May 032014
At the museum, from above…And opinions

I posted this picture (taken from the blog posting that precedes this one) on an online forum — mostly to give the members a look at what a couple of new lenses could to.  More of a semi-technical posting than an art statement.


Click Image to Enlarge

Of course this invites comments on the aesthetics from both the well-intentioned and the clueless alike…Which is why I rarely post photos on forums.

I got this one: “I like the perspective on the 4th indoor shot, but I would tighten it up quite a lot. I’d crop away everything except mom, baby and the girder. I wouldn’t crop much from the bottom, don’t want to lose any of the stroller’s shadow. The round things at the ends of the girder would go though, as would the shadow coming in from the top.”

A follow-up post from the same person was a backtrack that decided not to backtrack:  “I didn’t say you had to tighten up the shot, I said ‘I would tighten up the shot.’ I just don’t see how the extra elements add anything to the sense of time or place. For me, the photograph is all about the baby and the mother. Everything else is a distraction.”  His would look something like this:


Click Image to Enlarge

And from a very superficial point of view he is correct:  It is about the woman and the baby.  But his framing leaves us with little else, and certainly not a hint of context.  To me, it ends up almost as a gimmick shot.

His concerns about not showing a “sense of time or place” should really be about his suggested cropping.  In my wider cropping you get a sense that this is probably a large public space.  His gives you non of that.  The sense of time is not absolute, but subjective or relative.  In the context of that larger public space, the connection between the woman and the child is even more apparent — a personal moment in the larger world.

The girder has an interesting look, but in his cropping it becomes a visual barrier:  There is nothing beyond.  There are some interesting shadows, but nothing that provides any context to the venue.  The girder constrains rather than expands.  Pretty much “Here it is”.  In the tradition of faux photojournalism.


I like the looser cropping of my original post.  For me, it works for two groups of viewers.

  1. For people familiar with the venue (granted, far less than 1% of the viewers), it illustrates the space.  You know what the shadows represent, at least in a general way.  And you also know how precious these moments are at a busy museum…In a minute or two, thirty people can be standing at this very spot.
  2. For those just looking at the photo afresh, there is a little more mystery.  Leaving the angle on the girder (to the left) gives the viewer a “way out”.  With the area left above the girder, the girder is no longer a visual barrier, but begins to define the “beyond”.  All of the area surrounding the woman and the baby becomes potential subject for speculation.


I often come across situations where I want to acknowledge people in my photos, but don’t want the viewer dwelling on the details.  There is room for debate on whether this is an effective approach, but it does reduce the emphasis on individual people — a sort of ephemeral objectification of the humans.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

The Louvre

The Louvre



But one last note on cropping the original image…Perhaps I could have cropped out a wee bit of the distracting stuff along the right edge…

Click Image to Enlarge

Click Image to Enlarge

Nov 102013
What you have attached to the front of your camera does alter your point of view

I’m building out my Fujifilm X-Pro1 kit and I was on the fence about the Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS.  When shooting for myself or traveling I rarely find a need for a lens longer than 90mm (in 35mm full frame equivalent field of view (FOV)).  The FOV on this lens is 82.5mm to 300mm — that far end not being a place I spend a lot of time.  Also, I’m not a fan of lenses that change aperture while they zoom.  Aperture, in most shooting, is the control that has the most impact on the “look” of the picture and many photographers prefer to have all the exposure controls stay the same over the zoom range, especially if they are using a hand-held light meter or are using flash units.

Space Shuttle

Space Shuttle Enterprise.  (100mm; 1/25 sec @ f/6.4; freestanding)

(Notes:  (1) Click on the images to see them more clearly — it makes a big difference.  The pictures in the blog body were automatically downsampled to lower resolution to fit the column width.  (2) All the larger images you see after the “click” were down-sampled in PhotoShop to 50% of original cropped size in order to save loading time.  (3) All the photos were shot with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 — all at ISO 3200 with the exception of the Boeing 307, which was shot at ISO 6400.)

Engine cowl detail.

