Thursday, April 30, 2009

Home Sweet Home....


As much fun as we had on our little get-away the past five days it sure was nice to be home sleeping in our own comfortable bed with our two furry 70lb kids on top of us. Bella and Sirius were very excited to see us return. Strangely enough it seems to them as though we were never gone, at least no longer than a regular day at work. Our neighbor, Bob, took care of them while we were away and the one thing I noticed after we returned was that Bella did not bark at Bob when he entered the house. I guess miracles do happen....

After finally settling in yesterday my first task was to get all of the vacation images transferred to the computer, then backed up to an external hard drive. That's part of my normal process with all of my images. Also part of my backup procedure is to upload everything to the web using Carbonite.

This shot was taken by my wife, Penny. On our return drive from Page we decided to drive through Zion National Park and shoot some more. I decided to shoot video with the Canon 5DMII and Penny shot stills using my old Canon 5D or should I say "her" 5D. She took this pic of me as I was shooting a pan shot. Notice the Shotgun mic to pick up the sounds of nature. This is actually a stitch of two images that Auto Pano Pro managed to create from one landscape shot and one portrait shot. Penny managed to create several panos on purpose but this one was purely an accident that worked out quite well. I may have created a monster by giving her the camera but it's the only way I'm going to get any shots with me in the picture so I might as well. She actually did really well. Clicking on the photo will take you to her gallery of images. At the moment it only contains the images she made that created panos but as I finish editing all the images I'll be uploading her regular single shots there too so be sure to check back in a few days.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Day Four - Page, AZ....


As day four comes to an end we are busy packing and getting ready to head home tomorrow but not first without a return drive through Zion National Park. Tomorrow's trip I plan on only shooting HD video with the new Canon 5D Mark II. I brought my video tripod along just for the occasion.

We didn't have any organized photo shoots scheduled today with the group. We had the morning free to go out and explore on our own. Penny and I took a drive in towards Page, just a few miles from the marina where we are staying, and we noticed a sign labeled "scenic view". We decided to take a look and see what the area had to offer. It turned out to be the incredible vista shown above of the Glen Canyon Dam and the Colorado river running a few miles downstream.

Several times during our mid day photography classes our event coordinator, Fred Yake, has mentioned how he never uses a tripod to shoot panos and seeing as how I didn't have my tripod with me I too decided to give it a try. This shot was taken with the 5DMII and the 24-70mm lens at 24mm. Handheld, two rows of three images for a total of six shots. The stitch worked flawlessly.

Clicking on the photo will take you to the gallery showing you the full sized image. The detail is just amazing. Those two white marks you see in the river just about in the middle of the bend are pontoon boats. They take people on tours and actually depart right from the base of the dam. That must certainly be a different perspective from high above the canyon walls here. Maybe next time we make it out here a pontoon boat tour will be on our itinerary.
Let me know what you think, leave a comment.....

Making lemons from lemonade....


Or something like that....
As day three came to an end I decided to go out for some star trail pics over the Lake Powell marina and unfortunately the clouds decided to roll in just in time to mess with my plans. I did manage to get Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) peaking through the clouds before we were completely socked in. After waiting around for a while hoping for the clouds to clear I decided to pack it in for the evening. As I turned around to leave I noticed the moon just going behind the clouds right obove the horizon in the west. Between the moon and my position was the road back to the marina and a large yeild sign. There was just enough light hitting it from a nearby streetlight so I decided to setup and shoot a self portrait next to the sign. Details on the photo - Camera on a tripod, ISO 800, 45 second exposure. I started the exposure and ran over to the sign, leaned up against it and stood as still as I could until I heard the shutter click again. I just got lucky on the exposure.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Day Three - Page, AZ....


Another great day here in Page, AZ. The weather today could not have been better. Perfect sunshine for the Antelope Canyon tour, temps in the high 60's or low 70's and only the slightest hint of a breeze. Sounds like the "perfect" time to hit the canyon right? I guess a bazillion other people thought the same thing....... That was the only problem today - TOO MANY PEOPLE!
For those not familiar with Antelope Canyon, it's not a huge area. And when you are trying to shoot with a super-wide angle lens like I was trying to do, it's almost impossible on a day like today to get a decent shot. Here's one shot, pretty much straight out of the camera, no adjustments except for a feeble attempt to darken the far area to hide the PEOPLE. I'll do a better job on this shot when I have more time.

Gotta go now, heading out to try and get some star trails over Lake Powell. At least I shouldn't have to worry about PEOPLE in my shots tonight. Depending on how late I stay out, I may have a second post a bit later. Till then....

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Day two of our trip to Page, AZ...

