Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Our favorite bivalve has come out of hibernation and we have finally given him a proper aquarium.  He's been with us for over a year now.  Before, Schnebly the Schnail was constrained to a potted plant by a thread "leash" glued to his shell.  We would sometimes find him dangling in mid air after a bungee jump attempt.  Now he's fully contained and happy (he told me so).  Here's a new portrait of the little dude.  He was totally loving the camera.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Driving the countryside again this evening, down a road I'd never been down.  I stopped to shoot the sunset reflecting off a small pond with a rowboat half sunk on the shore (which now that I'm home looks like crap) and turned around to see these little specks at the treeline.  Out came the telephoto and with the low light I was surprised to get a shot good enough to post (just barely good enough).

Monday, March 29, 2010


Yup still working on the tree...grrr

 I did however bounce some flash around the living room and nabbed this shot.
This is Pearl the Pug's abused "baby".

Sunday, March 28, 2010


So I took what I hope to be one of my best images today.  A simple crooked tree in a pasture with misty clouds.      Unfortunately my computer cannot handle the workload.  After many freezes, cold shut downs, and restarts I realized this won't be happening today, at least not before midnight.  So here's a chunk of the panorama in progress.  I'm frustrated beyond belief but I won't let this shot get away.


Saturday, March 27, 2010


Today the mailman brought my TTL flash (meaning it can auto adjust "through the lens").  It's so great!
I dragged the kids out to the woods for some portraits with much moaning and groaning.
It's got a "slave mode" option that essentially makes it a wireless flash.  So using my "gorilla-pod" I tried some off-camera flash shots by attaching the flash to various branches and roots, with mixed results.  It'll take some work to hone the skill but it's definitely easier than the manual flash I exchanged for it.  I need to work on my timing especially in slave mode, I'm so used to snap snap snap snap... I forget the flash needs a bit more time to recycle power. That's why the flash is more apparent in some of the shots over others.  Plus it was getting darker with every passing second.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I decided to take a random left turn on my way home today...I got lost.

Frequently, while I'm out with my camera I decide to go down roads I've never been down and I never lose my sense of direction.  I have a fantastic internal compass and somehow always know which direction to go to get back to familiar territory.  It was broken today.
So I took this left turn and after about 5 miles and 2 more turns I was completely disoriented. I kept driving and the roads got narrower and muddier and scarier.I was only really concerned because I had only an hour before the kids needed picked up from school.  At one point I looked over at a horse pasture and they were all lying down, I think one was dead (See below).  I had no cellphone reception by the time I decided to connect to the GPS application on my phone.  Shortly after that I realized where I was.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Sleeping beauty.
For this shot I used a 4 sec exposure, a $2 flashlight, and a Kleenex diffuser.  Yes I am a MacGyver  photographer or maybe MacGruber.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


There aren't enough hours in the day for this pet project of mine...but it's day 83 and I'm still here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Today is our wedding anniversary and I have to say that eight years ago, I made the best decision of my life.

I bought this beautiful scentless rose for my beautiful fragrant wife.  You may have noticed the general lack of perfume when at your favorite florist these days.  In humanity's genetic quest for large, hardy, long stemmed, vivid colored, many petaled roses we have had amazing success. The trade off is the lack of olfactory stimulation, which if you ask me is almost as important as it's beauty.  I jammed my nose into this rose and nearly inhaled it and, alas, not more than a vague hint of scent (I may have imagined it).  Pretty disappointing, though it's definitely easy on the eyes.

Here's your quintessential cliche' dewy rose macro shots.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Took the boy out for short a hike in Woodcock today.  He was not as excited to be out in Nature as I was.  He'd much rather be plugged into the Xbox but we have a new fun rule: No video games, if the sun is shining (insert maniacal laughter here, if you so desire).

Saturday, March 20, 2010


This evening ran late but we had a fun day of (much needed) yardwork, sunshine, bike riding, and chocolate cake.

The prison has been working across the street to clear out the fallen pine trees and this scene appealed to me.  This was a quick thinking five frame stitch unfortunately without the aid of a tripod while my daughter was waiting for me to get on my bike.  "Quit taking pictures Daddy!  Hurry up"

Friday, March 19, 2010


The first cookout of 2010!  It was cold but we were outside!

The slow cooker.

Heck yeah we played four square.  
Until someone got Eiffel Towered or cherry bombed 

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I was inspired by the sunshine and this little chirping cardinal to get outside and shoot me some birds.  I crept down the driveway with my 300mm to nab the shot below then remembered a little thing called "trap focus".

