December 25, 2012

Paris—No 6


MERRY CHRISTMAS from the Patrick Family!

Galaeries Lafayette, Paris, France.

December 18, 2012

Paris—No 5

 
When people talk about things that are “over the top,” I think of Palace of Versailles, which is about twelve miles outside of Paris and an easy train ride.  
The court of Versailles was the center of political power in France from 1682, when Louis XIV moved from Paris, until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in October 1789 after the beginning of the French Revolution.  Versailles is therefore famous not only as a building, but as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy of the Ancient Regime.
According to one of the write-ups within the Versailles, at its high point, to run and maintain this palace, it took about 20% of all the taxes collected by the French government—now that is living in style.
Today’s photo is of the hall of mirrors.  I manually focused my camera about one third of the way into the scene and then held it over my head and clicked away.  My main concern was keeping the camera level.
Enjoy.



Camera settings:  Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5~5.6 at 28mm, ISO 1600, f/8 at 1/60th of a second. 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 4—applied Vivid preset during import, set white and black points, increased shadows and decreased highlights and added vibrance and clarity.

December 14, 2012

Paris—No 4


There are certain places in the world that no matter how good cameras get, they will no be able to capture the beauty of the scene. La Sainte-Chapelle is one of those places.
The chapel is located on Ile de la Cite and was the royal chapel for King Louis IX.  The chapel is considered among the greatest Gothic architectures.
Every time I have visited the La Sainte-Chapelle, some part of it has been under restoration; therefore, a photo of the entire chapel would include some not-so-picturesque scaffolding.  In addition, the chapel is dark but because light streaming through the stained glass windows has a high dynamic range of light—again complicating the photo taking process. 
My Paris trip allowed me to use my Nikon D800 much more than I have ever used it.  I was quite surprised and happy with two elements of the camera:  (1) its ability to produce clean photos at much higher ISOs than the Nikon D3x; and (2) a very large dynamic range of the sensor—overall, probably a stop or two more than the Nikon D3.
My post processing included some work in Photoshop CS5 because I wanted to bring out the details and Lighroom would did not produce the results that I wanted.
Enjoy.
Camera settings:  Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5~5.6 at 28mm, ISO 2500, f/3.5 at 1/15th of a second (braced against some scaffolding).
Post Processing:
Lightroom 4—applied Standard preset during import, set white and black points, increased shadows and decreased highlights and added vibrance and clarity.
Photoshop CS5—applied nik Color Efex Pro Detail Extractor and Tonal Contrast filters and sharpened photo using high pass filter method with blending mode set to overlay.

December 4, 2012

Paris—No 3

 

In my first post, I mentioned that museums were one of my favorite things about Paris.  If you go to Paris, I recommend that you get the museum pass that is for specified number of days and allows you to get into more than 60 different museums in and around Paris.  Great way to see a lot of the museums of Paris.
I do not consider today’s photo as a great photo—it may not even be a good one.  But, it is one that I really like—for some reason!
 The photo was taken inside Musse D’Orsay.  The museum is the home of some of the best Impressionist paintings—probably my favorite school of painting.  Musse D’Orsay building was a terminal for the railways of southwestern France until 1939.  It became obsolete because of longer trains.  The architecture is great.  There are two large clocks that looks-out over the city.  I first thought that I would wait for the people to clear the room but as I stood there, I began to think that the people really added to the scene.  I wished that I could have used flash, but photographs are not allowed within the museum (even though you see everyone taking photos with their point-and-shoots) and I did not want to risk having security kick me out!
I could not decide whether I like this better in color or black and white, so I included both in this post.
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5~5.6 at 28mm, ISO 320, f/8 at 60th of a second. 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 4—applied Standard preset during import, set white and black points, increased shadows and decreased highlights and added vibrance and clarity.

November 30, 2012

Paris—No 2

We stayed in small hotel in the 6th Arrondissement.  Our hotel was about three blocks from Jardin du Luxmbourg.  About three doors down from our hotel was Le Timbre, a sixteen-seat restaurant that severs great country French cuisine.   We ate there twice and enjoyed both of the meals.



JD ordered a terrine the second time we ate at Le Timbre.  It was the best terrine that I have ever eaten.  We were seated right next to the kitchen, which was separated from our table by a simple bar.  I told the chef (also the owner) that the terrine was the best that I had ever eaten and would love to have the receipt.
About ten minutes after my request, he placed the receipt on our table.  Of course I thanked him for the receipt but really did not look at it very closely.  I decided to make the terrine for Thanksgiving so when I took it out and began to study it I noticed couple things—first, the receipt was a combination of English and French and second, all the measurements were in Metric/Celsius.  Thanks to JD, the translation was relatively easy and thanks to converters on my iPad, the conversion was also relatively simple.
The terrine?  It came out GREAT!
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5~5.6 at 62mm, ISO 2200, f/4.8 at 160th of a second.
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 4—applied Standard preset during import, set white and black points and added vibrance and clarity.

