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Monday, January 31, 2011

Water runoff area near Pinn Road and 151

Today's photo is probably one of the most unique shots that I have taken since I started back in September. I noticed on the way to the San Antonio Rampage game on Friday night ("Pink in the Rink" night, you can view the photo here) that there was a decent amount of water near Pinn Road, and decided if a cloudy day presented itself I would see how a shot from there came out.


I ended up going slightly surreal with the coloring and lighting (in fact, I actually blended the colors using a UV preset in Nik Silver Efex Pro) because I wanted it to look slightly unnatural and a little more appealing than just standing water near a road. From the looks of it, this area floods pretty quickly when there is a substantial rainfall in the city (greater than 1/4" (a little local joke there, ha ha!!)). It has been some time since the city has gotten a decent amount of rain, although we might get some tomorrow and (allegedly) possibly some snow on Thursday-Friday. I am fairly happy with how the shot came out, I wish the water would have been a little cleaner, but maybe when we get some decent rain I will take some more shots and see how much of a difference it makes.


As always, please feel free to leave any comments or feedback, and remember clicking on the photo takes you to my online gallery hosted at smugmug where you can view this (and any of my other photos) in various sizes (you can also purchase photos there too, if you desire!). Thanks for stopping by!



Pooled water near Pinn Road


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Baltimore Public Works Museum

I took today's photo in the beginning of December when I decided to brave the cold and wander around downtown Baltimore during a weekday. I parked a few blocks from the Inner Harbor and walked down along West Falls Avenue with the intentions of walking along the waterfront to get to Fells Point. Unfortunately there was quite a bit of construction near the base of the Legg Mason Building, and rather than wandering around through an area I was not entirely familiar with I decided to head toward the Inner Harbor instead and take some photos there.


This photo, of the Baltimore Public Works Museum, was taken as I made my way down West Falls Avenue of what I thought was just an interesting looking building. I did not know until I crossed the bridge that it was the Public Works Museum. I debated visiting the museum, but decided against it as I really wanted to take photos around the waterfront. There was a very old looking tractor-ish vehicle in front of the museum that I really wish I would have taken some shots of, but at the very least that gives me a reason to go back and visit at some point in the future!


As always, please feel free to leave any comments or feedback, and remember clicking on the photo takes you to my online gallery hosted at smugmug where you can view this and any of my other photos in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!



Baltimore Public Works Museum




Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pink in the Rink - San Antonio Rampage

Today's photo is a shot from inside the AT&T Center taken on "Pink in the Rink" night on 28 January 2011, shortly after the San Antonio Rampage (AHL Hockey) defeated the Chicago Wolves 4-1 in front of a franchise record 14,339 fans. The game marked the first time that a special breast cancer awareness night was held by the San Antonio Rampage. It also was the first time that the ice was dyed pink for a game in San Antonio. And finally, before I go into the details of creating the photo, it would not have been possible without our season ticket representative escorting me to the "H.E.B Zone" shortly after the game was finished so I could take the shots that I needed to create this photo.


I ended up taking several bracketed shots 1 EV apart, ranging from -5 through +6, to fully capture the lighting and detail that I needed. I got lucky and my first few shots were taken when the Rampage logo was on the scoreboard and the displays circling the AT&T Center were still on (they were turned off once I hit the +1, +2, and +3 brackets). Fortunately I was able to merge the shots together partially by hand to present the best overall representation of the displays, rather than it just looking gray because they were turned off. I took a total of 27 shots and ended up using about half of them in the creation of this photo.


The pink ice was by far the most difficult part of this photo to process, as I wanted to make it stand out color-wise a touch more than it really was when I was able to take the shots, although it looked pretty similar to this photo color wise before the game started (if you would like to see one of the photos I took with my cellphone prior to the game, please click here). Getting the pink ice to render the way I wanted without being too bright or too colored in certain areas required using most of the under exposed brackets to blend certain areas on the ice for the overall shot to appear as natural as possible. One neat part of the shot is also the pink reflection on the glass surrounding the rink as well as the rafters/beams high atop the AT&T Center. I don't know if the lighting looks similar during other events, but having the pink reflection in this photo I feel adds quite a nice touch to the overall composure of the shot.


As always, please feel free to leave any comments or feedback, and remember clicking on the photo takes you to my online gallery hosted at smugmug, where you can view this (and any other of my photos) in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!


Pink in the Rink - San Antonio Rampage - 28 January 2011








Friday, January 28, 2011

Tower Life Building Sunset

Today's photo is one that I took a few months ago of a pretty nice sunset and the Tower Life Building located in downtown San Antonio. I took a few shots of the building, then realized that the parking garage was prominent on the right side of the shot, so I moved about 15 feet to the right and blocked a majority of it with a tree (although you can still see a little bit of it peaking out). I am hoping to get some shots of what will hopefully be a nice sunrise tomorrow (not sure where I am going to try to take them from) but the clouds from the approaching storms we are supposed to get tomorrow will (I am hoping) produce a nice sunrise!


