Monday, May 23, 2016
I continue to be impressed with the black-and-white conversion capabilities of Photoshop Lightroom CC. Seriously solid. I continue to be disappointed with how Lightroom sharpens images, though maybe I'm just not good at it. I use Smart Sharpen in Photoshop CC. EXIF for this image is f/11 for 1/60th of a second, ISO 100, +1/3 stop exposure compensation.
Friday, April 1, 2016
For those who have graduated from confusing it with Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park seems to quietly--but forcefully--beckon those who have never been there. Located in northern California, Yosemite has long been on my list of must-see places. No small part of this longing has to do with my interest in photography (dormant for a while, but recently renewed); one simply cannot think of landscape photography without thinking of Yosemite. Some of it has to do with escaping the man-made and connecting with the God-made. If I’m being honest, though, I think some part of me needed to go to Yosemite to be overwhelmed--to be brought down a few notches, and to be reminded that the granite will be around long after I’m not.
Our spring break trip to Yosemite was my 13-year-old daughter’s idea. Back in January, she came in and asked me if I had any books on Yosemite. I have two books by Ansel Adams, one more educational, one more pictorial. I gave her the more educational of the two, and thought nothing else about it. The next day, she announced that she wanted to go to Yosemite for spring break. I offered no objection, and was secretly elated. I spent the next few weeks learning about Yosemite. Not necessarily the history of its existence, but more about the various locations in the park, where to go, where to stay, how to get there, how to photograph it. I knew that we would arrive in daylight, that our hotel would be two miles from the south entrance of the park. (Be advised--it's still about 35 miles to Tunnel View from the entrance.) The road we would take to the park would carry us directly to Tunnel View, the scene most people think of when they think of Yosemite Valley. As luck (and airline schedules) would have it, I ended up at Tunnel View just before sunset on our first day. I was ready to pop out of the tunnel and see this grand sight I’ve only seen in videos or photographs. What I didn’t realize is that you first come around a bend in the road before you get to the tunnel, where you see a more compressed view of Yosemite Valley. Unless you pull over, it’s a view that is gone shortly after it appears, leaving you with your mouth agape and your heart racing. She's a tease, isn't she?
As you glide down the road and into the tunnel, your heartbeat increases with anticipation. You know what’s coming next. You’ve seen a glimpse of it just now, but nothing can really prepare you for what you see when you emerge from the tunnel. Suddenly, one of the greatest landscapes in all the world is revealed to you. More accomplished persons have uttered or penned eloquent descriptions of Yosemite Valley and the first impressions it generates. It’s going to take some quiet time working through the photographs to cobble together the words that might describe my first impression of Yosemite Valley. For now, though, consider the words of others. First, Carl Pope, a former executive director of the Sierra Club: “It’s a place that you step into and you don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s a place that can surprise you. It’s a place where you’re small, but where being small is not a bad thing--where being small is actually a wonderful thing.” Next, these words by William A. Turnage of the Ansel Adams Trust: “I don’t think there’s any place that hits you in the solar plexus the way the first time you come into Yosemite Valley. It’s simply overwhelming. . . . It’s awesome.”
Over the next few days, we learned our way around the park and it’s amenities. In many ways, the place truly is overwhelming, almost too much to take in, even given an entire week. It’s probably similar to being given a $50,000 shopping spree in New York City or Chicago, but you have only
Since I've mentioned Tunnel View, that's where I'll start. This was taken the morning of our third day. It had rained a good part of the afternoon before, and into the evening, before turning to a light dusting of snow. The weather forecast showed the storm to be clearing out just around sunrise. I had read that you really need some good clouds for a dramatic Tunnel View shot, so I got up early and headed to Tunnel View. About 25 or so other people had the same idea, so we were all lined up with our cameras and our tripods and remote shutter releases. It was a brisk 27 degrees, but once the sun cleared Cathedral Rocks (the formation just past Bridalveil Fall), it warmed up considerably. I have countless shots of this scene still to work through, but this is one I really like. ISO 100, Sigma 10-20 at 20mm, f/16 at 1/10 second.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
The first, most immediately recognizable moment for me was the heightened level of security at the federal building in Fayetteville. As part of my law clerk responsibilities, I often had to take documents to the federal building. The afternoon of April 19th, you could not get within 2 blocks of the federal building in Fayetteville. Secondly, a guy I knew from my hometown was in the Murrah building at the time and was killed in the explosion.
This second reason is what made me get out of bed this past Sunday morning and drive to downtown Oklahoma City to visit the memorial. We were in OKC for a dance competition in which my daughter and her dance company competed. Those of you who have kids who are doing or have done this understand that 1) the venues are conveniently located near NOTHING; and 2) the event timings leave little room for free time. I knew we would probably not be loading up to drive downtown to spend any significant time at the memorial and museum, but I was not going to leave town without going to this piece of hallowed ground and visiting The Field of Empty Chairs.
I got there about 7:30--about an hour later than planned. But, I still had the place to myself. Wearing dark glasses and a black skull cap, carrying a large camera bag and a tripod, it did not take long for a security guard to appear and make sure I was on the up-and-up. We chatted. He told me it was ok to walk among the chairs. He showed me where the names of the bombing victims were engraved on the chairs. He showed me the chair of Baylee Almon, the infant in the famous firefighter photograph (I'm not going to give it to you--go look for it). I didn't have nearly enough time to do much of anything other than take in the site and take a few photographs.
The children's chairs are smaller than those of the adults. If you have children, you instinctively get how poignant this is.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Monday, July 30, 2012
I've seen some versions of this challenge talk about shooting an entire week or month with one lens. Even as simple as it is, the 50 1.8 can be a little hard to get your head around when shooting on the fly, so while I don't know if an entire month is realistic, it's a good way to learn about perspective and composition.
Friday, February 24, 2012
I found myself in an uncertain situation last night. When I got home from work, I went to the mailbox and got the mail, which included a Priority Mail package for me. I opened the envelope to discover three New Customer packets from Verizon Wireless. As I looked through one of the packets, I found a “Customer Receipt” that indicated that I had opened 3 cell phone lines with Verizon on February 20th. This not being the case, I immediately called Verizon and alerted their fraud department. In the process of doing this, I learned that the account had been opened with my social security number. I called the police (an officer later came to the house to interview me). I instituted fraud alerts with the credit reporting agencies. I tried to get my once-annually free credit report, only to learn that someone had already either got it or tried to get it the same day as the Verizon accounts were set up. This last little piece of information was perhaps a little more frightening than anything else.
So don’t think it can’t happen to you. Despite best practices, it most certainly can happen to you.
That feeling of vulnerability that comes with not knowing when the next shoe is going to fall is scary. But I’m over being frightened. Now I’m pissed. I don’t know who you are, but I am a patient man. I don’t know who you are, but I have a slow burn. I don’t know who you are, but I am Maximum Decimus Meridius. I don’t know who you are.
Friday, September 9, 2011
Two speedlights at camera left. One high and shooting down through a shoot-through umbrella at 1/2 power. Second light is Justin clamped to a chair at 45 degrees, with a Honl grid, aimed pretty much at the capsule (which is the foil covering over the top of the wine bottle). White blanket background. I ran out of batteries or I would have splashed the background.
1/60 at f/11
Nikkor 70-300VR at 300, hand held.
Incidentally, the other wines are the 2009 Buehler Vineyards Chardonnay Russian River Valley, the 2009 Buehler Vinearyds Zinfandel, the 2007 Trespass Vineyard Cabernet Franc, the 1999 Flora Springs Trilogy, and the 2005 Taylor Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.