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   Another bike ride today followed by sushi this evening.  On the walk home from sushi I saw the full moon and decided to take a shot.  The moon is rather small in my pictures even at 300 mm.  However, I can crop it down to 900x600 and the detail is pretty decent.
Kim 800

Kim 800

   The temperatures are not quite so stupid today as the heatwave is letting up.  Temperature only hit 83°F/28°C instead of being 90°F/32°C.  In addition, the humidity let up as well.  Temperatures are still far above, but this is the first day in four days we didn't set a record high.  I did a 31 mile ride using a modified Martinesville/Waunakee route.  Once in Waunakee, rather than ride directly south on Hwy 113, I turned east on Main Street, south on Division and then followed Woodland Drive to County M.  Woodland drive takes me past some trees I've been waiting to blossom.  The trees just started blooming, but nothing yet to photograph.
   This evening was a 1980's action hero movie night.  Pictured is Kim Witte who turned herself into a T-800.  I tried a quick series of shots using my external flash units.  All the shots were bad, but this was the least bad.  After some post-processing the picture is functional.  I'm not good with the flash yet, but I am learning.
Dragon's Blood Smoke Rings

Dragon's Blood Smoke Rings

   I did a series of shots using a stick of the incense Dragon's Blood and my two flash units.  For the setup I used a blue gel on one flash unit and a red on the other.  I placed one flash below the smoke and one above.  This way I could color the smoke.   I've done next to no flash photography before.  While I have used the build-in flash on my old cameras, this is the first time I've used an external flash.  It is also the first time I've had a flash with variable power settings.
   For the setup I started by switching to manual mode.  Then I picked settings such that without the flash there was almost no exposure.  This means that all the light for each picture comes from the flash.  I did this because I want only the smoke to appear with nothing in the background. 
   I tried various settings throughout the shoot, including times and zoom.  I found that despite the smoke going mostly up, it had a very shallow depth of field when zoomed in even a little.  So I closed the aperture all the way down to F/22.  This helped keep the smoke in focus no matter where it drifted, although at high zoom the smoke would still get blurry.
   In all I took about 600 pictures.  Of those I selected 14 I liked.  Once on my computer I could see several areas where I could improve.  I forgot to set the ISO and my camera choose a grainy 1600.  I also didn't fully remove the background as my exposures were a bit too long.  I fixed this in post-processing by adding a bit of contrast and bringing down brightness.
   Overall I'm pretty happy with the results.  I will likely try this setup again sometime.
 
   Some (sorta) still-life using my dragon incense burner.  I used my tripod for this shot but had to increase the ISO in order to capture the smoke in a way that didn't turn it into a blur into a mess.  The bokeh of this shot is as fantastic as I have come to expect from my 28-300 mm lens.  I might try this shot again, but use pin spot to illuminate the smoke.
Confluence Pond With a Low Sun

Confluence Pond With a Low Sun

   Another stupid hot day in May with temperatures hitting 90°F/32°C.  Despite the heat I needed to get in a bike ride and did a low reverse Martinsville/Waunakee loop.  Ride took 2 hours and 16 minutes, which isn't too bad considering I didn't push very hard.  I burned around 1,600 Calories with an average heart rate of 142 beats/minute.  I returned home soaked in sweat.  This is July/August weather, and we're in mid May.
   Pictured is the sun low in the sky.  The skies have been hazy the last couple of days and it helped mimic a sunset over the Confluence Pond.  The photo is a camera HDR.
   The weather went from cold spring to stupid hot summer in two days.  While a week ago people were scraping frost from windshields today we hit over 90°F/32°C, complete with high humidity.  Lucky for me I operate in a cold basement.  This time of year the cold concrete walls and floor keep the basement around 70°F/21°C.  The humidity is high, so much so that there is a pool of water around the water softener because of condensation, but cool enough to operate with air conditioning.
   On a positive note I had more camera gear arrive today.  On Saturday's ride I really wanted to polarizing filter.  My primary lens, an EF 28-300 mm f/3.5-5.6L, requires 77 mm filters and my existing 67 mm polarized filter is too small.  Since I shoot through L-series glass I didn't want to get a cheep polarized filter.  I made that mistake back in 2017 of buying an inexpensive polarized filter and took a great deal of soft shots on a perfect fall day.  So this time I did some research on what makes a good polarized filter.  It wasn't inexpensive but it often paired with L-series lenses.
   In addition, I picked up a flash set.  My new camera lacks a built-in flash so I needed one just for that.  I've also been looking into studio lighting and the easiest place to start is with a basic remote flash setup.  I have two wireless flashes to start with, and I can use the wireless system with larger strobes should I want them.
   Pictured is Pumpkin, Susan's kitty.
   Wisconsin seems to hate the 70s.  We went from being in the upper 60s (around 20°C) yesterday directly to the 80s (27°C) and forecast to stay in the 80s and possibly hitting the 90s this week (32°C).  Could we just have 65°-75°F (18°-24°C) please?
   The warm weather came with wind.  Lots of wind.  Speed were averaging around 25 MPH (40 KPH) from the south.  That is my least favorite wind direction for a standard bike ride because all my rides start riding north and end riding south.  Still, it was plenty warm for a ride.  I figured on a slow ride since I would have a strong headwind on the return ride so didn't push too hard and I made a lot of picture stops.  The skies were partly cloudy and I wanted to capture some landscapes.  I did several HDR shots but I don't like how my camera handles HDR.  The winds were also so high my camera was having difficulty aligning the images.  While I had a tripod, I didn't notice how bad alignment was until I got home.  So I did several HDR shots using software on my PC rather than with the camera.  I expected the ride to be a bit slow, but exceeded my expectations. 3 hours and 11 minutes for 30.6 miles and 2,300 Calories burned.
   Pictured is one of the HDR shots I took.  The landscape is still too dark, but the sky is nice.
Stone Farmstead Ruins

