December 13, 2013

Painted Church of Texas

 



Again, forgot to get the name of the church. 
Here, I liked the contrast in colors and the quaintness of this small chapel.  The frosted windows did not help the overall scene and although I took another exposure with the windows less bright, a combination of the two exposures did not really enhance the overall image. 
I applied a “HDR” preset in Lightroom and then adjusted it slightly. 
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D800 on a tripod, 17-35mm f/2.8 lens at 30mm, ISO 100, f/22 at 3 second. 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon vivid preset, set white and black points, added a loft of vibrance and clarity, adjusted saturation of various colors.

December 11, 2013

Painted Church of Texas

 



Most of the time, I photograph the sign outside of churches so that I can later label them; however, for several of the painted churches that I photographed on this trip, I did not do that.  Why?  Getting really old! 
When I first entered the church, I was taken back by how all the colors worked so well together and the overall symmetry of the church.  I tried to capture both. 
I wished that I had taken a few additional under-exposures so that I could have added more details in the windows, but, alas, I did not.  Getting really OLD! 
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D800 on a tripod, 17-35mm f/2.8 lens at 19mm, ISO 100, f/22 at 0.8 of a second on a tripod. 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon vivid preset, set white and black points, added a loft of vibrance and clarity, adjusted saturation of various colors and used lens correction to correct for distortion.

December 6, 2013

St. Mary’s Church of the Assumption in Flatonia, Texas

 



St. Mary’s Church of the Assumption in Flatonia, Texas is one of the “painted churches of Texas”.  If you are in the Houston area, I would definitely recommend that you visit the painted churches which are located about 90 miles west of the city.  The following description of the churches was taken from http://www.klru.org/paintedchurches/index.html. 
“From the outside, they look like many American country churches built around the turn of the last century -- arched Gothic Revival windows, facades clad in white frame siding or in stone, lone steeples rising up into the Texas sky.  
“Cross the threshold of these particular Texas churches and you'll encounter not a simple wooden interior but an unexpected profusion of color. Nearly every surface is covered with bright painting: exuberant murals radiate from the apse, elaborate foliage trails the walls, wooden columns and baseboards shine like polished marble in shades of green and gray. These are the Painted Churches of Texas. 
“Built by 19th century immigrants to this rough but promising territory, these churches transport the visitor back to a different era, a different way of life. Inscriptions on the walls read not in English, but in the mother tongue of those who built them: German and Czech. The story of these buildings is the story of a people striving to succeed in a new country and still preserve the values and culture of their homelands. 
“In 1984, 15 of these churches, with their unique style of art, were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Once taken for granted, the painted churches of Texas, and the people who built them, are now capturing the interest of designers, historians and ordinary tourists, both in Texas and out of state.”
If you are ever in Houston, I would recommend you make the 90 mile trip to see these wonderful churches." 
Enjoy.  
Camera settings:  Nikon D800 on a tripod, 17-35mm f/2.8 lens at 19mm, ISO 100, f/22 at 0.8 of a second.
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon vivid preset, set white and black points, added vibrance and clarity, adjusted saturation of various colors and used lens correction to correct for distortion.

December 3, 2013

Early Morning

 



No.  I did not die. 
No.  I did not contract a life-threading disease—unless you count laziness as a life-threading disease.  
I just had no desire to post anything. 
A couple weeks ago, I had a job west of Houston.  As is my habit, I left well before sunrise so that I would not be late.  Looking through my rear view mirror.  I saw the sun coming-up in a clear sky.  Since I had my Nikon 80-400mm lens packed in my bag, I decided to stop and try to get one of those classical sun-rising shots. 
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D800 with white balance set to 10,000K on a tripod, 80-400mm f/4.5~5.6 lens at 400mm, ISO 100, f/5.6 at 1/750th of a second on a tripod. 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon vivid preset, set white and black points, added vibrance and clarity.

October 17, 2013

Visit to Cockrell Butterfly Center at Houston Museum of Natural Science—Part 3





I cannot photograph butterflies in flight.  I usually get nothing but blur.  I did not do it in this photo, but I really like how the butterfly in flight in the background adds movement to the image.  Again, I like the bokeh in the background. 
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D800 on a tripod, 80-400mm f/4.5~5.6 lens with an extension ring attached at 300mm, ISO 1600, f/13 at 1/45th of a second and a Nikon SB800 on the hotshoe. 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon vivid preset, set white and black points, added vibrance and clarity.