Engine cowl detail of Dornier Do 335 A-1 Pfeil.  (172mm; 1/20 sec. @ f/6.4; freestanding)

On the other hand, constant aperture lenses are heavier and more costly.  The engineering is more complex, lens elements are usually larger, and that means that the lens, overall, needs to be beefier.  My Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens weighs 1,540 grams (3.40 lb).  The Fujifilm, on the other hand, comes in at only 580 grams (1.28 lb).  The Fuji is physically smaller, so hauling it around isn’t that much of a chore.  Both lens have optical image stabilization.

Self Portrait from Boeing.

Self Portrait from Boeing 307 Stratoliner…I’m the shape reflected in the propeller dome with the light at my feet.  Note the dust and lint.  (141mm; 1/40 sec @ f/8; freestanding)

Pondering the purchase, my research showed the Fuji lens was getting good reviews.  The image stabilization was reported to be very effective and the optics across most of the zoom range performed well.  Optical performance degrades a bit at the long end of the zoom, but that’s not as much of an issue for me.


Vought F4U-1D Corsair.  (149mm; 1/70 sec. @ f/5.6; freestanding)

So I wrote out a check (the advantage of shopping locally — PhotoCraft in Burke, VA) and the next day I visited the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy facility near Dulles International Airport.  As some of you know, this is my lens and camera test venue.  The displays inside don’t change that much, but the lighting can be a real challenge….Fairly dim inside combined with the mixed-source lighting, so the photographer is presented with ample opportunities to really blow shots.  The longer and slower the lens — the more those opportunities present themselves.  (There are some photos from this session that will never see the light of your monitor.)


Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star cockpit.  (90mm; 1/17 sec @ f/5.0; supported by handrail)

So…Pictures close up.


Globe Swift GC-1A cockpit.  (200mm; 1/30 sec. @ f/6.4; supported by handrail)


Ryan PT-22A Recruit.  (156mm; 1/50 sec. @ f/4.5; freestanding)

Rotary Engine

Nieuport 28C-1 rotary engine & cowl.  Note the dust on the propeller.  (67mm; 1/15 sec. @ f/6.4; supported by column)

Tail Gunner position on the B-29 "Enola Gay".

Tail Gunner position on the B-29 “Enola Gay”.  (200mm; 1/40 sec. @ f/4.8; supported by handrail.  This is pretty much the extreme shot:  slow shutter speed, lens fully zoomed and wide open.  But the rivet and hinge detail still holds up well.)

Post Processing (PP):  Raw conversion by PictureCode’s Photo Ninja running inside Adobe Photoshop CS6 — includes Noise Ninja and some adjustment for detail and highlights.  Continued PP in Photoshop including conversion to a PSD file, curves (for a black point and, if available, a white point),  cropping,  color balance, etc.  A final pass with NIK Viveza 2, which gives you a last chance to see how the image looks and adjust lightness, saturation, shadows, etc.  Then saving for Web JPEG in PhotoShop.

Nov 032013
A Lens Test at a Familiar Venue

The Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 lens was eagerly anticipated by many Fujifilm X-Camera users.  Fuji has paid more attention than is typical in developing a line of prime (non-zoom) lenses for this line of mirrorless cameras.  With a wide aperture of f/1.4 photographers will have more options with regard to depth of field — which is a good thing.  This is a very nice lens.

Walkway leading to the entrance of the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center -- Near Dulles International Airport.

Walkway leading to the entrance of the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center — Near Dulles International Airport.  (1/600 sec. @ f/5.6; ISO 200)

(Notes:  (1) Click on the images to see them more clearly — it makes a big difference.  The pictures in the blog body were automatically downsampled to lower resolution to fit the column width.  (2) All the larger images you see after the “click” were down-sampled in PhotoShop to 50% of original cropped size in order to save loading time.  (3) All the photos were shot with the fujinon 23mm f/1.4 lens on a Fujifilm X-Pro1 at the ISO values given in the picture information.)

