March 17, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut
Honey Bee In Balboa Park
Balboa Park is a 1200 acre park, between downtown San Diego and the San Diego Zoo, and it is just awesome. There are 15 museums 13 places to eat and 20 gardens so you need several visits to properly explore the park. For me it’s all about the outside things like the trees, plants, shrubs, flowers, trails, gardens bugs and people. They don’t allow cameras in the museums, so… Yeah, I usually stick to the outside stuff. Balboa Park really is grand, and the very mature trees are huge, the gardens are all different, vibrant, colorful and attract lots of docile bees and butterflies. People perform, sing and play music on the main thoroughfare, and there are helpful maps to guide you and there is even a live theater venue called, The Old Globe Theater.
The problem I have is that I haven’t been able to capture any of that grandness with my camera. 4 years I’ve been taken pictures in Balboa Park, yet I don’t have any show-stopping shots. Come to think of it, I don’t have enough decent shots to even HAVE a show that would feature Balboa Park. So, this post will be me critiquing shots I took inside the park on March 16th, 2010. They are images that had potential in the viewfinder, but have mistakes made at the moment of capture, so they are not great shots. I’m going to explain what went wrong and how it can be fixed the next time. My D5000 was not to blame, I had setting wrong or composed improperly, and I’ll explain with my photos.
Playing The Cello
Musicians playing in Balboa Park are the pleasant, ever-changing chorus of sound that gives you one more reason to stop and listen while you are in the park.
The shot above is blurry and the background is distracting. Also, the shot would look better from a more frontal point of view so the classic and powerful cello shape can be seen. The composition and background can be fixed by moving to a different location. The blurriness of the pic is not because of a bad focus, it’s from camera shake. I was all the way at 450mm, but my shutter was 1/80th, and I was hand-holding the camera. When you are not using a tripod, you shutter speed should not be any slower than your lens mm focal length. In my case at 450mm I should have used a shutter speed of 1/450 or faster.
Park Bench Dedication, Terry Lee Stone
There are many concrete benches in Balboa Park and all or most of them have these brass plates with tombstone style inscriptions.
This shot just does not tell a story. If you know the inscribed person then this might be nice to have but it does not invoke emotion because there is no context. You can’t tell that the plate is on a bench in a beautiful park overlooking a wooden bridge and staircase that descends to the Palm Canyon Trail. It’s just an inscription on some mildly interesting texture and color. A better position that shows off the bench AND it’s location would be a much better choice next time.
Blackbird On The Bowling Green
The crows and ravens in San Diego are definitely at the top of the food chain, right below people.
This shot had potential because I did some things right. I was almost at eye level with the bird, which is good and the exposure (1/250, f/11, 200 ISO) is about spot on too. What I’m not liking about the image (besides the color of the grass) is that there is no scale at all. You can’t tell that this bird happened to be HUGE! A better shot would be with the bird in the frame with something else, preferably smaller than the bird, like flowers or another animal. This blackbird was abnormally large, but the photo lacks anything to convey a message about the size.
Situated between the Art Institute and Mingei Museum and modeled after the Alcazar Castle in Seville, Spain, there are 7000 annuals planted every year in this garden.
I like the composition and depth of field in this shot, and the exposure is about right. The subject is just too busy. It’s such a mass of green stems and since the flowers are not fully in bloom, there is not enough purple to break up the green. Do you know what I mean, jellybean?
Balboa Park’s Fountain
This shot just has too many distracting things in it. The light bulbs that run through the center, light poles and signs break up and distract from the people and the fountain.
So, I am still searching for that great Balboa Park shot. There has to be a single, great shot that anyone who looks at it would know they are looking at Balboa Park, and want to go there. *sigh* Someday.