Please feel free to leave any comments or feedback, and remember clicking on the photo takes you to my online gallery hosted at smugmug, where you can view this and my photo photos in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!


Tower Life Building at Sunset



Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve III

Today's photo is a shot (again) from the Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve. Even though the angle of the shot has not changed that much since my original post, the amount of water coming from the top of the grotto has increased quite a bit. As I previously stated, I think this is because it got warmer as the day went on, and more water was released because of the increase of temperature. If anyone knows the reason for the increase of water later in the day I would greatly appreciate leaving a comment or sending me an email with an explanation!


I took a few liberties with this photo, as I have done for the previous shots. I replaced the plain blue sky with clouds, although I went a little further this time and removed an overhanging limb by simply blending it into the new cloud background. I can only imagine just how impressive Hamilton Pool is going to be later in the year once the vegetation begins to grow again, and I am quite looking forward to visiting again for some more shots!


As always, please feel free to leave any comments or feedback. Also please remember that clicking on this photo takes you to my smugmug gallery, where you can view this (and any other of my photos) in various sizes. As always, thanks for stopping by!



Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve III



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mission Espada II

For some reason I decided to re-process an old photo today, and I finally decided on one that I took on the 14th of September of Mission Espada here in San Antonio (for my previous post back in September, please click here). I am not sure why exactly I decided on this shot but I am quite happy with the results of reprocessing it. I took this shot with the original lens that came with my T1i camera, so it is not nearly as sharp as my newer photos, but I still think that it ended up looking pretty good.


I desaturated the end result using a two step method in Silver Efex Pro, first I used a slightly extra amount of desaturation using the normal black and white, then I added the Antique Plate setting, which gives it the slightly ghosted look around the edges. I thought about making the effect stronger at first and although it looked pretty neat, I settled on this mix of the results for my post.


As always, please feel free to leave comments and feedback, and remember clicking on the photo takes you to my online gallery hosted at smugmug where you can view this and my other photos in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!


Mission Espada II


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Scooter

Today's photo is another shot that I took at the small roadside carnival in the old Kmart parking lot near Marbach and Loop 410. I took a series of bracketed shots, but since the bumper cars moved quite a bit between photos, I ended up using a single shot to create an HDR image, thanks to adding and subtracting exposure using Digital Photo Professional, which comes bundled with Canon DSLR cameras. I had a little bit of trouble getting this photo exactly how I wanted, so for the finished product I used one of the presets in Nik Silver Efex Pro to give the photo a slight vignette look, which applying quite a bit more desaturation than I normally use. The resulting photo captures a slightly eerie, creepy, and isolated feeling in the shot, which is pretty much exactly how attending the carnival made me feel.


Please feel free to leave any comments or feedback, and remember clicking on the link takes you to my online gallery hosted over at smugmug, where you can view this and my other photos in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!



Scooter


Monday, January 24, 2011

Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve II

Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve II


Today's photo is another shot that I took on Saturday at the Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve (the first photo can be seen in the previous post, or here). This shot was taken on the other side, facing away from the sun, so the lighting is a bit different. Once again, I added in a partly cloudy sky because I was not happy with the plain blue sky. This shot was also taken slightly later in the day than the shot I posted yesterday, so there is more water coming from the top. My guess is as the temperature warms up more water flows, but I do not know for certain if that is the case.


As I stated yesterday, I was completely impressed with the Hamilton Pool and I cannot wait to get back up there and shoot again (hopefully when there is more water and hopefully greener). The pictures truly do not capture just how incredibly amazing the Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve actually is!


Please feel free to leave any comments/feedback, and remember clicking on the photo takes you to my online gallery where you can view this (and any other of my photos) in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve


Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve


(NOTE: I might do this in the future as well, but I'm really happy with how the shot came out and wanted that to be the first thing that you see, rather than my ramblings about the photo!)


Today's photo is a shot from the Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve, located near Dripping Springs, Texas (about 30 minutes or so west of Austin). I came across some photos from here while trying to find some interesting locations to shoot earlier in the week and I decided I had to visit to take some shots of my own. The site is open almost every day, although sometimes swimming will be off limits due to high levels of bacteria in the water. The official website for the park is located here, but for those of you who would rather read a bit about the park:

"A unique natural area surrounds this pool, collapsed grotto and canyon, formed by thousands of years of water erosion. Lush plant communities, a variety of wildlife species and natural shelter attracted the area's first inhabitants. Cultural remains date back over 8,000 years.

