Friday, January 27, 2012

Sea Foam Candy Book video

video

This is the web version of a coffee table book I'm working on to promote my print on demand store: www.zazzle.com/seafoamcandy. Feel free to pause it on the 2nd, 3rd, and last page to read (not really, the quality isn't that good). You can't set different slide times in the book creator slideshow so I optimized it for card viewing. Here is the YouTube higher quality vid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nffymbBecLE. Original music by yours truly.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Travelicious Postcard Book video

video

This is the web version of a coffee table book I'm working on to promote my print on demand store: www.zazzle.com/travelicious. Feel free to pause it on the 2nd, 3rd, and last page to read (not really, the quality isn't that good). You can't set different slide times in the book creator slideshow so I optimized it for card viewing. Here is the YouTube higher quality vid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5x_-IzpwXbM. Original music by yours truly.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Coming soon

  • Stencil Happiness
  • Light Tracing/Lightamation
  • Density of the Neutral variety
  • Aperture Dreams
  • Confessions of a Toy Thief
  • My workflow

2011 November/December Colorful ColoRADo eZine

November/December 2011

Welcome to my fantasy eZine "Colorful Colorado." Every two months, I include the best photos from my wanderings. One shot gets a glorified position on the 'cover' made with FD's Flickr Toys Magazine Cover application over at Big Huge Labs

December is one of my favorite months for light painting because everyone puts up  a target to capture.

Night riders
Simply taking a shot of Christmas lights doesn't qualify as a light painting, but there are lots of ways to manipulate static sources to create LPs. You can also add elements to existing lights such as was done in the magazine cover photo. In this case I both manipulated the tree LEDs by using a zoom and focal pull, then added the tinsel effect with glow sticks. Winter also gives more dark hours that are conducive to LPing. This year the extended family and neighbors set up a night sled run "Night riders," which resulted in some crazy trails. Permanent lights can also add to a scene nicely. Here on "Happy 2012," we have some creepy looking snowmen, actually a snowman and woman that had the benefit of being located close to an outdoor lit tree.
Happy 2012!
Spinning wool is something that is pretty well frowned upon in these parts, the fire danger is nothing to mess around with. You don't want to be the one that burned down a bunch of homes for a photograph. But when there is 3 feet of snow on the ground, we can relax a little. Maybe January will bring some spin outings. I have been dreaming up a massive spin taken from a high vantage point using a snow sculpture somehow. We'll see if mother nature dumps the crazy white stuff on us again.

Once every few years we get lucky enough to witness partial or even better - full eclipses. I now own a filter that will allow shots of full solar eclipses. The moon anyone can shoot without any extra gear. Of course longer lenses and telescopes make for the most dramatic captures, but I've seen some really cool wide shots of eclipses with interesting foregrounds as well.

16:9 for Michael

This year we had a setting moon at dawn which presented some better opportunities for foregrounds. All I had was the continental divide but it added interest. The tough part here is getting detail on the darkened area of the moon without blowing out the lit area too badly. Its a tough balance, and there is no neutral density filter in the shape of a crescent that I know of. Cokin used to make gels that you could cut to any shape.  Hmm, customizable ND sheets? I suppose you could hold a square filter up to take the edge off. In this case the moon had set before full eclipse was in view so there was no timing this any better. If you do have a full view of of the eclipse in its entirety, then the light conditions become much easier with the equally distributed earth glow. Make sure you don't lose the moon's position after the crescent is gone. It can be tough to find it in full shadow if you have lots of light pollution or a thin veil of clouds.


Earth Shine Shine
I have been interested in stencils for LPing for some time now and have created quite a few. This can be done using thin printed material or cutting out thicker stock where you want light to pass through. A more in-depth stenciling article coming soon. Smart phones are a great little light source and I've started playing around with using them as stencils. Here is a shot of the Planets app earth in 3D that I used against the night sky. The "stencil" I created was a piece of black construction paper a little larger than the phone case. A circular hole was cut in the size of the planet (which you can adjust using the zoom feature) to prevent the border ares from leaking through. With all the apps out there, not to mention even just using pictures, the smart phone may become my stencil of choice.

