Spring is here!

I think we are all happy to say that spring is upon us. With the cold weather behind and the promise of summer not too far off, I have already been out looking for good floral subjects to frame up and shoot. Two out of the three following images were taken on bright sunny days, using a portrait umbrella to diffuse the light.
I made a few minor adjustments to the images to help bring out the colors.  Each image was made with a Nikon N8008 and captured on Fuji Chrome Velvia. Images were scanned with a Nikon Coolscan 4000ED film scanner.

Enjoy the spring!

Full Moon Photography

One technique I experimented with was using the full moon as a light source. I went through countless rolls Fujichrome Velvia trying to come up with the right formula. Once I figured it out, I started going out to some of the nearby castles in the middle of the night. I would hike out to a spot and anxiously setup my tripod. The first problem I remember encountering is not being able to see through the viewfinder under such dark conditions. It would take about 30 minutes for my eyes to adjust enough to allow me to see well enough to compose the shot. Using the moon gives a surreal effect to your images. Reciprocity failure comes into play and can also give you some interesting effects. This shot of Dunnottar Castle is one of the few I was able to get that was usable.
Exposure data: Nikon N8008, 35mm lens, 20 min @ F/8, Fuji Chrome Velvia.

One of my favorite spots in the world…

This shot of Dunnottar Castle is focused on just a small portion of this huge castle in ruins. I’m not certain of the last time it was actually occupied but I imagine it has been hundreds of years. The castle sits on a pillar of land and It appears that at one time in history the platform may have been surrounded by water making it the perfect fortress. Present day, you have to take a long walk down to the beach and another long walk back up to the entrance.
One of the things I learned early on was that when you have a great location for photography, you have to visit it as often as you can. During the 4 years I lived in Scotland, I made many trips to some of my favorite spots, this being at the top of the list. I would go during the day, night, afternoon, when it rained or snowed. During the summer weekends I would hit the road early to get to some locations for sunrise. If you have ever lived in the UK, you know that to catch the sunrise in July or August, you need to get up REALLY early. I don’t know the exact time when the sun was cresting over the horizon but I would imagine it was somewhere around 4:30am. Its hard to describe what it is like to be the only soul there, on the edge of a cliff, overlooking such an impressive fortress with the sun rising behind it…

The wider view…

I have been playing around with Panoramic Photography for awhile now. The first couple times I was trying to paste stuff together on my own in Photoshop. That was version 7 I believe. At some point in the CS series (I can’t remember if it was CS or CS2) a new filter called Photomerge was introduced. With each version it has gotten better and better at stitching photos together for you. I have always lived by the tripod so getting clear images was never a problem. The bigger issue was always getting a series of photos that were easy to put together. This shot is from about a year ago. I was on the roof of a building where my work has their Corporate Offices. I was there while the sun was setting and this great warm side lighting was bathing all of the buildings in Baltimore. It took some work to put it all together and get rid of the seams and blend the sky. I took about 14 frames and cropped out the stuff I didn’t want in the end.

Our time at the beach

Last summer we took a trip to Avon, N.C. on the Outter Banks. We rented a beautiful house that is owned by our good friends Laura and Mark. The boys, Jenn, myself and some other friends took a week and relaxed at the beach. The first time we were there was back in August of 2005. I had just lost two very close friends and needed to get away from everything for awhile. Mark & Laura invited us down and we had a great time. I can’t thank them enough for those few days that summer. It was exactly what I needed.
I got up very early for the sunrise on a number of days. The solitude of the pre-dawn beach is overwhelming. The sky was just amazing with color for about 30 min before the sun broke the horizon. I stayed there for about an hour getting various shots of the area and also took the images to make this panoramic view of the beach. The only downside to being out there at this hour was the sand flies. They were viscous and everywhere. In fact they were so bad I didn’t even change my lens for fear that they would go inside the camera.

Click on the image to see the larger version…

First shot…

It took awhile to decide which picture I wanted to put up on here first. Anyone who knows me, is surely aware of how critical I am of my own work. Regardless, I have finally made a decision. I went back a few years on this one and decided to put up one from my early days of photography. Of course, I have cleaned it up removing dust from when I scanned it in. This was originally a 6x7cm transparency that was scanned in with a Microtek Artixscan 160tf. Nothing added or taken away. Just adjusted contrast to correct the scanned image.
This is a silhouette of Edzell Castle in Scotland. I took this picture one evening with my 2 year old son Derek in tow. It was cold out – probably 35-40 degrees and Derek kept asking me when we were going home. Once I composed the shot, I let him look through the lens of my Pentax 6×7 which bought me a few extra minutes out there. Click on the picture to view a larger image.

Image info: Pentax 6×7, 45mm lens, Manfrotto tripod, Fujichrome Velvia. Exposure, 1/30 sec @ f16.

Hope you enjoy…