A fun new technique…

When I began blogging almost 6 years ago (has it really been that long?), my blogs were all about the fun new things I was learning about photography. This blog is trying to get back to that kind of sharing.

During the recent madness, I’ve found myself staying closer to home. Because of that, I’ve actually come close to getting my money’s worth from the several photography training subscription sites to which I belong, and I’ve tried out a few new ones.

Recently, I watched a webcast about a technique called Intentional Camera Movement (ICM). Simply put, the concept involves the use of long exposure techniques to capture movement in an image. There are two main methods of creating movement: manipulating the camera or allowing an outside influence, wind for example, to create movement. Long exposures can be created by several means, but the simplest for me is to use neutral density (ND) filters to limit the amount of light passing through the lens and striking the sensor in the camera body.

Until this webcast, my use of ND filters has been limited to smoothing water to create a pleasing image. This image is one of my favorites.

This is not my first attempt at creating movement in an image. Several years ago, I participated in a weekly photography challenge, where I tried different photo techniques each week. One of those techniques involved changing the focal length on a zoom lens with the shutter open. Here was my top image from that week’s challenge.

And then there was that day several years ago when I was out looking for fall colors. I found some, jumped out of the truck, and began shooting. Thankfully, I checked my camera after a couple shots and realized that several of my camera settings had changed. I fixed the settings, but have these two interesting images as a result. I call the technique ‘Accidental Camera Movement.’

With that background information, here we are in present day. I took a drive into the Sierra Nevada Mountains yesterday to play with a new lens. I found some flowers and got a few shots, but the wind was bouncing the flowers around so I grabbed my ND filters and tried the wind movement technique. My Canon 6D Mk II was mounted on the tripod and the filters were in place. I stacked my filters to reduce light by 16 stops, which gave me a comfortable exposure 3-4 seconds. This was just right for the experiment.

Very fine art and very fun! I continued my adventure and found other subjects – including a nice waterfall – and then found a subject for trying actual camera movement. I first tried the camera on tripod, but didn’t get enough movement to make me happy. I moved to handheld and exaggerated the movement even more. Voila! (That’s my high school French kicking in!)

Yes, this is a very overdone composition, but we all have to start somewhere. This is just the beginning into this fun technique. Stay tuned to see where it takes me.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Nevada Northern Railway, the Post Script.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the images from my weekend with the Nevada Northern Railway in Ely NV. In a previous post, I think I mentioned that the Nevada Northern is a National Historic Landmark. The listing is because the Nevada Northern is the best preserved example of a short line railroad in the country (and probably the world). When the Kennecott Mining Company ceased operations in the Ely area in 1983, the workers simply put everything away, locked the doors and walked away. With the ups and downs of the mining industry, this was not the first time the mine had closed but the mine usually reopened within a couple weeks. Weeks turned into years and the railway assets were eventually turned over to the museum, which currently operates this historic railroad.

But it’s not just the rail yard and rolling stock that gives the Nevada Northern Railway its well-deserved historic status – there’s so much more! According to the Walking Tour Guide of the East Ely Yard, “…The complex includes a full-service rail yard encompassing fifty-six acres with sixty-three buildings, shops and structures. The museum collection consists of three steam (two operating) locomotives, six (three operating) diesel locomotives and over sixty pieces of historic railroad equipment.” The Guide continues, “…The museum also houses an extensive paper record of the railroad. The museum is also unique in that it not only preserves the artifacts of the railroad but it also is working the (sic) preserve the knowledge necessary for the maintenance and the operation of the artifacts.”

The Railway’s offices are located on the second floor of the East Ely Depot. This area is under the control of the State of Nevada, and houses all the records for the Railway’s more than 75 years in operation. These records include payroll records for all employees, architectural and engineering drawings for the infrastructure, all the paperwork necessary to operate the system (remember, the railroad was in operation before computers), beautiful historic pictures, and wonderfully preserved offices.

As I recall, the Superintendent’s Office…

…an administration area…

…and the Yard Master’s Office.

Admission to this area is a separate ticket from the Yard, but it is well worth the price. Next time I go visit, I’ll get some better images to share.

Here’s a few new images from the big boy camera.

This is the interior of the freight car, including an area where the mail was collected and sorted.

The interior of the luxurious passenger car. The stained glass over the windows is beautiful, and the seats are more comfortable than they appear.

An artistic version of Locomotive 40 pulling out of Tunnel 1.

And a few images from my mobile phone.

A monochrome version of the 40 in the East Ely Yard.

This rock cut was a tunnel at one time.

My new friend, Con, maintaining…

…and polishing the 40…he also makes it go! I love this painterly filter on this image.

A view of the Schell Range from the East Ely Yard.

I don’t do selfies very well, but I try. Yes, it was a bit chilly.

I hope that my images have enticed you to go visit Ely when the madness is over. Ely is located in eastern Nevada at the intersection of US highways 6, 50, and 93. Great Basin National Park is an hour or so away, along with a couple Nevada State Parks.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Nevada Northern Railway Part 4! The Final Day!