NASM Udvar-Hazy observation tower viewed from the museum entrance.

NASM Udvar-Hazy observation tower viewed from the museum entrance.  (1/800 sec. @ f/5.6; ISO 200)


Vought F4U-1D Corsair near entrance.  (1/20 sec. @ f/5.6; ISO 1600)


Republic P-47D Thunderbolt.  (1/25 sec. @ f/5.6; ISO 3200)

Concorde front landing gear detail.

Concorde front landing gear detail.  (1/80 @ f/2.8; ISO 1600)

Floor of the museum near the entrance with Japanese

Floor of the museum near the entrance with Japanese Nakajima J1N1-S Gekko “Irving”.  (1/20 sec. @ f/4.0.  ISO 1600)


Curtiss 1A “Gulfhawk”.  Notice the blue ceiling — the result of the differences in lighting, and my selecting a black point and white point (the pin striping) on the plane itself (warm light) which let the background go much cooler.  (1/25 sec. @ f/4.0; ISO 1600)

Walkway as airplanes land at Dulles.

Walkway as airplanes land at Dulles.  (1/300 sec. @ f/8.0; ISO 200)

Post Processing (PP):  Raw conversion by PictureCode’s Photo Ninja running inside Adobe Photoshop CS6 — includes Noise Ninja and some adjustment for detail and highlights.  Continued PP in Photoshop including conversion to a PSD file, curves (for a black point and, if available, a white point),  cropping,  color balance, etc.  A final pass with NIK Viveza 2, which gives you a last chance to see how the image looks and adjust lightness, color, saturation, shadows, etc.  Then saving for Web JPEG in PhotoShop.

Aug 012013

Checking out some new lenses…

The Udvar-Hazy facility of the National Air and Space Museum (at Dulles International Airport) is a destination for me whenever I need to check out new cameras and lenses…In this case, three lenses for the Fujifilm X-Pro1 camera:  The 12mm f/2.8 and 32mm f/1.8 Zeiss Touits and the 60mm f/2.8 Fuji.  Although I have some regular subjects (for repeatability) any visit can take its own course.

Click on any photo for a full screen view.  (File sizes range from 4MB to 7MB, so will take some time to load.)


Beechcraft D18S “Twin Beech” (60mm lens.  1/200 sec. @ f/2.8.  ISO 800)

Below the entrance overlook. Curtis P-40E “Warhawk” and Vought F4U-1D “Corsair”. (12mm lens. 1/30 sec. @ f/5. ISO 1600)

Curtis P-40 nose detail.  (32mm lens.  1/70 sec. @ f/2.8.  ISO 1600)

Curtis P-40E “Warhawk” nose detail. (32mm lens. 1/70 sec. @ f/2.8. ISO 1600)



King-Bugatti U-16 engine (Duesenburg) builder’s plate. (60mm lens. 1/180 sec. @ f/4.0. ISO 3200)


Republic P-47D-30-RA “Thunderbolt” below Vought OS2U-3 “Kingfisher”. (32mm lens. 1/18 sec. @ f/4.0. ISO 1600.)


Nose of Boeing B-29 “Superfortress” Enola Gay (note reflection of P-47D). (32mm lens. 1/30 sec. @ f/5.6. ISO 1600.)


Boeing 307 Stratoliner engine detail. (60mm lens. 1/90 sec. @ f/4.0. ISO 3200.)


Boeing 307 Stratoliner “Clipper Flying Cloud”. (12mm lens. 1/90 sec. @ f/5.6. ISO 3200.)


Concorde Fox Alpha, Air France (entire plane in one frame). (12mm lens. 1/20 sec. @ f/5.6. ISO 1600.)


Lockheed 1049F-55-96 “Constellation” (C-121C, West Virginia Air National Guard). (60mm lens. 1/210 sec. @ f/4.0. ISO 1600.)


Ariel-1 satellite (replica from parts). (60mm lens. 1/125 sec. @ f/2.8. ISO 1600.)


Space Shuttle “Discovery” hull detail. (60mm lens. 1/40 sec. @ f/2.8. ISO 1600.)


Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC propeller blade and spinner detail. (60mm lens. 1/75 sec. @ f/3.2. ISO 1600.)


Grumman G-22 “Gulfhawk II”. (60mm lens. 1/55 sec. @ f/4.0. ISO 1600.)

Dec 302012
Dawn — Somewhere Out West…

Airplane window shots are problematic.  You’re typically shooting through three layers of glass and plastic.  Some of those surfaces are probably dirty.  Most of the surfaces are reflecting the other surfaces — and also whatever is in the airplane cabin, including your camera.

But there you are above dawn just breaking “somewhere out west”.  A full moon.  You have to give it a try.

Somewhere Out West -- Dawn from the air.

Somewhere Out West — Dawn from the air.

I shot this with a Panasonic DMC-TS3 which, thoughfully, has an “Aerial Photo” scene mode.  Holding the camera upside down for some shots to position the lens.  The real work is in post processing.  Noise reduction with Noiseware.  Curves, contrast and brightness in Photoshop.  Graduated ND filter effect with NIK Color Efex Pro.  Color balance back in PhotoShop.  A sharpness pass with NIK Sharpener Pro.  Final “save for web” in PhotoShop.  The two control points were the moon (keep it from turning into a solid white orb) and the terrain faces near the front edges of the engine nacelles (keep the details and sharpness of line).

P.S. Another reason, on coast-to-coast daylight flights, for picking a window on the right side westbound and on the left side eastbound.

Sep 032012

I seem to be having a hard time finding sunshine here in Krakow.  However, for a trip to Auschwitz and Birkenau, a bright sunny day might be a bit too incongruous.


The main gate at Auschwitz — from the inside.

Below is one of the early attempts to deal with the remains of murdered persons.  One pair of a total of four ovens at Auschwitz.  The turntable on the floor allows operators to pull ashes out of an oven, turn the cart 180 degrees, and the push the cart over an ash pit to be dumped.  This particular setup was abandoned as more efficient equipment was developed to handle the mass of murdered people.

Early ovens at Auschwitz.

 Birkenau (Auschwitz II)

The other iconic gateway.

The rail gate to Birkenau.

A railway wagon of the type used to transport to Birkenau for work or to be killed.  This is the place seen in many photos showing people being taken off the trains and, in many cases, immediately sorted and taken to the gas chambers.

Railway goods wagon of the type used to transport people to Birkenau.

Electrified fence line.

On the Birkenau site, opposite from the railway gate, are the remains of gas chambers and crematoria — destroyed by the SS at the Soviets advanced westward.  A picture of the structure is on the sign to the left.

Gas chamber and crematorium destroyed as Soviet forces drew closer.

The memorial, opposite the camp from the railway gate.  The group in the center are Israeli students.  The government of Israel sends thousands of students every year to tour the death camps.  This practice is considered controversial by some.  The students are accompanied throughout their visit to Poland by Israeli security guards (I counted at least 4 with this group).

Israeli students at the memorial.

Inside one of the wooden barracks.  These were designed as stables for the German Army — to house 52 horses.  They held up to 400 prisoners.

Inside a wooden barrack.

Israeli students light candles in one of the brick barracks.

Visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau

Many people take an organized tour, but I’d recommend avoiding them.  You can do all the research you need online, and I don’t think Auschwitz and Birkenau are best absorbed when you are part of a herd.  Also, during the peak tourist months, you can only enter Auschwitz I between the hours of 10:00 am and 3:00 pm as part of an organized tour– due to the crush of visitors.  There are no such restrictions at Birkenau.

My recommendation is to take a bus from the Krakow bus terminal (right next door to the main Krakow train station).  Get a bus that will get you to the museum no later than 11:00 – 11:30.  Then take the free shuttle to Birkenau (Auschwitz II).  You likely find it very quiet.  Take your time and then take any of the shuttles back to Auschwitz that leave Birkenau after 2:45 pm.  You will have managed is to avoid the surge of tours that starts at Auschwitz, then goes to Birkenau, and then home.

