Steal Nothing But Photographs

The 1908 Barn (Digital Fine Art):

I've got to get back in the habit of Blogging. Life is getting in the way and my photography has suffered. We are going to start slow and then dive into this thing. I apologize in advance if the images are of sports, model airplanes, and other competing activities with my photography.

When I travel to Hobart, NY it is usually bitter sweet. It's usually for daylong meetings discussing the latest engineering and manufacturing challenges in the pharmaceutical industry. The bonuses are the fun and interesting people you attend with and the photographic and visual eye candy. This is a target rich environment for someone who likes old structures and amazing landscapes.

The 1908 barn is a very unassuming structure on Highway 23 in the little town of Davenport, NY between Oneonta and Stamford. Usually when I drive past this location the sky is lame-O, the light is bad, and the field next to it is plowed and rather boring (Nobody wants an image of dirt). Most of the time the leaves on the bushes in the foreground of the image are grown up and obtrusive to the landscape. Other times I just don't want to die standing on the side of Highway 23 to get an image! This is a great example of making sure to visit a location multiple times a year to get an eventual payoff.

You certainly have to be in the right place at the right time.

The 1908 Barn (Leica M, ISO200, 1/350th at f/8, through the Zeiss 28mm ZM)

Sharpened, color corrected, and mildly enhanced in Lightroom.

Don't forget to click on the image above and see it full size on your monitor!

Until the next image theft (Hopefully Soon). Enjoy!


There be Whales Here! (Juneau, AK):

"Captain, There be whales here"!  Maybe it's the nerd in me but every time I see reference to a hump-back whale I think of Mr. Scott declaring that two  whales were beamed aboard the Enterprise in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.  The plot where Mr. Spock and the rest of the team race back in time to capture some whales to keep an alien probe from destroying earth.  If that doesn't make you think that these amazing creatures are important, then just go on a Whale Watching Excursion with Juneau Alaska outfitters "Gastineau Guiding".  After an awesome rainforest hike with biologist/naturalist "Van" who had some serious Alaska wilderness Kung Fu, we boarded a custom build whale watching boat with our guide Lindsey and Captain Scott (Ironic, I know) who got us in the thick of things with Whales, Sea Lions, Bald Eagles, and more Whales.  Here are the images I captured on the excursion.  Don't forget to click on the images to see them full size on your monitor!

The hike began in the wilderness where we go up close and personal with Alaska's rainforest.

Alaskan Rainforest (D3S, ISO800, f/6.3, 1/100th seconds, 14mm through Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8)

We saw some awesome Flora/Fauna and learned all about its uses by the First Nations people of Alaska from Van:

Juneau Flora/Fauna (D3s, ISO1600, f/2.8, 1/500th second @ 14mm through Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8)

The beach-combing with Van and Lindsey allowed us to enjoy the Juneau shore:

Juneau Shore Pano (D3s, ISO1600, f/2.8, 1/8000th second @24mm through Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8)

Then after a short bus ride to a loading ramp we boarded the boat to find some whales.  Lindsey was amazingly knowledgeable about anything living in the waters around Juneau and made the ride interesting while Scott did some whale recon on the radio to the other boats to find some whale action.

We found these lazy sea-lions on the way out, where we learned the difference between sea-lions and seals.  The eagle was a nice touch hired by Gastineau  Guiding to make the scene more "Majestic" :).

Bed and Buoy (D3s, ISO800, f/4.8, 1/800th second @ 320mm through Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 with 1.7x adapter)

Then we got to see what we came for, humpback whales galore!  At one point when I was looking through the D3s at about 320mm I saw at least 4 blows from whales.  It was awesome!

Flukes on the Horizon (D3s, ISO800, f/4.8, 1/1000th second @ 150mm through Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 with 1.7x adapter)

There was one little calf who I think Lindsey referred to as "Smudge" because of the smear on the underside of his flukes that spent as much time out of the water breaching as he did under water.  An amazing show!

Breaching (D3s, ISO800, f/4.8, 1/1000th second @340mm through Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 with 1.7x adapter)

Whale Dancing (D3s, ISO800, f/4.8, 1/800th second @ 110mm through Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 with 1.7x adapter)

Belly Flop (D3s, ISO800, f/4.8, 1/1250th second @ 180mm through Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 with 1.7x adapter)

Flukes Galore (D3s, ISO800, f/4.8, 1/640th second @ 340mm through Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 with 1.7x adapter)

It was an amazing adventure made even better by Lindsey, Van, and Scott of Gastineau Guiding and thanks to Disney Cruise Lines.

