Monday, January 14, 2019


Santa gave me a fisheye optic for my Lensbaby Composer.  Truth be told, I find this a lot more interesting to use than the default tilt-shift lens of the Composer.

Freaturing a 12mm focal length, this lens can shoot from one inch to infinity.

To Infinity and Beyond!

This is a shot of the Buzz Lightyear toy in my cubicle at work.  I put a black card behind it, relishing the 2001 Space Odyssey-like reflecting lights on the plastic helmet.  To help matters along, I added a lens flare effect from photoshop.

In the following shot, I lined up the Pink Panther figures to look somewhat like the Keep on Trucking graphic from the 70s.  Shot from a short distance, the line of panthers shows nicely the perspective effect that you gain with a fisheye lens.

Here's another one, among my first shots with this lens, that also shows the type of perspective I'm talking about:

This shot of Stewart Hall on WVU's main campus illustrates the visual distortion of a landscape shot.  Note the barrel distortion and chromatic effects in the four corners.

None of these shots are what I would call great, but this has been a very fun lens to play around with.
Like this car, I'm happy:

Friday, December 21, 2018

Variations on a Religious Theme

In the past couple of months, I've made a photographic study of the Forks of Cheat Baptist Church in Stewartstown, WV. 

Like my favorite hill behind the Dent's Run Covered Bridge, I've had a particular affinity to the composition of the landscape.  And unlike previous shots, I actually got a tiny bit of sky color when I shot it on November 4th.

Perhaps it's because of the two coal-fired electricity generation plants that are in the valley behind this hill, but it's been hard to catch this scene with any sort of clear sky.
Also, on that same date, I had brought along my Yashica MAT-120 TLR film camera.  This is an uncropped B&W shot from the 2x2 film.

This time, I used a tripod to steady the shot.   Other shots from close up weren't so exciting.  And they only got worse from here:

A couple of weeks later, on Nov. 23, I took another drive out in that direction.  Those shots were also quite nice.  I managed to get even more blue sky:

That one is probably a "keeper."  I like the long shadows case by the late afternoon November sun.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Roller Girl

Last Saturday, I got to sample our local Jingle Brawl multi-league roller derby tournament.  Took my camera (of course) but made the mistake of restricting myself to only one lens (of course).
Still, it was a fun challenge to shoot in a dimly lit arena with a telephoto lens.  This might have been the first time that I shot at strictly shutter priority.

I quickly discovered that it was foolish to try to shoot for high-quality 100 ISO images.

Here's a shot that I liked for overall composition:

I shot that at ISO 400, 1/30 sec at f/4.0.

Later on, I tried to shoot action shots by matching the sweep of my camera with the speed of the skater.  From a lot of shots, I came up with a few keepers.

That one was one of my personal favorites.  Shot at ISO 800, 1/30 sec at f/4.0  Look at how drawn out the faces in the crowd are as I "stopped" the skater in motion.

In the post-processing, I also tried out some Black and White shots.  Here's another one shot at ISO 800, 1/30 sec at f/4.0.

The following was shot at ISO 1600, 1/40 sec at f/4.5:

It's a picture of a "jammer" breaking away from the pack.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Shadows and Light

Last weekend, I took a little trip to Point Marion, PA, and beyond.  Just over the Mon river, I saw a sign for Friendship Hill park, which is run by the National Park Service.

It was mid-afternoon by that time, with partial clouds and sunshine -- the first in weeks it seems.

Here's a shot that I took on the drive into the park.  I liked the view of a country lane lined with mature trees.

You can see from the long shadows that the sun is already low on the horizon.

In the following shot, the sun was just off the screen to the middle left.  Shooting into this direction really shows off the long shadows.  This is the Albert Gallatin house, viewed from the front.  The house sits on a bluff overlooking the Monongahela river, which is behind the house.

This is the view of the back of the house.  I've read of and mentioned the "golden hour" before, but this shot exemplifies it.

