Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pet Photographer Practice

While I am posting about cats, here is a shot of my sister's kitten Xander, grown up a little since she got him last July.  I have always been a dog person (how serindipitous to have married a Barker!) mainly because I just didn't know any cats.  Now both of my sisters and my parents are owned by cats so I have been around felines a lot more and can appreciate how special they are.  I doubt my 3 canines would ever allow a feline in our home but I have thought about it lately after learning the sad fate of most of the cats in our city's animal shelter.  I am sure I am nearing the limit of pets allowed in households in Friendswood...maybe I should apply for a zoo permit.

What fantastic eyes Xander has!
Nikon D700, 24-70mm lens at f5.6 and 1/125th, ISO 1100
And I can't forget Christina's first cat, Kya.  I have colorcast issues with this image that I just can't seem to resolve.  The walls in that room are a bright yellow, and while daylight was coming in from a window there also may have been some lights (tungsten, halogen, fluorescent?) on.  All I know is her eyes and the comforter she is on are both a beautiful yellow-green-blue color that is not showing up well. So, take my word for it!

I just love her mouth!
Nikon D700, 24- 70mm 2.8 lens at f8 and 1/10th, ISO 800

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Equipment Trouble, Operator Error

I have been trying to figure out why I cannot get sharp images while handholding one of my best lenses, the 70 - 200mm 2.8 VR.  Especially wide open, from f2.8 to f7 or so, even at very high shutterspeeds --- like 1/3000th. Well, I guess it helps to read the manual.  At some point the Active slider got turned on, which the manual tells you is only to be used when shooting from a moving vehicle.  Evidently it counteracts the Vibration Reduction. So many ruined shots.  At least it is not all due to bad technique, I was really starting to get frustrated.  Then add a 1.7 teleconverter and there goes your depth of field, just learned about that from Moose today.

Golden evening light, cute cat trying to hide...not so great depth of field
Nikon D200, 70 - 200mm 2.8 lens with 1.7 tc at f4.8 and 1/500th 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Closer Calla

Nikon D700, 60mm macro lens with +4 closeup filter
at f4.8 and 1/125 with a -1 exposure compensation

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Calla Shot With a Lensbaby and Without

Nikon D700 with a Lensbaby Composer

Nikon D700 with 60mm macro lens

Ever since Mark Westerman did a tutorial for our photo club on combining a series of macro shots of the same subject but focused at different points into the image, I have wanted to try the freeware CombineZM he told us about. But after finding the site and reading the instructions, I don't understand how to install it.  I would like to have the front edge of the top calla lily (shot with a 60mm macro lens) in focus but for some reason I did not shoot a series of focus shots this time. While it is possible to manually layer and mask a series of images to have more depth of field, it is tedious and increases the size of the file so much.  I don't mind the shallow depth of field in the top image, shot with a Lensbaby Composer.  It is hard for me to believe I actually got a shot more in focus with a Lensbaby than a standard lens...maybe because the angle is a little different.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Two Callas, Two Versions

Window light again, from the right, against a black background.  I may have used a V card I made by taping two large pieces of foam core together, on the left side...but I can't remember if I used it on these shots or not. And with my 60 mm macro lens at f5.6 and 1/10th I must have used a tripod.  Sometimes I do use a tripod but if I can handhold the camera I prefer to do that so I can move around and try different angles more easily. 
 ISO 800 with a -1 exposure compensation.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Calla #2

Nikon D700, 60mm macro lens at f5.6 and 1/20th with -1 exposure compensation,ISO 400

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bringing Spring Inside

When it is too cold to be outside, and since not much is growing in the landscape at this time of the year, I look for cut flowers or potted ones to shoot inside. Callas are one of my favorite flowers to shoot and to look at. This pink color is a little different from the white that are usually available so I had to try them. Shot in window light.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Still in Galveston

