Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Muskegon South Pier Light

This is the Muskegon South Pier Light.  The building is the US Coast Guard station for the area.  I like this shot for the vivid colors.  The greens on the buoys is very interesting.  The blue on the rail is fairly close to the real color.  This was taken in the late morning - almost perfect.  The original shot is dark, as I had the exposure down an additional value (-1.95).  The more I have of the darker shots, the more I like being able to bring the colors out with HDR.

1/650 f/6.3
Aperture Priority
ISO 200
Focal length 70 mm (105 mm for 35mm film)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Grand Haven Light - Grunge

That will hurt your eyes.  These are the Grand Haven Lights taken pretty much right into the sun.  Who would do that?  Certainly not anyone who knew what they were doing.........
Yet another mistake.
Shooting on Aperture Priority, I had the real bad habit of looking at the shot settings and then changing the environment by turning around.  And this is what you get.  The original shot is very dark - but that seems to work for me.  Dark captures the colors.
I haven't done any Grunge work lately as it seems to only work in the fall for me.  So far.  So on a whim, tried it here.  I like it - although on a monitor you almost need sun glasses.  the sun is actually behind a layer of clouds but really neat effect here.  (I generally don't like to tip my hand as to what will be entered in the photo club competition, but just had to get this one out.)

1/500 f/9
Aperture Priority
ISO 200
Focal length 18 mm (27 mm for 35mm film)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

South Haven South Pier Light

South Haven was the second stop on the tour.  The sun was starting to come out at this point, but the wind was as strong as ever.  For most of the lights on the tour, we were able to walk out to the light.  Not so here.  The walkway was solid water about half way out.  You could not see any ice, but it was cold enough and I wasn't going to take the chance.  So this shot got the nod out of the group.  The Gulls are a nice touch.

1/320 f/14
Aperture Priority
ISO 200
Focal length 170 mm (255 mm for 35mm film)

Grand Haven Sunset

At the end of the first day of the tour, the weather began to break.  The forecast for the second day was to be nothing short of spectacular.  The weather was clearing from the west, just in time to show a great sunset.  As we were eating, I kept running out of the restaurant to take photos.  I wanted to get a light or lighthouse on a sunset but that didn't happen.  This isn't bad for not getting what you want.

1/50 f/4.8
Aperture Priority
ISO 200
Focal length 55 mm (82 mm for 35mm film)

Grand Haven Splash

I've been looking forward to playing with this shot.  I thought this - and the rest of the series - were goners.  This was taken in the late afternoon looking almost directly into the sun.  (Some of the shots in this series have the sun in them!)  This is facing directly west.  I had the camera set up for taking shots to the east - and they turned out great.  Not so good facing west.  The original shots are very dark. 
Good thing I make rookie mistakes.  I've always believed in digital photography and shooting RAW, it is much better to under expose then over.  Overexposed colors are lost, can't bring them back.  Underexposed takes some effort, but the colors can be saved.
So I walked out past the front light, wind was pushing me around.  I had to rotate this shot one degree to level the horizon because I was leaning into the wind!  I was listening to the water to try to time the splash.  And i forgot to look at the settings.
Good thing I was confused.  I like the shot and to colors through the water spray.

1/640 f/10
Aperture Priority
ISO 200
Focal length 30 mm (45 mm for 35mm film)

St. Joseph North Pier Light

This is the first stop on the Michigan West Coast Light/Lighthouse Tour.  This is the St. Joseph North Pier Light.  Look at those waves!  The weather caught me by a bit of a surprise.  Although it wasn't great weather, when we got to the shore - it was just plain nasty.  It was difficult to stand up straight.  In the original shot, the buildings were on an angle that had to be corrected.  I took a number of shots at this location, trying to get some wave action.  I walked on the pier about half way to the rear light - and that was enough.  there was no ice, but the wind had the potential to knock one over.  I figured if the spray was cold, going swimming would not be any warmer.

