Tag Archives: 2012

More Snow….

Kidd's Mill Covered Bridge, Reynolds, PA

As I sit here on a beautiful North Carolina day, middle of December, trying to decide whether I need a coat to take a walk this afternoon, I thought I’d post a few more photos from our Thanksgiving weekend adventure to eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.  These were all taken in the vicinity of the Kidd’s Mill Covered Bridge near Reynolds, PA.

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

Kidd's Mill Covered Bridge, Reynolds, PA Kidd's Mill Covered Bridge, Reynolds, PA Kidd's Mill Covered Bridge, Reynolds, PA Kidd's Mill Covered Bridge, Reynolds, PA

Another Example

Image processed in Lightroom from a single “-2 EV” RAW file

On my previous post, Monte asked about how the HDR version of that image came out, and as it turned out I didn’t do an HDR series on that particular photo so I didn’t have anything to compare.  Just for kicks though, I went back and found an image where I did do a bracketed series including an in-camera HDR file.

HDR Image from 3 bracketed frames, blended in Photoshop and finished in Lightroom

Most of my readers know that I really dislike futzing around in Photoshop, so I probably didn’t do the HDR version justice.  But while there are things I like about it, I’m really a fan of the contrast you get from a single file.  While the HDR version perhaps shows more “detail” I’d rather see the contrast.  Of course I’m a fan of rich, dark tones in my photos and HDR kind of defeats the purpose for me.

In-camera HDR from the same 3 frames used for the Photoshop version. Unprocessed, it’s a little dark for my taste.

I’ve made these files a little larger for those who want to pixel peep.  But please don’t criticize my Photoshop skills.  Because, especially for things like HDR, I’m really out of practice.

I hope everyone has a great Sunday!

“Let’s See What She’ll Do”

Kidd’s Mill Covered Bridge, Reynolds, PA

Walking around the inside this covered bridge last weekend, I knew that it was the perfect subject for some HDR.  I’m not a particular fan of HDR as a rule, but knew that this would be a good place to give it a try.  I took a series of bracketed shots using the in-camera HDR feature in my camera.  But when I got to playing with it in Lightroom, I decided to see what it looked like without actually blending the frames.  As it turns out I think that I actually like it this way.  I’ve had to make some pretty extreme exposure adjustments and it’s as noisy as my neighbor’s dog, but I think I’ve got the final result that I envisioned when I took the photo.  And ultimately, if I get the result I’m looking for it really doesn’t much matter how I get there, does it?

Here’s a “before” shot just to see where I started:

Kidd’s Mill Covered Bridge, Reynolds, PA

December Wallpaper Calendar

Joy of Christmas light show at Firestone Park, Columbiana, OH

Our Thanksgiving visit to Ohio and Pennsylvania, despite not being a “photography trip” per se, resulted in a number of decent photographs, one of which I liked well enough to use for this month’s calendar.  I like to keep with the holiday theme for December whenever possible, and I’m usually able to come up with something.

Firestone Park, named for Harvey Firestone (the tire guy), is located in Columbiana, OH.  Kathy & I lived here before migrating south to North Carolina.  And a late November visit reminded us why we moved!

Firestone Park has an annual “Joy of Christmas” light festival, and we had a chance to pay a visit one evening while we were there.  I didn’t take a tripod with me, figuring I wouldn’t do a lot of photography, but who can resist Christmas lights?  And with ISO 6400 or higher, who needs a tripod, even at night? 🙂

I hope everyone has an exceptional December and a warm and joyous Christmas holiday season!

Reality Check

Kidd’s Mill Covered Bridge, Reynolds, PA

Kathy & I spent a quiet and relaxing (except for the drive home) extended Thanksgiving weekend in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania visiting family and friends.  As is my usual habit, I spent minimal time perusing the interwebs or watching television, so I enjoyed a blissful 5 days away from all of the messages telling me what I was supposed to be doing, buying or worrying about.  Fortunately I returned to work today, so I was able to get my 5-minute daily dose (aggregated from all my visits to the break room during the day) of television “news,” so I am now up to speed again.  Fiscal Cliff, blah-blah, Black Friday, blah-blah, Cyber Monday, blah-blah, Petraeus (or not Petraeus), blah-blah, Egypt, blah-blah, football, blah-blah, William and Kate, etc.

Somehow all of that stuff pales in comparison to cherished and overdue time with loved ones.  I hope you all had time to spend with yours.

Fall in Roanoke

Along for the Ride

I’m getting back around to working on some photos from earlier this fall.  In no particular order, just whatever my attention span allows me to concentrate on!

