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

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Our Christmas Tree Rendered In HDR

This tree was selected by Caroline from Billy Wilson's tree farm. You can view his farm in HDR in an earlier post. I actually traded for the tree by presenting him with a printed 19x13 copy of the rendered photos that I took in mid October. He actually offered me a few more trees if I wanted them.
This photo took some work but it was worth it -- you do not have to make the journey to the mountains to view its beauty -- just click on the thumbnail to fill your screen.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Caroline's Digital Photo Course Results

These three photos were taken with our Nikon S51 Point-N-Shoot by Caroline during our attendance at a digital photography course this past June conducted at the Mayland Community Collage. I assembled a collage of her photos entitled "Bugs, Butterfly's and Flowers" and and gave it to the instructor for his classroom display. Click on each photo to fill your screen.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

HDR Using Our Sony A100

Having devoted a majority of my posts to HDR using the Nikon D90, it got me to thinking about how you could accomplish getting the required minimum exposures on the Sony A100.

A little Google search provided the answer. This is how the photo was exposed:

1. I set the exposure mode (metering mode to multiple segment)
2. Attached my shutter release cable.
3. Set the Mode to "P" for program mode -- some refer this to Professional Mode.
4. Note the Aperture called for by the "P" mode.
5. Switch the Mode setting to "A" for aperture
and set the aperture to the value noted in 4.
6. Press the A100 AV button on the top rear of the camera and set the AV to -2.0.
7. On a tripod of course, press the shutter button (in my case the shutter release cable).
8. Press the AV button again and set the AV value to 0.0.
9. Press the shutter release button to expose the second photo.
10. Press the AV button again and set the AV value to +2.0.
11. Press the shutter release button to expose the third and final exposure photo.

Now what do you do with these three photos?

I use Photomatix Pro 3.2 to combine the photos into a "tone-mapped image". There are other programs that will perform that function and the new Adobe Photoshop CS5 will do this function too. But my experience with CS5 has been that to achieve the results that I get with Photomatix takes too long and slider settings are not easily interperted. None of CS5's default settings are of interest to me.

My approach to HDR is to increase the camera's ability to see detail in the shadows and the highlights -- and not to try to turn the photo into a "Starwars" image.

There are some impressive "Starwar Images" that I have viewed but it is not for me.

For more information on Photomatix Pro go here: Photomatix Pro.

Click on the photo to fill your screen.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hand-Held HDR Photographs

Both these buildings are located on Hwy 197s heading to Pensacola, NC. I photographed the buildings in HDR hand-held. Both photos consisted of three individual photographs exposed at +/- two stops and an individual photo expose to what the camera computed to be the ideal aperture. Both sets of photos were then processed using Photomatix Pro and then adjusted in Photoshop CS5. The building on the top was an antique outlet that we frequented when the proprietor was still alive. Click on each photo to fill your screen.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pensacola, NC Grocery Store in HDR

I could not resist the opportunity to photograph the local grocery store in downtown Pensecola, NC -- especially with the suggestion that you should vote conservative. We know some of those listed and plan take their suggestion. Don't forget to click on the photo to fill your screen.

Fall Foliage in Western North Carolina

This is Billy Wilson's spread located on Hwy 197s on the way to Asheville over the mountains. This photo was shot in HDR with +/- two stops plus the one the camera says is the correct exposure. The exposures were blended using Photomatix and fine tuned in Photoshop.

It was a beautiful day
and with the color changes rapidity it was necessary to forgo a nap to capture the beauty that surrounds us. We are entering the peak of the fall foliage and with forecast winds and rain due the next few days it is essential to keep your camera at the ready. Click to fill your screen.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Early Fall Sunrise Over The Blue Ridge in HDR

I tried tone mapping the three images used for this HDR using the new HDR Pro that is part of PS CS5 but was unable to duplicate the result shown here using Photmatix Pro. The effort required to achieve the result show is much less with Photomatix. Trust me -- take my word for it! Don't forget to click on the image to fill your screen

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fun With HDR and Blend Modes

This was fun. I only wish I could remember the HDR settings that I used when I took the original photo show in an earlier post. If I could remember then I could reproduce the images shown in this post.