November 27, 2012

Paris—No 1

 
More-or-less on the spur of the moment, JD and I recently visited Paris for a week.  Before I retired, I would often go to Paris on business but have not been back since I retired.
I love Paris.  There are so many great things there—great food, great wine, wonderful museums, fabulous walking and a certain excitement everywhere you go.
This time, Paris seemed tired.  The people seemed to have lost their great love of life.  They seemed to be just going through the motions.
Today’s photo is of one of Paris' great icons—the Eiffel Tower at sundown taken from the Esplanade du Trocadero. 
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5~5.6 at 70mm, ISO 1600, f/11 at 1/2 of a seconds on a tripod 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 4—applied Vivid preset during import, set white and black points and increased overall vibrance and added clarity to the Eiffel Tower using the adjustment brush.

November 16, 2012

New York City before Sandy—Part 5



Lights!  Action!  New York City!
Walking along 8th Avenue and 42nd Street, I came across this scene.  To me, it says:  New York City at night.   In the photo, I wanted it to be totally about the bright lights and the dynamic movement.
Again, here is hoping that all of you affected by Hurricane Sandy get back to normal as soon as possible.
Enjoy.
Camera settings:  Nikon D4, 28-300mm f/3.5~5.6 at 70mm, ISO 1600, f/8 at 1/90th of a seconds.
Post Processing:
Lightroom 4—applied Standard preset during import, set white and black points and added vibrance and added clarity to make the photo look similar to an HDR photo and used manual lens correction to adjust the distortion of the buildings.

November 13, 2012

New York City before Sandy—Part 4



Today’s photo is another one taken in New York City’s Times Square.  It is one of JD’s favorite photos from our trip this year.
You are probably asking yourself:  “why are all of these people setting in Times Square?”  Well, every year the opening opera of the New York Metropolitan Opera is projected on screens in Times Square.  You can see four screens in the photo, but I counted sixteen screens that were showing the opera.
What do I like about the photo?  For sure, it is the intensity of the viewers watching the screens.  They are totally into the performance.
Enjoy.
Camera settings:  Nikon D4, 28-300mm f/3.5~5.6 at 70mm, ISO 3200, f/5.6 at 1/90th of a seconds.
Post Processing:
Lightroom 4—applied Standard preset during import, set white and black points and added vibrance and added clarity to make the photo look similar to an HDR photo.

November 9, 2012

New York City before Sandy—Part 3


What do you think about when you think about New York City? 
Lots of people often default into thinking about “the bright lights of Times Square.”  Now, Times Square is not one of my favorite places in New York City, yet I do believe that it does illustrate what is New York City—for better or worse.
Here is a photograph of a clown that was walking around the area.  Immediately upon me raising my camera to my eye, he broke into this pose.  I like the photo because it is a typical scene that you will see in Times Square.
Enjoy.
Camera settings:  Nikon D3, 28-300mm f/3.5~5.6 at 70mm, ISO 1600, f/5.6 at 1/30th of a seconds.
Post Processing:
Lightroom 4—applied Standard preset during import, set white and black points and added vibrance and added clarity.

November 6, 2012

New York City before Sandy—Part 2



Again, looking over photographs of New York City that I took over the past two years, this one struck me as “typical NYC.”
Today’s photo shows the main reading room of the public library.  When I worked in Deloitte’s executive office during the mid-1970s, I would often walk across the street and spend my lunch hour reading in this room.  It is a beautiful room and always full of people.
Enjoy.
Camera settings:  Nikon D4, 28-300mm f/3.5~5.6 at 28mm, ISO 1600, f/3.5 at 1/30th of a seconds with camera braced on top of bookcase.
Post Processing:
Lightroom 4—applied Standard preset during import, set white,  black points and added vibrance and added clarity, sharpness and contrast to lower portion of photo with an adjustment brush to bring out detail.

