Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advent Window - St. Bridget's Church

This is another of the twelve stained glass windows, each representing an event from the liturgical calendar.

I thought I would post this photo since it's appropriate for the current season.This description from church documents: 

"The ruins indicate darkness and desolation on earth before the birth of Christ; humanity longs for salvation. The Greek letters in a radiating sun, surrounded by brilliant rays, indicate the words, "Life and Light" symbolizing the Messianic Promise, and indicate that new life through the heralded birth of Christ is to be brought to mankind."


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

My Generation

I was in the doctor's office a while back and noticed these two magazines  on an end table.  The two titles, stacked the way they were, seemed to represent my generation.  

The photo has been sitting on my hard drive for a while.  I intended to post it back when I took it, but it slipped my mind.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Stained Glass Window - St. Bridget's Church

This is the "Corpus Christi" window from St. Bridget's Church.  It is one of twelve windows, each representing an event from the liturgical calendar.

This description from church documents: "This symbol seeks to illustrate the vineyard of the Church. The center illustrates the wine press, also indicating the altar on which the transition of the wine into the Blood of Christ takes place. The mystical wine streams for us from the altar in the Mass and provides a continuous stream of heavenly grace to the faithful."

I've returned to the church several times to photograph the windows, altars, and many, many details. A couple of additional trips may be necessary, but most of the photography is complete.  Now, the effort of turning the photos into finished work begins.


Friday, November 16, 2012

New Bike - Old Market - Black and White

This is a big departure from my usual photos.  I very seldom do anything in black and white.  I posted the color version on October 22.
 This photo just seemed to have the right tonality for a black and white treatment.  Since I usually shoot color, I don't have any special software for black and white conversion.  Everything was done in Lightroom 4.  Most of the work was done in the Basic panel but there was a little tweaking done in the HSL/Color/BW panel.

I like the way it turned out, but I'm not sure if I prefer the color or the black and white version.


Thursday, November 08, 2012

Lunch - Rained Out

This is the time of year when, in many parts of the country, the wisdom of devoting space to outdoor seating at restaurants becomes questionable.

That aside, I like the addition of the puddles and reflections to the otherwise strong lines and patterns in this photo.


Monday, November 05, 2012

Stone Decorations

Most of the old downtown buildings have simple openings in the brickwork for the wooden window frames.  A few have decorative stonework or castings.  This old building is now filled with restaurants, offices and apartments, but the stonework and castings make it stand out as something special.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Bridge Parking

It's unusual to find a bridge with curbside parking.  Not only does this bridge have parking, but it's very congested.

Every time I drive over this bridge I think about a driver throwing their door open into my path.  I must not be alone with that thought, most of the approaching cars are edging over the line.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Union Outfitting Co.- The Old Market

At one time the buildings in the Old Market area of Omaha, Nebraska were filled with factories, warehouses and manufacturer's of many different products.   Shopping and Restaurants now occupy the street level.  The upper levels of many buildings have been turned into apartments and condos.

The color of the sunlight on this building contrasting against the blue sky caught my attention.  It is surprising how well the old painted signs have survived decades of weather.

Monday, October 22, 2012

New Bike in the Old Market

Shape, color and shadow are what interest me in this photo.  The round wheels and bike rack contrast with the square windows and rectangular doors.  The shadow of the bike gives a hint about the time of day and the splash of bright color on the right contrasts with the muted colors in the remainder of the photo.

This is another photo from the 2012 Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk in the Old Market district of Omaha, NE.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Back Seat Driver

Dog, alone in the back seat, looking regal.  Lone driver in front.  Possibly the dog chauffuer?

Photo taken during the 2012 Kelby Worldwide Photowalk.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Farmer's Market - Bright Red Radishes!

Saturday was the last day of the season for the Downtown Farmer's Market. It looks like this woman was using her last chance to stock up. Taken in the Old Market district of Omaha, Ne.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

City Apartment Garden

What do you do when you live in a small downtown apartment and your thumb turns green?  You buy a few pots and put them on the fire escape.

This is a photo from the 2012 Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk in the Old Market district of Omaha, Nebraska. More photos here.