October 9, 2013

Visit to Cockrell Butterfly Center at Houston Museum of Natural Science—Part 2




Good bokeh helps create this photograph.  The leaves and flowers in the background were no more than four feet from the butterfly.  But, because of the shallow dept-of-field (even at f/11), they were turned into a soft canvas background of muted colors.  I think this soft background helps set off the butterfly—the star of the show. 
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D800 on a tripod, 80-400mm f/4.5~5.6 lens with an extension ring attached at 400mm, ISO 1600, f/11 at 1/60th of a second. 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon vivid preset, set white and black points, added vibrance and clarity.

October 1, 2013

Visit to Cockrell Butterfly Center at Houston Museum of Natural Science—Part 1





Recently, Bill, a friend, and I went to the Cockrell Butterfly Center at the Museum of Natural Science.  I wanted to do something different; something that made me think about the basics of photography—focus, composition and lighting.  
Equipment wise, I used my Nikon D800 with either my 105mm f/2.5 macro or my 80-400mm f/4.5~5.6 with an extension tube (so that I could focus closer to my subject).  All the photos in this series included the use of flash—Nikon SB800 mounted on the hot shoe of my camera, but generally pointed at an angle to the subject and dialed down 1 to 3 f-stops.  I used the flash to add a little fill to the subject.  I tried not to have the photos look “flashed.” 
Today’s photo is about form and color.  I had taken several close-up photos of this butterfly and then decided to do a more environmental portrait; so, I moved my tripod back a little and zoomed out to 200mm.  I like how the leave provides a soft line across the frame so I angled my camera to make the leave form a diagonal line.  To me the three colors—green, red/orange and black—work very well together. 
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D800 on a tripod, 80-400mm f/4.5~5.6 lens with an extension ring attached at 200mm, ISO 1600, f/13 at 1/90th of a second. 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon Standard preset, set white and black points, added vibrance and clarity.

September 17, 2013

Yellowstone 2013 Visit—#6




While we were eating our lunch in a small park, this mother deer and fawn moved through the eating area.  Both of them watched us for some time from the safety of the woods; but then, mom decided that we were not too much danger so they moved through the area. 
Even though only the fawn’s head is in the photo, this is my favorite image that I took because of how both mom and baby are looking straight at me. 
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D4 on a tripod, 80-400mm f/2.8 at 350mm, ISO 280, f/5.6 at 1/7500th of a second. 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon Standard preset, set white and black points, added vibrance and clarity.

September 11, 2013

Yellowstone 2013 Visit—#5

 



We often encountered fog early in the morning.  Today’s photo is all about the light.  I have no idea as to why, but the light seemed to have two distinct colors—warm light on the trees and cool light on the water.  This lighting only lasted about ten minutes.  I felt like the different light colors generated two different photos in one. 
I have no idea what caused this, but would be most interested to learn why the light acted this way. 
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D4 on a tripod, 28-70mm f/2.8 at 70mm, ISO 180, f/8 at 1/180th of a second. 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon Standard preset, set white and black points, added vibrance.

September 6, 2013

Yellowstone 2013 Visit—#4





There are about 2,000,000 acres in Yellowstone National Park, yet, the only place this guy found to walk was down the middle of the road.  Go figure! 
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D4, 80-400mm f/3.5~5.6 at 400mm, ISO 400, f/5.6 at 1/180th of a second (supported by hood of auto). 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon Standard preset, set white and black points, added clarity, sharpness and vibrance and did some dodging and burning.

September 3, 2013

Yellowstone 2013 Visit—#3




As far as I am concerned, today’s photo is totally about the water blur—if it is not, I spent a lot of time and frames trying to get exactly what I wanted!  I wanted the water to look very soft so that it would contrast with the hard, jagged edges of the rocks. 
I forgot my neutral density filter, so I had to reduce my ISO to 50 and my f-stop to 22 in order to get the shutter speed down to ½ of a second.  
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D4, 28-70mm f/2.8 at 70mm, ISO 50 (Lo1), f/22 at 1/2th of a second on a tripod. 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon Standard preset, set white and black points, added clarity, sharpness and vibrance and did some dodging and burning.

