Friday, September 26, 2008

A Farewell to Spring

Cherry Blossoms in Cleveland Park; Spartanburg, SC; Spring 2008

I had planned to post about some of my favorite photography books today. However, I'm feeling a bit under the weather and don't think I could manage it today. So, I'll work on it over the weekend for early next week.

In the meantime, the weather here seems to have changed with the recent solstice. It has been cool and we are getting the Autumn rains which we so desperately need. This time of year has it's own beauty with the changing colors, but it is hard not to look back toward spring. Today's photograph was taken this past spring at a local park. It was the first time I'd been to that park and was quite thrilled that the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. The bees certainly seemed to enjoy the blossoms too as they never even seemed to notice me.

Have a good weekend and Keep Shooting.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

In Charlotte, NC


This past weekend we went to Charlotte, North Carolina to see the Pompeii exhibit at the Discovery Place museum. It was a nice trip and the exhibit was quite interesting. I didn't take my camera inside the museum. However, we got to the museum before they opened, and I was able to spend some time trying out different kinds of shots from the top of the museum's parking garage. The shot above is taken from the pedestrian bridge that connects the museum and the parking garage. I thought the dark foreground, fence and bright, inviting background made for an interesting juxtaposition especially as it directly over the road below.

There are a few other photographs taken of the skyline and nearby buildings over on the Zenfolio gallery.
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Friday, September 19, 2008

Fall is in the Air

Blending Colors

The past couple of days have been fairly cool. I'm sure that we will still have a few scorchers ahead of us, but it feels as if the seasons are beginning to change. I have noticed that the squirrels are starting to bury acorns around my yard, so I guess they are starting to feel it too. I'm looking forward to heading back up into the mountains again for the colors. We hit them at just the right time last year. I hope that we can get as good of a show this year as well.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

All in the Details


It is very easy to get caught up in trying to get "the BIG picture" when we are out with our cameras. However, sometimes situations are conducive to getting everything in the shot. At times like that, sometimes zeroing in on distinctive details can make for a more interesting image. The shot above was taken at an automobile show this past January. The show was held in one of the local convention centers. The lighting wasn't very good for photography as you can imagine, plus there were lots of people in the venue admiring the cars. They were also trying to stay inside and out of one of the only days of snow we had last winter. I got several wide shots that I liked of various cars, However, I think some of the better images from that day were details of the cars. Those shots tended to encompass some important design element, or the car's badge, or other identifying feature. This made them easier to frame, easier to control the lighting, and easier to remove the background crowds from the composition.

Next time you are out with your camera, look for interesting details that can fill the frame. A potter's hands as he turns his clay might be more interesting and tell a better visual story than then a long shot of the potter stooped over his wheel. The colors in a subject might be visually more intriguing than the subject itself. Or you might find an exceptionally intricate texture that just demands some attention. Shooting details can begin to introduce you to abstract images and see things in ways that you didn't before. Plus, it can be a lot of fun to turn a blah "big picture" into a series of "Wow!" detail images.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Hub-City Jam

Hub-Bub Jam

Lydia, whom I met the other night at the blogger meet-up, is a member of a group of musicians who get together downtown once a month. They call it Hub-City Jams and I thought it sounded like fun so we took my son into town to listen to them. Of course, I took my camera, and used the opportunity to practice event shooting. I took some photographs with all natural light and others with fill flash. All-in-all another fun time out with the family and my camera.

Something I found out about at the Spartanburg blogger meet-up the other night was that a local art organization, Hub-Bub hosts various events throughout the year. I will have to keep an eye out for other photographic opportunities.

The full gallery of shots is over on my Zenfolio site.

A couple more shots after the jump.

Singin' in the Shade


Bongo of Fire

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Spartanburg Bloggers

Spark Bloggers

Last night I went to a meet-and-greet for local area bloggers. It was organized by Steve Shanafelt at Spartanburg Spark, a local news/community site that has just started up. He has also started up a compilation blog of Spartanburg area bloggers called Sparkle City Blogs.

Only four of us showed up, but this was the first one so hopefully there will be more bloggers at future meet-ups. Checkout the post over at Sparkle City Blogs for the low-down on the evening. I had a good time and met some nice bloggers. I hope to see them and maybe work with them again in some way.

Of course I took some photographs while I was there. Portraits are not my strongest suit and we were in a very "atmospheric" coffee shop; i.e. it was dark. Still I think the photographs came out alright. Flash, high ISO and a touch of noise reduction seemed to do the trick. I'll get better at it as I photograph more events like this. More photographs after the jump.




