Nevada Northern Railway Part 2…

The morning was chilly, but enthusiasm was high as we gathered for Day 1 of the Nevada Northern Railway Photography Workshop. I ate breakfast in the hotel, so I passed on the selection of donuts provided by the staff (my body was very happy with this choice). We got to know each other a little more as we shared images from past shoots. The group included accomplished photographers. Some had been to Ely before and had great images to share. One participant was from Nebraska, and was a regular contributor to the Union Pacific Railroad with his images of the steam locomotive 4014, the legendary Big Boy, recently restored and touring the country.

After our morning classroom session, we headed out into the rail yard. First stop was the Engine house, where I grabbed a few shots.

One of several images inside the Engine House. I used a softening filter to give this a more abstract look.

We spent much of the morning in the yard watching the locomotives move around the yard as they gave us photo opportunities and set up for tomorrow’s action.

The 40 powering through the yard. RIP Building behind and Coaling Tower on the left.

The 40 was our primary subject in the yard today. I tried this sepia-style filter and like the result.

The 40 approaching the ‘service station’ – the legs of the Water Tower and the dump chute of the Coaling Tower.

A popular shot among the instructors, this view of the 40 under full steam on the east side of the yard . In our final session, I was told this would make a great magazine cover.

A fun picture of the 40 framed by the base of the Coaling Tower. Great sky and the mountains in the background.

After lunch, we all enjoyed a class in lighting. I’ve never taken a lighting class before, so I really enjoyed the learning opportunity. The instructor pulled me out of the crowd and had me sit in the subject chair while he moved lights around and showed us different techniques. He gave me all the pictures he took. No, I won’t be sharing them.

A few more shots around the yard and some dinner, then we moved inside the Engine House for some strobe lighting shots. The staff set various scenes for us, we set our cameras and opened the shutters, the strobes popped and we had images. Here’s a sample of the evening’s activities.

The 40 in the foreground and the 93 in the back, with a sepia filter. Most of my night shots are black and white, since the black of the locomotives and lack of background lends itself to monochrome shooting.

Lots of steam and smoke, giving these images a surreal feel. Another participant shared his secret for enhancing the smoke and steam during processing – and it works!

The trick for enhancing the steam also works on the lights. In this image, it helped disguise that I had removed the ugly modern sodium vapor lights in the ceiling, maintaining the old time feel of the image.

I never imagined I could make images like this.

I returned to the hotel very satisfied with the day and almost 500 image files to process. Working around the coal fired locomotives is interesting. Safety First – as it says everywhere in the yard and on the front of the locomotives. I emptied a few cinders from my shoes and out of the hood on my jacket, and detected a slight odor of train in my clothes, but it was all worth it. Two more days of shooting and learning. Stay tuned and enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Night Photography Workshop…

I participated in a Night Photography Workshop at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in mid-November. The workshop started after lunch with a safety briefing and introductions, and then the fun began.

The wonderful volunteers at the Museum had the McKeen car, the 25, and the Glenbrook all fired up and running around for us. I took advantage of the afternoon light to get a few of the Glenbrook.

As daylight faded to evening light, the actors arrived and the instructor set out the big lights. First up, the McKeen car at the Depot.

The sun was setting over the hills in the background and gave beautiful light.

We spent several hours in the cold evening with the locomotives at different locations around the Museum property. This is my favorite from the evening.

Set at the crossroads on the north side of the property, the Glenbrook and the 25 have a discussion over who has the right of way.

Just for fun, I put a black and white filter on the color image, then reduced the opacity on the b/w and the browns in the image came through. I like the effect.

One of the last venues for the evening was the turntable. I had to experiment with a little low light-long exposure work.

The rear of the Glenbrook is lit by headlights from a truck parked behind and to my left. The front is natural light with about a 30 second exposure. I’ll try to get the truck lights off the next time.

The volunteers were preparing to put the Glenbrook away for the night and they invited participants into the cab. This long exposure was one of my last images on the night.