Until the next image theft,



Photogs Note:

Shooting whales is a lot like shooting action sports.  The trick is to keep your lens zoomed close to maximize your field of view and keep both eyes open to expand it even more.  When you see some action, be ready to zoom all the way in so you can capture the barnacles on their fins!  I keep track of my shutter speed while in aperture priority (A mode on Nikon) because I want to keep my depth of field as shallow as possible.  It's probably not a big deal on a cloudy day like this one but on a sunny day you could end up with a camera at f/8 or greater if you let the camera adjust aperture.  Not a huge deal when on the open ocean but this photog isn't as religious about keeping my sensor clean so at f/8 I end up cleaning a lot of dust spots off the photo which sucks.  However, you could easily put it in shutter priority (S mode on Nikon).  Either way keep your shutter speed above 1/500th of a second because you don't want any breaching whales to be blurry.  I also make sure that I put the lens in VR mode if you have it and set it for "Active" since you're on a pitching boat.  

All that being said, don't ruin the moment by spending the whole time looking through the viewfinder.  What I missed out on while getting these shots is seeing Julie and the boys enjoying the moment.  Something that really is more important than capturing images.  I screwed up but you don't have to.  We photographers sometimes forget that we need to spend some time watching the people you love enjoy the experience that you have provided too.  It's not all about getting the shot, you have to live and love a little too....


The Barns of Delaware County, NY (Digital Fine Art):

I have traveled to Hobart, NY at least 100 times for work since about 1998. Hobart, The self proclaimed "Book village of the Catskills" is located smack dab at the beginning of the Delaware river in Delaware county. It is a small sleepy little town that happens to be home to one of Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals (The day job) facilities. In the past, I never took the time to explore the area in search of images because the Nikon D3S was just too much to deal with when traveling light and fast for work. The Leica M 240 has changed that in the sense that I carry it with me at all times. I upgraded to the ONA "Brixton" briefcase which is more of a camera bag with a sleeve for the iPad Pro. It works and it allows me to carry a real camera at all times. The Leica has opened my eyes to how beautiful the area is and forced me to get off the beaten path looking for one of my favorite things to photograph, Old barns, churches, and other structures. Make sure you click on them with your mouse to enjoy them in full sized glory.

I race past this little gem at 80mph+ everyday...

The Little Barn in Harpersfield (Leica M240, ISO200, f/8, 1/180th second through Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 Sonnar ZM)

The Little Barn in Harpersfield (Leica M240, ISO200, f/8, 1/350th second through Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 Sonnar ZM)

Abandoned Next to Center Brook (Leica M240, ISO200, f/8, 1/350th second through Zeiss 28mm f/2.8 Biogon ZM)

I happened across this old barn on County Road 29 in Jefferson, NY. Its distressed barnwood was calling out for a high contrast de-saturated image!

The Old Barn on 29 (Leica M240, ISO200, f/8, 1/250th second through Zeiss 28mm f/2.8 Biogon, ZM)

This Christian Church caught my attention so I stopped to shoot it on the way to Delhi, NY. When I saw that it was named "The Christian Church at Fitches Bridge" I had to find the bridge they were referring to.

The Christian Church at Fitches Bridge (Leica M240, ISO200, f/5.6, 1/25th seconds through Zeiss 28mm f/2.8 Biogon ZM)

I totally scored When I found out that Fitches Bridge was a covered bridge! It was lightly raining and very cloudy.

Fitches Bridge (Leica M240, ISO200, f/4, 1/25th second through Zeiss 28mm f/2.8 Biogon ZM)

Little did I know that when you cross Fitches Bridge you enter a little slice of rural heaven. By this time it wasn't just slightly raining, it was turning into a downpour. I was losing light and the rain was starting to soften my images. I managed to capture a nice panoramic of Maple Shade Farm before the elements and dinner plans ended the exploration.

