DC at night

Some might claim that Washington, DC, is in a permanent state of night following the last month’s odd goings on, but this is a little different.

I attended a conference in DC in November and my friend Phil came down for a couple days of sightseeing and photography after the conference.

When I go to DC I always go to The Wall and pay my respects to a few friends and shipmates. After that I wander The Mall and then head back to the hotel. Phil wanted to do some night photography and that sounded like a good idea. Since this is a big city, we weren’t about to see many stars, so that left the monuments and the surprising crowd around them, even in the dark. I had a little Platypod, a small metal plate that serves as a tripod substitute if I’m too lazy to carry the real thing. From that I got a couple interesting images. With a tripod I might have had a few different angles, but what I got worked pretty well.

There was a young man on a bicycle with multicolored lights at the ends of the spokes, so, of course, a longish exposure might just capture some interesting motion. I suppose if I had kept the shutter open even longer, the streak of color would have been wider, but this is not too bad (click on the images for a better view):

 

Lights on the spokes

Lights on the spokes

 

I just read an article that reported on a survey done of political science professors in having them rate the Presidents of the United States based on several different factors. Of course, the top two were Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. It makes sense, therefore, that they have monuments built to them on the Mall and that they are well-lit and well-visited at night. Here they are:

 

Lincoln Memorial:

 

Lincoln Memorial at night

Lincoln Memorial at night

 

Washington Monument:

 

Washington Monument at night

Washington Monument at night

 

Yes, our Nation’s Capitol is quite a treat even at night.

More to follow

Bob

 

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Caught in the Act!

I took a hike today down by the Yellowstone River. Under a highway bridge I found some interesting icicles. The photo conditions weren’t very conducive to photography, but when I noticed there was water dripping off the icicles, I decided I had to try to capture a drop.

After several tries, I guess I got my timing OK. While it would have been better to have a faster shutter speed, the drop was changing shape as it fell, so the squashing is probably pretty natural.

Here it is (click on the image to enlarge):

Icicle

Icicle caught in mid-drip, Yellowstone River, Billings, Montana.

 

A little way down the trail, I met a woman who expressed some disappointment that she couldn’t find any Cedar Waxwings. All I had seen so far was a Magpie, so I wished her well and headed back to the car. Soon I was in the middle of a flock of Waxwings. Here’s one:

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

 

Quite a handsome bird!

Moret to follow,

Bob

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Can he make a comeback?

Wow, has it been that long? I’ve been thinking that it’s been too long since I posted to my blog, but the reality is shocking. Since the last post was a couple years ago following a trip to the Oregon Coast, I figured a good re-start would be to post an image of a Lighthouse from the Maine Coast. You know, coast-to-coast vacation or some such thing.

In addition, I thought I had let my domain lapse, but apparently I misread a communication from my host about that. In fact, I just got another renewal notice from them after a very long time, so I figured, ‘what the heck’ I may as well see if I can get back at this.

A lot has happened since that Oregon trip and I’ve got a lot more miles on me, but as I contemplate retirement in the next year, maybe blogging will be my way of assuring that I stay active.

We’ll see.

Anyway, here’s my take on an image that you’ve undoubtedly seen by other photographers before. It’s the Bass Head Lighthouse in Acadia National Park. My friend Gary and I and about 100 other people (some were nice, some were jerks) stopped by for a sunset look at the lighthouse and the bay. Not bad, even for a cliché shot. (click on the image for a full-screen view)

 

Bass Head Lighthouse

Bass Head Lighthouse, Acadia National Park, sunset

 

More to follow?

Bob

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Oregon 8

After we visited Yaquina Head, we went to a sort of nautical junk yard. Except it wasn’t really a junk yard. They take a lot of worn or rusted equipment from fishing vessels and repair and refurbish it. The first look gave the appearance of random piles of junk, but once we got in and started looking at things, we found an order to the chaos. There were huge nets, running gear and lots and lots of rusty equipment.

Rick suggested trying to get a few good abstract images of the rust and then of finding images that looked like something else. No problem for me, I love doing detail shots and enjoy seeing if I can find out, as Minor White suggested, what else the object is.