The open fire box door complements the glow of the lantern for this warm image. The low light capabilities of the Canon EOS 6D Mark II are amazing.

This workshop was a great experience and I look forward to the next workshop at the Museum.

Prints are available – send me a message.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

How I Spent My Summer Vacation – Volume 5

While preparing my post this morning, I realized that I didn’t finish my ‘summer vacation’ series last year. This volume will showcase images from our trip to Yosemite National Park in August 2017. I was taking a night photography workshop and we decided to spend a few extra days enjoying the Park.

I rented a Canon 6D camera body for this trip to enjoy the ‘full frame sensor’ experience. I liked it and subsequently purchased a Canon 6D Mark II body.

There were fires around Yosemite last year which impacted our time there. They were not as bad as this year, however. Without further ado, here’s my stuff.

We entered Yosemite through the Tioga Pass entrance, uphill from Lee Vining CA. We took our time crossing the Tuolumne Meadows to avoid the daytime traffic in the Yosemite Valley. One of my images of Tenaya Creek…

…and another image from Tioga Road…

…and more Tenaya Creek.

One of the iconic sunset views in Yosemite (El Capitan on the right) obscured by the smoke.

I got to looking around while making the previous image, and found that I liked this view of the Merced River at my feet much better.

One of the images from the famous Swinging Bridge during the night portion of the workshop. The glow on the rocks in the lower right of the image is Yosemite Village.

And the Milky Way did not disappoint. The photographer could have done a better job, however.

Tunnel View.

We were in Yosemite during the solar eclipse and had just arrived at Glacier Point as the eclipse was in progress. My lovely bride made friends with a family looking at the eclipse (they shared their solar glasses with her) while I made this image.

Everyone who goes to Yosemite should ride the Green Dragon. If you don’t know what it is, then you need to go find out. One of our stops was on the Merced River. I used a log as a tripod and made multiple exposures for this HDR image.

Yosemite Falls didn’t disappoint. I got up early one morning and took a walk with the camera and tripod. With few people around at that time of day, I had my pick of vantage points.

We had a wonderful time in Yosemite. We celebrated our wedding anniversary with a dinner in the big dining room at the Majestic Hotel. Go to Yosemite when you get the chance!

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

 

A very fun evening!

Action Camera and Tamron lenses sponsored a photo walk in Virginia City yesterday evening. Ken Hubbard, the walk leader, is a national representative for Tamron lenses. I’ve had the privilege of taking night photography workshops with Ken previously, so I was excited to explore Virginia City in the evening light.

The town is quiet at 8 p.m. A few cars on the street but, with most stores closed, the pedestrian traffic was very light. VC’s street lights are beautiful, and cast an orange glow on everything. I chose building exteriors and store windows as my subjects for the evening. The store windows offered challenges with interior lights creating hot spots the images and competing with the ambient light from the street lights. I set the Canon 6D Mk II on Manual, played with ISOs of 100, 200, and 800, and various apertures. Shooting on a tripod, I bracketed exposures. This allowed me to be choosy in my selection of images to combine while processing. I also experimented with black and white for several of the images, as you will see in the images below.

Walking up Main Street and I saw these bottles in the window, backlit by the room lights. Next time, I’ll use a smaller aperture to extend the depth of field and make the bottles a little sharper. Of course, shooting at an angle through vintage glass may not allow full focus on the bottles.

One of the store fronts. I tried to mask the interior light using the item nearest the glass, with limited success (in my mind). I worked this image in both color and black and white, and decided I like the b/w version best.

Another of the store fronts. I had better success using the ambient light in this image. I combined 4 of the bracketed exposures and then applied a filter from the Nik Collection for the final image. I liked the color version of this image. Another challenge was the condition of the glass in the store windows – this glass wasn’t too bad.

