April 30, 2010

A Photo of April to End April

Meet April.  I met her last week when I was trying some new things while doing some street photography—just for the record, my experiment did not work, maybe next time.
April was totally engrossed in her balloon.  She had no idea that I was photographing her.  Her attention was absolutely fixed on that big blue balloon. It was great to watch.
Three things attracted me to April and her balloon—her angelic face, the contrasting cool colors of green and blue versus the warm oranges from her face, and her total concentration on her prize.  I wanted the photo to be primarily about the glow of her face.
Camera settings:  Nikon D3, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 shot at 155mm, ISO 200, f/4 and 1/350th of a second.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom—Set black and white points, added clarity and increased contrast, and adjusted hue and saturation of green, red, yellow and orange, and added vignette.
Photoshop—Used high-pass filter method to sharpen April’s face and hair.

April 27, 2010

New Arrivals to JD’s Garden

Another sign that spring is here and summer is on its way—more and more butterflies in JD’s garden.  I have no idea what kind of butterfly this one is, other than a pretty one that was willing to let me take several shots of him (her). 
I wanted the photo to be totally about the butterfly so I combined two photos one shot at f/2.8 for the background and another shot at f/13 for the butterfly.
Camera settings:  Nikon D3, Nikon 105mm f/2.8 shot at ISO 200, f/2.8 and f/13 and 1/1000th and 1/60th of a second, respectively.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom—Set black and white points and adjusted hue of green.
Photoshop—combined two photos using layers and auto-align feature and then applied a mask to isolate the butterfly from the background.

April 23, 2010

Rock and Roll Antiques

As I was walking down the street in Chapel Hill, I noticed this old building.  I cannot say for sure whether I was attracted to the building because of the great old textures or the sign—Rock and Roll Antiques.  I do know that when I read the sign I wanted to find out more about the name.  Unfortunately, the shop was closed so I was not able to find the genesis of the name.  I am sure there is a really good story, but I do not know it.
I wanted to the photo to be totally about the weathered look of the building.  I shot the building from an angle so that the photo would include the old signs, the tin roof and the weathered wood.
Camera settings:  Nikon D3x, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 shot at ISO 100, f/9.5 and 1/30th of a second.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom—Set black and white points and adjusted the color balance of green, yellow, red and orange.
Photoshop—used nik Adjust to enhance details of the buildings and then added a black and white layer (created using nik Silver Efex Pro) at 40% opacity and finally sharpened the building using the high pass filter method. 

April 20, 2010

Dateline: Thursday, April 15, 2009, Friendswood, TX

On the morning in question, I wondered down the stairs where two envelopes were laying on the table. One envelope contained my tax return and a check; the other envelope contained an even bigger check for my first quarter estimated income tax payment. I had my morning coffee and stared at the two envelopes. After my morning coffee, I headed to the post office to mail the envelopes.

JD and I had decided a few weeks back that we would attend one of the Tea Party rallies on April 15th. But, I must admit, I was a little nervous about going to a rally where a bunch of red neck, homophobic, bigoted, anti-American people were assembling. The New York Times told me that was the kind of people that I would meet at one of these Tea Party rallies.
I decided to take a few shots of this angry mob and maybe pick up a some bucks when I sold the shots to the New York Times. Following is what I got—including one of their attack dogs.

April 16, 2010

Another Texas Wildflower Image

Today, I post another of the photos that I took while viewing the wildflowers with the boss.

I truly like the combination of barbwire fences, dirt roads and Texas wildflowers. I saw this road out of the corner of my eye as we were driving on a small FM road. Unfortunately, I passed it and had to do one of my famous “bat” turns to get back to it.

As I was looking at the scene, I must admit there was one thing about the scene that bothered me—the road and flowers led the eye to a, a, a tree? And, a not too interesting tree at that! The photo had a lot of interesting elements, but, well it lacks a pay-off.

Luckily, after I finished my original shot, I saw a small boy and his dog walking towards me. Oh, just what the photo needed. A little human element. And believe it or not, I did not have to do any retouching on either the boy or the dog. Don’t you think the boy and his dog really adds to the impact of the image. It pays to be lucky!


Camera settings: Nikon D3x, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 at 35mm with a polarizing filter attached shot at ISO 100, f/8 and 1/125th of a second on a tripod.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set black and white points on both images used.

Photoshop—used Topaz Adjust Photo Pop to enhance the detail in the flowers and road.

April 13, 2010

Texas Wildflowers

JD and I usually head up to the Brenham area every year to see the wildflowers. JD’s rule is simple: use any camera equipment that I want, as long as I can hold everything I bring in one hand. Needless to say, this trip is not an all-out photography trip. We made our annual trip this last week.