There’s a lot of chain used in sailing and that chain needs to be replaced once in a while, so finding rusted chain was no challenge. It was finding the shark that took a little thought.

 

Rusted Chain

Rusted Chain

 

Sometimes the chain was joined by rope:

 

Rope and chains

Rope and chains

 

And then there are the abstract opportunities. Wear on metal objects is often uneven and leaves us with a great opportunity to select just the right portion of the worn area:

 

Rising against Rust

Rising against Rust

 

As for finding something different in this wide variety of subjects, that wasn’t so hard either. I found a rust shark:

 

Rust Shark

Rust Shark

 

This collection of treasures was a real photographer’s dream.

More to follow,

B0b

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Oregon 7

After taking a little time away from the computer, I’d like to go back to the Oregon Coast and share some images from my workshop with Rick Sammon, Alex Morley and some good friends.

Lighthouses were on the menu from the start and we headed out to Yaquina Head to see the lighthouse out there. It’s pretty nice, sitting high on a cliff, warning sailors away from the rocks and rough water. The lighthouse was interesting, but the light, not so much. I won’t call it bad light, because as Jay Maisel in his book, Light, Gesture & Color says, “There is no bad light. There is spectacular light and difficult light.” This was definitely difficult light, leaving everything kind of flat and evenly lit. Photographers don’t like harsh light that gives extreme highlights and black shadows, but we like something between that and flat.

As digital photography came into its own, some technologists came up with a way to manage difficult light: High Dynamic Range or HDR. HDR has been the subject of controversy and arguments for a long time. The conflict has finally settled down and most photographers now use HDR software to combine several images into one. The idea is that we expose for the harsh highlights to get detail there, then expose for the dark shadows to get some information in those images. We generally take anywhere from three to seven images and combine them with the HDR software. So I took one image.

Luckily my Nik HDR Efx Pro software has a solution for that: It does tone mapping on one exposure. I took these two images through HDR Efx and here are the results. The big complaint about HDR in the early days was that the contrast was over the top and the color saturation was extreme. I didn’t like that too much, but when the software developers started finding ways to control the contrast and allow the photographer to adjust saturation, we could start getting some pretty ‘natural’ looking HDRs.

Because these images are single-shot tone mapping, they have some of the high contrast that early HDRs had. But in these images, I don’t mind it so much. In fact, I kind of like them. See what you think. (Click on the images to see them full size and in the right color space.)

 

Yaquina Head Lighthouse Reflection.

 

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

 

 

Yaquina Head Panorama.

 

Yaquina Head LH pano

Yaquina Head LH pano

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Oregon Coast 6

Here are a few more images from the Newport Aquarium.

I just had to follow the tufted puffins around and this one finally got into the water. He did a lot of swimming and some preening, but this is a nice capture with a pretty good reflection. And now you can see why they’re called tufted puffins.

As always, click for full size and proper color.

 

Tufted Puffin 3

Tufted Puffin 3

 

After watching the birds for a while we went into the watery displays. The first thing we saw was the jelly fish display. These orange critters against the blue background were hypnotic. It was something of a challenge getting an image of them without some awful reflections, but it was possible. I tried a few images of the shark tank, but they weren’t very interesting and the person in SCUBA gear cleaning the inside of the glass was fun, but moved before I could get a good portrait. Oh, well, even humans have their own agenda.

 

Jellyfish, Newport Aquarium

Jellyfish, Newport Aquarium

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Oregon Coast 5

One of the stops on the Oregon Coast Workshop was the Newbury Aquarium. I don’t mind walking through an aquarium, but it’s often hard to find a good way to do a photo there, so there’s a lot of gawking but not much photography. Well, besides fish, this aquarium had a bird exhibit. And the birds were handsome and interesting. It was easy to get a few hundred images of them as they posed, swam and paraded in front of the camera. The hard thing is to edit down to a couple of good ones. I’d never seen a puffin in my life, and never even knew there was such a thing as a tufted puffin. I soon learned the truth and fired away at some of these handsome birds. I think these are fairly nice portraits. I hope you agree.