My favorite image from the evening! This restaurant on the south end of town was wonderful. When I first saw this scene, there was a pickup on the right encroaching into the building. When I walked by again a couple hours later, the truck was gone and I was able to get this. Again, I compared the color version to the black and white version, and chose the b/w. I cropped in a little to reduce clutter on the sides, and had to decide if the fluttering bunting in the center of the image was worth worrying about. (You can’t take your eyes off it now, can you?)

Low light photography is challenging but fun – I experiment with is occasionally. The smoke around Virginia City wasn’t horrible, but did limit my shooting. The moon came up and was a beautiful reddish orange from the smoke, but I didn’t even try for moon shots mostly because of the smoke. Take a chance and go out in the late evening, and just experiment. You will learn a lot and might surprise yourself. Be careful where you go. Take a friend to watch your back. Yes, I’ve found myself in places where I shouldn’t have been without backup so I speak from experience.

On a positive note, the music from one of the bars made the evening pleasant! Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

It’s been too long…

…since my last post. I’m very aware of it. In my defense, I took a job supporting FEMA’s hurricane recovery operations and I’ve been away from home for a while. While on the road, I limited myself to my Canon PowerShot point and shoot camera. I challenged myself to push its limitations and make good images.

On October 1, I boarded a plane and headed to the National Emergency Training Center in Emmittsburg MD. The NETC is home to the Emergency Management Institute and the National Fire Academy. The campus was a girl’s school before it assumed its present duties. Many of the buildings are historical and they are all beautiful. The campus is also home to the National Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial.

This is one of my interpretations of the Firefighter’s Memorial. The view is from the right side and includes one of the stunning sunrises we experienced during the 2 weeks there.

I made this image of the Memorial with my mobile phone the first evening I was there. I had to check in and get my credentials late in the evening and was crossing campus when I saw this. I loved the light on the Memorial.

This is one of the administration buildings, typical of the architectural style on campus. I posted pictures of other buildings on campus in my ‘view from the office’ series on Facebook.

Some of my friends and I took a drive to Hershey PA and the Gettysburg National Battlefield on our one free weekend. Hershey was busy with the Antique Auto Club of America show, but we were able to tour the chocolate factory and take a bus tour around the town. I visited Gettysburg in 1982 when my father was on a tour of duty at the Pentagon. This visit was more rewarding after reading several books on the Civil War in recent years.

If you haven’t been to Gettysburg, you really should go. The locals started preserving the battlefield immediately after the battle, so unit locations and gun emplacements are accurately documented.

The Robert E. Lee Memorial. I pray that all these beautiful memorials and the history they represent are preserved forever.

This is my only fall color picture for this year. The trees in MD and PA had just started turning, but this scene, near the Wheat Field, gave me a little color for the year.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

PS Challenge – August 26, 2017

It’s been too long since I posted, but I have an excuse. My lovely bride and I recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary and we took a trip to Yosemite National Park to celebrate. We timed the trip around a Night Photography Workshop I was taking. I hadn’t been to Yosemite since I was 2 years old, so that trip didn’t really count for me.

We had a wonderful trip and, except for the smoke from a fire at the south end of the Park, enjoyed the grandeur and beauty. Picture taking was a challenge, but I think I got some good stuff – I’m just beginning to process the images.

Today’s PS Challenge image comes from the Merced River and was taken at dawn, the last shooting of the workshop. The smoke gave the sky an orange cast, and I loved how it colored the water of the river.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

The Wonder of Night Skies…

In the many photography magazines and websites that I read, I see all manner of advertisements for photography tours around the United States and the world.  The tours range from a few hours for a seminar to a few weeks shooting with big names in the photography world, and can cost thousands of dollars.  The more expensive tours include all lodging, meals, and transportation around the chosen venue.  A couple months ago, I saw an ad for a night skies photography workshop with a couple locations within driving distance and at a very affordable price.  The tours were offered by National Park Trips Media (visit their website at nationalparktrips.com) teamed up with Tamron USA (http://www.tamron-usa.com).  I selected the tour in Sedona, Arizona.