Kenny, Interlude's Owner/Manager

Interlude Lamp

Alright, so there's a lamp in the set too. You know how I like architectural details.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Nifty Fifty Goes to Town

Enjoying the Day

This weekend, the city of Spartanburg hosted a festival called "Spartanburg Creative Tastes". The city is undergoing a downtown revitalization and this festival was conceived as a way to highlight the town's growing cultural and artistic communities. It was a combination of art fair and restaurant fair. Local artists had their works on display and for sale. Several downtown restaurants had concessions so people could sample some of their cuisine. Plus, several local musicians and performing arts groups gave performances through the afternoon and evening. We had a lot of fun there, sampled some good food, and heard some good music. The city hopes to turn this into an annual event if it was well received, and judging from the turn out of both vendors and festival goers I think it will be back again next year.

One thing I decided to do while we were at the festival was to travel lighter than I usually do. So, I took the battery grip off of my camera, mounted my 50mm f/1.8 prime lens instead of my usual zooms, and packed the camera with a few essentials into my smaller camera bag. I still carried my 18-135mm zoom in the bag as well as my flash, but as it turns out I didn't need them. The 50mm lenses are sometimes called "Nifty Fifties" by photo-hobbyists. They are affordable, well made, sharp, professional quality lenses. The 50mm lenses used to be the "kit" lenses packaged with consumer SLR cameras prior to the advent of good quality zoom lenses. It approximates the angle of view of the human eye on 35mm film and is a simple yet robust little lens. Nifty Fifties are perfect little lenses when you are wanting to travel light. Their small size makes them easy to pack into a corner of your camera bag. Yet they are excellent low light lenses for the average person due to the wide f/1.8 aperture. The 50mm f/1.8 is frequently the second lens that many photography hobbyists get after their initial camera kit.

I had not been using my 50mm very much lately, so I thought this little festival downtown would be a good time to take it out and use it. All of the photographs I took at the festival were taken with it. Something that I'm kind of proud of is resisting the lure of the zoom I took with me "just in case". With just a little moving around on my part, I could generally get compositions that I liked. A prime lens like the 50mm does force you to think about your photographs a bit more before tripping the shutter. It's small size also made for a very unobtrusive profile in the crowded downtown festival.

If you don't have a 50mm lens yet, I do recommend you get one for yourself. They are very affordable at around US $100 and generally have exceptional image quality. This gives them a very good "bang for the buck" as they say and opens up low light as well as shallow depth of field situations that your kit zoom might not be very good at.

During the festival I took a mixture of festival and architectural photographs. There are a many older, restored and unrestored buildings downtown that have a lot of character. My budding interest in architectural photography was tempted by the many details in these older buildings. The full gallery can be found here on my Zenfolio site. A couple more photographs to whet your whistle after the jump.

Architect's Building

The Windjammers - Clarinet Solo

In Need of Repair

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Some Links

Here are a few links that I are in my browsing habits. Hope you find them as helpful as I do.

Digital Photography Review is one of the quintessential websites for camera reviews. They have recently started reviewing lens as well. Their forums are very active and a good source of information and at times amusement.

1001 Noisy Cameras is a blog that tracks the happenings among the camera manufacturers on the web. It is an excellent place to go to find the latest rumors as well as links to leaks and compilations of sales statistics.

Rob Galbraith: Digital Photography Insights is a professional's observations on the industry and trends.

Photozone is a one stop place for lens reviews. If you are looking for a new lens, they have probably tested and reviewed it.

bythom is Thom Hogan's blog and website. He is a professional landscape photographer. His site also is packed full of information about Nikon photography products. If you are a Nikon shooter, checkout his site.

That's it for me for the day. Have a good weekend and keep shooting.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

2008 USA Cycling Pro Championship Photos

The Rabbit

We had another fun day watching the USA Cycling Pro Road Race Championship in Greenville this year. It was hotter than last year and we didn't get the wind that the weatherman promised. However, we did stay through the entire race this year.

I tried a couple of different things photographically this year. Mainly I used the 70-300mm VR to zoom in and get closer to the riders than I could last year. However, I also tried some motion blurs and extreme panning. I like the effects that I got with those techniques, but they could have been better too. I also noticed that I tended to aim a bit too high this year. I generally crouched down to get a better angle, so I might have over compensated a little too much. However, I was also trying to keep the road out of the the frame as it was reflecting awful hightlights in the harsh afternoon sun.

Anyway, there are a couple more photographs after the jump and the full gallery is here.

Zip! Goes the Peleton

Group Turn

Pushing It!

Keep shooting.

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