Panoramic Photo of Birkenau

A 360-degree view taken midway between the railway gate and the memorial.  (Right click on photo and then select “View Image”.)

Feb 262012

A Saturday visit to two centers of art in Washington, DC.

The Phillips Collection

My favorite art museum in DC, this is the place to take visitors from out-of-town.  Located about a block from the DuPont Metro Station (at 21st and Q NW), Duncan Phillips started the collection in the family residence in 1918, and opened it to the public in 1921.

The most famous painting in the collection is Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party”.  People really love this painting, and for good reason.

Luncheon of the Boating Party (Renoir)

Leica M9 w/Zeiss 18mm f/4 lens; ISO 800; 1/25 sec.

A detail of the ceiling and mantlepiece in the Music Room.

In the Music Room

Leica M9 w/Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 lens; ISO 1600; 1/15 sec.

The gallery rooms in the original residence are intimate and calming.  They stress that the furniture in the rooms is intended to be used, and these galleries are nice places to relax.

Gallery room in the original residence.

Leica M9 w/Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 lens; ISO 400; 1/30 sec.

Staircase in the Sant Building, looking out onto the courtyard.  This used to be an apartment building, and a complete interior rebuild was completed in 2006.  It added additional gallery space, an auditorium, a library, classroom, and workshop space.

Staircase in the Sant Building.

Leica M9 w/Zeiss 18mm f/4 lens; ISO 800; 1/500 sec.

National Gallery of Art, East Building

Part of the immense Calder mobile (untitled) completed just before he died.  It weighs about 1,000 pounds but moves subtly in the air light currents inside the building.

Paintings and Calder Mobile

Leica M9 w/Voigtlander 90mm f/3.5 lens; ISO 800; 1/90 sec.

On the main floor with Ellsworth Kelly’s “Color Panels for a Large Wall” in the background.

Main Floor of East Building

Leica M9 w/Voigtlander 15mm f/4 lens; ISO 400; 1/30 sec.

Painting, viewed from above.

Leica M9 w/Zeiss 25mm f/2.8 lens; ISO 400; 1/25 sec.

“Multiverse”, by Leo Villareal, is a light sculpture that lives alongside the underground moving walkways between the East Building and the cage/museum shop at the east footing of the West Building.  This shot looked awful in the Leica’s monitor, but it actually “cleans up pretty good” in the computer.  I need to go back and try a few more shots.

Leo Villareal's "Multiverse"

Leica M9 w/Zeiss 25mm f/2.8 lens; ISO 1600; 1/30 sec.

Feb 122012

One from the Northcoast (Redwood Coast) of California

A friend just made a trip through this area, and that gave me an excuse to look around the archives a little…

This picture was taken in December, 2004 along US 101 between Eureka and Crescent City — just south of Wilson Creek.

Near Wilson Creek, along US 101

This was shot on color film with a Voigtlander rangefinder and scanned.  The color image was very flat so I used Nik Software Silver Efex Pro to render the image in B&W simulating Fuji Neopan 1600 film with a green filter.

Jan 282012

Taking a break on the drive from Charleston, WV.

There are several routes between home and the Charleston area.  The shortest, 329 miles and (according to Google) 6 hours non-stop, passes by Seneca Rocks.  It’s roughly half way so it makes a nice break in the drive.

The rocks are a quartzite formation that almost looks like a blade slicing up through the surrounding countryside.  The current satellite view on Google Maps shows this well.

Seneca Rocks

Seneca Rocks and the North Branch of the South Fork of the Potomac River

On the way home last Friday I stopped and spent about 1 1/2 hours just walking around.  It was a pretty dreary day so I was shooting with the hope of coming up with a decent black & white shot, as well as some close-up shots of whatever else caught my attention.

For Distant Viewing

In 1943 and 1944 Seneca Rocks was a training area for the 10th Mountain Division.

