Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What do Chicago and a Venezuelan Beach have in Common?

 Chicago Street with Corn Cob
What do Chicago and a Venezuelan beach have in common?  They are both hanging on my walls.  This post is a continuing response to requests asking what photos I display in my home.
I printed both of these photographs on 36” x 24” canvas and have them hanging side by side.  I chose the combination because the subjects are completely unrelated, yet when placed side by side you see elements of one reflected in the other.
Sandscape on La Orchilla
We arrived at the beach in this photo, located on La Orchilla, early in the morning.  The beach was flat and smooth.  By the end of the day, the sand was churned up like a well plowed field.  As the sun neared the horizon later in the day, shadows were cast across the crests of the disturbed sand.
When I chose these photos, I saw the shadows in the sand reflecting the windows and shadows in the Chicago photograph and enjoyed the way that two completely dissimilar images complimented each other.
Have fun, and go make some great photography!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Street Cricket in Abu Dhabi

Cricket Final
Pretty much any evening you can walk along the parks of the Abu Dhabi Corniche and find impromptu cricket games much like you would find pickup basketball games at any park in the U.S.  However, this post is not about cricket; I am completely ill equipped to discuss or explain this impenetrable sport that can take up to five days to determine a victor.
Cricket untouched
In response to a number of requests, this post is about post processing.  I don’t intend this as a lesson in processing, just a general explanation of how I came to the final photograph and what thought process led to that conclusion.
The processing of this photo can be summarized as removing distractions to bring focus to the essence of the moment.
First, I cropped the image to remove distracting elements such as the lamp posts.  Next, I converted to black and white.  Because the shot was taken into the light, the colors are not strong and ultimately only serve to distract from the subject.  The balance of the adjustments included minor exposure correction, a curves adjustment for contrast, and a minor amount of sharpening.  All of the adjustments were done in Lightroom.
Have fun and go make some great photography.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What is Hanging on My Walls

New London Lighthouse BW
As a photographer, I am often asked “what photographs do you have hanging on your walls?”  Likewise when I visit the homes of other photographers, I am always curious to see their choices.
New London Marina - 1
I have a lot of my photography hanging on the walls and frequently themed in various parts.  Because of my first career in the US Coast Guard and my unrelenting need to be near or on the water, it will come as no surprise that I have a great deal of nautical, shoreline, and seascape photography.  The first photograph is New London Lighthouse in New London, CT.  The second is a view of a Marina on the Thames River on a foggy morning in New London, CT. 
On occasion, I will share more of what is hanging on my walls.  What is hanging on yours?
Have fun and go make some great photography?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Aerial Photography from Isla Margarita Venezuela

Fishing Village Isla Margarita
This post is inspired by my good friend John at Far Out Photographic.  Some time ago, I sent John some information I found regarding kite photography.  In essence the idea is to strap your camera to a kite (very scary) send it up in the air and take some shots from an uncommon perspective.  John’s latest post “Birdseye View, National Mall 2010” is a striking example of this form of photography.  John includes a number of links if you want to explore this yourself. 
So here is the ironic part – I sent John the information on kite photography and he acted on it.  I have yet to do the same.  Due to my inaction, I am making this post featuring a couple of my aerial shots…not taken from a kite.
Mata Siete Isla Magarita
These photographs were taken from a ultralight aircraft (wings with a lawnmower attached) flying over Isla Margarita, Venezuela.  Isla Margarita is an entertaining place I have enjoyed a number of times.  I hope you enjoy the photographs in equal proportion to my terror of the unnatural act of flying in a lawnmower with wings.
Have fun, and go make some great photography.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Photography Meditation

Running Shadow
Just last night I was reading a book when suddenly I realized I had no clue what I was reading.  I tried to remember what had occurred over the past few pages and drew a complete blank.  I knew I was looking at the words, but it seemed as though the words were making it through the optic nerve to some place in the brain where they were immediately rejected.
Bench in the Woods
After a moment of reflecting, I quickly concluded that although I was “reading” the book, I was thinking about something completely different and unrelated.  We have all had such experiences.  Have you ever missed your exit off the highway because you were mentally constructing a work list, anticipating the days events or wondering why a Twinkie has 28 ingredients with many ending in “-ides” and “-ates?”
Texaco - Abu Dhabi
So what does all this have to do with photography?  My photography relevant conclusion from the episode of thinking I was reading a book is simple; without stilling the mind and minimizing distractions, we are less available to studying and appreciating photography (or any other art form).
Memorial Day Southern Maryland - 1
For today, I will modify my routine closing and say…
Have fun, relax, and go enjoy some art.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Spring is Macro Season