Maple Shade Farm (Leica M240, ISO200, f/5.6, 1/12th second through Zeiss 28mm f/2.8 Biogon ZM)

Next time I visit Hobart, NY I'll definately be crossing back over Fitches Bridge to explore what else this awesome old Dairy Mecca of the Catskills has to offer.

Until the next Image Theft,



Vancouver BC (Street Photography):

Vancouver is definitely very walking/cycling friendly, a trait that I envy. I would love to ride my bike to work and live in a city that was so connected and less sprawling than St. Louis. There are a ton of little treasures found while walking around the city.  Take this little building I found while walking back to the Fairmont from Stanley park. It was screaming for a high contrast black and white and the Leica didn't fail me.

Glass Houses (Leica M240, ISO200, f/2.8, 1/250th second through Zeiss 28mm f/2.8 ZM

I'm a fan of geometry and I love to find a structure with a ton of it and just tilt the camera. Here is a great example:

Symmetry (Leica M240, ISO200, F/2.8, 1/500th second through Zeiss 28mm F/2.8 ZM)

The one thing that Vancouver is not lacking is odd geometry and awesome structural creativity. Sometimes its fun to just look "UP". Here is a great example.

Look Up (Leica M240, ISO20, f/2.8, 1/1500th second through Zeiss 28mm f/2.8 ZM)

I have a friend that shoots a lot of street photography and his mantra is, "Always shoot a fountain when you find one". Here is my "Fountain" shot:

Always Shoot The Foutain (Leica M240, ISO200, f/8, 1/90th second through Zeiss 28mm f/2.8 ZM)

It may seem cliche for a photog but I love the contrast of an "Old" structure reflected in the windows of a "NEW" structure. When I see it I always have to shoot it. When I can incorporate organic help from a tree its instant awesome:

Old and New (Leica M240, ISO200, f/8, 1/180th through Zeiss 28mm f/2.8 ZM)

When your walking and you see a funky "Space Needle-ish-thingy" you gotta shoot it. and when its just peeking its head through the other structures with trees its perfect. Convert it to high contrast black and white and you nailed it.

Space Needle-Ish-Thingy (Leica M240, ISO200, f/8, 1/180th second through Zeiss 28mm f/2.8 ZM)

Photogs Note:

I am LOVING the Leica. There is something about the manual focus viewfinder that I find forces me to take my time. Manual focus is more work but with the D3s I find myself rolling in, pounding out a bracket of images from -5 to +5 EV and running to the next shot. It's the "Assault Camera" and practically requires a background check before you take it with you. The Leica is my "Art" camera and quickly becoming my favorite. Incidentally, all the B&W images are converted using NIK Silver Efex Pro 2, which is owned by Google or some shit now. Make sure you click on the images to see them in all their full size glory on your monitor.

Until the next image theft,



Fairmont – Vancouver, BC (The Castle in the City):

Vancouver Canada was the port in which the Grant family embarked upon their big summer vacation, a wonderful Disney Cruise aboard the "Wonder". I've always wanted to spend some time here after a brief business trip back in 2002 when I took notice of the great architectural features dropped smack into an amazing Oceanside Forest. I knew that there would be some great opportunities to steal some images here so I made sure that our vacation itinerary included a couple of days to explore a little of what this great Canadian city had to offer.  Although I literally have Millions of Hilton Honors Points thanks to a lifetime of engineering travel, we decided to splurge a little on the Hotel knowing we would be on a ship for 7 days.

Enter the Fairmont Hotel at the corner of West Georgia and Burrard, also known as the Castle in the City.  Remember to click on the images with your mouse to see them full size on your monitor!

The Castle (Leica M240, ISO200, f/4, 1/750th second through the Zeiss 28mm f/2.8 ZM)


The Castle from West Georgia (Leica M240, ISO200, f/4, 1/2000th second through Zeiss 28mm f/2.8 ZM)

This fantastic Art Deco building designed by Archibald and Schofield opened in 1939 and felt central to a lot of great places.  Even the view from the building demonstrated a nice example of Vancouver's more modern architecture:

The View (Leica M240, ISO200, f/9, 1/60th second through the Zeiss f/2.8 28mm ZM)

The bar at Notch 8 (Named from the fastest speed on a locomotive throttle) posed as an equally great subject for photography as well.  Their dinner was fantastic also!

