Category Archives: Life

A very clear photo of grass stalks...with a blurry rabbit behind them.

Damn You, Autofocus!

Gotta love it when the camera’s autofocus insists gives you this wonderfully clear image of…the grass in front of the skittish animal you’re trying to get a picture of before it scampers away.

I did manage to get one shot of it before moving on, and then I was able to spot a clearer view of another rabbit during the same hike.

The last few hikes I’ve done at Madrona Marsh, I’ve taken a lot fewer photos. This time…I went a little overboard taking pictures of just about every type of plant of animal I could to post to iNaturalist. Then I narrowed it down to around 40 “good” photos that I’m posting on Flickr over the next week or so. Sadly, my camera battery ran out about halfway through, leaving me with only my phone. Which was perfectly fine for close-ups and landscapes, but not for zoom shots.

Compass in the Sky

A circular halo of light around the sun, with a silhouetted traffic signal.

Two views of a 22-degree circular halo around the sun that I saw on a walk this afternoon.

Halos are a lot more common than I used to think. Then I started actually looking for them. Even on a warm day like today, there can still be ice crystals higher in the atmosphere of the right size and shape to cause a display like this (or even more complicated ones).

A circular halo of light around the sun, with a silhouetted jacaranda tree.

Usually I just go for a utilitarian, “got a picture of the halo,” but this time I tried about five different things to block the sun, trying to compose an interesting shot as well. I’m going to have to keep that up!

The Adventures of the Flickr Panda

Flickr has spent the last day offline, moving the rest of their services out of Yahoo’s datacenters. But to keep people involved, they’re holding a Good Panda Photo Contest where you print out the panda from the “Down For Maintenance” page and take a photo of it off having some adventure.

I went a little overboard with getting the panda into whimsical situations! 🙂

I plan on posting the one with the coffee mug as my entry once uploads are working again, but I may post a full album of the panda’s adventures!

Update: Flickr seems to be stable again! And entries aren’t limited to just one photo. Here’s the Flickr version of this gallery, and here’s the official contest group where everyone is sharing their Panda adventures.

No, those aren’t brush strokes. It’s just digital zoom.

After several days not being able to see any of the birds I could hear when I went for a walk on break from work, I saw a whole bunch of them hanging out on a lawn, eating seeds or bugs or whatever it is that these particular birds eat. Of course since I’d been walking to lunch, the only camera I had with me was my phone. No optical zoom, and I couldn’t get too close without spooking them. I figured what the heck, I’d give it a shot (or several) with the phone and see if I got something clear enough to post to iNaturalist.

I didn’t, as you can see, but it’s a great example of something I’ve found fascinating about digital zoom: The way it can make a photo look like it’s been painted with brush strokes rather than captured with pixels.

Personally, I’ve never understood why digital zoom is implemented as a resize instead of just cropping to a lower resolution. Even back when the full resolution on cameras was low, I’d rather have a clear 640×480 image than a blurry 1280×960. The only reason I even enabled digital zoom on an actual camera (rather than just cropping it later on my computer) was because it made a difference to the auto-focus, exposure, etc. choices the camera would make.

I suppose it’s marketing: They promised you however many megapixels, after all!