Share This Blog!!!

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I've been feeling a little un-motivated to do any serious photography lately. Last night I decided to change that. After looking at some of the work of my photography friends, I pulled out the lensbaby and played for awhile.

As with anything, sometimes my ideas come from random comments from my friends. My friend Nancy got a scanner. My friend John commented on some of the amazing scanner art out there these days. I have a scanner so I googled "scanner art" and found a lot of flowers. I really wasn't in the mood to photograph flowers (sometimes I am but not right now). But then I saw a shot of a slinky. It may actually not have been a scanner shot of a slinky. Hey, I have a slinky. A slinky needs to be shot with a macro lens. What is the minimum shooting distance of my macro lens (12 inches)? of my Nifty Fifty (18 inches)? of my Lensbaby (9 inches)? of my Lensbaby with macro attachments (2-3 inches)? Hmmmmm.

Click on the image to see it larger on your screen.

This shot is my slinky shot with my Lensbaby (no macro filter) - tweaked in Lightroom and Photoshop (Topaz Simplify filter and then the Filter Gallery in CS3). I absolutely love the color!!!

Happy New Year All!!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Getting Out There With New Toys

Thanksgiving Weekend. It is so easy to sit at home and gorge oneself on left over turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie ... OR ... get out there and shoot some images. My husband was otherwise occupied so I had an hour or two to get away to a local park ... Walney Pond. I've started coming here at all seasons. How the pond changes ...

Today I also had a new toy to play with ... my plastic Diana extra wide angle lens. The plastic Diana cameras were known for their dreamy effects. It didn't really know what to expect now that I could mount this "toy" lens to my DSLR. Now I know.
When I was last here - in summer - there were more people around ... fishing, walking, playing ... today, there were just a few and the park seemed so alone. This shot was taken with my 105 mm macro lens (though not a macro shot) since the toy lens is not for every shot - and then I processed it with Topaz Simplify for that "artsy" look.

See you soon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Creative Choices

Sometimes the creative choice comes in shooting the image. Sometimes it comes in processing the image. Sometimes it is about "what you see is what you get" - the literal image captured by your camera. And sometimes it is about using the tools to show your vision - however (and whenever) that vision hits you.

In yesterday's blog post, I opted to process the Dream for Sale image using a couple layers of Topaz Simplify to "art it up." After a comment by my son, Joe, a very creative artist in his own right, I looked at the image again and decided that I didn't really like what I had done at all. So it was back to the drawing board for a new take on "Dream for Sale." What do you think? This version is a little more literal - yet still with a slight dream like quality.

And here is the actual Dream that is for sale - an old roller rink:

Another creative choice that I love is the swoosh also know as the swipe. In this technique you pan your camera while depressing the shutter to get the essence of the colors of the scene. This is usually best done around sunrise or sunset to take advantage of the lower light so you can make a longer exposure (6th to an 8th of a second) so you don't blow out your image. This swoosh was made at the Snow Goose Pond at Chincoteague National Wildlife Area around sunset. The massive flocks of birds were not where we were but the colors called to be swooshed. And so I obliged them.

Finally, last creative choice for this blog entry. On my last couple of photo trips, I have fallen in love with my fisheye lens (the Nikon 10.5 mm). When I first got it, although I was excited about it, I wasn't feeling the love so much. But now I have found a use for it. Old falling down buildings take on an interesting persona via the fisheye. And when I combine the fisheye image with processing in Topaz Simplify to "art it up," I just love the results. This house/barn/whatever was along the main highway (Rt. 13 I think) heading down through the eastern shore of Virginia. I saw it and made a U turn so that I could stop and shoot it for a while. I wonder what people think as they see a lone photographer stalking abandoned buildings with a tripod.

I recently got the fisheye optic for my lensbaby - yet another creative choice. I have not figured out exactly how to best use this optic but I am having more fun with my lensbaby since I got The Composer version. Watch for lensbaby images coming to my blog sometime soon. Perhaps the next post even.

Dream for Sale

I went to the eastern shore area of Virginia this past weekend - to Chincoteague. I had a dream to find that perfect image. My dreams don't always come true. Sometimes the perfect image just isn't there. Sometimes the image that I thought was perfect, WASN'T ... and the image that I thought was not so good, WAS. Sometimes the dream is for sale ... or so the sign says. I saw this sign and the "Dream" that was for sale when I was driving into Chincoteague on Friday evening. I knew that I would stop on my way out. I processed this shot in Photoshop CS3 and filtered 2 layers using Topaz Simplify.

