Spring Anyone?

I can’t wait to get out onto the Blue Ridge Parkway and see all this sort of “green”! Right now, just getting “on” the parkway is a hit and miss proposition, due to this miserable winter we’ve been experiencing along the East Coast. I took this image last July, right after a brief thunderstorm. I processed it in Lightroom 2.6, and then ran it as a single image in Photomatix Pro, to bring out details from the original. In that regard, HDR as discussed by Scott Kelby, has become either a love it or hate it effect. There is no middle ground. I like it, but after over a year of working with many photos I specifically took considering HDR, I have learned to be a bit more conservative in how I use it. With this photo, for example, I wanted to bring out lost details in the overblown sky, and making it an HDR image did it for me. Thank you Photomatix Pro. (Nikon D300, ISO 200, 12mm, f16, 1/80 sec)

Dutch Harbor Landmark

Many are familiar with Dutch Harbor as a result of watching the popular TV show on the Discovery Channel, “Deadliest Catch”. It’s a staging location for the crab fishermen featured in the show. Dutch Harbor is located in the City of Unalaska, on Unalaska Island. Before I visited there in 2007, I assumed Dutch Harbor was the place name for the entire island. Besides being home for a large part of the Bering Sea commercial fishing industry, Unalaska also has this famous landmark—the beautiful Russian Orthodox Church built in the early 1800’s. Inside there are many rare paintings and other unique items, plus services are still held there today. I wanted to feature the main spire of the church, so I walked along the road in front until I found a large patch of dandelions in which to crouch down to compose my shot. These dandelions were the largest I’d ever seen. I guess that’s caused by all the rain there, plus lots of daylight during the growing season. (Nikon D300, ISO 200, 38mm, f4.2, 1/1600 sec. Developed in Lightroom 2.6)

Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina

This is it…seen from below. I took my original image and developed it in Lightroom 3 Beta, and then applied a Topaz Adjust layer to it, plus added a lighter vignette around the outside edges to make the center portion stand out a bit more. Sort of looks like a postcard this way. The peak is at 5,946 feet and is the highest on the eastern escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Blue Ridge Parkway passes by the south side of the mountain, so there is easy access to a parking area near the top (when it’s open in good weather). Nice place to visit. Plus, on top there is the “mile high” bridge. An experience to walk over on a windy day! (Nikon D300, ISO 200, f9, 1/320 sec, 65mm. Developed in Lightroom 3 Beta)

Big Bay Point Lighthouse

If you’ve seen the movie “Anatomy of a Murder” staring James Stewart, the scene in the bar is filmed in Big Bay, Michigan, north of Marquette. The region is also well known for the existence of this Lake Superior lighthouse at Big Bay Point, and it’s scenic grounds. The main building is now home to a bed & breakfast, and as we visited mid–morning in September 2008, I had to compose my camera shots to keep  departing guests and their cars out of the frame. As you can see, it was a nice morning, with a bright blue sky. (Nikon D300, ISO 200, f7.1, 1/1600 sec, 28mm. Developed in Aperture 3)

Something Simple

One of the best things about digital photography compared to film, is that you generally don’t have to worry about how many exposures you have before you are on empty. For example, remember the days of 24 or 36 exposures on a roll of 35mm film? I sure do. When I’d travel for any length of time, I typically had up to 20 rolls of new film with me, for fear I’d not be able to find a place to get ones with 36 exposures. Anyway, I’m getting a bit off track here. My point is that with a digital camera, you can shoot, shoot, shoot at will. And, when you get them all onto your computer, some pop out like this one did to me. A simple, but still interesting photo. Just an old, rail fence post, with a small pond in the background. I kept my camera’s aperture setting wider open (f4.5), so as to blur the background. That effect is called bokeh. (Nikon D300, ISO 200, f4.5, 1/400 sec, 60mm. Developed on Aperture 3)

Why they are called “blue”

The Blue Ridge Mountains that is. It’s a rare day anymore, unfortunately, when one can view the Blur Ridge Mountains without the normal haze in between peaks and valleys. That’s caused by air pollution and it’s getting worse year by year. But regardless, there is still a “blue” hue to it all, especially during the winter and early spring months, as is shown here. This photo was taken in early March, looking south from the top of Grand Father Mountain in North Carolina, nearly 6000 feet high. It’s not that great a shot, but its “what I got” when there. Western North Carolina is a beautiful place to visit—one of my favorites. In fact, North Carolina is a pretty nice place overall! (Nikon D300, ISO 200, f9, 1/640, 32mm. Developed in Aperture 3)

Reflections of Color

While walking around Uptown Martinsville, Virginia where we live, I saw this deserted outside seating area at a Cafe (it was cold) with colorful chairs and table being reflected off the front window, with the same type chairs and tables inside, where it was much warmer. Martinsville and Henry County Virginia have fallen on relative hard economic times over the past decade, due to a number of factors—a decline in American manufacturing being just one. This area was once an “economic engine” for the Commonwealth of Virginia, considering its furniture and textile past. It’s also home to the historic Martinsville Speedway, a NASCAR fan favorite, hosting two Sprint Cup races annually for more than sixty years. (Nikon D70s, ISO 200, 90mm, f11, 1/125 sec. Developed in Adobe Lightroom 3 Beta)

The Rock Door

For reasons unknown, other than “I like it”, I tend to photograph unique doors, windows, and various items associated such as locks, keys, and knobs. The older they are, the better. All along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina, there are many remnants from our past. This arched massive wooden door, surrounded by large stone masonry is part of a visitor’s center along  a stretch of the parkway in North Carolina. Luckily for me, I live with an easy days drive along a large portion of the parkway in both NC and Virginia, except during the winter months (ESPECIALLY this winter) when many miles are closed to traffic. But, I go there all the time when I can, so my image library from there is quite large, and expanding every chance I get. (Nikon D300, ISO 640, 55mm, f4.8, 1/100 sec.) Developed in Adobe Lightroom 3 (Beta).

Nice Work

My wife took this photo in Northern Arizona last Fall. I developed it in Lightroom 2.6, mostly by cropping her composition horizontally. The fact she put the tree where she did in the camera frame when she made the “click”, made this a really nice photo, and I thought I’d give her a pat on the back here, Nice work, Barb! (Nikon D40, ISO 200, 135mm, f10, 1.320 sec.).

Crisp Point Lighthouse

There was a time not too long ago when getting to Crisp Point Lighthouse along the shores of Lake Superior was a daunting journey, requiring 4x drive and lots bumps and bounces. Then, gradually over the years, a rough sand road became a much wider semi-paved road, and more people were able to observe the structure close up. The day we were there, there was substantial restoration of the eroding shore line ongoing, and also construction work to expand the limited parking area. That made it necessary for me to find a suitable location to take my photograph, while keeping all the construction activities hidden. So, I climbed into a patch of high grass, kneeled down, and clicked. When I got the image onto my computer, I decided it had to be in black & white, and here’s the result. (Nikon D70s, ISO 200, 70mm, f18, 1/160 sec. Developed in Aperture 3 trial version)