Toot Toot!

Here it is, Labor Day already. The year is 2/3 gone, but only 114 days (or something like that) until Christmas.

I spent a couple hours at the Nevada State Railroad Museum for their Labor Day Steam Up yesterday with my Canon EOS 6D Mark II equipped with a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens. This lens is tiny compared to my other lenses with similar focal length because it does not have an image stabilization or vibration control system. Because of that, I shot primarily on a tripod but did make a few handheld shots (holding the camera to my eye with the tripod hanging down in front of me, if you can imagine).

Shooting with a prime lens (fixed focal length) instead of a zoom lens was challenging. I’m used to setting up my tripod and zooming the focal length to adjust the composition. With a prime lens, one must compose ‘with your feet.’ To zoom in or out means moving the tripod, not twisting a ring. At one point, I was standing on the median island in the middle of Carson Street to get a shot. Because of passing cars and a cyclist, I missed a couple that I wanted. Oh well!

Here’s a sample of my shots from the day. If you missed the Steam Up, keep an eye on their calendar because they steam up on a regular basis.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

 

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“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

So, there I was, reading the March/April 2017 issue of Popular Photography magazine (specifically an article by Glen Van Slooten on ‘seeing the trees for the forest’) which included this quote from Henry David Thoreau.  The words resonated deep inside me.  A few days later, I was reading about the cover shot for the March 2017 issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine.  In his own words to describe the picture and his process for making it, the photographer, Robert Glenn Ketchum, said this, “…As you look at this image, I want to call your attention to an “old school” idea about taking pictures: The camera doesn’t matter; it’s what you see that’s important…”  My technically oriented engineer’s brain almost exploded.  I called one of my photo mentors to discuss this interesting concept.  He laughed and said something like, ‘why yes, and that’s the subject of a presentation I’m making next week.’  (Though I didn’t hear it specifically, I’m sure that he covered the telephone and said something like ‘he FINALLY gets it!!’)

As I thought about the quotes and my mentor and his presentation, I realized that I have been subconsciously wrestling with the concept for some time.  When I look at something, what am I actually seeing?  I had always wondered why people making images from the same place and time that I was were making better images.  In many instances, they could see an image that I didn’t.

What does it mean?  Simply, there’s one more item on my list of things to learn about photography.  This one, however, is not a setting on the camera – it’s consciously looking at an item, animal, or scene and visualizing the image it could be, or taking an idea and making it into a reality.  We’ll all see if I can actually do it – the challenge is there.

I had the opportunity to go inside the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City before it re-opened last weekend.  The Museum suffered damage from flooding last January and has been closed for repairs and cleanup.  I’m happy to report that the Museum staff and volunteers did an excellent job and the displays and exhibits are in excellent shape.  Here are some images from my visit.

This is the Glenbrook. I made this image from three exposures processed in Photomatix, a High Dynamic Range (HDR) software, and finished as a monochrome image.  HDR utilizes multiple images made at different exposures to bring out the best highlights and details in the shadows.  (I discuss HDR in more detail in this post, https://photorogr.com/2016/03/29/an-amazing-week-for-me/ – go take a look!)

Same image as above, but rendered in color.

The drive wheels on the Inyo. Note the reflection in the floors – Museum staff thinks the floors look better than ever and I agree!

If you think the names on cars are obtrusive, take a look at this! We can clearly see that the Inyo was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia. This decoration/advertisement is displayed between the drive wheels and can be seen in the previous image.

I’ve got to learn the names of the things that make these beautiful machines run.  This is an HDR image.

The firebox and surrounding area of the Glenbrook, processed as an HDR image.

As you can see, I worked on my HDR skills.  I also tried a new technique that I’ve been exploring – focus stacking.  In focus stacking, images are made at different focal planes and then blended together to achieve deep focus in subjects.  The Museum was probably not the best place to work this technique as many of the subjects have curved surfaces, making focus stacking a challenge.  I did it, however, and learned lots about the technique and its challenges.

One of the drive wheels on an engine. I focused on the face of the bolt (at left center), the washer, the face of the drive shaft, the bolt heads on top of the drive shaft, the wheel spokes, and the machinery behind the wheel. The light was at the top of the drive shaft, so everything below was in shadow. I liked the composition.

Inside the cab of one of the engines, a focus stacked image (8 focal planes).

Same image as above, rendered in monochrome.

I was intrigued by this control lever, and made a focus stack using 8 focal planes along the length of the lever. This wouldn’t be possible in a single image, even at a small aperture maximizing depth of field.

The spherical object on the right presented the greatest focus stack challenge, as the gauges were all on the same focal plane.

This is the entire apparatus, 7 focal planes. I worked the image to bring out the patina of the brass as well as the deep focus.

This is a shot from inside the passenger car. I loved how the old glass caused the somewhat rippled appearance of the Inyo cab, against the straight and in focus wood paneling. This was made from two exposures and focal planes, one for the interior and one for the Inyo.

