Steal Nothing But Photographs

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,



Uncle Bill Wayne Grant (Image Restoration):

I grabbed an old army image of my Uncle Bill Wayne off of facebook and restored it.  He was killed by mortar fire in Vietnam years before I was born and I never had the pleasure of meeting him.  Everything I have heard about him has been that he was an amazing young man that served his country with the same passion and commitment that he had for his family.  I figured that such an amazing young man that was taken from us too soon in the prime of his life deserved a picture that was not weathered and aged.  It was an honor to restore his photograph.  Spending an hour with him at my PC made me feel as though I almost know him, even though we never met.

God Bless you Uncle Bill Wayne.

Uncle Bill Wayne Grant (Fallen Hero / Paratrooper) Restored

Uncle Bill Wayne Grant (Fallen Hero / Paratrooper) Before

Photoshop is such an amazing tool!

I hope you enjoy!


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.



John Hancock Building (B&W):

A trip to Chicago is not complete without having brunch at the Signature Room of the Hancock Building. This trip was no exception!  On the way in it was absolutely freakin' polar and I managed to snag this handheld 5 image HDR exposure from the base of the tower.  I was pretty happy with how sharp it turned out considering a couple of the images were at around 1/20th of a second in wind gusts of 20 miles per hour! I got one chance to frame it and nail it. The family was not interested in standing around waiting on my artistic juices to flow. Although, as cold as it was it would have been more like an artistic slushy!

Hancock Building

Hancock Building (D3S, ISO200, f/10, HDR, 24mm through Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8)

Remember to click on it to view it full size on your monitor! This image was a 5 exposure HDR processed in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 and converted to B&W in NIK Silver Efex Pro 2. Two minutes of processing for my signature black and white look....

The view from up top is just as impressive!  The tall tower in middle is the Trump tower and the Willis (Sears) Tower is on the far right.  This shot was from our table.  I didn't even have to get up to see that!

Signature View

Signature View (D32, ISO200, f/10, 1/30th, 24mm through Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8)



Michael and Megan (Wedding):

This weekend the family traveled to Peoria, IL for Michael and Megans wedding.  Many of you probably remember the engagement shoot I did for them several months back.  You can check it out here.  The wedding was fantastic and the reception was great fun.  I didn't take a lot of pictures (I was keeping the Grant boyz from burning the place down) but I did manage to capture a couple fun ones outside.

I was going for a fun tilt shift effect with lotsa bubbles on the first image.  I let the paid photogs have the premo shooting locations (Professional Courtesy) so I stayed back, held the camera high above the crowd @ f/8 and fired 11 frames a second with the D3S.  My camera sounded like machine gun fire compared to all the point and shoots around and I got some looks.  I got the shot though!  Make sure you click on them to see them full size on your monitor!

Presenting Mr. and Mrs. Michael Hennessy

Presenting Mr. and Mrs. Michael Hennessy (D3S, f/8 @ 24 mm, 1/100, ISO 200 Through Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8)

I dropped the image into Photoshop CS6, did some color correction and sharpening as well as some selective Focus and dropped it back to Lightroom for upload.  Less than a minute of Post.

This next shot was just a straight up portrait through the crowd which wasn't easy considering everybody was crowding in to congratulate them.  This is about the only shot I had without the back of somebody's head in the shot.

The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple (D3S, ISO200, 1/250th, f/8 @ 40mm through Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8)

The Kids Look Happy!  Congratulations!



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.


Cooling Down (Street Photography):

We were between sets of a Senior Photo Shoot on Saturday morning at the City Garden and the activity was endless.  It was about 94° in the shade and I was being tortured by the cool continuous vertical jets of the fountains.  My subject was in the car changing into her next ensemble when I noticed this little boy having a tremendous time playing in the water.  I couldn't help but notice his blue plaid shorts and how they contrasted brilliantly with the fountains.  I immediately thought, "Black and White w/ Selective Color".  I don't normally do selective color but in this case I think it worked out well.

Cooling Down

Cooling Down (D3S, ISO200, 1/16ooth, f/6.3 @ 56mm Through Nikkor 24-70mm)

I converted the image to B&W using NIK Silver Efex 2, dropped a pin on his shorts and used its selective color feature to get the effect I wanted.  So easy.  A little sharpening and vignette in LR as well as an export to Zenfolio using Jeffrey Friedl's wonderful export plug-in and I had this image done.  Visualization to camera to computer to NIK to Zenfolio with less than 60 seconds of diversion in my busy life.  Gotta love it when a plan comes together and your vision is achieved.  I don't have a clue who this little guy was but, "Thanks little buddy!"

Stay tuned for a boatload of wonderful Senior Images coming soon!


After the Fall (Digital Fine Art):

I have this thing for "Lonely Tree's".  I don't know what it is about them.  When I see a fantastic specimen standing all alone in defiance of empty space, I'm drawn to it.  Or at least my camera is.  Add a touch of god sky and remove its foliage and I think it is perfect.  Surround it with a field that provides a palette of texture and color and it is awe inspiring.  They are the epitome of chaos.  There is no chirality to it / no mirror image.  A person could spend a lifetime attempting to derive the mathematical equation used to build it and they would not succeed.  Its shape is an amalgam of its genetics, its environment, and a higher power.  Walk closer and the detail of its parts are equally amazing.  A simple photograph simply will not do.  A Digital Fine Art image is only an attempt to do them justice.  I stole the following image near where I have been riding my mountain bike all summer.  I've been waiting months for it to reveal itself to me so that I could steal its image.  When I was a kid, I would have climbed it.  Now I've simply photographed it.  Here is the result....