Base of the Telescope

The Sites Homestead was established in the early 19th Century.  The log cabin that forms the basis for this house was built around 1839.  It was expanded in the 1870s and remained in the Sites family until the Forest Service acquired it in 1968.  Quite a view when you step out the front door in the morning.

The Sites Homestead

Chimney and Window, Sites Homestead

Barrel, Sites Homestead

If your GPS can’t find Seneca Rocks, the coordinates of the road intersection (US 22, WV 55, & WV 28) are 38.834576, -79.376246.  The entrance to the Discovery Center is a few hundred yards to the south.  The Seneca Rocks Discovery Center is closed until Spring, but you can park on the lower parking area.

Dec 112011

Lincoln Memorial, May 2008

I stumbled across this picture while working on another project.

Not traditional composition and framing, which is why I like it.


It was shot with a Leica M8 and a Voigtlander 90mm lens.  The image is very low key, with no startling whites or deep blacks.  Typical for an M8 image, the DNG (RAW) file required very little post processing.

Nov 122011

A Favorite Spot for Shooting

I go out to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport to test new cameras and lenses.  It is a challenging venue, and if things go wrong, they go wrong in a very noticeable way.   From the overhead walkway, this particular location always draws me.

Vantage Point

I like the open space, gray concrete, shadows, the pieces of “museum stuff”, and seeing what people are doing.

The camera being tested is the Fujifilm X10 — which hit the dealer shelves on Tuesday.  This shot was made as an EXR JPEG (EXR’s SN mode, for you Fuji geeks) with only a little bit of Noise Ninja in post-processing.  Everything else was done in the camera: 1/35 sec., f/2.5, ISO 640.  EXR makes all the selections once you decide which of three modes you will use.

The intelligence in cameras is getting a bit scary…The X10 produced a very nice image with almost no input from me.

Sep 062011

Earlier from Philadelphia…

The previous posting has pictures from a recent trip to Philadelphia.  That reminded me of a shot taken in 2004 (I believe) early one morning from a hotel room window…Hand-held, pressed against the window for steadiness

I’m not sure how good a picture it really is, but I’ve always liked the “atmospherics”.  This how it feels to be in a strange room in a strange city early in the morning.

Early Morning in Philadelphia

This was shot with a Leica M6, using a 35mm f/2.5 Cosina/Voigtlander lens on Ilford chromogenic B&W film and scanned.

Aug 272011

Evening Walkabout With the Fuji X100

Attending a conference earlier this week a couple of blocks from the river game me a chance to do a little walking around with the Fuji X100.  The X100 imposes one significant restriction; it has a fixed focal length lens.  No zoom, so you have to compose by thinking through things a little more, and moving the camera (an yourself) instead of zooming the lens (or changing lenses).  That said, the camera’s large sensor and good low-light characteristics give the photographer more technical capacity to work with.

USS Olympia and USS Becuna:  To say that the cruiser  Olympia is iconic is a bit of an understatement.  Commodore Dewey’s flagship at the Battle of Manila Bay, Olympia also transported the remains of America’s Unknown Soldier from France to the United States in 1921.  The fate of Olympia is uncertain, and the ship may be moved, sunk for a reef, or scrapped.  Keeping old ships afloat is very expensive and requires period dry-dockings which may run into the millions of dollars.  Dry berthing, now being studied for the battleship USS Texas, is initially expensive, but may be the only practical way to save these very old hulls.

Becuna is a late WWII submarine which made five war patrols.  Becuna was decommissioned in 1969.

The cruiser USS Olympia and submarine USS Becuna

USS New Jersey:  Berthed across the Delaware River in Camden, New Jersey as a museum, this ship is an Iowa class battleship, the final class of battleship completed by the US Navy.  New Jersey was laid down in 1940 and commissioned in 1943, the second of six ships of her class, four of which were completed.  New Jersey was decommissioned for the final time in 1991.

USS New Jersey, framed by the restaurant/club ship Moshulu

I like the swans and the color…

Swan boats and kayaks

Local guys fishing near the observation tower. USS Olympia and Philadelphia in the background.