November 2, 2012

New York City before Sandy—Part 1


I have been looking at many photographs of New York City after Hurricane Sandy hit.  Both in 2011 and 2012, I spent a week in New York City.  It is almost spooky looking at the streets of New York without any people in the scene.  It’s just not New York City.
When I think of New York City, I think hustle and bustle, people hurrying here and there, and, of course, strange scenes just about everywhere you look.
When you look at today’s photo, you just got to think:  “what does a New York Police officer think of this unpaid advertising?”
Our prayers go out to everyone affected by Hurricane Sandy.  Those of us who live on the Gulf Coast know what you are going-through.
Enjoy.
Camera settings:  Nikon D3, 28-300mm f/3.5~5.6 at 120mm, ISO 800, f/5.6 at 1/500th of a seconds.
Post Processing:
Lightroom 4—applied Standard preset during import, set white and black points and added vibrance and clarity.

October 31, 2012

Importance of Color Combinations

 

This is a photo I took right after I received my Nikon D800.  I wanted to see how much detail that I could get from my new camera.  And, as I found out, more than enough!
The details in the flower are great, but to me, what makes this shot is the color combination of deep green background (which fades nicely into the background) versus the strong, vibrant purple and magenta of the flower (which brings the flower to the front of the image).
Color combinations are very important and I think that many of us photographers do not pay enough attention to it; and then, we are surprised when we see how well good color combination work.  So, what’s the moral to this story:  pay attention to different colors you have within your frame and try to work with color combinations that go together—usually, colors on opposite sides of the color wheel help bring-out each other.
Enjoy.
Camera settings:  Nikon D800, 85mm f/1.4, ISO 100, f/11 at 1/20th of a second on a tripod with Elinchrom Quadra flash with large softbox to left of camera.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom 4—applied Landscape preset during import, set white and black points, added vibrance, adjusted hue of greens and increased the saturation of purple and magenta and added clarity and vibrance to flower with adjustment brush.

October 30, 2012

Photos that All Photographers Must Take—But Why?


I was looking through photographs taken by serious photographers on a website a couple weeks ago and all of sudden, it struck me that there are photographs that are “standards” that all photographers seemed compelled to take.  Today’s photo is one of them—a male peacock with its tail spread.
When I see a photo like this one, I usually think:  “same ole, same ole.”  Yet, when I was presented with the opportunity to photograph this peacock I took over 70 frames of this peacock.
Why?  I have no idea.  Is my photo any better than the thousands that I have seen before.  Not really.  So why did I spend so much time taking and retaking photos of the subject?
I have no idea!
Enjoy.


Camera settings:  Nikon D4, 24-70mm f/2.8, ISO 200, f/8 at 1/500th of a seconds.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom 4—applied Landscape preset during import, set white and black points and added clarity and vibrance.

October 26, 2012

Trying Different Things

 
Last week I was at my Cole’s baseball game and I saw a mother photographing one of the players (I assume it was her son that she was photographing) through the fence.  You can see the fence in the background; it is your normal chain-link fence.  I immediately thought:  “Doesn’t she know that the fence grades will show-up in her frame?”  Then, I thought:  “That might make for a most interesting special effect.”
So, I then proceeded to copy her.  I probably shot 100 or so images through the fence.  I was using my trusty Nikon 28-300mm and I was racked out to 300mm for most of the shots.  Additionally, I really wanted to isolate on the batter so I usually shot at or near a wide-open aperture, f/5.6 to f/6.3.

Image my surprise when I opened the images in Lightroom and I saw none of the fence in the image.  Rather, I had a good isolated image of the batter.  The first photo is a full frame of the shot and the second image is a 100% crop of that image.
The point of today’s post is not to shoot through fences at sporting events, rather, it is to try different things—you never really know what you are going to get
Enjoy.
Camera settings:  Nikon D4, 28-300mm f/3.5~3\5.6, ISO 1000, f/6.3 at 1/750th of a seconds.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom 4—applied Portrait preset during import, set white and black points and increased contrast, clarity and vibrance.

