Welcome back to another website update, folks! August marks the last full month of summer, and Japan definitely felt the heat for a lot of the month. I didn’t get to experience the “beach scene” that is apparently super popular here, though I had some personal time a couple weekends to go stand-up paddle-boarding (harder than it looks!) and deep-sea fishing for mahimahi. For the former, I’ve managed to paddle-board over 4 miles without falling off, and the latter, caught hundreds of pounds of fish with a fierce sunburn worn as a battle wound. Continue Reading
As I have mentioned a couple times in previous posts, one of the biggest perks I was looking forward to experiencing in the Navy was the chance to visit other countries on assignment in addition to thoroughly exploring Japan in my free time. Well, after last week, I now can double the countries I have set foot in!…(yes, that leaves just the U.S. and Japan as the others…) Continue Reading
Last weekend I got the chance to tag along for a short 2.5-day road trip from Kentucky to Oklahoma and back. Though I knew there wouldn’t be a wealth of time for photography, I decided to bring my entire kit with camera, lenses, chargers, and everything else I might need should something break along the way. Though it all filled up the backseats of the car, a lot of my gear saw use, so there’s something to be said for over-prepared-ness. 🙂
Photo ops only began after arriving in Oklahoma—a time crunch kept me from stopping for photographs along the way. After a nice supper at an Italian restaurant in Edmond, OK, I took a brief look around the small town to come across the Bella Forte glassware studio located in Italian Jim’s Restaurant. One of the artists was blowing glass as I passed by, and he welcomed my camera in the intensely-hot blowing furnace room:
Typical of many small-town areas, a prominent and detailed sculpture adorned a street corner outside the restaurant:
Naturally close to the historic and iconic Route 66, we detoured in the late evening to see if there were any landscapes or old buildings to catch in the fading light:
With the sunlight gone, we made a final stop at Pops, a fun restaurant and gas station featuring an enormous neon pop bottle that lights up in myriad colors after dark: Continue Reading
If you are unfamiliar with this continuing series, please start HERE first!
I have gone through a good amount of photographs requiring the “mind’s eye” style of editing over the past six months, despite my lack of posts in this fun series. The reason I haven’t written posts on any of them? They all fell along somewhat similar processing paths to established examples I have already written about (nevermind the plethora of schoolwork and non-artsy photo assignments, mind you). Before I posted again here I wanted to find something truly different that challenged not only my shooting style but my very way of editing in Lightroom 5.
Why not give astrophotography a try? Easy! I…
a) …do not have a full-frame camera with high sensitivity capabilities (looking at you, Sony A7s)
b) …still do not own any form of a fast wide-angle lens
c) …do not have any form of a tracking mount, including the cheap “barn-door” contraptions
d) …stay up late completing other assignments anyway!
All this said, I couldn’t resist jumping at the chance to create something truly unique and new. Though the following may be old news to many star-gazers out there, fresh trails from the comet 209P/LINEAR intersected with Earth’s orbit early in the morning hours of May 24, 2014 (2-4 a.m.). Originally, 100-400 meteor streaks per hour were forecast, but the actual turnout for many in the northeastern hemisphere was a disappointment at best.
That night I drove out to the most realistically remote location I could to look north in-between two towns for the best chance of reduced light pollution. The meteor shower was forecast to come from the north, but the 3-4 fireballs (yes, that’s right, only a few…) I did see with my own eyes came from all directions. Odd.
Regardless, I blindly set up my tripod and NEX-7 with the Zeiss 32mm to point at various spots on the horizon in the hopes of capturing not only a good landscape, but with luck some star trails and a meteor fireball. I must say that metering and focusing in complete darkness is a disaster for a camera with an EVF and a lens without a hard infinity focus stop. Once I locked in my settings, however, I was good to go.
The first couple shots both looking out at the horizon and the Milky Way turned out alright for photographs without a tracking mount, but I wanted to go for a long-exposure shot to give me the best chance at capturing a long meteor streak, as well as curving star trails. Looking in my manual, I learned that bulb mode on my camera goes as long as the camera’s battery lasts, so with a fresh battery I finally settled on a field with a pond enclosed by recognizable black wood fences, all set against the north sky.
The straight-out-of-camera shot was, as you could probably guess, pretty boring, flat, and seemingly useless:
As a matter of fact, I nearly tossed this photograph out while editing some other shots from that night. But oh, the saving graces of shooting in RAW! There are so many possibilities for non-destructive photo manipulation with even the flattest of files.
For this shot, I decreased the exposure by a stop, and applied two graduated filters to the sky to manage contrast and clarity. This boosted the appearances of the star trails against a darker sky. Since the foreground was then very underexposed, I worked with basic tonal adjustments in shadow and black recovery without affecting the sky. To get rid of vignetting and distortion, I applied LR’s own lens profile (very handy!), and fine-tuned the vignetting removal to get a more homogenous image. To recover lost detail in the far treeline, I applied a light shadow boost brush. For all my best efforts of shooting in a remote location, there is still obvious light pollution from a neighboring car manufacturing plant (despite being over 15 miles away). To mitigate this harsh contrast of colors from ground light to sky light, I subtly altered the individual saturation channels to avoid harsh gradations in color transitions. I also cooled the white balance to a more night-friendly 3500k. The final result? A photo I feel is much more suited to share rather than toss aside:
*Ahem*, that’s not a typo on the duration the photo was made. I left my shutter open for well over 66 minutes to make this photograph. This much elapsed time, combined with the orientation of the camera around the north star, created the long and curving star trails you see above, in addition to the odd colored patches of hot pixels. And hey! If you look closely you can see that a single meteor crossed the top of the image during my exposure! I almost wrote this streak off as a passing jet plane when I began editing this photo. However, planes usually do not fly over this area at this time of night (photo made between 3-4 a.m.), at 100% view at 24 megapixels I cannot find any telltale flashing lights that indicate a plane’s identity, and surely only the brightness of a flaming meteor could have made this bright a streak during a 66-minute exposure! EDIT: Due to the uniformity of the streak, it may very well be a highly-reflective satellite, as a meteor streak this long should show changes in luminosity and color.
