Hidden Away

This was a small gazebo at the entrance of Brookside Gardens. I never got a chance to go into it because it was always full of people and trying to maneuver a tripod through a confined area isn’t fun.

In retrospect I should have used a neutral density filter or used some exposure compensation on the camera as the original was a little bright. I had to bring the levels down in Photoshop using gradients and burning. I also put a layer mask in from Macphun’s Intensify CK to just bring out some of the details. One of the joys of doing that is that it tends to turn the colors nuclear so then a quick hue/saturation mask to bring things back down. Still, it came out nicely I think.

Full resolution.

Enjoy.

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The Tree

I feel bad about not editing a photo for today so I figured why not get one out today.

I really liked the color of this tree and the way it contrasted with everything around it in the gardens. It just stood there as the lone reddish tree in a sea of green. So I just had to take a picture of it.

Not much going on edit wise since I was doing this last minute. Just a bit of dodging and burning.

Full resolution.

Enjoy.

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Down The Creek

This was shot at Brookside Gardens on one of the many streams that seem to be all over the place. I just took a wander off the path and setup my tripod for some shots. In this case I had the tripod close to the ground by just extending the legs out because I’m lazy and don’t feel like adjusting them 15 times just to get low. The only downside to this is I am using to flip screens on cameras and sadly the Nikon D810 doesn’t have that.

I went low key for this image and then a bit of dodging and burning. I then brought it into Macphun’s Intensify CK and ran a filter through it. Slapped on a layer mask and painted in what I wanted and happily got it to where I wanted it. I felt the 2.4:1 ratio made it look cooler so went with that. Then I called it done.

Full resolution.

Enjoy.

Down The Creek

Between the Columns

After the 12 part marathon of pain editing session from yesterday I was keeping it simple today. So I am going with an image I shot off the balcony of the the National Portrait Gallery. I stumbled on the balcony which was open to the public. I was happily alone out there so I took the time to get this shot. Very pleased with it.

Not much going on here editing wise. I did most of it in Lightroom and only did the dodge and burn stuff in Photoshop along with the resize.

Full resolution.

Enjoy.

Between the Columns

Watching Me Watching You

The title comes from Sweet Caroline the Neil Diamond classic. It fits as the majority of the images are of people looking at art in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC. Which I can happily report is one of the most photographer friendly places I have been to in a long time. The only thing they asked of me was to move my bag to front of my body so I didn’t accidently bump anything. No bag search, no freaking about my tripod, no nothing. I only got told not to photograph an area once and it was my fault for missing the sign that said no photographs. The guard was very polite and I apologized for my mistake. So two thumbs up and I highly recommend a trip there. Lots of stuff to see and you can kill a good 3 or 4 hours in there.

One of the questions I was asked recently is why don’t I describe what I was going for when I shoot this stuff and what type of photographer am I. Well, I’m mainly a landscape and travel photographer. I like it because I can setup on a tripod and happily putter around doing my thing. I’m not big into photographing people but you can tell by this post that I will do it. While I don’t like being sneaky about it I prefer my shots to be natural instead of posed. One of my best used images is a corporate headshot of someone and I got it while he was laughing at some sarcastic remark I made. It was spontaneous and not fake. So when I do take people shots I tend to do it on the sly and then ask for permission/forgiveness after the fact. If they ask me to delete it fair enough. If they ask me why I tell them I thought they looked cool. Most people say okay and if they want a copy of the image I hand a business card to them and say write me if you want it. No license. No nothing. Its their face so they deserve the image.

As for why I don’t go with some thought on what is in my mind when I take these images. I rarely set out with a plan. I like to go some place and see what there is to see and go from there. Depends on my mood. I had no real idea what I was going to take when I went to the National Portrait Gallery. When I started taking pictures of people looking at pictures it just went from there. I figured I could get a series out of it. As for mood/tension/pretentious art stuff it’s not my thing. I don’t get all excited about art. I can look at an image and go it’s nice and move on. You like it or you don’t. So why should I tell someone what to think with my images? It’s your brain, draw your own conclusions. You don’t need me to tell.

Moving on to the technical side of photographer and the alternate title it would be An Exercise in Masochism. This was my first real attempt at shooting with the Nikon D810 and while I understood the camera the issue of me not using an optical viewfinder for 3 years and not being 100% sure on how it did metering posed a few issues. Still the images were usable even if shot at ISO 1600. The edits are subtle and very discreet. Mostly having to do with bringing out details in people so they didn’t block up on the blacks. Then for the downsized images I had to select a different algorithm so it didn’t sharpen the images because it would introduce more noise into the images. Of course this wasn’t thought of until 4 images in so I had to go back to the full resolution and then resize with the correct algorithm. Plus I tried to force a few images until I realized they weren’t going to cut it so I just deleted them and moved on.

