Saturday, October 30, 2010

Getting Back to my Roots

Canon 30D
Canon EF 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Focal Length 34mm
Shutter Speed 1/20, 1/50, and 1/125
Aperture f/4.5
ISO 125

Friday was a very long day. I had several meetings set-up for potential clients spread across three counties. What's more I wasn't bright enough to plan my visits in a logical manner. As such, I was in Chicago Heights for my last meeting, practically looking at Indiana right around the time rush hour starts...on a Friday evening. It wasn't looking good for a pleasant trip home. The good news is that my route could conceivably take me by the Morton Arboretum! Now we're talking! So off I went in search of some peace after a hectic day of mostly driving. This boy needed to stretch his legs. His dogs were barking!

Those of you unfamiliar with the Morton Arboretum only need to know one thing: stop what ever you're doing and go there now. I mean it. Go now. It's just a stunning place, both for it's simplicity and it's humble grandeur. Every time I go I reconnect with Ma Earth and that is something I cherish. There are four things in life I always consistently return to: music, photography, reading, and just being outdoors. This place feeds my soul.

Knowing I might be able to swing by I packed my camera and a full 10GB of memory knowing how pissed off I'd be if I ran out. I arrived just in time to enjoy that delicious late afternoon sunshine. I literally snapped 630 pics as I wandered the conifer walk, circled Lake Marmo on the West side, and stumbled upon Schulenberg Prairie, a new find for me. I just cannot put into words how this kind of place affects me. It's why photography is such an important and vital art form and why I'm so in love with it. Words just can't do what a good photograph can.

This photo was taken on the banks of Lake Mormo. The tree is a Freeman Maple, which is a crossbreed of Silver and Red Maple. The roots are just fantastic and the way the branches fall over the water just captivated me. I took 3 exposures with HDR editing in mind. The tricky part is that my tripod is kaput forcing me to do my best at holding very still whilst my camera gets three exposures. It helps tremendously that the light was sufficient. If the day were cloudy I probably would have been out of luck.

So why did I think HDR with this shot? Couldn't I have gotten a good shot without fancy software? The answer to that question is yes, I could have gotten a good shot without HDR. I've posted an edited shot here that is a single exposure. The facts of this setting are the dark shadows potentially clipping the details in the roots and the bright highlights of the reflected water potentially clipping the highlight details. The range from darkest to lightest is just extremely wide. And that's exactly what happened in the single exposure - clipped shadows and highlights (I'll admit, I edited a little extreme to emphasize the point). So why shoot with an eye towards HDR? It's just a better representation of what I'm seeing at that moment. And that is a key point.

There are some that rail against HDR photography, stating it looks fake or dreamlike. And indeed it can look fake and dreamlike. Some even prefer it that way. I would venture to state is can actually make a photo (particularly a landscape) more realistic. That is to say more like what the photographer is seeing when the shot(s) is taken. This is what I'm after and I'm fairly satisfied with the results on this one. Make no mistake, I struggle with making these shots look real. Ask Brandi. She's functioned as foil to my recklessness (Thanks B! I need it!). But I continue to learn when to push it and when to back off the "fixes." In the end, all I want is a photo that conveys the emotion of the scene. This shot does that for me.

My connection to Brandi's adorable faces are the ringlets of hair framing the little one's face. These roots remind me of those ringlets. And I was struck by the symmetry exhibited as the root comes up to kiss the reflection, similar to the girls leaning into each other.

I've posted several other HDR shots on our Flickr page. Check them out and leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you all think. In the meantime, your assignment is to go to the Morton Arboretum ASAP. If you need company, I'll be there.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Faces with....*drum roll please*


Stop your crying! Scott will be here tomorrow. Yes, you really can wait a day to see his work, it won't kill you. I promise.

**stay until the end for a special announcement**

When I told Scott that I took some photos at my daughters school Halloween parade we thought we would switch days so we could show off some cute kids for this edition of Friday Faces.

Nikon d40 18-55
Shutter speed 1/100
Aperture f4.5 @32mm
ISO 800

I took a ton of photos during the parade. Getting 14 2-3 year olds to listen, smile and pose is the single most difficult thing to do. Ever. Factor in my cameras inability to handle low light situations, like being inside a school and you have some yellow cast photos.
I knew when I went through them I was going to have to do something I don't often do. I was going to have to do a little heavy editing. sigh... I much prefer to let the photo speak for itself with a quick brighten, sharpen or a little boost.
I played with a couple different things and ended up giving this what I call a newspaper feel. Not completely black and white but not sepia either.
In the end, I hope the girls smiling faces and bright eyes carry the photo. Two friends, sharing in the excitement of a special day. What could be better than that?

I get to be the lucky person to announce that we are extending this weeks Wordless Wednesday. Go here and enter your name. You don't even have to make a correct guess. You just have to put your name in the hat. It's easy, it's fun and it won't cost a thing. Where else can you find that type of entertainment?
So stop making excuses and go!!!

See ya next time!!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Burning the Midnight Pumpkin

Cannon EOS
Shutter speed 0.60000 (?)
f 5.6
ISO 400

The shutter speed felt very slow but the info shows me this ridiculous number- Hmmm? (Help)

Yes, I played in the bathroom with fire and mirrors and all the setting on my camera. No, I didn't need the extinguisher nor did my children whiteness me playing with fire in the house!!! Though I got some neat shots of simple dancing flames, They looked "Christmas". I'm not ready for that yet!!! I ended up outside with my pumpkin in the dark. The pumpkin itself is one I carved (scored) oak and maple leaf designs in earlier this week. I actually now see a face when I look at the photo - spooky...
Other than cropping I didn't adjust the photo.

Have fun Scott...
Thank you,

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday with Sere

The poster must post only one(1) photo with settings. No additional verbiage (other than the rules) is allowed.

