Sunday, January 31, 2010

And Now for Something Completely Different

No more birds for the moment. And I  did not find a nest of snakes on Eastbeach, just some sand ripples.  In ACR I increased the exposure, blacks, vibrance and clarity.  In CS3 I added a Curves layer for contrast and a Levels layer, then ran the Popsickle action by Kubota and sharpened with Smart Sharpen.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I Didn't Know

that pelicans could skip.
Nikon D200, 70 - 200m lens with 1.7 TC at f9 and 1/800th, ISO 200

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sanderling Ballet

Or maybe he is just stretching.  If these are not Sanderlings, I apologize, I am still learning to identify birds.  These little guys are fast, skittering all over the place and stopping for a quick peck in the puddles.

Nikon D200, 70 - 200mm lens with 1.7 teleconverter 
top image at f4.8 and 1/2000th with a -.67 exposure compensation, ISO 200
bottom image f9 at 1/750th, no exposure compensation, ISO 200

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Staying With the Bird Theme

I think these birds are Marbled Godwits.  What a great name!  I spent an hour or so one cold morning recently photographing the shorebirds out on East Beach with my D200 and  70 - 200mm VR lens with a 1.7 teleconverter.  I am SO bad at panning.  It could be my technique, my lack of upper body strength, or the focusing mode the camera was in.  Many of my shots where the birds aren't flying are not sharp either.  But, birds are not a subject I shoot very often and I haven't attempted to do so in over a year, so I am out of practice. And I need to find a way to stabilize myself and not slowly sink into the sand (I seriously considered laying down but didn't think Mike would let me back in the car). Even though these shots aren't great, I enjoyed watching all the different birds there that morning and shorebirds are some of the easier birds to get relatively close to, so I will try again. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wakeup Call

OK you guys, nap time is OVER!
Shot recently while on East Beach in Galveston.
Nikon D200, 70 - 200mm lens at f6.3 and 1/1600th with a -.67 exposure compensation,
ISO 200

Monday, January 25, 2010

All Together Now...

While looking through some old folders I found this shot I had never processed.  It was taken on the Galveston side while heading out on the ferry to Bolivar Penninsula in July 2008.  I remember being impressed that all the birds except one on the left seemed to have spread themselves out in a perfect formation, almost like they are about to give a performance.  It was taken a little after 9 am and so not in the best light, but still worth a shutter click to me.
Nikon D200, 70 - 200mm lens at f8 and 1/1000th with a -1/3 exposure compensation,
ISO 100

Stations of the Cross

This series of crosses is on St. Joseph's Catholic Church.  I did not darken the area around the one cross, it seems to have the background missing and replaced with screen.  When editing it I knew I wanted to try a black and white conversion of some kind and thought I would post some of the variations I tried.  I thought it was really interesting how different the image looks and how much the bricks change by choosing certain filters in the black and white adjustment layer drop down menu.  The top image is the basic edit, the second image is the Photoshop black and white adjustment layer with the high contrast blue filter, the third image is the PS layer with the green filter chosen, the 4th image is very close with no filter chosen but a curves layer added for more contrast and the final image is a Pioneer Woman Vintage action. On all of the black and white versions I also ran a Kubota Black and White Modern action that adds a little warmth to the cool tones of a regular black and white converion. I prefer the High Contrast Blue and the Vintage versions the most.  I did try replacing the fence with a copy of the blank top section of bricks, but decided I like the fence there.  However, in the lower right I removed an airconditioner behind the fence.  So do you have a preference?
Nikon D700, 70 - 200mm lens at f4.8 and 1/250th, ISO 200

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Vertigo Inducing

Every time I looked up to try to compose this shot, I felt like I was about to fall over backwards into the street.  I could not get any wider with the lens I had.  No perspective adjustment here, obviously.  I would have lost the flags, and besides, I liked the graphic lines leading the eye up to the sky.  Which, by the way, was completely blank (except for some flare which I cloned out). So, first time ever for me to add clouds with a brush.  Could you tell? 
Nikon D700, 24- 70mm lens at 24mm, f16 and 1/45, ISO 200