Shutter releases. How many have you lost? Been disappointed with? Broke? Were not willing to throw down the big bux on? Always needed more short-lasting obscure batteries? Yeah, me too. So actually this is not really a review but a few thoughts on what works for me and what doesn't. There are two categories roughly. Wired and wireless. I  have owned them both. Plenty of each version. I can only speak for the Canon side but why every DSLR doesn't ship with a SR is a mystery to me. And while I'm venting, why stop at 30 seconds in manual mode? If you're going to include bulb mode then include the release. First, wireless remotes are great for starting and stopping the shot exactly when you want to if you are going to do work in the scene. Two things - they are easy to lose and the batteries are often not lasting very long and not standard. Wired remotes are easier to keep track of (I just Velcro mine to the tripod) but they require activation and deactivation at the camera. Not much better than using the mirror lockup, although you don't get any shake. These can be useful with extended features like an intervalometer. I recommend having both. I can give a slightly positive recommendation for this wired unit (Amazon), but have not been completely satisfied with the wireless remotes I have tried. The best of all of them had a flash shoe mount receiver and a small release with an antennae. I almost always forgot to switch off the receiver and was always replacing the expensive and rare battery. If it could get its power from the camera instead, that would be a nice enhancement. If you have found a better mousetrap, please leave me a comment!



Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 September/October Colorful ColoRADo eZine Edition

September/October 2011

Welcome to my fantasy eZine "Colorful Colorado." Every two months, I include the best photos from my wanderings. One shot gets a glorified position on the 'cover' made with FD's Flickr Toys Magazine Cover application over at Big Huge Labs. This is a catch-up effort for the blog. 
BellBaby
Coffee Pot Road - Looking SE towards Vail
Obligatory collection
One of the truly special times for outdoorsy types of all stripes in Colorado is the fall. Some years are better than others but being that I don't get to witness the East Coast spectacle often I get pretty worked up about the aspen colors. Especially reds. Sometimes even close to a purple or maroon, but rare indeed. This year was a banner year with the season stretching the longest in recent memory. Usually you can count on a week or 2 in both September and October, but I saw leaves in August and November. After a Sunday drive through the scenic areas we know and love my wife convinced me to take a western slope trip and get some leaf shots. It's the best kind of trip - spur of the moment, completely spontaneous. And I was glad I did. The cover and BellBaby (Bells shot with Lensbaby) shots hint of the magic at the Maroon Bells, which are magic really at any time of year. McClure Pass and Kebler Pass are at the top of my aspen pilgrimages but I found a new fave this year at Coffee Pot Road in the Flattops Wilderness, which sported huge orange stands in groups dotted across rolling hills.

Shine on
While we're talking about Lensbaby, the creative aperture possibilities have always intrigued me. One of my earliest was shot with a LB Original and a custom cardboard cutout in the shape of the Star of David. The light sources pass through the aperture and take on the shape if out of focus. Advancing to better systems, I've purchased a LB Composer and am planning to get a sheet of 8x11 magnetic stock to cut the apertures from. Lensbaby actually contacted me directly to submit my design for the new creative aperture kit, but I was in between LBs at the time. Bummer.

Here is the compete eZine set on Flickr with more uploads.

2011 July/August Colorful ColoRADo eZine Edition

July/August 2011


Welcome to my fantasy eZine "Colorful Colorado." Every two months, I include the best photos from my wanderings. One shot gets a glorified position on the 'cover' made with FD's Flickr Toys Magazine Cover application over at Big Huge Labs. This is a catch-up effort for the blog. 