August 30, 2013

Yellowstone 2013 Visit—#2






Today’s photographs are not about Yellowstone National Park, but, rather something that I found funny. 
We stayed in West Yellowstone, which is just outside the park.  Every morning, we would get a cup of tea (JD) and coffee (me) and head into the park.  We would then sit at one of the parking areas, watch the animals and eat our peanut butter sandwiches and drink our tea and coffee.  To us, this was much better than eating an over-priced, poorly prepared breakfast in a restaurant.  The Woodside Bakery had good tea and coffee, so that was our spot to pick-up our drinks. 
One of things that really surprised us about the park this year was the number of Asians visiting the park.  I would estimate that Asians represented about 40-50% of the people that we saw within the park.  As a result, the most popular restaurant in West Yellowstone for dinner was the Red Lotus, which served mainly Chinese food.   
As proof that capitalism is alive in West Yellowstone, look at the signs of the gun shop two doors down.  The signs advertise services for what people want to do—shoot a machine gun—and accommodate its customer base (note the Chinese characters on the small sign) which according to an employee says the same thing. 
In talking to the owner of the gun shop, he said that his business had almost tripled after he hung the sign in Chinese—which, I guess proves that if you offer a product that people want, tell them that you offer it, they will come. 
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D4, 28-70mm f/2.8 at 50mm, ISO 110, f/6.7 at 1/30th of a second. 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon Standard preset, set white and black points, added clarity, sharpness and vibrance.

August 28, 2013

Yellowstone 2013 Visit—#1

 



JD and I just got back from our trip to photograph my nephew’s wedding and our visit to Yellowstone National Park. 
Our visit to Yellowstone did not match our last visit.  Why?  Too many people, and too few animals.  Although the temperatures were generally in the 70’s, the animals were just not moving much except in the very early morning and very late afternoon.  We do not like driving in the dark in the park due to all the animals on the road—just too dangerous for us wimps!  So, I had to settle for shooting other things. 
We spent a lot of time hiking through the various geothermal features—geysers, hot springs, mud pots and fumaroles. 
The color in the hot springs shown in today’s photograph is caused by heat loving organisms that live in and around the hot springs.  The different colors are caused by the varying temperatures of the water as it flows from the hot springs. 
For this photograph, I pre-focused my camera about three feet into the scene and then lowered my camera just above the water.  I wanted a very expansive look to the image so I used f/22 and 24mm focal length.
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D4, 28-70mm f/2.8 at 50mm, ISO 400, f/22 at 1/125th of a second. 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon Vivid preset, set white and black points, added clarity, sharpness and vibrance.

August 23, 2013

Yellowstone—Revisited #7

 


The last time that we visited Yellowstone, it was in mid-September.  All the trees had their fall color on full display.  Something that we really do not see much in Houston, Texas.  In today’s photo, I thought that the yellow in the trees worked extremely well with the blue sky. 
Enjoy.
Camera settings:  Nikon D200, 28-70mm f/2.8 at 50mm, ISO 200, f/13 at 1/500th of a second on a tripod 
Post Processing
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon Vivid preset, set white and black points, added clarity, sharpness and vibrance.

August 20, 2013

Yellowstone—Revisited #6





Almost everyone who goes to Yellowstone visits Old Faithful.  I must admit, the fact that it goes off on such a regular schedule is impressive, but I found that many of the smaller geysers to be much more interesting because of what is around them.  Here, I like the small stream that ran beside the geyser. 
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D200, 70-200mm f/2.8 at 120mm, ISO 200, f/16 at 1/250th of a second on a tripod 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon Vivid preset, set white and black points, added clarity, sharpness and vibrance.

August 17, 2013

Yellowstone—Revisited #5

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We had just finished a hike and were approaching our car when I saw this bus driving towards us.  It looked much like the buses that traveled throughout Arkansas when I was growing-up.  Because of the age of the bus, I decided that I should convert the photo to sepia. 
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D200, 70-200mm f/2.8 at 90mm, ISO 400, f/11 at 1/125th of a second on a tripod 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon Standard preset, set white and black points, added clarity, sharpness and vibrance and converted to sepia using a preset within LR5.