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


This wall and interesting metal sign above the door caught my eye, I think it is a club.  There are no windows visible and a side door says 410 Bistro and Lounge...but I am not sure I would want to eat any food served there.  This building is to the immediate left when standing in the parking lot facing yesterday's post, the State National building. 
I think Texas is the cross street.
Nikon D700, 24 - 70mm lens at f6.7 and 1/90th, ISO 200

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Variations on a Building

Since I don't have a tilt shift lens or the ability to be 5 floors up in the air across from this building, I used the perpective adjustment in the crop tool in Photoshop.  But I must not have been exactly in the center of this building when I shot it because I can't seem to get everything (side walls, roof, windows) to come out square.  Well, not square in shape but in 90 degree angles.  I kept readjusting only to find another part went cattywampus. Anyway, I liked this building for all the repeating elements.  It had a bland blue sky behind it, and a little lens flare on top of that so I added some texture.  In the black and white version I decided it was too skinny and used Free Transform to widen it up a bit. I think of all the versions I prefer the cropped one, but would appreciate any feedback.  Does the out-of-round smoke stack or whatever that is, bother anyone else?  I have no idea how to get that thing back to normal, or if it is even worth the attempt.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lessons in History

One of my very least favorite classes in school and college was always History.  I thought it was boring and too hard to remember the dates of wars, reigning rulers, etc.  I guess opposites really do attract because History has to be my husband's very favorite topic and the TV is usually tuned to the History Channel when he is watching. Maybe after 32 years of being forced to listen or maybe it was the method the subject was presented back then (almost always with textbooks) but sometimes now I actually do find certain historic topics interesting.  I can relate so much better when being in the actual place while something from the past is being discussed and on a recent trip to Houston that was the case as we drove around the warehouse district looking for photographic subjects.  I could almost imagine what life was like around the railroad tracks,the shipping and packing warehouses and the old neighborhoods.  The old homes and buildings have such interesting architectural elements, old writing, antiquated technology, lots of things to explore.  I wish we could get inside some of those places, don't you know there would be great walls and halls and places to shoot, especially with the right model.  This shot was in the Harrisburg area, the old industrial part of Houston that was in its heyday in the 20s, 30s, 40s, or so.  I thought the old telegraph pole was really interesting, but the shadows at that time of day cut across the great front facade of this old warehouse, so I focused on the tracks and downtown in the distance.
Nikon D700, 24 - 70mm 2.8 lens at f11 and 1/250th, ISO 200

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Still Hanging Out on East Beach

What on earth are all these posts for?  To keep the teenagers from racing?  Or so they can't drink and drive without crashing into one?  Mike thinks maybe there was erosion fencing between them once.  I guess they weren't put there for the photo opportunities, but they work for me.
Nikon D700, 70 - 200 mm 2.8 lens at f11 and 1/350th, ISO 200

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fuel for my Obsession

No, not so much an OBSESSION, but I really do like images with blur, and I have a love/hate relationship with my Lensbaby lenses. Love in that I really really like the distortions those lenses give but hate because I struggle to get what I want sharp. Sometimes I feel like the distortion around the edges of a Lensbaby shot adds a whole lot to the mood of the image.  Not everything should be shot with a selective focus lens (although it is pretty big right now with wedding photogs) and for me I must have an area of sharp focus however small it may be, but I have seen some images that others have taken with nothing really sharp and they just speak to my soul somehow...almost like dreamscapes. So, when Lensbaby had a call for submissions for a forthcoming book I entered the allowed 2 images and while I did not get a shot chosen to be published in the book (12 were selected out of almost 2000 submissions) I did get this Succulent featured as one of 136 or so Honorable Mentions.  Yay!

That makes me want to snap on a LB lens and keep trying.
Check out the Winners of the book and the Honorable Mentions and see if some of these images aren't pretty interesting:

Friday, January 15, 2010


It helps inspire me so much to go somewhere new, or in this case somewhere I have not been for quite a while.  So many interesting things caught my eye on this trip to Galveston.  I really wanted to take some images with my new-ish camera and this time I had the 70 - 200mm lens on.  Other than a drive down to East Beach right after Ike hit, I haven't been on that end of the island in a long time. I don't know that I have ever gone to the beach in January either.  When I saw these fenceposts with only grass and sky surrounding them, I thought of a photo club assignment coming up of Less is More, or basically Minimalism.  They would also fit for Get Rhythm, or repeating elements so I wonder which is a better fit?  I noticed that the 70 - 200mm lens seems to be vignetting sometimes on the D700, and that is not something I ever had using it on the D200. 
But I like it.

