and I didn't have to destroy the forest...
Here's another fine mess. I wanted to capture the wide, open spaces in the area below me. What I didn't count on — hardly even noticed — was that there's nothing of interest down there that's in enough light to see, understand and enjoy. Nice stairway and wide, curved steps way back. But this image has no real or imagined center of attention. And so fails.
This may go on and on, but I get the feeling of extended space from scrolling horizontally to see it all. Anna told me later that she'd seen many turtles in the lagoon, not just the one the little boy is watching. I asked where. She explained, but I didn't understand till I saw the full-size version of this. You can't see them at this size, but there's a bunch of magic turtles hiding among the tongues in this picture.
Another disaster averted. The original version of this gem was badly underexposed in all the trees all around, all around. The exposure was too bright, however, in the central portion at the far end of the tree tunnel. So much for the perceived perfection of Nikon's amazing Color Matrix metering. Although this presented a particularly difficult challenge.
What I did was feather the shape of the flat-bottomed oval shape at the bright far end, adjust that exposure darker slightly, invert the selection, then lighten the trees. I should just tell you I intuited the perfect exposure... But I'm still absorbing its tech, my new cam won't be an extension of my mind for awhile yet.
I had my Sony F707 five years, and I was still learning about it. It feels odd in my hands now, but though I cannot always remember what all the gizmos do, my fingers remember.
After the massive fountain yesterday, this piddlin' one isn't much, but it has shape, some action, is chunky white with foam in the middle and has fine-line splattering arcs around the edge. Nice. The brick colors only help.
As we sweated our way back to the car, we passed the botanical garden butterfly farm behind an iron gate wide enough to stick in a winged hood, camera and all. More dodging the darkness and I got what I originally saw, a winding path and a splendor of green.
Anna started the car and cranked up the air conditioner, but I saw this fanciful creature parked on the far side of the parking lot, and had to go stand as close as I could to capture its soul with my big wide.
I brightened it to match how I imagine it, fuzzed the background (trouble with using why dangle is it renders everything sharp, especially in sunlight), and darkened the tires and the asphalt it's on, so our eyes would be drawn inexorably into the color and odd little shape of it.
Meandering back through the park, we drove past yet another fantasy creature guarding the animal barns. Not exactly lost, we eventually passed by this shining vision:
From there, all we could do was go back to reality, such as it is.
[All shots above taken with the Nikon 17-55 2.8 AFS lens.]
Total images, so far = 3,727