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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

San Antonio Alamo Plaza Christmas Tree

This photo is of the Christmas tree in Alamo Plaza, located in downtown San Antonio, Texas. The tree is sponsored by H.E.B. (a local grocery store chain). The tree has 10,000 LED lights strung around it.

I am pretty happy with how this picture came out, although I still think that the decorations and attractions at Sea World are much better than what you can see downtown in San Antonio. I plan on visiting the Six Flags Christmas celebration at some point in the future, but I think it is going to be pretty hard pressed to beat what is on display at Sea World.

I slightly desaturated everything except the tree itself to make the color and lighting more of a focal point of the photo. I chose this picture because at the base of the tree a family is posing (for someone else taking a photo, not me) and it was the only shot of about 20 that contained a small feature like that, which I think adds to the photo considerably.

As always, please feel free to click on the photo to see it in larger dimensions!

Christmas Tree in Alamo Plaza

Monday, November 29, 2010

Panoramic shot of San Antonio (via Photomerge in Photoshop CS5)

First of all, I do not have a fisheye lens that would allow me to actually take this picture. Nor can I justify spending the money for a fisheye lens when there are so many other lenses that I would rather have (and use) much more than a fisheye lens. Especially when Photoshop gives you the ability to stitch photos together for a panoramic view like this.

I first learned that CS5 had the ability to do this through Luis who was displaying some of his work as part of First Friday at Loft 121 Number 5 along with me. I first tried this at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles, and it came out ok (I included the photo below as reference). This time I merged a total of 7 shots, instead of 3, to make the curvature less noticeable. I am very pleased with the Photomerge results, and it saves me having to purchase a fisheye lens for quite some time!

Back to the processing, I used Digital Photo Professional (which comes included with Canon DSLR cameras) to export the RAW images at -2, 0, and +2 to create the files that I would use to process the photos. I imported each group of photos (all 6 at -2, all 6 at 0, all 6 at +2) and used Photomerge to create a panoramic shot for each group. I then resized each panoramic shot based on the smallest resolution (which was 10832 x 2663) and loaded them into Photmatix to create an HDR image.

Photomatix does an excellent job removing ghosting and matching structures, whereas HDR Efex Pro does not so I only used the result from Photomatix in this shot. If you look closely you can see that the Tower of Americas does not quite line up properly and you may notice ghosting on the road from the vehicles. That is a result of overlapping and imaging sizing difference from different shots in Photomerge and unfortunately is unavoidable without purchasing a fisheye lens.

Once I got a result I was happy with it was loading the image into Photoshop and tweaking the coloring and lighting like any normal shot, except this one was really wide. I am pretty pleased with the result from the processing. One word of caution though, if you are using the Photomerge option make sure you have a pretty beefy processor and lots of RAM because you are definitely going to need it!

(PS: I know the images bleed into the column to the right a little bit, I did that on purpose so if you only view it on the blog instead of clicking it and seeing it in the smugmug gallery you can make out more of the details)

Panoramic view of San Antonio (via Photomerge in Photoshop CS5)

First Panoramic stitching attempt: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tower Life Building with Christmas lighting

Last night I went downtown to take photos of the Riverwalk after the Christmas lights were finally lit for the first time on Friday night. I figured that waiting a day would thin out most of the crowd from the first night and that I would be able to get some good shots.

Well, the crowd was much lighter than I had anticipated, but I was not impressed at all with the Riverwalk lights. There were small portions on the Riverwalk that looked neat but a majority of the scene seemed to be a tree here or a tree there with lights. It also had a very distinct reddish glow as if the designers decided to put up 4 red lights for every other colored light as well. I did take some photos and will work on them over the next few days, but if you want to enjoy a much better overall Christmas display I recommend going to Sea World rather than downtown.

Anyway, this shot of the Tower Life Building lit in Christmas colors is the first shot that I decided to work on, not just because of the red, green, and white lighting, but also because at the top there is the Texas state flag and a Texas A&M flag on the flagpole. I am guessing this is because of the owners of the building celebrating the win over Texas on Thursday night but I am not 100% certain on that.