Sedona is a community of around 11,000 people located in north central Arizona, about an hour’s drive south of Flagstaff.  (Visit http://www.sedonamonthly.com to learn more about Sedona.)  I arrived in the darkness of early evening and my Garmin took me on quite a tour before finding the hotel, the Andante Inn of Sedona (http://www.andanteinn.com).

The workshop started at 2 p.m., with a couple hours in the classroom.  Tamron’s award-winning photographers – Ken Hubbard, Andre Costantini, and Marc Morris – provided a review (for me, anyway) of the photography triangle (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO) and shooting in low light conditions.  After, we loaded up the equipment truck and the van and headed to the Crescent Moon Ranch to photograph Cathedral Rock with Oak Creek in the foreground.

rogr4038-e1-w

Cathedral Rock reflected in Oak Creek

Our group joined a pair of photographers who were after the same view on a small patch of dirt along the creek.  The pair of photographers were a bit overwhelmed by 16 people invading their shoot with tripods and cameras, but they offered their spot to the highest bidder when they were done shooting!  I got my shots and looked around the Crescent Moon Ranch for a different view and other subjects.

pmx4057-61_vibrant-e2-z-w

Cathedral Rock from the Crescent Moon Ranch

As the sun went down and the light faded, we loaded back up and headed to Bell Rock Park off SR 179.  This is where the shoot got very interesting.  I’m used to shooting in ambient light and being able to look through the viewfinder on my camera or use Live View to set the exposure and compose the shot.  In the light of the half moon, we were literally shooting in the dark.  I set my ISO at 3200, a relatively high setting, my aperture wide open, and shutter speed at 30 seconds.  Hoping for the best, I manually set the focus at infinity and pushed the shutter release.  When the shutter closed, I was able to see the image for the first time and it wasn’t bad.  I made a few adjustments in the camera position and resumed shooting.  Over the next several hours, I made around 130 images.

rogr4066-1-w

This is a rock formation in Bell Rock Park.

rogr4112-e1-w

Bell Rock is on the left. The bright light at the bottom of the saddle is from Sedona.

The Tamron guys helped us experiment with a technique called ‘light painting.’  During long exposures, we used flashlights to illuminate trees to bring out some of the detail and add a new element to the image.  Light painting is definitely an art, as controlling the light on the subject is critical.  It’s very easy to put too much light on the subject and ruin the shot.  The image below took several tries – still not perfect but acceptable.

rogr4107-1-w

Light painted tree in the foreground.

Long time followers of my blog know that I love a good panorama, and I had to try for a panorama in the dark.  From the position of the light on the rock formations, you can see that this panorama is actually about a quarter of a circle – not just flat.

sedona-evening_panorama2-2016-12-06-e3a-z-w

The instructors used the star apps on their smartphones to get us in position to shoot Orion over the rock formation on the right side of this image. If only someone had a star app for my Windows phone (big sigh).

One of the members of the tour got separated in the dark and ended up a mile away from the group.  After an hour of searching, we got word that he had called 911 and local law enforcement had picked him up.  We got back to the hotel around 1 a.m. and got a few hours sleep before heading out the to local airport for an early morning shoot.

The morning was overcast, but we waited for a couple hours and finally got rewarded by good light.  Here’s a couple panoramas from the early morning shoot!

sedona-sunrise_panorama2-2016-12-07-e3-w

The sky was overcast, but not very sexy.

sedona-sunrise_panorama1-2016-12-07-e3a-z-w

A little different position and shot.

After the morning shoot, we returned to the hotel for breakfast and some instruction on Lightroom software to process the night’s work.  The workshop was a fast 20 hours of exploration into a new photography technique.  I learned a lot and look forward to continued exploration into night photography.  I see that National Park Trips Media has a night skies workshop in Yosemite next August.  Hmmmm – might have to register for that one!

Thanks for being a part of my journey.  Until next time – enjoy!

PHOTOROGR