Steal Nothing But Photographs
20Feb/140

The High Desert (Sedona Red Rock):

Last weekend the family and I traveled to Phoenix for a baptism and we took a quick trip up to Sedona for some Jeep riding fun on the Broken Arrow Trail.  I purposely wanted to be there at sundown so I could capture the red rock flat top mesa's with the proper light.  The first image I shot right out of the camera from the Jeep was of the "Twisted Sisters", two trees screwed right out of the ground by the fabled Sedona Vortex Energy.  I thought they would be cool in Black and White so I didn't even mess with looking at them in color:

Twisted Sisters (D3S, ISO200, f/3.2, 1/320th, 24mm through Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8)

The light was fading fast and nothing is sweeter than direct warm light right on the red rocks of Sedona. Except maybe a handheld 5 exposure HDR image of those rocks!

Red Rock of Sedona (D3s, ISO200, f/3.2, HDR, 24mm through Nikkor 24-70mm)

The View From Submarine Rock (D3s, ISO200, f/6.3, HDR, 24mm through Nikkor 24-70mm)

Cupcake Rock (D3s, ISO400, f/6.3, HDR, 24mm through Nikkor 24-70mm)

Sedona at Sunset (D3s, ISO800, f/6.3, 66mm through Nikkor 24-70mm)

And the final image was of a Tree I believe our driver referred to as the Persistence Tree. This poor creature was thousands of years old, had been struck by lightning thousands of years ago, and was still hanging in there. It was screaming B&W as well to finish off the set.

Persistence Tree (D3s, ISO800, f/3.2, 1/100th, 24mm through Nikkor 24-70mm)

Remember to click on the images above to view them full size on your monitor. You'll be glad you did!

Until the next theft (Most Likely New York City).

Enjoy!

20Dec/130

Les Bourgeois Bistro (Missouri River View):

Recently I've made several trips across Missouri to visit my Mom in Kansas City. She took a little tumble several weeks back and has been recovering from breaking her hip. Typically these trips are over and back Marathons (3 hours there, visit 3 hours, return 3 hours) with most of the trip under the guise of darkness. I've travelled this route hundreds of times and I have never taken the opportunity to check out the little town of Rocheport until this past Sunday when I was able to take a little time and enjoy the winter wonderland that was provided the day before. Rocheport is a cute little river bluff town on the Missouri between Columbia and Booneville just north of I-70 and it is home to Les Bourgeois Winery.  Thanks to the wonder of a 4x4 vehicle, a penchant for trespassing, and nobody around, I was able to snag the following image from the overlook patio of the Blufftop Bistro:

Missouri Bluff View (D3s, ISO 125, f/22@45mm, 1/125th sec through Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 Lens)

The sky was a little blaze but the sunburst from being at f/22 made things a little more exciting. And showed me that I have some serious sensor cleaning to do!

Here is what the Blufftop Bistro looked like under the camouflage of winter snow:

Blufftop Bistro (D3s, ISO125, f/14@70mm, 1/320th second through Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8)

Make sure you click on the images to check them out full size on your monitor.  I definitely need to go back when I can stay and sample their food and wine!

Until the next image theft, enjoy!

 

17Dec/130

A Rare Beauty (Digital Fine Art):

Anyone who has done anything for a long time will get stale and their passion fades.  If you have followed this blog long enough you know that there hasn't been an effort to obtain an artistic image here since back in March of 2013.  To be honest, until recently I really haven't had the energy or passion to go out and capture an image for the sake of finding something artistic, and burning it into digital form.  All of my photographs since March have been creative layups captured during a family event or childs sporting event.  To be clear, for at least nine months I have been a disimpassioned poser, not a photographer.

Capturing images for the purpose of sale is a very interesting endeavor.  It has always fascinated me to see the types of images that stir peoples soul and entice them to purchase.  A persons love of an image can be simply because of its artistic value, the color rendition or lack thereof, the angle chosen by the photographer, the uniqueness of the crop,  the creativity of the use of depth of field, or most importantly the images ability to stir your memory of an event or person.