Notch 8 Bar (Leica M240, ISO800, f/3.4, 1/15th second through Zeiss 28MM f/2.8 ZM)

Photogs Note:

Its time to kick this thing off again. I have been very lax in blogging. This will be the first of several blogs from the vacation to get the habit going again.  To be honest, Facebook has been just so damn easy to share images with friends.  That being said, I don't feel like I can share the photography techniques and inspiration on there with the non-Photogs so I'm anxious to get back to this.

Until the next image theft,



Las Vegas Indoor (Architecture Fisheye Study)

Interior spaces in Las Vegas are awe inspiring. In the more opulent areas no expense was spared to maintain a visual theme. They were meant to be explored. There is no better lens to document a vast space in a creative way like the fisheye. Make sure you click on the images below to experience them full size in your monitor!

This restaurant in the Wynn Casino was extremely interesting. These parisols were rising and falling from the ceiling so getting a crisp shot required a lot of light, provided by the glass wall in the rear. The interesting curves were further enhanced by the fisheye.

Parisol Down in the Wynn (D3s, ISO200, f/2.8, HDR through Nikkor 10.5mm Fisheye)

This little restaurant called La Cave was reminiscent of a wine tasting cellar. I shot this through the glass when the restaurant was completely dark. The low ISO capability of the D3s never ceases to amaze me. Yes thats right, the notes below the image say ISO 3200!

La Cave (D3s, ISO3200, f/2.8, HDR through Nikkor 10.5mm Fisheye)

The scale, detail, texture, and lighting of the grand hallways outside the ballrooms in the Wynn were amazing. The fisheye does an excellent job of capturing the vast scale of the space.

Wynn Grand Hallway (D3s, ISO400, f/2.8, HDR through Nikkor 10.5mm Fisheye)

The Grand Canal Shops at the Venetian were amazing as well.

Canal Shoppes at the Venetian (D3s, ISO400, f/2.8, HDR through Nikkor 10.5mm Fisheye)

When you see the fantastic space at Todd English's "Olives" restaurant at the Bellagio, you have to go in for a cocktail and check out the fountains on the veranda. Unfortunately the restaurant was closed but they had nibbles at the bar.

Olives Restaurant at the Bellagio (D3s, ISO200, f/2.8, HDR through Nikkor 10.5mm Fisheye

You can't finish without a shot of the Shoppes at Caesars Palace. This isn't your typical Mall!

How Caesar would Shop (D3s, ISO800, f/2.8, HDR through Nikkor 10.5mm Fisheye)

Photogs Note:

Why the Fisheye you ask?  It distorts the crap out of everything you say!  The secret to the Fisheye is Hyper Focal Length.  At 10.5mm and f/2.8 I can focus on something 4 feet away and everything from about 2 feet to infinity is sharp as a tack in focus.  Everything.  Obviously this is not a lens you want to shoot the bride with unless you want her to look like a horse.  However, for outdoor spaces and complex vast indoor spaces where a little distortion can be considered "artistic" it is a great lens.  At f/2.8 it gathers a ton of light, at f/16 it starbursts the sun like the best of them, and it smaller size make it a pleasure to bolt onto the D3s and run around with.  Did I mention almost 180 degrees of image viewing angle.  The only downside is that you better keep your fingers back when framing if you don't want them in the picture.  In moderation its a great lens!


Holy Hyper-Sync!

I shot my sons T-Ball team tonight.  Typical sporadic portrait session between herding cats over a bunch of 5 and 6 year old boys.  As you can see, the image is pretty typical:

Wyatt (Pujols) Grant (D3S, ISO 640, f/3.2, 1/6400th, 38mm through Nikkor 24-70mm)

Its easy to get a shot of a cute kid in his baseball uniform!


Photog's Note:

So what you ask?  What if I was to tell you that this image was shot in DIRECT SUNLIGHT at 6:20 in the evening?  Check out the meta-data above at the sync rate.  Using a Pocket Wizard TT1 and AC3 controller on camera, a TT5 remote on my Elinchrom Quadra Flash covered with an Elinchrom Deep Octa I was able to keep the depth of field shallow and shoot this image at f/3.2 and 1/6400th of a second.  Pretty freakin' amazing.  I left the ISO at 640 to get the recharge up on the flash between ball players.  If I was shooting this bad boy with the Nikon Creative Lighting System I would have been stuck with a 1/250th sync speed and ended up at f/22 to get the exposure I wanted without isolating Wyatt from the background.  I'm tickled as can be with this setup for HARD light in the afternoon.


