Jun 27, 2010

The Capitol and Moon Rise

I was lucky enough to spend last week in neighborhood of Washington, D.C. I even got to meet up with a few friends I haven't seen in many years, and tour the National Mall with some locals. It's an interesting place, D.C., and I'd like to visit again...in the autumn, perhaps, or another time when 200 year old high temperature records aren't being broken...

Nikon D700, 70-300mm lens @ 145 & 300, f/29 and f/40, 30.0s and 1/2.5s, ISO 200. I spent more than an hour making this image, getting the moon in just the right place. Photoshop was not a major player in this image, but if you know that the Capitol lies at the East end of the National Mall, then you also know that this image is impossible to make in June! The moon rose nearly 90 degrees to camera right. This image was made by exposing the sensor twice without advancing to the next frame. This is a technique that has been around as long as photography. Is it 'realistic'? Just as real as any photograph that is an image of a moment in time. Photography is never realistic. The world keeps moving, the world is color not black white, the world is color, but never as vivid as we remember, the world is changing and decaying and growing and aging. Photographs are static and timeless and surreal and historical. Never realistic. 

The Monument

Nikon D700, 50mm, f/16, 8.0s, ISO 1000.


Nikon D700, 50mm lens, f/16, 8.0s, ISO 100.

And, my guide through the Mall. D. has a vision for photography, and I'm excited to see how his images are realized.

70-300mm lens @135mm, f/5.0, 1/160s, ISO 800.

50mm lens, f/1.4, 1/80s, ISO 800.

Natural History

Nikon D700, 70-300mm lens, f/4.5, 1/20s, ISO 1600.

Air and Space

Nikon D700, 50mm lens, f/2.8, 1/30s, ISO 3200.

National Museum of the American Indian

Nikon D700, 50mm, f2.0, 1/30s, ISO 3200.


Nikon D700, 50mm lens, f/16, 30.0s, ISO 1000.


Nikon D700, 70-300mm lens, f/36, 8.0s, ISO 100.

My Evening with Judy and Gene

There I was, enjoying a late evening at the National Mall, making pictures everywhere I looked, when suddenly, Gene Kelly and Judy Garland were walking up the sidewalk toward me! I asked if I could impose on them for a photo, and they were gracious enough to allow me a few frames.

Did I say Judy? Sorry, I meant Jenny

Jenny and I are old friends--grew up in Colorado, worked in a chocolatiers' dungeon, and conquered many of the highest mountains on the continent together. She and her fiance, E., now live in D.C. and I was so happy that they had t1me to meet me and show me around the Mall. It was a splendid evening--we circumnavigated the capitol, walked from the Sun to Pluto, stared at Sputnik, and were awed by the architecture. 

Here're a couple more, and here's to many more for the two of them!

Nikon D700, 50mm lens, f/1.8-2.8, 1/15/1/100s, ISO 2000-3200.

Jun 25, 2010

Tide Me Over Flower Friday

This trip has had little time for shooting, but I'll post some from around the DC area soon. For now, enjoy an oldie.

Jun 20, 2010

3rd Place

I won 3rd place in the Summerfest Photo Contest last week. Boy was I excited to win. I had been to this location twice, scouting it out and imagining how I wanted to make a picture there. This first image is what I was was working on. I shot a million of it with different framing, and different exposures, and different filters--heck, I even used different tripods! It just wasn't happening, though.

So, I turned around, and this is what I saw in a barn. Immediately I imagined it in black and white, and thought about how I would finish the image. then I started hooting it. Took about ten frames. This is the image I entered, and it's the one that one Third Place.

I never did print the first one. This next was my second entry at the Faire.

I love flying. I always wanted to be a pilot--a helicopter pilot was the latest desire, and in high school I even got to fly the simulators at the Army  base in Colorado. I was doing well at it--better than my classmates and even some of the cadets; so the instructor shot missiles at me, and that was the end. There's just something about being flying.

So last week when one of my students invited me to go up, I jumped at the chance. Coincidentally, I had just finished reading a chapter on aerial photography in John Shaw's Nature Photography Field Guide, which ended with, "Seize any chance you have to do aerial photography." So I did, and my dad came , too. And it was a blast. I was hanging out the door of a Piper Super Cub, swooping low and shooting away. Wow.

Nikon D90, 70-200mm lens & 300mm f/4.0 lens, various fast shutter speeds, ISO 400-800. fast enough shutters to freeze the shake of the plane, the slipstream of air out the window, and my excited hands.

Jun 17, 2010

Flower Friday

Nikon D90, 300mm lens, F/4.0, 1/1000s, ISO 800.

Jun 14, 2010

A Quick Columbine

Getting ready for the Summerfest Photo Contest. This is the first year it has happened, and there have been a few rough spots, but there are so many extremely talented photogs involved that it will certainly be a good show. For my part, I awoke at 4:30 this morning to try for some sunrise options, and scheduled a model shoot this afternoon to try some more stuff. Do i have anything? That will be seen on Wednesday--at which time you're all invited to come to our Tent on the Tabernacle grounds at 7:00 for our reception and awards announcement. Should be pretty exciting. 