I blended several things together in this picture to make it look a little different than if you would actually see the building in person. I enhanced the green and red slightly in the lighting of the building. I also darkened the flags so they would stand out a little bit more. I made these modifications because when I did my normal de-saturation process to make the picture look a little less surreal I was not quite happy with the results. The slight over brightening and over saturation actually makes the coloring look more like the original photo, while retaining the added lighting, shadows, and depth that you get from HDR processing.

Tower Life Building Christmas lighting

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sea World San Antonio Christmas Celebration

So not only did I post two photos today, here is a three-pack of Sea World San Antonio photos for your enjoyment (well, four-pack if you count the "Azul" photo which I posted earlier today). As always, you can click on the pictures and see the image up to the "X3" size. I hope you enjoy the photos!

Earlier today I put up a processed photo of "Azul" at Sea World San Antonio that was accentuated by the lights that have been placed for the annual Christmas Celebration. I originally had planned on going downtown tonight to get some photos of the lighting of the Christmas lights and the Ford Holiday River Parade, but I decided to stay home and process these photos and head downtown tomorrow instead. There are two benefits to tomorrow, the first being not nearly as many people will likely be downtown and it is not supposed to be as windy as tonight, so the longer exposure needed to capture the night shots should be less blurry (as you can tell from several of the trees in the background of my Sea World shots, the wind can make the photos look even more surreal than normal).

Anyway, the first photo is of the Southwest Airlines sponsored Penguin display, my wife and I must have visited Sea World 10 times and I don't recall ever being there during "day" time (the display is setup to replicate their natural habitat, so the daylight here in San Antonio does not usually correspond to daylight in Antarctica. I took this shot with a zoom lens, purposely trying to focus past all of the water that is splashed up on the glass. You can still see some of it if you look hard enough, but I think I managed to clean up a majority of the water droplets that detracted from the shot.

The second picture is my favorite actual display that I saw as I walked around the park. Just past the Steel Eel there is a display of about 10 "snowmen" in various activities. I like this scene the most although it took me about 10 minutes to decide on the vantage point that I wanted for the shot. I ended up setting the tripod (unextended) up near the pylon so I could see the quarterback, the poor receiver, and the ball smacking into the pylon. You would not think this setup would be a difficult one to take, but when you take into account you need three separate subjects and the perfect vantage point to see the hole in the receiver, it becomes a challenge to get the shot. In the background you can see the track for the Steel Eel as well as another snowman display on a skateboard.

The third shot is of the Christmas tree that you see as soon as you enter the park. Once again you can see from the top of the trees (and the star on the top of the Christmas tree too!) that it was extremely windy. I ever so slightly desaturated the background trees to try to get the main Christmas tree to stand out a little bit more. I think I am going to try to take this shot again just as the sun is setting (or shortly thereafter). I think that will make the tree stand out a bit more and taking the shot again when the treetops are not blurred due to the wind will probably make the shot look completely different as well.

Penguin display at Sea World San Antonio

Snowmen playing football at Sea World San Antonio

Christmas tree at Sea World San Antonio

Azul at Sea World San Antonio

Azul at Sea World San Antonio

This is the first night shot that I decided to process from Sea World San Antonio's Christmas Celebration. There are several shots that I am going to process over the next few days, but I liked this one the most so I did it first.

This shot is of the entrance to the show "Azul", which now with the Christmas celebration is surrounded by several trees that are lit by a purple-blue light. I wanted the blue to stand out a bit more so I tweaked the colors to make the meaning of Azul (Spanish for the color "blue") more apparent in the photograph. I took this shot last night when it was very windy, so the trees are blurred from blowing in the wind but I think it gives it the photo a sort of surreal look.

Azul at Sea World San Antonio

Brackenridge Eagle Train

I originally tried to take this shot on Saturday but there wasn't enough light so the original shots of the train were blurry. I went back yesterday and had plenty of time to set up and take some test shots to ensure I would capture the photo exactly how I envisioned it on Saturday.