Times Square (Digital Fine Art):

Spent a couple of days at the Interphex Pharmaceutical Equipment Show in NY and managed to get out and shoot a few images. It was a busy couple of days with meetings and events so I didn't stray very far from the fabled times Square. Here is a little HDR to commemorate this historic location.

D3S, ISO200, 1/2000 @ f/1.4 through Nikkor 35mm f/1.4)

These images were all captured with the new Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 prime. What a tack sharp lens this copy is. I cannot wait to use it for some serious portrait work in the future.

Photogs Note:

So how the heck can the above image be so tack sharp if it was shot at f/1.4?  Isn't the depth of field of a lens very shallow on a fast lens at this f-stop?  The secret is understanding hyper-focal length and the depth of field of wide glass.  Google it to understand it fully!  Based on a little calculation work using the DOFMaster App for the iPhone I had pre-determine what the hyperfocal distance was for my new lens.  In a nutshell, the hyper-focal length is the distance in which your lens is in focus to infinity.  You simply calculate the hyper-focal distance (About 95 feet in this case) and everything from about 48 feet to infinity is tack ass in focus.  It is a huge tool to use for street photography etc.  You can go to for free online caculators etc.  The wider your lens the greater the depth of field.  For example, on my Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 wide open, if I focus on something about 8 feet away, everything from 7 feet to infinity is in focus.  You don't even have to worry about focusing unless you are trying to capture things closer than 7 feet!  Another great use of this technique is at a football or soccer game.  Lets say you are at the 50 yard line at a football game with your Nikkor 70-200mm lens and want to capture the goaline action without worrying about focusing quickly.  All you do is focus on the goal marker and everything from 5 yards out to 5 yards in the endzone is tack focused since the DOF is about 30 feet or 10 yards.  Its an awesome technique I use all the time.  Try it sometime!


Strathalbyn Road (B&W Fine Art):

The other day I had an event planning meeting at a wonderful private shooting club called Strathalbyn. I'll be doing shoot there in the spring for a Sporting Clays event brochure for the Saint Louis Council of Construction Consumers (SLCCC) so stay tuned! On the way out, I stole the following image of the road leaving the farm for the forgotten roads series. I knew I was going to convert it to black and white and do some Tilt-Shift effect so I setup for it. I wanted kind of a different crop for the road and tree and here is the result:

Strathalbyn Road (D3S, ISO200, HDR, f/9@18mm through Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8)

I took a bracket of 9 images, imported them into Nik HDR Efex Pro 2.0 and then converted it to black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. To get the Tilt/Shift effect I used OnOne's Focal Point 2.1 and tweaked the image until I got the balance of blur and contrast I wanted.



Agora Sculpture in Grant Park (Digital Fine Art):

This past weekend I traveled with the family to Chicago to visit with my wife's wonderful sister Kate. One of the things I love about going to places with a camera and venturing on foot is that it forces you to see things you typically would not notice. I have been to Chicago dozens of times and have driven past Grant Park at Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt probably 50 times. Each of those times I was busy concentrating on the heavy traffic and bustling my way to some event at Soldier Field or McCormick Place. This time I was walking and noticed a really cool Polish sculpture by Magdalena Abakanowicz called Agora. Agora consists of 106 headless and armless 9' sculptures cast from a solid seamless piece of iron. Each piece has been allowed to rust and has been cast with a tree-bark like texture. Agora is in reference to the urban meeting places of the Ancient Greeks. To me the sculpture represented the many people in today's society that simply muddle through life in a chaotic fashion, don't really seem to be using their head and never put their hands to work either. There are people around who simply exist.


Here is my interpretation of Agora. Remember to click on it and view it full size on your monitor.


Agora (D3S, ISO200, HDR, f/4, 24mm through Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8)

I thought it was pretty ironic that the last sculpture I captured (Eros Bendato) was by another polish artist named Igor Mitoraj back in the City Garden in St. Louis.  I think that we need to get Igor and Magdelena together and at least get these guys some heads....