Hotel Roanoke and Railroad Tracks
Corned Beef & Company

I had mentioned in a previous post that Kathy & I had decided to spend our fall weekends differently than we have the past few years.  Rather than chasing color up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway (something we enjoy but have grown a little weary of) we spent a weekend in Florida at a jazz festival, a weekend in Roanoke, VA visiting friends, and a weekend in which I took photos at a recreated pioneer village and photographed some kids.  That was a different fall for us, indeed.


Kathy & I have had an attachment to Roanoke since spending a single night there very early in our marriage.  I don’t even remember for sure what we did, where we stayed or where we ate, but we’ve always had good memories of our short time there, and have wanted to go back and spend some time.  This year we got to go to Roanoke twice.  Of course it was made easier because we have good friends there.  We go to see Steven and Cheryl, and just like us, they enjoy wandering around town, taking random photographs, shopping and eating.  What a deal!


We’ve found a nice historic hotel right in the downtown area that is walking distance to just about everywhere.  We can literally park the car and enjoy the weekend without having to drive.  Although this visit we did spend a little time exploring the countryside, visiting a winery and one of Steven & Cheryl’s favorite restaurants, which is now also one of our favorite restaurants!

Bright yellow leaves of Ginko Biloba trees celebrate fall in downtown Roanoke, Virginia

One of my objections to the constant driving we have done in previous years is that I get tired of driving.  And I get really tired of traffic.  Kathy drives sometimes, but my creativity seems to suffer when I view the scenery from a moving vehicle, regardless of who is driving.  And the addition of crowds just makes it harder.

Missing shutters

The other thing with fall is that it’s often very hard to find really interesting scenes.  Fall color gives the impression of being interesting because everything is a different color, but in actuality it is much harder to make an interesting photograph in the fall because of the color.  Much of what we see in the fall is just as boring as it is in the summer, it’s just a different color.  My opinion, anyway.

Open and Shut

Fall happens everywhere, not just in the mountains.  And it’s not just colored leaves that make up fall.  The air is crisp and cool, the light is warm and contrasty, and a lot of interesting things happen in the fall, such as festivals, concerts and farmer’s markets.  So my goal was to find and photograph fall in different places.  I think it was a successful approach, and in many ways I think am happier with the results than I’ve been from those in previous years.

Shadow and block

Time for Reflection

Boat Reflections on Far Creek, Englehard, North Carolina

Kathy & I are visiting Belhaven, North Carolina this weekend.  One of our many favorite weekend destinations, Belhaven is ideally situated near a lot of places that I love to photograph.  And this weekend has proven – once again – the advantage of returning time after time to some of the same places.

Boat Reflections near Swan Quarter, North Carolina

The weather has been perfect “Chamber of Commerce” weather.  Clear, blue sky with no clouds to be found anywhere.  Well, there were a few around late this afternoon, but not enough to make a meaningful difference in the weather forecast.  A little tough for photography, but not if you know where to look.  And I had a pretty good idea where to look!

Boat Reflections near Swan Quarter, North Carolina

I love shooting the boats around Swan Quarter and Englehard.  I never get tired of going there, and these are especially good places in the late afternoon on these clear days when I know there will be golden light if I am patient enough.

Once the sun was low enough that the boats were cast in shadow we headed back down the road to Lake Mattamuskeet to see what like of post-sunset color we might find.  We found a little, and it was quite nice.

Cypress Trees at Sunset at Lake Mattamuskeet near Englehard, North Carolina
Cypress Trees at Sunset at Lake Mattamuskeet near Englehard, North Carolina

One of the advantages of an early sunset is a little more time to spend processing photos, so I have broken from my usual routine to process a few photos from this afternoon and get them online the same day.  I’ll have a few more once we get home and I get them processed on my regular computer.

Sunset at Lake Mattamuskeet near Englehard, North Carolina

Emotional Content or Technical Perfection?

Not a mistake, exactly. But definitely an outtake. But how can you resist that smile?

Great minds think alike, I guess.  On the same day that I was thinking about this subject, my friends Monte Stevens and Paul Lester were also posting similar thoughts on their own blogs.  In fact my reply to Monte’s post became the basis for this post, and if I hadn’t read Monte’s post first I might have posted the same comment on Paul’s post!

Monte talks about how the most emotional images aren’t necessarily the ones that exhibit technical perfection.  Paul related an experience with a co-worker who didn’t appreciate Paul’s photograph that his daughter appeared in because it was “blurry.”

A little off center? OK, but it’s still a great expression!

