Sunday, February 27, 2011

Exploring Bainbridge Island Marina

Oh those green greens, blue blues and great panoramas: using your camera’s automatic landscape/panoramic mode. Information for beginning to advanced hobbyist photographers.

The Pacific Northwest is incredibly beautiful in autumn.  Maples turn orange, yellow and red against a background of light and dark fir, pine and cedars. I especially like using my camera’s automatic landscape mode to catch the vivid colors of the sunny blue sky and colorful trees. 

Automatic landscape/panoramic mode is designed to capture scenic vistas, city skylines, and other large scale objects.  It’s designed to keep both objects close to the camera and in the distance in sharp focus.  Check your camera's manual for information on setting this mode.

My afternoon spent photographing Bainbridge Island Marina

Bainbridge Island, WA is located in the central Puget Sound basin. It’s beautiful!  It is east of Bremerton, WA and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and west of Seattle.  The Washington State Ferry System runs daily Ferries from Seattle to Bainbridge IslandWhen I take the Ferry across the Sound to Seattle I feel like I’m on a vacation get-away.

The island is approximately five miles (8 km) wide and ten miles (16 km) long. Of the 16 islands in Puget Sound it is one of the largest. 

I always love photo outings on the IslandThere's always something new and exciting to photograph, especially the wildlife. The marina is tucked into the beautiful tree-lined Eagle Harbor Cove

The auto landscape mode does several helpful things when you’re shooting outside.  This mode produces a large area of sharp focus. It boosts colors and contrast slightly.  It also produces rich, bold hues that we want in our landscape (panoramic) photos.  Greens and blues are emphasized.

Bainbridge Island Boathouse


As my hubby and I wandered around the marina taking photos we spotted this darling little boat with what I dubbed the lazy daisy boat cover.  My camera’s auto landscape mode really made the colors on the boat cover pop! 

I'd love to own a little boat like this!  It made me think of Edward Lear's nursery rhyme the Owl and the Pussycat. But I settled for taking several photos and we moved on down the dock.

Lazy Daisy

We heard splashing and barking behind us, turned around and saw these adorable little Puget Sound Harbor Seals playing on the dock jumping in and out of boats and the water.  Harbor seals are the most abundant marine mammal in Puget Sound. They are curious but shy animals.


I was able to quickly capture them with my camera before they got away.  Photographing them was a challenge!  They were friendly and let me get reasonably close.  I was using my telephoto lens so “close” was still some distance away. 

Bye Bye, Time For Oyster Dinner

They kept wiggling around which caused some blurring in the photos. Blur was also caused from the dimming afternoon light and using my telephoto lens without a tripod. I could have changed my lens and grabbed my tripod but I settled for the blurring. I was afraid they’d jump into the Sound and swim off for a nice oyster dinner before I could get any photos of them. 

So, the next time you are out photographing landscapes, cityscapes and other scenic vistas remember to set your camera on auto landscape mode.

Seals are protected from killing by the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. It is against the law to hunt, capture, kill, harass or otherwise disturb seals or any other marine mammal.  You may photograph and view from a distance.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My need for speed and how I captured it….photographically

Using your camera in sports/action mode.

Knowing we both love all things high speed, my 37 year old son invited me to a day at the El Mirage land speed races. I was visiting him while on vacation and we agreed it would be a fun mother-son outing. El Mirage, located in the Mojave Desert of Southern California, is a dry lake bed perfect for land racing.

The photographic challenge of the day would be to capture the people wandering around, and the racing motorcycles and cars, without having blurred photos. I set my camera to the automatic mode for sports/action. This mode provides a fast shutter speed to freeze the action and capture moving objects.  This is the mode to use to capture your kid’s soccer games, a race car or your dog romping at the beach.

Understand that in dim lighting the camera may not be able to select a fast shutter speed and deliver an exposure without blur.  You may also experience blur in very bright light.  

A blurred shot is not always bad.  It can add an element of excitement or interest to your photo. I always take lots of shots and chose the ones I like best.

I like the above photo but also like the blur in the photo below.  The above photo shows the detail of the rider and his bike.  The photo below shows speed and action with the sand blowing from the bike's tire and the blurred landscape and racer.  

Check your camera’s manual and read how to set the sports/action mode for your camera brand.  Most cameras have this mode.

Now back to the races.  For 50 years the lake bed has been used by the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) for timed speed runs.  Many of the most respected names in both motorcycle and drag racing are represented.  Unsanctioned racing at El Mirage began in the early 1900s.

The speed runs are based on class of vehicle. Each car or motorcycle at El Mirage runs a straight 1.3 mile course race against the clock and record book.  About 70 different classes of cars and motorcycles, separated by their engine size, fuel type and modifications, are represented.

Cars traveling over 140 mph are required to use a parachute to assist them in stopping. Seeing cars with parachutes billowing out the back was quite a sight!  Speeds can run in excess of 300 mph.  Watching them race gave me my need for speed fix!

It was really exciting to wander around with the other spectators checking out the various competitors and their vehicles.

Those in the know got into some lively conversations on who would win the timed events.  I overheard one spectator say ”This is one of the last great sports where you can build something fast and furious in your garage and then go race it.”  

My lack of knowledge of who’s who in dry land racing didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the cars and bikes at the race.  It was truly a fun mother-son day!

If you happen to be in the area, the next races will be held May 14-15, 2011.