Bee on Lylac Bush 2
Spring is a great time for macro photography.  Actually, any time is a good time, but with flowers budding and insects emerging from where ever they happen to go in the cold season, there are plenty of very interesting subjects (if the mosquitoes decide not to return to DC, I will not be disappointed).  I have not mentioned macro photography on the blog before mostly be cause I have a crap macro lens and have therefore not concentrated much on taking macro photography.  However, I have my eye on the new Canon EF 100m F2.8L IS USM Macro (for Sue – hint, hint…let me know if you need a link so all you need to do is press “buy”).  All the reviews I have read are very positive and suggest this lens also doubles as a very nice portrait lens.
So, what is macro photography?  Even if I did not provide a definition, I’m sure the photographs featured in this post give you a reasonably good general impression…macro photography is close up photography.  A more traditional (read geeky) definition is that the image projected on the sensor (or film) is roughly the same size as the subject.  By this second definition, the images shown here would likely be ruled out.  However, yet another definition commonly used would classify these shots as macro.  That definition says that an image can be considered macro if when printed at 6x4, the image of the subject is larger than the actual subject.
Crab on La Orchilla
Honestly, I don’t really care about the definitions.  Here is the important thing – each lens has a minimum focusing distance.  This distance ranges from nearly touching the front glass in the case of a macro lens, to meters with non macro, long focal length lenses.  So what does this mean?  It means that only certain lenses will allow you to take truly close-up photographs.  Many point and shoot digital cameras have a “macro” mode.  I have no idea what type of quality you would get from a point and shoot in macro mode, but if you don’t have a macro lens for your DSLR, why not give it a shot?
Pineapple Cactus Flowers
I hope you enjoyed this small sample of close-up photography.  Subjects are abundant during the spring, so…
Have fun and go make some great (macro) photography.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

More Wins on “The Best Camera”

A couple of weeks ago I went into the DC Superior Court to respond to a generous invitation for jury duty.  Nearly everyone I know receiving similarly gracious invitations has relaxed in the jury waiting room for a couple of hours, and are then dismissed.  Me? I get the distinct pleasure of being impaneled on the jury of a 2nd degree murder case.  The timing was horrible, but the entertainment value was top notch.  It was great theater! 
But better than reality show live entertainment is not the point of my story.  The relevance of jury duty to this blog entry is all the healthy amount of dead time during the jury selection process and the regular/lengthy breaks during the trial.  With all this time, I decided to clear my backlog of iPhone photos waiting for editing and submission to the web site “The Best Camera.”  If you want to see way too much of my iphone photography, go here.
With all this time on my hands, I rapidly worked through my queue of photos and submitted roughly 40 photos over the course of the week.  The two featured in this post were selected as “best of the hour.”  Honestly, I have no clue why.  I have much better iPhone photography…but I guess that is the point – on The Best Camera, you don’t get to vote for your own photography.
Stay tuned over the next couple of days; I hope to do a little rapid fire posting.
Have fun, and go make some great photography!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oh S#!/ - The Importance of Backing up Your Photographs

Band at Taste of Leonardtown-4
In previous blogs I talked about some workflow, process, and hardware suggestions to help protect your photographs.  I am so happy I follow my own advice!  Last week, my laptop crashed and burned.  There was not even sufficient life to show the blue screen of death.
Band at Taste of Leonardtown
Although completely inconvenient with respect to the cost and data restructuring necessary to get back to something like normal, I did not lose any photographs.  Of my recent photographs, they were located in four places.  One of the locations (the laptop) died, but three copies still exist.
Band at Taste of Leonardtown-2
I tell you this story in part to encourage you to devise a scheme to protect your photography (and other important data) from computer or hard drive failure.  There are lots of options, including online backup services and a variety of hardware solutions.  In fact there are so many options, it makes little sense for me to make a single recommendation (other than Drobo which I use and highly endorse).  The key is to have multiple copies and have them in more than one physical location (to protect against theft and more tragic events).
My second reason for telling the story is to excuse my lack of posts over the last couple of weeks.  Please accept my apology and a promise to make up for it.
Band at Taste of Leonardtown-5
The photographs featured in this post were taken in the fall of 2009 at the “Taste of Leonardtown” in Leonardtown Maryland.  The band was entertaining and provided good subjects for some photography.  My experience photographing musicians in action is generally limited to street musicians in Washington, New York and Chicago.  I quite enjoyed taking this photography and hope to have the opportunity to do more music related photography in the future.
Band at Taste of Leonardtown-3
Have fun and go make some great photography (then make multiple copies!).

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin

Tidal Basin Cherry Blossoms-2
I don’t have much time to write about it, but I wanted to quickly post these photographs of the cherry blossoms surrounding the tidal basin in Washington DC.  For the past two days I have competed with 100s (yes…really hundreds) of other photographers shooting at the tidal basin just before and after sunrise.
Tidal Basin Cherry Blossoms-4
The light at this time of day is fantastic and we were fortunate to have very light wind this morning.  Wind is a problem when shooting long exposure shots and the limbs/blossoms won’t cooperate and hold still.
Tidal Basin Cherry Blossoms-3
I have not finished processing these shots, but thought they were in sufficiently good condition to share them.
Tidal Basin Cherry Blossoms
Have fun and go make some great photography.