Tag Archives: photography

Now You See Them…Now You Don’t

Angry surf on the beach at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia

I’ve been going back through old image folders looking for unprocessed photos that are worth spending time with.  I recently came across some photos from a visit to Chincoteague, Virginia in 2010.

Angry surf on the beach at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia

The ocean was particularly angry one morning, and I remember standing on the beach shooting the surf while trying to keep myself and the camera dry from the salt spray.  In order to slow the shutter speed down enough to show the motion, I had stopped my lens down to – according to the metadata – f40.  I didn’t remember having a lens that stopped down that much, but sho-nuff the old Canon 100-400  did!

Angry surf on the beach at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia

Of course, at f40 every dust spot on the sensor is going to be visible, and on some of these photos there were dozens, perhaps a hundred or more.  It’s a pretty safe guess that the reason these photos hadn’t been processed was because of all the spots.  I’ve never been meticulous about cleaning my sensor, and it shows.  But one of the advances in Lightroom that I am now able to take advantage of is the Spot Removal tool.  The technology has improved dramatically over the last 10 years, to the point where I was able to salvage this photos.  It involved a lot of clicking and a certain amount of adjusting, but a lot less futzing than I would have had to do back then!

Angry surf on the beach at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia

A Matter of Perspective

Sunrise along the waterfront in Belhaven, North Carolina

One of the more recent additions to Lightroom is the “Transform” function, in particular the perspective correction tool.  I find myself making use of this tool a lot, as it “corrects” photos where I’m forced to shoot from an angle – side to side and up to down – and making them look normal.  I don’t generally use it to “cheat” but rather I like to use it when I don’t have a choice about where to stand.

Sunrise along the waterfront in Belhaven, North Carolina

I’ve been going back through some old unprocessed photos and came across a group of sunrise photos from 2010 in Belhaven, North Carolina.  One of the distinguishing features of the harbor in Belhaven is a break wall that separates the harbor from the larger Pungo River.  The break wall is a well-recognized landmark of this area, but the problem I always have with it is that it doesn’t run perpendicular to the places I photograph from.  As a result, there is always a perspective mismatch between the horizon line and the line of the breakwall.  They never looked right when I processed them, so I’ve always been hesitant to use them for anything.  Until now.

Sunrise along the waterfront in Belhaven, North Carolina

Looking at this photos, I wondered if the perspective correction in Lightroom could be used to “fix” the position of the breakwall so it looked “right” in my photos.  Lo and behold, it does!  There is a little bit of falloff in focus in the areas that are actually father away, but it’s hardly noticeable.  And yes, I could have done this a long time ago in Photoshop.  But that misses my point.  And of course, someone who lives there and is used to the view would likely recognize the change immediately.  But for most folks, they wouldn’t notice the difference.

I’ve attached a couple of photos as examples, including one “before & after composite.  I think it turns a photo that never looked quite right into one that looks pretty good for all but the pickiest few among us.  And chances are they don’t read this blog! 🙂


Tilting At Windmills

Wind generators off US 36 near SW Lakesite Road near Osborn, Missouri

From Wikipedia: “Tilting at windmills is an English idiom that means attacking imaginary enemies. The expression is derived from Don Quixote, and the word “tilt” in this context comes from jousting.

 The phrase is sometimes used to describe either confrontations where adversaries are incorrectly perceived, or courses of action that are based on misinterpreted or misapplied heroic, romantic, or idealistic justifications. It may also connote an importune, unfounded, and vain effort against adversaries real or imagined.”

Here in the east we don’t have many, if any, opportunities to see wind turbines in the huge farms like they have out west.  There are a few in eastern North Carolina and I’m sure more in other locations, but I haven’t come across them in the numbers that we encountered out west.  I had seen photos of wind farms in the west, but seeing them in person made an even greater impression.

Seven Mile Wind Farm near Medicine Bow, Wyoming

Wind turbines are not without controversy, certainly, but I find them to have a graceful beauty, spinning like a dancer in slow motion.  I don’t profess to be an expert on wind turbines or any other methods of producing electricity.  But as someone living within 20 miles (technically 20.5 miles) of two nuclear plants, two coal plants and a few other types, I think I would rather see a few dozen (or hundred) wind mills on my horizon than the steam plumes from the cooling towers of nuclear plants.  They may not work here or make sense for an area as densely populated as Charlotte, but I see turbines as a viable alternative for producing electricity, particularly in rural areas such as Nebraska, the Dakotas and Wyoming where constant wind is a fact of life.