Monday, October 01, 2012

Almost Fall Park Pano

Saturday morning I noticed that the leaves on the trees in my back yard were starting to turn.  I though I'd take a trip to a nearby park to see if I could catch a little Fall color.  That's what I found. very little Fall color.  Only a few trees had started to turn.  On the plus side, the weather was nice and it was a pleasant way to spend an hour or so.
You can see a few more photos from the day are here.


Monday, September 10, 2012

The Church Project Continues

A few months ago I started photographing St. Bridget's Church.  Photographing the church, the stained glass windows, the altars and some of the more significant statuary has turned into a larger project than expected.

After the first visit I decided to compile a set of the images into a book to make them easier to share with friends and family.  That changed the nature of the project, increasing the number of images needed for illustration.

After three visits it looks like I'm "almost" half finished with the photography.  There are many stained glass windows and other items that are yet to be photographed.  Some photos will need to be re-shot at better angles or different lighting conditions.  A number of the photos can't be taken until later in the year when the light comes from a better direction.

I've put a few sample images here.  My intention is to finish with the photography before the end of the year.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Photo Night at Omaha Stormchasers

A few members of the Omaha Camera Club spent Saturday evening at Werner Park.

I spent much of the night experimenting with panoramas and other wide format shots.  I also took a few shots of the fireworks after the game.

More photos of the game and fireworks here.


Monday, July 09, 2012

St. Bridget's Church from the Choir Loft

Over the weekend I started experimenting with Nik's new HDR Efex Pro 2.  It looks like it is much easier to achieve more realistic results and get closer to a finished image before returning to Lightroom.

This is another test image from my St. Bridget's Church project.  Click here to see a higher resolution version of this image.


Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Top 5 Lessons Learned from the "Print-a-Day for 30 Days" Project

In February I redesigned most of my workflow around Lightroom 4.  The only thing remaining was to become much more familiar with the Lightroom’s print module.   Coincidentally, Mike Johnston of “The Online Photographer” blog recommended making one print every day for 90 days to improve your printing skills.   I decided to follow a shortened version of his plan with the goal of getting more familiar with Lightroom 4 and, maybe, improving my printing skills in the process.

For the last 30 days I've made a new print every day and posted the result.  I've learned (or have been reminded of) a lot along the way, but here are the five things that stand out.

1 – The 2012 process engine in Lightroom 4 is much better at pulling detail from raw files.  It also seems there are subtle improvements in color rendition.  I reprinted several older photos that had been processed with the 2003 and 2010 versions of the process engine.  Every one of them was improved just by rendering with the 2012 version.  This alone would be a reason to upgrade to the most recent version of Lightroom.

2 – No matter how well your monitor and printer are profiled and calibrated, you will still need to make test prints.  Many prints may be fine on the first try, however, the fundamental differences between front-lit prints and back-lit screens will mean, sometimes, the only way to achieve your desired results will require a test print or two.

3 – The printer inks are capable of printing a wider range of blues and greens than the monitor can display.  Be careful when boosting blue skies. What looks good on the screen may end up as an electric blue sky.  This is most likely due to the differences in color spaces used by the monitor (sRGB) and printer (Adobe1998.) That topic is way too deep for this list. I finally figured out that using the soft-proofing gamut warning helped avoid the problem.
4 – I added a vignette to some of the photos.  The characteristics of the vignette were a bit different on paper.  It seemed a bit darker and less subtle than on the screen.  I have a feeling this varies a bit with paper types.  Only one paper was used during the 30 day project so this is something left for future experimenting.

5 – The Printer wants to be regularly used.  I had been setting aside images and printing in batches.  Starting the printer after it hadn't been used for a few weeks usually required one or two cleaning cycles to get things smoothly flowing again.  There is nothing magic about a cleaning cycle.  The printer flushes the lines and nozzles with ink, the most expensive liquid on the planet.
In 30 days of printing one print per day I didn't experience a single cleaning cycle.  The printer used much less ink than I expected.  Most of the ink tanks were close to full at the start.  All but two are still, at least, half-full.  Over the length of the project, only the grey, green and red ink tanks were replaced.  From now on I’ll print, at minimum, a nozzle check sheet every day.  Over the long haul, I suspect I’ll use much less ink.