Nikon D700, 70 - 200mm 2.8 VR lens at f2.8 and 1/3000th first image and 1/2000th second image , ISO 200

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Gathering Place

I don't think I have ever seen so many different types of birds at one time as there were in this inland water area.  It may be called a tidepool, but I am not sure if we have those around here.  Some of the birds I can identify as white pelicans, gulls, skimmers, cormorants, and egrets with confidence. And then some that I am not sure of, and may be sanderlings or longbilled curlews or marbled godwits (don't you just love some of those names!) and at least one black necked stilt and a few killdeer.  Mostly the same kind of birds hung out together in groups in different areas, like a bunch of cliques in highschool. I did not have my teleconverter and I was there in the middle of the afternoon so these are not fantastic nature images, but I wanted to show a little of what the scene was like. I tried some shallow depth of field shots, some panning (which I am pretty bad at), some shots with more depth of field. In the bottom image you can see a smoke line in the sky from what we think were grass fires on Bolivar Penninsula.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thank Goodness...

that the sign clarifies the issue.  I am sure many teenagers want to know. Does this mean that drinking is not legal in other parts of Galveston???  Maybe I don't want to know the answer...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Repeating Elements

While on East Beach I found these posts and flags. Well, OK, they were pretty hard to miss! Talk about repeating visual elements ---these posts went on as far as the eye could see.  Unfortunately due to all the salt water we would have to drive through, I didn't get to find out if there were other interesting arrangements further down the beach, but I thought the colorful flags added to this grouping.
Nikon D700, 24 - 70 mm 2.8 lens at f11 and 1/350th, ISO 200

Monday, January 11, 2010

Poor Pearl

It is almost like she can hardly bear to think of the next round of Heartworm treatment that she has to go through today and tomorrow.  For those who don't know, she tested positive for Heartworm after her last checkup, although when we first found her 2 years ago her test came back negative. I did not know that when they have a negative result they are not tested again for two years. I have given her the monthly preventative along with the other dogs and although I had heard that was the wrong thing to do when they have heartworms, her vet seems to think in her case it may have prevented new worms from growing and was actually beneficial.  Her first dose was given a month ago after an x-ray showed she had a "low burden" of worms in her heart and no evidence of liver damage, so at least that was good news.  However, the treatment and spending the entire day at the vet's was extremely traumatic for her and we have to give her tranquilizers before this next round because an increased heartrate is to be avoided at all costs at this stage. And not only once, but she has to go through it all again on Tuesday.  So, she really is going to be feeling pitiful for a while, poor Pearl.

Another Sad Goodbye

We found this roadside memorial (I thought of Larry A. and his series of documenting these) all the way down on East Beach, where the seawall extends to Fort San Jacinto.  I have never known if all the stuffed animals are left because a child died or if they are left in memory of older people too, but the cross that has "Alijah" also has a tiny helicopter and truck sitting on the arms.  Losing anyone in a car wreck is such a tragedy, but to lose a child has to be the worst of all.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Saying Goodbye

Today we went to Galveston looking for photo opportunities and decided to go to the seawall instead of the Strand area where we have been going lately.  It wasn't long before I spotted some young people, 2 boys and 2 girls, and one of the girls was holding a large group of balloons as they walked down the jetty toward the ocean.  They stopped and took a few pictures of the girl holding the bouquet and then she faced the water, walked to the end of the jetty, and released them.  It seemed to me to be a ritual, perhaps in memory of someone they had lost, but I did not ask them so I could be completely off base.  Unfortunately I had forgotten my teleconverter so these images are cropped in quite a bit.
Nikon D700, 70 - 200m lens at f6.7 and 1/4000th top image, f2.8 and 1/1000th bottom image