Monday, November 18, 2013

Pick Up Your Toys

Hard Working Crew on a Cold, Windy Day.
Every kid gets told to put away their toys when they are through playing with them. I guess it even happens in the adult world.

Well, I'm sure they didn't think of it as "playing." It looked much more like hard work.

These guys are removing the train tracks from a short bridge near the parking lot of the Nebraska Furniture Mart. An older industrial area is being converted to retail space and the train tracks are in the way.

They were earning their pay. It was a very cold, windy day. It didn't look like fun. It looked like the job would take a while, they were moving one or two ties at time to the back of a large truck.

I snapped this photo with my phone from the NFM parking lot while sitting comfortably in my heated car.

gs

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sidetracked

These hopper cars are about 1" tall.


While I was in the hobby shop buying a circle of track to go around the Christmas tree I spotted these little N-scale coal hopper cars.

They are painted and lettered for our local power company. Since I had worked there for so many years it would have been wrong not to buy a couple. I only bought two, even though there were several available, each with different road numbers. I rationalized the purchase by telling myself that these little trains would make great subjects for macro photography.

Taking a quick photo of that exquisite little lettering for this article was interesting. The camera (yeah, it was my phone) was only about 4" from the car sides. Even so, it's a fairly severe crop of the original image. Given that the photo was taken with the built in flash of the phone, it's not horrible.

So why did I use the phone? It was in my pocket and I didn't want to take the time to set up a tripod or lights for a larger camera. Think of this photo as a sketch. Artists and designers often make pencil sketches of their ideas before committing time to a bigger project. In this case, setting up the camera, tripod and lighting would take a while. "Sketching" several ideas with the phone (or a small compact camera) is quick and involves little setup time. There are obvious differences in lens focal length, minimum focusing distances and lighting angles. But, it's a quick way to test a concept. It's a technique I've used quite often in the early stages of projects.

GS

Monday, November 04, 2013

Working High

I'm not sure what these guys were doing, but the job must have been made more difficult because of the height.

The base of that lift truck is about 4 stories lower than you see in the photo. It's in an alley behind the parking garage.

In the detail photo you can see the fellow on the lift passing what looks like a pipe to the fellow on the roof.

This all took place several years ago and I never did hear what they were doing. It must have been necessary, you don't go through that much trouble on a whim.

The original photos aren't very good. they were taken through an office window with an old compact camera. The sun had not fully risen and the photo was a bit dark and very noisy.

I used Lightroom to make it a bit lighter, reduce the noise and highlight the two workers. L
ightroom couldn't do anything about the dirty window that I shot through.

Like so many of my photos, these are not fine art, I'm glad a took a minute to make a couple of snapshots to remind me of the unusual activity of the day.

gs

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Christmas Train

A small switch engine with the Christmas Train in tow.
I decided to run a train around the base of a small Christmas tree this year. Rather than wait until the Christmas Rush, I stopped by a local hobby shop and picked up enough track to make a small circle of the appropriate size this weekend. The newer tracks are much nicer than what we had when I was kid. The solid roadbed is built-in and the connectors actually hold the track firmly together. It went together quickly and I spent a few minutes "testing" the whole setup. It's going to work very well.

While I had a moving target I decided to shoot a few short video clips. I hadn't used the video editor in Photoshop CC yet and this looked like a good chance to give it a try. Normally, it takes a while to learn something new in Photoshop, but this was unusually straight forward.. Here is a combination of three clips from the iPhone. (For a higher resolution version that opens in a new window,  click here.)


video


Notice how the brightness changes as the white car goes by. That is the iPhone auto-exposure system reacting to the sudden change. The shakes have nothing to do with the phone. That was me trying to hold things steady without a mini-tripod.

Not great art and nothing to write home about, but it only took a few minutes to put together. I'm pleased enough with the simple video tools in Photoshop CC that I won't be upgrading my video editing software. Now I guess I'll go back and read the manual.

GS

Monday, October 21, 2013

Tailgating?

September, 2005
I'm not sure if this guy was heading to the game or just wanted to be prepared for a grill emergency.

This fellow was in front of me for about a mile. Eventually, we stopped at a red light and I pulled the camera out of the glove box. (2005 again, pre-cell phone cameras) The lights turned green just as I snapped the shutter.

