Photo Blog

Photography and assorted thoughts

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Night black and white darkroom work

I’ve been off exploring the black and white side of the world with the folks from the Colorado Photographic Arts Center.

Here I’ve started to meld my night work with my black and white darkroom work. Many thanks as well to Michael Snively, who instead of asking me why I tilt at windmills, assists me in my madness.
Earlier today, I pointed out the Fujifilm rep that they had discontinued the film that would have helped in this. He pointed out that this was .5% of the market. But that percentage is probably where I want to be.

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Classic Aviation

Saturday I was wandering Wings over the Rockies with a group of photographers, and I started looking at B-18 under restoration, and speculated about airplanes designed in the late 30s.

This particular aircraft wasn’t capable of going up against the German BF-109 but found a role searching for German U-Boats. But I was intrigued by the look of this rotary engine. It had such repetition. In the days that this aircraft flew, it had a reliability much better than the world war one aircraft. But nothing like today’s jet engines.

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Being brilliant in 1/1000 of a second

There’s an expression that some photographers use that all they have to be brilliant at, is just for 1/125 second. Which works pretty good at normal speeds. Those of us who are night photographers, might say 30 seconds or in some cases 5 minutes. This weekend I went out to Music Meadows Horse Ranch, to take pictures of horses with the American Photo Treks guys. So I was trying to be brilliant at 1/1000 of a second.

The folks at the the ranch, Elin and George were wonderful with the horses, getting them to gallop down the path we asked for, so that all of us who were learning to photograph horses had a chance to learn what we were doing. So these horses were moving and they all avoided these photographers who concentrating more on their settings than avoiding horses. And the American Photo Treks guys were there to assist whenever we had questions.
These folks work the ranch also offer guest rooms if you don’t want to find a place in town. They also offer winter riding which isn’t very available in this area. During the season they also raise beef. Their tag line is Music Meadows – Home of Sangres Best. Which is an apt description.
They were kind to me, and let me wander their barn, so I could see some of the behind the scenes feel.

For those of you who wonder, the Nikon 3D AF mode, works very well to track the horses in motion. The horses had enough different colors so that it was able to lock on to the subject.

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Pikes Peak

This weekend I went to Colorado Springs to get a new view of Garden of the Gods.

Here we get to see a view of Pikes Peak through the keyhole in the Siamese Twins formation. It was one of those severe clear days you get in late fall in Colorado, so no interesting clouds that day. I still liked the picture, and enjoyed shooting with prime lens. Since this was a 20 mm lens, I kept thinking about all those photo instructors teaching me about hyperfocal distance.
We were out Saturday morning with the folks from American Photo Treks who were going to great pains to make sure that everyone got their shots.

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Hawkquest Kestel

I still enjoy shooting digital. Earlier that day I took this picture of an American Kestel.

In her case, I was enjoying the delicate coloration.
With the D810, I can print much larger than I can with my 35mm film cameras.
To paraphrase Thom Hogan, there are no magic camera settings. In the case of the high resolution Nikons, they reward you by giving great results when you pay attention to good technique.

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Hawkquest Owl

One of the things I’ve been learning about is processing film. This photo was taken at a Hawkquest event using Ilford HP5+.

The folks at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center offer an Intro course for processing film and using an enlarger. The instructor, Michael Snively, is excellent at guiding you along and letting you explore.
This wasn’t my first try at this print, but I ended up doing some dodging and burning. I also took pictures of this Owl with my digital camera, but instead of bits whirring around my hard drive, this is silver on a print.
While I’ve got a number of digital tools to turn color digital images into black/white, I wondered if I should do some real film black and white work.

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Garden of the Gods

Yesterday, I was intending to see if I could find some fall colors, but considering the possibility of snow, I ended at Garden of the Gods.

Since it was a nice day, I decide to take pictures in infrared, to see if the colors of the rocks would influence the picture. The infrared really made the clouds pop, but I don’t know that the colors of the rocks looked that different.

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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.