Thursday, July 28, 2011
One of my nieces has taken up competitive swimming. Last weekend was the state meet for her YMCA swim league. She did remarkably well placing first in a couple of her heats, finishing third in two of her matches and sixth in the other two, both of her relay teams placed first, and the girls of her team placed fourth in overall points. She also qualified for regional in two of her events. Her team was one of the smallest at the meet with around a dozen total swimmers compared to 20+ for the top placing teams. There were only three boys and they placed ninth out of 13 teams of boys. Plus, my niece has only been race swimming for just over one year. As I said it was a remarkable weekend and we are all quite proud of her and her team. She really enjoys it and seems to have found something that she will stick with for quite a while. Oh, and her team's home pool is not an an Olympic sized competition pool. It is shorter, doesn't have the elevated starting blocks, and they don't have the automated timing boards. Yet, they still did so well. Remarkably well.
This was the first of her meets that I was able to attend. So, I wasn't quite certain what to expect. The venue where the meet was held is different from all of the others, I've been told, in that this venue is outdoors while all of the other meets are held in indoor pools. While that meant that it was hot and humid outside, the lighting was better than it would have been in an indoor pool. Sunlight is better for freezing action shots than indoor fluorescent or sodium vapor lighting.
This shot is my favorite of my niece. I liked the reflection and how she seems to be looking down into it as she does the breaststroke. It didn't require very much post-processing. A little added contrast via the tone curve, white-balance, clarity, vibrance, fill light, and sharpening in Lightroom 3's Develop module was all it took.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
One day we visited the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. The aquarium is quite nice. Its' main feature is a shark tunnel that winds around the main tank. It is quite fun to have so many sharks swimming so close to you while being safe from them. At one point in the tunnel there is a sign marking where a shark had actually attacked the tunnel and left a mark in the acrylic.
While I enjoy visiting aquariums, it is sometimes difficult to get the kinds of photographs I envision. The lighting is all ways suspect and the animals are in constant motion. I prefer not use a flash in aquariums due to the reflections that result from them. Thus, I have to use a higher ISO than I normally do and have to open up the aperture as much as possible to get enough light to freeze the animals' motions. I was able to do some panning with the fish in one of the larger tanks during a lull in the visitors gathered around it. However, that doesn't work well with the smaller tanks with lots of observers crowded around. I don't want to whack someone in the face with the camera after all.
For some reason though I seem to have some success with jellyfish. Maybe it is because they don't move as quickly as fish. The particular jellyfish in this photograph is only a couple of inches long and was only one of a couple of dozen in a moderate sized tank. It was isolated from most of the others and seemed to be a good subject to photograph so here it is.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
It has been an eventful few weeks. We spent a few days in the Gatlinburg, Tennessee
area. It rained for most of the time we where there, so I wasn't able to get out with the camera as much as I would have liked. Hopefully, our next trip will be a full week.
The photograph above is taken from a bridge over the Pigeon River looking toward our hotel. The rooms all have a balcony over the water which was nice to sit out on during the evening. Our son had fun one evening feeding the fish the bread we had brought for sandwiches. The manager said he has seen otters in the river but none of the little critters visited while we were out on the balcony.
After we got back, my new eyeglasses had come in. I have never worn glasses before, but my eyes are starting to turn the corner on the age freeway. I have been having to hold stuff further away to read things and my distance vision had started not to be as crisp as it used to be. Technically I am still 20/20 in one eye and 20/25 in the other which makes it odd to be wearing glasses. However, the glasses are Progressive Bi-focals which are correcting some slight astigmatism which was affecting my distance vision, and correcting the problems I was having reading. I had tried to find reading glasses, but couldn't find any that were weak enough for me. All of the readers were much to strong. These glasses I have seem to be just right ... more expensive of course, but just right. It took me a while to get used to the glasses and since I got them right after the Gatlinburg trip, I waited to work on the photographs until I was comfortable with the glasses.
Finally, during that same time my Hotmail email account had gotten hacked or something. Spam was somehow being sent via my Hotmail Contacts list. If you got any of that spam then I do apologize. I have since managed to change the password on the account and the spam seems to have stopped. I used a couple of anti-virius and anti-malware applications to scan my computer and it seems to be free of junk now. However, I used the opportunity to set-up a new G-Mail account which you can find in the sidebar. To prevent automated spambots from picking up and using the new address, I replaced the @ symbol with "(at)". Make the appropriate substitution if you want to contact me.