The Lightroom spot removal tool works for more than just spots. It didn't do a horrible job of removing the license plate number. 

-gs-

Monday, October 14, 2013

Over Two Billionaires Served...

Here's one from 2005 I almost forgot about.

As the story is told, both Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are bridge players. Gates was in town for a tournament and the two billionaires decided to stop by this restaurant for lunch. Take that MacD.

Petrow's seems to be doing well. They've been around for over 50 years but they're not stuck in the past. The building has been remodeled since this photo was taken. Now you can order on-line and they even have an app for your phone.

Grab shots like this were the reason I always carried a camera. It would be a couple of years before the first iPhone was released and camera phones of the time were pretty bad. These days I'm more like everyone else and just use my camera phone.

gs

Monday, October 07, 2013

Signs of Winter

Building a Christmas Tree
Like they say on HBO, "Winter Is Coming." With wind, rain and an overnight low in the 30s I actually turned on the furnace yesterday.

I was at local shopping center last week and snapped this photo of the Christmas tree being installed. I guess if the Halloween candy hits the store shelves before Labor Day it only follows that the Christmas decorations go up before Halloween.

This is a fairly severe crop from the center of a cell phone photo, so the quality is less than great. Lightroom did a fair job of removing the noise, but you can still see it if you look at the full screen version. With a bit more work I suppose this photo could actually look pretty good. But, in this case a snapshot isn't worth the trouble.

gs

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Pond in the Shade

Omaha - Henry Doorly Zoo
A shaft of light pierces the trees and illuminates a small spot near a pond at the zoo.

This is a photo I took several years ago with an early digital camera. The difference between the bright and shaded areas is quite large. The camera did a pretty good job of recording everything given the limited capabilities of cameras from that time period.

I recently reprocessed the image with Lightroom 5. It did a better job of teasing out more detail than previous versions of software. Only the brightest highlights of the sun shining on the birds have lost detail and the remainder of the photo looks much better than the original conversion. The detail in the shadows is significantly improved.

If you have older raw files you may want to pick a few of the special photos and try reprocessing them in more recent software. You may find the camera captured more information than you thought.

gs

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sunrise

View from the Breakfast Table

For many years I enjoyed watching the sun rise as I drove to the office. Now that I work from home I enjoy watching sunrise even more.

I don't miss the morning rush to get out the door in time to beat the traffic. Mornings now progress at a slower, more natural pace with time to enjoy breakfast and plan the day.


Yesterday was the first day of Autumn. The leaves will soon start to change color and drop from the branches. The days are growing shorter. As we move towards Winter the sun will rise later and, for a while, breakfast will take place under artificial light.

gs

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Last Drop...

December, 2001
The container was almost empty so I gave it to my granddaughter. I guess it was similar to getting to lick the spoon after it's used to mix cake batter. At any rate, she was enthusiastic about finishing the last few drops of ice cream that were clinging to the sides of the container.

Technically, there are a lot of things wrong with this photo. It's a little overexposed. The bright towels in the upper left draw your eye away from the main subject. The zoom lens was set too wide, making her hand look almost as big as her head. The big cup in the foreground is distracting.

In this case the overexposure was fixed after the fact and the distracting bright background and cup were slightly minimized with a vignette. Not much can be done about the perspective. That's the type of thing you need to think about before taking the photo.

Sometimes you just grab the camera and shoot. I think that may be real meaning of "snapshot."

gs

Monday, September 09, 2013

What's Your Next Move?

Learning the rules of chess. November, 2001
Here's my grandson learning how to play chess from his Uncle. It looks, to me, like he's really paying attention.

This is just a snapshot, certainly not anything that would be mistaken for art. Casual snapshots can benefit from a little Lightroom help, too.

The background of this photo was pretty distracting. There were a couple of books with very busy cover patterns. They were magnets for your eyes, drawing your attention away from the great expression on the budding chess master's face. After a few strokes of Lightroom's adjustment brush it's a lot easier to concentrate on the actual subject of the photo.

-gs-




Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Football in the Front Yard

Front Yard Football, October 2001
College Football started this weekend and the Pros will transition from preseason games to the real thing any day now. Kids have been getting into the swing of things in neighborhoods all over  the country. 

The Front Yard Football rules aren't very specific, but little girls don't need a lot of rules. They are born with the knowledge that they need to steal their big brother's football. 


