Slacker !!!

WOW!!! Could I be any more of a slacker?  I haven’t posted any pics in a very long time.  Well the truth of the matter is that I was abducted by aliens and have been flying around the galaxy.  I’m home safe and sound now.  But I miss outer space.  It’s so much cooler out there.  Yes it is dark and lonely but 0% humidity and less than 100 degrees is just awesome.  Well it’s kinda cold when it’s less than 100 degrees BELOW zero celsius.  Actually I haven’t really taken any pictures since the aircraft carrier and I’ve been too lazy to look for ones I haven’t posted.  Did I mention I was a slacker?

I have been checking out all the new DSLRs that have come out over the last few months.  I am really torn between the 5D Mark3, D800E, 1Dx and the D4.  All awesome cameras and a wide range of cash required for each.  I have a Canon Rebel T2i and a couple lenses but I have shot with a lot of Nikon gear and enjoy Nikons too. Hmmm, decisions, decisions.  Maybe Santa will leave one for me in my stocking 🙂

Take care all, and please check out all my pretty pictures and leave me comments. I promise to respond.  I am NOT a responder slacker.

Mike

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Air Craft Carrier Air Craft

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A few weeks ago I was able to spend some time on the Aircraft Carrier USS Bush. I went down to Norfolk with our Boy Scout troop and toured a few ships, saw a few of the aircraft and got to eat and spend the night on the carrier.  We had a retired 2 star admiral in our group that set the whole thing up for us but I believe the Navy will make special accomodations for any Boy Scout troop. I took a few close up shots of some of the aircraft that are stationed with the carrier.  Here are a few of the shots.

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I thought the propellers on this plane were very unusual but looked really cool under the big disc that is used for communications.

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This is a F-18. It was also very cool and the best part was that you could walk right up to it and touch it. Now imagine being seated in this bad boy going Mach 2. Now that would be a dream of mine.

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Here’s the F-18 again with the sun right behind it.  That how youo lose the enemy, youu fly right into the sun.

And here’s the best part of all these photos.  They were edited with the New Photoshop CS6 Beta.  Starting in camera raw and finishing in Photoshop.

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Steamy Tree

Here’s an oldy but a goody.  I shot this image a few years ago from my kitchen window.  Yup! An another exotic location shot for me.  It was early in the morning and I  was getting some coffee. I looked out the window and saw the most bizarre thing.  My tree looked like it was on fire, like there was smoke coming off it.  I thought to myself what the heck?  I didn’t really care what the specifics were I just thought it was really cool looking.  So I grabbed my camera and took a few shots.

So the way the steam was coming off the tree was this.  It had rained a lot the day before and the tree was thoroughly soaked. Over night it went down below freezing and everything was nice and frosty.  When the sun rose up and finally hit this tree it was warm and started to quickly melt the frost and thus the steam began to rise.

Now I have looked at this image many times over the years but have never liked the results that I got using Photoshop. That is until recently.  I used Camera Raw to try and tweak the image to the way I remember it.  This time I was able to bring down the highlights of the steam and still keep the detail in the bark while enhancing the back ground.  I shot this image in the early days of digital with a Nikon D1x. The Camera Raw controls are so much better now.  I guess my point to all this is go back and take a look at some old images and try processing them with today’s technology.  I think you will pleasantly surprised.

Posted in Fall Color, Landscape, Photoshop Tip, Sunrise | Leave a comment

Tangled Mess

 

This is one Tangled Mess.  But very beautiful. A simple shot from my driveway into my backyard.  I came home one day and the sun was glistening on the wet trees. At first I thought that it was ice that had formed on the trees. And that’s what made me stop and look.  It wasn’t cold enough for ice to be on the trees.  Had it snowed at home while I was at work? Possible since I work about 30 miles south from home.  But not likely.  So I quickly ran inside and grabbed my camera to run back out.  I hadn’t really even looked at the picture until today.  The other part that I really love about this shot is the way the branches on the trees on the left side are so curly.  I hadn’t noticed that before but I really like it.  I hope you enjoy it too !