The Brackenridge Eagle takes visitors around Brackenridge Park in San Antonio, Texas. A trip around the park on the train takes about 20 minutes and I believe there are stops along the way that you can disembark from the train if you would like (I am not sure because I have never taken a ride on the train). The location in the photo is where the train crosses the San Antonio River. One of these days I am going to have to ride the train to see if there are any other locations that would make for an interesting photo, as I think it has to re-cross the San Antonio River somewhere near the station.

Brackenridge Eagle Train

Thursday, November 25, 2010

King Cobra at the San Antonio Zoo

I took this shot over the past weekend at the San Antonio Zoo. The last time I visited I did not bring my tripod and shots within the reptile house did not come out nearly as well as I had hoped. This visit I brought my tripod and I probably spent about an hour just taking shots of the different reptiles on display.

The King Cobra was interesting because it "posed" for the photos I was taking. I took about 25 shots of the snake and just a few of them were blurred because it was moving. The only thing that I wasn't able to capture was when it slightly "hooded" as I was collapsing the tripod. I don't know if it could see through the glass and was threatened by the lens hood or not, but that was pretty interesting. I don't know exactly how big the King Cobra was, I would guess somewhere between 10 and 15 feet, but it is very large for a snake. Especially for such a deadly snake. I for one am very glad that we don't have to worry about them in the wild here in the United States!

King Cobra at the San Antonio Zoo

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dusk and the Bexar County Courthouse

I took this shot on Saturday after getting my first "L" lens (as you know if you have been reading my daily posts). I hadn't ever taken a shot from this angle before and I was immensely helped by the way the coloring in the sky and clouds as it got closer to sunset. Honestly I think it is the sky that really makes this photo.

The reddish building is the Bexar County Courthouse, it was taken on South St. Mary's street near the via bus stop. I desaturated the entire picture a bit, but went back and did a little extra touch up to make the sky stand out a bit more than it normally would. I hope you enjoy it!

Dusk shot of the Bexar County Courthouse

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

San Antonio skyline shot. With non-rushed processing

So, if you were up terribly late last night, you may know that I finally found the perfect spot to the the skyline of the city of San Antonio that I have been wanting for quite some time. I wasn't happy with just the Marriott, the Tower of Americas, Alamodome, etc. The way the city of San Antonio has grown there is not one confined area with tall buildings, it is spread out over the course of several blocks, so most skyline shots only contain a few buildings. I knew there had to be a spot in San Antonio where you could get a majority of the skyline, and last night I found the perfect location by accident.

I recently started to upload my photos to Flickr as well, and browsing through the "near you" portion of the map I saw a shot taken of someone in three different poses on the balcony of the downtown UTSA campus, specifically the Buena Vista Street building. Behind him was the skyline shot that I have been searching for. I found this last night at about 9:00PM and my original plan was to visit the location today. Well, I could not wait, so I rushed downtown to get some shots. I was so excited I rushed through processing just to be able to share the view that I have been searching for with the world. Granted, the photo I posted was not my best work but I was just too excited because I had finally got the shot that I wanted.

Today I had the time to properly process the shot and I think the result is much better. The detail and clarity is much more pronounced, I have a better lighting, color, and overall balance than the shot I produced last night. I thought about taking down the original shot but decided against it because I will always be able to compare the two of them in the future. Plus, even though I was not totally happy with the first shot, someone else out there might be and might hate the second shot. How many buildings can you identify in the shot? I listed the ones that I could pick out in the tags of the photo, if I missed any I will gladly add them!

Anyway, here is my "final processing" of the San Antonio skyline. Enjoy!

San Antonio Skyline

Monday, November 22, 2010

San Antonio skyline shot. Finally!

So, I know this is a late post. But I had to run down and take this shot as soon as I found it, and had to process at least one of them tonight. This is a shot that I have wanted to get ever since I started to learn about HDR back in August.

This is the San Antonio skyline, and unlike any of my previous shots, this is the ENTIRE skyline. The Marriott, the Drury Hotel, the Tower Life Building, the Tower of Americas, the Alamodome, etc. The whole skyline is in this shot. I will talk more about the shot in a post tomorrow (and process another shot for sure), but I just HAD to get this out tonight. I hope you enjoy it!

