Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Monday, January 25, 2016

Pictures from the new camera

Back in December, I lost my camera, which had been a college graduation gift I'd had for almost four years. Already in low spirits, this was a crippling blow. With it went a camera case, several SD cards, the charger, USB cable, cleaning cloth, and there may have been more. I never took the case with me when I was shooting. It always stayed in the car or in the house, so the fact that everything went missing lead me to believe it was stolen. But I couldn't even remember the last place I saw it, meaning no leads to report the theft. I was crushed, but chose to be pragmatic and started looking for a new camera. I had been thinking of moving up to an interchangeable lens camera, either a DSLR or a mirrorless system, for several years. I just didn't want it to happen this way, or at a time where I really couldn't afford much for a new camera. I did the best I could in the interim, taking pictures with my smartphone. I learned some useful things about how to take pictures with it, but I really missed having a real camera.

Luckily, a friend had a Panasonic Lumix GX1 camera body that he wasn't using anymore and was willing to sell for cheap. We had some trouble meeting up, but this past Saturday we finally managed it (with no help from me, running over 20 minutes late) and I got my new camera. Then I drove north to my parents' for the weekend to find the new lens I ordered waiting for me. I hadn't expected it until Tuesday of this week, which would have meant a whole week before I could start using my camera. The fast deliver meant I had all weekend to start familiarizing myself with the new camera and lens. This is a long post of random pictures.

The lens is a 12-32mm compact zoom. Unfortunately, part of what makes it so compact is the lack of a manual focus ring, something I didn't think of. However, so far the automatic focusing of the camera has been quite good, and got even better as I learned to adjust the settings. It's also not very well-suited for macro photography, something I knew. Still, it handled this difficult close-up quite well.

Every camera produces different results with color, so I'm especially having to relearn things like white balance and picture modes. I like how it managed to capture the rich colors in the driveway island, something my phone has been struggling with.

I take a lot of close-up shots, even if they aren't true macro, so I tried a lot of close work.

Not quite as sharp as I'd like (I think I was a bit too close) but a pretty good shot of the opening flowers on my dwarf Billbergia nutans. The blue edges on the petals aren't as thick as the larger version I used to have, but unlike that plant, this one also has blue tips on the pink sepals.

Some nice back-lighting shining through the leaves and bracts on this side of the plant. The flowers on this form seem to rise higher above the foliage than on the full-size version.

This lens doesn't handle glare as well as my old camera. I'll probably be buying a hood for it soon.

My phone hasn't done a very good job showing the purple winter color on Satureja douglasii. The new camera does a much better job.

Dramatic shadows on Yucca filamentosa.

One of the reasons I chose the 12-32mm lens is for the wide-angle shots. It manages to capture views of the garden at large much better than my old camera.

Shadows on the wall.

Though I can't actually get this close with my current lens, The 16MP micro 4/3 sensor is both much larger than either my phone or old camera, and has a much higher resolution than my phone, meaning I can crop images more and still produce good, clear images at larger sizes. It's sort of fake macro.

Carex testacea and Erysimum. I love the olive/orange of the carex with the rich green of the wallflower.

The heaths have never been so floriferous as they are this year. And thanks to the deer fence, they don't have any dead brown patches in the middle where deer have stepped and broken the branches!

Galanthus shoots emerging at the edge of a patch of Sedum albiflorum. The sedum has spread a lot without the deer to rip it apart in summer.

Buds on Helleborus x sternii.

I liked the lighting in this area of the driveway island, with the grasses and old aster stems.

This shot would have been much improved by manual focusing, but the camera still did a great job.

This camera allows for some really fine adjustments to the white balance, allowing me to do a pretty decent job capturing the color of this Erica.

More use of cropping to "zoom in" on the subject. I couldn't actually get this close with the lens, but cropping out over 2/3 of the original gives this nice close-up. New growth on an unidentified Agapetes (or possibly a Vaccinium) from the RSBG.

New purple foliage of Cardamine diphylla emerging out of dwarf mondo grass next to an older leaf. I should probably spread some slug bait before they devour the cardamine.

I couldn't quite get this moss into perfect focus, or get close enough. This is the kind of thing I need manual focusing, and probably a real macro lens, to really photograph to my satisfaction. Still, I love the bright little points of new growth and the texture.