Normally, the house is open to visitors, but I think it was closed because of reduced hours this late in the season.

Here's a shot of the road as I was leaving the park.  Shadows are pointing to the left from this direction.  The canopy of trees reminds me a bit of an arched cathedral from the inside.

I'm definitely going to come here again as the seasons change.  The road alone should be quite scenic as the seasons progress.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Falling Behind

It was time to set out clocks back on Saturday night.  That's all that I have to say about that.

The weekend was the first respite from rainy weather that I've had since -- well -- forever.  After running my usual Saturday errands, I packed up some camera gear and headed up to Cooper's Rock state forest.  About a thousand other people had the same idea.

Here's the view from the overlook:

It was cold and blustery there, but I got off a few nice shots of the Cheat River canyon. There's a nice play of light and shadow in this picture.   As you can see, the fall foliage was less than spectacular.  I heard something about this being a trend now, a symptom of climate change.

I tried the road to the Henry Clay iron furnace.   There were a few moments where I stopped the car long enough to take advantage of the sun playing peek-a-boo with the forest.

I broke with the rule of thirds on that shot, using instead the curve of the golden mean to place the end of the road as it disappeared into the woods.

From there, I crossed the interstate and checked out the trout pond, which is still technically part of Cooper's Rock.  The clouds were breaking in that direction.  Curse the wind for disturbing the water at the inlet, marring what would otherwise have been a nice reflective photo.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Pictures at an Exhibition

Queue Mussorgsky.

Through an academic contact in the Biology department at WVU, the folks in Entomology asked if I would share some of my insect pictures for their Insect Zoo Halloween Event.

Did I have any pictures?  I went through a couple of year's worth and stuffed more than 50 in my OneDrive for Business account so that they'd have something from which to pick.   For all of that, they only chose to use seven that they felt were in keeping with the theme.

I was somewhat disappointed that the pictures weren't bigger, but they felt constrained by the resolution of the images.  Happily for me, a favorite mantis picture could be enlarged quite well.
On the right is a spiny backed orb weaver that I found near a Myaka river tributary in Florida..

On the left, above, is a jumping spider perched on the faucet of my basement sink.  To the right is a blood-sucking Tsetse fly I shot in the biology lab a few years back.  For this shot, the fly was chilled on ice to render it torpid, while it sat warming up on a piece of cork.

Above is the nymph of an ambush bug.  Somewhat like a spider, they suck out the body fluids of their insect victims.  This was my most difficult shot because the plant it's on was moving from the breeze.

Above is an annual cicada.  I had labelled it as a dog day cicada.  I think this is a photo stack.  I also think that this cicada did not appreciate being restrained with a pin through its ass.

Last is a periodic cicada breaking out of its final nymph stage.  Makes me think of the intro sequence to True Blood (see 1:10 mark).  On the blue card is the bio they asked me to write.  Looks as if it could pass as a paragraph in my obituary.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Back to the Future

Last week I was at a Microsoft Ignite conference in Orlando, where I walked my legs off the entire time.   Naturally, I thought that I should bring my camera along, but I gave it very little use.

The Universal Studios affiliated hotel that I stayed in was called Cabana Bay, which had an interesting Retro-futuristic architecture both inside and out.  My room was at the farthest end of the hotel, about a quarter mile from the lobby.

The hallways were also in that retro-futuristic style, and they were  l o n g !

This was an iPhone picture that I took.  I fully and truly expected to see these twins at the end of the hall at some point:

The outside of the hotel was impressive, and now I'm kicking myself for not taking a full wide-angle shot of it.  The one that I did take shows just a small portion of it:

To the left is the bus stop, where we boarded the shuttle to the conference center.  The four antique cars appeared to be a regular fixture.  Left-to-to right, you have a yellow Chrysler Imperial, a black Ford Thunderbird convertible, a woodgrained Ford Country Squire station wagon, and a blue-green Chevrolet Impala.