I’ve been running through my Nova Scotia photos looking for themes. One of the things I typically look for when wandering through a town are little details. These are a few that I took while we were in Lunenburg. Most of them were taken on the way to or from breakfast or dinner. See, photography and dining don’t have to be mutually exclusive! 🙂
Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun. Besides, it gives me a great excuse to show photos of…buoys!
I’m processing photos as I find ones that interest me. Sometimes I have words to go with them, and sometimes I don’t.
These are really cliche, of course. But when you see them you still have to shoot them. I think there is rule about that.
I’ve found some photos that are going to require my time and attention to get the look I have in mind, so in the mean time, here are a few Velvia-like photos of fishing stuff. I hope you enjoy them!
With so many photos of Nova Scotia, I had to post something from that trip for the August wallpaper. This is one of my favorites so far.
After a short overnight in Truro following our flight to Halifax, we officially began our trip with a drive to Baddeck, a nice little inland town on Bras d’Or Lake. Baddeck is best known for being the home of Alexander Graham Bell during the time when he did most of his work. His home there is still owned by the family and is not open to the public. But Parks Canada has built a wonderful museum that houses exhibits and artifacts from that era. It’s a great place to visit.
The Kidston Island Lighthouse is a landmark in Baddeck and can be easily seen from the downtown area, in particular the marina near the Baddeck Yacht Club. This was an especially clear night, and I loved how the blue color really came out after sunset, with just enough light from the western sky to illuminate the lighthouse. The biggest challenge that evening was battling the mosquitos long enough to get my shot! Tom: 1, Mosquitos: 0. 🙂
Kathy & I visited the Farmer’s Market yesterday morning – specifically the Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market – with friends John & Marcia. Amazingly, for all our interest in fresh, local food, we had never visited before. John & Marcia are veterans and showed us around, then we explored for a little while on our own.
I had conversations with a number of vendors about their products. One guy was selling honey, and had samples taken at different times of the year. It was amazing to taste the differences between them.
The produce was amazing. There were vegetables I had never seen or even heard of before. But all I had to do was ask, and I found out not only what it was, but how to cook it and when to buy it.
There is a group of Korean folks who sell flowers all over town. They operate a number of stands and frequent many of the festivals and markets, selling beautiful bunches of flowers for $10 each. They had several stands at the farmer’s market. It was fun to watch them as they assembled the bouquets from the pails full of flowers they had on hand. They talked and joked and generally seemed to be having a good time.
Kathy & I stuck to the basics and brought home a few veggies and some peaches. It was the first batch of peaches of the year, and they aren’t quite at their prime. But it is still great to get fresh peaches, and we’ll be back for more.
The kitchen in our apartment is a little small to do a lot of prep work in, but we’re getting by. We bought some things to get us through the week. One of the things we are looking forward to in our new place is a kitchen big enough to have plenty of room to work. Then we can become farmer’s market aficionados, too.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Here in North Carolina, we typically still have a lot of fall left in November. Especially in the lower elevations, there is often a decent amount of color around until Thanksgiving. Time will tell what the impact of the late-October storm will have on the fall for this year.
This month’s photo returns to the scene of the September calendar – Currituck Heritage Park in Corolla, North Carolina. In fact, this photo was taken about 35 minutes before the photo of the Whalehead Club that I used for the calendar just a few months ago. While it was still very warm when I took this photo, the colors are more fall-like. Winter is on the way though!
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
Special thanks to Riverstone Organic Farm from Floyd, VA for allowing me to shoot their vegetables!
A number of my non-photographer friends have asked me on numerous occasions why their photographs don’t look like my photographs. And of course the sentiment I hear most often is that “I must have a really great camera.” And I tell them, “of course I do, but I could make the photographs I make with just about any camera. It all has to do with how I take the photograph, and knowing what to do with it after I take it.”
Many people incorrectly attribute this answer to mean that I am “Photoshopping” my photos, but when they do, their impression is that that means something sinister or unethical. I try to explain that a lot of what I do is no different than what might have been done with film in a darkroom. I just don’t have to do it with chemicals, I do it with a computer.
This article is written primarily for me to be able to point my friends to something that explains, better than I could possibly do in the lunchroom at work or at dinner in a nice restaurant, what I mean when I say that I “develop” or “process” my photos in Lightroom. And hopefully some of my photographer friends will find this interesting and perhaps even informative.
This photograph was taken in October 2011 on one of those rare times when the fall color was just about at peak, and an early morning snowstorm came through with just about perfect timing. An hour before this photo was taken I was sitting in my car in the parking lot at Clingman’s Dome, being buffeted by gale force winds when a snow plow driver stopped to tell me that I had better get started down because he was planning to lock the gate. I wisely retreated to a lower elevation and found this scene.
The scene in front of me was overall pretty dark and lacking in contrast, because even though the sun was lighting up the clouds the light was pretty diffused and the sun was not shining through all that brightly. I knew from experience that my camera would try to overexpose to bring the values closer to an average exposure. But I also knew that the snow and clouds were on the brighter end of the scale and would cause my camera to want to under underexpose the snow and clouds. I figured (correctly) that the two would just about balance each other out and made no adjustments to what the meter was reading. I confirmed the exposure with the histogram after the shot.
At the time I was pretty certain that I had captured some good photographs of a pretty amazing scene, but I also knew that a great deal of post-processing would be required to obtain a final image that looked like what I “saw” while I was standing at that overlook. When I got home and imported the files into the computer, the first thing I saw was this flat looking gray mess that some people might be tempted to toss. But I had a plan and went to work.
The first thing I did was to adjust the white balance to warm the scene up a little. My camera does a very good job with finding the “right” white balance, but I knew I was going to need to add some warmth to get the look I was after. About 500 points was plenty to get what I wanted. Next, I knew I needed to add a lot of contrast, since the snow and clouds made for a very low-contrast scene. I ended up adding a lot of black – about 70 points (this is Process Version 2010 in Lightroom – the new adjustment tools had not been invented yet!). Some adjustments to the mid-tones and highlights and I was starting to get somewhere!
My next step was to add some additional color contrast by using Split-toning to cool the shadows while keeping warmth in the highlights. This is pretty subtle but gives the scene a bit more vibrance.
After a bunch of time spent cloning dust spots – the photo was shot at f22 – I was ready to move on to some fine tuning. I made extensive use of the Adjustment Brush to selectively darken and lighten specific areas of the photo, added some contrast and saturation to areas that needed it, and generally “shaped” the image to direct the viewer’s eye through the scene. A little vignetting to keep the viewer inside the frame, some tweaks to the capture sharpening and noise reduction and it’s done. Or done for now, as I haven’t yet tried to make a print of this photo. Doing that will undoubtedly require another round or two of adjustments once I see what it looks like on paper. I’d also like to experiment with this image using Process Version 2012 in Lightroom 4, but when I click the button to convert it the photo turns to crap again. So we’ll have to save that and printing for a future episode!