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The Blue Bracelet

Today’s Photo:  The Blue Bracelet

At Thanksgiving I learned that one of my relatives has started making jewelry.  I was asked to take a few photos and must confess that I had never thought of jewelry photography.  I had zero information about the how and no special equipment.  I was just armed with …Continue Reading Here…

Image Stabilization

I shoot almost all my photos in bracketing mode.  Not always with the intention of making and HDR photo, but just because it is easier than changing settings between each photo.  This comes with the side effect that, I can make and HDR out of something I did not intend in the first place.  A good amount of my shots are taken “off hand”, so I use the Image Stabilization.  I use Photomatix during my HDR workflow and use the align images feature since I shoot off hand.  When I shot using a tripod, I would turn off the align images, but the images would still be blurry as if they were not aligned.  I began investigating and noticed that the first shot in my bracket was off just a little compared to the other two.  I turned off IS and this seems to fix the problem and increase the clarity and sharpness of the photos.

The Plane and Rocket

Today’s Photo:  The Plane and Rocket

Exploring the U.S. Space and Rocket Center was lots of fun.  I enjoyed seeing the progression of the space and rocketry program.  It is amazing to see how something conceived as a dream made it into …Continue Reading Here…

Enid A. Haupt Garden at the Castle
One of the things I have found over the last few years traveling is the value of doing research on the area where you are going to go.  Not just a little bit of research, but in depth research.  I have been working on perfecting this.  Once I know where I will be, I begin to decide what time I will have to devote to taking photos.  This leads to where I want to take photos and then finally I go as far as planning the times and researching lighting angles.  I know this sounds like a lot, but in the end, I think it is well worth it.

Today’s Photo:  Enid A. Haupt Garden at the Castle

So, after all that, I had it easy in the District.  Instead of doing all the research, I had a guide.  I told them that I just wanted to drift around some of the museum buildings and take a few photos.  Well, okay, several hundred.  One of their most recommended places was the flower gardens behind The Castle. …Continue Reading Here…

The Silhouette

Today’s Photo:  The Silhouette

It only takes a few minutes browsing this site to find out that I am partial to HDR photos.  If you dig hard enough you will find an occasional shot which has not been processed using the HDR technique.  Most of the time, these photos …Continue Reading Here…

Today’s Photo:  Another Star Time Lapse

I took this the other night with about a quarter moon.  Just a little light from the moon gave it the extra umph I thought.  For anyone who wants to try this, I shot it at ISO 3200, f 3.5, 18mm, 20 second exposure and then put it together with VirtualDub.  Just before this I shot an HDR time lapse of the sunset.  Talk about a bear to process.

I found a good blog on photography, Improve Photography, not too long ago. I have enjoyed the wealth of useful information I found there enough that I submitted a post of Five Ways to Maintain Your Photographic Enthusiasm.

If you found this site from Improve Photography, thank you for visiting. If not, you need to stop by Jim’s site Improve Photography.

The Importance of Preparation

This was not what I wanted to write about today, but current events dictated that I address this as I was the victim of my own poor preparation.

Growing up, I was not a team sports player.  I always enjoyed extreme sports such as rock climbing, kayaking and scuba diving.  I learned in each of those that safety was extremely important.  Part of safety is being prepared and making sure you have everything you need to help facilitate your survival.  Now you are asking how this translates to just the photography aspect; right?

I am glad you asked, but not much, except for the attitude of preparedness.  Whenever you plan to take go on a shoot, set out all the items you think you will need in advance.  Go through them and make sure they are in working order, charged and if need be replace / recharge.

It is the worst feeling to need something and it is not there.  However, what is even worse is to finish with a project, only to find out you did not get it at all, just because you forgot to prepare.

Last night, I planned to shoot a time lapse of the night sky at my house.  I was prepared.  I had the camera, the settings I wanted to use, research done on settings for the intervalometer, checked the weather to make sure it was not going to rain and it would be sort of clear.  Just in case, I had the rain cover for the camera.  At about 10:00 PM I went to set up.

I put the camera on the tripod, focused the lens, set the intervalometer and it was off to the races.  I set the camera to take a 15 second exposure with one second between exposures.  This would give me about 1400 images.  At least that was the plan.  I waited a few minutes to make sure everything was working fine then went back into the house for some sleep.

I got up at 4:30 AM as giddy as a school child the first day of the year.  I couldn’t wait to see what I got.  When I made it to the camera, I noticed that it was off.  Not a problem, I expected the camera to run out of battery, possibly.  I went back inside and began checking the photos.  I immediately noticed there was a problem.

I had a 32 GB SD card and there was 30 GB free.  So, a card which should hold over 1400 photos was only about 6% full.  I opened the folders and found that I only got about an hour worth of time-lapse.  I began thinking back over my preparations.  I realized I violated a rule of being prepared; check gear prior to expedition.

Just because you are only taking photos at home, don’t forget to check everything.  This includes the things you can’t see such as battery percentage.  On the other hand, I am glad this happened at home and not out in the field.  That is why you should practice on a small scale before taking on an actual shoot.

As this is being posted at midnight EDT, the camera should be about three hours into the re-shoot of last nights hiccup.

Today’s Photo:  The Tunnel

I have driven by this road hundreds of times.  It was not until the other day when I stopped at the gas station at the corner that I noticed there was a tunnel under the railroad tracks here.  I thought it was such a cozy looking area that I had to extend my stay a few minutes to capture some shots.

Here is a photo of another beautiful view I have passed by hundreds of times:  The White Road.  While you are at it, check out last Wednesday’s Daily Photo.

The Tunnel ©2011 Just Shooting Memories (all rights reserved)

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)

For anyone who has read this post for the last several months or who has browsed the last several months worth of posts, I am a classic car fan.  Not necessarily a nut on the classic cars themselves, but a nut about photographing them.  Now, I think this is beginning to lead me into becoming a fan of the cars themselves.  I am a huge 1970’s Chevelle Malibu SS fan, but I have yet to run across one at a local car show.  As I sit here writing this, I am dreaming about my last car show and beginning to formulate plans for my next visit to some Classic Cars.

Over the last few shows, I have learned a few things:

1.  Try to get a good feel for what is going to be at the show prior to going.  The first show I decided to go to this year, I had other plans that day and was just going to stop for a few minutes on the way to complete other tasks.  However, when I drove by, there were only a few cars and none of them looked like good subjects.  When I came back by a couple of hours later, the entire selection changed.  If you get there early, plan to stay long because sometimes it takes awhile to get the cars there.

2.  Photograph the car closed up.  At most of the shows I have been to, owners open the doors and hoods to show of their pride and joy.  I don’t fault them one bit for that, I would too, but you don’t get a feel for the car and it’s lines with the doors open and hood up.  I have yet to have an owner deny my request to photograph the car with it closed.

3.  Pay attention to the crowd.  Several show I have been to were quite crowded.  It makes for a hard time getting good shots of just the cars, and sometimes, you just have to deal with it, but if you pay attention to where the majority of people are, you can go to another spot in the show for some clean picture taking.

4.  Get close and drop the depth of field.  When crowds are heavy and it is hard to take a photo of the whole car, take some shot of the details.  I have yet to find a car at any show which was not a plethora of fine detail and a good subject for some close-up work.  Shortening the depth of field gives a creative look to the close-ups.  Shots of trim, lettering and engines make for good subjects.

5.  Get low.  I find that most cars photograph well from a low angle.  This gives the car a larger than life feeling to me.

I know you are just after the photos, so I will stop writing and let you see…

Today’s Photo:  The BelAir, a symbol of freedom

Belair Symbol


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