Well, it's getting late and as the end of day two nears I've decided to throw up one last image and update everybody on day two. This image was taken today at Horseshoe Bend using the 16mm Zenitar Fisheye lens I picked up a few years ago off eBay for around $175.00.
I'd always wanted a fisheye lens but never could justify spending the money that Canon wants for their lens. Maybe if I used it more often but this lens rarely comes out of the bag. Anyway, I've been really happy with the lens. It's not great at f2.8 but stopped down to f11 like in this shot it really is a decent lens for the money. Of course this image has been brought into Photoshop and the heavy distortion that is naturally part of a 180 degree fisheye lens has been slightly corrected.
This is the first, and only so far, image from a great trip to this awesome place today. I will probably not be processing the others till next week as the next few days we have busy shooting schedules. Tomorrow - Antelope Canyon!

Oh...and don't worry mom, she was at least 5 feet from the edge of the 500 foot dropoff.

Day one of five.....

We are having a wonderful time on our little get-away to Page, AZ. On the way up here yesterday (Saturday) we took the scenic route and drove through Zion National Park. I'm not spending much time on the computer while we are here so I've only processed one of the shots from Zion and here it is...

The weather was not looking great for the drive up to Zion. We had incredible winds and rain for a good portion of the drive but the weather cleared up pretty well by the time we entered the park. As this shot shows we had just the right balance of sun and clouds to make for some really nice photos. Unfortunately it clouded up a bit before we left the park so we hope to hit some of the overlooks on our way back to Vegas on Wednesday.
After a couple wrong turns here and there we finally made it to the Lake Powell Resort and Marina, our home base for the next few days.
As I write this we are actually at the end of day two but I haven't had a chance to process any of the images from today. Today's big location - Horseshoe Bend. You may not be familiar with the name but if you google it and look at the photos you will probably recognize the location. Hopefully I'll have a shot or two to show off tomorrow (or later tonight).

BTW - I guess I forgot to mention this trip has been organized by the Digital Imaging Association, a small group headed by Fred Yake, a gentleman who's quite the photographer and world traveler. Just click on his gallery link and you will get an idea of the places he's had the great fortune to visit.
Everybody has been very warm and welcoming to Penny and myself as this is our first trip with the group. Next year - a cruise to Alaska! I guess we better start saving now.......

Friday, April 24, 2009

Perks of the job....

One of the perks of my job is that sometimes I get to photograph some really cool people. Yesterday was one of those opportunities. While shooting photos for the UWUA - Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, I had the chance to shoot our current Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy....

I've been very busy the last few days working at the NAB show. NAB, the National Association of Broadcasters is like a candy store for adults in the world of broadcast production. Lots of great speakers the last few days including director, Rob Cohen talking about action films (You may have heard of a few of his films - XXX, The Mummy - Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, The Fast and the Furious) We also had Larry Law in our room talking about all his hits on the Discovery Networks. He's the guy behind Deadliest Catch, Monster Garage, Big, Ax Men, Biker Build Off, and many others.
He was followed up by Josh Schwartz, the creator of Chuck, The O.C. and Gossip Girls.
All in all it was an interesting few days but tomorrow I get back to PhOtOgRaPhY!
I'll be shooting pics for a union show here in Vegas at Bally's hotel. It's the Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO (UWUA). I'm looking forward to a couple days with this group and sure to post my favorite shot or two from the show so stay tuned.

The shot today was taken a while back as my wife and I made a stop in the small town of Winslow, AZ. Off the main Interstate exit to Winslow you will see a tribute to the heroes of the 9/11 event. More shots of the monument can be seen by clicking on the photo. For some of you the town Winslow, AZ has another special meaning and I'm sure you'll realize the reference when you check out the gallery.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A bit of Experimentation...

I had an opportunity this weekend to shoot a wedding reception for a friend of ours. Not wanting to take the typical reception shots I decided to experiment a bit on the dance floor by dragging the shutter and taking some long exposure flash shots in an attempt to show the motion and excitement of the evening.
My wife doesn't like the effect and I must admit that I got a little carried away with the effect and did it too many times...but hopefully Kristina & Josh will like them.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Great source for Royalty-Free Music!

For many of you that don't know me, my background goes into TV and video production. I spent the better part of 12 years working directly for two different television stations back in Louisiana. One of the things I was always impressed by was the music library they had for commercial production use. It wasn't cheap back then, we are talkin' hundreds of dollars per disc! and these library's usually had around 100 disc. Do the math....
With the advent of the internet there have come many online sources for royalty-free music and I happened across a pretty decent one today. First let's be clear about one thing, this is not the type of music you listen to everyday. This is for video productions where you will be selling the finished production on DVD. Sure it would be great to be able to use today's top 40 artist but that music is not cheap and most of us do not have the budget for that.
Well, how does $20 sound? Not bad, huh? Check out Stock20.com for some decent tunes to edit to.
Clicking on my link above entitles you to one free song.
With all you guys shooting with the new Nikon D90 and Canon's 5DMII I'm sure more and more of you are looking for decent tracks to edit that cool HD video to so give the folks over at Stock20.com a try. You can't go wrong.
A special thanks to Scott Bourne and the gang at Photofocus for the Stock20 heads up.

