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Thursday, March 29, 2012


Mini-Rock Swirls, Columbia MO

I took the dogs for a brief run at Grindstone Nature Area.  I was running late, so I rushed through our normal hike without taking any breaks until we got to Mini-Rock Falls.  When I got there I had exactly 10 minutes before I had to leave.  I made two photos worthy of sharing during those 10 minutes, including this one.  Photography never ceases to surprise me.  Sometimes I shoot for two hours and end up with nothing.  Other times I shoot for 10 minutes and get two gems.  For example, the other night I shot for two hours trying to capture lightning as a storm blew South of Columbia, and came home with nothing.

This is a single 1/2 second exposure.  I used a circular polarizer to cut the glare off of the water and allow the colors and textures of the rocks to shine through.  I was surprised how dreamy the water looks at this shutter speed.  I generally like a longer exposure, but in this case the water was moving fast enough and I was close enough to the action to get a nice blurring effect.  I checked the image on my LCD screen and saw I had good motion blur, so I didn't need to get out my neutral density filter and use a longer exposure.  It was a good thing too because I was in a hurry!

CreativeLIVE is live today.  The workshop is "Lightroom Fundamentals" with Laura Shoe.  You can watch live in high resolution for free here (and low resolution here).

Photo taken March 15, 2012

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Missouri River Blues, Rocheport MO

I took this 30 second exposure a while after sundown during the blue hour.  Nini and the dogs were getting anxious to get off the sandbar, up the steep dirt cliff, and back to the M.K.T. "Katy" Trail that leads back to the car.  This was one of the last shots of the night, if not the very last one.

This is a single 30 second exposure and it is the first single exposure I've shared of this sunset (all of the rest were HDRs you can see herehere and here.  When I have the time I like to keep shooting for about an hour after sunset.  Once the sun is down it's possible to get long exposures like this without using any filters.  I'm obsessed with the long-exposure effect on the water, as you can probably tell by now.

Photo taken Feb 22, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Dreamy Mini-Rock Falls, Columbia MO

Hinkson Creek is slowly receding and I'm able to get just little further out into the creek without getting wet.  But after seeing this view the other day now I'm determined to bring my sandals and get in the frigid water for the ultimate Mini-Creek falls shot!  I should see if the Columbia MO parks department wants to use some of these photos to promote Grindstone Nature Area.  Maybe I should make a Grindstone calendar or iphone app or something?

This is a five exposure HDR.  The single exposures range from 30 seconds to 2 seconds in one stop increments.  The light on the trees in the background and the long exposure water really make this photo for me.  I'm never satisfied with my composition, but I think getting in the water will yield much stronger compositions.  The slow moving water behind Mini-Rock falls created some cool patterns I'll have to try and capture better in the future.

Photo taken Feb 17, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Deep Breath, Columbia MO

Big Red taking a break on the trail at Grindstone Nature Area.  Another rare black and white from me.  I guess it's getting less rare lately.  See my favorite black and white photo here.

I know shooting into the sun is usually frowned upon, and more than that, it's usually very difficult to pull off, but I couldn't resist when I saw Big Red backlit like this.  I was able to use the zone system to get the exposure just right while getting off a quick shot before Big Red caught his breath.  I employed the zone system quickly by spot metering on Big Red's face and and adjusting the exposure so that it read -1 stop.  Knowing the zone system, I knew that -1 stop exposure on Big Red's face would provide enough details so that his face can be seen while also giving me a good range of mid-tones and highlights, preserving some details in the highlights that would have been blown out if I had increased the exposure 1 stop.  With the zone system I was able to make the decision quickly and confidently, and could start to think about composition and timing the shot with his breath.

By the way, it's hard to focus when you're shooting into the sun!

Photo taken Feb 18, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Hinkson Creek Blues, Columbia MO

This reflecting pool caught my eye as Nini and I walked with the dogs along Hinkson Creek in Grindstone Nature Area yesterday.  There are several nice reflection pools along the creek now that the high water has started to recede.  I tried to get Big Red to pose in the water for me with a big reflection, but there were too many squirrels in the area.  Maybe next time.