Photog's Notes:

When I saw Agora I was walking toward the Field Museum with the Grant Boyz, my wife, and sister.  It was a balmy 19 degrees and everyone was frozen.  I had about 40 seconds to setup the camera for a 7 frame HDR, compose my image, and take the shot.  I was CERTAIN when I saw the piece that this was going to be a black and white image.  As you can see, I was dead wrong.  The sky was reasonable for a blah winter day so I decided that it would make the best backdrop for the image.  I was fairly confident that the texture and complexity of the sculpture just wouldn't work with a busy Chicago Skyline in the background so I didn't even attempt it.  On the off-chance that the image would not be converted to Black and White I went ahead and set my white balance to Incandescent to force the sky into a nuclear blue hour looking hue even though the image was stolen around 3:00 in the afternoon.  I wrapped myself around the D3S in my best solid hold and fired these seven shots from -3 to +3 EV.  The image above is the result.  One shot one kill.  Gotta love 100%.  It is always better to be lucky than good.

I haven't had a lot of time to go shooting lately so I'm going to be milking the images from this trip for at least 2 or 3 more posts!  More to come!

Until the next image theft....



Sunset Over Seiwa-en (Digital Fine Art):

Seiwa-en, translated as "garden of pure, clear harmony and peace" is one of my favorite parts of the Missouri Botanical Gardens.  I have taken hundreds of unique and amazing images there.  It truly is a place of "harmony and peace".  Seiwa-en was dedicated in 1977 after being designed and constructed by the late Professor Koichi Kawana.  Is it irony that I went to the gardens Thursday night to shoot the Chinese Lantern Festival and spent a significant amount of time exploring the Japanese Garden?  It's a rare occasion that the gardens are open late so I took full advantage and setup my tripod for a sunset over Sewa-en's fantastic lake.  As many of you know, I love to shoot straight into the sun, whether it's rising or setting.  Sunsets are a reboot in preparation for the next day.  In this case it was a welcome sight to everyone, signifying some moderate relief from the 107°F temperatures I was enjoying while shooting this image.  Make sure you click on it to experience the "harmony and peace" full size on your monitor....

Sunset over Seiwa-en

Sunset over Seiwa-en (D3s, ISO200, HDR, f/22 @ 21mm through Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8)

I also stole the following image while on my walk around the chisen kaiyushiki "Wet Stroll" garden. Sometimes the wait for a sun to set is as enjoyable as the actual event.  Especially when you have a tripod and D3s in tow with you!

Seiwa-en Lake

Seiwa-en Lake (D3s, ISO200, HDR, f/14 @ 20mm through Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8)

Did I mention that it was 107°F when I took these pictures?

Photogs Note:

These images are straight up HDR using Nik HDR Efex Pro and 9 images from (-5 through +5 EV).  I dropped it into Photoshop CS6 to remove the sensor dust spots (Looked like a Pizza!) and lens-flare in the grass below the tree present from shooting into the sun.  I added a little vignette and slight sharpening in Lightroom 4 and uploaded it to Zenfolio.  Incidentally, the sunburst is the result of shooting at f/22.  I explain sunbursts and lens-flares in the Carnival post from a few weeks ago.



A Place to Unwind and Think (Digital Fine Art):

I had a late meeting the other day and decided to swing through the Missouri Botanical Gardens to simply unwind and think. My mission this day was to follow all the little stepping stone paths that take you to all these really neat little secluded places in the garden. There are virtually no inhabitants of these places, save a bunch of critters and untouched havens. I followed one path that opened into a fantastic little glade with a small stream and the evening light was essentially illuminating a cedar garden bench with warm light. Obviously it was an image I had to steal.

Secluded Bench

Secluded Bench (D3s, ISO400, HDR, f/5 @ 19mm through Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8)

If you click on it, you will almost be transported to the bench full size in your monitor, without the mosquitos of course....

Photogs Note:

I shot 9 images from (-5 to +5) Exposure Value off the tripod at the hyper-focal length of the 14-24mm Nikkor @ f/5 and pulled them into Lightroom 4. I then tonemapped the HDR image in NIK HDREfex Pro, took it to the new Photoshop CS6 where I did some curves to punch up the contrast and then took it to NIK ColorEfex 4.0 to add just a tiny touch of the Midnight Filter. From there it was back to Lightroom for sharpening and about 40% vignette before exporting to Zenfolio.