On Saturday afternoon when the light was high and harsh, it was hard to find ideal images. Perhaps we should have taken a nap. But we didn't. Instead we drove to the end of the island and found this dock ... among other things (watch for more of the "other" things coming soon). This image was a B&W conversion - thought it didn't need that much tweaking since it was close to B&W to begin with.

On my way home, I took a long detour via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. It is an amazing marvel. I also took this shot when the light was high and harsh. Sometimes these images work. Sometimes not. I think it worked this time. Interestingly, while I did a little processing in CS3 and Topaz Adjust, the color of this image was not changed. It just came out this way.

As always, click on any image in the blog to see it larger.

Well, watch the blog for more of my Chincoteague images. I shot over 800. Yikes, I could be at the computer a while.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin Pup

Pumpkin Pup, originally uploaded by Nadia McIlhany.

I was dying to photograph some fall colors so on Sunday, I went out with a friend and her 2 boys for some apple orchard fun. The apples were almost done but there was fun to be had in the pumpkin patch. This little guy thought so. He was so excited to have people come and pay attention to him. I barely got a shot of him - he just wouldn't stay still.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

City Stuff

While in NYC for work, I've had the chance to get some shooting done. This was the shot of my hotel, the Embassy Suites WTC, and the Irish Hunger Memorial, last night.

I took a walk before breakfast and starting work this morning. Although it wasn't raining during my walk, it had been raining earlier and the water droplets were on the overhang on the entrance to my hotel. I saw it and pulled at the camera for one last shot for the day.

I thought that it might also look good in B&W. Which do you like better?


I'm in NY for work and the Irish Hunger Memorial is across the street from my hotel. Here are some images that I captured yesterday morning and last night - before and after work. These were shot with my 50 mm f/1.8 lens - the "nifty fifty." I have one more day of my "Nifty Fifty" challenge and then I can change lenses. Hopefully I will have time for some more shooting while I'm here. This memorial is full of shooting possibilities so I will probably return.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Everything Old is New Again

To prove that I actually listen when I go on photo workshops, this week I went back to some images that I shot back in May and looked at them with a fresh eye. I shot these three images on an HDR workshop taught by my friend and mentor, John Barclay. I love going on workshops because I get to play with my friends and meet new friends - which I did on this particular workshop.

In on of my recent postings, I described HDR photography really badly. I will try to redeem myself in this post.

When we see - with our eyes - we see a wide range of light and dark areas of a scene. For instance, when we are inside a building, looking out a window, we see the inside of the window - the sill, the frame, the walls around it - and we also see the outside scene - the lovely rolling countryside. When we try to take a picture of that same scene, in our photos, we will see either the outside scene and the inside will be dark - all the details lost - OR we will see the inside scene and the outside seen will be "blown out" (too bright) - all the details lost. That is because while our eyes can see and process a range of exposures, our cameras can't. Of course not unless we do something special. That "special" technique is called HDR Photography or high dynamic range photography. When using this technique we take several shots of the same scene and blend them together in a photo processing software of some kind. We take shots where the darks are not too dark and show detail and we take shots where the brights are not too bright and show detail. And after blending them together, we have an image that is closer to what we saw with our eyes. This is what I have done in these shots. I have shot anywhere from 3-5 images, at different exposures, and have blended them together.

I also tweaked some color and contrast and "artified" the images using one of the Topaz plug-ins for Photoshop until I liked what I got - but that is the subject of another post.

The HDR technique is generally done with the camera on a tripod - although it can be done (more difficult) hand holding the camera. I used a tripod for these images.

Eastern State Penitentiary - the abandoned cells seem so forgotten!!!


I'm heading to NYC for work for several weeks. I don't know if I'll be able to shoot while I am there. Or if I am able to shoot, if I will be able to process any images in any meaningful way. We'll see.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New Lensbaby

My new Lensbaby Composer came yesterday. Much easier to use than my Lensbaby 3G but I still need to practice. Here are a few images shot from my front stoop. There is nothing special in the processing other than the mid-contrast pop with the Unsharp Mask filter (20-50-0). These were shot in manual mode at f2.0 - I think at 125th of a second.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


This blog post features images from my Eastern Shore workshop shot for and processed using HDR - High Dynamic Range. In this technique, you take multiple images of the same scene that each capture a different aspect of the exposure range in the scene and then you blend the images together ... and also play with some of the tones. OK, not such a great description of the technique. It is late and I want to get this posted before hitting the hay. I'll do better next time.