1/500 f/13
Aperture Priority
ISO 200
Focal length 92 mm (138 mm for 35mm film)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Michigan West Coast Light Tour - March 2010

Just returned from a 2.5 day trip to the West Coast of Michigan to see/photograph lighthouses and lights.  This was the inaugural trip for the D90.
The trip started Thursday - drove from home to St. Joseph's.  Although the weather was marginal at best, at St. Joe's it was bad.  It was very cold and windy.  Aside form that - got what I would consider some great shots.  After St. Joe's, we traveled through South Haven, Holland and ended the first day in Grand Haven.  The weather was windy and cold at each location - but had fun trying to catch 'wave' shots.
Friday was an absolutely gorgeous day.  The Weather Channel delivered!  We traveled from Grand Haven to Frankfort with seven stops.  That was a long day.  This is the first time I've really had to shoot in abundant sunshine.  I played a lot with exposure values.  In some of the shots I've put out quick, the shots are a bit on the dark side, but with some work I should be able to bring out the great colors.  I worked a lot with the camera histogram, really trying to not lose too much color.  I took a couple of AUTO shots everywhere for comparison and to not lose some of the shots.
This morning, we started with the Frankfort Pier Light, passed through Point Betsie and finished with the Robert Manning Memorial Light.
As for the D90, the software is about the same as the D80.  I made a 'few' rookie errors.  I didn't have the focus set up the same as I did with the D80.  The focus target area was way too wide and as a result some of the shots did not focus very sharply.  I figured that out by day 3.  I started playing with the EV compensation - only after I noticed a bad effort due to lots of bright light reflected from the sand.  I had been playing with Aperture Priority, which I shot almost exclusively on this trip, when helps some but I really need to get more of the burn out of my shots.  My usual standby of using a polarizer was not enough to combat the sun.
So - lots of good shots.  The first pass of a vacation album are here on the MARCH 2010 link.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

SR-71 - 1982 Kadena

This is one of the shots of the SR-71 I took just prior to my leaving Kadena.  (Story below).  Out of all the shots, this is the best with combination of technicality and and subject.  What I didn't notice at the time of the shot was the flight controls.  I took the shot at the time when the crew was performing the pre-flight flight control check.  If only there were digital cameras then...........

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kadena Girl - 1982

This is a fun photo.  This was taken in the fall of 1982 at Kadena.  Really, I can really remember the day.  Just off base at one end of the runway there was a photo stand run by a local guy - we affectionately called Habu Charlie.  He'd take photos of the airplanes and try to sell them.  He also took personal photos with props for any people who wandered by.  And in this case, this young lady and her friend showed up - and Charlie put her in a cammo shirt, helmet and a wood rifle.  This isn't the reason I remember the day - but it helps.
The reason I remember the day is it was getting close to my leaving the island.  I had been to Charlie's stand enough times that he knew me and we had plenty of bad English conversations about planes and photo equipment.  Up to that time, I had never been able to catch the SR-71 taxi and take off in a photo.  I had been trying to get some of these photos for over a year.  Well, on this day, my luck changed - and Charlie kept me in the game.  I had been sitting out at the photo stand for an hours just enjoying the day and catching some of the people such as the girl above and just people watching.  I told Charlie that this was probably my last day.  I was getting ready to leave - and he tells me "Habu - 10 min".   Habu is the local name for snake - but is also what we called the SR-71.  I could not believe this.  How did Charlie know?  I still don't know to this day - but I stuck around and got some great Habu shots.  (Side note - I had a local Okinawan shop do the developing and printing.  I was paranoid thinking that the BX would confiscate the shots!)  Rush of memories.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Photo Weekend - No Pictures-

Fairly big photo related weekend.  If I had to go somewhere, Port Huron would be the location.  It looks like this is the first weekend of the freighters moving.  The Soo opened this morning at 7:00 AM.  There is still a lot of ice at the southern end of Lake Huron and the mouth of the St. Clair River.  From what I can tell, there are a lot of vessels trying to get through.  But I didn't go.......
The 11x14 of the Sail Boats arrived today.  Got 'er framed and hung over the fireplace.  Looks good.  Cost me $12 - I guess that is good. 
I got the D90.  Lots of new goodies - but the most important thing is that what was on the top menu is now enlarged on the back view screen.  All those settings I had trouble seeing - usually due to sun light - are now very visible.  it is close enough to the D80 that I should be able to pick up and GO!.  I splurged a bit and picked up a new lens as well.  I got the Tamron 18-270.  I was looking at the Nikon 18-200 as well.  The difference in $$$ was not that much - but the Tamron gives me a macro as well.  I was looking for an all-around lens where I won't have to change lenses - and I think I have it.
Not sure what I will do with the D80 yet.  I'll probably wind up selling it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