Trap focus is when you set up your camera in such a way that you trick it into becoming a motion sensor.  There's a different combination of settings for every camera but most DSLRs should be able to do it (google it), all you need is a tripod, a cable release, and patience. Set your focus on a branch that a bird is likely to land on (two words: peanut butter) then move that focus point into the (out of focus) area where your bird will be.  Set your shutter to rapid fire, lock your cable release, vacate the area and make a mojito (ohh, I can't wait for summer).  When a bird decides to land in the focus area the autofocus recognizes the in focus bird and fires away.  Shazam!

It becomes harder when you have only a single bird in your yard and you scared him away when you set up your camera.  Alas, no captures to prove this technique works but trust me, I've done it before.  An active nest in late afternoon is almost a sure thing or you could just get a birdfeeder.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


This is a 14 frame stitch panoramic of the ravine from yesterday. The stitching is flawless with no distortion so my homemade pan head worked but the exposure sucks.  It's hard enough to get one exposure perfect but to expose 14 images evenly and seamlessly stitch them together into one good exposure is, well, not easy.  Here it is anyway.

The UPS man brought me my Vivitar 285HV flash today and will be taking it back with him tomorrow.  I played with it for a while this evening and only got frustrated.  It's fully manual and I've never done any real flash photography so the learning curve is very steep.  I'll be exchanging it for a dedicated  iTTL flash, so it will actually "talk" to my camera and learn flash from there.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I walked back into the woods across the street to photograph an old broken bridge that has been rotting there since the prison was a college.  Theres a nice ravine along the way so, big surprise, I decided to give a panorama a go. These files will take a long time for my old computer to stitch so they may be loaded another day if it can handle it.  Here's a single frame of it.

I finally arrived at the bridge and it was gone!  It had been ancient and unwalkable even when I was a kid.  It had taken a few blows from fallen trees and the middle had collapsed but there was something there to photograph before.  Now it's an unrecognizable pile of wood.  This really bums me out.  I grew up playing in these woods and the bridge was always there, daring us to cross though none of us ever got very far before we chickened out.  Here's a couple shots I took of it in October '08.

Monday, March 15, 2010


I took a drive back to that farm I shot yesterday.  Took more of the same shots during pre-sunset, I'd really like to go into the pasture but I don't know the property owner.  It's outside of  Troyer's Antiques outside of Meadville.  I'll have to stop when they're open to ask around.

I officially tried out my homemade panoramic tripod attachment.  Tada, it works!
Here's some interesting 3 frame HDR panoramas (or verti-rama).

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Last night, the highschool-style formal dance of my wife's medical school ,aka: "LEPROM", was a surprisingly fun, albeit long, night.  Not without much personal protest we ended the night at some chump-filled dance club called Boardwalk.  Not really my scene and now I have to dry clean my suit.

Overall I enjoyed watching my wife have a great time with all the awesome people she has gotten so close to since starting school 9ish months ago.  It was nice to be part of the crew for a change instead of just hearing about all of her friends.

And the wife looked smokin' hot. (yeah, I know, the dreaded "pop up" flash shadow ruins this awesome portrait.   My new flash will arrive this week)

I spent the majority of the day building this panoramic tripod head.  It is a complicated technique but simple design.   I won't go way into it but it just means my large scale landscapes should definitely improve.

Plus I found a new HDR program that looks promising for more realistic images.  I haven't done any HDR lately beacause it seems like it's way overdone now and sticks out like a sore thumb.  This program seems to do it the right way.  Here's my first try with it. It's not a scene that necessarily needed HDR but I just randomly pulled over and shot it when I was on my way back from the Home Depot.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


We had a beautiful week of sunshine and now rain.
The nearly all the snow has melted in the yard to reveal the discarded corpse of Frosty.  

The death of winter...I love March.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


This is where you'll find our cat 22 hours of the day.  When he's not knocking unattended cups off of tabletops, attacking the dog, or pooping., he's here.  Under the upper staircase on a shelf above the lower staircase (if you've been to our house that sentence will make sense).

I like the composition and contrast but it's not as good as I thought it would turn out.  Can't nail them all.  My  wife actually told me she hates this shot, I think it's because she hates the cat. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Yesterday morning I was detoured from my normal route to work due to an accident.  I had a 50/50 decision, left or right.  I chose left, which just happened to be the wrong choice and would make me take an additional detour later but I did discover some awesome pre-sunrise foggy goodness so it was totally worth it.  I didn't have my camera with me because I hate taking it to work.  So I woke up and got out the door early with my gear this morning and took the same route.  Nabbed a couple good shots but I ended up not having as much time as I thought.  I might make this a frequent morning side trip.