Click on any image to see it a little larger.

These first three images were taken at an old, falling down house. It is the perfect subject for HDR with a slight grunge look and some super color saturation.

I was feeling somewhat uninspired at this location until I pulled the fisheye out. Bingo - INSPIRATION!!!
This shot was taken at night. A challenge. I'm thinking that a dusk shot would be better. I guess that I have to head back to St. Michaels!!!

HDR can also be converted to B&W. This is one of my first attempts at a B&W HDR image. This shot was taken in the boat building shop at the Maritime Museum in St. Michaels.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More of the Shore - the Eastern Shore

Here are some more shots from my workshop on the Eastern Shore of Maryland last weekend. Remember, if you click any any of these images, you can view it in a larger size.

This first shot is from our first night shooting. It is an overlay - the phragmites (I love this new addition to my vocabulary) overlayed on a sunset shot of the piece of a boat on the shore. There was a whole boat there but I liked just shooting the corner - to make you wonder. This location was perfectly named - Sunset Beach.

From our second night shooting, this is a tryptic of the sky just after the sunset. I used a panning or "swoosh" technique on these three images. They were shot in Oxford, Maryland. We had the best homemade ice cream in Oxford - made my a Scotsman. I had strawberry and vanilla - some of the best I have ever had.

On our second and last morning, we left the motel promptly at 5:30 am so that we would not miss the early light at the Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland. To add to the educational aspect of this blog ... I shot this at ISO 200 for 30 sec at f16. My 18-200mm zoom lens was set at 18mm. Yes, I used a tripod.

Once the sun was up, there was beautiful golden morning light. My friend, Dorine, pointed out this bow on one of the boats located right behind where we were shooting the sunrise. What fun!!!

As we were heading home, we met some bikers at the gas station. It had been Bike Week in Ocean City, Maryland. One of the bikers had won this Tweety Bird in OC. He tried to give it away to me asking if I had any kids that might like it. While I'm sure that Joe would have liked it - or even the dog (he loves toys), I didn't want to deprive all the other drivers on the road of seeing Biker Tweety driving by. I'm sure that it made lots of people laugh or at least smile.

I have lots more photos to process so come back soon and see what else is new.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Beautiful Weekend

This past Friday through Sunday, I joined 10 other photographers in a workshop on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in and around St. Michaels. Here are some of my favorites - many more to process.

The grand scenes are lovely but sometimes you just need to notice the details - like a stack of crab baskets in the back of a pick up truck.

The sunset colors were beautiful but so were the soft weeds at the edge of the bay. I've been following my friend Barbara Kile and her flower texture images. I overlayed a shot of ripples in the sand under the water over this silhouette of some phragmites weeds against the colors of sunset.

I really like reflections - in water, in glass, anywhere. This first shot is close to sunset. The second is just after the sunrise.

Our tour leader, John Barclay, was good at noticing the details - like this spider web on between the dock and a boat at the Maritime Museum.

John was not the only one to notice the details. My friend, room/travelmate for the weekend, Dorine, shared some good finds (watch for another posting) and one my co-participants and new friend, Graham, shared some of his finds too. I ended up lying on my stomach balancing my camera on a plank so that I could shoot the links of a large iron chain with my macro lens. This was part of a boat restoration are at the Maritime Museum.

I used a variety of processing techniques on these images. John has got me loving Topaz Adjust and Topaz Simplify - hence the "artsy" look of some of these.

More will be coming in the next couple of weeks. Enjoy.

Little Hokie

Last weekend we went to the first home game of the Virginia Tech football season. This little girl was sitting behind me and I just couldn't resist shooting her (with a camera, of course).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sky Sky Sky

I'm getting ready for a photo workshop with one of my photography mentors - John Barclay - on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. So, I went back to look at some images that I shot on a workshop that I did with John earlier this year - in May - at Eastern State Penn in Philly. One image, that I didn't pay particular attention to back in May called to me tonight. I think that I was drawn to this one because of the sky. Lately the sky has been looking amazing - as it often does this time of year. I hope that there will be some amazing sky to shoot this weekend.
I tweaked this image a little with the Photoshop plug-in Topaz Adjust.
Watch on Sunday for some images from the Eastern Shore workshop.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Joe called to tell us that the moon looked really cool tonight so I grabbed the camera and tripod to see what I could see. I probably should have had a bigger lens on the camera - I had the 28-70 on there. This was shot at 70mm at ISO 1600, at f22 for 8 seconds. AT ISO 1600 it was a little grainy so I processed it in Topaz DeNoise and then for a little added kick in Topaz Adjust.

