Sunday, October 13, 2013

Challenge Yourself!

In the past few weeks, I've felt myself getting stale. The fall colours should be inspiring, but you know the expression BTDT (Been there, done that...)? I've lived up here for 6 years and there's no doubt that this is a spectacular place to be this time of year, but I had the feeling that I needed to find a new approach, to shoot something different.

The message here is the trite phrase, "Get out of your Comfort Zone". Do something you're not used to doing. Try some new stuff.

I wasn't really successful. Like I said last week, I'm in a bit of a flat spot. That's not to say I didn't get some images I liked: I did (see below). But I want to find something different. This isn't over: I'm going to look for some stuff I haven't done before.

I did three things this week that I don't normally do: I went out on an ATV ride with some neighbours, experiencing some more challenging riding than the usual, I stopped at a high school football game to shoot some pictures, and I did a small indoor studio shoot for a client.

In reverse order: shooting jewellery without a macro lens and without proper lighting is an exercise in frustration. I was able to produce the image he was looking for, but not up to my quality standards. There are a couple of reasons why I can't show you those pictures here, but trust me, it's all about the light and I didn't have it.

I was driving back from Haliburton and came across a football game. I got there with half of the fourth quarter remaining, so I only had about half an hour to shoot. Now I know that the goal in football photography (and other sports too) is to capture the emotion of the player(s), some outstanding physical effort, and tell a story. And try to get both a face and the ball in the same shot. My excuse is, I didn't have time. I got a few shots I liked, though:

I used some of the new features in Lightroom 5 to enhance the lighting in this shot. If you're shooting sports, set your shutter speed to something REALLY high to freeze the action. This shot was 1/1600 second at f/5.6, F=400mm. He was running right towards me and I just held down the shutter release, using AF-C focus tracking. This was the best of the burst.
I know it's not my place to comment, but I will anyway – this is MY blog, after all! The Red Hawks were the home team in Haliburton, the Griffins are from Peterborough. So as a Highlander, I tried to get some good shots of the home team:

The Red Hawks quarterback was an able passer. And this shot shows an offensive lineman doing what he's supposed to do in a classic position protecting his quarterback. A second later he fended off a charging defensive player. 
But you could see the difference in determination between the two teams. I commented to a Red Hawks coach (he coached the younger team that was playing next) that what I missed, as a long-ago player, was the sounds of pads clashing and the almost reckless giving-up-of-the-body, the concept of running through someone, not at them. His comment? "Oh, the game has changed. It's all in the hands now". Nonsense. You've got to want it.

You only need to look at the faces, folks. Looks like the Griffins' running back is about to get levelled, right? Nope. The Red Hawk tackler tried to armtackle him from behind instead of getting his shoulder in front of him and low, and the result? He missed the tackle and 20 yards later, TOUCHDOWN!  

I know. Not my place. And my time on the field was almost 50 years ago. But hey, it's MY BLOG and these are my "sporadic musings"!

PS: Griffins 48, Red Hawks 41.

PPS: Griffins guy: switch the ball to your left hand when you're about to get hit on the right. Just sayin'...

An ATV Ride

For once I went out to do something OTHER than take pictures. I have to get back to doing things instead of just observing them. I met Bill doing a photo workshop here a month ago. He owns 100 acres not far from here and is an avid ATVer, and he invited me to come over for a ride. My neighbour Jack also joined us (by the way, Jack, if you're reading this, I need lessons in barbecueing ribs. Outstanding!).

So although I had the camera gear with me, I only stopped twice in the entire ride, to grab some pictures. And they were just snaps... I was having a lot of fun riding, challenged by the fact that I'm an inexperienced rider and by my OLD ATV that could use some service: I didn't want to break anything!

Here's one spot we stopped for a breather, out in the open on a hydro cut. A snapshot, like I said! Most of the ride was on some narrow, forested trails but I didn't shoot them!
In hindsight, there were a couple of spots I should have taken the time to set up a shot. One was a stream crossing and afterwards I thought I should have set the camera up on a tripod and set it to shoot a timelapse. I think I'll study how to do that more readily, it'll take some figuring out), or maybe a video. There was a second spot going over a little bridge Bill built, over another stream.

Anyway, I hope Bill knows what he has there. His property is extra-special, especially at this time of year. Here's the other spot we stopped for pictures:

Having Bill in the picture adds a sense of scale. The trees are huge and gloriously coloured. Bill was actually standing about 10 meters further away, on the left side and with his ATV. Through the magic of Photoshop... why did I do that? To magnify the scale of the trees and to get him out of the middle.

I also turned the clarity down a LOT in the image (an Adobe Camera Raw function available in Lightroom, Photoshop, and Elements for my newer readers). The purpose was to emphasize colours instead of textures.

This image is available as a large scale art print. Click here to see it full sized.
By the way, here's the link to Bill's Smugmug gallery. Do take a minute to visit it: and check out the bears! He got some AWESOME pictures. I was particularly taken with the Spirit (Kermode) Bear which I originally took to be a light coloured grizzly but it's really a differently coloured black bear!


I have a bunch of inventory of art prints. I want to sell these by the year-end so I'll make a special offer: $50 buys a large scale art print on lustre or on beautiful matte Epson Cold Press paper. That includes shipping to normal locations: I'll roll them in a tube for mailing. The prints are all on 18x24 sheet, archival quality, with keylines and digitally signed.

Buy two for $75.

And if you act now, I also have a quantity of 8x12 prints in plastic sleeves and they are only $10 each. AND some 5x7 greeting cards with 4x6 pictures for only $3.33 each if you buy 3 (so three for $10). Shipping included!

The large format prints are here:

I still have to get the smaller ones up on a gallery somewhere, watch for it in the next blog or ask. Many of the same images are in that group too.

These prices are for existing inventory only.

Email me here.

D600 going back to Nikon for the third time

Sensor dust has raised its ugly head again. I admit I'm pushing the edge of the envelope, doing a detailed HDR at small aperture but if the dust were not there, I wouldn't have the problem.

This is a screen capture of this 3-shot HDR in Lightroom after I spotted out the dust spots. Admittedly everything combined to produce this: it's an HDR, f/16, detail turned up... This was supposed to be one of 6 images I was combining into a large pano. 

Hopefully Nikon will do the right thing. Their policy is to replace the camera after the third return. We'll see...

...and I gave in

How can you NOT go with Adobe's $10/month offer? Lightroom plus Photoshop CC. So I gave in despite my misgivings. The concern is what happens if I let my subscription lapse. Oddly enough, I'm less worried about being able to open my Photoshop .psd files (I get that if I revert to CS6, for which I own a perpetual license, I'll be able to open the layered file but that the tools from CC won't be available to me), than I am about Lightroom. I no longer own a perpetual license for the latest Lightroom (5) and the catalogs are not backwards compatible. Hmmm...

A couple more images

I woke up to a foggy morning and my first thought was, "have coffee later. Go to Vic's place and see what the mist looks like on the lake". So I did.

I made a valiant effort to shoot a multi-exposure panoramic HDR. I failed. But while doing the 18 shots I needed for it, I caught this series. OK, well not strictly true: the 18 shots were 6 bursts of 3 bracketed VERTICAL images. Then I turned the camera horizontal and shot this one. I have a few others I want to come back to another time. 

Vic has a stand of very old Hemlocks that I spent some time on.  

After the mist lifted, the morning skies were so interesting and I was captivated by the reflection on the calm water. I also have a vertical version of this image, can't decide which one I like best!

And finally, on my favourite ATV trail, I liked the sun peeking through the trees. I did enhance the birch trees on the right to make them stand out.  

Until next week! TTFN

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