 Cotoneaster microphyllus var. thymifolius.
 
These crocus bulbs have been emerging since the end of November. With the recent warm weather, they could open any time.

The daylilies are emerging, too. Time to clear away the dead leaves and bait for slugs.

Billardiera longiflora hasn't stopped growing since fall. The two cold snaps did a little damage, but hardly slowed it down. I think it's going to get much larger and do it much faster than I expected, meaning I'll have to move it before it swamps the Acer griseum it's growing up. I was hoping for a thin tracery of thin leaves against the coppery bark, accented wonderfully by the purple/blue berries. Unfortunately, it's growing more densely than anticipated, obscuring the bark of the maple, and ants have decided they love clipping the new growth and demolishing the berries.

Garrya elliptica 'James Roof' didn't take any damage from the cold, despite being planted in November. I need more garryas. Lots and lots of garryas.

Irish heath with a bit of wind-blown lichen.

Cropped shot of Sorbaria sorbifolia (I think the cultivar 'Sem'). These buds have looked ready to burst almost since the leaves dropped in fall.

Another wide shot from the other end of the shadier, moister part of the garden.

I don't think I've ever taken the time to appreciate the old seed heads of Prunella vulgaris. They really are pretty. Another reason to appreciate this somewhat weedy native. It's not quite in focus. Again, I could have used that manual focus. Next lens.

Cropping to get a close-up of heath flowers.

And to get a close-up of  the buds on Erica arborea 'Estrella Gold'. This is turning out to be one of my favorite plants to photograph, and mine haven't even flowered yet! I love the bright buds among the darker needle-like foliage. They've been slowly expanding all winter, becoming more and more prominent. I'm looking forward to enjoying their rich honey scent when they open, but I think the buds are actually my favorite part.

I'm feeling more motivated to go places and take pictures now that I have a camera again. I hope this translates into more blog posts, but lately I've been spending more time with my paying jobs, working out in the garden, and reading, so we'll see.

10 comments:

  1. Wow! Some gorgeous plants. Is that Garrya elliptica 'James Roof' really hardy here? I am in Madison and lost some 15 years-old zone 5 trees and shrubs during the last couple of bad winters so I am a little shy about pushing the zonal envelope. Is your soil acidic for those heaths and heathers? Just discovered your blog and am enjoying it.

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    1. Sorry, you must have come across my blog via a post from my time in Wisconsin. I'm assuming that's what you mean by "here." I moved back to my native W. Washington last spring, zone 8. So yes, that Garrya is hardy in my "here," but not your "here." The soil here is naturally acidic. Heaths, heathers, and other acid lovers do very well.

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  2. Congratulations on your new camera, Evan! I'm impressed by the time you've spent learning to use it - I've yet to really study my camera capabilities but then it's a point-and-click type so I'm probably not missing much. Yours does seem to be better at wide shots than mine. I have to make do with the same crop-style close-ups, though.

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    1. I'm a bit of a shutter bug. I want to be able to use every advantage the camera offers.

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  3. That was fun, I like the random garden/plant tours. Congrats again on the camera, so happy for you!

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    1. Me, too. I've been too focused on specific topics. Random is more fun!

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  4. I liked the shot of the Cotoneaster against the rock, but more then anything I love the wide shots, with or without glare. I think your garden would qualify as a small park! Frankly, work in the garden should always take precedent over posting :-)
    I'm fascinated with Billardiera longiflora: I know it has very interesting fruit so I'd like to see how it progress in your garden.

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    1. Thanks, Chav. I like the Cotoneaster shot, too. My park has a lot of growing up to do. Actually, I've been researching trees to create an open, airy canopy in the big open area in the back of the last wide shot. Hoping to add those trees this year. I love my Billardiera. Unfortunately, the ants do, too. They chew on every part of this plant, so in the summer I always see wilted tips that have been chewed halfway through, flowers with holes in them, and then fruits that get ripped to pieces before even fully ripening. Maybe once it gets bigger the damage will be reduced by relative size.

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  5. You found your way around your camera more in a weekend than I have in years. Thanks for sharing the fun. I prefer the budding stage more often than not. That last shot's a beauty.

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    1. Thanks, Ricki! I often prefer the budding stage, too.

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