San Antonio Skyline

American bald eagle

Today's photo is a shot I took over the weekend at the San Antonio Zoo of an American bald eagle. The last time that I visited the zoo the eagle was not on display so I did not have the opportunity to photograph the bird. This time after spending quite some time in the butterfly exhibit and the reptile house I made my way around the zoo and fortunately for me the eagle was on display again. It is kept in an open air partition, I don't know exactly what the reason for this is (I'm guessing it either has or did have a severely injured wing and is unable to fly).

I got out my Tamron 28-300 zoom lens for this shot, and while it is definitely not an "L" series lens I was able to make the photo sharp and put the final touches on the coloring, sharpness, and light while retaining a slight amount of blurring in the background. I got lucky too and it happened to look directly into the camera during one of the (admittedly many) shots that I took hoping for just that.

American bald eagle at the San Antonio Zoo

Sunday, November 21, 2010

St. Joseph Parish with a better lens

Today's shot is a comparison of two shots taken of St. Joseph Parish in San Antonio Texas. One was taken with the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 SP Di II Aspherical (IF) lens and the other was taken with the Canon 17-40mm F/4 L USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom lens (the camera body is the same, the Canon T1i).

The original shot was by no means terrible, but I wasn't happy with the amount of detail that was captured in the shot. I thought it came out looking soft and I did not feel that it did the interior of this amazing church due justice. The amount of detail, clarity, and color that the L lens takes the shot to an entirely different level altogether. While the field of view is slightly different than the Tamron lens, the, it is still a fairly wide angle view. I am totally impressed by the difference an "L" lens makes in a shot. The only downside to getting a higher quality lens is now I have to go back and re-shoot a lot of picture that I wasn't quite happy with due to the quality of the lens. I can only imagine how the St. Michael's shot that I took in Washington DC would come out with the "L" lens. I might just have to make a trip back there and see!

St. Joesph Parish in San Antonio, Texas (with an "L" lens)

St. Joseph Parish in San Antonio, Texas (original shot)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

USS Bexar - Shuttlecraft 3

Today I was fortunate enough to purchase my first "L" lens (17-40mm F/4L USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom) (Quick slightly off-topic note: If you have never used an "L" lens before I highly recommend it. The way the shots came out are incredible. So much more detail and clarity than any other shot. I just cannot say enough about how much of a difference the "L" quality makes in your photos).....and I took it for a spin around the San Antonio Zoo and some shots in Brackenridge Park. I had actually finished getting shots at the zoo and on my way out of the park I came across this awesome van. I went all the way to the exit of the park to turn around and return to take several shots of it. I was lucky because the owner was in the process of packing up (I am guessing after an event in the park) and I asked if I could take pictures of it (I didn't want to stop him from leaving just so I could have gotten some shots, but I would have been very disappointed had he said no).

I took some shots of the front of the van as well. It had the Starfleet/United Federation of Planets logo flanked by an American flag and a Texas flag. I am going to process and post that too, but I am so tired after shooting all day today I only have the energy to process one photo. I gave the owner a card that contained my contact information and links to my blog and smugmug site, I truly hope he visits and shares his thoughts on the way it turned out (and maybe even on what led him to create such an awesome vehicle!!).

I hope you enjoy this picture and share my jealousy for being able to call such a unique vehicle your own.

USS Bexar NCC-71718 Shuttlecraft 3

Friday, November 19, 2010

RiverCenter Courtyard

Today's first shot is of the courtyard located just outside of the RiverCenter Mall in downtown San Antonio, Texas. I took this shot in the far corner of the courtyard around dusk and got lucky to get a pretty steady shot of one of the River Taxi / River Tourboats going by. While I was working on this photo I decided to revisit my original RiverCenter Coutryard shot and add a partly cloudy sky to the photo instead of the original plain blue sky. I also re-did the colors using Color Efex Pro...and to me it looks nothing like the original. There are pretty much just mild changes, but I think it came out looking much better than the original.

