Sunday, June 30, 2013

Take Photos in the Morning or Evening during Summer in Palm Springs

 by Lisa Pell

With its, “Sizzling Desert" landscape, Palm Springs offers an opportunity for photo enthusiasts to capture a variety of native low desert plants and expansive desert vistas. Shooting in the Sonoran Desert offers some challenges such as the heat which reaches an average high temperature of 108.1 degrees in July and a record high of 123 in July and August. One way to beat the heat is to schedule time in the early morning or the evenings to take your photos. The advantages of taking photos at these time is in the light. Finding out what time the sun rises and sets will make it possible to take advantage, not only of cooler temperatures, but also making the most of the lighting conditions. Also keep in mind that the quality of natural light varies not only during the day but also throughout year which can add variety to your work.

Evening doesn't come until 7 pm

Temperature and Color: The Basics of Setting Your White Balance
The temperature of color has a wide range between the early morning and late evening. The average noon daylight temperature is 5000-6500k although a clear cloudless sky can reach temperatures of 10,000k. Morning and evening light can vary between 3000-4000k. It is important to understand that that the color temperature varies because getting the white balance right can be a challenge when working with a digital camera. Setting the white balance correctly on your camera will make your colors look the most realistic, allowing you to capture the nature beauty of the sometimes subtle other times dramatic variations that natural lighting can present. Color temperature is often referred to as warm and cool and if it isn't adjusted for properly can result in unnatural blue, orange and sometimes green hues in photos. Whereas a 5000k temperature creates a neutral light, a 9000k temperature will result in more blue wavelengths, while a 3000-4000k temperature will produce an orange hue. A good way to remember this is that as the temperature rises, the color hues tend towards the blue end of the spectrum. Think for instance of a fire, where the hottest part of the flame is the blue at the center. Most digital camera have a white balance preset which makes the selection of an appropriate color temperature easy. What you may not know is that using the auto white balance offers a limited range between 3000/4000 to 7000k. Using the Kelvin option will allow you to select the temperature you need manually over a much broader range. The other setting available, such as tungsten, fluorescent, daylight, cloudy etc., offer an approximate value for the lighting conditions under which they will produce the best images.

Advanced Techniques – Capturing the Best Color and Insuring your Work Against Loss
Another option is to set a custom balance on your camera. This setting provides you with the most control while insuring the best results for your photos. You will need to invest in a 50% grey reference card which is available at most camera supply stores. Using this card you simply take a picture of the grey reference under the particular lighting conditions. This way the camera can set the white balance using this information. The first few times you might need to keep your camera manual on site as there are a few steps involved in programming the camera to use the data. Although a bit more involved this is the best way to ensure you get just the right balance of color in your shot.
While there is also an option to adjust the color balance afterwards using Photoshop, you want to avoid this if at all possible as it can reduce the number of colors in your image. This is known as bit depth. Bit depth is a term that describes the number of 0's and 1's otherwise known as “bits” that hold information about the colors in your image. The selection of standard file formats can will impact the number of bits available in your image. For example, a jpeg file uses 8-bits, while a TIFF file can capture 16-bits per channel and RAW give 24. Setting your camera for 24 bits per pixel (bpp) will give you the best possible color results. The JPEG setting produces 16 million possible tones, which is 6 million more than the human eye can detect, so it is perfectly suitable for most shots. However, it is when you start adjusting your photos on Photoshop that you will be thankful that you've used a higher setting. Even it you are simply adjusting for brightness and contrast, you may find that the colors begin to separate. This can be seen for instance in a blue sky which can begin to show patterns of uneven gradation, known as posterization. Shooting in a RAW format will give you way more room to work once you've brought your image home. Once you've made your adjustments you will need to consider whether to save your image as a 16 bit or an 8 bit file. If you are sure that you've made all the edits your going to make then go ahead and save as a smaller file. If there is any chance however, that you might need to go back in the future then you will want to select the higher format to protect your work and ensure the highest possible quality. Now that you've got all the information you need to secure the quality of your images you may also want to make sure you have the most up to date protection for your equipment. For many photographers, protecting their equipment from damage or theft is just as important as protecting the quality of their images when it come to long-term planning.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Too Hot--Misspelled Church Sign

I always love it when people misspell words on public signage. What word needs an extra "o."

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lucy at Thunderbird

Lucy with her two Cocker Spaniels at Thunderbird in Rancho Mirage
Palm Springs loves Lucy. A statue of Lucy sitting on a bench next to the Coffee Beanery is a constant draw for tourists. They just love to be able to sit with her bronze self to get their picture taken.

