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

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As promised – car show pictures…

In my last post, I promised pictures from the Holy Smoker’s Car Show (May 2) and Big Mama’s Car Show (May 9).  I tried some new shooting techniques at Holy Smoker’s, using neutral density (ND) and circular polarizer filters alone and in combination, with interesting results.  As a result, the images you see below and in the Automobiles page took a lot of work in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.  This is good in several ways.  I learned: 1) how to use these software packages better; 2) the value of shooting in RAW format, and; 3) most importantly, this filter combination doesn’t always work in certain lighting conditions.  My journey continues.  Let’s look at a few pictures.  (Go to the Automobiles page for a few more pictures.)

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Who doesn’t love a well done Woodie? This is a gorgeous 1940 Ford.

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I don’t remember what year this is, but my feeble memory says 1932…if only I could read that license plate…

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This 1940 Ford Pickup belongs to my good friend, Charlie. He went a little wild and widened it several inches. More elbow room, I think…

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I don’t normally take pictures of cars that aren’t Fords, but who can pass up a 1928 Franklin that looks this great?

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To prove I was there – here’s my ’66 Mustang hardtop. Darn tree put my car in shade all day, and the guys in the background were manning the barbecue grills. Yes, I gave her a bath when we got home.

After working on the Holy Smoker’s pictures, I revisited my shooting techniques and decided I was over thinking and trying too hard.  For Big Mama’s, I left the ND filters in the bag and just shot with the circular polarizer.  I like the results and the amount of work in post-production much better.  As a warning to all of you aspiring photographers out there (and a reminder to me), remove your ultraviolet (UV) filter before you attach your circular polarizer.  I used both last year and got a condition called ‘vignetting’ (dark areas in the corners).  The journey continues!!!

Here are a few images from Big Mama’s.  Those of you who follow me on Facebook have seen these pictures, but you haven’t seen the pictures on the Automobiles page.

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I have the filters worked out, but now I need to work on the finer points of composition, like ask the nice people making the shadows on the fender to move out of the way…my ’66 Mustang hardtop.

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My good friend, Mike, took second in class (gotta’ wipe off the grass from the tires to win the tie breaker) but was picked ‘Best of Show.’ Fudge will be on next year’s show t-shirts.

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Another friend, also named Mike, brought this beautiful 1928 Lincoln tow truck to the show. Last year he brought a 1912 Speedwell (featured on this year’s shirt as the kid’s choice).

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Not seen on Facebook – here’s the rear of the Lincoln tow truck. See, it really could pick up your car and take it somewhere.

Here’s a teaser to get you to go to the Birds page.  Some of our friends have been watching a Great Horned Owl pair in the tree across their driveway.  This Owl pair had two babies about two months ago.  I finally made time to get some pictures.  This is one of the babies.  The rest of the family was off somewhere.

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No, this little one’s not glaring at me – that’s just the way Owls look.

Well, that’s the fun I’ve had in the last couple weeks.  The journey continues as I try new things – some of which work and many that don’t – but that’s what a journey is all about.  Until next time, enjoy!  PHOTOROGR

…in control for now…or am I???

For most of my life, no one has successfully accused me of being in control.  The whole concept of ‘in control’ is akin to other concepts, like growing up or being nice.  Yes, avoiding these labels is a source of great pride for me.  Thanks to all those out there who are vigorously nodding in the affirmative, and who would testify in support if needed.  Now that I’ve taken my bow, it’s time to get serious.

I brought the fire hose under control, but it’s still flowing fast.  I’m still in overdrive, but I’m learning to apply the brakes and control the skids more effectively.  I’m watching more tutorials for Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and Bridge.  These are great software packages for managing and editing pictures.  My fear of the Camera Raw format is decreasing, and my memory cards will likely take a big hit as a result.  (I’ve already gone from filling up an 8GB SD card in 4-5 months to consuming a 16GB SD card in 2 months and, in January, I filled one-third of a 32GB SD card.  Now, before you get all impressed, please understand that it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.  At this point in my development as a photographer, however, I need to experiment and learn the things that work and those that don’t.  As my knowledge improves, so will my memory management efficiency.  Note – my memory will not improve, but I will use the memory cards in my cameras more efficiently.  I had to say that to preclude the rude comments from many of my friends.)

Back to being serious.  As I explore these software packages, I’m trying new and fun editing techniques.  I have to be careful, though.  The teacher/moderator of my 52 Week Photography Challenge keeps reminding us that “just because you can do something doesn’t mean you have to.”  Having the ability to make an adjustment is vastly different that making that adjustment well.  Like photography techniques, editing requires a measure of experimentation as well.  And control.  As uncomfortable as I am being in control, I have to do it.  A little.

So, here’s a couple fun things I did this week.  The eagles have been hiding from everyone.  I found a few hawks and some wild horses.  New images, however, are not numerous, so I’ve had lots of time at the computer.  In addition to trying new editing techniques, I’ve also continued my experimentation with replacing backgrounds, specifically skies.

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I made this image on a cloudy day last September. His belly is horribly underexposed and the sky can’t get any more blah.

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So, I turned it into this. I improved the color and detail in the bird and put him into a pretty sky. Yes, it’s a Nevada sky. I also used a ‘healing’ tool to clean up a spot in the bird’s wing. Photoshop is so cool!

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I found this eagle a year ago, on a really cold and snowy day. He posed for me for quite a while. In fact, I was taking Susan to work and we blocked traffic for a short time.

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I did a little editing and inserted a pretty Nevada sky. In my mind, this image asks if I went too far with my editing? I’d love to hear your opinion.

And one last set of before and after pictures.  I tried some new camera settings when I was out in the Pinenut Mountains with the horses.  As you can see, the new settings did not work (insert Thomas Edison wisdom here).  Using new editing techniques, I was able to rescue the image.  I’ll be really happy when I can remember what I did and rescue the image again.

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This is the original image. When I rolled up, I saw these two. The rest of the band was screened from view by the tree on the left.

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I edited and cropped. I was happy with everything but the color of the horses. Hmmmm…what to do???

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Those tutorials paid off. I tried a new color editing technique and voila, a really nice image from a very bad original. I was very happy with myself.

Well, that’s what I’ve been doing with my week.  You decide if I’m in control or not.  Let’s leave the growing up and being nice questions alone.  Thanks for reading and following my blog!

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

…and serious work to be done…

The countdown is on!  It’s D-25 to Eagles & Agriculture, and D-38 to Shooting the West.  Of course, Eagles & agriculture is the priority, as I’m showing at the Holiday Inn Express in Minden on Thursday, February 19, and setting up a vendor booth on February 20 and 21 at the Carson Valley Inn.  I’m trying to select the pictures for display, which will also be on sale, and create enough inventory for the booth.  E&A is a big event in the Carson Valley, and I want to put my best foot forward.  Any input from my friends is welcome.

As I discussed last week, I am also trying to learn Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, which is a full time job by itself.  A big thanks to my Photoshop mentors, who let me pop in to ask questions and also take the occasional telephone call, and who don’t pull any punches in their critiques.  I really like it when I don’t have to guess at the message.

These two images consumed a lot of my time this week – an entire afternoon and into the evening, in fact.  This is my first effort at replacing a blown out sky with something better.  It’s not perfect by any means, but I learned so much and the next one will be better.

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I had to overexpose the image to get any detail in the Hawk and the cupola, at the expense of the sky.

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I imported a new sky and spent a long time softening the ‘halo’ that occurs between the new and the old. I will improve my halo removal skills, and work to match the exposures of the subject with the sky to make a better final image. This editing thing is work!

I made time to get out a few times this week, as I can’t sit inside all day.  I think that’s why I enjoyed my career doing construction management so much.  Outside is much better than inside!  I had the pleasure of shooting with my friend, Steve, early last week.  Steve is a retired Navy engineer (no, he didn’t slosh when he walked), so we compared notes on our military time while we were out.  I showed him a few places in the Carson Valley, and found some hawks, owls, eagles, and a coyote.  I wanted to find an American Kestral for him, but that wasn’t in the cards.  Thanks for the great day, Steve!

Here’s a few from my day with Steve and the rest of the week.

Enjoy – Photorogr

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Nope, he’s not walking the plank. He was getting ready to take off.

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One of my best shots of these guys. I processed things differently, with better results.

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Just a pretty picture.

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Again, some new editing techniques. Don’t ask me what I did, because I don’t remember. I have to start writing things down as I edit. Sadly, the trees are starting to bud around here. I don’t think I like that – it’s still January!

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I really like these Red-Shouldered Hawks. They are very photogenic and allow me to take lots of pictures before they leave.