Only two defining forces have ever committed to die for you:
Jesus Christ for your soul and
The American G.I. for your freedom.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Winning Photo For Burnsville, NC Worldwide Photowalk

The Worldwide Photo Walk took place on July 18, 2009. The walk consisted of over 32,600 photographers from all over the world in over 900 cities. I did not get the top prize (Nikon D700 Full Frame DLSR worth over $3,000) but I did win a copy of Scott Kelby's new book for digital photographers. So maybe I should study his new book and improve my skills as a photographer so that I can have a better chance at winning next year. The title of the photo that I submitted is "Hitch Hiking on a Mural" (Scroll down to the 15th photo to read Scott Kelby's comments).

The gal in the photo is Zoe - she took some neat pictures too.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

I just found this comment and response by Scott Kelby. It is kind of overwhelming to picked our for a positive comment by the likes of a Scott Kelby.

I am truly humbled by the very thought that my photograph was in contention for a prize -- let alone a positive comment of recognition.

I will photo-walk anytime with all who want to participate.

Bill Stevenson says:

Wow! That is all I can say. If these are the shots that didn’t make the cut, it most have been incredibly inspiring to go through all 900. I feel like a couple of these shots could have one the grand prize themselves. Again it makes me realize how hard this must have been for you Scott. Great job and thanks for including this second post of pictures!

Scott says:

Hi Bill:
I feel the same way—-you could make a case for all of these to be prize winners (in fact, these were all in the running at one point in my judging). The quality of the entries made this an impossible job, and that’s why I felt they needed to be recognized.

Thanks for the kind words, and for being a part of the Photo Walk. :)


Tracy Victoria Grant Portrait

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Celebrating Independence Day Slide Show

This slide show contains a selection of a few of the 84 photographic images taken of the Mountain Air Country Club fireworks display. The country club is located on the same mountain as our home in Burnsville, NC.

The Fireworks Slide Show can be accessed by clicking on the link.

I have a 60 page book of the photographs taken during the fireworks display. A preview of the book can be seen at the BLURB web site. Just click on the link.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wild Geranium

Took this photo on one of the few days that the sun was shining. It did not take a lot of Photoshop effort to bring out the beauty of this jewel.

I have added a Tilt Slide Show of recent photos of spring and early summer wildflowers that depicts the variety of plants in the mountains of Western North Carolina. To view the slide show click on the link "Tilt Slide Show".

Trillium -- A Mountain Wildflower

Wildflowers come in numerous varieties in these mountains. Each month brings additions that keep my memory card full and my hard drive over flowing with outstanding photographs.

Looking forward to October when the mountain trails break out into bloom with many more varities.

The Rain In NC Falls Mainly On Top Of Us

There have been very few days where the sun has shown its face to us. We may get a few days with some sunshine this coming week -- we are hopeful.

This is a picture of a branch consisting of approximately five or more springs that feed into the branch above our main property. It has been flowing as indicated for three months or more.

Just last year our neighbor's spring ran dry and they were without water. The property owner spent over $20,000 to drill a well that went over 1,000 feet deep. It delivered less than a gallon and a half per minute for a few months before it too went dry.

We are lucky -- our well is only 245 feet and delivers 20 gallons per minute. Best tasting water we have ever tasted.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Rhododendron In Bloom

This rhododendron bloomed this morning just in time for Mother's Day.

It actually bloomed in honor of Anita, the mother of our grandchildren, Caroline and Catherine who are pictured at other posts on this blog.

It has been a very wet and cool spring this year but the rain has brought forth a beauty that surrounds us and gives us hope for the future. Click on the photo to enlarge. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Revitalized Downdtown McKinney, Texas

Annie Royer McKinney, TX Artist

This Annie Royer of McKinney, Texas whom we met at the Spoons Cafe located on the recently revitalized downtown square in Early March.