Prior to the 1800s, Tonkawa and Lipan Apaches lived in the area. In the mid 1860s, Morgan C. Hamilton owned the property now known as Hamilton Pool Preserve. His brother, Andrew Jake Hamilton (the 10th governor of Texas), evidently visited this beautiful grotto while he was governor. In the 1880s, the Reimers, an immigrant family from Germany, bought the property to raise sheep and cattle. Legend has it that their eight-year-old son discovered the collapsed grotto.

Although ranchers might have considered the grotto a safety hazard for their livestock, the Reimers soon realized its value as a recreational area and opened the property for public use. Around the turn of the century, only a handful of people had the transportation to come out and enjoy the cool, serene surroundings. By the 1960s, and on into the 1980s, Hamilton Pool's popularity had soared, as visitors packed the legendary swimming hole. The land suffered from sheer numbers and few restrictions.

In addition to impact from the visiting public, cattle, sheep and goats grazed the delicate ecosystem for several decades, resulting in changes to the native vegetation. In 1980, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department cited Hamilton Pool as the most significant natural area in rural Travis County. In 1985, Travis County purchased 232 acres from the Reimers family and implemented an aggressive land management plan to restore Hamilton Pool. Now, as Hamilton Pool Preserve, the lush fern-canopied cliffs are making a comeback, as are the rolling hills and meadows of the uplands.

Ongoing land management practices at Hamilton Pool Preserve include prescribed burns, prairie restoration, endangered species surveys, biological inventories and water quality monitoring."


I processed this photo from a total of 9 bracketed shots, because of the very large amount of light outside compared to very little internally. If I had not used so many shots some areas would be very over-blown with light and some areas remaining quite dark. I personally think the area resembles something from a movie, such as Journey to the Center of the Earth or maybe even Lord of the Rings.


I am looking very forward to visiting again when the landscape is much greener. I am also planning take some shots around the river area, which is about a 3/4 mile hike from the pool. I added the cloudy sky in this photo because I wasn't too happy with just a plain blue sky as I felt that took away from the shot. I am also considering getting a fisheye lens for an even wider angle view, this area is definitely one where I feel that a fisheye lens would be excellent. I was very impressed with visiting Hamilton Pool, as I did not want to get my hopes up too high after being disappointed after visiting Lost Maples, but this was even better than I had expected. It is truly the first place that I have been where a photo (no matter how stunning) really doesn't do the area justice.


As always, please feel free to leave comments or feedback, and remember clicking on the photo takes you to my online gallery where you can view this (and any other of my photos) in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!








Saturday, January 22, 2011

Shoot Out The Star!

Today's photo is one that I took last night at a small road-side carnival near Marbach Road and Loop 410, in the parking lot of what used to be a K-Mart shopping center. I don't know if there is a schedule for this carnival to come to town, as I have seen it before, but I think it is usually around Fiesta when it has appeared before.


I figured it would be a good spot to take some photos, and although there are bumper cars, a giant slide, a ferris wheel, and other assorted rides, this is my favorite shot of the night so I processed it first. I purposely went for a slightly surreal look to this shot because I felt a natural look didn't do it justice. As you can see there are many types of prizes that you can win, ranging from a stuffed SpongeBob SquarePants to a Michael Jordan jersey. There were probably about 200 people at the carnival which was more than I expected. I was fortunate and able to time these brackets so there were only a few people in the shot, but even still I wasn't able to get rid of all of the ghosting, although I did get most of it.


Please feel free to leave any comments or feedback, and remember clicking on the photo takes you to my online gallery hosted over at smugmug where you can view this (and any of my other photos) in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!


Shoot Out The Star!


Friday, January 21, 2011

Fiesta Texas Railroad

Today's photo is another shot from the Fiesta Texas' "Holiday in the Park", this one being of a display set up using the train from the Fiesta Texas Railroad. As you can see by the amount of ghosting in the tunnels of the shot, it is a pretty heavily traveled area in the park so I wasn't certain how the shot was going to come out. I thought about trying to get rid of some of the ghosting, but I ultimately decided to keep it because I think it adds a little extra to the photo. There is also a small bit of halo-ing on the right treeline, but I could not remove it as the lights from the front of the park are located there, it is just a by-product of that (I did selectively darken the halo, but I did not think that it looked quite "right" so I left it as it was).


As always, please feel free to leave any comments or feedback, and remember clicking on the photo allows you to see it (and my other photos) in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!


Fiesta Texas Railroad


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cloudy San Antonio Skyline

Today's photo is another that I took from one of my favorite vantage points, the Buena Vista Street building on the downtown campus of UTSA. I arrived not too long after sunset and was able to get a few bracketed shots in with a dark blue cloudy sky just before it got dark. Normally I try to make my photos look realistic, however, I kind of like the softness and fuzziness that surrounds the buildings in this shot, so I decided to keep it that way. This shot is taken with the same 17-40mm lens as my previous shots, however the focal length for this shot was 19mm rather than 27mm (if I recall correctly, for my previous shot), so you can see quite a bit more of the overall skyline than my previous shot.