As a photog, sometimes you have to be pushed to work at capturing a photograph.  Prodded out of your laziness by someone else if you will.  Challenged beyond a poser.  The image in this post had potential when I walked past it at the Missouri Botanical Gardens Glow, but I passed on it at first.  It took another person, a good friend to literally shove me into capturing it.  Often we don't realize how amazing something can be until we are shown by another person.

A Rare Beauty (Almost Missed) (D3S, F/4, Handheld HDR, ISO12,800, @24mm through Nikkor 24-70mm lens)

Make sure you click on the image above to experience it full size on your screen.

 Photogs Note:

What the heck is so special about this image you ask?  Simple.  For me the symbolism of the warm glow of the lights hanging from this lonely tree will remind me that its possible to find warmth out in the winter cold and the amazing beauty that can be discovered if you allow someone to show it to you.  It is an image that I will cherish deeply for the rest of my life.  It will forever remind me of a rare beauty I found in a frozen garden of thorns. And who knows, with a little luck in the future, maybe my friend can point out some more images before I keep walking past them.

 

30Sep/130

Night Soccer (HDR/Digital Fine Art):

I know its been several months since a post but unfortunately the photography has taken a back seat to at least a dozen other Family and Career obligations.  However, I often do get a chance to combine a few of these "obligations" and the results can be pretty cool.  Sunday night JD had a soccer game that ran into the evening.  It was the perfect storm for creativity (No Pun Intended).  Rain, Lights, Mist, Blue Hour, Soccer, Tree's, and a little god sky for good measure.  Goaaaaaaallllll!

To insure crisp sports images, I had to ditch the Nikkor TC-17E2 1.7X adapter and was living at f/2.8 and almost 16000 ISO most of the time to get the shutter above 1/400th of a second through the Nikkor 70-200mm.  A lesser camera than the D3S would have gone back to the car before the game began but the ISO capability on this beast is simply amazing.  Once things got really dark and high quality action shots was almost impossible due to the low light, I resorted to a little long exposure 5 image HDR, hand held against a fence.  Here is the result:

Night Soccer (D3s, ISO1600, f/2.8, 70mm through Nikkor 70-200mm, HDR)

Night Soccer (D3s, ISO1600, f/2.8, 70mm through Nikkor 70-200mm, HDR)

Be sure to click on the image to see it full scale in your monitor. I think you will agree that the noise reduction of an HDR at ISO 1600 is nothing short of remarkable.

Until the next image theft (Hopefully soon),

20Jun/130

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.

14Jun/130

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!

2Jun/130

Poor Man’s Safari (Disney Animal Kingdom):

The family spent 5 days in Orlando at Walt Disney World and I have to say, I was very impressed with the place.  They spared no expense on going after the "Feel" of a real experience.  At the Animal Kingdom I spent quite a bit of time in Africa and Asia and we all had a tremendous time.  The Kilimanjaro Safari was a fun ride through their animal park on a simulated Safari and we had a great time.  I did manage to steal a couple of HDR's (High Dynamic Range) of the Serengeti.  The truck would stop on occasion to give us a better look at the animals and I was lucky enough to be on the perfect side to capture a few images.  Make sure you click on them to see them full scale on your monitor!

The Disney Serengeti (D3S, ISO200, HDR, f/2.8, 70mm through Nikkor 24-70mm)

I wished I had my 70-200mm lens for this ride but it just wasn't reasonable to lug it around the park for a few pictures and have to deal with it on Roller-Coasters and such.  The 24-70mm had to go multi-purpose.

I also managed to steal this image of a Giraffe pruning the low hanging branches.

Pruning (D3s, ISO200, 70mm, HDR, f/2.8 through Nikkor 24-70mm)

I would have loved to bring the Trinity along (14-24mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm) but it is just too much to carry around for 12 hours a day.

I'm going to be milking these Disney Images for a few posts so stay tuned!

Ralph.

