Thursday, January 26, 2012

More purist in me

Much of the glamour photography out there is PhotoShopped heavily (just do a search for Madonna before and after shots if you want to see just how much) and that does sort of give me license to go nuts with PhotoShop, but then again, just because everyone else does it, doesn't mean I have to.

Case in point here, again straight from the camera. Some other pics I did adjust in PS (aiming for a specific look), but if I post them, I will tell you what I did.

I recall once going by a portrait photographer in a mall, his images were stunning and I told him so. His comment to me was (and I'm quoting) "I'm not a photographer, I'm a PhotoShopper" which left me disillusioned.

I'm only an amateur (and an uneven one at that) but I've always felt that the more you get right in the camera, the less you have to fake later.

I'm proud to say I'm a purist.

Pretty in Purple

More from my friend L. She'd been kind enough to track down some translucent netting. I was hoping for some linen, but that stuff is very expensive (by the yard) and the stuff she found turned out to be a better choice anyway, so kudos to her on that.

Once again, work straight from the camera. One of my strobe lights has a broken strobe controller (thanks cheap stuff made in China!) but what it's done is force me to work with a limitation, and I'm finding more and more I like the look/effect of only one working strobe, using the other as a pure hotlight.

Adds greatly to shadows and textures, as can be seen here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

People Practice

I need more practice with people. But it's a hard thing to approach folks and ask them to pose, most people are self-conscious about the way they look, and I'm not good enough to hire professional models because I don't have enough experience and you see where this is going.

Cue friends. A love my friends, they put up with so much from me. Case in point a friend who was kind enough to work with me and my experimenting.

This image is straight from the camera. No adjustments whatsoever. Normally I don't post setups (because frankly, who cares?) but I thought I'd do it this time, in case anyone is interested.

Nikon D1x. 50mm lens, ISO 125, f/4.5. Spot Metering with +1/3 exposure comp. 45degree (from subject) flash lamp at 1/2 power on right with 180degree hot lamp at 1/32 power on left.

Enjoy, more to come from this session (thanks L for doing this)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Better View

Another quiet falls view from West Virginia. It's currently raining outside where I live, which is typical winter weather around here, so it's nice to look back at pictures like this and remember.

A Moment of Silence Please

For Kodak. Please note, the following will be a rant. No images attached, just a missive aimed at the morons in charge(?) of a once great film giant. As you may or may not know, Kodak declared bankruptcy the other day. The salient details of the of the fall of Kodak are legion on the Internet, and I won't bother going into them here.

Rather I'm going to rail at them for one reason and one reason only: BW400CN film. That film is my go-to film for my Black and White shots and I'm going to be sorely ticked if they discontinue it. Which is a possibility considering the idiots at Kodak are considering using what's left of the financial resources after the bankruptcy to focus on becoming a (and I kid you not here) printer and ink company. I will pause and let that sink in. Go ahead and re-read that if you need to. I'll wait.

Printer and Ink. Printer and flippin' Ink. Really guys? REALLY? You created photograpy as we know it, invented countless improvements to every facet of my beloved hobby, revolutionized it again with the invention of digital photography, and are throwing it all away for ink profits?!?

Good Riddance Kodak.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tired Now

Being sick takes a lot out of me, so this will be the last post for today. The snowfall in West Virginia was over 1 foot so it was dificult to get clear pictures of anything other than snow covered trees and plants, beautiful as that may seem, but this one angle allowed me a clear view of the small falls.

Half the Fun

Of getting to your destination, is the journey. Along the way to Canaan Valley I ran across a stream and huge icicles hanging from the rocks. The stream was shallow enough I could step out onto some of the exposed rocks and get this shot.

It was 16 degrees here, and 14 in the Valley, but with little to no wind it felt warmer.

Not that much warmer mind you, maybe 20 degrees or so, but I'll take what I can get :-)


There are two images I've always wanted to capture, the lone tree in winter, and the abandoned farmhouse. So far, haven't gotten either one, but one day I will.

This farmhouse isn't abandoned, but the red paint coupled with the blue sky and white snow was just too appealing to pass up. If you bring up the full sized image, you will see it was snowing when I took this.

Canaan Valley

Dawn shot, overlooking the valley. The sky was kind of blah, but it was to brighten up as the day went by.

