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Fuzzy Flowers

On my trip to Johnson City, on my never ending quest for things to photograph, I stopped in on the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Wildlife Reserve. Ladybird Johnson had a thing for wild flowers and on this reserve there were fields of wild flowers despite the lack of rain this year. This was shot at sunset, with the sun low on the horizon. As a result it was providing a great deal of light down low. This along with the wind provided a bright and fuzzy flower.

Fuzzy Flowers

Fuzzy Flowers

There is nothing particularly special about this shot. No prep, no lights, no reflectors. Just me, my D700 and my Nikkor 105mm f2.8. I shot this about 3.75 inches from the flower with a very narry DOF to really kick the bokeh up. Knowing I cant get tack sharp in the field, going for more abstract form and minimal detail was the right approach. Unlike many digital photographers, no effort was placed in removing or taming the grain in the shot. This is intentional. It adds to the bokeh effect and to me is a compositional element as it provides texture to the image. This look and technique reminds me of my film days when you could push Tri-X and get this look. In an age when detail is king, there are times when soft and fuzzy are a good thing.

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Architecture in Texas – (Updated)

I have blogged for a bit on the issues I have been having “finding my eye” with regard to taking pictures. Having been spoiled for the last 10 years with living in the Pacific Northwest I have found coming back home to Texas hard for me with regard to my photography. I miss the majestic landscapes of Washington and Oregon. As a result, I have had to find new things to shoot. The other issue I have with the greater Austin area other than a lack of mountains is that this is “BIG Sky Country” and usually there isn’t a darn thing in it. To put it bluntly there is nothing more boring that a flat landscape and a never ending EMPTY blue sky.

Lately, I have been in luck. It has been raining in Austin off and on which means we get thunderstorms and clouds. Being that I work downtown, I am literally blocks from the Texas State Capital. Being that my first degree is in architecture, I can always seem to fall back to my first professional love and enjoy shooting building. Yesterday, the sky was nice, the sun set at the golden hour was warm and the reflection off the building and how it was lit was perfect. Luckily for me I have been carrying my camera bag on potential cloud days. So, at the end of the day, coming up on 7:30 I went over to the capital and grabbed this shot.

The Texas State Capital, Austin Texas

The Texas State Capital, Austin Texas

This is a single image shot with my Nikon D700 and my 14-28mm Nikkor wide angle lens. I set up with my tripod and waited for an hour for the light to get just right to grab the series of shots that resulted in this image. The final print once cropped is 27″ wide x 13″ tall. Shot like a panoramic, the cropping was to eliminate an underground gazebo that is in the picture but distracted from the overall composition. This is an HDR shot processed in Photoshop CS5 using Nik’s HDR Efex Pro. The full size image looks really nice. The Nik Software is excellent. For the record I did try this image in HDR Darkroom, Dynamic HRD, Photomatix and Nik’s HDR Efex Pro. Consistently the Nik Software outperforms the others in terms of look, ease of use and general operation.

My search for more things to shoot continues, but I think this was a good addition.

 

UPDATE (5/29/2011) – Ok… so I hated the first image. I spent awhile playing with it, changing the tone map and looking for a series I shot with better sky. This was the result. Since I didn’t wait for the sun to drop farther, I was dealing with a harsh glow on the building. Most people don’t know that the Texas Capital is made from Sunset Red Granite from Marble Falls Texas. This means the building basically looks pink and at sunset, it throws a serious cast of red. So there was some clean up that I neglected in the original image that this one clears up.  CS5 was my weapon of choice for this editing and I wasn’t disappointed. Having just recently upgraded my digital darkroom to a monster of a machine, I added new software as well which included my CS5 upgrade (worth every penny).

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Johnson City

As mentioned in my post from earlier today, I am still on the hunt for new subject matter to shoot. This shot is as scenic as I can find within 90 miles of my house (so far). This shot was taken in Johnson City, on the ranch that President Johnson grew up on. Spot metered on the horse. this shot turned out better than expected. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and this shot was taken at about 4:30 pm. So, it was bright and the sky is some what blown out. I never thought I would miss the clouds of Seattle, but I would give anything for some clouds in the sky to tone down the light and to break up the sky a bit. This shot works because of the tree. Had it not been in the foreground the framing of the image would be off and bland.

