Monday, August 26, 2013

Intro to Rancho Part I (or, The Pictures are Coming!)

It's been almost ten days now since my last post.  Yes, I have been slacking.  But I've also been oddly busy.

 In the last weekend alone I saw a wonderful Irish flick called Waking Ned Devine,
 went to a pony-infested beach, played Mexican volleyball, got sun-burnt, saw a surprisingly entertaining Grown Ups 2 (Sandler Spade nostalgia?) and got trashed with a Rancho staff member who shall remain unnamed so they don't get fired.    Now that may not sound like much, but here at Rancho everything takes roughly twice as long as it should and I'm pretty sure Murphy's law is the ranch motto.

When I'm not about my chores here on campus I'm either working on a new blog project (which hopefully I'll be officially announcing soon) or I'm practicing with my DSLR.  This post is supposed to be an attempt to present my progress in as entertaining a fashion as is possible. Please don't expect too much. I'm really just putting this up for my mom to help me feel less guilty about never really talking to her.   It's like I'm about to play flute at a recital  despite never having practiced any of my songs and I just can't shake the need to perpetually augment the performance with self deprecating humor to relieve my audience's tormented ear-drums.

Yea, I know.  They're just pictures.  Point and Click.  I thought that too.  Well here's a simple point and click picture I took of Joelle working at the coffee shop with my new sigma 30mm f/1.4 lense:

And here we are again after I spend 5 minutes fiddling around with the settings:

Now you can almost see how pretty she is.
When I was younger I used to believe I was a relatively quick learner.  I've since come to realize that it doesn't require much to be considered a quick learner in elementary school.  I was literally competing against kids who didn't grow up speaking English and kids who were born with drug addictions.  If my foray into photo blogging has taught me anything, its that everything is easy until you actually try to get good at it.

Example: Sunsets.  The other day there was a nice cloud pattern in the sky and I figured I'd try and snap a few shots.  The automatic setting on my camera gave me this:

Now this might not be the worst photo ever, but its not even close to representing the image my eyes beheld at the time. Not least because the entire foreground is nearly blacked out. After scrambling with the aperture and shutter speed I tried again and came up with this:

Yay! foreground is visible. Say sayonara to the sky.  
Some hundreds of photos later I realized that there must be something to this gig that I was missing.  Finally I learned about Multi-Exposure and High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos.  Basically cameras are still limited by the fact that they can only focus on one thing at a time, unlike our eyes which can focus on several things over a period of time and then mesh it all together in our brain to present those remarkable images that strike us with awe.

The solution for photographers is to take multiple photos of the exact same scene using a different exposure for each element of the scene.  The result should yield something like this:

This isn't actually a multi-exposure.  Before I can do a genuine multi-exposure I'd need a tripod and at least 5 more hours of photoshop experience.  This me hacking that first photo in half and adjusting the contrast separately on the sky and the foreground.  You can tell because of all the noisy white stuff on the horizon and the fact that the mountains on the left are white.. I just wanted to present the general concept for this blog.

Here's an example of a very well done multi-exposure sunset and you can google for even better ones.

Anyway, I've gotten way off topic.  I'll share some more of the lessons I've learned in another post.  Without further ado, here are some photos of the place I've been living for the last two weeks.

Here is Rancho from far away

Here it is a bit closer

Closer still

Here is Rancho on a map:

Come visit!
The Neighbors

This is my room

Here it is from another angle.

My exercise bands, my bed, and my 5 gallon jug of drinking water

My vitamins. Yes, I need them all. It's part of my 5 step plan towards immortality.

Organization baby.

Joelle working in the coffee shop

Said coffee shop

Ok, I get it.  These are really boring pictures.  But guess what, my life is kinda boring right now and I never seem to have my camera when anything interesting happens.  Also I pay for bandwidth my the megabyte which isn't really relevant, but it sucks.  Also, These are all the pictures I've had time to get through so far. So shut up.

Another angle

My next post will have more entertaining anecdotes I've been collecting as well as pictures of sunsets and flowers.  Like these:

(Edit: In my editor, everything is formatted and lined up perfectly, but when I view the post, everything is crooked.  Anybody know a good way of fixing this?)