All I can say is that when, shown to others, there are definite likes and dislikes. Me, I love them all -- after all, they are my creations. (do not forget to click on each image to fill your screen).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Two-tailed Tiger Swallowtail On Joe Pye Weed

Just happened to be riding our mountain roads and came upon this wonderful photo opportunity.
Major correction was to the white balance in Camera Raw, a small levels adjustment, a small saturation adjustment and a little sharpening.
No nuke science involved in the digital darkroom.
Be sure to fill your screen by clicking on the image.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fixing Another Rick Hunter Photograph

Ric has to learn how to retouch photos. It is essential for someone who snaps a photo in the heat of the moment and finds later that while the composition was somewhat satisfactory, that the shadows cast on the subject distracts.

The edited photo is the result of testing and trying different techniques in eliminating the excessive shadow that is present below the eagle's eye to the right and downward.

Ric, I suggest you become a member of COSTCO -- they have Adobe Photoshop Essentials ver. 8.0 for $90.00. Everything that was accomplished in PSCS5 could have easily been accomplished in Essentials 8.0.

I have many tutorials that are available that will train you, as an able Air Force Officer to be able to depend less on a US Army Officer to fix your photos.

Click on each photo to fill your screen.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunset Over The Blue Ridge Mountains

We do not often have spectacular sunsets because our home is below a mountain ridge located due west.

This is a view looking east of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

We often get grand sunrises -- see my star-bright sunrise posted in March.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Goldfinch On Our Birdbath

This is the real thing -- not a composite image as I did in a previous post using Rick Sammon's urgings to make a picture.

In this image I actually shot through the pickets of our deck railing that are spaced 4.5 inches apart.

The photo was shot with the trusty 18-200mm general purpose lens at 200mm (300 mm on a 35 mm film camera).
Note that the bird has a shadow cast onto the birdbath. While it is easy to create a shadow in Photoshop, I have not done this in this photo.

Be sure to fill the screen by clicking on the thumbnail.

Goldfinch On Our Birdfeeder

I set the camera to four frames per second and shot over 100 images.

Increasing the ISO helped with the shutter speed. I shot in aperture mode at f8 or higher so that I had a decent depth of field.

Don't forget to click on the image to fill your screen. Click again to view a closeup of the bird.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Turks Cap Lily

The number of plants dotting Wildwood Acres has increased considerably this year.

The wildflower blooms July and August in this mountain region.

Capturing the bloom with a butterfly increases the beauty of the photograph.

Be sure to click on the photo to fill your screen.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Potoshop CS5 Content Repair

The top photo is from Ric Hunter, taken in Florida on a recent trip to escape from Burnsville, NC while his wife was in Italy.
I have to specify that Ric lacks timing. I would have waited until he could have taken a photo without the gator dragging the distracting stick on its nose.
Having performed editing miracles for Rick on some of his previous wildlife photos, this was a piece-of-cake for Photoshop CS5's content aware repair capabilities.
The challenge was to remove the stick and other distracting elements from the photograph. Other enhancements not evident were added, i.e. sharpening, white balance, and adding a sparkle to the visible right eye of the gator

Mission accomplished!

Sunrise in Whitestone, VA

This is an HDR image taken on the front lawn of our dear friends, Clyde and Hazel Lee Kizer during our visit last October (2009). My wife, Caroline alerted me to the sunrise that was revealing itself.
Luckily, I happened to be cleaning my D90, 18-200 mm lens and getting my tripod attachment onto the camera.
I have since added the photo matte using colors selected for the inner and outer matte directly from the photo. Click on the photo to fill your screen.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Just Don't Take A Picture - Make A Picture

Rick Sammon implores his students to make a picture. So I took his advice and took this photo yesterday while the sun had moved west and the wild Flaming Azaleas were at peak bloom. I thought that getting a photo of the bird bath and azalea plant with scattered ground cover blossoms in the periwinkle would comply with Rick's dictum.