I primarily used the trip to scout for Bay Area Photo Club’s upcoming trip to the area which I plan on attending.

Today’s photo is all about colors—blue, green and yellow. As I took the photo, I knew that I wanted this to be a panorama and make the three elements of the photo—flowers, trees and sky—each be approximately 1/3rd of the image.


Camera settings: Nikon D3x, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 at 28mm shot at ISO 200, f/11 and 1/90th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set black and white points and cropped image.

Photoshop—used Topaz Adjust Photo Pop present to bring out details in the scene.

April 9, 2010

Honesty, Humility and Hard-Working

No photo today.

On Tuesday, I went to a memorial service for Dan Duncan. I have known Dan since 1982 when I became the audit partner for his company. Dan was first a client, then a friend and finally a very close and dear friend.

Most people do not know who Dan Duncan was (and Dan liked it that way); and, most of those who know who he was, only think of him as a man who Forbes listed as one of the richest men in America and/or a man who has generously given millions to various charities. For those of us who knew him well, we knew that he was an exceptional human being.

During the memorial service, the pastor said he had talked to many of Dan’s friends and business acquaintances and from their stories, he derived three characteristics of Mr. Dan Duncan: honesty, humility and hard working. As I looked around the jam-packed church, I saw most of the people nodding their heads in agreement. I think those three words very accurately describe how I saw Dan conduct himself day in and day out.

Dan grew-up outside of Center, Texas. His mother and brother died before Dan’s tenth birthday. His father left him to search out work around the country. His grandmother and aunt raised Dan in a small, two-room house with no indoor plumbing. Yet, I remember when asked by a news reporter if he was poor growing-up, Dan replied: “we didn’t have a car, or even many clothes, but, no one else had those things, so, no I do not think I grew up poor.”

At the memorial service, I saw people like the governor, our US Senators, many US Representatives, state politicians, CEOs, and the top socialites from all of Texas. But, more importantly, I saw many of the men who worked in his company’s plants. These men were wearing their “best” going-to-church clothes, including their favorite dress cowboy boots. I know that Dan would have been happy that these men showed up to see him off.

The world has been better off because God gave us Dan Duncan. I will miss you, Dan.

April 6, 2010

A Little BBQ Action

I was down in Angleton with a friend last week and we went to a BBQ place out in the middle of nowhere. The cook was a most interesting guy. After talking to him for a while, he agreed to be photograph. I took several photos of him but this was my favorite because of his friend in the background. He was heckling everyone in the place.


Camera settings: Nikon D3, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 at 100mm shot at ISO 1,600, f/8 and 1/90th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set black and white points.

Photoshop—used nik Color Efex Pro tonal contrast filter to add a little contrast to the subject’s clothing.

April 2, 2010

Spring Flower #4—Viloating Barry’s Rule

Today, I violate Barry Armer’s flower-blogging rule: “Only three flowers in a row.” Sorry, Barry.

After reading some of the comments from Tuesday’s blog, I changed my blog to address some of the comments that I received about my thought process. Now, here, I must say that according to Mrs. Patrick, I usually have little to no thought process—it is above my pay grade.

What am I thinking before I take a photograph? Well, it depends. But, in general, I am usually thinking about what drew me to the subject to begin with. Usually, what draws me to a subject is contrast (color, texture, etc), lighting, and just sheer impact of the subject matter. I find it easier to more-or-less “go with the flow.”

As example, in today’s photograph, I was drawn to the scene because of the color and the contrast between the softness of the azaleas and the hardness of the bricks and stone. As I studied the scene more closely, I knew that I wanted the filter light falling on the rock wall to be part of my image. But, I had a problem: there was more light falling on the wall than on the flowers, and the flowers had to be properly exposed. Solution: a little flash action. I directed a Nikon SB800 with a snoot to the group of flowers and another Nikon SB800 with a snoot to the single flower. I need the flashes to properly expose the flowers but I did not want any of the light spilling onto the wall.

I composed the image so that the wall acted as a leading line to the flowers and the light on the wall provided a little different color spectrum.


Camera settings: Nikon D3, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 at 200mm shot at ISO 200, f/11 and 1/30th of a second (which was about 1-1/2 f-stops underexposed) with two Nikon SB800s with snoots pointed at flowers.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set black and white points, adjusted hue and saturation of various colors and added some mid-tone contrast to photo.

Photoshop—cloned out a few distracting elements in the foreground and around a few of the blooms.