27May/130

The Doublegun (Digital Fine Art):

One of the finest things that a person can own is a finely crafted double barrel shotgun.  Being an upland hunter, an engineer, and a photographer means that I can truly appreciate the functionality, the mechanical simplicity, and the true craftsmanship that goes into a shotgun.  I was recently asked if I could shoot a few images for a sporting clays event flyer and I obliged with a few images from the venue and used the opportunity to take a couple of images of my DeHaan Turkish handmade shotgun.  Although I will probably never have the desire or the funds to drop tens of thousands of dollars on a bespoke English shotgun, this particular one was "Affordable".  The engraving and craftsmanship are amazing.

The Turkish Double (D3S, ISO200, f/8, 1/60th, through Nikkor 35mm f/1.4)

Make sure you click on the image to enjoy it full size on your monitor.  Oh, I almost forgot, it shoots fantastic too!

Until the next image theft, Enjoy!

27Apr/130

Taxi Cab Confessions (Not Really):

So while in NY I blew about 150 bucks on cab rides.  I walked about 25 miles too but I did take a taxi when I wasn't sure where the heck I was going or whether the area would be safe at night etc.  I don't know what it is but there is something about a yellow taxi that screams NY.  I also wanted to have some sort of HDR image that had the "Broadway" street sign in it.  Here is the result.  A 3 image HDR shot of a taxi blasting by in Times Square....

Taxxiiii (D3s, ISO1600, f/5.6, HDR, Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 prime)

If you want to check it out full size on your monitor, just click on it. You will notice that it is not very sharp because it was handheld at shutter speeds around 1/25th and 1/50th. I think it still turned out kinda cool even though its not print worthy.

And here is a straight up image to go with it.

Zoom (D3s, ISO400, 1/50th, f/5.6, Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G Prime)

Until the next image theft...

26Apr/130

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 www.dofmaster.com 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!

11Mar/130

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.

Enjoy!

4Mar/130

The Central Library Re-Opening (St. Louis, MO):

In 1912 Cass Gilbert opened his gift to St. Louis Architecture when the 200,000 square foot Central library was unveiled to the world. For a century, this magnificent library provided an unparalleled collection of over 4.7 Million pieces whose purpose was intended to educate the people of Downtown St. Louis in both literature and the rich regional historical information. In the spring of 2010, the library was closed to undergo a massive restoration project intended to both modernize and prepare it for another Century of duty. Cannon Design, an architectural firm with an office here in St. Louis who I've personally used for numerous projects at Mallinckrodt successfully led the effort and reopened it in December of 2012. I finally found the time to document its beauty. Here is the result. Make sure you select the images with your mouse to enjoy them full size on your monitor....

This great hall was amazing. I would have studied it more but the D3S sounded like a 50 caliber Browning Machine Gun and every time I fired off a bracket of 9 I got evil looks from the two people without their ipod headphones in.

The Great Central Room (D3s, ISO1600, f/9, HDR, 21mm through Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8)

From the Bench (D3s, ISO400, f/5, HDR, 14mm through Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8)

This area had a unique lighting system at the ends of the bookshelves that reflected off the jackets of the books. It looked amazing. I bet it would be really cool at night!

Illuminated Bookshelves (D3s, ISO400, f/4.5, HDR, 14mm through Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8)

The inscription above the entrance to the great hall reads, "Speak Low. Tread Softly through theses Halls. Here Genius Lives Enshrined. Here Reign in Silent Majesty The Monarchs of the Mind."

Incredible Ceilings (D3s, ISO800, f/5, HDR, 17mm through Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8)

Incredible Ceilings (D3s, ISO800, f/4.5, HDR, 15mm through Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8)

I was going for an architectural rendering type of feel with these next two images...

Modern Spaces (D3s, ISO800, f/6.3, HDR, 14mm through Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8)

Natural Lighting (D3s, ISO800, f/6.3, HDR, 14mm through Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8)

I had to capture these three checking out their books. It was three generations of library goers. The Father, Son, and Grandson. This is what a 100year library is about. Generations to enjoy it!