March Photo Club Competition - Recap

Had a good showing for the Club Competition last night. 
My Chairlift in Fall and Rt 381 took Honors in the MANIPULATED category.  More important to that, this is the correct category for this type of work.  Lots of great discussion on this on how the photos were made.
In the OPEN category, Sailboat Row took Honors.  Lots of nice comments on this one.  (BTW - I ordered a 11x14 of this and it arrived today.  Going frame shopping in a few!)  The Kadena Fisherman had a lot of nice comments on the subject value - but technically it just isn't up to standard.  (Hey - it was taken in 1981 or 1982 and scanned.)  But the positive feedback on the subject value was well worth the submission.
In the SUBJECT category, REFLECTIONS, my Ligonier Lake did not do well.  There were some positive comments about the sky and the reflection off the water - but there just isn't any ZING to it.  I don't have any issues with the scoring on this one.
But the best story of the night could be viewed as a big disappointment.  But it wasn't.  I had high hopes for the Bird on a Rope in the NATURE category.  It did not score well, but I got the best feedback on a photo that made sense to me.  This is the photo I submitted:

There were three point that were made to me on this.  First, the subject off set by just a bit was good.  Second, the bottom rope was viewed as a distraction and probably would have done better without it.  And last, the sky is also taking away from the subject.  So a better crop job would have helped.
So all in all a great night.  Really happy the GRUNGE work was appreciated - and really happy with the feedback from the rest of the club on the rest.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Birds on a Piling

This was taken last summer during our trip to North Carolina.  This piling is in the Cape Fear River, just off the river walk in Wilmington.  During this trip, I found the subject of the sea birds fascinating.  On this day the sky was flat, very overcast.  Rain was a definite possibility.  I cropped out a lot of scenery from across the river - mostly out of focus trees and greens.  I used Exposure Fusion to get some color in the sky.  This works well.

1/500 f/5.6
ISO 400
Focal length 58 mm (87 mm for 35mm film)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mackinaw City Ice

This was taken on the return leg of our Up North Weekend.  We passed through Mac City just after noon and the weather was great.  I have this same shot from the same place taken a few days before - when it was snowing and the sky was gray.  I like this much more.  The blues of the sky and the color of the ice get to me and make this one a keeper.

1/160 f/14
ISO 100
Focal length 32 mm (48 mm for 35mm film)

March Photo Club Competition

This month's club photo competition subject is REFLECTIONS.  There are lots of possibilities for this - but I usually only think of one.  Reflections of trees in water.  As I've researched the subject I see there are more possibilities and I'll have to stock up for next year.  (Assumption is they don't kick me out!)  I'll be entering my Lake Ligonier photo in this category.  For my club photo I didn't push the colors as much and it actually looks like a photo.
For the OPEN category, I'm going to enter the KADENA FISHERMAN and SAILBOAT ROW.  The fisherman shot is a scanned photo from the 80's.  Sailboat Row is from Mackinaw City a few weeks ago.  You can't go too wrong in this category.
I'm going to submit my BIRD ON A ROPE photo in the NATURE category.  I think by far it is my best bird photo and it is time to see what other enthusiasts think.  The problem is, the bird is on a rope.  Some of the Club members think that nothing man-made can be in the shot - therefore the rope would be out of bounds.  In a club document, the nature category photos have a number of constrains as to what can be done to the photo.  As to human elements, the documents says this, "Human elements shall not be present, except on the rare occasion where those elements enhance the nature story. However when present, the human elements should be included only to minimum extent in completing the story".  To me, the rope is irrelevant.  We'll see what the club thinks.
I'm also going to take the chance that some of my GRUNGE work will make the MANIPULATED category.  I'm going to submit the CHAIRLIFT IN FALL and RT 381 photos.  The Club documents referenced earlier states that "This category is for a digital image that has had 'objects' removed, added, moved or extremely distorted...".  I think we can all agree that the GRUNGE work is distorted.  The questions then centers around defining the term EXTREMELY.
So we'll find out the lines in the categories are drawn.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tahquamenon Falls Winter 2010 - View 2

This is a view of the upper falls from one of the observation points along the path to the falls.  HDR brought out the green in the tree on the left a bit too much, but the rest of the elements fit nicely.  There are two people on the observation deck, but they blend in and disappear.  Thankfully they weren't wearing yellow!

1/80 f/20
ISO 100
Focal length 66 mm (99 mm for 35mm film)