Wednesday, May 12, 2010

F80EXR – Ornamental Gardens and Tulip Festival

Karen and I met last night after work for a nice walk along the canal to see the tulip festival. Parking near the Dow’s Lake pavilion is a little pricey, so we parked near the experimental farm and walked in. But first, we paused to shoot the experimental farm where there were many lovely early spring flowers in bloom.

The gardens sport a massive number of Lilac bushes in all colors. Here is the ubiquitous French Lilac, essentially identical to the one in my front yard :-)


Then, some spectacular dark Lilacs and another light one. Simply gorgeous.






Next, we encounter some early Iris. Small, and very cute.




A nice little shrine of some sort graces the gardens. It’s a little hidden, but you eventually stumble onto it.


A short while later, we see a Rhododendron.



A bed of strange tulips ….



  Rather normal yellow tulips.


A spectacular apple or cherry tree and another beside it. Amazing, these are.


  This bud was buried pretty deep. Karen spotted the dark pink but I could not see it for quite a while. Color just does not impinge on me :-)


Then looking up towards the sky, you need ot add positive compensation to get the blossoms to not be silhouettes.


And down again.



A couple of magnificent Magnolia blossoms. What it must be like to be in the south in the spring! These two are, I believe in the Arboretum.



And then we broke out onto the road and crossed a small bridge over the O-Train tunnel. I’d forgotten we even have such a thing :-)   What amazing timing to actually see one coming.


As we approached Dow’s Lake pavilion, we saw a mated pair of Mallard Ducks performing what appeared to be a synchronized swim :-)


Once inside the pavilion, we sat at the window overlooking the lake in a restaurant called Malone’s. Nice place. Gorgeous views. I loved shooting the boats at dock on the calm lake.






After dinner, we wandered along the canal. The tulip festival is a little hard to miss.


Sadly, the tulips got confused by the extremely warm weather we had a month ago, so many of the beds are already done with weeks left in the festival. Such is life I suppose.

I shot this one from across the street.


And later, we crossed the street and were next to the beds. Many were still in full bloom, but this may be the last week where full beds can be seen.


It’s past 8pm now and the sun is down. We’re on the last dregs of light, so this is becoming a real test of the F80EXR. The exposure of this next one is 800 ISO at f/5.6 and 1/20s. I am shooting at –2/3EV in order to avoid blowing highlights as many of the tulips are very bright colored. What some may not know is that late evening skies and cloudy skies create huge expanses of light that can still cause highlights to go over. The camera is still trying to go for mid-grey.


Getting groups is enjoyable. I continue to try for that elusive amazing shot that just grabs you.



It’s very difficult with tulips when they are planted fairly far apart. Too much dirt showing.


By the way, we’re at 1600 ISO now, and I am running Topaz Denoise 4 on most of these images. It’s Intellinoise setup seems to be pretty good.


White is very challenging because you really want to get a nice graduated contrast in a very small part of the spectrum. I usually play with a curve that looks like this to try to drag out some texture in whites:


Leave the middle of the curve alone and later you can use another curve or even levels to pull up the mid tones a bit.

The we saw these totally weird yellow ones.



That last shot was at 400 ISO because it was out in the open a bit more, and of course the sea of yellow is very reflective.

As we approached numerous beds strung out in a row, I decided to try for some of those funky shots where there are seams in the image. Like flags, I suppose.

From a low angle:


Looks very different from a higher angle:


I much prefer the lower angle as there is less space between the colored flowers.


Karen helped me see some of these shots as her color sense functions much better than mine.


Another funky tulip …


A classic shot of Karen in the tulip beds. It’s quite dark by now (for the camera, which does not have exponential response curves,) so the exposure is a little long and there is a bit of blur.


I must always remember to shoot many images of people to get one sharp one when shutter speeds are longer. Most don’t like to sit still for more than one or two shots, but it’s the only way.

Some of the colors are pretty amazing.



This bed impressed the heck out of both of us.



And finally, we arrive back at the pavilion.



And when I arrived home later, I found that the mailbox had begun blooming …


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