Photo Blog

Photography and assorted thoughts


Star Stacking in Ramah

Went out this weekend with the American Photo Treks guys to do some star stacking and try out a star trekker.

Ramah Colorado

I had been watching Dave Morrow’s videos about doing this, but Ken Childress had some good tips about doing this. Dave M had mentioned that the accurate setting in photo tips was what we needed to be using so I was using a 5 second exposure. Here I stacked 11 shots.

Here I was stacking fewer shots (so a bit more noise) but I exposed for the foreground more.


Chromatic greyscale

   I just finished a class with Gabriel Biderman and Chris Nicholson from National Parks at Night about light painting and shooting black and white.  Or as Vincent Versace would say, chromatic grey scale.  To paraphrase Gabe,  a lot of people shoot in color and only convert to black and white when the color photo doesn’t work.  Usually I shoot black and white for a specific project or when a picture screams at me I need to be a black and white photo.
This was the last set of photos I took at our Sloss Furnaces workshop. I usually don’t think of taking pictures of star trails in the middle of a big city, but in this case the folks at Sloss were kind enough to shut off the lights for three days and allow us to do envision their historic landmark in a new way.  This stack was about 38 photos and I finished just before dew fall.  I really wondered about this, since I had been doing star trails up in Rocky Mountain Park with Chris, it was much darker up there so I was happy to see these results.

Ty from Sloss Furnaces gave us all a special tour when we started which added so much more to the experience.  Ty mentioned that the Birmingham administration put funding the museum/furnaces to a vote.  The vote was 100% in favor and they dedicated 3 million dollars.  There are about 10,000 students that tour the facility on a yearly basis.  In our case having Ty explain what these buildings and machinery contained within, helped us understand what we were photographing.  

Not only is this interesting from the point of view of being a historian or technologist, but Sloss furnaces has an arts program that’s going strong.  Being made of pig iron, their pieces are a little heavy.


Island of Hope, Island of Tears

Here’s a photo of the the isolation ward at the hospital on the south side of Ellis Island.

This is the isolation ward, and I got a feeling of abandonment here.

I’m currently taking a class with the Colorado Photographic Arts center taught by Frank Varney about Perfecting your Black and Photography and Prints.  The photos I took on Ellis Island are interesting material for this class.


Morning Light at Ellis Island

   Fossil light.  That’s what astronomers call light from stars and galaxies in the past.  The site that I visited last week wasn’t that old, but light from 109 Piscium would be arriving from when they opened the hospital on Ellis Island.  I went out to Ellis Island with Joe McNally and the Nikon School.  Joe was kind to us and got us out to the south side of the island fairly quickly so we could get the morning light.

This was one of the doctor’s quarters on the island. As you can tell, this was serviceable for it’s era.

This picture was taken in natural light, just after sunrise. Thankfully we were able to use tripods. 

The south side of the island was where the hospital was, so those folks who were immigrating who were ill and curable, spent some time there before being introduced to the rest of the population. It had to be bittersweet feeling for the patients who were being treated.  Just another mile to get to New York City.  But once they were cured they could find a job and get their new start in the United States.

The group, Save Ellis Island is working on restoring the south side of the island. Joe McNally had taken photographs for National Geographic, in 1988 and those photographs showed a gone to nature landscape, with buildings in very sad shape. Our guides from Save Ellis Island were telling us that they were aiming at a stabilized ruin.  I think they have done a marvelous job.


As you can tell most of the windows were broken so most of the interiors had been exposed to the elements for years.  


Tamron Tours

I had a chance to try out my long lens to photograph wild animals. I went out with the Tamron Tours and the Mikes Camera folks to The Wild Animal Sanctuary near Keenesburg Colorado a few weeks ago. They had a class the night before and we loaded up on the bus the next morning to go out there. 

The Wild Animal Sanctuary has a novel way to allow us into to see the rescued animals.  They have elevated walkways to allow the public in.  The animals don’t feel under stress if you’re in the sky to them.  The Wild Animal sanctuary is speciallizing in rescuing animals that have been kept as pets, or roadside zoos or other unpleasant circumstances for wild animals.  If you want to take pictures the animals have much more room to road around so using a long lens is a very good idea.

The folks from Tamron let us try out long lenses to get our pictures.  Since I already had a Tamron 150-600 zoom  I was just there for the experience.  This is the first time I tried pairing that lens with my Nikon D500, so this was the equivalent of a 900 mm lens. Since there was no problem with light, I used a 1/2500 sec shutter speed to get a steady picture.


Eagle in infrared

Got up this morning, and went out with the Mike’s Camera and Hawkquest to take pictures of raptors.

Here I was spending some time with my infrared work. Just doing the channel swap resulted in a picture that seemed a bit otherworldly. Which might be a good look for Comiccon, but not for wildlife. So I did a bit of work on this picture with NIK filters by DXO. I applied a slight green filter in the software to pop the eagle out from the trees in the background.
Kin and his folks did their usual unobtrusive job, finding ways to get us good shots. And the Mike’s Camera folks were around to help us with getting the best shots. I was the only one doing infrared, so that’s what I wanted to share.
Eagles have two fovea in their eyes so they can see better than we can, but they can’t see in infrared any more that we can.


Fort Point – San Francisco

In 1853 the Army started construction of Fort Point in San Francisco.

It was fascinating to see something built before the civil war so well preserved. I was intrigued by the staircases. If you might be coming under fire, I can see where you want everything to be nicely protected.

While it may have been useful to have a tilt shift lens for this series of pictures, the Nikon 14-24 on the D850 worked well.
I took these pictures when I was taking the Photographer’s Breakthrough Process Like a Pro course. I never showed Tim these pictures since we working on pictures that needed Lightroom or Photoshop work.


Civil Twilight shooting on Hawk Hill

We were out shooting on Hawk Hill a few nights ago with a class from Photographer’s Breakthrough. The class was more of a processing class, but when we weren’t in the meeting room, we did spend some time taking pictures.

There are times when you’re trying to find a picture that describes how many people see a particular locale. San Francisco has so many things that identify it so here’s a single picture.
This picture was taken at F/8 and exposed for 64 seconds.