Stone Farmstead Ruins

   Forecast was calling for temperatures around 65°F/18°C and I was all about taking a ride to enjoy that.  Guess I really wanted to enjoy it because what I had planned to be around 2 hour and 28 miles turned 3 hours and 38 miles.  Each time I reached turn-back point, I opted for the longer ride.  Still managed to finish the ride before the restaurant that had what I wanted for dinner closed, but I was cutting it close.  I burned around 2,500 Calories on the ride, and I was hungry when I got back home.
   The ride started up County Q, then east on K to the boardwalk along Hwy M.  This would take me to Woodland Drive though Westport and into Waunakee.  I choose this route because there are some trees along Woodland Drive that are usually covered in white flowers this time of year, and it only lasts for a week or two.  However, they were not in bloom yet so I wasn't able to get my picture.  From this point I continued my reverse Martinsville/Waunakee loop riding to Main Street, then north along Century Ave.  At Kopp Road my trip turns west, making a change to south at Kuetn Road for a bit before I can get on Hyer Road.  Hyer takes me to County P and I head southwest to Springfield Corners.  The town is little more than a couple of buildings at the corner of Hwy 12 and County P.  I would typically continue forward at this intersection to go into Martinsville, but I didn't have the shot I wanted.  Instead, I turned northwest to follow the bike path along Hwy 12 for a bit to reach Hwy 19.  This would take me to Indian Lake County Park.  When I got there I found the trees all still bare.  Since I didn't have any hiking gear I decided to take a few shots and continue on.  Across the street from Indian Lake County Park are the ruins of an old stone house.  I decided to give that a circle and get a few shots.  Then it was back to traveling west on Hwy 19 until County K.  I stayed on this for a bit until I reached Indian Trail.  I've only biked this road once, and from the other direction, so I decided to turn on that and head toward Martinsville.  This road turns into Martinsville Road and I had initially thought I'd get on going south, which would have connected back up to County K.  Instead I decided to travel into Martinsville, and ended up back on County P.  There I could have gone north and picked up the trail along Hwy 12, or south.  I decided south.  While I knew I would be able to pick up County K from riding on P, I decided instead to turn onto Kickaboo Road to ride past Epic System's Galactic Wind farm.  For some reason they were all stopped and the lower sun was causing the turbine blades to have very interesting shadows.  At first it looked like the blades were burned on one side but it was just a trick of the light.  Kickaboo road took me to Hwy 12 and there I picked up the trail heading south-southeast into Middleton.  A stop in downtown Middleton to order takeout and back home.
   Pictured is the Stone Farmstead Ruins next to Indian Lake County Park on Hwy 19.  I did a series of shots using a mixture of bracketing and my camera's build-in HDR.  I didn't like most of the HDR photos and have overall been less than impressed with the HDR fetcher of my camera.  I took in many of my shots to adjust contrast and saturation and liked the results.  There is an interesting mixture of soft natural lines (grass) and sharp manufactured lines (stone).  The sun was too bright for me to get much of a sky and I may look into a polarizer sooner than latter.