Here's one of my favorite shots from last November's Aviation Nation Air Show out at Nellis AFB. Clicking on the shot will take you to the Flickr gallery with the rest of this series images.
Speaking of music...can't you just hear Kenny Login's Danger Zone tune looking at that shot. I know, I know..Maverick flew an F-14 Tomcat, not an F-15 Eagle but unless you are really into military jets you are not going to know the difference. They did enter service at roughly the same time, they are both roughly the same size, they are both two-seaters (at least this one is...)
That's a negative Ghost rider, the pattern is full.

Monday, April 13, 2009

What's worse than taking a bad photo?

Simple, NOT taking any photos at all.
Today was a total waste for me. Sure I got a few chores taken care of around the house. I took my Xterra to get its annual smog check. It passed with flying colors as expected. It's a 2000 Xterra with 104k miles and it keeps on running just fine.
After that I came home and picked up dog p*%p and mowed the lawn.
Now I'm sitting on the couch watching TV and realizing that it was a BEAUTIFUL day outside all day and I never pulled the camera out to snap a few pics.
While out taking my Xterra for the smog check I was listening to a The Tech Guy podcast. One of the segments on Leo's weekly podcast is about photography. They were answering questions from Flickr members and one of the questions was, "How do you get out of a photo shooting rut?" And the answer of course was to just get out and shoot. If you shoot portraits, get out and try shooting landscapes. Shoot something different from what you regularly shoot.

The shot above is a bit outside my "norm". I was asked a while back by a local veterinarian to shoot a few employee photos. I shot a few of the doctors individually and was then asked to shoot a couple groups of employees. This shot turned out to be one of my favorites

Friday, April 10, 2009

Star Trail Photography



Anytime a friend and I are talking and the subject of astrophotography comes up I'm always asked how to shoot star trail photos. As far as astronomical photography is concerned, star trails are the easiest to do. But trying to explain to someone "how" to do it is often times more complicated.
While perusing through my list of forums that I regularly check I came across what has to be the best article I've seen that covers how to take great star trail photos. I felt compelled to post it here just so I have a record of the link for future reference. So follow this link to Naturescapes.net and before you know it you too will be taking great star trail photos.
Taking Great Star Trail Photos
Of course it's going to help if you have the right tools and are comfortable shooting in manual mode.
The shot I'm showing here is one of my personal favorites taken during the August 2007 Persied meteor shower. The camera was setup on a sturdy tripod facing North, bulb mode, f/2.8, 16mm, ISO200 for 20 minutes.
Clicking on the photo will open a new window and take you to my pbase.com gallery of other shots taken during this same trip to Star Hill Inn in New Mexico.
Sadly the economy has taken it's toll on Star Hill Inn and it is no longer in business. One thing to note about taking 20 minute exposures, you are not going to do it from downtown Las Vegas! You need really dark skies so bundle up and head for the desert or wherever you can get so that you see no effect of city lights.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Better late than never....

So for the last week or so I've been working on getting the website laid out. It's something I've been putting off for the past three or so years since I left my former employer and started doing freelance work.
It's been quite a learning experience and I went the "easy" route. I decided to go with a SmugMug Pro account that allows complete layout customization. I even took SmugMug's advice and registered my domain name with one of their sponsors, GoDaddy.com. You know them, they are the guys with the Superbowl commercials with hot chicks... oh wait, that's just about every advertiser during the Superbowl.
Anyway, the site is up and I'm asking anyone that runs across any errors, spelling, formatting, whatever you see that seems wrong to drop me a note and let me know about it. Spelling errors are a pet peeve of mine so I'd like to catch them early. Fortunately, this is a website for sharing my photography, not so much my "words" but I do plan on trying to post here in the blog at least once a week.



The shot above was my first attempt at a stitched shot having a person move from frame to frame. The "guinea pig" is my friend Glenn. I knew if the shot worked out right it would be a bit surreal so what better location to try it then at the Racetrack playa in Death Valley. This place is surreal. Click on the photo to be taken to my gallery from the recent trip.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A VERY special thanks to Denise Goldberg!

After beating my head against the wall for the better part of the day yesterday, I decided to post a help request on the SmugMug - Dgrin forum. I posted the request just as I was heading off to bed and woke this morning to one reply. It was from Denise Goldberg and it explained all my errors and what I needed to do to correct the problem. So within a matter of 5 minutes I was able to correct the header you see at the top of the screen so it matches the rest of my website.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU DENISE!

Monday, April 6, 2009

OK...I'm tired....and frustrated.

I've spent the better part of the day trying to integrate my new blog page into my SmugMug site.
It's almost there but as you can see there are some issues with the header. I'd like to get my SmugMug banner at the top with the navigation bar directly below it just like on my home page.
If anyone happens to see this and can give me a clue I'd much appreciate it.
That's it for tonight. I think I'll post a help request in the SmugMug forum.

Initial Blog post

Well, this is it. My very first blog post!
Not much to say at the moment. I'm just working on integrating it with my SmugMug site.