As we finished our shoot the day before, we looked at the weather forecast and voted to forego the sunrise shot. Not a bad call, considering the temperatures. So, we loaded into the Caboose and headed east. If you’re looking for an adventure, the Caboose can be rented for an overnight stay. The bunks were somewhat comfy, but the ‘necessary’ accommodations are not for the faint-of-heart.

We stopped at a stream crossing and headed into the brush. The 40 pulled by us several times, but I missed the best reflection shot. Darn it!

I chose a sepia monochrome filter for this image, giving it a vintage look.

While I missed the best reflection shot (if I’d only set up about 15 yards left of this spot), this one isn’t too bad.

Back in the Caboose and down the line. We stopped at the North Yard Limit for more shots.

One of my favorite shots from the weekend. I asked the facilitators of the workshop for this composition and they happily obliged me. We were at a ‘Y’ and the 40 was running on the track left of this location. The grey sky made for a bad background, so I asked them to run on this track. Huge difference in the background. I also tried some new editing techniques to really make this image pop.

The Nevada Northern has two routes on the east side of the Steptoe Valley: the McGill Junction Route runs from the Ely Yard to the Town of McGill; the Hi Line Route runs east of the McGill Route, further up the hill. We took the Hi Line Route to a rock cut – formerly a tunnel – and spent some time taking pictures there.

We shot from over, around, and in front of the locomotive. This was a very fun place.

And just like that the morning was over. In the Caboose and back to the Ely Yard for lunch. While we were eating, the crews were busy changing up the train. When we boarded to head west towards the mine at Ruth, we found ourselves riding in style – the fancy passenger car with a mail processing car in the train. First stop – Tunnel 1!

The 40 pulling out of Tunnel 1!

With multiple runs in and out of the tunnel, shots like this were easy to get!

I only crashed on the snowy hillside one time, resulting in some soreness and a bloody shin – but I saved the camera when I fell! On westward to Robinson Canyon!

The rocks behind make for a great background, assuming you don’t get photobombed by truck traffic on the road behind. Even with multiple pulls, this was one of my best from this location.

I really like this one, as well.

Our last venue was Keystone, as close to the Ruth Mine as you can get without being in the hole.

I chose to set up on the bridge overlooking the tracks for this image. I took some liberties during processing, using multiple filters and some layer masks to get this result. Not my favorite from the shoot, but this was a fun image to edit.

So, there you have it. Four days of steam locomotives and new friendships. I look forward to shooting on the Nevada Northern again!

A little post script. These Pronghorn were on the side of US 50 on my way home. Sadly, the only time I used my Canon EOS 7D Mk II on the trip!

They posed nicely for me. uncommon for one of the fastest animals on land.

Thanks for allowing me to share my weekend with the Nevada Northern Railway with you! Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Nevada Northern Railway Part 3…

The day started early and cold. Cameras in hand (or maybe on tripod), we waited outside the Engine House for the sun to come up to begin the day’s shooting. Finally, the front of the Engine House was in full sun and the 40 and 93 started their runs!

The 93 exiting the Engine House under full steam.

One of the many side by side runs.

After multiple runs out and in the Engine House, we followed the 93 to a piece of track south of the Engine House for a different background.

The building on the right is the Master Mechanic’s Office.

Moving back into the yard, I found the 40 sitting outside the Engine House…

…with the Paint Shop is in the background. A nice side shot.

I took several images of the 40 with my camera on tripod and my mobile phone. As I started to send phone pictures to family, I heard my name called out behind me. I turned and found a line of cameras waiting to take this shot!

Even the model had his arms crossed and was shaking his head. Needless to say, I grabbed my cameras and ran out of their picture and then snuck into line with them.

Heading to the next venue on the east side of the yard, I passed by a caboose with NNRY President Mark Bassett intently watching activity in the yard.

I shared this picture with Mark, so he knows I have it.

On the east side of the yard, the 93 ran through a road crossing with an active signal.

An artistic interpretation. I used this soft filter on several of the images from this shoot. I like what it does to some images. A friend suggested that I make the light red, since I caught it in the off position. You know, signal lights flash off and on while they’re active.

After a busy morning, we took a quick lunch break and then back to work. Building on the classroom session on lighting and the previous evening’s shoot, we set up lights in the Engine House for some ‘light’ practice.

My turn to have the light controller on my camera – I set up the shot and got ready to fire. Little did I know that I would be ‘photobombed’ by Dirt, the Engine House cat. Dirt is world famous. The drive wheels from the under renovation Locomotive 81 are in the background.

Meanwhile, back in the yard…

…a different look for the 93, with a filter called Old Western. This filter makes the image monochrome and adds an old film look.

Looking northeast from the west end of the Freight Depot (right edge of the image), with the Coaling Tower and Water Tower on the left. This image is popular with the NNRY staff.

I had many more images, but chose these 10 to represent the day’s effort. One more day to come! Stay tuned.

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

Ready for my Close Up, Mr. DeMille…

One of the reasons I love photography is that I never stop learning. Whether it’s a new technique or equipment or subject or even just a different way of seeing things, there’s always something to learn. Now that the Raptors have moved on to other places, my eye has turned to smaller and closer subjects – the pollenators and flowers in the back yard!

