Photo Blog

Photography and assorted thoughts

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Dawn Patrol

I went out with the American Photo Treks folks to take pictures of the Cranes at Monte Vista and get a few Milky Way shots. This was a morning to appreciate having a long lens since we couldn’t get that close to Cranes.
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Since we were up to take pictures of the Milky Way, it was no problem to get dawn pictures. Here I was using my 80-400mm lens.
Typically the Cranes start their day by going to the water, then afterwards finding food in the prairie, and ending up their day by going back to the water.
All of the photographers were speculating what the cranes must have thought with that line of photographers all pointing their long lenses at them.

When we were staying in Monte Vista, we stayed in a Best Western that had a novel concept. They had a drive in theatre next store, and the rooms all had the names of movie stars associated with them. They had a tie with drive in, where you had an audio feed of the movie and you could listen to the movie and watch from your room.
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Studio Lighting Classes

Last night I took a class from Bill Murphy, Digital Photography Lighting Basics Workshops.  He had a mixed group, some folks who had lots of experience and some who were getting started. Bill has a nice instructional style, and while others were concentrating on the lighting, I was also picking up posing tips.

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Here we able to slow down the shutter, and since the majority of the light was coming from the strobe allow the hair to fly out while stopping her motion. I was using back button focus, so the camera didn’t go crazy trying to find focus.

I was testing out some gear yesterday, but not in this shot. This is my reliable Nikon 24-70.

I agree with Thom Hogan, being willing to take classes leads to better photography more than just buying new gear. Of course buying new gear can lead you to new capabilities.

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W Line stations – Denver Metro Fun Photo Walks and Beer

Last weekend I went out with a new Meetup group.  Oddly enough, I had been tempted to photograph some of the light rail stations and Nancy and Bryan had organized a meet up about this.  It was nice to discover others had the same thoughts.

Lamar Station

Lamar Station

Here someone mentioned that the owner of this building had problems with graffiti until he had the mural painted on his building. Now everyone just wants to look at the artwork. I ended up using my 16-35mm lens here, since I wanted to avoid stepping on the the train track.

In the shot below, I realized that I more interested in the shadow cast by the direction post, than the post itself.  My lens wasn’t that happy with me since I ended starring into the Sun for this one.

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NANPA local groups

Last month I had the chance to go out with one of the NANPA local meet up groups.  While I wasn’t that good at spotting critters, I had  an interesting time in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.

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Talking with our workshop leader she was talking about doing abstracts. Here I was experimenting with Topaz Adjust.

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There are folks who are not camera shy

This weekend I went downtown to take pictures of the 2015 zombie crawl.  As you can guess anyone who spends time on their costume and makeup wants their picture taken.

Prom King

Prom King


It was a bit of mob scene down there, and there were many good costumes. This fellow had a bit of story to tell. It makes me wonder what would have happened, if I had gone to my high school prom.

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Night Photography – Milky Way and windmills

Last night I went out with Jason Odell in a class about night photography.  Jason’s classes are lots of fun, so we ended up at the windmill site outside Liimon, CO, where he encouraged us to shoot star trails and the Milky Way.  He came out with a technique for shooting star trails where you don’t have to invest in an external  multifunction remote.  Of course I have the Nikon MC-36A but his suggestion had less background light, so to my eye it looked better.  He suggested shooting 30 second intervals, which most cameras can do with a simple remote and setting the camera to continuous high. Then you will need to import these into a layered workflow.  Adobe Photoshop, and On1’s Perfect Photo Suite would work for this.  If you want to use Phase One’s Capture One Pro, you are limited to 16 layers so using the multifunction remote  would be better.  There’s also a new tool Affinity Photo for Mac that can deal with many layers, but I haven’t got much experience with that too.

One of the things I wanted to do last night was experiment with star stacking, so shots of the Milky Way were what I was concentrating on.

Milky Way at Windmill site

Milky Way at Windmill site

If you stack multiple shots, and adjust them for motion of the earth, you can reduce the noise. The key is to mask out the ground, so you don’t get multiple images of the sky. The tool I used here was StarryNightStacker which runs on the Mac. Mike Berensen has another technique that you can use with photoshop by it self, but it takes a bit longer.

Here I took 5 pictures at F/2.8 and 25 seconds.  I was using my Rokinon 14 mm manual focus lens.  The really nice thing about that lens, is infinity is at the stop, so the problems of focusing in the dark are decreased.  Being a wide angle lens, I ran the shots through DXO Optics to remove the geometric distortion.

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Denver Chalk Art Festival 2015

Sunday I went to the the Denver Chalk Art Festival in Larimer Square.  With our recent rains, it’s been a bit of challenge for the artists with some of them redoing their art three times (as of 2 PM on Sunday.)  One of the things that intrigues me is how much of their work involves getting chalk on the hands, their clothes, as well as on the pavement.

jstachowski-20150607-546-Email I have a number of pictures of the artists working on their artwork, but decided to approach some of them directly, explaining that I wanted to photograph their hands. Everyone of the artists who I approached were happy to let me take pictures of their hands. As I said to them, your brain is where the magic happens, but your hands are equally magical.

To paraphrase Brooks Jensen from Lenswork Magazine, no one gets camera shy about getting their hands photographed.  And in this case, they all understood what I was after,

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Doors Open Denver – 2015

Went out to Doors Open Denver and ended up going to the Bovine Metropolis Theatre.

Improv School

Improv School


When I set up my home theatre, I wanted to decorate it with something other than movie posters, so I have a picture of a theatre in it. In the past, I’ve only been able to take pictures of the outside of theatres, so Doors Open Denver provided a good opportunity to get inside one.

A bit about the Bovine Metropolis Theatre, in addition to being a theatre, it’s also a comedy school. For this picture, I had borrowed from a friend a 14-24 lens and used auto iso to make it easier to concentrate on the content of the photo itself.

I also went out to one of the guided tours at Doors Open Denver, where they spoke about the lighting at Union Station, the DaVita headquarters and the Millennium Bridge. The Doors Open Denver folks lost their primary sponsor, the City and County of Denver and it was only the guided tours and the volunteers that kept them running. The price of the tour was very minimal, and I recommend taking a tour next year.

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Night Photography in Denver in March

Saturday I went out with the Illuminate Workshops night photowalk.  When you do light painting, it helps to have multiple folks there, so some can paint and others can take pictures.

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In this shot, A.J found at the dollar store an interesting little light, and he was willing to swing the light as well. We had a few folks try various techniques that night.

It was a nice warm night for March, which helped keep the group creative.

For those of you who interested, F/6.3 and a 20 second exposure.

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Photographing Christmas Lights

Back in December I was out with Efrain Cruz’s Illuminate Workshops night photography group. It was an interesting experience since the protesters were out as well, and the Mall shuttle wasn’t running for a while.

Civic Center Park

We finally ended up at Civic Center Park and I caught this shot of the ampitheatre.

Civic Center Park

Civic Center Park

I liked the green lights toward the ceiling. I was wondering if it was ordinary cfls but came to the conclusion they were being festive with their holiday lights. This shot made me appreciate the L bracket I was using with the tripod head.