At project’s end, I feel like I’m familiar enough with Lightroom’s printing module to say it’s now my preferred way to make prints.


Monday, July 02, 2012

Garden Structure - Print-a-Day-30

This is number 30 in the series "Print-a-Day for 30 Days."

This is a roof detail from a structure at the local botanical gardens.

This photo is loaded with detail.  The end and side grain pattern in the wood, even the highlights are full of small detail.  There are no broad swaths of pure color in the photo.

It was not terribly difficult to print the photo.  The most difficult part was deciding when to stop tweaking Lightroom's highlight and shadow controls.  There's actually a lot of latitude in this image and it could be rendered several different ways.  In the end, you just have to stop playing and print something.

This is where I decided to stop, both for this print and the 30 day project.  It has been a good learning experience.  I'll post a wrap-up tomorrow.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Farmer's Market - Print-a-Day-26 thru 29

These are numbers 26-29 in the series "Print-a-Day for 30 Days.
This late in the project, there wasn't anything particularly new or different that came up during the printing process.  It was interesting, that after printing the tomatoes and peppers, the red ink level had dropped by about a third of a tank.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Falling Leaves - Print-a-Day-25

This is number 25 in the series "Print-a-Day for 30 Days."

Yesterday was the hottest day of the summer and we are months away from falling leaves.  I've always liked this photo because of the tree with colorful leaves and the bright blue sky showing through its bare neighbor.

The 2012 version of the Lightroom 4 process engine pulled significantly more detail and color contrast from this image than the older version that was used when I shot the photo in 2008.  If you haven't revisited some of your favorite older photos with the new version of the software, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

I decreased the intensity of blue sky for the print version of this photo.  One of the lessons learned from this 30 project is the screen is not capable of displaying all the blue tones that the printer is capable of printing.  Boosting the sky to look great on the screen can lead to electric blue, unnatural skies in the print.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

November Sunrise - Print-a-Day-24

This is number 24 in the series "Print-a-Day for 30 Days."

On my way to work I would often see a great sunrise.  This is one of the best.  I pulled off the highway so I could take this photo.

It makes a nice print.  I may frame this one.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Photographer - Print-a-Day-23

This is number 23 in the series "Print-a-Day for 30 Days."

You might have to be a photographer to appreciate this photo.  For most people, I'm sure the idea of setting up a tripod to take a picture of an alley may seem a bit odd.  The juxtaposition of extreme care and dumpy subject makes me smile.

The photo didn't require anything special for print.  It was an exercise in using a couple of the newer tools in Photoshop 6.    The original photo was a quick snapshot taken with a very wide angle lens that happened to be on the camera at the time.  The perspective was a mess, and there was a lot of distortion that was corrected with the new wide angle tool.  If you examine the brick pattern on the lower right, you'll see a small mis-match left over from the removal of a tree by one of the content-aware tools.

It was fun experimenting with this one and it was a good learning experience.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Burlington Window - Print-a-Day-22

This is number 22 in the series "Print-a-Day for 30 Days."

I have several photos of the Burlington building, but this detail may be my favorite.  This photo doesn't reach out and grab your attention, but you can get lost in the detail.  The "black and white in color" aspect seems to lend depth to the simple subject.

Printing this photo is all about maintaining the detail in both the shadows and highlights.  It is important to make sure the printer or process doesn't introduce an inaccurate color cast.  There is no natural color in the photo to mask the inaccuracy.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Public Sculpture - Print-a-Day-21

This is number 21 in the series "Print-a-Day for 30 Days."

This is a sculpture located in downtown Omaha.  I wonder if the artist considers the graffiti as a defacement or if it was expected as part of a public living art project?

I selected this photo for the printing project because of the two strong colors and the gradient in the sky.  By the way, even though the photo was taken in bright sunlight, fill flash was needed to light the graffiti.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Burlington Building Reflection - Print-a-Day-20

This is number 20 in the series "Print-a-Day for 30 Days."

