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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.