J R's Images & Ideas
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My New Camera - Day 12

How Mr. Telephoto Interfaces
with the why-dangle world

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Boathouse - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

The White Rock Lake Boat House - formerly for fishing and strange picnics, now for the exclusive use of rowers

I'm a telephoto guy who usually thinks telephoto thoughts. I like centering in one one subject and separating that from everything else by focusing on it, so everything else blurs. I like figuring out what's going on halfway or further across the lake. I like getting up close and personal with stuff happening at distance.

I like visually compressing objects, which is something telephoto lenses do.

But I also like big sky photographs, and getting all of something in one wide photograph. Like the legendary Boat House above. I had to crop out a lot of water in this photograph. Wide-angle shots are enlivened by something — anything sometimes — going on in the foreground. Just plain old wide-angle shots are usually not that interesting.

This shot is not that interesting.

But I'm so very pleased I could get the whole of that great, long structure where old men of color used to hang out morning, day, evening and into the night. Fishing. White guys, too. Colorful characters all.

I believe it was a racist act locking up the doors of the always-before open to the public, if somewhat dangerous, too, boat house and only letting rowers in. But it is a boat house, even though it has not been used as such since I've been visiting it, in the last 25 or more years.

Giant Snail - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Giant Snail - the other side of the new Boat House Bridge from the Boat House

I'm still not sure what this heap of woodness is all about; who put it there; why they put it there; or why it's still there. But there it is. I had to wade through high grass (and later pick seedling nits off my shirt and pants for twenty minutes) to get back there close enough to shoot this.

My neighbor across the street, one neighbor across the street ago, got an official notice from some conservatory group for having a woodpile in her back yard. I've had one in mine, too, ever since I learned it's a nice place for varmints to hang out in. Not sure if that's what this one is all about, but can you imagine the size of the varmints that might live in there? This sucker is ten or twelve feet high.

Scary to think about.


Boathouse Tree - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

A Large Tree frames the view

Remember what I said about objects of interest in the foreground of a wide-angle photograph livening up the shot? This does that, even if it obscures the objects — a great tall light pole and the boat house — behind it. Throws in a bit of nature, all craggy and angular. I'm pleased with this.

Knobby-headed Geese - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

I called these guys Black-nosed, Knobby-headed Geese until Anna
found them online. They're either Brown Chinese or African gooses.

So there I am shooting with my really funnest lens, the 20mm f/4 — formerly a not-quite-fisheye but otherwise pretty super wide-angle lens, supposedly the 35mm equivalency of a 28mm lens on the new camera — a lens I never liked back then but dig big-time now. And along come two geese really making a lot of racket.

Maybe because they're not from around here. They've got the body structure and coloration patterns of a Barnacle/Canada Goose hybrid, but the face structure of a big white goose I photographed in the freezing cold of winter maybe four years ago, only these guys' big knobby noses are black.

If I'd had a zoom that zoomed from wide to medium or tele, I would have zoomed in on them, because I knew they weren't from around here and I wanted a detailed picture of them. But since I'm playing the D200, don't-wanna-take-no-lens-off-outside-cause-I'm-affraid-I'll-get-a-speck-of-dust-on-my-image-sensor game, I just point down to them, maybe 7 feet away and click at them through the why dangle and hope for the best.

Fine for these purposes, but not nearly tele enough for if something really interesting happened.

Dead Squirell - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Dead Squirrel

Dying is an important part of life on and around the lake. If I'd brought my 55mm (now short telephoto) lens, it would have rendered this squirrel wonderfully. Again, I shot down, then fuzzed out the non animal background with Photoshop and hoped for the best. And this is good enough for that.

I probably should have focused in on him, shooting with the lens closer to his head, which would have emphasized his face and claws. But I really like this cutaway profile view, and at the time I hadn't figured out where exactly his head was. I like these subjects, but I don't feel much like studying them.


White Scull - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

White Boat

This was a booger to post process (in Photoshop). The outside was bright, but the inside of the closed off boathouse (I shot this and about forty other interior shots by sticking my camera and sometimes my head and hands in through the glass-less windows; the new solid doors are locked.) is dark. Very dark.

So I lightened up the foreground boat nose and the boats in the background in post-processing (post), especially the red/orange one, held back the little exposure in the water outside, and rotated the whole thing, because as is often the case, I tilted too far while parts of me were sticking in that window.

Rather than crop my precious composition, I extended the cropped off corners in photoshop, extending that lath you see in the lower right corner and the black in the ceiling opposite it. Not a great shot, but interesting.

Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

I was too shy to stick my head into the opening of this little grillwork rocket ship (or whatever else one might want to imagine it being), but the parents were including me in conversation, so I didn't feel too weird. Perfect would have been the boy's head turned toward me, looking over  his shoulder and me closer to the child. But I wasn't posing kids today, I was shooting reality and their fantasy.

Like the tree between me and the boat house, the boat house interior and the trestle, this shot is idea for a wider-than-usual wide-angle lens, because it opens up the actually closed-in-ish space and gives us a distortion that's not distorted enough to annoy us, just make some things visually more significant than they really are, and sometimes in photography, that's a good thing to be able to do.


Girl in Swing - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.
Girl in a Swing

This is about a 40% crop, meaning I cropped out a little more than half of the image, which had more sky, more dirt and another swing on the right. Full-size, you couldn't see her stare or his near-smile. I also cheated by sharpening her and him (but not the pole he's leaning on or the one holding her up. You probably don't notice that, but you should appreciate it, because it makes the people more detailed and more human).

Girl in a Swing - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.


Only maybe should I have got in closer to her. Shooting from this distance looks like I'm shooting with a normal lens. Getting up closer to her may have frightened her, certainly would have frightened me, and the wide-angle lens would have distorted her size to be unnaturally big.

Might have helped or hurt the pic. I was happy with these cropped results.

Trestle - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.


I've always been a fan of the oddly angular structure of this trestle with built-in, what looks like a pond, but is actually an extension of White Rock Lake — almost a tributary. Again I shot the upper view tilted somewhat, and I had to rotate it around, using the central brick tower as a guide to true vertical. To check, I lined a drag-out-able vertical line from Photoshop's bag of tricks to align the signposts in the background, too. Even the brickwork on the right side line up, although it looks like it's leaning to the right (along with the rest of Dallas).

Trestle (detail) - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Trestle - obverse (detail)

This may be a more successful shot. But I love the wide view of it, especially since it's much wider than I've been able to shoot in the last five years, since my Sony's zoom starts somewhat longer than this.

Raised Manhole - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Raised Man Hole Cover

I love manhole covers and strangely anomalous structures like a raised manhole. I've seen white water gushing out of this thing maybe ten feet high. It's exciting. But so, in its quiet, round and unflush way, is this shot.

I'm very fond of circles and especially of circles that look like pagan altars.

[All shots above taken with the Nikon 20mm f/4 manual focus lens.]