PS: Yes, I cleaned up the water in the Riverwalk to make it clean. No, the water really doesn't look like that. I wish it really did.

Corner of the Courtyard

Re-worked RiverCenter Courtyard

Original RiverCenter Courtyard

Thursday, November 18, 2010

San Fernando Cathedral - Revisited

Today's shot is a wide angle shot of the interior of San Fernando Cathedral, located in San Antonio Texas. I first shot the interior of San Fernando back at the end of September and I finally made it back to take a wide angle shot, allowing me to get more of the stained glass windows and a more accurate representation of the interior of the church. I included the original shot that I took and posted as well for comparison sake.

I am much happier with the wide angle lens photo, I feel it is a much more accurate representation of the lighting (and color!) within the Cathedral. As always, any thoughts, questions, or comments are ALWAYS appreciated!

Wide angle lens shot of San Fernando Cathedral

First shot (standard lens)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Our Lady of The Atonement Catholic Church

Today's shot is of the interior of "Our Lady of The Atonement Catholic Church" located in San Antonio, Texas. This was the first stop during an off day when I decided to go around and get shots of the interiors of different churches in San Antonio. I saw a shot of the sanctuary online and instantly decided to take a shot of it (mainly because of the rich royal color in the ceiling). I took a few from the floor, then decided to get up on the balcony near the organ to take some additional shots and I am very glad I did. I saw a few photos taken from the floor but none from this vantage point and I feel like it made a HUGE difference.

Once again I added a lesser exposed image to bring out the stained glass in the middle of the shot (I left the side windows alone because they came out decent (the sun was on the right side of the church at the time, so the windows on the left weren't terribly over exposed. I also made the glass from each of the light fixtures slightly darker (once again using the under exposed image) to make them look slightly more "natural" as well. I really hope you enjoy looking at this shot!

Interior shot of Our Lady of The Atonement, San Antonio, Texas

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Interior shot of St. Mark's Episcopal Church

Today's post is a photo taken of the interior of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, located in San Antonio, Texas. I think the interior of this church is the second best in San Antonio (St. Joseph Parish I feel is the best) and I stumbled across it by using Google Maps on my Droid, although it is only a few blocks north of the Alamo and "downtown".

I tried a new technique in this photo and I am pretty satisfied with the results. With windows and sunlight, the length needed to get a proper exposure usually "floods" the area with light, making details such as stained glass windows very difficult to capture. I took this shot, then immediately reduced the length of the exposure to different amounts, trying to bring out more detail in the windows. I tried a few different shots and finally settled on a 1 second exposure and then used Adobe RAW made some changes to the photo to allow a better "blending" of the windows. I am very happy with the final result and I think it is a technique I am going to use more often with interior shots (specifically when dealing with stained glass and bright sunlight from outside).

Interior of St. Mark's Episcopal Church

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dolphin at Sea World San Antonio

Today's shot is one from my gallery that I took not too long after I really started to get in to HDR Photography, it is a shot of a dolphin at Sea World San Antonio wanting some food. At some point I am hoping to go back to Sea World at get some more shots (I have learned quite a bit since I started taking shots back in August) but just haven't had a chance to make it back there yet.

This was created using solely Photomatix and Noiseware Professional (back before I learned about how powerful Photoshop can be for post-processing, as well as some of the better plugins like the Topaz Labs bundle). I am very interested to see how the shot would turn out with more experience under my belt (which I would be able to do if I had kept the original photos, which I did not realize the importance of until I was a few weeks into it...oh well).

Dolphin at Sea World San Antonio

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Entrance to the Tower of Americas

I took this shot not too long before sunset of the Tower of Americas, HemisFair Park, located in San Antonio, Texas. The vantage point is just outside one of the walkways leading to the tower. I like the way this photo came out because even if you do not know what the subject of the photo is, right there in front of you is a sign telling you what it is. It also helps that instead of a metal facade or some other object, the bridge going over the walk way, flanked by trees, makes the overall picture look more natural, with a 750 foot tower rising from the background.