Johnson City, Texas

Johnson City, Texas

I did a black and white conversion of this image that turned out ok. It lacks a bit of contrast as there is little in the image to give off a pure white. The blacks are rich, but the lack of white makes the image looked washed. So, I think I will stick with the color image for now.

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Walk on the WeIrD side

Tonight a friend of mine and I went into Downtown Austin to try and shoot a panoramic of the skyline. (Yes, Austin has a skyline… kinda). We looked for over an hour for a place to shoot and couldn’t get the right location. As we were about to give up we decided that since we were there, we may as well shoot down the famous Congress Street bridge. This is the bridge that the bats live under. The problem with this angle is that the capital of Texas is at the end of congress lit like a Christmas tree. With long exposures on a bridge, with a bright capital building meant the scene in the middle would be bright to say the least.

Despite all of these issues and concerns we went ahead and shot the panoramic. Naturally, once we were done we decided on where a much better shot would be made. So, both of us decide we would go back and give this another go from a better location. Until then, this is what I got. Not quite as dramatic as my Seattle Panoramic (17″ tall and 6′-00″ long) but its not a terrible image either.

Austin, Texas as seen from the Congress Street Bridge
   Austin, Texas as seen from the Congress Street Bridge

We managed to have a good time despite having to run around looking for a good spot and the harsh light. Its always good to get out and shoot even when you don’t get exactly what you were after. Next time we know exactly where to go.

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Tradition

Every college has its traditions. My school is no exception. This is a statue of Will Rogers. His statue is in the center of the main entrance to Texas Tech. The Administration building is in the background. The Traditions is known as “Midnight Raiders,” and takes place on Thursday nights before every home football game. The Saddle Tramps (A spirit organization for the school) wraps the Will Rogers statue with crepe paper and Streamers. Along with the statue these are hung from the coaches’ tower, band tower, and light poles all over campus. After Will is wrapped, the Saddle Tramps circle the horse to sing the Fight Song, Matador Song, and pledge class songs.This shot was taken on a recent visit to the school (March 26, 2011). I was there to take my kids to see the school and to see the spring inter-squad football game. While there I took this shot, one that I never took while attending the school despite having a camera with me everywhere I went.

Tech Tradition

Tech Tradition

Even though it was just spring football game, it was nice to be on campus again, see the sights with the kids and capture a shot that I should have taken over 20 years ago.

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Friends and Photowalks

February 14, 2011 2 comments

Knowing I haven’t taken a great deal of pictures in the last year (largely do to my real job) a friend of mine encouraged me to get out more. In fact he said he was going to make it a personal mission to make sure I got out more to shoot. So, this weekend we went into downtown Austin to take some pictures. While we weren’t organized with the “where or what,” we managed to have a good time and get some good shots. There are a ton of very old homes and structures in dowtown Austin. Some we were looking at went back to the 1840’s. In fact this first shot is of a house built in 1846. This is a side window. Oddly, it was the only window for about 40 feet of brick wall. Even more interesting, this was literally the only place in the wall that had a crack. I was drawn to this small architectural detail because it was odd, the texture of the brick was great as was the detail in the wood and leaded glass.

Ancient Portal

Ancient Portal

I took several on the outing but this was my favorite. Because of my Architectural background I enjoy the details of these historic structures. I may add one of a 1960’s power station once I get done doing my conversion. But, for now I am taking pictures and enjoying the mild Texas winter.

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An Oldie… but

In reviewing some “Old” pictures from 2010, I found a few of the desert. Being from El Paso, I am something of a desert rat. I love the landscape. The mountains and big sky as well as the brush. There is a texture to it, you can breath when you are out in it. When you are in the desert you can see a storm coming for MILES. This particular shot is one taken in New Mexico back in July when I was moving across the country from Seattle to Austin.

The New Mexico Desert

The New Mexico Desert

New Mexico is a great place to get some pictures (I need to go to Santa Fe). I took several just like this along the way and hope to get some more out here soon.

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