Cold hearted orb that rules the night
Summer is always a good bet that lightning will be popping over the plains giving us a top deck seat up here in the foothills. Anyone can grab a bolt or 2 or even more simply by letting the shutter hang open for long periods. I once had the good fortune of manually opening the shutter in bulb mode  expecting to keep it open for about 30 seconds and so had the aperture and ISO adjusted accordingly. To my surprise, a huge bolt scared my finger off the release and at that moment the "get the best lightning shot in the shortest amount of time" contest was born. Of course I'm only competing against myself at this point. To date, I haven't done better than 1 second in the 'Cold hearted orb' shot, which of course it is too dark and greyscaled (based on my settings), but I keep trying. The cover shot was set up much better and happened in about 8 seconds. Keep trying, the more you take the better your chances...

Love, American Style.
Fourth of July is always an exhilarating yet mind-numbingly frustrating time because of the beautiful fireworks displays that are over before you know it. I always have a couple of techniques planned but usually get sidetracked and end up with less than I was hoping for. Focal pulls, lens cap covers for more explosions in one frame, spins, zooms and tosses are but a few of the techniques I go for if I can remember. This year I managed a great pull but was disappointed in the trails being cut off at the top of the frame. A toss was not realized and the lens cap cover produced a wash of incoherent streaks. Better luck next year! Always fun for the manic photographer at any rate.

ID me?
This summer we saw an explosion of ant mimicking beetles with iridescent shells. The trick of course is getting them to stand still!
DIA corners 1

With summer also usually comes vacations. And for me that means DIA (Denver International Airport). I have dreamed about hanging out in prohibited areas taking shot of planes and art around the property but let me tell you the cops are on you faster than you can set up your tripod if you park in a no parking area. Again I come away with less than dreamed of material. When do I get a press pass?

 Visit the full set on Flickr for more uploads.

2011 May/June Colorful ColoRADo Ezine Edition

May/June 2011 - Inaugural Edition 

Welcome to my fantasy eZine "Colorful Colorado." Every two months, I include the best photos from my wanderings. One shot gets a glorified position on the 'cover' made with FD's Flickr Toys Magazine Cover application over at Big Huge Labs. This is a catch-up effort for the blog. 



17 is enuf
This month includes scenes from a trip to Pagosa Springs Colorado, famous for it's healing hot springs. This excursion was basically to get away from it all and luxuriate in the pools, which are some of the best in the state. Each one is maintained at a different temperature so that you can pick your experience. Mellow bath feel to scalding lobster pot numbing water. If you like the 'Polar Bear Club' thing, you can even hit the near freezing creek. After alternating between the hottest and coldest you won't be able to tell what temperature the water is as you will have confused all your nerve endings ;-)

Why did the turkey cross the road?
Staying at the resort isn't cheap, but you get 24-7 access to all the pools, which includes an adult only area. You will find ample photographic opportunities in the abundance of hiking trails and scenic roads nearby. Here's a hidden gem, well not really hidden but a bit of a trek and definitely off the beaten path: Fourmile Creek Falls.

The geese were out in full force at the golf course and even turkeys made an appearance. This trip included a golf round at the Pagosa Springs Golf Club, which is a nice way to spend an afternoon with the beautiful vistas at nearly every tee shot.



Crawlstroke to Pikes Peak
Garden of the Light Gods
Colorado Springs is a natural stop on the way back to the Front Range, but takes a little longer than coming through South Park. This time we made a point to visit the Garden of the Gods and especially at night, and stayed close by at the Garden of the Gods Club Resort. The Memorial at America the Beautiful is worth a visit but we just scratched the surface with this pass through, so another run is scheduled for next year almost certainly. Pikes Peak has many touristy attractions but the road is spectacular and warrants a day trip.

Time stands still for no one
Back at the home front, Mother's Day included a jaunt to Denver, where the St Patrick's Church was hopping, a near full moon begged for a lens cap trick shot (see the technique explained here), and a new spinner kite got a test flight. I hope you enjoyed the first edition of my eZine. You can also check out the complete set on Flickr, where more photos have been uploaded.

St. Patrick Mission Church

If you buy a kite, the wind will stop blowin