October 23, 2012

Nicole—Part 4

 
Hopefully, today’s photo will help restore part of my damaged reputation due to my last posting.
In today’s photo, there are two big changes from last weeks post:  (1) I reoriented Nicole’s position so that I shot down the surf line thus picking up the little color that was in the sky (note that most of the color is to Nicole's left yet I did not want to move more to her right because that would have made more of the beach area show with its many distracting elements); and, (2) Nicole’s pose had more attitude and more connection with the camera.  To me, the second change is the really big one because I do not think you can have a successful portrait of anyone without them engaging your camera.  Compare the two photos.  To me, last weeks was just a snapshot of what Nicole looks like; today's photo makes you think about who she is and what she is thinking when she stares down the camera.
I wanted to balance the flash with the ambient light, so I increased the ISO to 800 and reduced the shutter speed to 1/20 of a second.  Because of the slow shutter speed, I had to sit in the water and brace my camera on my knees.   I had Doug position the flash above and to Nicole’s left.  In addition, we aimed the flash above Nicole’s head so that the light would be very soft on Nicole and not be on the water.
This is more what I wanted but still not up to Joe’s photo.
Enjoy.
Camera settings:  Nikon D4, 24-70mm f/2.8, ISO 800, f/9.5 at 1/20th of a seconds with an Elinchrom Quadra flash with a large octa softbox above and to the left of camera.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom 4—applied Portrait preset during import, set white and black points and adjusted the luminance and saturation of the colors in the sky.
Photoshop CS5—applied nik Color Efex Pro glamour glow filter to Nicole and dodged and burned various parts of the photo.

October 19, 2012

Nicole—Part 3


As I said in Nicole—Part 1, our original purpose of this shoot was to rip-off Joe McNally’s photograph of a woman playing a saxophone on a beach at sunset.  I forgot to say that I think this is a great photo, especially when in comes to mixing ambient and flash exposures.
We started our shoot just as Joe did—having Nicole in the water with the ocean and sky in the background.  Unfortunately, I did not recognize that our backdrop was not the same.  We did not have the sun setting behind Nicole and we did not have the rich colors in the sky behind.  Yet, we still set-up the shot as it was.
Overall, the light on Nicole is nice, but the photo as a whole does not work. Nicole is properly exposed but the background is under-exposed by about an f-stop.   There is no pop to the photo.  There is no compelling composition to make you study the photo.  And, finally, it lacks gesture.
I show today’s photo to show where we started so that you can better see how the session evolved.   
Enjoy.
Camera settings:  Nikon D4, 85mm f/1.4, ISO 200, f/6.7 at 1/60th of a seconds with an Elincrhom Quadra flash on a pole above and to the camera’s left.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom 4—applied Portrait preset during import, set white and black points and then applied various Lightroom presets to the original picture.

October 16, 2012

Nicole—Part 2




Last week I met with some of my professional photographer friends over dinner to discuss and review each other’s work.  We meet five or six times a year.  Usually the discussions revolve around each other’s work, but last week, it was more about an article that Dale had read about how technology is taking the art out of photography.  The article was published in a French magazine (and in French), so there was no way that yours truly would have known about it or been able to read it.
The group was all over the map regarding whether they agreed or disagreed with the premise of the article.  Sometimes they even disagreed with themselves—which I always find amusing because I do that with myself, quite often!
The whole discussion got me thinking about how I view images.  To me, images that come from a camera fall into three main camps:  snapshot, pictures and photographs.  To me, a snapshot is the result of raising the camera and pushing the shutter without any conscious thought or intent for the image; a picture results when the photographer looks at the subject and tries to capture it in a way that helps the viewer see what the photographer is seeing by using composition and focus to help direct the viewer; and finally, a photograph, to me, results when the photographer instills the image either an emotional or an intellectual aspects into the image—it moves the viewer beyond the idea that the image is a “nice photo.”  A photograph makes the viewer do something other than just “look at the image.”
Now, what does all of this have to do with Nicole?  Well, last week’s photo of Nicole is a picture.  I think it is sharp, its composition directs the attention to her, but it does not ask anything of the viewer.  It is a good historical representation of what I was seeing—provided I tilted my head!
In today’s images, I simply applied various Lightroom presets to virtual copies of last week’s picture.  By simply pushing a button, I think the picture was transformed into something that takes the viewer out of his/her comfort zone and asked them to think about what they are seeing.  Is enough to make the picture into a photograph?  And, by merely, pressing a single button have I validated the author’s premise?
You decide.
Enjoy.
Camera settings:  Nikon D4, 85mm f/1.4, ISO 200, f/2.8 at 1/2000th of a seconds.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom 4—applied Portrait preset during import, set white and black points and then applied various Lightroom presets to the original picture.

October 12, 2012

Nicole—Part 1

 
In August, the Three Amigos (Steve, Doug and I) ventured to beaches on Galveston Island to photograph Nicole who is a real trooper.  The idea that Steve and I originally had for the shoot was to rip-off a photograph that Joe McNally did of a female saxophone player in the surf at sunset.  You can see the video here.
Today’s photo was taken before the sun began to set.  Here, I wanted Nicole to look like she was walking along the beach.  I purposely angled my camera to make Nicole look more dynamic and to add tension to the photograph (I believe that when the viewer sees something that does not compute—the horizon-line at angle—the viewer has a little tension).  My instructions to Nicole was to look directly at me with attitude.  She pulled it off—in spades!
Enjoy.
Camera settings:  Nikon D4, 85mm f/1.4, ISO 200, f/2.8 at 1/2000th of a seconds.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom 4—applied Portrait preset during import, set white and black points.