Wind generators off US 36 near SW Lakesite Road near Osborn, Missouri

We were fortunate enough to come across a few sites at times when it was conducive to making photographs, and I hope I’ve done a reasonable job of presenting them.

Wind farm along US-487 south of Casper, Wyoming

Been There, Done That. Let’s Do It Again!

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

I know this may seem like boasting, but Kathy & I had a very good year.  Kathy is the recordkeeper and spreadsheet queen around here, and by her count we were away from home for 125 nights during 2019.  The two questions we get asked most often by friends and neighbors are “how long are you home for?” and “where are you off to next?”  We love it!

Charlotte, NC
Harvey Firestone Park, Columbiana Ohio
Train station in Landrum, South Carolina

Yes, it has cost us some money, possibly more than our financial advisor thinks is prudent.  But I’m the financial guy and manage the flow of funds, and with the good year the markets have had I feel confident that we’ve done the right thing.  We didn’t retire to sit home and watch Jeopardy or Faux News.  We retired to spend time together and see the world.

So – no apologies.

Highlights of the past year:

  • 4 cruises for a total of 43 days
  • Added 18 new states, for a total of 32
  • Over 19,000 photos
  • Almost 20,000 car miles
Marigot, St Martin
Old Town, Fort Collins, Colorado

I admit that traveling over a third of the year might be overdoing it.  I suppose the reaction (or over-reaction) to retirement is normal and to be expected.  But having the time to do anything we want means we want to do everything!  Frankly, the biggest challenge has been keeping our weight under control because of all the eating out.  We essentially broke even for the year, which should probably be considered a win.  But we’re always looking for ways to manage that, since being able to sustain that amount of travel requires being healthy, and one of the best ways to be healthy is to maintain healthy eating and exercise routines while away from home.  We do great at home, but find old habits hard to break when we’re away.

Clifton Hall Great House in Barbados

So, what’s in store for 2020?  We’ve got a few weeks scheduled in Florida in February, where we’re going to go “cruise ship hopping” and spend some time near the Everglades.  Sometime in April we’re going to head toward the Southwest to bag a few more states and explore Route 66.  We’ll be celebrating our 40th anniversary in October with a – what else? – cruise.  But there are a lot of empty spaces on the calendar which we’ll be filling in as we get closer.  The year is young!

Cherry Pocket Steak & Seafood Shak in Lake Wales, Florida
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

I’ve included a few of my favorite photos from 2019 in this post, and as I’ve been doing lately, I have added some more galleries to my Adobe Portfolio site.  This should cover most of the highlights from the year.  So stay tuned!  I think 2020 will turn out to be another interesting year.

Cleveland, Ohio
Bike rack shadows in Virginia Beach, Virginia
Costa Maya, Mexico
Cruz Bay in St John, USVI
Aboard Symphony of the Seas
Dale Chihuly glass ceiling in the tasting room at Maker’s Mark Distillery
Indian River Inlet Lifesaving Station Museum, Rehoboth Beach, DE
Waynesville, NC
Pool Deck on Celebrity Summit

Blurry Aspen 2.0

Fall colors along the Poudre Canyon Road through Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests

Long-time readers of this blog may recall a series of Aspen motion-blur photos that I shot during our first visit to Colorado in June 2015.  Because it was springtime, the vertical trunks of the Aspen trees made for great subject matter when combined with the fresh spring green.

Fall colors along the Poudre Canyon Road through Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests

Since our most recent visit to Colorado was in the fall, I hoped to add to my Aspen Blur collection with some photos of trees with the golden yellow of fall.  A lot of the trees we saw in the first few days of our visit were on the mountainsides, too far away to effectively get the results I wanted.  On our final day, a drive through the Poudre Canyon with my pal Monte, we came across several excellent stands of trees.

Fall colors along the Poudre Canyon Road through Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests

It sometimes takes a lot of “misses” to come up with a handful of keepers.  In this case I shot a relatively light 200 photos, and came up with a few that I’m really happy with.  A couple have some really funky looks to them as a result of a happy accident or two.

Fall colors along the Poudre Canyon Road through Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests

I suppose the next step will be to get out there in the winter and make some photos of Aspen with snow.  I’m not sure I’m up for that yet, but it may make it on to the to-do list, you never know! 🙂

Fall colors along the Poudre Canyon Road through Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests

Maybe The Camera Just Doesn’t Matter That Much

Locomotive used by the Great Smoky Mountains Railway in Bryson City, North Carolina

I was reading a recent post on Monte’s Blog in the context of a commercial print job I’m currently working on.  Monte was discussing how much he wanted a new Fuji lens (me too!) but indicated that his current cameras – 4 and 6 years old – still suited him fine, and he reminded us that all cameras still require a photographer to work.