October, 2013
In the lead photo the leaves on the ground and the warm colors give the feel of Autumn. This photo was scanned from a negative that was shot back in 2001.

The Kids are a little older now. I got them together again last weekend for a group photo with their little brother. He wasn't born until a few years after that Front Yard football game.

I love the expressions on the kids faces in both of the photos.

-gs-

Monday, August 26, 2013

Signs of Fall

Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari, 2001
Baseball is wrapping up the last couple of dozen games before the playoffs. The first college football game is Saturday. Temperatures are in the 90's, but after this little heat wave I think Summer is on the way out.

Here are a few of the residents of the nearby drive-through safari park. They look pretty spectacular toward the end of the season. The park closes to the public in October and they won't have to put up with traffic until Spring.

gs

Monday, August 19, 2013

Stars of the Pond


Late in October of 2001 I took a small, point-and-shoot film camera to the duck pond for a few test shots. Back then, there were a lot of ducks and geese that were always willing to hang around and pose for just a few slices of bread. The picturesque little pond has been expanded and surrounded with a wide concrete sidewalk. It's a much more functional place for people to walk and jog, but nowhere near as photogenic. Most of the waterfowl have moved away to more natural habitat.
This photo has become one of my favorites. It's actually an accident. I can take credit for the composition, but the stars and dark contrast of the white feathers against the water are accidental side effect of the camera design.

The bright white birds and reflection on the water tricked the camera's automatic exposure system into thinking the scene was very bright. In these situations most cameras will underexpose, making the photo dark. The stars result from the camera s​electing a very small aperture. I was surprised when I picked up the film from the lab, but I liked it.

Until now, I haven't done much with the photo because the original negative is rather noisy. Lightroom 5 cleaned it up fairly well. It will never be good enough for extreme enlargement, but it will make a nice medium size print.

-gs-

Monday, August 12, 2013

I'm Tired of This Game...

Taking a break during a soccer game.


Sports with little kids are fun to watch for all kinds of reasons. This little girl decided to take a break in the middle of the game. I guess she figured if she couldn't see everyone else they couldn't see her. Too bad that doesn't work. I can think of a lot of meetings where it would have come in handy.

Scanned from an old Kodak Portra negative shot in 2001.​

gs

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Halloween Candy and School Supplies

Halloween Candy, waiting on the shelf.


I was at the grocery store yesterday and was surprised to find one aisle full of Halloween candy. Isn't it a little early? School doesn't start for a week, and labor day is almost a month away.



-gs-

Monday, August 05, 2013

Waterfight!

Payback can be cold and wet.
After being being the target of my grandson's super-soaker all afternoon, my son decided to retaliate. They were both having a lot of fun. This photo was taken over 10 years ago and my grandson (my son's nephew) is now over six feet tall. These days, it's hard to imagine anyone chasing him with a bucket of water.

This has always been one of my favorite photos because it captures the spirit of the moment so well. Technically, it's far from perfect. There was no planning involved. It was a lucky snapshot. I missed the focus and the original is underexposed. This version was resurrected from a significantly faded old transparency with the help of Lightroom 5. So I'll finally be able to make a print. With all of it's technical deficiencies, I've added this photo to the set of examples I use in workshops. It holds a critical lesson for photographers.

As important as all of the technical details of photography may be, content rules. If the image doesn't convey the emotion, the gesture, the memory, the feeling of the day, then the sharpness of the focus or the accuracy of the color won't mean a thing.


gs

Monday, July 29, 2013

High Risk - It's all in the Approach

Grand Canyon - 1975
One more from the Grand Canyon. That's a much younger version of me hanging out on the ledge. The drop from the narrow path goes all the way to the bottom of the canyon. The walk along the ledge is risky. One wrong step and it's a quick trip to the bottom.


This is a popular spot for tourist photos. It's actually a short, easy walk from the main trail and, for all the look of danger, it's relatively safe if you approach it from behind the scene. It's a very short walk through that cave. On the other side is a short trail that is wide enough for a truck. So, what looks risky is really no worse than an afternoon stroll in the park.


