Nov 202012

On Saturday, Mary asked me to take her to an old church she’d spotted a couple of weeks back when she went to Annapolis with Lisa and Katy. It seemed interesting so we planned to get there just before sunset. Unfortunately, since I was still recovering from a cold, I can’t really say my creative mojo was in full swing. Still, I grabbed a few shots of the brick work to add to my texture library and then decided to shoot a couple of HDR panoramas. Below is the what I think is the better of the two vantage points I shot from.

I’m still really hit and miss with HDR. I had to do a lot of touch ups and when I look at the full size image at 100% there are still a few details here and there that bug me, but overall I think this shot is….okay.

 Posted by at 12:57 am
Jan 052012

Between work, cold weather, and the new XBox 360, I haven’t been shooting much lately. However, I did have a little time yesterday afternoon. I happened to have some time to kill while driving down Clinton Highway when I decided to see what photographic opportunities this old building would present. The photos below were some of the first I shot. The building and foreground are an HDR sequence and the sky is from the middle exposure. I processed the color one first then converted to black and white in Lightroom. I kind of like the black and white one better but the artist in the family (Katy) prefers the color.

This angle was really intended to just be a warm-up shot. I started working my way around the left side of the building working on closer shots of just parts of the building, but after a few minutes of shooting, I wasn’t warming up. I was getting COLD! I packed up and retreated to the warmth of car.

I’d appreciate any comments or constructive criticism and I’d particularly like to know if you prefer the color or B&W version.

 Posted by at 12:56 am
Nov 112011

Hey! How did eight days go by without me posting a photo? It seems like it was just a couple of days ago. Well, to make up for it, I’m going to post 3. I actually shot these a few days back but just now got around to processing them.

Click for larger size

I saw this tree from the road the day before as I was coming home from taking Katy to school. That was the same morning I went and shot at the railroad crossing that I mentioned in the last post. Fortunately, the day I shot this was another beautiful, still morning and there were actually some interesting clouds in the sky. I had to walk to the back of a very large field to get close to this tree. I started out with a wider shot, but when reviewing them in Lightroom, I felt that the wide shots minimized the impact of the tree too much. This is actually an HDR image though it probably could have been done in one shot if the middle exposure had been about a half stop brighter. I used several of Topaz’s products both to reduce noise in the sky and to make the tree pop. I also brightened the tree a little because I remember thinking it was almost glowing with the morning sun hitting it at such a low angle and the file coming out of Photomatix was a little flat.

Click for larger size

After shooting various compositions of the whole tree, I moved in to do some macro work on the dew covered leaves. The one on top is Katy’s favorite and the one below is my favorite. Neither of us can really say why we picked the one we did. It’s an art thing, I guess.

Click for larger size

 Posted by at 12:50 am
May 232011

Although you wouldn’t know it from the lack of posts, I have been taking photos. Not as often as I’d like and I haven’t liked a lot of what I’ve shot, but I have been doing some. I’ve also been spending some of my free time learning more about using Photoshop so that’s impacted my photographic output as well. However, I do finally have some new things to post.

The shot above is of the pipe organ at the University of Tennessee. Although I’ve been told on many occasions, I’ve once again forgotten the name of the building. However, this was the building that Lisa’s vet school graduation ceremony was held in. (My wife is a doctor now. I can retire, right?) This is a handheld HDR shot processed with Photoshop CS5’s Merge To HDR Pro. I didn’t NOT like any of the presets that Photomatix came up with even as a starting point but Photoshop gave me a nice photorealistic look that I didn’t have to tweak much to get it the way I liked. Besides HDR processing, I did some other tweaking here and there and then did quite a bit of perspective correction since I was shooting up at the organ. I think it’s kind of neat how the lighting in the building kind of provided a natural vignette around the center of the organ.

I was going to post a couple of pictures from last Saturday’s class field trip, but I think I’ll save those for tomorrow.

 Posted by at 10:46 pm
Dec 312010

So here it is. The last day of 2010. I wanted to post one final photo for this year and also lay out some photographic goals for 2011. First, I’ll talk about the photo. Click on the photo to see it full size.

My daughter, Mary, did some pet setting for a friend of hers just before Christmas. Across the street from their apartment was a building with a lot of graffiti on it. On the last morning, I brought my camera along and took some shots of the graffiti on the wall that faces the apartment. Then I went around to corner to the back of the building and found a really large piece along with a couple of empty paint cans that were left behind by the artists. I got down low and pretty close to the paint cans to make them the subject. If it hadn’t been so cold that morning, I would have tried taking a few more shots working my way closer to the cans in each one. My fingers were starting to get stiff even with gloves on, though, so I shot two 3-shot HDR brackets with slightly different exposure settings and got back into the warm truck.

The only relatively tricky post-processing on this shot was the removal of some power lines and the correction of halo effects along the edge of the building created by the HDR processing. I cranked the clarity settings up pretty high for the dramatic sky effects and to emphasize the texture in the walls.

Now for my photography goals for 2011. Here they are in no particular order.

  • Finish the UT Photography certificate. I can actually do this any time now. I just need to apply for it.
  • Work on portraits. I’m taking a portraiture class at UT in a couple of months so that will be a good start on achieving that goal. I also need to figure out how to work on this outside of a classroom setting and with people other than my family. I’ll probably have to stick with environmental portraits in most situations but the most important thing right now is getting experience working with people.
  • Work on self portraits. Once I get some experience with portraits in general, I want to work on self portraits. What will make achieving this goal difficult isn’t the photography, but in figuring out how I want to present myself in the image. Self portraits bring a double whammy of being your own worst critic artistically and also never being entirely happy with your looks.
  • Invest in speedlights. I feel like to take my photos to the next level, one of the things I need to start getting experience with is multi-light setups. I’m planning on starting off with 2 more mid-level speedlights and some type of radio triggers. While I would love to have the RadioPoppers PX system or the new PocketWizards for Nikon, I’ll probably go with the lower cost RadioPoppers JrX system. I will also need to invest in some softboxes and other light modifiers. Other than classes and possibly a new tripod and ball head, this will be where the money will be spent this year.
  • Come up self-assignments/themes/projects. I actually need to do this pretty soon if I want to have plenty of time to work on them this year. A lot of what I’ve been doing is opportunistic photography. With the exception of going out to the UT Gardens to shoot flowers and plants, I tend to just walk around and see what jumps out at me as interesting or aesthetically pleasing. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I think going out with a specific goal in mind will force me to search my surroundings with more deliberation and discover the shot that others might miss.
  • Enter the Knox County Fair. I should have entered this year and even had one print ready to go and others ready to send to MPix for printing and mounting. For a variety of reasons, though, I kept putting it off until it was too late to enter. I won’t let that happen again this year.