Springtime fun for everyone!

Hey all,
I have been super busy working the Carnival at my firehouse this week. The carnival started on Tuesday and runs through Memorial Day. The weather has been nice and we have been entertaining the community all week. When the sun was setting last night, I couldn’t help but grab my camera and snap a shot of the ferris wheel. Just after sunset the sky turned a deep blue making it a perfect backdrop for the shot…

The photographic landscape

Jenn & I spend a good deal of time working in the yard to keep it nice. It is our own little sanctuary in the mornings during the spring, summer & fall and the bonus is I can use it for a backdrop when photographing the family. While we were up at Todd & Aimee’s this weekend, I took some shots of the kids out in their backyard (previous post). Todd & Aimee have done a great job on their yard as well and it too is a great photographic backdrop. It almost looks like an outdoor studio that was designed for doing portraits. Some yards have it and some don’t. Todd & Aimee’s definitely has it. Here is a quick HDR shot just a small portion of the landscape…

Is it Monday already?!

This weekend kept us pretty busy to say the least. Friday night I was covering as the Officer on the Engine at my firehouse. Saturday we had a company drill which was scheduled to happen rain or shine. Saturday evening we were heading to the Kenny Chesney Concert at the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore (you can read about that on my wife’s blog here). Sunday we were off to Jenn’s brother’s house for a Mothers Day cookout. Talk about busy! With all of this going on, I still managed to snap some shots as the weekend just flew by.
Here are a few shots from the weekend…





Catching up…

Work is piling up leaving less time for play. It is already becoming difficult to sit down and write out an entry to keep everyone up to date. Nevertheless, here I am with the latest…
This past weekend I took a trip to PA to visit my parents. The weather was great so on Sunday morning I got the bug and needed to get out and snap a few shots. I got directions from my brother on one of the covered bridges in the area. It had been a long time since I wandered out to some of these places so I needed a refresher. After asking the boys if they were interested and getting that all too familiar look of – why would I want to go with you and take pictures of a bridge – My father, Jenn and I set out on our expedition.

We arrived at Knecht’s Bridge in about 25 minutes and I immediately got to work. The bridge is in phenomenal shape for something that was built in the 1800’s. The County obviously does a good job (if that’s who is responsible) with the upkeep. I shot the bridge from both sides, did some HDR captures nearly every time I set my tripod up and even took in a couple of Panoramics as seen here. The HDR stuff is a work in progress so give me some time on that. There are no trespassing signs all over the place marking the fields on both sides of the bridge. While we were there, we noticed a young man cutting the grass on a tractor in the field adjacent to the bridge. I figured he was related to the owner so I approached him and explained that I was there to get some pics of the bridge, kindly asking for permission to go out into the field past the signs. He obliged and even came down to open the gate for us, which is when I took the panoramic shots. All the while Jenn telling me to hurry up, because we didn’t want to keep him from his yard work. As it turns out, Michael worked for the owners taking care of the area while attending school at a local college. Many thanks to Michael for hooking us up! And for all of you photographers out there….it is always better to ask for permission instead of begging for forgiveness when it comes to trespassing on other someones land (not to mention it is a far better way to keep from being shot at).

On the way home, I needed to fill up my wife’s gas guzzling truck in preparation for the trip home. While driving through town I noticed an couple of old and rusty rail road cars sitting on the tracks. After getting gas we stopped by there to fill up the rest of the space on my memory cards. When I have some extra time, I will finish processing the rest of the shots and get some more posted. Until then…

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…