Thursday, September 29, 2011


I went to Hungry Mother State Park for the first time several weeks ago.  While I was there I took this shot.   It's not very interesting but I thought, hey this will look great if I had a picnic basket and some picnic food laid out on a colorful table cloth on that table.    I had previsualized in my mind exactly what the photo would look like.  

A couple weeks later I was back.   June had gotten our picnic basket, a colorful quilt to use as a table cloth, some fruit and classes to put on the table.  I brought my long lens so I could compress the apparent distance between the table and the bridge in the distance.  This is going to be a great photo.

When I got there I found the table had been moved and was being used by a father and son as their fishing station.   Plus, a group of shirtless men were on a pontoon boat right in front of the bridge I wanted to include in the photo.   Neither group of fishermen were moving.   I was not going to get that shot this day.

I really liked that bridge with the setting sun shining on it.   We found our way down to the bridge and crossed over to try and find a good angle to shoot.   I was able to get this shot.   It's not the shot I came to get but I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

I hope to get back there before all the leaves drop off the trees and try the shot again.   Maybe conditions will be better than I even imagined.

A couple months ago I heard Bob Krist say "The key to making more interesting photos is to stand in front of interesting stuff."   Sometimes we have to go multiple times to stand in front of interesting stuff before the conditions come together to get a good shot.   Fortunately for me I live in a place with interesting stuff all around.  I have the camera.  I have the subject material.   All I need is enough time to get out there and shoot.  

Come back and visit this blog again and you may see the next attempt at this photo

Friday, September 23, 2011

First Day of Fall

Today, Friday, September 23, 2011 is The First Day of Fall.   

Welcome to fall!  The colors have already started to appear in Maine and other northern states.  Only a very few trees have started to turn here so we have a few more weeks before the peak arrives.  I'm told this year will be a good one for fall color in East Tennessee.  

Other than raking leaves, which we have a lot of, fall is my second favorite time of year after spring.   I look forward to the contrasting brilliant yellows, oranges, reds and clear blue skies.   The problem is, fall just does not last long enough.

Here's a shot from last fall to celebrate the first day of fall and to get you in the fall mood.   This was taken in Babcock State Park, WV at f/9, ISO 100 which gave me a 0.3 second exposure.  Just long enough to blur the water but not so long that the water lost all texture.   Sunrise is a better time to shoot the Glade Creek Grist Mill but our travel plans put us there for sunset.   We had to wait about an hour for the sun to drop behind the trees.   There are large rocks in the creek that allow you to get some great angles on the falls and mill.

Glade Creek Grist Mill
I have this printed on a 20x30 gallery wrap canvas in my den and it looks great!  It's available for purchase online here

I'm looking forward to taking a lot more fall color this year.   This fall June and I are blessed with the opportunity to travel to some places we have never been before.   Watch for new fall photos in a few weeks.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Windows and Doors

Recently I've noticed a trend in my photography - I'm taking lots of pictures of windows and doors.

Palmer Mill, Saltville VA
Some are from the inside looking out and others from the outside looking in.  A few are in new buildings but most are in old historic, restored or run down buildings.   I've decided to start a new gallery on my website dedicated to Windows and Doors.   This may sound a bit strange and narrow, but it's what I've found interesting to me.
Madam Russell Cabin, Saltville VA

First United Methodist Church, Marion VA
Log Cabin, Sequoia NP, California

You can find the new Windows and Doors Gallery under the Art collection.   I'll be adding more and more doors and windows.

I'm trying to add something thought provoking or inspiring to go along with the windows and doors, but I'm drawing a blank.   Maybe after a good's night sleep I'll be inspired and will add something.   Until then please enjoy this slightly off the wall collection.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Reflections of The Past

June and I met Jerry while shooting in Saltville VA last Saturday.  He described himself as the Church Historian of the Madam Russell Methodist Church.   We got to spend a long time with Jerry while he told us some of the history of the area, Saltville, and the Madam Russell Methodist Church.  