The Nikon D810 isn’t a forgiving camera. If you make a mistake in shooting it’s going to let you know about it in post processing. It’s going to be a steep learning curve with this camera. Still, I am loving it and what it can do.

PS – There are rumors my reflection is in one of these images. I despise having my picture taken even if I am the one inadvertently doing it.

Enjoy.

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Tulips Anyone?

I had a request for some flowers so I figured why not get out and shoot some while the weather was reasonable. Little did I know I would venture out to a large regional park that was celebrating an extended Earth Day. The hippie drumming circle was only mildly annoying. I did think of South Park and how to save the town they had to play Slayer to get rid of the hippie infestation. It was tempting considering I have Slayer’s Repentless album on my phone. What put me over the edge was the acoustic duo that were playing Earth Day songs. I did hear them say they were going to do a song called Sweet Beet and I was getting excited thinking it might be a Earth Day version of Black Sabbath’s Sweet Leaf (figure that one out). Sadly it wasn’t. It was then I started to pack up the gear.

For inquiring minds on where I encountered all this Earth Day goodness and hippies I was at Brookside Gardens in Silver Spring, Maryland. I had never been there before and it’s my new local park. I would shoot before at Meadowlark Gardens in Fairfax, Virginia. I think without the Earth Day stuff it would not have been bad and I did get a lot of good shots. I will likely be back when it quieter.

I took the Nikon D810 out with the Sigma 24-105 Art out. I also had the Nikon 70-200 2.8 (I thought it was a 4.0 so go me!) and a 50mm 1.8. I kept the 24-105 on the entire time and was very pleased with how it performed. As for the the camera itself there is a huge learning curve on it but the more I use it the more I am happy I bought it. The resolution on these images is amazing. I won’t even talk about the dynamic range on it either. I am just very pleased with what I have produced with it so far. Once I link to the high resolution of these images I strongly recommend looking at them.

Full resolution 1.
Full resolution 2.
Full resolution 3.
Full resolution 4.
Full resolution 5.

Enjoy.

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Sky Lights

Just some random images I shot while I was out and about with my camera where I live. One is the a small outdoor mall area and the other is an alley between a Tex Mex restaurant and the Apple store.

For the mall one I went low key just for fun and did a lot of playing around with it to get it right. The alley was left alone more or less because I just really like the color contrast. While I edit the images the day before I spent a lot of quality time bonding with my couch watching football which included my team, Everton losing to Manchester United I wasn’t going to spend a lot of time editing. So these images fit the current editing mood.

Full resolution of image 1.

Full resolution of image 2.

Enjoy.

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Bridge Over A River Of Light

This is another image I shot while I was in Washington DC for work. Again, the road below is Rock Creek Parkway and I have no idea what the other bridge is nor the street. My sense of direction is what you call lacking. A friend of mine commented that my new tattoo which is of a compass likely won’t help me much. I have such kind and supporting friends. Not.

This image is a composite of two images. They just happened to be at different exposures so I edited them for one darker than the other then did a blend in Photoshop. Once I got the various pieces of the two photos I wanted it was time to start playing with light. A lot of dodging and burning in the image to get the trees exposed to where I wanted them. Then it was filter time. I used Macphun’s Intensify to mask in more bits I wanted. Once I had that it was time for Nik’s Color Efex to bring the tones to something more natural. After that I ran Nik’s Sharpening filter just as a change of pace. I highly recommend looking at the full resolution image which has Nik’s Sharpening applied to it. I don’t sharpen the image that I post here simply because I decrease the image size and that has its own sharpening applied to it. So to do sharpening after the resize was causing weird sharpening halos. Hence, the full resolution is where the magic happens. I post the smaller one here for most people.

Full resolution.

Enjoy.

Bridge Over A River Of Light

In The Evening

In the evening, When the day is done
I’m looking for a woman, but the girl don’t come
So don’t let her, Play you for a fool
She don’t show no pity baby, she don’t make no rules

In The Evening – Led Zeppelin

No idea why the title popped in my head other than I knew the Led Zeppelin song that started with it. Seemed to fit the image so I went with it.

I shot this in March while standing on a bridge over Rock Creek Parkway in Washington DC. I almost forgot about it but I figured what the hell and give it the college try and see what I came out with. Plus I’m a sucker for light trails.

I have no idea how I ended up with the final image. I lost count of the number of layer masks that were used and the various filters that I was using to get to it. I can say I basically edited the image in two parts. The sky and ground areas were effectively two separate portions when it came to editing. Thats why I lost count of the layer masks. In the end I could live with it so I said good enough!

Full resolution.

Enjoy.

In The Evening