I don't really know much about shooting at night. It is still a little grainy. But an interesting first shot for the month of September. Hopefully it is just the start of a successful photography month.

We'll see.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Second Manassas or Second Bull Run - depending on who you are

My last August photo adventure was a trip to the Manassas Battlefield. This weekend marked the 147th anniversary of the Second Battle of Manassas (if you are a Southerner) or the Second Battle of Bull Run (if you are a Northerner). Civil war reinactors spent the weekend camping out at the Brawner Farm (southern part of the battlefield park) dressed in their woolies - yes, woolies in August!!! This morning I headed over there to shoot some morning images. I wanted to get there early for a few reasons - the morning light and the morning cool (well, the morning not so hot). I arrived at the camp at around 8 am and left around 9:30. Here are a few shots - processed appropriately ...

I first came upon the confederate camp - around the old Brawner Farm House.

They were finishing up breakfast and getting set up for the day.

I shot a few more images of this area but ... the farm house had window air conditioner units - how authentic is that?!!!

After spending a little time talking with some of the reinactors, I headed to the Union camp. They were finishing up their morning coffee and getting ready for the events of the day.

Next weekend we are off to Atlanta for some Hokie football and sightseeing fun. I'm not sure if I will be taking my big camera ... who am I kidding, of course I will be.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

New Car and New Car Salesman, Don

The photo seems to have been cut off - perhaps a glitch in publishing to the blog directly from Flickr. To see the whole image, click on the image. But read my witty banter first!!!

We picked up our new car today, a Red 2010 Toyota Prius. Here she is all shiny and new on the Koons Tysons Toyota lot. Charles disagrees and does not think that a car has a gender - and he doesn't think that "she" should have a name. I disagree. I suspect she will have quite the personality. I will wait to figure that out before naming her. ;)

This is our salesman Don Evans. He was a great salesman. What every car salesman should be. He was not pushy. He was helpful. We really liked him and would recommend him to anyone. An added plus (for Charles): he is a Jayhawk and was in the Air Force (Charles, in addition to being a Hokie, is also a Jayhawk, and his dad was in the Air Force).

This is a grab shot that I took. These events and the people that make a difference should be memorialized!!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

My Creative Spirit

Today, I went on a photo adventure to Glen Eco Park in Cabin John, Maryland. This "arts park" is a former chataqua and amusement park. The old amusement park buildings have an art deco style. But the park is also surrounded by woods. You enter the park by crossing over a wooden bridge over the Mineehaha Creek. Through the lush foilage, you see an old railroad bridge - perhaps this bridge brought people out to the park from downtown D.C.
One of the first things that you see as you enter the park is the Denzel Carousel. It wasn't open yet but the building itself is very colorful - especially with a little HDR processing. Although I had to move a few trash cans out of my shot.
There are lots of neon signs around the park. I am going to have to go back at night and catch the lights on. This is the sign for the main park entrance. I shot several versions of the sign from different angles. I was stuck by how quickly the sky was changing in the background. This shot is also an HDR image.
The sky was changing for good reason. Storms were moving in and out of the area. While shooting it started to rain so I took a break in the "Cuddle Up" pavilion to wait it out. While sitting there one of the park maintenance men, John, showed up to start power washing the concrete floor. The Cuddle Up pavilion is used for all kinds of activities from performances to art classes. John had these great yellow boots and was kind enough to pose for a portrait.
I'm going to have to head back to Glen Echo because there is lots to shoot there. Lots to feed my creative spirit.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

There is always something to shoot ... there is - REALLY!!!

While in New York for my parents' anniversary celebration, we stayed in the quaint harbor town of Port Jefferson. I had planned on getting up early on Sunday morning to catch that wonderful morning light on the harbor. Unfortunately, I got to bed way to late the night before - the party ran until 11 and I got lost getting back to the hotel - so early morning shooting was not to be. Instead it was some ZZZZZZZZZZZ's.

While packing the car to head out, we noticed "Giggles." I had to get a shot of a boat named "Giggles!"

Then I noticed this larger boat and its reflection. I didn't like the background of smoke stacks (even if they did have stripes - which you can't even see in this shot) but I always love water reflections so I shifted my camera and shot the reflection. Not the best that I've ever seen but I like it.

Moral of the story: there is always something to shoot - you just have to look for it (even if you only have a few minutes to shoot).