Please feel free to leave any comments or feedback below, and remember clicking on the photo takes you to my smugmug gallery, where you can view this and any of my other photos in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!



Cloudy San Antonio Skyline

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Splashdown!

Today's photo I started working on for a post tomorrow (I prefer to work one day ahead, in case something comes up so I have a "backup" photo to post), but I liked it so much I decided I could not wait and wanted to post it today.


This photo was taken at the ride "Journey to Atlantis" at Sea World San Antonio on December 26th. Yes, for all of you that are enduring incredibly cold temperatures and snow/ice/wintry mixes, it was plenty warm enough in December for Sea World to run some of the "water" rides. As you can see though, not many people chose to partake in that ride, so I'll have to shoot it again when it gets warmer (in about two weeks....har har!) I used several tools in composing this shot, to include my two new favorite tools Mask Pro and Silver Efex Pro (I promise I will stop yammering on about the new tools one of these days!). I am really enjoying how much of a difference blending the black and white layer with the full colored layer makes, as the colors seem to come out looking much more natural. I also used Bokeh 2 on this shot to keep the focus a bit more on the center of the shot and the "splash" effect that the ride creates. I also slightly enhanced the color at the center of the photo to give the shot (to me at least) a slight look of a falsified "3D" effect (I apologize in advance if you are not able to see that effect).


Please feel free to leave any comments or feedback, and remember clicking on the photo takes you to my online gallery hosted at smugmug where you can view this (and any other photos I posted) in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!



Slashdown!




Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mission San Juan, modified using Mask Pro

Today's photo is one that I originally shot and posted back in September, but I was never totally happy with the in the shot. I took the photo shortly before sunset and the sky originally was a hazy blue/gray color. I was able to tweak the coloring to make the sky a light blue, but I still was not totally satisfied with the result. I kept the photo in the back of my mind though for when I would find a good masking tool that would allow me to selectively pick out the sky colors to drop, so that way I would be able to get rid of just the sky and retain the details in the trees.


I finally found the program I was looking for in onOne Software's Mask Pro, which I finally had a chance to ask some questions about at ImagingUSA. One of the features is that you can choose colors to drop and colors to keep, then you brush the "drop" colors away with ease. The software is very easy to use and more importantly is quite reasonably priced. If you are looking for a good masking program I HIGHLY recommend it, but I think the difference in the two photos alone speaks to how well the program works.


Just like the new Judson's Candy Factory shot, I won't delve too much in to the details of Mission San Juan as I talked briefly about it in my original blog post (located here). If you visit San Antonio I recommend taking the time to see the other missions (San Jose, ConcepciĆ³n, and San Juan) even though they are a bit of a drive, each of the missions I feel are much more interesting and photogenic than the Alamo.


Please feel free to leave any comments or feedback on this photo. Clicking on the photo takes you to my online gallery hosted at smugmug where you can view this (and other photos I have taken) in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!


Mission San Juan - with a new sky


Original Mission San Juan


(NOTE: The photos are slightly different because I also reprocessed the shot entirely again from the original brackets. I have more tools and experience since I processed the original shot, I think the new one has a better representation of natural coloring in it)



Monday, January 17, 2011

Judson Candy Factory - Revisited

I think it is a pretty safe bet to say that I have learned quite a bit in the 5 months or so. Since September I have upgraded just about everything, to include the camera, lenses, software, and hardware that I use to produce the HDR images. I have also learned quite a bit about both aspects of creating an HDR image, from steps to take to ensure the original brackets are as good as they can be, up to learning and utilizing different tools and methods during post-processing (including Silver Efex Pro and Mask Pro which I added yesterday thanks learning about them at Imaging USA!).


Today's photo is again of the Judson Candy Factory, which is located just south of "downtown" San Antonio. I gave a good bit of history about the site in my previous post (you can visit it here if you want to, but I included the original shot for comparison as well), so I will not go into that again. What I will say is that I learned quite a bit since the original shot, such as the coloring is much more natural and not blown out now, I was able to fix the blown out portions of the Judson's Candy Factory Lofts sign, and I made the neon "Judson's" sign stand out a bit, while not making it look as if it did not totally fit in. I also had the advantage of a mostly cloudy sky, complete with fast moving clouds, to give the sky a much better look as well. I don't know how often I am going to go back and retake shots that I have shot previously, but in certain situations (like this one) it is refreshing to see how an scene can look now that I have had more experience. Hopefully I continue to learn and absorb as much information as possible so that the quality of my work keeps improving.


