Photo Blog

Photography and assorted thoughts

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Foregrounds and Backgrounds

At the start of my night photography workshop, I was thinking that you rarely find a really good foreground.

Then I started light painting the foreground. And then we saw the reflection of stars in the river. So as Thom Hogan would say it was a foreground, middle ground, background shot.

Thankfully there was very little light pollution there.

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Photographing Once in a Lifetime Events

Last week I was out with Gabe Biderman from National Parks at Night and a group of classmates photographing the Total Solar Eclipse.

Before the event I probably didn’t spend as much energy as my classmates trying to figure out the right exposures, I planned on seeing what the meter said and using that. Instead I just bracketed and figured I could pick the part of the experience I was interested in.
Here I was interested in the Solar Prominences. What appears to be small spots of red, are 10-100 times the size of the earth if you want to put into perspective.  This was one of my shorter exposures, 1/8000 of a second.  It separated the prominences from the corona. I know that others were bracketing since they wanted to show more of the corona.

I’m watching a class from David Hobby, and one of sections of his course is “Why do you take Pictures?”  In this case it’s to savor and share the experience.  From a scientific point of view, the folks at NASA were able to glean much more data from their jets in the stratosphere taking pictures of the eclipse.  For me, I will be able to look at these pictures and recall the emotions and this scene for the rest of my life. Having seen a partial eclipse in Chicago in the 60s, I had seen the moon obscuring parts of the sun.  But a total eclipse shows so much more.  As one of my friends says, watching a total eclipse will change your life.  I don’t know if it will change my life, but I feel much richer for having seen it.

I will say that it was the shortest two minutes I’ve spent lately. It reminds me of the days when I taking pictures of Space Shuttle launches, you end up spending your time dealing with the mechanics of documenting the event.


Here’s one of the pictures I took that shows the Solar Corona. The corona isn’t as bright, so you can’t see the prominences.

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Schwabacker Landing by Alpenglow

I was out the other night after sunset, and shot Schwabacker landing after sunset.
I was remembering Doug Johnson’s comment about watching for merges.

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Selective Focus

Here’s what the Chalk Art Festival meant to me this year.


Last year I was photographing the chalk artist’s hands, since as far as I was concerned, that’s where the magic happens.
This year I was taking a class on using the lensbaby, and came to the conclusion that the selective focus would explain my feelings about the festival.

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Barn Owls

I went out this morning to practice using a long lens with the Mike’s Camera and HawkQuest folks. Since I don’t usually take pictures of birds, having their experts was interesting.

Yes, this is probably the same bird I took pictures of last year. Here I was experimenting with a gimbal head, so it was easier to get a stable picture.  

Here’s a picture of a spectacled owl.

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Waiting for the right time

   This morning when I was photographing I was struck by a comment by Tim Cooper, that much of landscape photography is waiting for the right clouds.  I was out with the American Photo Treks crew this morning and the clouds didn’t cooperate with us.


About the time the the core of Milky Way was about to rise the clouds rolled in. But we took pictures and waited, and almost when the moon was about to rise, the clouds were somewhat more favorable. Not perfect, but better than it was earlier.

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Waterfalls of the Columbia Gorge

Last week I went to the Columbia Gorge to shoot waterfalls.  It was a class with Rocky Mountain School of Photography, and taught by Doug Johnson.  Doug had many excellent suggestions.  One of those was just how much rain gear you should wear while shooting the waterfalls.  My thought was it didn’t matter just how much it was raining, the spray off some of the waterfalls was intense.

Horsetail Falls

Doug was commenting that most people kept asking him how much photoshop he was using, since no one believed it was that green. And it really was that green, Oregon and the West Coast have had an incredible amount of precipitation this year.

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Milky Way over the Plains

I went out a few weeks ago with the American Photo Treks group. to take pictures of the Milky Way over the plains.  I tried out a new lens to see if that made it easier.

This was a 20 mm lens and I used a shutter speed of 15 sec.  I could have gotten away with 20 sec according to the 400 rule, but I’m beginning to think that I should do the math and calculate the star’s rotation rate by how far away the star is from true north.  Then, I’ll write an app for my iPhone.

And I did shoot this in color but came to the conclusion that I didn’t need the color for what was important in this picture.  I used NIK silver efex pro 2, and the noise reduction in DXO optics.

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Painterly Photos

I’m in the process of working through Kathleen Clemmons class on Creative Live, Creating Painterly Photos. In the class she talks about using Lensbaby lenses to accent the focus, just where you want it to be.  Here, I was working with the Lensbaby Velvet 56, which is a different style of Lensbaby.  There’s no bellows or rotating mount for this lens.  So it’s a softer focus style lens.  

We were photographing a show from the Denver Orchid society, and I believe that this one came in second place.  It was nice of the folks at Tagawa garden center to allow us photographers access.

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Flashpainting

   This weekend we went to Wings over the Rockies to take some pictures before they let the public in.


Last month Erik Holladay showed us his technique of using a hot shoe flash with remote triggers to construct pictures of airplanes in a dark hanger. I went back and extended the technique a little using a 600 W battery powered strobe. So instead of taking 4 or more pictures blended in photoshop, this only took two pictures.