I suppose I could get all philosophical and talk about how many things are like that in life, risky when approached from the wrong direction. But, it's Monday morning and that would require way to much thinking.  -gs-

Monday, July 22, 2013

Grand Canyon - 1975

Grand Canyon - 1975.
This photo was taken almost 40 years ago. Way over half of my lifetime. Hardly noticed in the lifetime of the canyon. In those decades thousands of tourists have probably stood in the same place and taken the same photo. The weather and time of day may be different, but the photo will be fundamentally the same.


The Grand Canyon is one of the few things in the world that I think you actually need to experience in person. It is hard to grasp the size until you're standing on the edge.


A photographer, Gus Petro, has an interesting and very different approach to convey the size of the canyon. Look here to see how he has merged the vast empty space with the dense cityscape of New York City.


gs

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lunar eclipse? Maybe.


The moon (upper left) looks like it might be in the midst of an eclipse. Then again, it might just be a big blob of dust. I took this photo from the balcony of my apartment in 1974. That was a long time ago and I just don't remember. The year was the only thing written on the frame of the original slide. Too bad I didn't write down the date.


-gs-

Monday, July 08, 2013

How Sharp Is It?


The Target

This is for the more technically inclined.

If you use your camera equipment long enough you will eventually have a problem.


One of my lenses was producing slightly soft images. This was a lens that had been used for quite a long time with good results on a different camera body. I decided to do some testing before sending the lens in for repair.


Today's digital cameras have much higher resolution than film. Small mismatches between camera body and lenses that were undetectable in the old film days can now be quite evident. 
A portion of the sample report.
To correct these problems the auto-focus system on most recent camera bodies can be fine tuned to match the characteristics of each lens. This is a great feature, but I had never taken advantage of it. My eyes aren't that great and I have a hard time seeing the very small differences between test shots at various fine tuning settings. I must not be the only person with poor eyesight, recently a couple of companies have released software to help with the analysis.

I borrowed a test target and bought a copy of FocusTune from Michael Tapes Design. It's $40. (Free try-before-you-buy demo available.) That may sound like a lot, but sending a lens to the repair shop to be tested would be several times that cost and could take weeks. What's worse, the problem often doesn't surface on the first trip to the shop. If the Focustune software worked well it could be used any number of times. I figured it was low risk and worth the effort to give it a try.

I won't go into the details here, there are several reviews on the Internet (Go ahead, Google Focustune.) To make an already long story short, you take a number of photos of the target at different fine tuning settings, the software analyzes the photos and tells you which setting is best. The software is not difficult to use, but setting up the camera and target requires care. You'll want to use a tripod and make sure that nothing varies among the photos other than the camera's fine tuning setting.

My results were very good. The report is easy to decipher. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the software to anyone that is comfortable with the custom settings on their camera. If you're curious about the software, there is a lot of information available at FocusTune.com.

-GS-

Monday, July 01, 2013

How Big is My Yard?


The wide angle view from a couple of feet away.
That's my new tree.  It's been two years since it replaced a much older tree lost to a storm.  While I was taking a photo to record its growth I shot a few extras to demonstrate how focal length can effect perspective.

How big is the yard?  I can make it look spacious or cramped by choosing where I stand and how I set my zoom lens.

Most cameras come with zoom lenses.  For the most part, I think people zoom in or out to help with composition, or just to avoid moving.  The zoom lens doesn't just get you closer or farther from your subject, it also has an effect on perspective.

If you carefully look at the three photos in this post, you'll notice the tree is (almost) the same size in each.  But look at the difference in the photo backgrounds.

The photo featured at the top of the article was taken with the lens zoomed out to its widest setting. (15mm)  That's a very wide setting.  I was standing very close to the tree.  Close enough to reach out and touch it.  The wide angle lens exaggerates distances between objects making the yard look very large and including quite a bit of the neighborhood and sky.


The mid-zoom view from the middle of the street.
In the second photo the lens was adjusted to the middle of the zoom range. (about 50mm)  I had to back up to keep the tree the same size in the frame.  I was standing in the middle of the street.  Luckily, there isn't much traffic in the neighbor hood.  You can see how the background moves forward, making the yard look smaller.

The last photo was taken with the lens zoomed in to its telephoto setting. (About 100mm)  I had to stand on the sidewalk across the street for this photo.  Now we don't even see the whole house, and the yard looks even smaller.


The telephoto view from across the street.
But the tree is the same size in each photo.  The camera doesn't lie, but the photos tell three very different stories.  Controlling the perspective in your photos lets you tell the story your way.  