As always, please feel free to leave any comments or feedback, and remember clicking on the image takes you to my smugmug gallery where you can view this (and my other images) in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!


Judson Candy Factory - II


Original Judson Candy Factory




Sunday, January 16, 2011

Overcast Hays Street Bridge

Today's photo was created with the help of two products I learned about at ImagingUSA, Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro and onOne's Mask Pro. I've contemplated using both of the products before, but today was my chance to talk with reps from both companies. After having my questions about the products answered, I decided to give both of them a try, and it looks like both of them are going to have a permanent place in my processing "box o' tools" from now on.


I used Mask Pro to replace the gray colored sky from the HDR processing with a combination of two of the original bracket photos blended together, which worked out very well. I used Silver Efex Pro to make a black and white image (which I learned is actually a "true" black and white image compared to just simple gray-scale adjustments) to give the shot a slightly more overcast feel by merging the results of that with the original to remove a lot of the color (I like this process more than any desaturation process I have done before).


But that is enough about the tools, the subject of this photography is the Hays Street Bridge, which is located in San Antonio, Texas. The bridge is over 100 years old and faced the threat of being torn down until funding was procured to restore the bridge. The bridge "officially" re-opened on 20 July 2010, after being closed for nearly 28 years. A little bit about the history of the bridge from this website:

"The 1881/1910 Hays Street Bridge is a viaduct consisting of two wrought iron truss spans (one Phoenix Whipple 225-ft span, and one Pratt 130-ft span), and approximately 1000-linear feet of concrete approaches.

In 1910, the City of San Antonio required the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railway Co. (eventually part of Southern Pacific) to construct a viaduct over the railroad tracks at Hays Street. The railway company relocated the two truss spans from elsewhere on its lines."


As always, please feel free to leave any comments or feedback, and remember clicking on the photo takes you to my online gallery hosted at smugmug where you can view this (and any of my other photos) in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!


Overcast Hays Street Bridge


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fort McHenry Canons

Today's photo is of some of the canons located outside of Fort McHenry, in Baltimore, Maryland. I used a similar approach to this photo as I did with the Bond Street Wharf photo in that I tried to make it look like an old fashioned picture, with a little bit of color. I did this using Color Efex Pro 3, then merging the results of that with portions of the original photo to make bits and pieces come out a bit differently. I also used the technique I picked up from Scott Frederick on different levels of noise reduction in different portions of the shot. The sky I had a fairly heavy amount on, while the rest of the photo I left pretty much as it was.


After seeing the result of the Bond Street Wharf photo, I applied a little bit of what I learned from that shot in this one as well. One of the methods I used in this photo was the coloring in the grass. When I had another look at the Bond Street Wharf, I think the grass came out a little too dark, so this time I made an effort to brighten it, but keep about the same level of green coloring. I like the grass in this shot much better, but that may also be because the overall scene was much brighter than the Bond Street Wharf shot.


Please feel free to leave comments or feedback, and remember that clicking on the photo links to my smugmug gallery, where you can view this (and my other photos) in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!


Fort McHenry Canons



Friday, January 14, 2011

San Antonio Skyline, with a "tilt shift"

Today's photo is of the San Antonio skyline (from the same vantage point as my previous night-time shot, which can be seen here). I modified the photo using AlienSkin Bokeh 2 to create a "tilt shift", which in this case makes the vehicles on the road look miniaturized. I think this software, in certain situations, can enhance a photograph and I think it does a pretty good job of that in this photo. I wasn't quite happy with the shot itself (to make a long story short, the lens ended up having to go back to Canon to have some issues with sharpness resolved), so once again I used a software program to "hide" portions of the photo I wasn't happy with.


I used several different aspects of Color Efex Pro to get the shot looking like this as well, I merged several different slightly modified presets, including black and white infrared, black and white, midnight, pro contrast, and tonal contrast (to name a few) to get the shadows and coloring of the photo where I wanted it. Once that was achieved, I cropped the shot and added the tilt-shift effect to the shot. I don't think I would want to use this effect all the time, but in some situations I definitely like it (I have used it twice this week, the first time I used it was in the Enola Gay photo at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center).


As always, please feel free to leave comments or feedback, and remember clicking on the photo takes you to my smugmug gallery where you can view this (and other photos I have done) in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!



San Antonio Skyline - "tilt shift"


(PS: Once again, I know that the photo bleeds slightly into the column on the right. The "small" version of the photo was too small I think because of the odd dimensions that I cropped the shot too. There is nothing wrong with your browser rendering, I assure you!)



Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tron Light Cycle

Today's photo is a bit different than my "normal" work, I decided to take a shot of something that I had around the house and see how it came out. I have a few odds and end collectibles, but I finally decided on the collectible light cycle that came with the Collector's Edition of Tron: Evolution which I purchased at the beginning of December. I still have not yet had a chance to play the game, but I thought the light cycle would make a good subject for a photo. The only downside to this shot was that the light cycle is an instant dust magnet.


The hardest part about this shot (apart from the subject being a dust magnet) was getting the "glow" while retaining everything else from the HDR process. I ended up using several steps to do this, but one of them I never thought about until Scott Frederick mentioned it in his blog post yesterday. He applied different levels of noise reduction to separate layers, then merged them together. That is one of the steps that I did here. Applying a LOT of noise reduction made the image blurry, which is one of the effects I wanted for the "glow". Merging the blurred "glow" with the sharpness of the rest of the image produced a portion of the effect I was looking for. I also did a lot of brightening, over saturation, cloning/spot healing to try to make the coloring of the glow as uniform as possible. For giggles and grins, I also added a bit of "glow" to my watermark at the bottom right, using Drop Shadow and Outer Glow in Photoshop CS5.


Please feel free to leave any comments or feedback, and remember clicking on the image takes you to my online gallery hosted at smugmug so you can view this (and any other of my photos) in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!


Tron Light Cycle




Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Museum Reach Bend

Today's photo is one I took when I ventured downtown with a co-worker to get some shots of the riverwalk, Christmas lights, and whatever else we came across. The photo was taken on the Museum Reach portion of the riverwalk not too long before sunset. I like this shot because it seems like it is overall a nice balance between sunlight, shadows, reflections, and colors. To be honest, I think this shot came out much better than I thought that it would, after I took it I thought that it would end up being too dark for my liking, but I think the final result came out looking pretty good.


Please feel free to leave any comments or feedback, and remember clicking on the photo allows you to view this (and other photos I have hosted in my online gallery) in various sizes. As always, thanks for stopping by!


Museum Reach Bend


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

National Cathedral High Altar

Today's photo takes us back to National Cathedral again, this time capturing the view from just in front of the High Altar. The altar is carved out of stone and consists of 110 figures surrounding the center figure of Jesus. According to one of the Washington DC travel sites, the altar is carved from stone dug from Solomon's quarry outside of Jerusalem, thus it is sometimes called the "Jerusalem Altar".

When processing this photo I wanted to retain as much of the detail as possible from the altar, so I blended the image a few times with various brackets from the original to make the altar look as sharp as possible. It is not quite 100% sharp because of some noise from the camera itself, but all in all I think it came out looking pretty good. I did some merging with some modified Color Efex Pro presets in order to add a little more pop to the photo too. I must admit that I am liking the outcome of processing more and more by doing that to make the coloring look more natural, rather than just plain and normal desaturation.


As always, remember that you can click on the photo to view it in various sizes, and please feel free to leave any comments or feedback. Thanks for stopping by!


National Cathedral High Altar




Monday, January 10, 2011

Liberty Bell

Today's photo is of the Liberty Bell, on display at the Liberty Bell Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I got lucky and got a few photos before anyone went around to the backside to take photos of it, so there are no extra people in the background. As I researched the Liberty Bell, I came across something interesting (which unfortunately you cannot see from this angle). The inscription on the Liberty Bell reads "By Order of the Assembly of the Province of Pensylvania for the State House in Philada." At the time of the creation of the Liberty Bell, the proper spelling for Pennsylvania had not yet been established, which is why there is only one "n" rather than two. I wish I would have known that prior to shooting it, I would have tried to capture that in the shot.


As always, please feel free to leave comments/feedback on the photo, and remember that clicking on the photo allow you to view this (and my other photos) in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!


Liberty Bell



Sunday, January 9, 2011

Enola Gay

Today's photo is one of many that I took at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, near Dulles International Airport. The photo looks a bit different because I encountered a "problem" with the shot that I was not able to fix. The windows and bright outdoor lights in the shot were over saturating the top portion of the photo, and I did not have any fast exposures to merge them with. I really wanted to post this shot because I think it does a pretty good job showing just how many aircraft are on display, but it also seemed to capture the Enola Gay at the center point of the photo too.


I tried a program from Alien Skin Software called Bokeh 2 to get this effect. You can do several modifications and tweaks with the software, it seems like it is a pretty comprehensive tool. With more blurring and contrast I probably could have simulated a tilt-shift lens more and ended up with a miniature looking shot, but I just wanted it blurred enough to cover up the "bad" portion of the photo. I am pretty pleased with the result, and might consider adding Bokeh 2 to my collection of software.


As always, feel free to leave any comments or feedback, and remember that clicking on the image takes you to my online gallery hosted at smugmug, in which you can view this (and all of my photos) in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!