This is a six exposure HDR.  I had originally set up my tripod about 10 feet in front of where this one was taken, but noticed the branch reflection and had to move back to place it in the frame a little better.  I used a circular polarizer to increase the glare on the water, bringing out the reflections and the blue sky.  When we were on our way to the park I noticed we would have a boring cloudless blue sky and I thought it would not be a very productive outing.  I'll have to remember to look for reflections the next time I see a cloudless sky.

Photo taken Feb 17, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012


After Sundown, Rocheport MO

The final of three sunset photos from our trip to the "best beach in Missouri" on the banks of the Missouri River.  I usually plan to stay for an hour after sundown and take photos during the blue hour when the light goes cold and blue.  I really love the way the camera catches that deep blue light.  This photo was taken just after sundown.  See my previous posts from the best beach in Missouri here and here.

This is a five-exposure HDR and the exposures range from .5 to 8 seconds in one-stop increments.  After the sun had set I was still set up facing directly toward the sunset.  But Nini pointed out that the Southeastern sky was glowing purple!  I quickly recomposed to get some of the purple light in the frame.  It was gone before I could get off six exposures, so I was left with five to work with!

Once again, CreativeLIVE is LIVE today and it's free.  The workshop is "Posing Masterclass" with Bambi Cantrell.  You can go to www.creativelive.com/live but if your internet is slow I recommend the low resolution link here:

Photo taken Feb 22, 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Dusk in the Woods, Columbia MO

The boys and I took a quick hike at Grindstone Nature Area.  The sun had already went down and it was getting cold, but I decided to take the high ridge trail out of the park anyway.  I was treated to this lovely view of the dusk sky along the trail.

This is a six exposure HDR.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Just Before Sundown, Rocheport MO

Nini and I took the dogs to our new sunset location the night before last and were lucky to see a beautiful Missouri River sunset.  This little sandbar is just below the Katy Trail outside of Rocheport Missouri.  The Katy Trail is a 240 mile state park that runs along the old M.K.T. railroad line (Missouri-Kansas-Texas).  To access the sandbar you have to climb down a steep dirt cliff, but there are plenty of tree roots to help lower yourself down.  The dogs were down in a skip and a jump.  One passer by said, "How in the heck do I get down there?  That's the best beach in Missouri!"  We had a fun time watching the sunset on the best beach in MO.

This is a six-exposure HDR.  Despite an awesome view of the sunset, I struggled for a long while to find a composition I liked.  But we arrived 45 minutes before sunset and I had plenty of time to try out different compositions and ultimately settle in on a few that I liked.

Photo taken Feb 22, 2012

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Beach #5 Dark Sunrise, Havelock Island, India

It was still quite dark when the sun made its first appearance.  I love the low tide at Beach #5 and I can't wait to see it again someday.  See my previous posts from Beach #5 here and here.

Being on the beach in January was a nice treat for a Nebraskan who doesn't get to see many beaches.  I photographed two sunsets and two sunrises while in the Andaman Islands.  After each shoot I looked through the shots on my camera and was always disappointed.  I may have gotten one or two good shots I thought, but nothing great, and certainly nothing close to the potential I saw with each sunset and sunrise.  My biggest hindrance was that I was always in a rush and didn't have time to look around and compose the perfect photo.  This problem was compounded by the fact that I don't have much practice with beach photography.  I tried the best I could in a hurry and with my limited experience.  But I learned some things in those four short shoots and I'm still learning more as I process the photos and continue to study other photographer's seascapes to see where I went wrong and what I did right.  In the end, the shots were better than my first impression from the back of the camera.