October 10, 2012

My Vacation—Part 11

 

My final photo of my Maine vacation and also lighthouses of Maine is the Nubble Lighthouse in York.  This is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world.  So, naturally, I had to try my hand at it.
The lighthouse is no an island about 200 yards from the mainland.  The photograph was taken at sunset (which was behind and to my left as you can see from the light hitting the island).  I waited until the light turned golden and then I played around with my white balance until I got the color that I wanted.  I tried various f-stops until I got everything in focus that I wanted in focus.
Although the light on the island was stunning, the sky behind the lighthouse had very little color in it.  I purposely underexposed the shot by about ½ of an f-stop to help saturate the colors.
Overall, I was happy with the results, but I wished that the clouds would have had more color.  Maybe next time!
Enjoy.
Camera settings:  Nikon D4, 28-300mm f/3.5~5.6 with at 28mm, ISO 800, f/16 at 1/45th of a seconds on a tripod and used my self-timer to trigger the camera (did not have my cable release with me—it was back in my hotel room).
Post Processing:  
Lightroom 4—applied Landscape preset during import and adjusted various colors luminance and saturation.

October 7, 2012

My Vacation—Part 10


This is the lighthouse at Bass Harbor that is just outside Acadia National Park.  The photo was taken about 45 minutes before sunset.  I had some nice golden light on the lighthouse but the sky had little color from the sunset.
Again, I took three photos to combine into an HDR image.
I liked the golden light on the lighthouse versus the cool blue colors in the sky.
Enjoy.
Camera settings:  Nikon D4, 28-300mm f/3.5~5.6 with at 28mm, ISO 100, f/16 at 1/90th, 45th and 20th of a seconds on a tripod.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom 4—applied Landscape preset during import and exported three exposures to nik HDR2 where I combined the photos into an HDR exposure.

October 3, 2012

My Vacation—Part 9


I thought I would finish-off my vacation photos with three lighthouses.  The first photo is of the lighthouse at Cape Elizabeth which is just outside of Portland.  I walked around the lighthouse for several minutes before I selected this location to take the photo.
There was a lot of contrast in the scene so I decided that an HDR image would be needed.  Playing around with my cameras spot metering, I decided that I would be able to shoot three shots and get the dynamic range of the image.  I wanted the photo to look very realistic so I was very light on the HDR controls.
Enjoy.
Camera settings:  Nikon D4, 28-300mm f/3.5~5.6 with at 28mm, ISO 200, f/16 at 1/350th,180th and 90th of a seconds on a tripod.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom 4—applied Landscape preset during import and exported three exposures to nik HDR2 where I combined the photos into an HDR exposure.

September 28, 2012

My Vacation—Part 8


Occasionally, the fog would lift for a few minutes and I was left to photograph scenes like today’s photo.  However, more times than not, the fog would stay and Janice and I would merely sit on a great location and watch the movement of the ocean waves hitting the rugged shore.   I must admit, sitting and doing nothing but watching the waves, was very relaxing.
In this photo, I wanted to really contrast the colors—the overcast skies and ocean with the bright, shinning colors of the plants and rocks.  I also liked how the people in the scene gives the viewer a sense of scale.
Enjoy.
Camera settings:  Nikon D4, 28-300mm f/3.5~5.6 with at 28mm, ISO 200, f/16 at 1/125th of a seconds on a tripod.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom 4—applied Landscape preset during import, set white and black points and adjusted the hue, saturation and luminous of various colors within the photo and used adjustment brush on the rocks and plants to add contrast, clarity, sharpness and saturation.

September 24, 2012

My Vacation—Part 7


As I mentioned in last week’s post, there was a lot of fog along the coast.  As a result, many of my photos from Acadia National Park were like this one:  inland photos taken while hiking the trails.
I have always like birch trees.  They seem to set themselves apart from the rest of the forest.  In this photo, I just wanted to capture the lush greens and the interruption of it by trunks of the birch trees.
Enjoy.
Camera settings:  Nikon D4, 28-300mm f/3.5~5.6 with at 28mm, ISO 100, f/16 at 1/250th of a seconds on a tripod.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom 4—applied Landscape preset during import, cropped the image, set white and black points and adjusted the hue, saturation and luminous of various colors.