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Happy New Year’s Eve !!!

   I figured that I’d post something now since in a few hours I will be having a wild party at my house with gallons of alcohol being consumed.  Not really. Just a nice quiet night with the family.  We’ll eat lot’s of cheese and crackers with smoked meats.  Watch a movie or two and then watch the Times Square crystal ball drop.  Wooo – Hooo!

   So what’s my New Year’s resolution? Hmmm let me think about that one for a moment…  Well I’d like to get healthy by loosing some weight and exercising a little more just like everyone else.  I’d also like to go out on more photo trips.  I think I only had three small trips this year.  One was to shoot the Super Moon and that was fun but I’d like to do a lot more.  So for the coming year let’s shoot for shooting six trips.  That sounds reasonable.

   Well I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday.  See ya next year.

Mike

Posted in Alaska, Ansel Adams, Architecture, Beach, Clouds, Fall Color, Fireworks, Flowers, Food, Glacier, Hawaii, Landscape, Lego, Lightning, Moon, Night Time, Photography Tip, Photoshop, Photoshop Tip, Snow, Sunrise, Sunset, Uncategorized, Water, Wildlife | Leave a comment

High ISO is a Good Thing…

   Hey everybody,  I hope you all are nice and fat from all the Holiday gorgings.  I know I am.  Well today I decided to talk about one of my all time favorite pluses of Digital Cameras.  HIGH ISO.  Didn’t it used to be called ASA?  I think so.  Anyhow back in the days of film you would have to change to a different roll of film if the light changed enough to effect your needed exposures.  But today you simply put your camera on Automatic ISO or change it manually.  I prefer to change it manually so I can control how much grain shows up in my pictures.  Nothing worse than getting a grainy image and wondering why your aperture was at f32.

   So back in November I was in Disney World with my Canon Rebel T2i.  Now usually I don’t care what your camera settings are or what kind of camera you have but in this case the type of sensor you have is very important. Since some cameras work better at higher ISOs than others. Well during this trip I found out exactly how good my little Canon really is.  There were many rides in the parks that were very dark and your little point and shoot would have left you with either extremely grainy or very dark pictures or both. So what I did was set my ISO to 6400 and and slow shutter speed, usually a  1/30th and do a lot of panning as I rode through the different rides. As you can see from my three examples here, I got some great shots.  The one of Epcot was set at 1600 but the other two were 6400 and they were all hand held.

   This is one area in new cameras that is just going to get better and better.  I  think the megapixel wars are over because nobody wants or needs to store 100 megabyte images and they tend to really slow things down unless you have the newest fastest computer of the day.  Canon’s new 1 Dx can push it’s ISO up to 204,000.  That’s like having a night vision scope attached to your camera. It’s crazy. What would the high water mark be if it was razor sharp and grain free at that setting? One million? Unbelievable!!!

   The other thing that camera manufacturers will most certainly work on is the dynamic range of the sensors.  I  also think that soon HDR will be a thing of the past because the sensors will already have 32 or 64 or 128 bit depths.  ISO 102,000, 64bit and 100 megapixel.  All in a 35mm body.  Ansel would be drooling at that prospect and probably testing the prototype.

So without any further delays, here are three pics that show how good the Canon Rebel T2i’s sensor is.  So go ahead and Crank it Up!!!

Epcot Center ISO 1600

Lion King Show ISO 6400Universe of Energy ride ISO 6400

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A New Milestone…

   Well it had to happen sooner or later.  When you become a slacker in your posting then nobody comes around.  Which makes me wonder if anybody is going to read this post.  The other day, actually two days in a row, I had no visits to my blog.  How sad is that?  I guess even my family is not impressed anymore with my photographic skills.  Well maybe they are still impressed with my photography just not my blogging skills.  That proves that no matter how good your craft is, you need to constantly post something, anything.  So once again I will promise to do better and write and post pictures more frequently.  So for now since I don’t have any pictures ready I’ll just say this.  I hope everyone has a very happy holiday season.