Carnival (B&W Digital Fine Art):

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Dardenne Prairie had their annual picnic and the Carnival was in full swing.  Naturally, the family attended and had a wonderful time.  Two years ago I had hopes of riding this damn Ferris Wheel but it just wasn't in the cards.  Those of you who have been following the Image Blog for some time know the story but if you would like to revisit that post, you can check it out here:

The Temptation of Ferris:

The Temptation of Ferris:

Last year I had hopes of shooting it again but it was so blistering hot, we opted for a cookout at home.   This time, two year later I might add, I decided that payback would be a Black and White study of Mr. Ferris' Confounded Wheel while standing in line and riding it of course.  Here are my favorites thefts from the shoot:

Waiting to Dismount:

Waiting to Dismount (D3s, ISO400, 1/640th, f/8 @ 45mm through Nikkor 24-70mm):

Through the Wheel:

Through the Wheel (D3s, ISO200, HDR, f/22 @ 24mm through Nikkor 24-70mm) :

Stop Rockin'

Stop Rockin' (D3s, ISO200, HDR, f/9 @ 26mm through Nikkor 24-70mm)

Top O' the Wheel

Top O' the Wheel (D3s, ISO200, HDR, f/22 @ 27mm through Nikkor 24-70mm)

All of the images above were shot handheld and are brackets of seven images for HDR from -3 to +3 EV.  I used NIK HDR Efex and NIK Silver Efex Pro 2 for the HDR and Black and White conversion.  I used Photoshop and Lightroom for cleanup, sharpening, and upload to this site.

If you would like to see all the carnival images you can go HERE:  Remember to click on the images with your mouse and you can see them full size in your monitor!

Until the next image theft, Enjoy!

Photog's Note (Sun-Bursts / Lens-Flare):

I get asked all the time how I get the sunburst in my images.  You know, that big 'ol star in the image above.   The good news is that all you gotta do is set that camera at f/22 and point it at the sun.  Viola, sunburst.  The bad news is that unless you have awesome glass with great coatings (Think Nikkor Nano Coat) you are also going to get lens-flare which is NOT what you want.  Lens-flare is that series of multi-colored prismatic action caused by the refraction of light off the elements inside your camera.  Often you can avoid the flare by recomposing but shooting into the sun you are going to get them no matter how much money you spend on glass.  I deal with them by doing the following:

  1. Buy good glass:  If your lens is less than $1,000 its not probably not good glass.  For those of you who aren't stupid about your photography hobby like I am and actually care about your kids future college fund, just use the best you can afford.
  2. Remove all filters:  Filters are additional glass elements and often their quality is crap.  I've gotten to the point where I don't run with a UV filter on my lenses for protection because they cause more problems with flares etc.  I only shoot with Neutral Densities and Polarizers when needed.  I don't just leave them on all the time to be lazy.
  3. Install the Hood and Use it Properly:  Don't be one of those idiots that toss the lens hood or leave it installed turned around.  Its there for a reason.  It reduces lens-flare and protects the outer glass element.
  4. Keep the lens impeccably clean:  Extra grease, grime, and dust on your lens can reflect light and cause issues with your images like lens-flare.
  5. Leave it in:  Sometimes a little lens-flare is considered artistic.  Like everything artistic, moderation is the key.  You don't want a lens-flare in every image.
  6. Re-Compose for a Photoshop Fix:  Most likely if your shooting into the sun at f/22 your going to be going into Photoshop to clean up a few dust-bunnies off your sensor.  When you shoot at uber tiny apertures like f/22 the critters on your sensor can be almost in focus.  I could do a whole other topic on keeping your sensor clean and the issues that landscape photogs have with dust on sensors but I won't go there here.   I often re-compose so that the lens-flare is in a place to easily Clone Stamp it out.  Try to get the flare in open sky or in the grass etc.  Try not to have it on something difficult to clone like the trim around a window or sombody's face.  If you don't know what clone stamping is or you don't have Photoshop you probably stopped reading this blog after bullet number one!

I hope the items above help you to get the best sun-burst possible in your next images.

