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A Day of Contrasts

Today has been a day of contrasts.

We shopped at Ralph’s in Palm Desert today, and yesterday we shopped at Jensen’s.  Jensen’s bills itself as “finest foods”.  I don’t know what Ralph’s says about itself.  At Jensen’s we walked through the door, and were greeted by no less than three people wanting to help us.  At the fruit counter, Gabriel cut open sample after sample of different pieces of fruit for us to try.  His excuse “I haven’t tried that one yet… let’s try it together”.  And as we left, two cashiers competed to have us line up at their counters.  At Ralph’s, I got a surly look for paying for the last $1.65 of my bill with change.  Yes, Jensen’s costs more.  But boy, do they work hard for it.

You could make a killing with Jensen’s service and Ralph’s prices.

We’re staying at the Marriott Desert Springs I.  We own timeshares, which let us trade from our “home” resort to wherever we would like.  Our “home”  is the Royal Sands in Cancun Mexico.  The Marriott is no hell, but it ain’t the Royal Sands.  In Mexico daily maid service, garbage removal, and pool side wait staff are common.  Here, it’s all serve yourself. 

People would flock to an American resort with Mexican service levels.

Folks in Palm Desert are not technology people.  It’s nice that the resort has free WiFi, but most people look at me like I belong in a movie when I whip out my blackberry.  I’ve used it a couple of times today, and it usually gets dismissed as “Oh yea, use your toy… but I’ve got a book here.”

OK, I live in the echo chamber. 

Perhaps the biggest contrast of the day was defined by the biggest single factor in everyone’s life here — the heat.  We got up early and headed to the living desert zoo, which is a fabulous place.  Following that we cruised up the “Palms to Pines Scenic Byway”. It was 102 degrees. At 5000 feet above the floor of the San Jacinto Canyon, the weather is 30 degrees cooler, and there are trees and vegetation everywhere.  We stopped at Hemet Lake, and the town of Idyllwild as well as numerous scenic vista’s along the way. Upon our return, at 6 PM, the temperature was 106 in Palm Desert.  It’s now fallen to a comparably comfortable 93.

Cahulla Tewanet

I am continuing to play with HDR photoraphy.  The photo above was taken at the Cahulla Tewanet lookout on the way up the mountain.  We’re in high Sonora Desert country.  This photo is a composite of 5 exposures, rendered as a TIFF, imported into Microsoft Picture It, and then retouched.  It shows greater dynamic range, and detail than the originals, but then, none of these photos was a great photo.

Perhaps that’s the biggest revelation for today.  To me, it seems that it’s only a matter of time before a camera vendor embeds multiple CCD/s, and HDR software into the body.  At that point, photography as we know it will completely change.

You can see my other pictures from today on:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/alecsaunders/

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Alec August 15, 2006, 6:29 am

    Absolutely.

    I am not using a tripod — forgot the darn thing — but I am perching the camera in different places, and then using the autobracketing feature, along with the timer to trigger it. Works OK, but it would be nicer to have the tripod.

  • Mark Levison August 15, 2006, 6:45 am

    Alec – There are lots of ways to increase the dynamic range. For instance Fuji's sensors are designed with high Dynamic range in mind – usually about 1 stop more than other camera's. However you end up with very contrasty pictures. With some notable exceptions I find that contrasty pictures just don't look right. Thats why professional photographers often start shooting early in the morning, take a break during the middle hours and only start shooting again in the late afternoon.

    Mark

  • MatthewS August 15, 2006, 9:58 am

    Hey Alec. I presume you are using a tripod to take the 5 or more exposures of the same picture, yes? Which brings me to my comment, the strength to your idea of a a camera with multiple CCD’s and HDR software embedded would be the ability to take *action* shots in this manner.

    It is the same kind of difference between the days of extra-ordinarily long exposures with a tiny hole being opened with a manual shutter and the days where you were able to change the size of your hole and the speed at which your shutter stays open.

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