Oh, I got an iPad 2 for Father's Day. It has become my main internet surfing and reading device. I have my photographs on it an they look great! I just wish I could organize them better. The new operating system for it that is coming out in September sounds like it might help with that.
Friday, June 10, 2011
One part of the Greenville Scottish Games that I enjoy is the British Car Show. It is held on Furman University's shaded mall in front of the main gate to the games. There always seems to be a slightly different mix of cars in the show each year. Many of the cars are older restorations, but there are sometimes new British branded automobiles as well. The new Lotus sports cars are almost always a crowd pleaser.
The car show is now kind of a sentimental favorite of mine since it was some of my photographs of cars from a couple of years ago that got me invited to be a photographer for the games last year and now this year. I wasn't able to get many photographs from the car show last year due to the VIP's schedule. However, I did make it a point to get some shots from there this year.
This particular photograph shows that the cars are lined up for quite a long ways down the mall. In fact, they are lined up down both sides of the mall. Quite an impressive collection of classic British automobiles. The photograph is also a handheld, three-shot HDR composite so that the shadows are not blocked out to complete black. I tried to process the image so that it would look fairly natural without the over exaggerated colors that HDR can sometime cause. It's not perfect, but I think it gets close to it.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
I love marching bands. Way back when I was in high school I played trumpet in the band. My high school had an excellent band program for both concert and marching bands.
Thus, I was thrilled when the 2d Marine Division Band came out during the Greenville Scottish Games' opening ceremonies. One thing that I didn't know is that they serve as security platoons for their headquarters command elements as well as providing musical support for the five major commands at their base in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Being in a Marine band doesn't get you out of combat. They have been deployed into active combat deployments in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Here is a grateful salute ...
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
The US flag was presented by a color guard from the US Marine Corps during the Greenville Scottish Games' opening ceremonies. I have always liked the Marines' "dress blues" uniform. They are very striking and formal. However, I did not envy those young men being out there in the mid-day sun and heat. I suppose that they get used to it when they go through boot camp down at Paris Island. On the other hand, I was sitting on the ground in the shade of the review stand where it was at least somewhat bearable.
Some of my photographs from the Scottish Games were just published in Fete Greenville. Fete Greenville is a monthly, online magazine about events happening in Greenville, South Carolina. My photographs are on pages 5, 11, and 43.
It is kind of neat to see my photographs used in some of those layouts.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
The gentlemen in the above photograph are members of the Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 SCOTS). These eight men were the honor guard for the VIPs of the Greenville Scottish Games. They recently returned home from deployment in Afghanistan.
I find it fascinating how military uniforms and traditions vary even between nations as closely related as the US and Great Britain.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
The Greenville Scottish Games were held this year on Saturday, May 28 at Furman University. This was the second year in a row that I volunteered to photograph the games for them. Unlike last year where I was predominately charged with following Prince Edward, I was able to take in the games at my own pace. Both approaches were interesting and fun. However, this year I got to see and experience more of the games than I did last year. I also didn't have to run backwards near as much as I did last year while follow Prince Edward. ;-)
This photograph is the main field which is surrounded by the clans' tents and the review stand. Paris Mountain is visible in the background. I thought that the overall view was reminiscent of photographs that I've seen of the Scottish Highlands. Granted, the Highlands don't usually get temperatures around 95 degrees F with near 100% humidity. Still, it seemed an appropriate view of the games' character.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
This is a different heron than the one in yesterday's photograph. This particular heron was at another pond than where I watched the first one. It did not seem as shy around people since it would get much closer to us than would the other heron. As people threw out bread for the ducks and geese, the heron would be right there with the other birds. However, it would not eat any of the bread. It was waiting for it's preferred dinner to come eat the bread instead.
Monday, May 16, 2011
This past weekend I went out to the ponds at the Milliken Research Center. It was a beautiful afternoon and there were quite a few people out there. There was at least one large family gathering / party, plus lots of families with small children feeding the birds.
A couple of the Great Blue Herons that hang out around the ponds were present and I decided to concentrate on them. The herons are generally quite a bit more hesitant with people and tend to fly away if someone gets too close which makes them harder to photograph. That also means that you have a better chance of getting some photographs of the herons actually doing something interesting than the ducks and geese floating around.
This was the first heron that was came to at the ponds. I crept slowly toward it trying to keep my camera on it. Then I noticed a couple walking from the other pond to the one the heron and I were at. The couple was coming up generally behind the heron and I figured that the bird would take off when it felt they were too close. Luckily, I was right and I got some shots of it as it flew to a safer perch.