Enola Gay (tweaked using Bokeh 2)


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cactus in a Tree

Today's photo is entirely thanks to a co-worker of mine pointing this out to me as a potential photo opportunity. I took this shot on Alamo Ranch Parkway, located just behind the Alamo Ranch shopping complex. I don't recall ever seeing something like this before. That makes two unique "in a tree" shots that I have taken so far here in Texas, and I have a hunch that it will not be my last.


I took a few small liberties with editing this shot. I made the cactus a bit brighter and a bit greener than it really was, and I desaturated the rest of the photo a bit more than usual to try to get the cactus to stand out more. I think it came out pretty well, and I wonder how many people traveling along that road have ever noticed it (and how many have never noticed it!)


As always, feel free to leave any comments or feedback, and remember you can click on the photo to view it (and my other work) in various sizes in my online gallery hosted at smugmug. Thanks for stopping by!



Cactus in a tree



Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bond Street Wharf

Today's photo is one that I took in December while visiting Baltimore, Maryland. I took this shot not too long after the Startled Seagulls at Fells Point photo. This shot is of the Bond Street Wharf, which I thought was an old building, but turns out was built in 2002. I guess they did a good job designing it, because it was supposed to fit in with the historic Fells Point area, and it obviously did enough that I thought it was a very old building! A little bit about the building from the official website:

"This 220,000 square foot, six-story office building was built in 2002 and is part of a larger, six-acre, $1 billion development effort (known as Greater Fells Point) on the waterfront in historic Fells Point. The building was designed by internationally renowned, RTKL. This Class-A office building offers state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure featuring the only intelligent underfloor HVAC system in the region. Award-winning restaurants, hotels, housing and water transportation are nearby. A new 760-car parking garage located across the street is available to tenants of the building. Bond Street Wharf is a joint venture project of Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, Inc. and H&S Properties Development Corporation."


Because I thought the building was old, I tried some of the tweaks I haven't messed with that much in Nik Software's Color Efex Pro. I decided I wanted to make it sort of look like an old-time photo, but retain some coloring and the lighting/shadows of an HDR shot. After my normal steps of HDR creation process, I ran this through the "Old Photo" filter then made a few adjustments on the coloring and brightness until I got what I was looking for. I wanted to retain a small amount of color, but not too much (except for the sky, I wanted that to completely have the old photo effect) to sort of combines a new photo with an aged look. I really like the resulting image and I might just have to use it again on some other photos (maybe even reprocess a couple of them using this method).


As always, please feel free to leave comments or feedback. Don't forget that you can click on the photo to view this (and any other photos that I have posted) through my online gallery hosted over at smugmug. Thanks for stopping by!


Bond Street Wharf





Sunset at the 9th Green

Today's photo is one that I actually took last night. During my drive home from work I noticed the cloudy skies were starting to lessen, and I had high hopes to be able to get a few good sunset shots. Unfortunately the sunset was not as spectacular as I had hoped for, but I still think the resulting shot came out pretty well.

I took this across the lake from the 9th green on the "Creeks" course at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort. The green is actually shared with the 9th hole on the "Oaks" side of the course as well, making it one of the largest greens (square footage wise) in the state of Texas. I was hoping to be able to get a shot from here and one from by the windmill (which you can see in the left third of the shot) but it was already getting too dark for my liking by the time I finished up getting a couple of shots from this location.

Feel free to leave any comments or feedback, and remember clicking on the photo takes you to my online gallery where you can see this shot (and any of the photos I have posted) in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!


Sunset at the 9th Green

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sesame Street at Sea World San Antonio

Today's photo was taken on December 30th as some friends and I went to Sea World San Antonio to try to take in all of the shows in one day (which we were able to do). I only brought my camera and a few lenses with me (no tripod) so a majority of the pictures were taken with a very high ISO (in fact, this one was taken with an ISO of 2000). I must say I am quite impressed with the small amount of noise that the 60D produced with an ISO that high. I still much rather shooting shots in the 100-400 range, preferably at 100, but in a pinch I think the 60D performed quite well with such a high ISO.

I didn't do much color desaturation or spend much time trying to make this shot looking "natural" because I want it to look slightly cartoonish as the subject of this shot is characters from Sesame Street, so I think the slightly unrealistic helps make the photo stand out a bit more. What do you think?

As always, feel free to click on the photo so you can see it in various sizes in my smugmug gallery. Please do not hesitate to leave any comments or feedback either here on the blog or in my gallery. Thanks for stopping by!


Sesame Street at Sea World San Antonio

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fiesta Texas Holiday in the Park

Today's photo is (probably) the last in a series of shots that I will post from a quick trip up to Fiesta Texas on New Year's Day. As I stated in yesterday's post, my main reason to visit the park was to get a shot of the boardwalk and ferris wheel before the park closed for the season, but I also used the opportunity to take several shots of the "Holiday in the Park" displays. This shot was taken not too far from the front gate (in fact, in the center-ish (I know, it isn't a word) of the shot you can see several ghosted images clustered together, that is the front gate).