August 14, 2013

Yellowstone—Revisited #4





We were hiking one day when we came across this deer.  We decided to take a break, ate a snack and sat and watched her for some time.  When we got to leave, she started following us.  I cannot say how far she followed us, but it was at least 20 minutes. 
Just liked how she looks so natural in the woods. 
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D200, 70-200mm f/2.8 at 90mm, ISO 400, f/8 at 1/90th of a second on a tripod 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon Standard preset, set white and black points, added clarity, sharpness and vibrance.

August 9, 2013

Yellowstone—Revisited #3





Sometimes, the scene is so peaceful that all you want to do is sit and take in the moment. 
That was the case as JD and I made our way back to our hotel one evening.  JD does not like being on the road after dark (see last weeks post for the reason) in Yellowstone.  However, she also loves sunset (not so much sunrises because that means getting out of bed early).  She insisted that we stop at a roadside pull-out and watch the sky change colors.  To be honest with you, I was so taken-in by the scene that I only took four shots. 
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D200, 70-200mm f/2.8 at 90mm, ISO 400, f/8 at 1/30th of a second on a tripod 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon Standard preset, set white and black points, added clarity, sharpness and vibrance, cropped into panorama.

August 2, 2013

Yellowstone—Revisited #2

 


Recently, Bill, a friend and fellow photographer, asked me about how I decide what to shoot.  I told him that you must think about your photos as a visual story.  You may have one photo to tell the story or a series of photos to tell the story.  Either way, you must shoot what helps you tell that story—which, of course, will vary from story to story. 
Today’s photo is part of the Yellowstone story—traffic jam, Yellowstone style.  As a photograph, this photo is nothing special, but as part of a larger package (think, Yellowstone vacation book or slideshow), it helps tell something about what I experienced in Yellowstone.  Something that is unique to Yellowstone. 
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D200, 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm, ISO 200, f/8 at 1/90th of a second. 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon Standard preset, set white and black points, added clarity, sharpness and vibrance, cropped into panorama and burned top and bottom of photo using the adjustment brush.

July 31, 2013

Yellowstone—Revisited #1

 



In August, JD and I are going to Montana/Wyoming to photograph my nephew’s wedding/Yellowstone. 
I do not professional photograph weddings; so, my knowledge about the subject is very limited.  I have been watching a lot of YouTube videos on wedding photography, but, I am not sure I really understand what the “Boss” (JD, my bride, for those new to the blog) has gotten me into.  The wedding is in Sydney, Montana—a somewhat hard difficult destination from Houston. 
After the wedding, we plan to drive to Yellowstone National Park (my absolute favorite national park).  Over the weekend, I started reviewing my photographs from our last visit to Yellowstone in September 2006.  
At that time, I was using a Nikon D200, which I considered the best camera I had ever used.  All the RAW images in my Lightroom Catalog were processed in Lightroom 2 or 3.  Looking over the photos, I soon realized just how far cameras and Lightroom have progressed since then.  WOW!  What a change. 
Today’s photo is my favorite from my last visit to Yellowstone.  As far as back story, the only thing that I remember is that I had used a graduated neutral density filter to tone down the sky. 
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D200, 24-70mm f/2.8 at 26mm, ISO 400, f/22 at 1/13th of a second on a tripod. 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon Vivid preset, set white and black points, added clarity, sharpness and vibrance and burned top and bottom of photo using the adjustment brush.

July 23, 2013

Brazos Bend State Park and Alligators




You cannot go to Brazos Bend State Park and not come back with a few photos of alligators.  In reality, alligators are not really that exciting to photograph.  Still, I always photograph them when I am at the park. 
This young male alligator was lifting his head out of the water and roaring.  He was in a vocal war with an older and much larger alligator. I wanted to capture him coming out of water and doing “his thing”, but I also wanted to create a little mood to the photo.  Luckily, he swam from the shade to a pocket of light. So, I waited until he got to the light and took about ten shots of him in the light. 
To me, this photograph is as much about the light as it is about the alligator.
Enjoy. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D800 (DX format), 80-400mm f/4.5~5.6 at 600mm (effectively), ISO 400, f/8 at 1/350th of a second on a tripod. 
Post Processing: 
Lightroom 5—applied Nikon Vivid preset during import, set white and black points, added clarity, sharpness and vibrance and burned top and bottom of photo using the adjustment brush.