Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cabin Moths

Was going out shooting this morning.  I got no further than outside the front door, where I encountered these 6 different types of moths taking naps on the wall of the cabin.

Shot with a 70-200mm lens and a full set of Kenko extension tubes -- Was within about an inch for these shots.

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Saturday, April 9, 2011


This photo has been floating around in my head for 2 years. I'm glad I shot it today.

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Negative Space

I'm trying to learn about negative space this week.  I'm not quite sure that I get all the subtleties just yet, but here's a crack a few NS photos...

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Highland Bulls

Was out shooting on a cloudy day, came across these fellows.  Highland bulls, maybe Scottish Highland bulls, not quite sure...

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kodachrome Projections

Carousel projector off of eBay.  Old slides off of eBay.
 Plastic bottle and some extension tubes.

One day I'll figure out a decent reason to project old stuff onto new.  But until then, random walk experiments continue.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Am I possibly getting off my butt?

Surprise! I'm here. Yes, I've been shooting, but loading mostly to Facebook page -- posting some relatively ok stuff there.

Now it's spring, and I think I'm beginning to bloom a bit again.

Signed up for a new class starting next month at PPSOP called Stretching Your Frame of Mind, taught by Joe Baraban.

Also, going to the Flash Bus show with David Hobby (Strobist) and Joe McNalley as it rolls thru Atlanta in a couple of weeks.

Anyone want to join me in either one?


Recent news.

My daughter and I went out shooting in downtown Blue Ridge Ga at sunset -- she's getting into photography and that makes me excited. These photos were all taken by Jenna. Overall she had some really great shots for her first sunset shoot -- she has a much better eye than I do (that's why I'm taking the PPSOP class, so I can catch up to her!!).

(This is Jenna's, but I cropped and photoshopped this one a bit -- I couldn't let her have all the fun!)

And as for me actually taking photos this year, I have. I did this one.

I've been away too long. I'll be back.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Luminosity Masking

Fellow named Tony Kuyper pioneered some techniques on luminosity masking in Photoshop, and co-wrote a couple of tutorials with Dave Nightingale over at Chromasia.  Really good stuff.  You have to be a Chromasia member to see them, but you can see some of the earlier write-ups and instruction for free over at Tony's site at

Masks in general can be used as a basis to apply different Photoshop adjustments to specific parts of your image.  The advantage of luminosity masking is that it targets certain parts of the the image based on level of brightness, not specific geometry -- so you are adjusting things along a new type of dimension.  Another advantage is that you also get some good feathering in your masks and don't get a bunch of hard edges when you make adjustments.

Here's a first attempt at luminosity masking of an iPhone photo.  Used it mostly to help bring out some detail in the darks in this fellow's clothes, and to then select the lights of the sidewalk and adjust the color and curves a bit.

Which brings me to a recheck of my 'rules'.  About 2 and a half years ago, I wrote up a statement on my Rules of Engagement for Photoshop and Lightroom, in which I laid out what I would and would not do in Photoshop.  I was a bit of a purist with good reason -- still trying to learn how to use that tool called a camera.  My thinking and skills have changed since then, and I need to rewrite this statement soon.  For me, the change started with me putting in a darkroom at home and seeing what can be physically done to photos during the process.  This led me to a bit of thinking about what a photo really is.  Don't think I had the maturity or experience back in to understand this (and I certainly don't have it all now, just more of it).  I've simply broadened the set of tools I have to bring to the table to make (and not take) a photo.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

High Pass Filter and Photoshop

One of my old PPSOP instructors, Pete Saloutos, had taught me a bit about sports photography and adjusting images in Photoshop.  I had forgotten some of his Photoshop advice on filters, but he just posted a little tutorial on High-Pass Filtering in Photoshop, and it's all coming back to me now.

His suggestion was to take the tutorial and breath some new life into old photos, so I did.  I also took some of the techniques I've learned from David Nightingale's Chromasia tutorials and applied them as well.  Here are some of the better (and some of the more experimental) results...