I could very well be wrong, but either way I can still dream! Speaking of which, I made the unfortunate mistake of falling asleep in my car while making this exposure, a funny accident that led to the exposure time (originally planned for only 30 minutes).
It’s a shame to read that this meteor shower was a one-off deal. Due to Jupiter’s gravity, the comet’s trail will be pulled out of Earth’s orbit to never be seen again. At the same time, it is awfully exciting to know I possibly captured one of the few witnessed meteors from a once-in-a-lifetime event.
All of this on the night before college graduation. At 9:30 a.m. Yep. That’s photography and I, all right.
Some time, sooner or later, I knew I would get into wedding photography. With my experience the past few years shooting events and sports primarily from a candid perspective, the pursuit of more freelance work with portraiture and weddings was the next natural step.
So, when presented the opportunity to be the primary photographer for a country wedding, I jumped at the chance, despite the fact that at the time I was preparing a musically intense senior recital for my undergraduate degree in music education. But hey, I do love a good challenge, and this one was no exception—with time management a chief concern.
Regardless, after much research on wedding photography articles and ensuring I had the proper gear to take on anything an outdoor wedding could throw at me, I felt more and more confident as the wedding day grew nearer. Along with backup photographer and lighting assistant Chase Bullock, we were set for a successful day of shooting.
And succeed we did! All in all, I whittled down a large batch of files from three cameras in Lightroom 5 to a solid pool of 500 images. Obviously I don’t have the bandwidth on this site to post them all (and I would not expect any reader to want to look through the whole set!), so below are 42 selections from this pool that span the course of the wedding day. Continue Reading
Not so hot-on-the-heels of my last post over a month-and-a-half ago, here I am making some time to address my blatant inactivity on the site. As it turns out, student teaching and photography don’t happen to mix very well. My particular placement and accompanying assignments give me next to zero free time for anything else. Seeing as the essentials—sleep, eating, and physical activity—take up the majority of that time, finding a slot to simply “go out” and make photographs is a near impossibility. This busyness has also forced me to cancel my anticipated pre-order of the new Zeiss 16-70mm f/4 OSS, a popular lens that I would have loved to review. That’s the bad news.
However, every now and then I still take photography assignments from my university for sports and other campus events. This, at the very least, helps keep my shutter finger trained and my manual-focus skills honed. Per the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, my student teaching will go only until this end of this calendar year. So in theory, next year I will be able to get back to my usual updating with photo-walks and all manner of lens reviews for you loyal readers to enjoy (many thanks for the recent subscriptions despite my absence). That’s the good news.
In…other news…if you have been living under a rock for the past couple months, there’s been a lot of buzz around the near-future of Sony’s E-mount. Some rumors are claiming Sony to introduce a whopping three E-mount cameras, all with a full-frame 35mm sensor! One is a supposed “NEX-9”—a camera I’ve dreamed about ever since the first time I shot with my beloved NEX-7—while another may be an ILC-9 or a9000 (a full-frame version of the already available a3000). Since that one will be relatively bulky with its pointless DSLR shape, it appeals less to me (well, the added grip of that shape gives it some relevance). Regardless, come mid-October, Sony has the very real chance of taking the mirrorless photography world by storm, and I’ll be watching avidly for pre-orders. 😉
Now, time for some photographs, right? Over the past year, I’ve taken part in my own Project 52, submitting one quality photograph for every week of the year under a supplied theme. My “supervisor” for the project is a local photography group that I’ve joined on Meetup.com, and the ability to see multiple other photographers’ work as the project progressed made the entire process more enjoyable.
All the following (52 in all, so yes, there’s quite a bit of scrolling ahead) photographs below are downsized to a web-friendly 2000×1333 ratio or similar to keep the site’s bandwidth from filling up. Most here are captured with the NEX-7, though a few captured with other cameras found their way into the project. A good number of these photographs have been featured elsewhere on my website in lens reviews or other photographic posts. Also, all photographs are in the ProPhotoRGB colorspace to get correct yellow saturation levels, so depending on your browser and viewing device (I recommend Google Chrome on a desktop computer), these photographs may have odd saturation levels on your screen.
Summer keeps on a-rollin’ in the bluegrass, as temperatures remain warm, fields stays green, and flowers continue to grow. At the same time, and just how I detailed a couple weeks ago, my summer work keeps me busy for a lot of the time I would prefer to dedicate to photography. That’s the downside to making money, I suppose. It does take time and effort to earn it. 🙂
On the bright side, with all the recent rumors flying around about the full-frame NEX, it’s a good thing I’m saving my money! As many readers know, a full-frame NEX-7-styled camera is one that I have dreamed of for a long time. I’ve got just about all the full-frame AI-s Nikkors I need for such a camera, so the rumored announce date of September 24 cannot come soon enough!
Back to the here and now, let’s take a look at all things photographic over the past couple weeks: Continue Reading