Jerry mentioned that he keys to the William Alexander Stuart house and we could go by there for a personal tour and photo shoot.   William Alexander was Confederate General J.E.B. "Jeb" Stuart's brother and manager of the Saltville Salt Works during the civil war.   When Jeb Stuart was killed his wife and children moved in with William in Saltville.   The house came under both Confederate and Union guns during battles for the Saltworks.

I came away with some interesting photos from inside the old house.  It's been lived in, upgraded over the years, and was purchased years ago to become a B&B.   As you can see, the B&B didn't quite make it.

These photos are all multiple exposure High Dynamic Range photos.   In each one I took several different exposures from very under exposed to very over exposed.  I then used Nik HDR Efex Pro to combine the different images into a single tone-mapped image.  The Nik software has a number of different tools that can be applied to give the final image many different looks from realistic to cartoonish.  I chose to bring out the texture in these to convey the old and weathered look.

3 exposure, -2. 0. +2 EV
6 exposure, -3 2/3 EV to +1 1/3 EV
3 exposure, -2, 0, +2 EV

The first two fit the Reflections of The Past theme with the mirrors.   This last one was taken in an upstairs bedroom looking out into the hall to the top of the stairs.   I think the beautiful wood floors contrast with the cracking paint on the door, the peeling ceiling, and the old wallpaper.  

I've found the older I get the more I enjoy photographing old things.   I guess I have more of an appreciation of history.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fly The Flag High

This was taken on September 10, 2011 in Marion Virginia.   The Marion Fire Department was honoring those who lost their lives on 9/11/01 and those who continue to put their lives on the line each and every day.   

Remember to honor the soldiers who server abroad, those who serve at home and our local Police Officers and Fire Fighters that serve us each and every day.

Click for larger version

This was taken with a Canon 7D, Tamron 17-50, 1/25 second.   The aperture was set at f/25 to get the sunburst.   Used Lightroom to darken the sky (was very blown out) and remove some lens flare caused by shooting into the sun.   I was lucky enough to be there when the sun was shining through the trees on the flag.

I'm also lucky enough to have a wife who encourages me and points out shots for me to take.   She makes me a better photographer.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Compromising With Pearls

Recently when biking around Cades Cove at sunrise I came across a field of tall grass, spiderwebs, and dew.   This combination can create some beautiful abstract artsy images with dew drops on the spiderwebs.   I wanted to get up close and shoot the "String of Pearls" but I didn't have my macro lens with me.   It would have been the perfect solution to this situation. 

I did have a couple other lenses with me, including a 80-400mm long telephoto, a 24-105mm zoom and a 17-50mm wide-angle zoom.   I wanted to have the dew drops as sharp as possible but blur the background to keep it from being distracting.   I choose the 17-50, set it at 50mm, f/2.8.   The wide angle let me focus reasonably close and the wide open aperture blurred the background.   Typically, short focal length lenses will have a larger depth of field and in this case, even at f/2.8 the background was too distracting. 

I decided to crop down as much as possible to see if I could eliminate the background distractions.   This is an extreme crop of the same picture.

Be sure to click the photo to zoom in and see the details.

You can see that by compromising the end result is just not sharp.  If I had my macro with me I would have gotten a much sharper image of the dew drops.  Oh well.

Right now I am studying a book by Warren Wiersbe on the Book of Exodus.  In it he says "most people in our world are being crucified between two thieves: the regrets of yesterday and the worries about tomorrow.  That's why they can't enjoy today."   What a waste.   I made a choice when I packed my camera bag and got on my bike that morning.   I could regret not having what I needed, or I can be happy I got to enjoy God's String of Pearls.   Next time I go out to take photos I can worry about having to leave some piece of camera gear behind or worry about not being at the right spot at just the right time or I can enjoy the moment and be glad I'm there.

Later that morning I got to spend about an hour using my long telephoto lens to shoot deer and black bear in the Cove.   You can bet I wasn't worrying about not having my macro lens then!  God's creation is all around us.  We'll miss seeing much of it because we are so busy running around.  If we slow down and look God will provide the Wow moments for us.