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Katydid (Tettigoniidae Pseudophyllinae)

The street one over from our cabin is called Katydid Lane.  I now see why.  I did my best to identify this. Believe it to be Tettigoniidae Pseudophyllinae, but if you know a more accurate classification, drop me a note below and I'll change it.

This little lady (I think) is about 4" long.  Seeing a photo of the underbelly is pretty rare on the interwebs, so here's my contribution.  This was taken with pretty much the same setup as the mushrooms in last post.  Handheld flash, extension tubes.  I was inside and the Katydid jumped onto a glass door, hence the good underbelly shot.  Again, DOF was an issue with these macros, and handholding both the camera and the flash made it all a bit uncertain.

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

How to Get Started Photographing Mushrooms

We went to the cabin this weekend, and the first thing I noticed was that I had few mushrooms growing in front of the house.  A perfect idea for photos, I thought.  Unpacked the bags and went and looked some more, and it turns out there were all sorts of these fungi growing around -- they just started popping into my sight the more I looked and walked around.  A bit of cool weather and they were are all happy to spring to life.

I had never tried a concerted effort at shooting mushrooms before; I did shoot those tree fungi in the Los Hongos de Marosa post a few weeks ago, but that was more opportunistic than an all out mushroom photo hunt.   Did a bit of research on the web, here's what I discovered and practiced when I started out to the yard.

1. Equipment

The best piece of advice I read was to keep it basic with respect to equipment.  I was able to hand-carry / pocket-carry the following:
  • Camera and memory cards.   Digital camera and some spare memory cards to hold all the pictures.  You are going to make a lot of exposures of each mushroom, adjusting angle and light.  I probably took 10-15 photos of each mushroom group.
  • Portable flash and controller.  I think it's required.  These mushrooms are in dark places as well as light ones, but they are down low in the shadow land, and you need a way to consistently light them up, both from above and below.  I used a Canon 580EX and the infrared controller that mounts on the camera, but a hot-shoe cord is a lot cheaper and perfectly fine for the small distances you will work in.
  • Hand-held reflector.  Really helps with fill light.  Generally, I would hold the reflector on the side of the mushroom opposite the flash and angle it to get light on the opposite side of stalk and underneath mushroom.  I used a small 10" hand-held reflector, but a sheet of paper would work perfectly too.
  • Bag of elbow macaroni.  Did you notice the lack of tripod above? You don't need one.  Don't know if you've heard of the technique of sitting your camera on top of a bag or rice or beans to steady it when you are low to the ground.  It's a fantastic trick.  We didn't have any rice or beans handy, so I just stuck some macaroni into a Ziploc bag.
  • Lens.  I used a 28-135mm zoom lens.  Great all purpose lens for this type of photography.  I didn't use a macro lens because of the next item.
  • Extension tubes.  Extension tubes allow your camera and lens to come closer to an object.  One option is to buy a dedicated macro lens (the Canon 100mm is a good example) for a few hundred dollars, and that's all you get: a dedicated piece of glass with only one focal length and limited application.  Or, you can spend only about $100 and get some Kenko Extension Tubes, and they will work with any lens in your bag.  Total flexibility.  Easy choice: get the tubes.

2.  Get Down Low

Once you are in the field (or front yard), you need to get down and see eye-to-eye with the 'shroom.  There is a whole lot of great stuff underneath the mushroom, and you need to lay on your belly to see and photograph it.  Your friends here are going to be the bag of rice/beans/macaroni to help you steady the camera on the ground, and the off-camera flash to help spread light all over.

Note: even though you will be using flash (which is safe for handholding up to around 1/200 second) there are a few reasons you want to put the camera on the ricebag or on a tripod: 1) you will be framing the shot, and then adjusting light, and you just can't do that handheld for repeatability and sanity purposes, 2) even though the flash is brief and lights up the mushroom, you still want to capture some of that ambient light around the subject, like sky, forest, etc. You will need a longer shutter speed to help you do that.