Mike

Posted in Alaska, Ansel Adams, Architecture, Beach, Clouds, Fall Color, Fireworks, Flowers, Food, Glacier, Hawaii, Landscape, Lego, Lightning, Moon, Night Time, Photography Tip, Photoshop, Photoshop Tip, Snow, Sunrise, Sunset, Uncategorized, Water, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Disney Architecture

   I love architecture.  As a matter of fact I wanted to be an architect when I was about 13.  I even took an architectual drawing class back in high school. In one year you had to produce a set of blue prints that could be used to build a house.  I got an A in that class. But sadly to move on to the next class you needed advanced math that I didn’t have.  So I did the next best thing.  I learned to love photographing architecture.  All kinds really.  That’s why if you are ever in Disney World you should keep an eye on all the amazing buildings they have in the parks.  This first shot is from the country of Morocco in Epcot. I thought it would look good with a little Faux HDR processing.

   The next picture is the great ball from EPCOT center.  I shot this at night, handheld with my ISO cranked up to 6400.  It looks amazingly good for such a high ISO.  Next time I will try to take a tripod.

   The last picture is from the Disney Hollywood Studios main gate when you first walk in.  The blue skies looked so nice against the red letters in the title.

Years ago when I was in college we took a trip to EPCOT for a photo safari. I just carried my Canon AE-1 and some kodachrome film so Ii could be mobile.  A few of the hard core photo students brought their 4×5 view cameras. As soon as they started to set up people would instantly gather to see what the man under the black cloth was doing.  Boy you sure don’t see that very often today. Mmmm,  good times.

Posted in Architecture, Clouds, Night Time, Photography Tip | Leave a comment

Maximum HDR

 

   HDR is a process of creating images that have a High Dynamic Range beyond what your camera is capable of capturing with one exposure.  Some people love it and some people love it.  I think of it as another tool in a photographers tool box.  Well if you would like to try this technique and you are looking for a good place to try you need to go here.

    This is the Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World.  It is really a beautiful place.  Incredile detail but extremely dark.  Low lighting with lots of dark wood.  A photographers nightmare if you don’t use HDR. Oh yeh and then there’s the Florida sun.  It’s really bright!!!  So when the sun is streaming through the widows your highlights and shadows are on opposite ends of the exposure scale.  I used my T2i to shoot this and it allows me to take three shots automatically. 2 stops under, normal and 2 stops over.  I probably could have gone with two more exposures of 4 under and 4 over but I didn’t have a tri-pod with me and that makes alignment very iffy. 

   So this is the shot I came up with after running the exposures through Photoshop CS4.  No other HDR software was used.  Oh by the way I had a nice time at Disney and will post more pics as I get time to process them. 

   So this was just a quick teaser.  Enjoy

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Wet Trees

   Well it’s another cold, wet, windy weekend here in Northern Virginia.  Didn’t I just post about that kind of weather on the PhotoWalk?  Well, yes I did.  You would think that we are living in an area like Seattle, or Hilo or Ketchikan where lots of rain is normal.  Well in the last two months I think we’ve gotten more rain than the rest of the year combined.  Well when you are walking around Washington DC trying to take pictures of the grey monuments grey weather doesn’t help to much.  But it’s great for enhancing the fall colors of the trees.

   The one great advantage that I like about the rain is how it makes the bark of the trees really dark.  Black even.  That makes the contrast of the leaf colors just go POP!!!  The images here are not enhaced very much.  Just enough to enable my vision.  As I was shooting these earlier today I kept looking at my camera preview and thinking “what the heck am I doing wrong?”  So I adjusted my exposure a little here and a little there.  The images got darker but still didn’t look like what my eyes were seeing.

   The color balance was the biggest issue with my camera settings.  I was shooting raw so it was an easy fix.  I usually set my white balance to Auto and then use camera raw to adjust.  I have been color printing for 27 years so for me a quick color adjustment is easy.  So this is just a quick tip on how to take an “Ugly” day and make a pretty picture.  Hope you enjoy it!

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