Another old, abandoned building in Galveston.  This one was interesting to me for the color combinations of the different greens and the red brick, along with the diagonal of the stairs and the way they end right at that strange pipe/vent sticking out of the plywood.  The day I shot this was overcast so there are no strong shadows to give much depth to the shot.  I added a texture layer in Multiply at 35% and in Soft Light at 21% and masked most of it off of the green plywood and the lower floor in between the columns. 
I think it still needs some kind of an edge, it just looks too abrupt the way the columns are cut in half, or something...but I don't know what would help.  I also had some strange bowing with the window sills not being level so tried to do some warping to push them back in a straight line but something still seems off.  Maybe I am just getting tired of Galveston architecture!  Time to take a break and the next posts will be something different.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Galveston Architecture

This is a detail from the front of the Railroad Museum building in Galveston.  Originally the Union Passenger station of the Santa Fe Railroad, the building was saved from demolition and restored by the Moody Foundation, completed in 1982.  Built in 1932, it sits at the head of the Strand and although still closed since Hurricane Ike, it houses the Railroad Museum and is slated to open again in the Spring of 2010.  The "X" details go up many floors and below the vase shapes are more colorful deco details, maybe tiles, as well as more graphic carvings and windows with the edges angled but I could not get all of those in the frame without some scaffolding or a cherry picker so chose to crop them out.  From a distance I thought the carvings on the vase shapes were leaves and seashells but after seeing the shot on the computer there are flowers and what looks like buttons instead of shells.
Perpective adjustment in CS3 and texture added.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Back to Galveston

We drove down a Galveston street with --- now picture this --- 3 very large dogs sticking  their faces out the windows, when we stop at a stop sign by these 3 cats.  I got out of the car which drove around the corner, got 2 quick shots of the cats, and since they seemed perfectly fine, started talking to them.  One sound out of my mouth and they took off like a gun had been shot.  And they were so cute posing on the logs...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Surreal Composite

Ever since my black and white film class assignment of in-camera Multiple Exposures when my arm miraculously lined up perfectly with a dead tree, I have thought about using my hand for the roots instead of the branches.  When BAPC's assignment of Surreal Composite came up I found this tree with interesting twisted branches and set about making a composite with it.  First I tried one hand and it didn't look right so I had to use both of my hands to match the spread of the branches.  The image evolved with the ghost of a bride, a young child swinging from a branch, and gravestones, all to symbolize the cycle of Life.
I added a texture to age my hands even more and then the water as a source of life.
All that compositing really tested my Photoshop skills and I am sure there are better ways that I do not know for making all the elements more realistic and less pasted on. I cannot imagine how Jerry Uelsmann does his composites in a film darkroom and not a digital one, his work is amazing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Galveston Doors

These doors are on the left of the arch and window in yesterday's post.
In both images I added an "old leather" texture by Jerry Jones in PS. The texture darkened the edges but I added a mask and removed it from the center of the images.  If you download any of Jerry's free textures (and they are really nice) be sure to leave a thank you.  Many people have visited his blog and his Flickr sets but never left a message (myself included) so he was feeling very ill-used.
Nikon D700, 24 - 70 mm lens at f5.6 and 1/45th ISO 400

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Galveston Arch

It was too cold for East Beach the last time I was in Galveston, so we drove around looking for interesting architecture.  SOME person I know called this image "rustic" and indeed it is.  However, it has some interesting elements and colors.  Maybe some cloning away of the pipes and the planks of wood would help give it a more European look.  So, would it help, or leave it real?
Nikon D700, 24 - 70 mm lens at f8 and 1/30th, ISO 400

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Another Abstract

When I first noticed these ridges in the sand I thought they looked like tiger stripes. So taking Doug's advice to heart I attempted to pump up the constrast and color and move the image in the tiger direction. I used the Photo Filter adjustment layer in Photoshop, with the Warming filter (LBA) and increased the density in that menu to 83%. Then I duplicated that layer to make it more intense and added a Curves layer for more contrast.

Nikon D200, 70 - 200mm lens with 1.7 tc at f10 and 1/350th, -.67 exposure compensation, ISO 200

Monday, February 1, 2010

Water Ripples

Not nearly as impressive as snake ripples, but something about these wave ripples also appealed to me. 
Nikon D700, 24 - 70mm lens at f2.8 and 1/1500th, -.5 exposure compensation, ISO 200