I took the lettering and the two lights on either side from the original photo and made them lighter so the whiteness was more pronounced, then blended them with the final photo to make the white a little bit more natural looking. With HDR processing, a lot of times the whites come out looking dirty, so one (of the many) parts of the post processing is going back to clean up the whites. Like all of the clean up, it is best to make it look as subtle and blended as possible so instead of detracting from the overall picture, the minor fixes add to the overall quality of the shot.

Entrance to the Tower of Americas

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Entrance to Lost Maples State Natural Area

Today's photo is of the entrance of Lost Maples State Natural Area, located near Vanderpool, Texas. The sign and (for now, at least) brightly colored tree are the first things that you see when you enter the park (it also helps that if you have never been before, it is kind of hard to miss, which acts as a visual way-point that is extremely helpful!).

I wanted to really bring out the color of the reddish-orange of the maples and distinguish them from the the background colors (and the foreground of the fence) so I selected everything except the trees and desaturated the colors a bit, giving the color a bit more "pop". It is a technique I read about on how to make autumn colors stand out a bit more and I think it worked pretty well. It is definitely something that you could get too carried away with but I think I managed to maintain a pretty good sense of realism while ensuring that the contrasting color does stand out a bit more. (Oh, the wonders and joy of post-processing!).

As always, any questions or comments are very much appreciated!

Entrance to Lost Maples State Natural Area

Friday, November 12, 2010

View from "pond" at Lost Maples State Natural Area

This shot was taken from the banks of one of the "ponds" at Lost Maples State Natural Area, located near Vanderpool, Texas. I think that this pond is one of the most enticing features of the East Trail (I only walked the East Trail, so I didn't see the whole park, which may bias my take on the park itself). There is a small area to camp on the right bank (there were some tents, but they are obscured by the brush and angle of this photo). On the far side is a man trying his luck at catching fish (I didn't see him catch any while I was shooting, but it did look like he had some bites).

I am quite pleased with this shot, as it captures the trees and several different stages of leaves turning different colors, which is the primary reason that most people visit the park this time of year. And if you aren't able to visit the park, hopefully the series of photos I process from the park will make you feel as if you were there!

View from "ponds" at Lost Maples State Natural Area

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Waterfall at Lost Maples State Natural Area

With today being Veterans' Day (and having off from work because of it) I decided after some deliberation to head to Lost Maples State Natural Area, located about 90 miles west of San Antonio near Vanderpool, Texas. I arrived at the park around 9:15 and didn't have to wait in line or anything (in fact, I got the parking spot directly next to the beginning of the East Trail, which was an added bonus!) When I left around 2:30 the line of vehicles waiting to get in to the park was backed up about a half mile or so, if you want to visit I suggest getting there early and avoiding the line!

Anyway, I would guess that about 30-40% of the trees were starting to turn, so it wasn't quite as eye-popping as I had hoped, but it still wasn't terrible. The park reminded me more of taking a walk where our family used to live in Pennsylvania, except this was located in central Texas. Over the next few days I am going to process shots from the park, I never really worked on nature shots before, so it will be a learning process for me. One thing I have already learned when it comes to colors is less is definitely more, especially when a shot (such as this one) has such a wide range of colors but is predominantly green (and variants of green) landscape-ish (I know that isn't a word, but I think you probably understand my meaning).

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to ask!

Waterfall at Lost Maples State Natural Area

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

View from sidewalk outside of the Judson Candy Factory

As I mentioned in a previous post, the former Judson Candy Factory building is now a series of lofts and other living spaces, but the exterior of the front of the building (and this eye catching sign) remain to this day (and hopefully for quite a long time).

I took this shot several weeks ago, but for some reason never got around to processing it. The Tower Life Building is visible on the right side of the photo. I added a little extra emphasis on the redness of the sign to bring it out a bit more.

View from sidewalk outside of the Judson Candy Factory Lofts

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Overlooking San Antonio from the Hyatt - facing west

This photo was also taken from the "Sky Pool" on top of the Hyatt Regency located in San Antonio, Texas. This shot came out a little clearer (mainly because for whatever reason it wasn't quite as windy taking a picture from this angle), but I still would like to retake this shot on a less windy day.