After the Fall

After the Fall (D3S, ISO400, f/8, HDR, 62mm through Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8)

This image was created from a 5 images (-2, -1, 0, +1, +2 EV) and combined using Nik HDR Efex Pro.  I tossed it into Photoshop CS5 Extended and did some Clone-Stamping, Added Several Textures, Dodging and Burning, Multiple Curves,  Sharpening and Noise Reduction.  I actually desaturated some of the sky to keep it from being blown out.  Make sure you click on the image to see it full size to your monitor.

Until the next image theft,



One Hundred Image Blog Posts (Favorite Photographs):

It's been 22 months since I got the inspiration to do an image blog and here we are with our 100th post!   The driving purpose of this site was to  force me to integrate photography into my daily life. Practice makes perfect and if you don't have a need, there is usually no drive to practice.  What an incredible two years it has been!   The urge to keep this site up to date with fresh content has pushed me to not only improve my photography skills to a level that I would never have dreamed but it has also given me a reason to see new things within St Louis.  And man do I see differently.  I rarely look at anything anymore without taking a second peek at it through the lens. 

So.  I really wanted to photograph something epic for this artistic milestone and I did.  This week I had the opportunity to photograph the inside of the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica and the images turned out great.  You'll get a chance to see them in post 102! However, after some consideration, I decided that post 100 should give a recap to the readers and I would share my favorite images from the past 2 years.  Believe it or not, this was not an easy task.  From August of 2009 I have captured over 38,000 images on over 250 separate occasions.  Thank god for digital.  In the fillm days that would have been about $17K for film and processing.  Makes the return on investment of my Nikon gear seem a little more justified.

Without further adieu, here are some of my favorite blog images in no particular order.....


Matson Hill Road (Digital Fine Art):

I went mountain biking today at Matson Hill, a fantastic singletrack trail between Defiance and Augusta.  During my drive up Matson Hill Rd I came across a pretty straight stretch of gravel road that immediately said B&W to me.  Here is the third B&W image of the "Forgotton Roads" Collection that I am doing.....

Matson Hill Road

Matson Hill Road (D3s, ISO200, 1/250th, f/5, 66mm through Nikkor 24-70)

I shot this image naturally with the new 24-70 Nikkor.  Its a requirement to leave a new lens bolted onto the front of your camera for at least a month to help justify the purchase! I edited the image in Photoshop CS5 with some basic curves, burning, and sharpening.  I converted it to Black and White with Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 and added the frame with OnOne's PhotoFrame 4.6.  I like the way it turned out,  I hope you do as well.

Only 2 more posts and we reach ONE HUNDRED blog posts.  I need to plan something special for the 100th blog posting.......

Until the next image theft......


King Louis IX of France (Digital Fine Art):

I've photographed Louis about a hundred times and every time the image pretty much came up.... "LAME".  I finally managed to steal an image of him whith the fisheye when there wasn't a blah sky, a bunch of yahoo's sitting on the base, a crane in the background, or just a plane old boring copy of every other picture of the statue.  I decided that Louis needed to be high contrast black and white and thats how he turned out.

King Louis IX

King Louis IX (D3s, ISO200, 15mm Fisheye, HDR)

I think he turned out pretty cool for a French dude....

Until the next image theft.....


Never Forget (Digital Fine Art):

September 11th came and went and although I fully intended to do something "photographically" to commemorate the biggest attack on innocent people in our nations history, family and business obligations didn't allow it to happen.  I remember exactly where I was.  I awoke in my Hotel Room on business in Denver and turned on the TV just as the second plane hit the second tower.  I remember just standing there in front of the TV, remote in hand, awestruck at what I saw for almost an hour without sitting and possibly without blinking.  When I finally went down to the lobby, there were at least 100 people huddled in front of the television in the Hotel Bar, watching as the news stories about the tragedy came in.  I spent 6 days in Denver away from family until we finally managed to obtain a car and road trip back to Chicago.  It was a horrible time in our nations history that not unlike the Assassination of Kennedy, I doubt that anyone will forget where they were that day.

Today between meetings at our Saint Louis Plant and my office, I managed to swing by the Saint Louis Art Museum at Forest Park where they have placed over 3000 flags (one for each victim) on the hill in rememberance of the fallen.  It was a peaceful experience, as I roamed through the flags with only the sound of my shutter to keep me company.  Nobody spoke.  Only the occasional sound of children running and playing among the flags to remind you that life continues, even in the face of evil throughout the world.  I stole many pictures among the flags today but this is my favorite.  Never Forget.....

Never Forget

Never Forget (D3S, ISO200, 1/400th, F/16, -2/3EV, Nikkor 15mm Fisheye)

The above image was captured handheld with the fisheye, laying on my back; camera upside down; with my head on the ground.  I got a lot of strange looks from passersby but it was totally worth it.  I processed it in Photoshop CS5 Extended with some curves, desaturation, sharpening, and noise reduction.  My goal was to get that grungy D-Day look and the sky was the perfect canvas for the structure of the flags.  Traditional HDR was not possible here due to the movement of the flags. 

Here is the view of the scene from across the Grand Basin with the 70-200mm Nikkor.

9-11 Saint Louis Art Museum

9-11 Saint Louis Art Museum (D3S, ISO200, 1/800th, f/6.3, 125mm through 70-200mm Nikkor)

Never Forget.

I hope you enjoy.