There’s just something incongruous about these swan boats watching over an old warship through the night.  Or maybe it’s the other way around.

Swan boats and USS Olympia at night

Aug 142011

It’s been a while…

I’ve got a new camera — a Fujifilm X100.  This is a bit of throwback, since it emulates the classic 35mm, fixed lens rangefinder cameras of the 60s, 70s, and 80s.  In practice, I think that the X100 will be both a complement to my Leica digital rangefinder camera, and a good camera to carry as the camera — when I don’t want all the other stuff.

With bad weather threatening today, I decided to take Metro down the the Phillips Collection.  I really haven’t taken the X100 out on enough trips so…

This first shot deals with my fascinations with motion and with mass transit.

West Falls Church Metro Station

Fujifilm X100, ISO 800, 1/6 sec, f/16

The gauze effect of the special shades at the Phillips Collection — looking onto the Hunter Courtyard.

Through a Window at the Phillips Collection

Fujifilm X100, ISO 400, 1/50 sec, f/5.6

And heading home on Metro, during a wait at one of the stations.

Metro Trains Halted in Station

Fujifilm X100, ISO 800, 1/9 sec, f/4.0

Jul 282010

This isn’t my shoe.  It was just sitting there.  Honest.

Tuesday morning — sitting on one of those granite Metro benches as I changed trains at Crystal City.

So I grabbed a shot with my phone in the two minutes before my train came.

I had to rest the camera on the bench because it is dark in there and flash would have been totally inappropriate.  The picture is still pretty cruddy.  So as much as I dislike doing it, I “rescued” the shot with PhotoShop’s Dry Brush — and the result probably says as much as an image more precisely captured and rendered.

I’m sure there is a story behind the shoe, but I don’t know if it would be at all interesting.

May 292010

Women’s Soccer…

Today I shoot the home opener for the Northern Virginia Majestics.  They are an amateur team which is primarily made up of collegiate players — though occasionally foreign players are on the roster.

This shot is from last year (Majestics in blue)…

You can learn more about the Majestics through their web site.  All the game shots on their site are mine — I’ve been shooting the team since 2003.

Technical:  The photo was taken with a Nikon D300 camera and Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 lens with 1.4x converter, using a monopod.  1/4000 | f/4.5 | ISO 800 | Aperture Priority with Matrix Metering | Auto White Balance.

May 162010

(Actually, about eight pictures.)

Here is a little background on the photos in my slideshow “Dawn” which ran on World Hum

Capturing dawn presents some technical problems – photographic and geographic.  A “dawn” picture may be taken before the sun comes up, or after.  But somehow it has to meet our expectations of what dawn looks like.

One of the difficulties is figuring out where the sun will be coming up.  NOAA has a great web site that lets you calculate matters solar.  One thing you can do is calculate the azimuth of the sun (the point at or above the horizon, expressed as an angle, measured clockwise from north) observed from any particular point (e.g. If I’m standing at the corner of the Metro parking garage at sunrise, which direction will I face to see the sun as it rises, or an hour later, etc.).  Operationalize this information a couple of different ways:  (1) With a decent handheld compass, you can line up your camera in advance to capture the rising sun; or (2) by using Google maps, you can identity landmarks that can be used to align the shot.

Here is info on the pictures.  You can copy and paste the latitude and longitude into Google Maps to see some of my shooting positions:

Opening picture: I was looking for a general shot and figured that shooting across the water would be good.  I went to Google Maps and looked for a location down the Potomac from Washington, DC that would give me clear shot.  I picked the Virginia shore looking towards Fort Washington, MD.  The very faint light-colored vertical object near the water under the sun is the Fort Washington Light.  I selected a shooting position just off the bike path to Mt. Vernon using the NOAA site.  (38.711318, -77.051588) (Nikon D300 on tripod with Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 lens; 1/250 @ f/8, ISO 800, 19mm.)