You can see the Tower Life Building, the Drury Hotel, San Fernando Cathedral, Hard Rock Cafe, and other buildings that make up the San Antonio skyline in this shot. Enjoy!

San Antonio, facing west from on top of the Hyatt Regency

Monday, November 8, 2010

Overlooking San Antonio from the Hyatt

This is a view that I have wanted to experience since I began taking shots and processing them as HDR photos. It is on top of the Hyatt located on the Riverwalk in San Antonio. I knew they had a "sky pool" (a pool on the top of the building) and heard the views were incredible. On the 30th I finally had a chance to get up there and take some shots.

Overall I am fairly happy with how they came out, the shots are a little blurred because it was fairly windy, and on long exposures wind can affect the clarity of the shot. I did my best to sharpen the images a bit and I think they came out ok, but I would definitely like to get back on there on a calmer night to try some of the shots again.

San Antonio - From the Hyatt Sky Pool

Sunday, November 7, 2010

F-15 Engines

I thought this was a pretty interesting shot, most of the aircraft on display at Lackland AirFest 2010 had covers over the engines (probably to protect them against debris/kids throwing popsicle sticks, cotton candy, etc). The F-15 that was on static display did not have the covers over the engines so I took a shot of it. I am really happy with how the shot came out, and if you look closely you can see a C-5 and the AWACS (E-3 Sentry) in the background as well. Enjoy!

F-15 engines

Tora! Tora! Tora! demonstration at Lackland AirFest 2010

This photo was part of the demonstration by Tora! Tora! Tora! (their official website is here) at Lackland AirFest 2010. I didn't get to shoot the entire demonstration unfortunately because I arrived much later than I had anticipated when I left home yesterday morning. I did manage to take a few shots, but I think this one came out the best, as it contains smoke from previous "explosions", a fireball from a new one, a Japanese Zero smoking as if it had been "shot", and another Zero getting ready to make another run.

Tora! Tora! Tora! re-enacts the role aircraft played in World War II starting with the attack on Pearl Harbor. It is a pretty impressive performance to see, I only wish that I could have had more time to get set up and take photos of it.

Tora! Tora! Tora!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

E-3 Sentry (AWACS) cockpit

This is what I thought was the neatest display at AirFest. Visitors are able to take a walk-through tour of a Boeing E-3 Sentry that is on display. I took a shot of the interior (which did not come out terribly well) but saw that the cockpit door was open, but off limits to the guests.

Prior to taking this shot I asked one of the crew members if I could take a few shots of the cockpit (since it was blocked, I didn't want to do anything that could get me in to troubleand fortunately he said yes!).

Now to be fair, I am not a pilot, I don't play one on TV, and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so if this cockpit is vastly different from the interior of a Boeing 747, Airbus A330, KC-135, etc, I would really have no idea. I just know that I probably won't have a chance to take shots inside an AWACS ever again (unless it returns for AirFest next year or something like that).

Boeing E-3 Sentry (AWACS) cockpit

F-22 Raptor at Lackland AirFest 2010

At long last I got a shot of an F-22 at the Lackland AirFest 2010. I got this shot just after the World War II re-enactment "ToraToraTora" which included some special effects to simulate several different bombing runs (Pearl Harbor, Japan, etc).

Getting a shot of the F-22 was the main reason I decided to visit AirFest today. Hopefully the organizers do a much better job in the future managing traffic and the entrance/exit to AirFest, as it took me almost an hour from when I left my house to when I actually got through the security checkpoint near the AirFest entrance. AirFest continues today and tomorrow, so if you decide to go, you had better plan on leaving VERY early in hopes of avoiding long waits in traffic and line. But I digress, I hope you enjoy the shot!

(PS: I had the opportunity to get another shot that I am going to process tonight or tomorrow that I believe is going to come out stunning!)

F-22 Raptor

Friday, November 5, 2010

Two San Antonio night shots

I am going to cap off the week with two shots along the "art" theme here in San Antonio. The first shot is of the "Torch of Friendship" which was presented to the city of San Antonio by the artist Sebastian on 27 June 2002. If you have visited the city since then you have likely seen the giant red sculpture downtown (about a block south of the Alamo).