This is the ceiling of the passenger car. The artwork is amazing and the lamps are just gorgeous. I used 8 focal planes to make the image in focus from the front lamp to the wooden header behind the far lamp. As I refine my focus stacking technique, I will use more focal planes for better quality images.

I love focus stacking, and am happy to add it to my photography toolbox.  Just like everything else in my toolbox, its best use is a work in progress.  I hope you enjoyed my revelation and my trip to the Railroad Museum.  A big thanks to the staff for allowing me to visit.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Energize and revitalize!

A little over a year ago, I retired and started a journey to become a photographer.  Every time I try to sit back and take stock of my progress, there’s a new subject begging to be photographed.  The best part is that I feel like I actually have a starting point to make the image.  I’m not always right in my decisions, but I feel like I can make the adjustments and have a successful shoot.  I’m still loving my journey and have no regrets about taking that first step.

I have great friends, old and new, and family who have been supportive through it all.  Thanks to everyone for helping me along the path, from encouraging words to buying my images to telling me about photo opportunities.  It’s not much fun without you.  Please stay with me as the journey continues, because there’s lots more to come!

Every now and then, I am unhappy with my images and myself.  Sometimes it’s the subjects or the challenges of light and shadow, and sometimes it’s my lack of knowledge in editing.  When I get down, I give myself a break, clear my head, and then jump back in.  This week, the grind of editing for the Boy Scout car show got to me.  I took some horse pictures, and wasn’t happy with the results.  Last night, I went on a photo walk with a couple of my mentors and a few new friends.  I made images of subjects I don’t normally shoot and cleared my head.  The people were fun and the pictures are coming out great.  I’m doing a little experimenting with the editing, but I’m renewed and re-energized.

In my last post, I promised more car pictures from the Boy Scout car show.  As noted above, it’s become more work than I had originally thought (but it’s providing a great opportunity for learning the business side of photography), and those images aren’t ready yet.  I’ve also been distracted by other subjects in the last couple weeks.  Here are the images from my distractions.

Lake Tahoe ATV ride: we rode a trail on the east side of the lake, with fantastic views.  There are a couple more pictures in the Landscapes and Scenery page.

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And the USAF Thunderbirds came to the Carson Valley.  See the THUNDERBIRDS! page for more images!

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The Thunderbirds were here as part of the Aviation Roundup, with static displays and other flying demonstrations.  This is a Beechcraft Twin Beech 18 doing some acrobatics.

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Which brings us to the Photo Walk and its non-routine subjects.  This is only a sample – there are more to come!

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This stained glass piece is in a local antique shop. It was nicely backlit and easy to shoot.

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I was intrigued by this street light against the west wall of the original Warren Engine Company fire station. I added the vignetting in the corners, but I’m not sure I am completely pleased with the result.

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The sunset was beautiful, and the church steeple made an excellent foreground!

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I’m trying several new techniques with this image. I made multiple images from this location, including several bracketed exposures. I’ll let you know how the experiments come out.

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I caught the moon over the roof of the Nevada Supreme Court Building. I kept hoping the wind would come up and extend the flag, but it was not to be. I like this image, though.

As you can see, sometimes the distractions are very hard to overcome.  They are, however, very necessary to maintain the creative juices.  This crusty old engineer needs all the creative juices he can get, because they are sometimes hard to come by.  Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Lemonade!

Yes, I know.  It’s November and we should be drinking hot chocolate or apple cider.  The temperatures outside make warmer drinks more desirable.  The Sierras got a little snow this week.  We got rain at the house – in the desert, we generally don’t complain about getting moisture in any form.

I didn’t find the eagles this week, hence the lemonade.  When I don’t find the subjects I’m looking for (bears, eagles, etc.), I take the subjects I am given.  This week, I found 4 Coyotes and numerous Hawks on the hunt.  Here’s an image of one of the Coyotes about to strike!

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I got close to several Hawks and made wonderful images.  Here’s a sample, with a few more on the birds page.

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This Hawk sat on this fence post long enough for me to make multiple images. Then he took off and moved to another post, allowing me to make a few more sitting and flying.

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I saw two hawks in a field. As I got out of the Expedition, one flew away. If you look at the ground in front of this Hawk, you can see feathers. Go to the Birds page to see what happens next.

I was driving through Carson City yesterday.  Traffic stopped on Carson Street, right in front of the State Capitol Building, for a special tour group crossing the street and entering the Capitol grounds.  What a sight!

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All things considered, it was a great week of shooting.  For those of you in the area, the Carson Valley Art Association is having their Annual Scholarship Benefit Art Show at the CVIC Hall in Minden this weekend (November 7-9, 2014).  I am entering three photos.  Stop in and support the Art Association!

Enjoy!  Photorogr