This photo, taken back in the days when diving boards weren't law-suit bait, has Lucy, hair up in a scarf, sitting on one with a towel draped over it and her pointed toes dangling over the water.

From the looks of the photo, Lucy is more akin to her movie days when she acted in dramas than her television days when she was a comedy superstar. From I Love Lucy to The Lucy Show, this woman never missed a comedic beat.

Just so you know, Lucy and her husband Desi did not live in Palm Springs. They lived in a ranch house designed by architect Paul Williams in the Thunderbird Country Club, which is located in Rancho Mirage.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Elvis-like Singer at the Hyatt in Downtown Palm Springs

Is this Elvis?
With moves like you see in the above image, the dark hair and the hard grip he has on the microphone, you might think that this guy is an Elvis impersonator.

He was caught singing at the Hyatt. As I walked by, he saw my dSLR camera, viewfinder attached to my eye and pointed at me, a perfect pose for singer a-la-Elvis.

Summertime is cheap time in Palm Springs. You can get a room during the week at the Hyatt for $80 in June compared with $219 on the weekend. Quite a price differential.

Don't let that price fool you, though, There are additional resort fees, taxes and parking fees, which can be upward to $60. 

After all the hotel needs the money to pay the entertainers, not to mention hundreds of other staff members and the big execs of the Hyatt chain.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Car Cut-Out

50s car cut-out
This car had been sitting in the Warm Sands neighborhood of Palm Springs when I noticed that there was a rocket taking off from its tail light to the door. Fascinating. Most certainly a photo op.

To be real, this is for my upcoming book about fine art photography on the Internet, more appropriately referred to those print on demand websites that let artists upload their work so that buyers can shop for it.

Have any idea what the are?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Phone Booths on Palm Canyon

These phone booths that remain on Palm Canyon are almost to the point that an antique dealership or consignment shop can pull them out to hawk as a relic of a the mid-twentieth century.

I mean, look at them--they're classic. The color--bad brown--fits in perfectly with the 1970s and the text written on them could have been lifted out of a 1958 issue of Look magazine.

Finally, there's the idea of the booth itself as a nook to escape the noise of busy Palm Canyon in order to talk on the phone. The concept is ingenious and could be applied today.

Why not offer mobile device users a booth in which to talk so they'll stop walking while talking, putting them at risk of getting run over or hogging the sidewalk?

Actually if you look around, you'll find that cell phone users do use these booths--to escape the hectic street so they can talk and hear the guy at the other end.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Second Sunday is Free at the Palm Springs Art Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum is not only free on Thursday night, it's also free on the second Sunday of each month. This week they had a guy demonstrating silk screening.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Air Force 1 in Palm Springs

Who doesn't know by now that President Obama is talking with the president of China, Xi Jinping, at the Annenberg Estate, Sunnylands,  in Rancho Mirage.

The biggest attraction, though, is not Obama or Xi Jinping. It's Air Force 1 at the Palm Springs Airport.  After all, you can't see either of these guys. There's no way you can get within miles of where the two men are located. Such is security these days. One thing is for sure, he isn't going to be out on Palm Canyon or El Paseo shaking hands.

The plane is sitting on the runway of the airport, a spot where you can get as close as a block away (if you walk through a bit of undeveloped desert land). You'll see people snapping images with all kinds of devices, including some dSLR cameras.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Elton John Impersonator Takes to the Stage in Palm Springs

Elton John impersonator plays piano and sings on stage in downtown Palm Springs
The air, still and warm, let the music slip by, music played by a Las Vegas performer who came to downtown Palm Springs to play a few tunes to mostly local Valley residents. His demeanor and looks are strikingly similar to those of John.

Dogs lapped up water out of plastic bowls, children ran around the Marilyn statue, and, best of all, there was a Marilyn impersonator working the crowd. Still can't say if it was a woman or man! 

The crowd roared like a lion when it was announced that Marilyn's to stay put in Palm Springs until August. "Marilyn has made Palm Springs come back," said one celebrant standing near the stage. "And she's only going to get more popular."

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Dog with sunglasses
The blazing sun of the desert is signature Palm Springs, and summer is when it's at its peak. Every person should wear sunglasses so the ultraviolet light doesn't hurt their eyes.

Damaged eyes can lead to floaters, macular degeneration and eye cancer. The dog in the above image will have none of this. Its eyes will be healthy for a lifetime.

This wonderful dog with sunglasses is the epitome of life in the low desert. From frivolous face lifts to gay parades, life in Palm Springs means one must look good and be fashionable. Pets should too.