Here's a link to an entertaining demonstration that shows how choosing your lens setting can dramatically effect the look of people in your photos.

I encourage you to experiment with your zoom lens the next time you take photos.  You'll be surprised at how different your photos look when you pay attention to perspective.

GS

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fireworks

Fireworks at Werner Park - 2012
It's the time of year when there are a lot of fireworks displays but the really big ones will be coming up on the Fourth of July.  Here are three articles with helpful information.

Every year about this time Joe McNally posts an excerpt from the Life Guide to Photography

Scott Kelby's also reposts his fireworks article every year.


And this is from the archives of the New York Institute of Photography

Even though they all say basically the same thing, they all say it in different and entertaining ways.  If you're hunting for a place to practice, check out the schedule for the Stormchaser's games at Werner park.  They have fireworks at every Friday home game for the remainder of the season.

GS

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Dance Recital

The Dancers

I could use this space to brag about my granddaughter, but the theme of this blog is photography so here are a few tips to increase your chances of getting a relatively good snapshot of the kids on the stage.  This photo isn't a work of art, but it's a nice reminder of the day.  It was taken with a 3-year-old, compact, point-and-shoot camera that fits in my shirt pocket.


Equipment Matters

I know, if you read the photography blogs and discussion groups you constantly read that "equipment doesn't matter, it's the photographer that counts."  Well, in general that's true.  In this case, due to the lighting, we are pushing the boundaries.  A camera with a bigger image sensor will gather more of that dim light.  This is a tough job for the most expensive cameras.  Leave the cell phone in your pocket and, at least, use a compact "point-and-shoot" camera.   


Get Out of the Auto Mode

Today's cameras are amazing.  They do most of the thinking for you.  Even the simple point-and-shoot does a great job under average conditions.  Unfortunately, the conditions at a dance recital are much lower than average.  Get out of Auto.  Many cameras hide the settings you'll need to change if they are in Auto mode. If your camera has a P (Program) setting, use it.


Get Close and Zoom-in

The dancers are in a pool of light surrounded by a sea of darkness.  This is guaranteed to fool your camera's exposure computer.  You want to eliminate as much of the sea of darkness as possible by getting physically closer and zooming-in.  I was sitting in the middle row of seats when I took this photo.  The camera lens was zoomed in as far as it would go.


Turn off the Flash

A built-in flash has a range of about 12 feet under the best of circumstances.  These are far from the best of circumstances. The flash won't help.  It will actually make it harder to get a usable photo.  Most important, it will annoy the audience and distract the dancers.  Turn it off.  If you don't know how, read your instruction manual.


Turn Up the ISO

You're probably not sitting in the most ideal spot to take a photo. Use your editing software to crop the photo so it looks more pleasing. I've included the original version of the photo in the inset.  It looks like I didn't even hold the camera straight.
The original.  Crooked and too far away...


Is that a lot?

Well, that's why they say "It's not the camera, it's the photographer that counts."  If you want average photos, leave the camera in Auto and take your pictures in the sunshine.

Getting out of the Automatic mode and learning how to use just a few features of your camera, even a compact, point-n-shoot camera, can result in better photos.

-GS- 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Dramatic Bear

A Sad Bear
This bear is sad. The kids have grown, moved away, and left the bear and his friends behind. I'm cleaning closets, looking for storage space. The bear and his friends are about to go.

This guy got a temporary reprieve while I was testing a new flash. Maybe he and all of his friends will turn into yet another photo project, each one posing for one last photo before they take a ride to the dumpster.

UPDATE:   The bear and his friends have found a new home.  Goodwill will accept old stuffed animals!

gs

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Nebraska Spring

The lilacs up close.

I can tell it's spring.  The tornado sirens have wailed and the lilacs have bloomed.​

The lens was about eight inches from the flowers when I took this photo.  At that distance it's difficult to keep things in focus.  The depth of field is pretty thin, even stopped down to f/10.  I had to break out a monopod to steady the camera and get a sharp image.​

gs​

Monday, May 20, 2013

Temptation?