This display (the foreground of the shot) was set up to synchronize lights blinking on and off to the musical scores of several Christmas songs, which was pretty neat. Since the longer exposure captures all the light that it can, all of the lights in this shot look to be on at once. The background of the shot captures several of the buildings around the entrance that were covered in lights as well (those were on all the time). I did a bit of combining from the bracketed shots and an image generated from one processed RAW shot to get rid of as much of the ghosting as I could. I hope you like the results!

As always, feel free to leave any comments/feedback either below or in my online gallery, and remember that clicking on the photo takes you to my smugmug gallery where you can view this and other images I have processed in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!


Fiesta Texas Holiday in the Park

Monday, January 3, 2011

Fiesta Texas Ferris Wheel

Today's photo is one that I have thought about for some time, I had an image in my mind of how this shot would come out since my last visit to Fiesta Texas (which was about 18 months ago). I knew that there was a "boardwalk" and the large ferris wheel, but I couldn't remember much else about the scene. I finally made it back up there on the 1st of January with the mindset to get this and some shots of "Holiday in the Park".


I am 99.9% happy with this shot (the only thing I would change is the trashcan in the middle of the scene, I thought about moving it but didn't feel like getting kicked out of the park when I hadn't taken all of the shots that I wanted (although, when I do make it back there, unless that trash can is bolted down, either myself or a friendly park employee is going to move it before I take any photos).


Some of the modifications that I made to this photo is the red text on the "Six Flags" sign, I purposely took a few fast shutter speed shots to capture the text without too much movement. I decided on this text from one of those shots because although it is unreadable due to some slight movement, it filled up most of the scrolling portion and I think that looks the best. I also did some HDR cheating, to get rid of some of the extreme areas of ghosting I took the results from a single RAW image and used that blended with the brackets to create people that are mostly still (there is some motion, which I think is ok, but I like having stationary people in shots whenever possible). I would like to take this shot on a cloudy day, maybe even a night shot (although I will have to get VERY lucky to have the ferris wheel not move long enough for that!) but overall, I am very happy with the results.


As always, please feel free to leave comments and feedback either here or in my smugmug gallery, and remember that you can view this (as well as other photos in my online gallery) by clicking on the photo. Thanks for stopping by!


Fiesta Texas Ferris Wheel



Sunday, January 2, 2011

Fiesta Texas Christmas Tree

I decided to process this photo from the Six Flags Fiesta Texas "Holiday in the Park" celebration. I figured it would only be fair since I took so many shots of Sea World to visit the other amusement park in San Antonio and take some shots of another holiday display. I was surprised by how many buildings they have decorated in multi-colored lights, but I still think that Sea World had a much better overall experience (primarily because of the shows at Sea World). Fiesta Texas did have a much bigger tree, although it was located all the way at the back of the park, whereas the Sea World tree was the first thing that you see when you enter the park.

When I took this photo some of the Fiesta Texas performers were singing Christmas Carols in front of the tree, which is why there is a small area just in front of the tree with some pretty heavy ghosting. Unfortunately I don't have any way to fix that, so it just has to stay in there. I took this shot shortly before the sunset, which is why the sky is still blue. Over the next couple of days I am going to work on a few more shots I took in the park, including one that I have thought about taking for some time.

Please feel free to leave any comments or feedback, and remember to click on the photo to view it (and other photos in my gallery) in various sizes. Thanks for stopping by!


Fiesta Texas Christmas Tree



Saturday, January 1, 2011

Fireworks at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort

Today's photo is one I took shortly after midnight of the fireworks presentation put on by the Hyatt Hill Country Resort. I debated going downtown last night to try to get some shots of the New Year's Celebration, but decided against it after finding out that the Hyatt was planning their own celebration. The Hill Country Resort shoots of fireworks on the Fourth of July, but I don't remember them having a display for the New Year's Celebration before.

I wanted to focus on just the fireworks while I was taking shots, mainly because the fireworks are only shot off from about 500 yards or so from our backyard, so there isn't much of a chance to get any background details since the fireworks are so close (in fact, these were taken at the widest setting, 17mm, that the lens I shot the fireworks is able to reach).

I did not desaturate these shots too much as the subject of all the shots I took last night were only the fireworks, and I wanted to retain most of the colors (I did merge the final result with the original photo to give is a slight bit of natural look to it though).

Feel free to leave any comments below, and remember you can click on the photo to view it in a variety of sizes. Happy New Year and thanks for stopping by!


Hyatt Hill Country Resort Fireworks