Annie is an
artist and has her own web sites:

Here: Annie Royer, Artist

And here: McKinney Art & Design Studio

Check out these sights -- I am impressed!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

St Thomas Episcopal Church in HDR

This photograph of St Thomas, Burnsville, NC is an example of a modified HDR (High Dynamic Range) technique that seems to be the rage in digital photography editing.

This photo consists of six stills taken on a tripod that are -2,0,+2 and -1,0,+1 exposures where the 0-snap is the correct exposure and the - and + exposures represents 2-stops above and below and the 1-stop represents 1-stop above and below the correct exposure.

The six photos are processed in Photomatix 3.0 to blend all six photos to produce the final HDR rendering.

To add additional punch the resulting HDR rendering was called up into Photoshop CS4 and a copy was added (Ctrl-J). The blend mode was then changed to Vivid Light. The resulting image is loved by about 80% of the population and dispised by the remaining 20%. Those that dispise should seek viewing the web in other places.

I just love the image!!

Raven and Jennifer Baptized

This is a photo of Raven, and her mother, Jennifer who were baptized at our beautiful church, St Thomas here in Burnsville, NC.

The service was conducted by Bishop Taylor of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina.

We welcome them to the commitment to Jesus Christ, the savior of all humanity.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Adobe PHotoshop CS4 Photomerg

This is a panorama consisting of two wide angle photos of a new home being constructed in Wildwood Acres, Burnsville, NC. The two photos were taken hand-held and were "photomerged" in Photoshop CS4. The photo depicts the beautiful stone work and the installation of pavers to form a finished deck below the first floor pressure treated wooden deck.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Catherine, Caroline and Charlie the Dragon

This is Catherine (on the left) and an unnamed dragon (I call Charlie) that was cropped from a larger image shown in all three types of slide shows in my previous post. The distracting background was blurred with the lens blur filter in Photoshop after making a selection of the distracting background. This image focuses on the two main characters - Catherine and Charlie. I have subsequently added Caroline and Charlie to this post. It was accomplished by making a selection of Caroline from another photo from the slide show shown in the previous post. I then copied the selection of Caroline and pasted it in to the photo of Catherine and Charlie. Minor resizing of Caroline's image was necessary to cover Catherine completely. Having fun with CS4.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Chinese New Year Celebration Plano, Texas

I have added three slide shows of the Chinese New Year Celebration held in Plano, TX this past week. Anita sent me four pictures of the event and I created three different types of slide shows: Postcard Slide Show, Simple Slide Show and Tilt Slide Show. Click on each one to see the different variations on the slide show theme.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Amaryllis In Bloom

This Photo was taken with the Nikon D90 in manual mode at 1/60, f5.6 using the SB-800 off camera through a 32 inch translucent umbrella. Picture control was set to Vivid with sharpening set to 9 and and hue and saturation set to zero.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

High Dynamic Range

It is about time that I returned to the purpose of this blog by posting something that has to do with photography. I have now used my Christmas gifts up to the year 2042 by acquiring the new Nikon D90 DLSR -- truly a magnificent camera. I take courses given my Scott Kelby at (

A new class on High Dynamic Range (HDR) given by a terrific photographer and teacher, Matt Kloskowski teaches how to take a photograph (actually three are required) that captures image detail that would be lost (blown out) normally. The technique requires three exposures, one for the shadows that blows out the bright part (high-lights) of the image, one for the bright part of the image that hides the details contained in the shadows and one in the middle.

As you can see in this image of our living room, the clouds through the window are clear and well defined while the interior of the room is well lighted and balanced with the view through the large window looking due east to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The procedure is somewhat complicated, at least for me a new-be to digital photography, that actually requires three programs to execute with satisfactory results.

The first program called upon is Photomatrix that merges the three digital images into a "tiff" file that can be opened with Photoshop and a noise reduction program. I use Neatimage to reduce the noise in the HDR tiff file.

The last step is to do post processing in the noise reduced merged HRD file. It is here that I correct for lens distortion, white balance, sharpening and other filters and adjustments that are readily applied in Photoshop.

You have to agree -- it is a terrific view, one that is not available in Texas.

And that is why we remain here for the duration.