An exterior shot of the Burlington Building.  You saw an interior detail in Print-a-Day-3.   This is a beautiful old building with a lot of interesting detail inside and out.

Earlier photos in this series taught me that vivid blue skies can get even more vivid in the print.  As a result, I decreased the sky saturation and changed the hue slightly.  This version is unmodified.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

All Natural - Print-a-Day-19

This is number 19 in the series "Print-a-Day for 30 Days."

I took this photo in 2009.  The contrast between sun and deep shadow was what originally drew my eye.  Lightroom 4's new process engine brings much more detail out of the shadow areas and this actually made a very nice print.

I'll warn you now, if your monitor is not properly adjusted you're not going to see the detail in the photo.  If it's too bright (probably) the highlights will be washed out.  If it's too dim (unlikely) you won't see the rich detail in the shadow areas.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sand and Sneakers - Print-a-Day-18

This is number 18 in the series "Print-a-Day for 30 Days."

The annual Sand in the City competition was just a few weeks ago.  Teams of volunteers from local businesses compete to build the best sand sculpture in an effort to raise funds for a local charity.

A couple of tons of sand are dumped into a big pile to give the kids a place to play.  The sand pile is surrounded by little pairs of shoes.

This print was selected for the print project because of the detail in the shadows and the blue shoe laces.  The printer can produce a wider range of blues than can be seen on the screen.  I was curious to see how the laces would reproduce on paper.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Transmission Gear - Print-a-Day-17

This is number 17 in the series "Print-a-Day for 30 Days."

This is not one of my favorite photos.  I selected it for the printing project for two reasons.  There is a lot of detail in the deeper shadows and there are a couple of unnaturally bright colors.  I was curious to see how that would translate on paper.

After a quite a bit of experimenting in Lightroom, the best I can say is the final print is not horrible.  If I liked the content of the photo, I would be OK with the print.  As it stands, it was a good exercise for the printing project.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Anniversary - Print-a-Day-16

This is number 16 in the series "Print-a-Day for 30 Days."

This is my cousin and her husband on their 24th wedding anniversary.  They're watching a video of their family history that was put together, as a surprise,  by their daughters.

This is, technically, a pretty bad photo.  We were sitting in a slightly darkened room, there is a big bright spot on the window shades, the ISO went way too high and the original photo is full of noise.  It's even slightly out of focus.  I was close to tossing it.

I'd rather the photo was technically better, but the expressions are just too good.  This image captures the feeling of that moment and will always be one of my favorites.

Lightroom helped save the photo.  The highlights were subdued and the shadows were increased.  Noise reduction was applied with a pretty heavy hand.  That smooths the skin a little more than I'd like. (I'm sure my cousin won't complain.)  A vignette helps to darken the window light.  Her hair and glasses were made a bit sharper with the adjustment brush.

And what do you know, when you look at the final 8x10 print from a normal viewing distance, it turns out to be a pretty good photo.  Not great, but it'll do.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Brandeis Building - Print-a-Day-15

This is number 15 in the series "Print-a-Day for 30 Days."

The Brandeis Building was built in downtown Omaha in1906.  It was the home of a large department store chain  for several decades.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in early eighties.  The exterior has been restored and the interior has been converted to condos, office and retail space.

I selected this detail shot for the printing project because of the shadow over the window, the details in the window blinds and stone work, and the reflections of the much newer building in the window.

This photo certainly is no work of art, but it does record a different form of art that we don't see in modern buildings.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Downtown Buildings - Print-a-Day-14

This is number 14 in the series "Print-a-Day for 30 Days."

It's been posted before. It was even used as wallpaper on my laptop for a while. I selected this photo for the project just because I like it.  No technical reasons. I just like the way it looks and I wanted a print of it.

There was no particular difficulty in printing.  I didn't do anything special.  I like the photo and I like the way it printed.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Street Musician - Print-a-Day-13

This is number 13 in the series "Print-a-Day for 30 Days."