Over the years, my cameras and I have spent a lot of time in the yard and have enjoyed some success. Although Spring is still fairly new this year, I’ve had a good time so far. This is a Hyacinth, and it was the first flower to bloom in our yard. I put my Canon 6D Mk II with a 50 mm lens on a low tripod and got as close as the minimum focus distance would allow. I did not use focus stacking, but it may happen this year.

All images processed in Adobe Camera RAW and PhotoShop, with a Nik ColorEfex Pro filter.

I upgraded my mobile phone to an iPhone XS a couple months ago and I’m slowly exploring its photographic capabilities. With Spring so young, the Bees are working very hard and are tough to capture…but it can be done…even with an iPhone.

This flying critter was on our Peach tree – looking forward to those peaches!I also bought a new Super Telezoom lens this year and decided to see what it would do on close up shots. Mounted on my 6D Mk II body – a full frame sensor camera – and with a minimum focus distance of more than 8 feet, the Bees are very small so the following images are heavily cropped. The end result, however, is very nice.

This Bee is on one of our Chanticleer Pear trees.

Our Flowering Plum tree has been very popular with the Bees this year.

And so it begins. Spring has sprung and it’s time for some close up. I’m ready Mr. DeMille…

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Silhouettes as Fine Art…

Last month I shared some silhouette images with you – images I made during one of the classes I took at the Winter Wings Festival. I also took a class in wildlife as fine art which is the subject of today’s post.

I was out the other day and I found these two Geese floating in one of the irrigation ditches in the Carson Valley. Geese aren’t my favorite subject and the light wasn’t in my favor, but I decided to try something new using the techniques I learned in Klamath Falls and seeing if I could make some ‘fine art.’ I made several images using various exposures. Fortunately, the Geese were just floating along so they weren’t disappearing into the distance or making great ripples in the water.

When I downloaded the images and began processing, I tried several different ideas – color versus monochrome, variations in contrast and color, and a variety of filters. I ultimately chose this single color image, processing the dark areas into silhouettes to accentuate the position of the Geese on the water and in the frame using Adobe Camera RAW, and then finishing in Photoshop and Topaz Studio.

I hope you like it. Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Raptor portraits continued more…

When I look at these images, I marvel at the ways these Raptors pose like people…or maybe people pose like Raptors! What an interesting discussion topic.

Every now and then, a Raptor will sit in one place and just look around, providing an opportunity for a series of images.

And then you get the single shot of that Raptor…looking very regal.¬† They are beautiful creatures!

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Silhouettes!

A couple weeks ago, I participated in the Winter Wings Festival in Klamath Falls OR. I took several classes to improve my photography skills and got to see a presentation by George Lepp. George has been taking pictures for over 50 years, and was recently presented with  Lifetime Achievement Award by the North American Nature Photograhy Association. He is a regular contributor to Outdoor Photographer magazine. I was able to visit with him for a few minutes before his presentation Рa true gentleman, wonderful photographer, and a great presenter.

One of my classes was silhouette photography. The timing wasn’t great for the field portion of the class, but we did the best we could and I learned a lot about the technique. The key to a successful silhouette image is the background. For those fine art shots that people like to hang in their homes and offices, black outlines with a brightly colored background works great. Think sunsets and sunrises. Another key element is to be as low as possible to ensure that there’s a clear connection with the ground. Get low to ensure that feet aren’t lost in the foreground, for example.

For the images from class, I relied on pretty skies and the details in the trees to make the composition work.

Here’s a few images from the class.

I made this image with my trusty Canon PowerShot G9X Mk II. The instructor, Lisa Langell, told me I passed the class when I showed her this image in camera.

Not a perfect silhouette but still a fun image. Everyone was making images of the Eagle in the tree.

There were several Eagles in the area while we were there, and this one was circling before landing in the nest.

The sun was still in the sky, so I took advantage and made it a part of the composition.

This wasn’t my first attempt at silhouettes. In 2015, I made this image of my neighbor’s house and yard.

I was intrigued by the moonlight and the warm colors in the yard lights, but the tree silhouette on the right became a critical element of the composition.

And this from the Siskiyou River in Florence, OR.

I chose to not make the pilings and birds totally black, but it still counts as a silhouette.

My best silhouette to date was shot in 2016 in the Pinenut Range just east of my home.

A moonrise always makes a good picture – even better with a creative foreground.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Double D and PSC…interpretations on the Sierra Nevada Range!

In my last post, I talked about the Digital Darkroom (or Double D) and the fun I was having while exploring the application of creative filters. For today’s post, I used an image made with my PowerShot G9X Mk II point and shoot camera (hence the PS Challenge piece of the title).

I don’t remember where I was going last week, but I remember that the light on the Sierra Nevadas was gorgeous. I pulled over and got out of the truck, grabbing my trusty PowerShot, and began clicking. I always bracket exposures for my landscape shots to decide during post processing what I am going to do. I bracket up and down one stop with this camera. I used all 3 exposures to merge them into an HDR in Adobe Camera Raw, then applied filters using Topaz Studio.

Just for fun, I processed this using three different filters.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR