From the monthly archives: "July 2011"

I shall make this short and sweet tonight.  While I am typing this, I have decided to attempt some extreme astrophotography.  As with most of my stuff, I have seen the techniques used and they inspire me to try to put my own spin on it.  I hope that this one turns out as well as some of my past experiments.

I have been enthralled by outer space since I was very little.  In fact, I held on to my child hood dream of being an astronaut much longer than other children.  About three years ago, I finally bought a real telescope.  Mind you, it was just a 4″ Schmidt-Cassegrain with a computerized base.  I have been building up the nerve to attache my camera to it, but as of yet, have not.  So, the other day, I ran across Terrastro and Alex Cherney.  WOW!  It made me feel like a child again.  It was that instant infusion of mind blowing inspiration.  99% of the astrophotography images I have seen were deep space objects or planets and other similar objects, but Alex uses just a normal DSLR and an Intervalometer for some awesome stuff.  Now, off to check on the progress and sit back to see the stars………

Today’s Photo:  Cloudy Barn

I was driving down the road and noticed this barn on the side of the road.  Now, I have been down this road hundreds of times and never noticed this little barn.  It is not out of the way or hidden in anyway.  Quite the opposite, it is out in the open right next to the road.  I do not know what finally caught my attention, but with the beautiful clouds in the sky, it began calling to me.  Which meant initiation of the “Photography” plan “A”.

Photography Plan “A”:  Immediate evasive action in a horribly hard to drive van (well really not so bad); which is the only vehicle which can carry all the gear, all the time and still fit the family in.  Automatic U-Turn (absolutely in a very safe manner) and return to the mostly astonishing photography location.

Cloudy Barn

Thank you to everyone who has stopped by.  For those of you who are new, I offer most of my photos under the Creative Commons License.  For details on the license, select the link on the right.  If you find a photo which I have retained all rights to and you want a print let me know at  I am thinking of doing limited edition / signed prints.  If you are interested or if you have had experience with these types of prints, leave a comment.

You can also click on the photo itself to open it in my Flickr photostream.  Most of these can be downloaded full size from Flickr.  The look good as desktop backgrounds to me.

Today’s Photo:  Sunset Beams

I love how on cloudy days, sometimes the sun pops through at just the right time.

Yes, another gate.  But at least it is a different one today.

Sunset Beams

The previous post, The Road Home, made it as a featured post on Photography Daily.  If you have not seen the articles posted over there, stop by.  They have lots of interesting stuff.  While you are checking out other interesting pages, stop by the Triple Exposure page for some good information on HDR and panoramics among other things.

Today’s Photo:  Panama City Beach Sunset

Today’s photo comes from Panama City Beach Florida.  Commonly known as the “Redneck Riviera” in the southeast.  Is it just in the southeast that it is called this, or has anyone heard of it from outside this area?  Now, I know you are wondering why I was there.  Why, of course it was for photographing beautiful sunsets on the beach.  Why would it not be?

This photo was taken at Pineapple Willy’s right on the beach in Panama City Beach.  I don’t remember all the specifics about it, but it was taken from the deck facing west (that was put in there because you know someone was going to ask what direction).  If you are ever in the area, they have great food and a good place to eat with the ocean breeze.

PCB Sunset ©2011 Just Shooting Memories (all rights reserved)

I noticed today that my children’s God Father stopped by and saw the website.  I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to give his business a plug.  If you are in the North Georgia (United States) and are looking for a DJ, check out his website: Not only is he a superb DJ, he is also a very talented musician and singer.  I am biased, so check him out yourself.  And then you too can be biased.

While I am promoting other people today, Thank you Simon Morris for stopping by.  He has some amazing photography from New Zealand over at his website,  Maybe someday, I too can make it to a wonderful location like what he gets to see all the time.

Today’s Photo:  The Road Home

Today’s photo was actually not taken by me.  Yeah, I know.  I have been teaching my wife photography.  She is a much more creative and artistic person than me.  However, she is not the most technically savvy person when it comes to DSLR’s.  I don’t think this is from lack of her trying to learn, but more from me hogging the camera.

This photo is actually taken on the property where I live.  We had gone to town and, like normal, I hogged the camera and frequently stopped along the way to my wife’s utter frustration.  But I can’t help myself…the clouds were perfect.  However, when we got home, the honey do list began with me unloading the car.  That sneaky woman just wanted to get the camera.  But, I can’t hold it against her after seeing a photo like this.

Road to Home

Do you like HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography? I have made a point over the last few months to take all my photos as if I was going to make an HDR out of it. Now, that is with the exception of photos which I know will not make good HDR’s. Then again, some of my single exposures have made astonishing HDR’s. This means that for every photo I take, there are really three images (-2 to +2). Is this normal or am I alone in this thinking? I guess it helps to have a 32GB SD card too.

Today’s Photo: Thanksgiving Sunset

I love how the seasons change the time the sun rises and sets. I currently use LightTrac on the iPhone to get a graphical view of the sunrise and sunset. It is great for getting the right angle at the right time of the year. I have used this to scout locations before going to them for the first time. I also like to find if the sun will be where I want it also.

This photo was taken at Thanksgiving this last year. I am dying in the heat here and can’t wait until it gets cold. I really wish my wife would let us move to Alaska. I could be happy there. Too bad she is allergic to the cold.