Cinnamon Rolls
No one will confuse me with a food photographer.  This photo started out as a snapshot taken during a fundraiser.  The original was a pretty noisy photo taken under dim fluorescent lights and wasn't very appealing.  After an application of Lightroom's noise reduction and a pass through a couple of filters from Nik's Color Effects, it doesn't look too bad. 

gs 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Working at Home - 1974

Home Office - 1974


We like to think the Internet made working from home possible, but people have always worked AT home. I ran across these old photos as I was scanning a tray of old slides from 1974. Today, of course, most of the things you see here have been replaced.

The typewriter has been replaced by the word processor. The desk calendar has moved to my phone. The gray container is a humidor that held a set of technical drafting pens.  Drafting moved to Computer Aided Design. Even the pencils play a much smaller role today. None of the classrooms where I teach have pencil sharpeners. I seldom use pencils outside of my workshop.

There is an HP-45 calculator setting atop the book. It's just out of the frame to the right. It was the closest thing to a computer at the time. The first computer kit (The Altair) would be introduced the following year and "Personal Computers" wouldn't really become useful for for another decade. The Internet wouldn't be generally available until several years after that.

Bathroom/Darkroom
Lightroom and Photoshop have replaced the darkroom you see in photo to the left.  (The enlarger is covered to protect it from dust.)

My only phone was wired to the wall in the kitchen. I hadn't yet had an extension phone installed in the office. Cell phones wouldn't be around for several years.

Things have certainly changed. The Technical pens, calculator, typewriter and darkroom equipment cost about $10,000 in today's dollars. Now, I could do the work of all of these tools on a relatively inexpensive laptop computer. If I tried hard enough I could do most of the work on my phone.  GS

Monday, May 06, 2013

Sunday in Fonenelle Forest - 1970

Bob, his wife and the borrowed Nikon

The guy laying on the ground is Bob.  He had just slipped on a small patch of ice.  His wife is looking down, asking if he is hurt.

This picture would be a lot better if I had taken one step to the left.  You would have a clear view of the happy look on Bob's face.  

He's holding up the camera to show that it never hit the ground.  The camera is a brand new, Nikon F with the Photomic meter attachment.  In February of 1970 that was a very expensive camera and it wasn't Bob's.

We worked in a camera store.  Bob was my Manager.  The pay was pretty typical for a retail store but there were a couple of valuable benefits for a photographer.  There were significant discounts on film processing and equipment purchases.  Borrowing equipment from the store was the best benefit.  It didn't cost anything to borrow equipment.  You just signed for it.  Of course, you were responsible for bringing it back in the same condition that it had left the store.

That camera was worth more than a couple of months of Bob's pay.  That's why, when he fell, he didn't let the camera touch the ground.  In case your wondering, Bob wasn't hurt.  On Monday Bob, the camera and I all returned to work in the condition we had left the store.

gs


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

September Rain - 1969



It was a rainy day in September of 1969.  The large picture window in my parent's living room provided a great view of the park across the street. When I noticed this woman in red walking into the park, I thought it might make a decent photo.

I ran upstairs, (yes, in those days I ran up stairs) attached a 135mm telephoto lens to my Pentax Spotmatic and made it to the front porch in time to take two photos.  Then, the woman and her red umbrella disappeared behind the low hanging branches of the trees as she walked deeper into the park.

When I picked up the processed and mounted Ektachrome slides few days later, the results were disappointing.  In the first slide the woman was looking directly into the camera.  In the second slide, the focus was a bit soft and the composition was not what I had envisioned.  So, the slides went into a box and were forgotten for several decades.

The digitized version of the slide has been on my disk drive for a few years.  The red coat and umbrella always grab my attention as I scroll past the older photos in my library.  Saturday I decided to play a bit.

A few adjustments in Lightroom restored the color that had faded over the years.  Changing the aspect ratio to fit an 8x10 frame altered the composition enough to please me, but the focus was soft and a lot of dust had embedded itself into the emulsion of the original slide.  Photoshop has no magic (yet) to fix a poorly focused image and I had no intention of removing all of those dust spots. 

It finally occurred to me that the feeling of that rainy day doesn't rely on sharp detail.  I decided to channel the spirit of Bob Ross and obscure the remaining problems with the broad brush strokes of Photoshop's Oil Painting filter.  I'm sure most people won't mind.  After all, look at the popularity of Instagram.  Millions of bad photos obscured by strange filters are submitted  every day.

The finished photo is certainly not what I had in mind when I pressed the shutter in 1969 and nobody will ever describe it as a great work of art.  For me, but it is a nice reminder of that rainy September day.