Photo taken Jan 9, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012


High Water at Mini-Rock Falls, Columbia MO

To get this photo I was standing on rock that had two inches of water flowing over it.  My hiking boots are awesome so my feet stayed totally dry.  Composing photos like this can be physically demanding.  Trying to balance in the middle of the creek, on slippery rocks, hunched over for the low perspective, holding your breath so your glasses don't fog, can really wear on your body.  Once I get everything set and finally stand upright and take a deep breath, I usually experience a moment of dizziness from the blood rushing back to my head!  It would be a lot easier if I just got in the water.  Right now it's a little cold though and in the summer we've seen water moccasins swimming in this area of Grindstone Nature Area.  I prefer cold water over snakes I guess, so maybe I'll get some waders and really get serious with this creek.

This is a single exposure.  I used a circular polarizer reduce the glare and allow the colors to shine through, and a six stop neutral density filter to allow for a long 30 second exposure.  I like to take long exposures on the creeks I come across in town, getting lots of practice for PHOTO ADVENTURES to come.

Photo taken Feb 7, 2012

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Victoria Memorial Sunrise, Kolkata India

I have shared a few HDR photos of Victoria Memorial in the past (see previous two posts), but this is the first single exposure I have shared.


I'm amazed at how quickly my processing techniques evolve.  I always think my most newly processed photos look the best, and any time I re-process something I usually like the new version better than the old.  In some ways processing is similar to writing, and the first version you make is just a first draft, which gets better and better with each revision.

Can you spot the sun in this sunrise?

Photo taken Jan 12, 2012

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Victoria Memorial Sunrise, Kolkata India

Continuing with the story from my previous post, this photo was taken with Nini standing directly to the left of the camera so that it could not be seen by the guards at the main entrance and in the middle of the grounds.  By the time the sun was this high more than 500 morning walkers were getting their exercise walking around the huge park within the gates of the Victoria Memorial.  Some were meditating, others playing badminton or frisbee, and there were several workout groups of mostly men doing stretches, sit ups, push ups and jumping jacks.  It was an older crowd, the average age was probably around 45 or 50.  It was very cool to see so many people using the beautiful park early in the morning.  Even with all of the walkers the park is so big that it was not crowded at all. In fact, I don't think you can spot any people in this photo, even in Original size.  In comparison, the crowd at sunset was massive, check out the crowd in larger sizes of this photo.

Daily photo: Jan 21, 2012, taken Jan 12, 2012

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Victoria Memorial Sunset, Kolkata India

Kolkata was the British capital of India and this is the memorial they built for Queen Victoria. There are many other British memorials and government buildings around Kolkata but it is amazing how the modern city has swallowed them up. Because Delhi is now the capital, it seems that the old government buildings and memorials are a bit more isolated there than in Kolkata.

When I first set up my tripod and started composing the first batch of photos, I placed my tripod on the concrete bank of a reflecting pool. I was careful not to break any rules, and we didn't see any signs warning us against it. But after about three minutes a couple of guards started hollering at me from the other side of the reflection pool, making quite a scene. There were thousands of people on the grounds and many were already staring at me. Now everyone was looking as Nini and I made our way to the guards. They simply said "no stands," and walked off.

Friday, March 2, 2012


On the Trail for Sunrise, Gretna NE

We returned from India on the evening of January 16th, and by 7PM I was fast asleep.  But I awoke at 5:30AM the next morning and could not go back to sleep.  So I made myself some steak and eggs from a leftover steak from the dinner I slept through the night before.  Then I woke up dad around 6:30, picked up my boy Big Red, and headed to Gretna to make more photos of the Holy Family Shrine.  Since it was so early in the morning I let Big Red run with me, but don't tell anyone.

For more information on the Holy Family Shrine see my older post here.

The sunrise was pretty lame, the sun peaked out for about five minutes before being engulfed in clouds.  Also lame: ISO 640!  I made an amateur mistake and forgot to reduce my ISO after my previous shoot, which was indoors in very low light.  Whoops!  As a result, this photo required more noise reduction than I normally like.  This is a six exposure HDR.

Photo taken Jan 17, 2012