May 29, 2009

Brazos Bend State Park #4

Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.  

This photo is a testimonial to that.  I was trying to take a photo of these two ducks who were in a heavily wooded area.  No matter what I did, I could not get a clear shot of them.  When I moved a few branches, it startled the ducks and off they flew.  But to my amazement, I turned and saw the two ducks landing on a stump that was about 80 feet from me.  I had a completely unobstructed view of them and a great background to boot!  I did not move my tripod, I merely turned my camera around and started firing.  I felt like Moose Peterson--I was firing away at like 1,000 frames per second!

I really like the earth tones in this scene and how the ducks are clearly separated from the background.   The background was far enough away so that even at f/9.5 (which made sure the ducks would be totally in focus), I got a very nice out-of-focus background.

Enjoy.

Camera settings:  Nikon D700, 300mm f/4 with 1.7x Nikon Teleconverter and polarizing filter attached, shot at ISO 200, f/9.5 and 1/90th of a second on a tripod.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast. Increased color saturation and hue for yellow and green.

Photoshop—used nik Color Efex Pro tonal contrast filter to add contrast to highlights, mid-tones and shallows, and added a boarder to the image and added boarder using a stroke and various layer style options. 

May 28, 2009

Brazos Bend State Park #3

On the far side of 40 Acre Lake, I found a place where the dragonflies were buzzing.  I watched them for while.  Finally, I spotted a place that had a perfect view of three different branches that dragonflies were using for perches.   I put my tripod in the center of the area and waited for my subjects to land.  I really like my shooting spot because I had unobstructed view of three different branches  where the dragonflies were landing and each had an extremely simple background of green moss.  The spot was also a great distance for the lens I was using--I could fill the frame with the dragonflies.

There was just enough wind that I had to use a relatively fast shutter speed to make sure that I got the dragonflies sharp.  Luckily, I had lost of sunshine, which I needed since I was shooting at f/16 with a polarizing filter on the front of my lens.

Today’s image is about the dragonfly's form and the simple complementary colors—orange, red and green.

Enjoy.

Camera settings:  Nikon D700, 300mm f/4 with 1.7x Nikon Teleconverter and polarizing filter attached, shot at ISO 200, f/16 and 1/250th of a second on a tripod.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast and tweaked the hue and saturation of red, orange and green.

Photoshop—used nik Color Efex Pro tonal contrast filter on the dragonfly and the branch to increase the local contrast of the highlights, mid-tones and shadow areas and then added a boarder using onOne Photoframe.

May 27, 2009

Brazos Bend State Park #2

The contrast of colors was what drew me to this scene.  The greens and browns of the background and water versus the blues and reds of the bird is what makes this photo for me.  For some reason, when I posted the image and then previewed it, the browns have a slightly greener cast than my original RAW file, so try to image it without that cast.

I put my tripod as low as it would go (I was laying on my belly--constantly watching for alligators) so that I would be shooting straight-on at the bird’s eye—I wanted to make sure I would capture any catch-light in the bird’s eyes.  I then yelled "action" and this little guy started swimming straight at me.  It is great to work with "first rate" talent like this guy!

Enjoy.

Camera settings:  Nikon D700, 300mm f/4 with 1.7x Nikon Teleconverter and polarizing filter attached, shot at ISO 200, f/16 and 1/60th of a second on a tripod.


Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast and darkened brown and greens in scene.

Photoshop—cloned-out blown-out highlights and used nik Color Efex Pro tonal contrast filter only on the bird to bring out as much detail as possible in his feathers. 

May 26, 2009

Brazos Bend State Park #1

A few weeks ago, Bay Area Photo Club had a field trip to Brazos Bend State Park.  I really enjoy photographing wildlife in the park, but could not attend the field trip because I had baseball duty that day.

Last week, I had an afternoon portrait shoot at a stable near Alvin.  Since Alvin is relatively close to the park, I called one of my friends who resides just south of Alvin.  Jeff is a devout “birdie” so I knew he would be willing to go.  We agreed to have a very early breakfast in Alvin and then head to the park.  We would have been first in line (had there been a line) when the park opened.  The weather was great, cool without a cloud in the sky.

Based upon the photos that I saw from the field trip, I thought that I would get a few good shots of alligators, especially some baby ones.  Although I tried very hard, I got no alligator shots that I would be willing to share with anyone.  It’s sad when I get better photos of birds than, well, than anything.

My basic set-up for all my shots was:  Nikon D700 with Nikon 300mm F/4 with a Nikon 1.7x Teleconverter and polarizing filter attached and shot from a tripod.

Today’s image was my last shot of the day, or should I say last shots of the day since the image is an HDR.  Looking at the leaf, I was struck by the three very different colors that I was seeing—the red of the leaf, the green of the Spanish moss on the left side and the brown of the branches on the right side.  I thought that the light made a very ordinary scene into something unusual.  I tried various exposures but was not able to capture the full range of light that I was seeing, so I took five shots at 1 EV intervals.

Over the next couple weeks, I will be posting shots of birds and dragonflies that I took at the park. 

Enjoy.

Camera settings:  Nikon D700, 300mm f/4 with 1.7x Nikon Teleconverter and polarizing filter attached, shot at ISO 200, f/16 and 1/45th, 1/90th, 1/180th, 1/350th and 1/750th of a second on a tripod.

Post Processing:

Photomatix—Combined the five images into a HDR photo.  

May 25, 2009

Remember

Today, I will depart from normal practice.  No information about the photos.  I just want to present an image that, to me, represents what this day should be to all Americans.



Have a good Memorial Day.

May 22, 2009

Kim

A few weeks ago, I was taking portrait photographs of Kim’s older sister at a local park.  While her sister was changing, I noticed Kim setting the edge of a fountain.  I really like her expression, the simple background and the color combination.  I took 4 or 5 shots.  This one is by far my favorite.

Enjoy.

Camera settings:  Nikon D3, 70-200mm f/2.8 at 200mm, shot at ISO 200, f/2.8 and 1/750th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, increased saturation of magenta and cyan.

May 21, 2009

Mr. Sourpuss—NOT!

I was downtown Houston doing a little street photography at a charity run/walk with one of my friends when I heard:  “You want a pretty face to photograph?”  I turned around and there was Gus smiling at me.  I introduced myself and we chatted for a few minutes.  I found Gus to be about as warm a person as you could ever meet.

I took a few shots and then I told him to give me his “Mr. Sourpuss look.”  This is his Mr. Sourpuss look!

I wanted the photo to be all about Gus’ expression.  I thought about converting it to black and white, but for some reason that really did not work for me.  My final image uses a black and white layer at 35% opacity to de-saturate the colors.

Enjoy.

Camera settings:  Nikon F3, 70-200mm f/2.8 at 200mm, shot at ISO 800, f/11 and 1/250th of a second with flash at -2.0EV and pointed between Gus and the tree.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast.

Photoshop—used nik Silver Efex Pro to convert to black and white and combined with base layer at 35% opacity to de-saturate the colors. 

May 20, 2009

Friendswood Car Show #5

Just as I was leaving the car show, a great storm rolled-in over the park.  The sky turned dark, except for flashes of lightning.  At that exact moment, a green Lamborghini rolled out of the park and headed towards the storm.  I quickly moved my camera to my eye and fired as many shots as I could before the Lamborghini roared off into the storm.

OK, that is the story that I wished was attached to this photo.  The real story is that I had a non-descript photo of a cool car.  I shot the photo low so that I could get the shapes of the Lamborghini.   I really did not care whether people would be able to determine that it was a car--I wanted the shapes.  

I replaced the background with one from my files and then ran a few filters on the car and the background to try to give the whole photo a surreal look.

Enjoy.

Camera settings:  Nikon D700, 28-70mm f/11 at 60mm, shot at ISO 200, f/11 and 1/180th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, increased saturation of green.

Photoshop—Replaced background with the sky with lightning and then ran Kubuto’s Lord of Rings filter and increased the overall contrast on the car. 

May 19, 2009

Friendswood Car Show #4

Nothing says “classic car” better than a 1957 Chevy BelAir, especially a red one with a white top.

I wanted this photo to be slightly abstracted, so I selected f/2.8 as my f-stop and focused my lens as close to the Chevy symbol as I could.  I wanted only the Chevy symbol to be in focus.  I would have liked to had my 50mm f/1.4 to use on this one, but it was home resting.

Enjoy.

Camera settings:  Nikon D700, 28-70mm f/2.8 at 70mm, shot at ISO 200, f/2.8 and 1/1,000th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, vibrance and darken the red in selective color.

May 18, 2009

Friendswood Car Show #3

Since I was looking for details to photograph, the dice were a natural subject.  As I was trying to get just the right composition, I noticed the reflection of the flags.  I really like the additional element that the flags added to the photo, but, it did complicate my composition somewhat.  I tried a lot of different looks, however, I settled on placing the dice on one of the power points and having the lines of the trunk move you towards them.

To make sure that I had really saturated colors, I set my exposure compensation to -1.0 EV.

Enjoy.

Camera settings:  Nikon D700, 28-70mm f/2.8 at 62mm, shot at ISO 200, f/13 and 1/180th of a second with exposure compensation of -1.0 EV.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, clarity.

Photoshop—used onOne Photo Tools Kuboto Lord of Rings and Hollywood Intensity filters to add an edgy look to the photo.