There are quite a few musicians that perform at the open air farmer's markets.    This photo of a young violinist is one of my favorites.

I decided to include it in the print-a-day project because of the big areas of blue sky.  In the past, with other printers, I've had trouble with this type of gradient.  There can also be an issue with blue and cyan.  The representation of this part of the color space can differ between monitor and paper.

I added the vignette to help define the border.  I had not felt that was necessary until I saw the printed version.  Now that I've seen it, I prefer the version with the vignette.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Stalking the Swans - Print-a-Day-12

This is number 12 in the  series "Print a Day for 30 Days."

Nothing special here.  It's just a shot of one of the other photographers from a past photo walk.

I selected this image for the printing project because of the shadows on the stone wall.  The detail in the stone face depends on capturing the range of highlights and shadows.  It doesn't need to be perfect, but the variations need to be smooth.  If the shadows block up or the highlights are overblown, all the detail is lost.  I've been using glossy paper for this project and the print turned out just fine.

Anyone think this might make a good puzzle?  There are services that turn photos into puzzles.  I haven't put a puzzle together for years, but that's what I thought of when I saw the wall.


Friday, June 08, 2012

Into the Light - Print-a-Day-11

This is number 11 in the series "Print-a-Day for 30 Days."

I was in the process of taking this photo, without the woman, as an example of leading lines.  The woman just happened to be walking through the park (and through my photo.)  Even though it wasn't planned, I prefer this version.

I picked this photo for the printing project specifically because of the difference between the highlights and shadows.  There is detail in both extremes.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

City Waterfall - Print-a-Day-10

This is number 10 in the series "Print-a-Day for 30 Days"

I'm not sure why this photo appeals to me.  It doesn't seem to be anything special.  The shadow on the lower left is important, perhaps because it gives a hint about the time of day.  There's not much going on, but there is a lot of movement in the water.  Whatever the reason, I keep coming back to it.  It may eventually find a place on the wall.

Processing the image for printing was a bit different than for the screen.  It was necessary to open up the shadow area a bit, else the detail would be lost.  After the 30 day project is over, I'll come back to this print and experiment with different papers.


Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Dual Reflections - Print-a-Day-9

This is number 9 in the series "Print-a-Day for 30 Days"

This is one half of a pair of buildings in downtown Omaha called the Twin Towers.

When you first look at this photo it appears that the other half of the pair is simply being reflected in the windows.  On closer examination you see two reflections.  The first is the image of the second building in the windows.  The brighter, diagonal is the light being reflected onto the brickwork from the other building's windows.

This is one of those images that is much better when printed large.  The reflections and the brick detail are what make the image.  Click on the image to see it as big as your screen will allow.

Printing this photo wasn't difficult.  I boosted the sharpening in the print version to enhance the detail in the bricks.


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Omaha World-Herald - Print-a-Day-8

This is number 8 in the series "Print a Day for 30 Days."

The strong contrast and diagonal lines in this photo are what make it interesting to me.  I don't have any particular connection to the building or it's occupant.  I just find it graphically interesting.

The green street sign and the blue sky were the only challenging parts of this print.  For me, this was an example of trying to make a print that looked right, rather than accurate.


Monday, June 04, 2012

Power Drive - Print-a-Day-7

This is number 7 in the series "Print-a-Day for 30 Days."

This photo was posted shortly after the 2012 Power Drive competition.

When I processed this photo I added a vignette to help the eye stay focused on the cars.  I'm finding, when printing, the gradient in the print has a slightly different character than it does on the screen.

Again, if you're very critical about results, it looks as though there is no way around making test prints.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Duck - Print-a-Day-6

This is number six in the series "Print a Day for 30 Days."

This duck is a visitor to a small pond in a park near my home.

The reflections on the pond surface made this one of the more challenging prints so far.  Printers generally have difficulty with some of the hues in the blue-green area.   There is a lot of subtle detail in the pond surface that relies on these specific colors.