Philadelphia: This is one of those shots that makes you glad you remembered to take your camera along.  I was on a business trip and looked out the window early in the morning.  (Voigtlander Bessa rangefinder film camera, handheld with Voigtlander 35mm f/2.5 lens.)

Commute: I tried this shot the week before from the top deck of the Metro parking garage in Vienna — but the sun was a little too far to the right (over that clump of trees).  I went to the NOAA site and found out that the following weekend was probably my only chance from that location until autumn.  On shooting morning I set up the tripod and made shots over a period of time.  I collapsed the tripod and had put it in the car when I looked back, and saw this.  No time for a tripod, but I used a stabilized lens.  (38.878309, -77.272347 ) (Nikon D300 handheld with Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens – stabilization on; 1/125 @ f/4, ISO 400, 102mm.)

Dulles: This shot happened in the opposite way from the commuting picture.  The selected frame is one of a few shots I made checking the camera setup — before the sun actually came up.  Shooting as the sun rose, the terminal “paled” out and lost that glow.  (BTW:  I emailed the airport authority media relations office ahead of time to advise them what I would be shooting.  They only asked that I call police operations when I showed up.  The police were very pleasant when I called them.)  (38.953767, -77.451961) (Nikon D300 on tripod with Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 lens; 1/10 @ f/4, ISO 200, 32mm)

Car: I knew that I should have a road shot, so I rigged the Benbo tripod in the car.  I checked the map and saw some straight east-west stretches of Highway 7 west of Leesburg, VA.  As I drove west, I was checking my mirrors and saw that the time was right.  I made four laps back and forth between two overpasses.  A shot from earlier that morning is also posted on this blog.  (39.144473, -77.68791 to 39.143808, -77.655573) (Nikon D300 on Benbo tripod with Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens; 1/320 sec @ f/5.6, ISO 800, 11mm.)

Krakow:  I discovered how nice it is to walk around Krakow early in the morning on the last day of my first trip there.  For these pictures I had another project in mind that didn’t really pan out, but the sequence of four worked out fine for this slideshow.  The first three frames show for a little less than one second each in the slideshow.  (50.062472, 19.936835) (Olympus E-1 on tripod with Zuiko 11-22mm f/3.5 lens; 1 sec @ f/8, ISO 100, 11mm.)

Zoo:  The National Zoo in Washington DC is open around the clock.  In the summer you can beat the crowds and beat the heat by showing up really early – and also find parking in their lots.  This shot just happened.  (Nikon F100, film, on monopod with Tokina 300mm f/2.8 lens

Airplane: This is the source photo for my blog banner and is discussed in an earlier blog entry.  From a technical perspective, this is an almost hopeless picture.  The one I used in the slideshow hasn’t been fixed up in PhotoShop like the blog banner version.  (Minox EC camera, film, handheld.)

May 032010

We’ve all been there.

Somehow, what we shot isn’t what we saw.  This especially seems to be the case with pictures from the cameras in cellular phones.

But with a little work using some inexpensive (or even free) software, you can bring those photos a little more in line with your memories.

Take a look here to see what I did to put a little more life into this picture.

(…And maybe this will lead to a little more in-depth work…)

Mar 282010

Good Morning!

Sea Lion and Keeper - National Zoo

A picture from August, 2002, at the National Zoo.

This was shot early in the morning, when the zoo was just waking up.  It’s the kind of shot you don’t get during the “regular” hours — one of the nice things about the National Zoo is that it’s open 24/7.  In the summer it is particularly nice to visit the zoo at the crack of dawn — and you can even find a close-in parking place.

This was originally shot on film using a Nikon F100 and a Tokina 300mm f/2.8 lens.

Mar 172010

It’s nice to be published…

(That’s not me)

This audio slideshow was published on March 11.  It started out as a class project for a Travel Writing clinic.

This is one of those projects that starts out as a pile of pictures (actually, a bunch pictures I picked from around inside my files).  You look at them for awhile and then kinda let them speak for themselves.

My title is “Ghosts” but the World Hum editors thought that “Travel Ghosts” was better for their site — and I agree.

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