Golf, Anyone?

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I’ve been playing lonely guy for the last two weeks and I don’t like it one bit. I’ve come to the conclusion that I am only part human. My orangutan-like arms attest to this conclusion. If the rest of me were more like my cousins, I’d probably get along fine, as they are rather solitary beasts. I, however, am much less happy to be alone. The main problem is that I get bored with nobody to talk to. Well, I’ll get relief in a week. I’ll be off to St. Louis to be with Grace and her daughter and family. Grace is a new grandmother again. I’m gonna take about a million pictures and shoot hours of video.

Which brings me to today’s subject. Golf. No, of course not. I am not a golfer. That’s too bad, actually, since I could stand outside our front door and throw a golf ball onto one of the prettiest golf courses I’ve ever seen, not that I’ve seen very many. Anyway, I’m going to start on the night before and walk you through a photographic expedition from our house to the golf course. You don’t need a back pack. It takes only about one minute, unless you have a camera. Then it takes about a half-hour.

Last night I set up the new Canon 5D Mk II with the EF 40-70mm ƒ4 L USM lens on a tripod outside the front door and shot directly across the street. This was a thirty second exposure with an ISO of 3200, I think. At that ISO reproducing at normal sizes shows no detectable noise. When the width of an image is over 5,600 pixels, noise gets pretty much buried in the mass of dots of color. I spend far less time cleaning up images.

I got lucky in this shot when a car passed by the house. Notice that the shutter was open was long enough to produce perfect little star trails. You’ll have to click to enlarge to see them.

I woke up at 05:30 the next morning and went to the front door to see how smoky it was outside. We have had many fires lately. Much of it is “managed burns”, but it’s just as smoky, no matter the cause of the fire. Here is a site showing current wildfires over one-hundred acres. This morning was about as clear as I have seen and the sun was at a perfect angle to sculpture the famous red rocks. After I crossed the dry wash and made my way to the top of the bank I set up the tripod and grabbed this shot:

This is a different kind of spectacular from the scenes out my front door in Madang, but I can get used to it.

I then made my way back down into the dry wash for a little stroll to the golf course, only about a hundred feet along the path. Along the way I spotted deer tracks:

Unmistakeable, eh?

But how about this?

After checking the area for other tracks and a visit to the World Wide Web for confirmation, I’m convinced that there was a rather large elk wandering around the neighborhood while I was out spying on the house across the street last night. It seems that elk tend to put the hind foot nearly in the same spot as the front foot hit the ground as they walk. This accounts for the distorted shape. The front of the indentation shows the characteristic cloven hoof pattern of an ungulate.

Well, that’s got precious little to do with golf, but I’m getting to that.

At the top of the bank a few feet further on is the perimeter road of the golf course. There are many presumably rich people housed around the course. Once again I find myself a man of very modest means living like a prince. The road is a popular place for a morning constitutional:

Up at the end of the course I got this tripod shot of the scene. I could have done quite nicely without the tripod, but though the gear is capable, my arm is not. That rig is heavy, man. My biceps will soon be bulging again:

In the past I have shot stitched-together panoramas to get landscapes such as this, but with over twenty-one million pixels, all I have to do is crop out the middle. Unless this was blown up bigger than an 8×10 inch sheet, you would never see any pixelation.

Really, there’s not much that this camera can’t do, given the right lens. I wonder what some of the great photographic geniuses of the past would make of the equipment and software we have today. It would be something to see, I’m sure.

The morning light was very soft and warm. The sky was nearly white. I used a circular polarizer filter to darken it as much as possible, but I still had to fake a blue sky in this shot:

I’m afraid it shows, eh? Well, it’s just an interpretation, so I don’t care. It would make a nice post card.

If you like golf.

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6 Responses to “Golf, Anyone?”

  1. Georgi Says:

    Jan, I love the long exposure shot of the house! But I see too much Photoshop in the street-Red Rock frames. And the second one is quite blurred – was that intentional? I hope you have great fun with your beast :)))

  2. MadDog Says:

    Georgi, the night shot was fun. I’m going to try some star trails as soon as I get a remote control. I have a tendency to play with Photoshop more than I ought for natural looking images. I like fooling around with it. The second shot is very sharp in the original, 5.600 pixels wide. I think what you are seeing is the result of downsizing it for the web. The web version is only 2,000 pixels.

  3. Georgi Says:

    I have tried a 12 minute exposure on my Canon SX130is with CHDK installed on it. I got some nice trails, but due to the small sensor and cheaply optics it`s quality is not that impressive. If I were you with the 5D and that incredible Sedona environment, I would try a night (star) sky timelapse above the Red Rocks. Exposures of about 20-30 seconds every one or two minutes for an hour or two should be enought to produce something really entertaining 🙂 I`d really love to see something like this, Jan. I just don`t know how this is done on the 5D, you`d probably need a connection to your PC and an intervalometer or something like it?

  4. MadDog Says:

    Georgi, I tried a 40 minute exposure last night. The time itself was good, but for some reason the camera did not go into the noise reduction mode after the shutter closed. It should have taken another “black” exposure for 40 minutes and then subtracted it from the first shot. The image had a lot of hot pixels in it. I’ll have to go back and read the manual.

  5. MadDog Says:

    Georgi, I just bought an intervalometer. You can do it with the Canon software and a USB to the camera, but I think the plug-in gadget will be easier. I’ll use Adobe Premier to stitch together a movie. I may also try Startrails.exe, which is available free on the web.

  6. Georgi Says:

    I`ve just checked startrails.exe – nice finding, Jan! I haven`t thought about combining images like this! But it`s quite natural when you think about it, really. I hope I could get some nice weather this weekend! Would you send me your results on e-mail or upload them somewhere when you`re ready? 🙂 I`ll do that too, btw.

    By the way for the timelapse movie creation there are a lot of free apps out there, Premiere is kind of heavy, although it`s the best imo. For simple timelapse you could try MakeAVI. And for the stitching you could use Premiere, of course 🙂

    I`m not sure if I have ever told you about this, but you could check this profile out: This is a Polish cinematographer – Patryk Kizny. He also shoots with a 5D Mark II and has some incredible footage. Inspirational to say the least 🙂