Speaking of Summerfest, be sure to head over to Mel Torrie's blog and website. He is an astounding photographer, and we will be privileged to peruse his work at his enormous booth at the Faire. Be sure to stop by, and mention my name...on second thought, don't bring me into the conversation...

Here's a quickie from a scouting tri for the contest my wife and I made yesterday. The long lens isolates that subject. I'm very pleased with how sharp this lens is proving to be, and the bokeh is excellent. See you at the Faire.

Nikon D90, 300mm lens, f/4.0, 1/1600s, ISO 800. Have I mentioned how much I love the noise reduction tools in LR3?

Jun 13, 2010

A Cathedral Wedding

I'm glad that A. and J. decided to risk it. The weather has been rainy all week and the temperature dropped last night, too. However, the sprinkling stopped almost as soon as the bride started down the aisle, and it didn't rain a drop the rest of the afternoon. In fact, we were blessed with character-rich clouds and fabulous, even light across the sky. The grandest barrel-vaulted cathedrals in Europe can't match the hills and sky of Avon.

I was pleased to assist Chavonne Demler for this wedding. She has style and is a wiz at this stuff. I sure had fun working with her and the families, making beautiful images that they will treasure for a lifetime or two. We both shoot with the same camera, so we were switching gear all around and sharing lenses, and talking tech (always good to sound like you know what you're doing!), using remote strobes, and just generally using light to create. 

Plus, the reception food was incredible.

Nikon D90, 12-24mm lens @24mm, f/8.0, 1/100s, ISO 800, SB-600 camera right (bare headed on a monopod from high).

Jun 11, 2010

Flower Friday

Nikon D90, 55mm Micro, f/5.6, 1/125s, ISO 400.

Smokin' Blues' Food

Not only do they host the best bands in town, but they have the best food around, too. I can't get enough of this place, and I haven't even tapped the root beer list, yet. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

Nikon D90, 55mm Micro lens, f/3.5-f/16, 1/125s-1/4s, ISO 200.

Jun 10, 2010

Man on Stairs

Canon 1Ds MkII, 50mm lens, f/1.4, 1/500s, ISO 640.

Know Any Brides?

Wouldn't this look great as a wedding image, too?

Canon 1Ds MkII, 50mm lens, f/1.4, 1/160s, ISO 640.

I Teach Photography

I really enjoy teaching, and I'm lucky enough to get to teach what I really love. Look me up for lessons...We always have a good time.

Canon 1Ds MkII, 50mm lens, f/1.4, 1/2500s, ISO 200.

Just Flew in from Costa Rica...

...and boy are my arms tired!

So, there I was hanging out in the upper canopy of the rainforest, waiting for the drizzle to let up before returning to the research station, when I looked up and made this image. Okay, I was on the Tabernacle grounds, and it was about to rain, and we were heading back to The Studio after class. I looked up and loved the look--it's so green and graphic. The horse chestnut's leaves grow in these specific groupings of seven every time. It's a constant repetitive pattern throughout the entire depth of the photo, and I think it's beautiful.

The trick here is framing the image without any significant patches of sky. The sky is too bright and too white to have any detail in it. I think that the overcast sky is also essential, otherwise there would be too much contrast between leaves that had direct light shining on them and those that were shaded by other leaves. Just keep your eye in the viewfinder and walk around with your head back looking straight up until you find the right spot. This is best done in the center of a park, not the edge of a road...

Canon 1Ds MkII, 50mm lens, f/2.5, 1/400s, ISO 640. Yep, it's a Canon. Thanks to Lightroom3's noise control, the image is salvageable...Ha!

Jun 9, 2010

Cache Valley is a Dump

You'd hate it. It's like everyone says, "Isn't it, like, minus 60 most of the winter up there? I could never live in Cache Valley!" It's just like that. Why, today it was still freezing, no flowers were blooming, and I think a blizzard is forecast for Saturday. You should definitely not move here. There are no redeeming qualities to this place. Stay home; or, better, yet, move to Arizona.

We'll just stay here suffering.

Canon 5D, 16-35mm lens, a@ 16mm, f/22, 1/50s, ISO 640.

Nikon D90, 50mm lens, f/3.2, 1/100s, ISO 400.

Jun 8, 2010


We've seen this race before here. The Ragnar Relay is happening again in Utah next week, and all sorts of pain seekers are signed up to participate. These girls are so excited to go punish themselves, that they wanted a photo-shoot to commemorate the event. Perhaps I should be honored: these pictures will be displayed at their funerals next week after killing themselves running from Logan to Park City. R.I.P.

Nikon D90, 12-24mm lens @ 24mm, f/10, 1/125s, ISO 200, SB-800 through umbrella.

Jun 7, 2010

Just One More...