I was recently contacted by a local restaurant owner about providing prints for their bar and dining rooms for an upcoming remodel.  I’m flattered that they asked me, and even more excited that it is one of our favorite restaurants.  And that they want 17 photos!  One of the things that interested me in the context of Monte’s post and the discussion about needing a “pro” camera for doing quality work is the breakdown of the cameras that were used for the photos we chose for this project:

  • Canon 5D  – 1
  • Canon 5D Mark III – 3
  • Canon Powershot G12 – 4
  • Fuji X-10 – 2
  • Fuji X-E2 – 1
  • Fuji X-T1 – 1
  • Medium Format Film Scan – 1

I wasn’t too surprised about the number of 5D shots, and I wasn’t at all surprised at the number of shots from the Fuji X-E2 and X-T1, my current cameras.  But I was quite surprised at 6 of the photos coming from two point & shoot cameras!  Maybe there is something to be said for ditching all of the interchangeable lens cameras and just buying a single, good, point & shoot camera!

I’ll share the photos later.  Or even better, photos of the photos once they are hung! 😉

Walkway leading to Everett Street in Bryson City, North Carolina



Twist and Shout

Amusement rides on the boardwalk in Carolina Beach, North Carolina

When I made these photos I wasn’t thinking about hurricanes, but they do have a bit of a cyclonic look to them.  I have all of my friends along the coast on my mind as I post this, and hope they all remain out of harm’s way.

These are a little cliche-y but I think serve the purpose quite well.

Amusement rides on the boardwalk in Carolina Beach, North Carolina
Amusement rides on the boardwalk in Carolina Beach, North Carolina
Amusement rides on the boardwalk in Carolina Beach, North Carolina
Amusement rides on the boardwalk in Carolina Beach, North Carolina
Amusement rides on the boardwalk in Carolina Beach, North Carolina

A Weekend With a Fuji X-T3

Roy Taylor Forest Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 433.3

For our recent visit to Waynesville I rented another camera – the Fuji X-T3.  It’s the latest version of my existing camera, the X-T1, and I wanted to see how it compares.  It was an interesting experiment, with mixed feelings.  The Folkmoot photos from my previous post were taken with that camera, and here are a few more.

Clouds and rising fog from Waterrock Knob Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway MP 451.2
Clouds and rising fog from Fork Ridge Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway MP 450.2
Clouds and rising fog on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Waterrock Knob

All in all, the camera would be a worthy upgrade from the X-T1 if I happened to be in the market.  But I’m not.  The obvious reason would be cost, because in addition to the camera itself I would need to upgrade my memory cards, buy new batteries (my current batteries fit but have a lower power output so will supposedly not last as long), buy a new L-bracket and eventually – because of the 26MP files vs. my current 16MP – I would need to buy larger hard drives.  Sorry, that would cover the cost of a nice vacation!

Clouds and rising fog on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Waterrock Knob
Roy Taylor Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Waynesville, North Carolina

Another, albeit minor, negative would be the slightly larger size of the X-T3 body.  In my opinion the X-T1 borders between just right and a little large (weird to say since my initial impression 4 years ago was that it was tiny compared to the Canon 5D!).

Lake Junaluska, North Carolina
Oak Park Inn in Waynesville, North Carolina
Oak Park Inn in Waynesville, North Carolina

On the positive side, the files were quite nice, although I wasn’t blown away by a huge difference between the newer camera and mine.  There is definitely a slight improvement in detail, and I found that with files almost twice as large, zooming in to 50% instead of 100% is far enough.  Any closer than 100% just accentuates the flaws, and I don’t need to accentuate them any more, thank you!

Waynesville, North Carolina
Waynesville, North Carolina

The menus are a bit more complex, necessary due to the customization the camera allows.  But it wasn’t impossible to figure out, probably because I’m already used to the setup.  I liked being able to see blinking highlights in the viewfinder, which I can’t do with my current camera.  That’s not a big deal but it is helpful in certain situations.  The EVF is nice and bright, and contains all of the information found on the main screen.

Lake Junaluska, North Carolina
Waynesville, North Carolina

One of the things I should have paid more attention to is the ability to set different autofocus parameters based on specific shooting situations.  I tried tracking subjects in the parade but found a lot of missed shots because I didn’t have it set up correctly.  That’s not something I usually do, so I didn’t think about it until after the fact.

So, no new cameras for me – yet!  Although those new Canon point & shoots are due out any time…hmmmm! 😉

Waynesville, North Carolina