Click on the image to see full size and with the right color.

 

This one seemed interested in what was going on, but, of course, you can’t see why it’s called a tufted puffin.

 

Tufted Puffin 1

Tufted Puffin 1

 

Here’s a nice profile shot with a good look at the tufts and a nice backlight on the bill.

 

Tufted Puffin 2

Tufted Puffin 2

 

I’ll share a little more from the aquarium Wednesday. It’s going to take a while to get through the 4000+ images I recorded in the state, so there will be a lot more as time goes on. I haven’t even gotten to the lighthouses yet!

More to follow,

Bob

 

 

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The Oregon Coast 4

It’s interesting to watch people with cameras at sunset. When the sky gets all pretty and the sun hangs on the horizon they snap away. Rightly so, of course, because that nice, soft, colorful sunset light makes for some interesting compositions. But as soon as the sun drops below the horizon, most people put their cameras away and disappear. I’m always glad to see that happen because I know I’ll get the better photographs. The light continues to get interesting and colorful after the sun goes down, but most people think that when the sun sets it’s all over.

I showed you some pre-sunset images the other day. After I made them, I moved on along the beach to see what else was there and to see what would happen after the sun went down. Sure enough, there was some good photography left in the day. Here are a couple post-sunset images. See what you think.

Click to see them full size and properly colored.

Post sunset Seal Rock Beach

Post-sunset Seal Rock Beach 2

Post-sunset Seal Rock Beach

 

In the waning light, the sky took on a very dramatic appearance.

Post sunset Seal Rock Beach 2

Post-sunset Seal Rock Beach 2

Post-sunset Seal Rock Beach 2

 

Yes, it’s always a good idea to wait just a little longer to see what happens.

More to follow,

Bob

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The Oregon Coast 3

Our trip along the Oregon coast was easy to take because we didn’t have to get up early for sunrise. And sunsets were easy to stay awake for. I like shooting sunsets because you can find all sorts of colors and tones in the light. The problem sometimes is that there’s a lot of haze in the sky at sunset. Daytime warming by the sun stirs things up, the wind blows and stirs more, so sometimes sunset shots just don’t look right. Add to that the fact that most of our sunset photography tries were ‘clouded out’ and you get a limited choice in exposures to make.

We went to Seal Rock Beach for our first ocean-facing sunset images. While my friends were out photographing seals and pups, I was fiddling around, trying to catch some color and some mood. I think I got there. These two images show how a photographer can capture some nice colors and silhouettes just before the sun goes down.

Of course, it helps to have a very active ocean to provide some sense of movement and some nice reflections. The cormorants and gulls flying out for supper make some nice points of interest in the sky, too.

Click on the images for full resolution and proper color.

Seal Rock Beach Before Sunset

Pre-sunset Seal Rock Beach

Pre-sunset Seal Rock Beach

 

Seal Rock Beach Before Sunset #2

Pre-sunset Seal Rock Beach 2

Pre-sunset Seal Rock Beach 2

 

There’s a little bit of Photoshop magic going on here, of course, but I don’t mind ‘fiddling’ with an image if I get decent results. I think this worked.

More to follow,

Bob

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The Oregon Coast 2

If you go to the coast you’ll notice a couple things. The first and most shocking is that there’s a lot of water out there. For a desert rat, the first view of the ocean is quite a shock. Yes, I’ve been on the open ocean when all we could see was sea, but one tends to forget just how much water there is out there.

The other thing is that you find a lot of boats. Mostly fishing boats, I’d guess, but some pleasure boats and a few sailing vessels. But lots of boats and boathouses. I guess with all that water they have to do something with it and it’s kind of hard to drink.

In Newport Harbor we found some nice calm water for some reflection shots and at sunset, that’s a fine combination. Click to see them properly.

 

Boat House

Boathouse, Newport Harbor

Boathouse, Newport Harbor

Reflections

 

Sunset, Newport Harbor

Sunset, Newport Harbor

 

I must admit that it was hard to get my head around all that water and all those boats. Stay tuned for more from the coast.

More to follow,

Bob