Thursday, July 28, 2011

Race Reflection

Race Reflection

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.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Swimming Blobs


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.

Keep shooting.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Life

Pigeon River and Rocky Waters Inn

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.

Keep shooting.

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