At the Old Mill

Along a ridgeline in West Virginia is a series of enormous windmills. According to Wikipedia, there are supposed to be 119 'mills built along several mountain ridges, but where I was, there were only 10 (or so, I didn't keep count)

I tried to line up a shot with multiple 'mills in view but wasn't satisfied with the results, so I went with just this one in the picture, and the results are much more pleasing (to me anyway)

I Promised Some Landscapes

Taken during my vacation in West Virginia. Overlooking a small stream whilst standing on the wooden bridge. Pictures of this area during the summertime can be seen elsewhere on this journal.

I have a 10-20mm lens that I rarely used and considered selling recently, but decided to give it a swing during this trip, in place of my normaly used 17-35mm (which is my go-to lens for landscape work)

I shot mostly at 20mm and I'm pretty happy with the results.

No enjoyment without a little pain

Ok, no picture here. I'm home sick with a stomach flu that has got me feeling weak, tired and strung out. The worst is over (and those of you who have suffered with a stomach flu know exactly what I'm talking about) and my apetite is returning somewhat. The trick is to find foods that are mild and won't cause distress.
The upside to all of this is I've lost weight :-)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Pulsing Xenia to be exact. When the water is still, you can see the flower heads pulse and contract as they filter the water in search of nutrients. Very cool to watch, but they are considered a pest in reef tanks.
That's all the animals for now, the next sets will be of the landscapes and snow.

I See You

One of the major, in my opinion, highlights of the invertibrate house, was their collection of walking sticks, all hanging upside down from a single large plant.

Fantastic creatures, you can see the eye following you wherever you go.

Sweet dreams :-)


A Tube Anemone from a dedicated tank for them at the DC Zoo. Their colours are delicate and the flash somewhat washed it out, despite my best efforts. Ah well, better luck next time.

Go Away...

...or I will taunt you a second time! Not the best picture I know, but I thought the tongue on the sitting Cheetah made the shot.

Tiger Tiger

Burning bright. Actually this poor kitty had an upset stomach so mostly it (I respect it's privacy) was growling loudly and eating grass, but it did stop long enough to glare for me and look suitably tigerish.

A Rose by Any Other Name

Returning to the aquatic realm, here is a trio of Rose Anemones. Part of another reef tank at the DC Zoo.

Macro lens, bounced flash, and otherwise right from the camera.

Speaking of Lazy

The totally unrelated Red Panda, seen here snoozing at the very early hour of 11am.

Cute looking creature, about the size of a large Racoon.

Laziest Animal Ever

Why anyone still cares about the Panda is beyond me. Here is an animal that refuses to eat properly (bamboo leaves are both non-nutritious and not the panda bear's original diet), and refuses to reproduce without some major external help.

Yet somehow this candidate for the Darwin Awards Gold Medal has become the face of the entire wildlife movement.

Anyway, here it is, doing what it does best, laze around doing nothing.

Still very cute however.

Dangerous Dan

The Mantis Shrimp. One of the most dangerous creatures in the ocean. Also good at solving rubik's cubes (don't believe me? Youtube it)

I kid about the last part (but it is on Youtube) but they are highly intelligent and very very dangerous.

Beautiful plumage, even though that's not nothin' bleedin' to do with it.

Shy this one was, wouldn't come out entirely so this is all you get.

Where there are Lions

There are usually lazy Cheetahs about. Different enclosure of course, but there they were, lazing about in the early morning sun.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Large and In Charge

The lions had a wonderful home but the viewing area was, understandably, elevated and separated by water, thus making eye level photography somewhat difficult.

This fellow, however, wandered up to the water's edge and paused just long enough (no doubt looking at us as a breakfast snack) for me to get one semi good shot.

I'd love to get closer to these magnificent animals, but there's probably a reason they don't let us anywhere near them.


Unlike the other coral that I had difficulty with, this one was a piece of cake. One shot, got it right the first time.

There were other corals in the beautiful reef tank, but they were too hard to isolate and I let them pass.


Fear of God. Most people would exclaim "Oh God!" if faced with a Pit Viper this close up. Me, I just think "Cool, where's my camera?"

Again, a little softer than I would have liked because of the glass, but I doubt the Zoo would let me get inside the tank for a better shot.

Dentist's Nightmare

This friendly little fellow was an absolute nightmare (heh, pardon the pun) to shoot. For starters, the (armoured I'm sure) glass was absolutely filthy, mainly from the inside where the water was touching, and he was, ah, shall we say, in flagrante delicto, with the female in the area, so I can understand why he wasn't really in the mood (heh, another pun, sorry) to pose for my camera.

But then, wonder of wonders, he swam up to the glass (still attached BTW) and smiled for me, or perhaps he was just bragging, hard to say. In any case, here is the best shot of him.