It's the first print that had very significant differences in the settings between the screen and print versions.  In the end, the print version looks fine, but my skills haven't quite developed to the point where I can achieve the depth that is seen on the screen.  I've flagged this image for more work in the future.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Window Washers - Print-a-Day-5

This is number 5 in the series "Print a Day for 30 Days"

The Woodman of the World building is the second tallest building in Omaha. These guys are out there a lot. In this photo they're somewhere near the 17th floor. Whenever I caught sight of them in action I was glad I had an inside job.

Printing this photo was very much about the paper stock. The color of the paper influences the color of the highlights. As I've said before, Lightroom's soft-proof can only get you close. If you have a specific result in mind, you'll need to select your paper stock carefully and make test prints.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Portrait - Print-a-Day-4

Number 4 in the "Print-a-Day-for-30-Days" project.

This is my grandson in one of the few moments where he is standing still. I caught him in the window light while he was on his way out to play with friends.

This was the easiest photo to print, so far. Everything seemed to fall well within the capabilities of the printer and nothing special needed to be done.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Burlington Building - Print-a-Day-3

Mike Johnston of the Online Photographer suggested that you may improve your printing skills by printing a different photo every day, for 30 days.  This is the third photo in the series.

This is a detail from the interior courtyard of The Burlington Building.  Originally built is 1879 as the headquarters for the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad, this building has been remodeled several times, and is now general office space.

A skylight provides most of the light to the atrium.  It's supplemented by several electric globes.  This extremely high contrast lighting was more difficult to photograph than to print.  The HDR treatment compressed the high contrast range into a relatively flat, easier to print image.


Friday, May 25, 2012

St. Bridget's Church - Print-a-Day 2

Day 2 of the Print-a-Day-for-30-days experiment is this photo of two of the altars in St. Bridget's church. 

This is another test shot from the same church in yesterday's photo. Photographing the church will be a longer term project for this year.

Given all of the linen and marble in the photo you might think setting the white balance would be easy. In this photo, the perception of white is more important than a technically correct white. In a print, the color of the paper has an effect on the "whiteness" in the photo.

Lightroom can help with this if you've calibrated your monitor and have accurate profiles for the ink and paper you've chosen.  But the process isn't perfect.  A simulation on a monitor will never perfectly match a print.  So, there isn't any substitute for a test print.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

St. Bridget's Church - Print-a-Day 1

A few days ago, Mike Johnston of The Online Photographer suggested that you may improve your printing skills by printing a different photo every day, for 30 days.

Today is my seventh day into the project and I must admit that I'm getting more comfortable with printing.  My skills may or may not be improving but I've learned a lot about printing through Lightroom 4.

Now that I have a 7 day cushion I'll post screen versions of the photos I've selected for prints.
St. Bridget's is the beautiful old church I attended during my grade school and high school years. I'll be returning over the next few weeks to get additional photos. This is one of the initial test shots.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Omaha Union Station

At one time this was Omaha Union Station.  Opening in 1931, this was the terminal for every passenger railroad except the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy. Burlington had their own station, connected via skywalk, nearby.

After passenger rail service ended in 1971, the station was unused and had become very run down. It has since been restored and given new life as the Durham Museum.  In addition to the many travelling exhibits, the Durham has many permanent exhibits on railroad and Omaha history.

This is the main hall where people would buy tickets and wait for their trains.  The Durham houses thousands of items related to Omaha and railroad history, but the station itself is counted as the museum's largest artifact.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Power Drive 2012

Saturday was the Power Drive 2012 Final competition.  Teams of high school kids spent the last year designing and building electric cars and Saturday they finally got a chance to see how their creations performed.

It was a long day.  It started at 7 AM with check-in, safety inspections and performance trials for braking and maneuverability.  Then, there were three races that each lasted about an hour.

You can find several more photos here.

I've enjoyed photographing this event for the last couple of years and look forward to doing it again in the future.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Play Ball

I finally made it to one of my grandson's baseball games.  He's moved up from T-ball.  The coach still pitches this year, but no tees.  The boys move to a different position every inning.
It's a lot of fun to watch.  They are starting to figure out the game and there were a few exciting plays. There would probably be more, but they still need to develop their batting skills.

More photos here.