-GS-

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wing or Sprinter?


The transition from Winter to Spring is taking a long time. Maybe it should have a name. Joining "Winter" and "Spring" doesn't seem to work. "Wing" sounds too uplifting. "Sprinter" implies something moving fast.  Neither seems right.

The lawn is green and the weeds have already invaded the rock beds. It snowed the day after the lawn was first mowed.  The temperature hit a record low the night after I sprayed the weeds.  The prediction is for sub-freezing temperatures again tonight.

The weather guy says Spring should be here in a few days.  I hope he's right.

gs

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dad, the Philco and a Swivel Chair - 1959


That's my dad.  I shot this picture with his Argus C-3 when I was about 8 years old.  No, I didn't have great photography skills.  I applied a little Lightroom magic to improve it a bit.  The original is in the inset below.  A little straightening, cropping, color correction and way less dust removal than is needed needed, but the resulting photo is a little bit nicer than the original snapshot. 

That Philco TV in the background  was only 6 years old when the photo was taken.  I say "only" because it would provide 16 more years of service before it was finally retired.  Things lasted a lot longer back then.  Whenever that TV developed a problem we would call Leonard Herdzina, the TV repair man.  He would roll up in his station wagon and either fix the TV on site or, if things were really bad, take it back to shop.  I remember his name because he was as important to the family as our doctor.  In those days, they both still made house calls.  Visits to Leonard's TV repair shop were how I got interested in electronics, but that's another story.

​Check out that haircut on Dad.  They called that a flat-top.  It looks a little long.  He was probably due for a trim.  We went to the barber (Ray Watson) every other week, regular as clockwork.   I'm not sure of the real color of the shirt.  It's pretty washed out from the flashbulb.  

That rocking chair is a classic.  It rocked AND swiveled.  My cousins and I used to sit in it an spin around until we were dizzy.  It must have made Dad a little annoyed because he eventually removed the swivel mechanism.  After that it was just a rocking chair and was not anywhere near as much fun.​  ​
The swivel mechanism showed up much later in a table that he made.  The top looks like a big gear and rotates.  He attached the table top to the pedestal base with the swivel mechanism.   The top and feet are laminated from reclaimed pallet wood.  The pedestal is part of an old support pillar left over after he remodeled our front porch.  Dad didn't throw a lot of stuff away.  He was pretty good at finding new uses for stuff.​

Times have changed a lot.  TV's don't last as long, we replace instead of repair, doctors don't make house calls and the list goes on.​

By the way.  I just replaced the rocking chair in my family room.  It rocks ​AND swivels.

​-gs-

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Highland Park - 1969

Highland Park in the Fall of 1969

I lived across from the street from a small park when I was in high school.  It was a convenient place to practice my photography technique.  This is from a roll of slides that must have been shot when I was working on silhouettes. 

This slide sat in a box for about 40 years before I finally ran it though the scanner.  In that time a lot of dust embedded itself in the emulsion.  The high quality scan shows all of that dust and film grain the size of boulders.  It also needed a bit of work to restore the faded colors.

All in all, it's not a great shot.  I probably like it because I remember how much I enjoyed walking through the park on those cool Fall days.  I enjoyed taking the photo and enjoyed restoring it 44 years later.

-gs-

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Pattern Interrupted


Jay Maisel says a pattern in interesting, but a pattern interrupted is more so.  I doubt that he had mailboxes in mind when he said that.

gs

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fall in Faux Infrared


This photo is best viewed large.

The latest issue of Popular Photography had a short procedure for simulating infrared photography with a few adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw.

This is the result of playing with the same adjustments in the develop module of Lightroom 4.  I saved the settings as a preset.  The will make a good starting point for experimenting with other photos.

I previously published a color version of this photos here.

GS

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Spring Training - 2013


As I write this there is still snow on the ground, but I can see the light at the end of this winter tunnel. The light is coming from those big towers you see in the photo.

Baseball has made it's annual migration to the south for spring training. There are several games every day. A few are televised on the MLB cable TV channel. Several more can be seen (with a subscription) on the MLB website or via an App on your tablet or phone.

That photo, by the way, is from last year. The Omaha Stormchasers are the local triple-A team. It was an unusually cold night in August. You can see more photos from that game here.

-gs-