Commenters (that's you!) must comment and guess how the photo associates with the previous (Tuesday's) photo. We will take every commenter and randomly select a winner on the next Friday around noon (no guarantees on the noon thing - we are artist wannabe's after all). The winner will get to be our guest poster on the following Sunday. If you can't make Sunday, we will pick another day that works for you. We aren't too picky. So if you think you have an answer (or even if you don't) leave a comment, you might just win!

No previous photography experience required. In fact, wannabe's like us, are encouraged. The only criteria; you must be able to take a photo (any camera will do), email said photo, allow 3C1D to publish said photo and follow the rules...

Only one (1) guess per person. All rules strictly enforced with a paddle (Brandi style)!

Ready Set Go!!!!

Nikon D2X
Lens 18-70mm at 18mm
Aperture F/3.5
Shutter Speed 1/2 sec.
Natural Lighting

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rock, Paper, Scissors

What in the free world is a girl to do with a picture of a rock?

I've been pondering this question since midnight last night when I saw Scott's post. I came up with quite a few pretty decent ideas actually. But when I awoke to see the windiest conditions Chicago has ever seen, I knew I was going to have to come up with a indoor plan.

More brainstorming......
Don't judge me, it was early.
and more brainstorming....

Then suddenly, it hit me.
Rock, Paper, Scissors!
I can play with paper and scissors. But how does one translate a kindergarten picture into a cool photo. Yeah, I could take a picture of my beautiful daughter playing with her pretty pink scissors or I could take a picture of my hands cutting paper or...
I threw my hands in the air, and there it was.

Flying paper.

Nikon d40 18-55 3.5-5.6
Shutter speed 1.00sec
aperture f5.0
ISO 200
focal length 23mm
spot light from below

I knew I didn't want a background and I wanted the only light to come from below. Don't ask why, it's just what I wanted.
So I headed to my unfinished basement and found a dark corner. I hung up a very dark blue blanket over the concrete to create a feeling of negative, infinite space behind the falling paper. I got out the work lights I borrowed from my brother Justin and set it up on the floor. Working quickly because those lights get crazy hot, I covered the lamp head to diffuse the light, set my camera up on the tripod and began shooting.
Once again I used my 10sec self timer on the camera to allow me two free hands to throw the paper strips with.
To be fair I will admit I did not use a pair of scissors in this project. I used my paper shredder instead. I maybe be crazy but I'm not stupid.

There was no post processing other than a crop so I could achieve a little more vertical feeling on the photo.

Now, who wants to play?
Sere... you up for a game. How about best 2 out of 3?


Monday, October 25, 2010

A New Toy

In an earlier post I spent some time explaining "dynamic range." I went on to support a free program called "Picturenaut." Today I made the decision it was time to get serious about High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography and see what I can do by purchasing Photomatix, the program most touted as the best option for HDR. Brandi and I split the cost and I'm sure she's in line for a late night too.

Let me first say I have a TON to learn. There are so many pitfalls that can derail any picture and using several exposures only compounds the challenge. Second, processing an HDR image takes a lot of time. I repeat, it takes a LONG time. Which is why I'm rushing to make my midnight deadline. It doesn't help that I can't stop trying new images to process. I processed about 10 images and every one of them could have been posted. Third, I have a crap-ton of dust on my sensor and that royally sucks. Gonna have to address that soon.

For tonight's photo I give you this rock:

Canon 30D
Canon EF 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Focal Length 18mm

Shutter Speed 1/30, 1/125, and 1,500
Aperture f/6.3

ISO 100

This rock is very "Crystal Lake" for me. I grew up referring to this as graffiti rock and I remember when it actually looked like a rock. It has seen countless layers of paint as you can see in the foreground. The last time I saw it the overall color was navy blue. It seems today's painters had other things in mind.

I chose this as my subject because Kristine and I are high school classmate. We spent countless hours singing our way through high school and I consider it a high point in my life. It will always be a very "Crystal Lake" feeling when I reconnect with my singing buddies and for that reason I chose this rock.

Kristine, thanks for joining us. You, like all our guests, did a fantastic job. Come back again soon! As for me, I'm spent. Watch for more HDR and next time I post I promise to give a better explanation. Bedtime for this singer.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Everyone Meet Kristine

We've got our latest Wordless Wednesday winner Kristine joining us. Kristine was the randomly selected winner from Scott's post.

A little about Kristine in her words...
About me
I am married with no children but two cats that we love. Currently living in West Michigan but born and raised in Crystal Lake, Illinois. I have always liked taking pictures but my true passion lies in music. I love to sing and it has given me the chance to go so many places.

A little about the photo in her words...
This is a picture of one of my 6 nieces. This season lends itself to running and jumping into large piles of leaves and Abbie loved it so.
We were thankful that the rain held off so we could have a little fun outside.

And now beautiful Abbie...

Nikon D90
18-105mm VR kit lens
Aperture f/5.6
Shutter 1/125
sb-600 flash

Thank you so much for joining us Kristine! We loved having you and little Abbie is such a gorgeous face to have grace our little blog.
Please come back anytime!

Head/Camera-less Horseman

iphone 3GS
ISO 64
This kids is the second camera phone post. Thank you Sere for the idea, but I can't hold my puppy in my lap. I love hanging out with this guy and thought this picture was interesting to look at. I think I captured the only break in the clouds and spot of sun that day. I like the shapes and sometimes less is more. This leaves a lot to be imagined as far as a story goes...
I'll be calling Brandi's Scott to get her into a new camera so I can buy her old one REAL SOON!
Sorry all for the short and late post. I hope you enjoy the picture that I think is a little spooky for Halloween... Have fun Scott L. You're it!