May 15, 2009

Friendswood Car Show #2

This is not the photo I wanted of this hot rod.  The owner of the car was meticulously detailing the engine with a q-tip.  Yes, I said a q-tip.  I wanted the photo to be about his hand, the q-tip and the details of the car’s engine.  But, every time I started to take the photo, he would stop.  Finally, I asked him:  “Why?”   His response was to the point:  “Everyone already thinks I am a little crazy, a photo with me detailing my engine with a q-tip would only confirm that.”

The the photo I present today is not the one that I wanted.  You will just have to image a hand and a q-tip busy cleaning all the cracks in the engine.

Enjoy.

Camera settings:  Nikon D700, 28-70mm f/2.8 at 50mm, shot at ISO 200, f/13 and 1/125th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, clarity and vibrance, increased saturation of yellow.

Photoshop—used nik Color Efex Pro Tonal Contrast filter to add local contrast to highlights, mid-tones and shadows and then applied sharpening using the high pass filter method in soft light mode.

May 14, 2009

Friendswood Car Show #1

I am just not a car guy.  I never have been, probably never will be.  I see cars as way to get from point A to point B.  Now, don’t get me wrong; I am not going to drive a Smart Car—in my opinion, that may be the greatest oxymoron ever!  I do like my comfort and I just do not see comfort and Smart Car being used in the same sentence very often.

I went to the Friendswood car show because I have a friend that loves cars and often shows a few of his restored cars in small car shows.  He decided to show a 1964 red and white Corvette in the show.  So, I agreed to tag along and take a few photos of his car and some of his friends.

Photographing the cars was very hard—poor backgrounds (buildings, trees, people, just lots of clutter everywhere), cars parked right next to each other, light being filtered through trees, thus casting shadows here and there.  In short, not a photographer’s dream set-up.

I decided that I would not try to photograph the whole car; rather, I would concentrate on the details.

What says Ferrari more than red?  In fact do you know of another car that has a color named after it like "Ferrari Red."  I wanted this photo to be all about all the details that are in the headlights.  As I looked at the headlight, I was somewhat amazed at how many different things were included in “just” a light.

Enjoy.

Camera settings:  Nikon D700, 28-70mm f/2.8 at 65mm, shot at ISO 200, f/13 and 1/180th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast.

Photoshop—used nik Color Efex Pro Tonal Contrast filter to add local contrast to highlights, mid-tone and shadow areas of just the light area and then sharpened image using the high pass filter method in soft light mode.

May 13, 2009

At the Ole Ball Park #3

OK, be honest.  Can you see this young man staring in his own, personal version of “Animal House”?  Remember you saw the next John Belushi on this website first!

He was totally involved with his nachos--nothing else mattered.  After all, does it get any better than nachos, your buds and the ballpark?

I wanted this photo to be all about his jesters—the open left hand, the right hand to the face and of course the cheese around the mouth.  At first, I did not like the hot dog in the background and even thought about removing it, but then I decided that it added to the whole “Animal House” appearance.

Enjoy.

Camera settings:  Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 at 120mm, shot at ISO 800, f/3.3 and 1/250th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, clarity and vibrance.

May 12, 2009

At the Ole Ball Park #2

If this photo does not bring a smile to your face, well, then I am just not sure about you.  Every time I see this boy, I smile.  He seems to have a real zest for life.  He truly enjoys himself.

All I wanted to do with this shot is make sure I captured his happiness and joy.  I wanted the background to be a nice bokeh that had movement but no real detail--I think the chained-link fence does a really good job of this.

I would have liked the chained-link fence to have extended past his head, but I did not have time to reposition myself--the moment was more important than a uniform background.

Enjoy.

Camera settings:  Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 at 200mm, shot at ISO 800, f/5.6 and 1/180th of a second.

Post Processing:  Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, clarity and vibrance.

May 11, 2009

At the Ole Ball Park #1

Last week, my grandson had a game on Friday and then on Monday.  I am the “official photographer” for his team, so missing either game was not an option.  Normally, I spend all my time photographing the action, or sometimes, with six-year-old boys, the lack of action and focus, i.e., the picking of daisies in the outfield.

I decided before Friday’s game that I would spend at least some of the time at the game, photographing the brothers and sisters of the players.  I wanted the shots to be candid shots using only available light and I wanted to make sure that I got down “eye-level” with my subjects—which can be a task for a 60+ year-old. 

My first shot is a little sister who is just now starting to get around—always with her trusty blanket.  She has blue eyes that some day will melt a few hearts.  Because her skin is so fair, I wanted the photograph to be a slightly “high-key” image, so I overexposed the image by about 1.0 EV.

Enjoy.

Camera settings:  Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 at 180mm, shot at ISO 800, f/2.8 and 1/750th of a second.

Post Processing:  Lightroom—Set white point, added mid-tone contrast, clarity and vibrance.