I was saying that all day shooting these two...then I'd shoot ten more. It's not that I'm trying to fool them, or that I'm just not getting the picture. It's that they keep helping me make more and better portraits of themselves. Jay Maisel says that portraits are a cooperative effort between the subject and the photographer.  K. and A. were very cooperative.

Nikon D90, 70-200mm VR lens @150mm, f/8.0, 1/400s, ISO 200. 

Jun 6, 2010

Just the Boys

This was obviously fun to make. There we were, doing regular family portraits before the reception began, when A. says, "I really want one in your hat," and there are the brothers standing around, so this was the result. A.'s good at getting a stance and seems very comfortable in front of the camera. I was thinking that he looked a little mobbish in the hat, and he had two henchmen handy. I thought that a rim light would show his profile well, and by removing all the surrounding light we get a feeling like maybe we don't want to mess with these guys--which is impossible to feel around these fellows in person; the nicest crew you could imagine. Still, if you're short on funds, maybe they can help you out...just don't be late on payments.

Nikon D90, 50mm lens, f/11, 1/80s, ISO 400, one SB-800 and one SB-600 at +2 EV, fired through a white umbrella about five feet away. The light is far enough away that the intensity of the light is maintained across the first two guys, even though they are not the same distance form the light. It really starts to fall off by the time it reaches A., however.

Yep, this one's almost perfect.

Jun 5, 2010

K. & A. Forever

These two were married, today. What a fun time for them--new beginnings together, new lives together. We were sure grateful to take part in the festivities to help memorialize their first day together.

Angie Olsen of Sassafrass Photography was also helping out on this shoot, and we couldn't have done it without her. Each of these images has about five minutes of post work done--blemishes, white balance--but nothing big. The look here was created on location. Personally, I like these very much. They were good sports, too, because the clouds were not continuously cooperating. Anyway, it's all paid off here, I think.

Nikon D90, 50mm lens and 70-200mm VR lens, f/7.1, 1/4000s, 1/2500s, 1/1250s, 1/500s, ISO 200, one SB-800 and one SB-600 firing full power.


This was the best of my images from our club canoe trip last Monday (Memorial Day). Kinda fun. Thye were circling directly overhead, and I nearly tipped the boat by leaning back to keep shooting as he flew by. Would it have been worth it?

Nikon D90, 300mm lens, f/4.0, 1/3200s, ISO 200.

Jun 4, 2010

The Road to Sedona

Do you like Bob Hope and Bing Crosby? You know, all those "Road to ____" movies. I personally prefer Bing Crosby in other films, such as "Robin and the Seven Hoods". How about They Might Be Giants? They have a song titled "Road Movie to Berlin" that I memorized ages ago when I played their album, Flood, over and over again. I have no idea what that song is about.

But, these are the thoughts that go through your mind thinking back about photos and where they were made. I was traveling from Flagstaff to Phoenix earlier this year, and took the scenic route through Sedona. I had just made a friend who was a naturalist guide in the area, so it was nice to learn some of the history and ecology as we drove.  Anyway, this was one of the images I made as we traveled down the canyon. The clouds sitting on the hills had just dumped a few feet of snow in Flagstaff, and the contrast just a handful of miles away and lower was impressive. That's a pretty place I could visit again...in the winter.

Nikon D90, 50mm lens, f/4.0, 1/640s, ISO 200.

Jun 3, 2010

Flower Friday

Nikon D90, 55mm micro lens, f/16 (best recollection), 1/100s, ISO 200. 

Have I mentioned that this is an old lens? It's more than 30 years old. It doesn't auto focus (no matter the camera) and the light meter in my camera also won't work with it. That means that I have to make a guess when taking my first picture. After that first guess, I can then look at the picture on the back of my camera and refine the settings to make the correct exposure. However, the Sunny f/16 rule helps me get very close on my first shot.

Why would I do this, you ask? Why would I want a lens that doesn't even utilize all the fancy-pants capabilities of my expensive camera? Because it's a macro lens, I say. That means that I can get very close to something and still have it in focus. This particular lens happens to project an image into my camera that is the same size as the object being projected. That means that an M&M shot close up with this lens would be recorded at life size--which is great when I get it on the computer because now I can print it far larger than life size with perfect resolution. I could print this image as a 24"x36" poster and have it looking very good. With a non-macro lens, I would have to crop to bring my flowers up so close, and that means that I would lose resolution and enlargement size. 

I got this manual lens because it's a few hundred dollar less expensive than the alternatives. Plus, it's a great exercise in understanding what happens to make a good exposure...

Jun 1, 2010

Steven Halliday

Another good time at Smokin' Blues BBQ on Saturday. This time, Steven Halliday took the stage, and was joy to work with and listen to. A very talented fellow, Steven writes all his excellent music, and performs on both guitar and piano. I liked his style very well, and can recommend his music to just about anybody--at least, the sampling I heard and anything on his CD, "Beginner's Luck".

Nikon D90, 50mm f/1.4 lens, Canon 5D, 35mm f/1.4 lens.