Please note that the better the direct sun the better the effect.  If the sun is being diffused through haze or clouds it won't be as sharp.


The New Nikon D-800! (Lord Give Me Strength):

I've been working so hard getting a new project off the ground at work that I didn't even notice that Nikon announced its new D800 digital camera.  Now lets face it, I already have the D3S which continues to amaze me with its speed and low light capabilities so why would anyone want another camera?

The New Nikon D800

The New Nikon D800

This bad boy is 36.6 Megapixels!  That is the highest resolution of any pro camera on the market!  Do you realize the architectural and landscape images I could produce!  And just in time for the height of the spring landscape shooting season!

Ok, time to calm down and think about JD and Wyatt's education.  A guy can't have everything right?  Perhaps there is some crap around here I can sell.  Hmmmmmm.

Until an actual image theft (Next time I promise).



Wabash Bridge at Sunset (Drive By Shooting):

When I left work tonight the sky was absolutely incredible.  The blue, magenta, and firey oranges and yellows were exploding at the edge of one of the many storm fronts that came through today.  I had the camera (imagine that) but the light was fading fast and time was not on my side.  Every second wasted was an exponential reduction in photographicalis magnificantae.  I had to face up to the fact that I was not going to get to a stationary location to do gods painting justice so I just rolled down the window and shot the following image at 78 miles per hour on highway 370 from the Discovery Bridge just after passing through the truss section heading west into St. Charles out of Earth City.  For the traffic safety "More Holy than thou" types, yes it was a pretty stupid move (Things look kinda crazy fast through the Nikkor 50mm at 78 miles per hour) but I think the image below was worth the risk.....

Wabash at Sunset

Wabash at Sunset (D3s, ISO 3200, 1/3200th, f/1.4, -1EV through Nikkor 50mm Prime)

Remember to click on the image to enlarge it to your screen.

Photog's Note:

The reality was that the most dangerous part was setting up the D3S for 78mph nite vision mode.  I knew I was only going to get one chance at this image so I set the camera to fire a bracket of 3 images, chose 3200 ISO and opened the 50mm up to f/1.4 for maximum light gathering.  When I looked through the viewfinder I saw my shutter was 1/3200 but it was too freakin' late to adjust the ISO down to 1600 or 800 to maximize image quality and still keep the shutter above the 1/600th threshold needed to nail the bridge without it being a blur as fast as I was going.  This wasn't tripod shooting here so shutter was important.  I also had to have the exposure nailed before I framed it so I just pointed the camera at the sky and set the exposure lock (thats the little AE-L/AF-L button on every Nikon for those who haven't read their camera manual) to guarantee that the bridge would be a silhouette and the sky would rock.  Had I just pointed it to the bridge and let the camera brain do all the thinking, I would have ended up with a yellowish cloudy dot with no dramatic sky and a greyish grainy looking bridge.  For the discerning eye, you can see that the color rendering of the magenta and red is kinda crappy and blown out.  Had I been able to stop the car, get out on the shoulder with a tripod and take a bracket of 9 images for HDR (Assuming I didn't die a horrible death at the bumber of another rush hour driver), I could have nailed it in post processing without blowing out the reds.  If you peek at the pixels on the above image, you will see some noise from 3200 ISO but most notably the edges of the trusswork are kinda wavy with some red fringing and the few powerlines lack definition.  For those who do not know, this is the difference between the $350 50mm prime and one of the $2000 lenses with Nano-Coating and better glass.  Had I shot this with the 24-70mm Nikkor you would see nothing but a perfectly black edge with no red fringe.  Could I fix it in photoshop?  Absolutely but then I couldn't talk about it in the blog could I?  The quality of this image will relegate it to a doomed life on the web and in a 4x6 or 5x7 print forever but its still a great shot for 78mph!  That's a whole lotta crap to think about for the 8 seconds going onto the bridge and 2 seconds of shooting about 9 attempts at this huh?  It takes a lot of practice and an almost psychic knowledge of your cameras controls/settings to pull it off considering the camera never even had its lens cap off until I got ON the bridge.  There was only some minor post-processing for noise and sharpness in Lightroom 3 after all.  Thats why I am so proud of this image even though it kind of sucks from a quality perspective.

Until the next image theft....