3.  Get Close
There are a whole lot of details on a mushroom, and you want to get really close to capture them all.  Look at the stems below -- I never realized this morel looking lattice work was on a lot of mushrooms.  Getting close simply requires you getting extension tubes or other macro attachments and getting in there and see what pops up in the viewfinder.  Cool stuff down there.

4.  Take Time to Study Your Subject / Look for Compositions
Once you are down there, start looking for composition opportunities: multiples, leading lines, rule of thirds, s-curves, juxtaposition of objects, fill the frame, etc. 

If you listen closely, you will hear the mushroom whisper what it wants you to do.  Maybe that's just the mushroom vapors, though.

5.  Line, Shape, Form, Color, Pattern, and Texture
These are Bryan Peterson's big 6 "interestingness" factors, and mushrooms have them all.  Fold them into your shot and try to get on the front page of Flickr.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Practicing Product Shots

These are some necklaces and bracelets that my Mom makes.  Had an opportunity to practice some product shots over at her house.  Sunlight, outdoors, 90mm tiltshift lens and a white napkin as a reflector.

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Resources for converting a digital camera to infrared

The sensors in digital cameras are sensitive to infrared light.  Manufacturers typically place a filter in front of the sensor to block out the infrared.  Bummer. However, cameras can be converted to replace this filter with a variety of infrared-only type filters.  Also, some cameras can support conversion to ultraviolet in addition to infrared.  The typical conversion will cost around $250 to $550.  Why waste money on film, when you can waste money on technology? :-)

LifePixel -- and -- Do It Yourself tutorials and modification services.  Mentioned on various photo enthusiast sites.

LDP LLC, aka MaxMax  Wide range of UV and IR conversion services.   Filters and lights as well.   Seems to be highly recommended on those photo sites and the interwebs.

Precision Camera.  Found during web search.  Don't know much about them. - -- looks like a limited set of Canon conversions done here.

Khromagery - -- Australia.  Once did it, stopped a couple of years ago.

ACS - Advanced Camera Services - -- In the UK, mentioned in this ephotozine article.

Spencer's Camera - -- Again, a websearch found this one.  Seems to be least inexpensive of the lot.

Camera Clinic - - Melbourne, Australia.  Newcomer, I think.

Protech - -- UK.  Looks like IR only services.

Know of any others?  Recommendations?

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

So I really screwed up my first shot at Infrared

I screwed up.  Infrared certainly is a learning opportunity, but I screwed up something really fundamental in the darkroom and I let the film sit in the developer too long.   The result is very contrasty, very grainy film.

I wanted to start trying to shoot infrared stuff like this shot from dschwen on Wikipedia.  You know, the shots where the blue sky turns pitch black and the leaves on the trees glow white.

^^^^ *NOT* my shot; belongs to dschwan ^^^^

I bought some Ilford SFX 200 near-infrared film, and ponied up for a Cokin 89B infrared filter.  The 89B filter looks almost black, and nukes anything less than 680nm (pretty much everything we see with our eyes) and keeps it from getting to film.  Basically, it passes through just a wee bit of red, and all the other infrared radiation we can't see.  If you don't use a filter, all the normal light and color we typically see with our eyes hits the film and you pretty much have a basic regular B&W photo.

Did a test roll around the house and cabin.  Results below.

You can see some of that black sky, and glowing leaves effect happening.   That's really cool and all, but unfortunately you also see a lot of grain and contrast.  I'm pretty pissed at myself for screwing up the film development and missing my development mark by a whole 2 minutes.  Lesson learned.

Have 2 more rolls of the Ilford SFX 200 left.  It is not as sensitive to infrared as I want, so going to pop for a couple of rolls of Efke IR820 next -- that's about as good an infrared you are going to find nowadays, circa 2010.  We'll see what happens...

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