Pleasant dreams :)

Big Cats

The Zoo had 7 semi-adult lions romping about on Saturday and they were well into the play mood by the time I had found them. I wasn't fast enough to catch some serious play fighting, but I did like how this one turned out.

You may notice the image is slightly smaller than the others, and that is because I did something with it that I haven't done in years, I cropped the picture.

I didn't have a lens long enough to reach out to them and fill the frame, so I ended up with a fair amount of "empty space", so I cropped the image to show what was important. The shot would probably show up ok on a normal sized sheet of paper, but I wouldn't push it past that. One day I'll have a great big lens and be able to make poster sized prints, but not today. Sorry.

Ham Sandwich

I didn't realize the Zoo had a tank full of nautiloids. I thought these critters were deep water and required a specialized environment, but apparently I was wrong.

The tank was not lit, and I felt a little bad about using a flashgun, but they didn't react at all to the bright light. After reading up on them, it appears their vision is poor, lacking a lens within their eyes, so the light didn't bother them.

Don't ask me why, but when I was a kid, I always thought it looked like the nautiloid was eating a ham sandwich, but that's just their tentacles.
And just for those in the know: "Ph'nglui Mglw' nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn."

More Therapy?

The thing I love about photographing reptiles, and snakes especially, is how nice they sit still for you.

In this case we have an excellent example of a Copperhead, just perfectly posed. The glass in between us softened the image just a tad, but given this little guy's ability to kill with one bite, I'll accept that tradeoff.

Reef Inhabitants

I must have shot this coral a dozen times, flash, no flash, Macro lens (used here), wide angle lens, you name it, I tried it. The lighting around the tank was very bad, and the tank was swirling with nutrients and small air bubbles.

In the end, though, I got one shot I'm happy with. I didn't get the killer shot like I did with the Atlantic Anemone, but I'm still pleased.

An an... an-nem-men-nem-mon-ee... A men-nem-men-nem-o-nee...

In addition to the excellent reptiles, the Zoo has an outstanding invertebrate house, with all kinds of my favourite critters, which you will see here shortly.

This is a blue-tip (aka Atlantic) Anemone. The picture turned out *stellar*, I couldn't ask for a better picture of this guy. Check out the full sized image and see if you don't agree.


The DC Zoo has, in addition to the normal animals one might find there, an excellent reptile house. Unfortunately the critters are behind thick and sometimes smudged glass.

Which makes for difficult photography. Many of the shots from that house were marred by the glass getting in the way, but some turned out ok, like this large (female) Iguana.

Hey, updates!

I had a 4 day weekend (thank you, State job!) this past week and what better use of it than to go on a photoshoot? So I started with the DC Zoo, and ended up in West Virginia for snow.

What follows is, in no special order, scenes from my trip. I'm still sorting through the massive number of images I shot, so there will be lots of updates here.

At the zoo they had a bunch of semi-adult lions romping around in their play area and this is one of my favourites from there.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I'm gonna be your best friend!

No, I'm *not* going to pay for your psychiatric bill from viewing this image. You knew the risks when you came here ;-)

Found this "little" fellow on my outside wall last night. Just the perfect subject for the 55mm dedicated Macro lens on my D1x.

Sweet dreams.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


And what city scene would be complete without a little urban art? Not sure what it was supposed to mean, but it was next door to a lawyer's office, so make of that what you will.


Around our downtown area are wire mesh reindeer. Only one had a red nose and I was actually only using this shot to show a friend the advantages of wide angle lenses, but I liked the way it turned out so here it is.

Thanks to Rudolph for holding stil while I photographed him.

Evocation, Part 4

Last one of the bridge shots. I liked the way the dead tree intruded into the image. I was tempted to get into the water for some unobstructed shots but the water was moving too quickly for my tastes (not to mention that even though it was about 70 degrees on Jan. 1st, that water looked mighty cold)

Evocation, Part 3

I could not have asked for a better sky for these shots. Even the dead tree limbs were just about perfect.

Evocation, Part 2

Some time ago I posted a series of images of a bridge style scene, PhotoShopped to bring out emotions.

Here is a series of shots of a new bridge, unPhotoShopped (aka from the camera) for your emotional pleasure.

It helped immensely that the sky was so interesting.

Happy New Year

I made a New Year's Resolution to eat more healthy foods. So here is a more healthy food. My resolution can now be considered to be kept, and now I can go back to chocolate, pasta, ice cream, chocolate, noodles, and the occasional bar of chocolate.

For the rest of you, if you have the same resolution that I did, consider this image to fulfilled the bargain for you too.