But I noted that the bird bath was lacking a bird. I use a free stock photo exchange called Stock.xchng and typed Gold Finch into the search window. I selected two photos and made selection that I copied to their own layers. I tried placing both photos on the bird bath but decided two was one too many. Don't forget to click on the photo to fill your screen.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Oldest Daughter's Quest For Her Ancestry

Tracy is my oldest daughter and is here pictured with her younger sister, Leslie with their great-grandmother, Mary Szuch on September 23, 1962. Mary Szuch was born in Hungry on June 25, 1894. She died in 1982.

I remember clearly that she would articulate that this was the last time she would see us -- no matter how many times we would see her. She attended every family event including my two graduations from the University of Alabama in 1955 and again in 1967.

Tracy is really into tracing her ancestry with And since I have in my possession our journey through life recorded photographically since about 1933 - the year after my birth, it makes it possible with modern technology to preserve, in digital form, our unique family history. The website provides the tools to access world-wide data that allow integration into a historical family record.

Tracy has made significant progress in tracing my mothers side of the family. She has become somewhat obsessed and a bit driven in her quest to answer the question: "Who am I, and where did I originate from?"

I personally wish her success so that when she finds the answer to her question she will have also answered the same question for me.

I love her dearly.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Red-bud Apple Tree and Dogwood In Full Bloom

Another HDR image to capture the full bloom of the Red-buds, Apple Tree and Dogwood trees in full bloom.

Until someone suggests that I stop with the HDR photography - I will continue.

What beauty there is within our sight - just look around you and have with you the best camera you have, i.e. the one in your hand and record what you see and share with me.

Remember to click on the photo to see it full screen.

Patch Our Wonderful Dog

Patch, our 5.5 year old mixed breed female (fixed), is never far away if we are out and around our property. Caroline was photographing our newly planted pink dogwood.

Apparently, something caught Patch's eye. She loves running the 2 miles of gravel roadways in our Wildwood Acres development.

Oddly, we have yet to see any ground squirrels or rabbits that are normally numerous in the area at this time of year. We have seen a normal population of tree squirrels that attract Patch's attention. Of course she trees them immediately and foolishly stares at them expecting that they will return to ground level.

Caroline is responsible for the photo while I did the Photoshop work.

Click the image for a larger view

Butterfly's on an Azalea Bush

Two butterfly's on an azalea bush in full bloom. Caroline is responsible for the photograph using a Sony A100 DSLR that was our first mid entry level camera.

Because it was both windy and the butterfly's were flapping their wings I set the camera to shutter priority 1/250 and increased the ISO to 200.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

St Thomas Episcopal Church In HDR Revisited

Dr. David Johnson and I went "birding" this past Friday. It was a long arduous journey that eventually got us to the Blue Ridge Parkway with a pit stop at Mt Mitchell (about 6200 ft +). Last year David agreed to help me photograph our church by providing his pickup truck bed for my tripod.

If you look at my earlier posts you will find my first attempt at HDR for the our church gave the church a Star Wars look -- that was not well received by one of my favorite upper echelon parishioners. Only 80% of those reviewing way-out HDR extremes like it -- the other 20% do not find it appealing at all and my favorite parishioner especially did not find it appealing.

My hope is that this photograph will assist her to forgive me my transgressions.

Friday was a warm sunny day and since David and I did not find any appealing photogenic birds, we decided to attempt another HDR photo-shoot of St Thomas. This, of course, was after descending the Blue Ridge Highway via Hwy 80 where we stopped to have lunch at Hillbilly Ted's (Highly recommended) besto.

Don't forget to click once and sometimes twice to view the new HDR depiction of St Thomas in Burnsville, NC

Saturday, April 17, 2010

More Art by Johnny Thacker The Blacksmith

Johnny Thacker is an artist and an outstanding neighbor and friend. He is an expert in repairing my tractor scraping blade that I continually misuse in working on our gravel roads.

As a small measure of my appreciation for his efforts, I photograph his art. Next Saturday the local Smith's are having a show in Spruce Pine, the next town north of us and I plan to be there with oxygen and my D90.

Caroline just had to have the first candlestick and it is now stationed upon our dinning room table in prominent view. Don't forget to click to enlarge the photos.

Woody The Woodpecker

We have many tree stumps on our lots and we never considered the necessity of having them removed. Why should we? We have Woody who has found a great source of food on our property. He or she visits almost on a daily basis.