It was a productive 45 minutes to an hour that I was at the ponds. So, stay tuned as there are more to come.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
It has been Spring for a few weeks and I have been remiss in my Spring photography. Truthfully, just as it officially turned to Spring we had a blast of Winter-like weather, i.e. cool, wet and overcast. Anyway, here is a different view of one of the dogwood trees in my yard.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Another photograph from the Spartanburg Area Conservancy's Glendale Shoals Preserve. This is one of the "towers" of the old Glendale Mill that still stand. Seeing it from this angle made me think of the sentry towers in European Castles for some reason.
Friday, March 25, 2011
This is another photograph of Lawson's Fork Creek in the Glendale Shoals Preserve in Spartanburg County. It is taken very close to the same place as yesterday's photograph if not the exact same location. I was trying out different compositions with the reflections and the trees. As I was developing the image I started to feel that it needed a more moody treatment and converted it to black and white. I think that it works for it. If you look carefully, you will see a couple of the old mill's chimneys through the trees and their reflections in the water. That is were the "Ruins" in the title came from in my mind.
In order to further accentuate the "moodiness" I made a few other tweaks to the image in development. First, I selectively darkened and brightened areas to try to lead the eye down the rapids. Next I reversed the expected sharpening of the image's elements. By this I mean that I reduced the sharpness of every thing except the water, and then I sharpened the reflections. To me this gives a sense that the reflections might be more "real" than the actual trees and ruins. It does at least seem to help convey the moodiness that I was feeling with the image. Finally, I added a slight vignette along the edges to bring the eye into the image.
Well, that is what I did and why I did them anyway. I hope it worked the way I intended them to.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
It has been a while hasn't it? I've been dealing with a lot of stuff and hadn't been able to get out with the camera very much. Things have not really settled down, but I am trying to make time for photography again now that the weather is more agreeable. However, it does seem to like to rain on the weekends for some reason.
Earlier this week I went to the Glendale Shoals Preserve. It is a conservation preserve of the Spartanburg Area Conservancy based around the historic Glendale Mills property. Lawson's Fork Creek flows under an iron trussed bridge, over the mill's dam, and over exposed rock below the dam. The preserve has a couple of trails, numerous picnic tables, and some historic kiosks relating the story of Glendale Mills and the area's natural features. I didn't spend very much time there, but I do look forward to going back and exploring it in better detail.
This photograph is Lawson's Fork Creek as it re-enters it's wooded embankments below the shoals before leaving the Preserve.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Here is a shot from last month's big snowfall. We got six to eight inches of snow with a quarter-inch of ice on top of it by the end of that day. The ice and snow mess stayed around for the rest of the week as the temperatures didn't get above freezing until the next week. It was an unusual winter storm for us. We get storms like this every 5 to eight years it seems.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
It's been awhile, huh?
This past month I've been fighting a corneal abscess due to an eye infection / irritation. It started the week of Christmas just after I had a bad cold. I have had similar symptoms the past couple of years, but previously they had always gone away in a week or so. This time it wouldn't go away. It took awhile to get in to see my doctor because of the holidays and the week everything was closed down from the big snow we had in early January. My doctor referred me to an ophthalmologist who has had me on eye drops and an antibiotic ointment gel with almost weekly visits to monitor the condition. Today's appointment was quite good and it looks like it is finally healing properly and it should be behind me soon.
As a result of this, I haven't been taking any photographs. The times that I have had similar symptoms in the past where all after long days with the camera. So, I didn't want to do anything to irritate it further. I do have a few photographs to process from the big snow we got, so hopefully I can get some of those up by the end of the week.
The ophthalmologist told me that this can be a recurring condition, particularly in the Spring and Summer which is when I had had the symptoms in the past. But now I know what to be aware of, and he gave me some advice on how to prevent it.
As they say, "that's life".
Saturday, January 8, 2011
With 2010 gone, it was time to look back at the photographs from the year. You may have noticed a couple of new links in the "My Links" section in the sidebar. One of those links is for the gallery of my favorite photographs from 2010. It is around 190 images and I probably could edit it down to a much smaller number of "the best". But favorite and best aren't the same things and these were MY favorites, so here they are. There is a Flash slideshow of the gallery which you can see in the full post (click the Read More link below).
Also, I have added a link to purchase prints of some my photographs. I have gotten enough requests that it felt like a good time to make it available. There is a limited selected right now, but I will add more over time. I will likely reorganize it into various categories as I add more images to purchase.
I hope your holidays were merry and your new year is a good one.
Follow the link for the slide show.