The last shot is a bit of my own art, outside of the normal HDR editing. This shot was of the Tower of Americas with my Tamron 28-300 lens from on top of the parking garage behind Casa Rio. I was happy with the processing, but didn't quite like the way the photo looked, it looked a little to plain. So I added a full moon into the shot to give it another element of light against the back drop of the night sky. I like how it came out, but I will be the first to admit that the moon was added in after processing, which is why I consider it my "art" shot of this week.

I hope you enjoy the photos!

Torch of Friendship

Tower of Americas and Full Moon

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Teal "Light Channels" -- And The Whole Series!

As promised, today is the fifth and final installment (for now at least) of shots taken of Bill FitzGibbons "Light Channels" on Commerce Street. This shot is actually my favorite of the overall colors, mainly because the teal in any night shot is a pretty rare color. As I also promise, I included links to all of the photos in the series in the post so you can see the different colors taken from one vantage point. It almost recreates actually being there and seeing it in person. I hope you enjoy this shot and the series!

Teal "Light Channels"

Red "Light Channels"

Purple and Green "Light Channels"

Purple "Light Channels"

Blue "Light Channels"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Red "Light Channels" on Commerce Street

Today's post is the fourth (the last one in this series will be posted tomorrow!) capturing different colors in Bill FitzGibbons "Light Channels". This shot was taken of the IH-37 overpass on Commerce Street. Out of all the shots that I took, this one had the boldest and richest colors (probably because red is a very bold color to begin with).

I've really enjoyed working on this series of shots, as I stated previously it's amazing to think that all of these shots are of the exact same view, just with different colors of light. And that one difference makes each shot totally unique and incredible when you compare all of the shots together (which I will do tomorrow after I process the last shot). Enjoy!

Red "Light Channels"

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

30 seconds of lightning strikes

Last night we had some pretty severe weather roll through our area and it seems those living by Sea World got the worst of it. We had some pretty large hail, mixed in with a LOT of smaller hail (check out my Twitter feed for some of the pictures I took with my Droid about 10 minutes after the rain had stopped).

Before all of that excitement, I decided to try to capture some lightning strikes as the storm rolled in. I took several 30 second exposures, and as all of you who have taken lightning shots know and understand, you have to be very patient (and lucky) to get some good ones. Fortunately, I did get lucky and was able to capture this shot.

I *think* the large flag pole at Sea World was hit in one of these shots, but there is so much lightning that I cannot really tell for sure. I hope you enjoy this shot nearly as much as I do!

Lightning strikes as storm rolls in on 1 November 2010

Purple and Green "Light Channels" on Commerce Street

Today's photo is number three in the series (I am going to process two more, one tomorrow and one Thursday) and wrap it up with a post on Friday with all of the processed shots of "Light Channels" by Bill FitzGibbons. Out of all of the shots that I took, this one has the least amount of overall color, but the contrast by the two different colors is instantly noticeable. I am not sure how many different color schemes there are overall, but I do know that there is a "rainbow" setting with the colors of the rainbow, however I was unable to capture that shot. It is a goal of mine to capture it and I will get it before too long. It is not a question of "if", it is only a question of "how long do I have to wait".

Purple and Green "Light Channels"

Monday, November 1, 2010

Purple "Light Channels" on Commerce Street

As I mentioned in my previous post (click here if you are interested), I took a series of shots of the Commerce Street overpass that contains Light Channels", which was created by Bill FitzGibbons. The first shot I posted was of the blue lights, the shot I processed today is of the purple lights.

As of right now I'm planning on processing three more shots of the underpass (all taken from the exact same view, just with different colors) and in the last post I will display them all together. So you can check back every day for a new shot, or just wait until the end of the week and see them all at once!

It really is amazing how much of an effect changing the color of light can give a different feeling to a photo. It is also pretty amazing considering that this is just an overpass on a street, but adding different colored lights to it turns it into a work of art. As always, questions and/or comments are very much appreciated!

Purple "Light Channels"