Don’t say it…I know…Another Gate.

Thanksgiving Sunset

Yesterday I posted a primer for the Fireworks Tutorial I am working on.  Thanks to everyone who took a look at it.  This is the link to lots more I took at the same fireworks show at Lake Allatoona.  Check out this photo by Martin Soler of some fireworks at the Eiffel Tower in France and other great photography.  My dream is to travel and get to see these great sites myself.  Anyone want to become my benefactor?  “Have camera, willing to travel”.

I was going through my archive and found some good fall photos.  I can’t wait fr it to get cold again.  Check back tomorrow for a “wishing it was really cold right now” photo.

Today’s Photo:  The Old Plane

It amazes me that anyone would think of making a man made flying machine.  Let alone actually be successful as the Wright Brothers.  And then, after flying the first airplane, for it to take off like it did.  (pun intended)  I have to say that I am extremely happy that all the inventors that devoted their time to making airplanes, did make them.  Because I absolutely love to fly.  Mostly in small single engine airplanes.  This airplane now sits in the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum building.  All the planes there are perfectly restored.  Too bad they wont let guest take them for a quick spin.  I mean the museum is attached to Dulles Airport.  Also check out a photo of the X-15, one of Tim Stanley’s photos from the Air and Space Museum on the mall.  I wish I could have made it there, but maybe next time.

Old Plane

Fireworks Mini Tutorial:

I have been getting a lot of requests for me to explain how I took a recent set of firework photos.  I am in the process of writing a full fledged tutorial with screen shots and post processing, but did not want anyone to wait for the “meat and potatoes”.  This should get you started so you at least have some photos.

1.  Location:  This year I had a lot of trouble deciding where to take firework photos.  This requires lots of research, Google Earth and good old fashioned asking.  Unfortunately, the last is where I took the short cut and almost lost.  Firework photos with just the fireworks can be found most everywhere.  It is the photo with more foreground in it that stands out.  Getting this on purpose requires lots of research on the location.

2.  Bring a tripod:  It is impossible to hold a camera perfectly still for 2 – 4 seconds.  Make sure the tripod is rated to hold the full weight of the camera.

3.  Focus:  Since most fireworks displays are just after sunset this is not hard to achieve.  Get in place before the sun goes down, let the camera auto focus in the area where the fireworks should be and then switch the auto focus off.  As long as you are not moving around, you should be able to get some crisp well focused shots.

4.  Manual Mode:  Because of the low light, you have to shoot in manual mode to make sure you get well exposed shots.  I used the following settings for most of these photos.

Shutter Speed:  I varied my shutter speed for these between 2 and 4 seconds.  I found that 3 seconds seemed to be the best for me.  trigger the shutter as soon as the firework is launched and that will give you the trail as well as the burst.

Aperture:  I used the 18 – 105 kit lens for my Nikon D90 and opened the aperture all the way (3.5) at 18mm.

5.  Check the shots:  Most firework shows are about 30 minutes long.  After the first ten or so shots, stop for a few seconds and scroll through them to make sure you have the settings right.

Now you have the photos, what to do with them.  I will address this in the upcoming fireworks tutorial.

Today’s Photo:  Another Firework Shot

This is another firework shot from the Allatoona Yacht Club’s July 4th celebration (actually on July 3rd this year).

Fireworks 2©2011 Just Shooting Memories (all rights reserved)

I have been so busy yesterday that I only got a few photos.  This is a travesty for a weekend.  Especially for such a beautiful day.  Maybe tomorrow will bring better luck.

I am thinking of getting a couple of lenses soon.  I was thinking of a 50mm 1.4 or so and a some type of zoom lens larger than 200mm.  Does any one have a suggestion and why you like them?

Today’s Photo:  An Experiment in Light

This was an experiment in light from several years ago.  The bad part is, I was not able to recreate it.  I tried several times and made some very cool other stuff, but not this same effect.  It is amazing how different light affects the photo during low light photography.  I set the camera on a timed exposure, I think it was 30 seconds and walked with a speed light across the field of view.  Every few steps, I would fire the speed light manually.  I love to paint with light whenever I have time.  I know I am not the only person.

An Experiment in Light


How long does your iPhone last?  I got mine in March 2010.  It is now July 2011 and it seems like it will not keep a charge.  Sometimes the meter says 95% and then all the sudden, it crashes.  Sometimes it will restart and others it will not.  I am on it constantly and seem to run the battery out pretty quickly.  Does anyone have any suggestions for an extended battery?

Today’s Photo:  Another Sunrise

Any one who has read this blog for any amount of time knows of my fascination with gates.  I leave for work around sunrise each day.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, I pass this gate every morning.  This just happened to be one of the better mornings.

Another Sunrise

As a blogger, I depend on reliable Internet. However, where I live there is only one provider. I have been thinking of satellite Internet, but am worried at the traffic limits. Does anyone have any experience with satellite Internet? Any recommendations?

Today’s Photo: The Smithsonian

This is the front of the Smithsonian administration building. I loved the flowers all around the grounds of the museums on the National Mall. I was rather disappointed when I learned that the flowers are constantly being replaced. Well, not really, I don’t know of any way they could get flowers constantly all year long. Not to mention, it would be impossible to make all the cool designs last longer than a few weeks.

The Castle

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