Caroline was standing on the deck looking at our newly planted pink dogwood when she heard Woody pecking away. I actually took 130 photographs with the camera set to four exposures per second - had to set shutter priority because his head was moving so fast.

Be sure to click on the photo twice to fill your screen.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Closer Look at the Red Buds

A closer look at the Red Bud trees blooming photographed in HDR. Waiting for the clouds to fill the frame helps while I catch my breath with oxygen. The real fun in digital photography is making the picture.

This one took some lens correction to make sure that the house was depicted as horizontal.

The colors of the Red Bud trees are breathtaking. Come visit and see for yourself.

Click on the photo twice to fill you screen.

More Springtime Depicted in HDR

This is a HDR photo looking on the rear of our home from a road that winds its way up the mountain. Note that the Red Bud are in bloom. Although unseen are the buds on our Gala apple tree.

Click on the photo twice to fill your screen.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Beautiful Spring Day in HDR

I tried creating this image using nine different exposures. I then used the first three exposures consisting of the normal exposure and two (+/-) stops. The latter exposure turned out better than the nine exposure version.

I conclude that more pixels is not necessarily better for the photograph.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

John Thacker Blacksmith

I am ethically required to post my failures as a photographer so that I can assess my enthusiasm for the medium and correct my mistakes on future photo shoots that I volunteer.

Johnny is not only a dear neighbor but a most helpful friend when I screw up something on my tractor.

My major error was to not evaluate the ambient lighting that existed in his dinning room/living room at the time (9:30 am). The black backdrop that I brought with me was not dense enough to prevent back lighting the set. Click on the image to enlarge.

In addition, I should have used a back drop that provided contrast to the table so that a selection of the table could have been easily made. I could have then placed a good selection of the table onto any background that I desired.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Meet Desiree

Meet Desiree -- the hostess with the mostess at the Best Western Motel in McKinney, TX. Never leave home without the ability to light a beautiful subject like Desiree.

We had driven to McKinney to visit with our beautiful granddaughters, Caroline and Catherine who were on spring-break. Luckily we drove so that I took an umbrella and reflectors and a tripod to hold the umbrella and an Nikon SB800 flash. I used wife Caroline to hold the reflector.
Compare Desiree's eyes in both photos and note that her eyes are slightly larger in the photo on the right. Thanks to the liquefy filter in Photoshop CS4. Remember never leave home without a portable studio and the best camera available -- the one you have with you.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Starbrights Sans - Filter

I have learned by study of Digital Photography Vol 3 by Scott Kelby that you do not have to spend money for a specialized filter that will turn dusk and nighttime photos into "Starbrights". He recommends setting your aperture to f22. My ISO was set to 200 as recommended by Nikon.

I experimented this morning by setting the Nikon D90 to aperture priority and snapping photos off our deck looking due east at the Blue Ridge Mountains as the sun started to rise over the ridge. I placed the focus point directly on the rising sun and noted the shutter speed was at least 1/20 of a second.

A little editing in Camera Raw and some additional tweaking in PSCS4 resulted in the photo. Click on the image to fill your screen.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

High Dynamic Range - HDR

Another example of HDR. This photo was exposed as stated in the previous post. The photo is a view looking due east at the Blue Ridge Mountain range in between snow storms.

Click on the photo for an expanded view.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

High Dynamic Range Photography - HDR

It has been a long cold winter -- the coldest that we have ever experienced here in Western North Carolina in the 12 years we have been this part of the Universe. It all started on 12/18/2009 when the global warming crowd dumped 19 to 20 inches of snow on us. Every other few days additional snow was dumped.

Every now and then I had an opportunity to photograph the surroundings in HDR. Each of the photos consist of three photos photographed with the correct exposure and two additional photos consisting of 2-stops over exposed and 2-stops under exposed. My camera - Nikon D90 allows me to setup the shots using the bracketing function. All three shots were hand-held using multiple exposure function. It's not that difficult. Of course I use some software that automatically blends the three images into a tonemapped image that is further processed in Photoshop CS4.

Click on each image to fill your screen with a view of these magnificent mountains.