Three Generations of Knowlege (D3s, ISO400, f/5, HDR, 24mm through Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8)

When the weather is nicer and the snow is gone, I'll do a shoot of the exterior this Summer to complete the collection.

Until the next image theft, Enjoy!

3Mar/130

High Speed Train Window Self Portrait:

I was shooting one of the L Trains while in Chicago and when it went by I saw a brief flash of my nuclear green shirt in the window.  I decided that on the next pass of the train I was going to try and capture my portrait in the window of the train.  Obviously setting the D3S at a shutter of about 1/2000th and blasting away at 11 frames per second would be pretty easy.  However, to get that shutter speed in this low of light would have required a super high and grainy ISO.  The solution was to pan on the train window as it was going by.  Here is the result of the effort....

Train Window Self Portrait

Train Window Self Portrait (D3S, ISO800, 1/30th, f/2.8 @ 56mm through Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8)

Click on it to see it full size on your monitor.  I'm the ugly dude with the green shirt holding the camera.  Kate and Wyatt were collateral's in my image!  🙂

 

Until next time...

 

2Mar/130

Museum Park Towers:

One of the things that I love about the big city environment is the presence of modern high-rise architecture.  Don't get me wrong, I love a beautiful old building but you have to admit, there is a place for the modern lines and shapes that a new structure brings.  The "Museum Park Towers" sit at the edge of Grant Park in Chicago and are perfect examples of great structures.  If I had 1.2MM laying around I'd like to live in one of the penthouse condo's at the top of these beauties.  The view of Lake Michigan has to be amazing.....

Museum Park Towers

Museum Park Towers (D3S, ISO400, f/8.0, 28mm through Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8)

Museum Park East and West

Museum Park East and West (D3S, ISO200, f/4.0, HDR, 24mm through Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8)

The sky was a really crappy grey all day and when we were walking by these beauties, the sky began to cooperate so I stole these images.  Five frames, handheld and converted to HDR using NIK HDR Efex Pro 2.  Sharpening and Upload from Lightroom 4.  Total effort of about 2 minutes......

Until the next image theft.

 

22Feb/130

The Field Museum (Home of the T-Rex):

It doesn't matter what it is, anything made in 1893 has style.  The details in architecture from that era are phenomenal.  From the bronze doors of the Field Museum to its ornate marble stonework its amazing in every way.  Not to sound cliché but they just don't build anything like this anymore.  Being a project manager who constructs a LOT of stuff, if you proposed something like this these days they would probably laugh you out of the freakin' room.  "Excuse me, how much for the bronze door and ornate marble stone work Mr. Grant"?  "What if we just tossed up some prefabricated eastern hemisphere made Masonite crap, nailed some brickmolding around it and slathered on some White latex paint and called it good"?  Thank god William Peirce Anderson, the architect of the Field Museum did not cave under pressure.

The Field Museum

The Field Museum (D3s, ISO400, HDR, f/5.6 @ 40mm through Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8)

Although the image above says that the field museum was constructed in 1893, it is a bit misleading. The original museum was erected for the 1893 worlds fair but that building was only built to last no more than one summer. The original was literally fenced off to protect visitors from falling mortar. It was commissioned to be rebuilt at its present site and construction began in 1915. After a brief delay to be repurposed into a hospital in 1918 to support the World War One effort, it was completed in May of 1921 after a $7MM expenditure.  I am assuming that this door was relocated to the new museum as part of the project.  Make sure you click on these images with your mouse to experience them full size on your monitor to appreciate the detail of this structure!

You can't post any image of the interior of the Field Museum without featuring a couple of its inhabitants.  The most famous being Sue, the T-Rex.

Sue

Sue (D3s, ISO800, HDR, f/5.6 @ 24mm through Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8)

I'm sure she was a pretty hot dinosaur in her day but she seems a little boney to me......

I'll get back there this Summer and do a study of the outside of the building when its not 19 degrees.

Until then, Enjoy!