We sometimes lose track of the fact that “technical perfection” is that technique that adequately expresses our vision.  That doesn’t always mean sharp or even “properly” exposed.  This past weekend I took pictures of the children of some friends.  They are mostly candid shots of the kids playing, swinging, hanging from monkey bars, etc.  Some of them are horribly overexposed and many of them are blurry or misfocused.  On my first pass through the photos I marked a lot of them as Rejects.  But I went back later and decided that some of them had merit, so I processed some of them and think that a few of them – happy accidents they may be – really express the emotions and energy of these 2 1/2 year-olds.  And at that point, exposure, focus and sharpness take a back seat to the feeling that the photo portrays.

While we always strive for technical excellence, sometimes the shots that show the emotion we are trying to capture are not the ones that are “perfect,” but they end up being the ones the express our intentions “perfectly.”

And sometimes you nail it!

A great subject for a Friday – inspiration for the weekend!

Why I Do It

Many Tanks

We all have something we do to pay the bills.  For most of us that’s a job.  And besides the obvious reasons, like needing to make the house payment and pay for food, our jobs have things about them that sometimes make them worth getting up in the morning.  For me, one of the advantages is when a customer appreciates my work and takes the time to say so.

Window Reflections

Most of my time at work is what I call “widget based.”  We have certain goals – The Company calls them production goals although we don’t actually produce anything – and the jobs or tasks we do have a certain number of points assigned to them.  Every month our success (or lack thereof) is determined by how many of these widgets we do.


Of course I’ve been doing this kind of work a lot longer than most of the people I work with, and I remember a time when our primary focus was taking care of our customers, no matter what we needed to do or how long it took.  The Company says it still cares, and I suppose at the most basic level it still does.  But my job, and The Company’s method for determining how well I do it, is based on the number of widgets I do.  We don’t measure customer satisfaction, with me or anyone else.

Faucet and Awning

Sometimes though, while I’m sitting at my desk trying to figure out how squeeze out a few more widgets in order to earn enough points to keep my job, I get e-mails like this one from a customer who I made happy:

Hello Tom,

I received the renewal documents for the (loan).  We have both signed and I will be mailing them back today in the self-addressed envelope.

Thank you for believing and trusting in our company.  I did want to update you on the (balances) of these loans.  As of Friday, I paid off the remaining balance on the credit card and I also paid down $70,000 on the line we are now renewing.  Just wanted you to know.

Have a great week!

Thanks again,

So in this whole crazy world of business, even though I might not get any points from The Company for happy customers, I can still get points from the customers.  And I think that makes for good Karma.  And plenty of reason to go back tomorrow!

Palm Shadow

Farmer’s Market

Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia

I really love fall because it is a great time to travel and take photographs.  But the hard part about fall is that we do a lot of traveling and take a lot of photographs!  I was already a few weeks behind on processing my photos from the last two weekends, and then this weekend I went and took another 1,000 or so photographs, so I’m even behinder now than I was before.  But we’ll slow down a bit in November and December, so with any luck I’ll have some time to get caught up on my processing and my writing.  Wishful thinking, perhaps, but that’s the plan.

Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia
Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia

Over the weekend of 10/19-10/21 we headed to Roanoke, VA to spend time with our good friends Steven and Cheryl.  One of the things I had been looking forward to was visiting their Farmer’s Market, which is right downtown, in the Market Square area.  There is a block-long section of street that has been permanently set up for local farmers and craftspeople to display and sell their goods.  It was quite an experience, and for me it was a real photographic treat.  And all I did was shoot vegetables!  I could have make an entire day photographing people, although many of them were not nearly as photogenic as the food. 🙂

Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia
Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia

I’ve not spent a lot if time at farmer’s markets, although I certainly need to do more of it.  The quality of food for sale is much better than that found at even the better local grocery stores.  Most if it is truly local, and you can be pretty sure that whatever you buy was picked just a few days before you bought it.  We always tell ourselves that we don’t buy enough produce to make it worth the trip, but I think there’s a lot to be said for buying fresh and for buying local.

Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia
Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia

The fall colors were coming into their own while we were there, and I’ll try to follow up with another post on that subject in the next few days.

Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia
Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia

I have a number of friends who seem to be able to race home and see who can be the first to process and post photos from their weekends, but I don’t seem to be able to come close to that, so I don’t care to waste much effort trying to compete.  In the mean time I’m currently trying to download and process another batch of photos from our two latest adventures.  One of them was for a paying client today, so I’ll have to give those photos a higher priority.  But I’ll get back to these soon, so stay tuned.

Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia

Special thanks to Riverstone Organic Farm from Floyd, VA for allowing me to shoot their vegetables!