Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tilt-shift Paradigm

Creating a nice looking tilt-shift is deceptively difficult.  I went up on the 7th floor balcony at One Waterfront Place and took a handful of shots using differing tilt angles and focus.  Results are spectacularly mediocre.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Not exactly a model town

In the continuing adventures of tilt-shift photography, I took a stab at shooting from the 7th floor balcony of One Waterfront Place.  The subject matter and the technique are both in need of improvement:

At least this looks like a tilt-shift image.


Morning Buzz

I'm still experimenting with the Lensbaby Composer.  The Lensbaby web site has macro converters available, but I discovered that Canon's EF25 extension tube works quite well.  Here's an unadjusted picture of  Buzz Lightyear taken through the extension tube:

I had to take the tube off to get more Buzz in the picture:

Monday, December 2, 2013

Lensbaby Part 2

Took my lunchtime walk along the rail trail with Lensbaby in hand.  It isn't the nicest of days for outdoor photography, and I don't have anything notable to show for the effort.  So with that caveat, here's my nicest shot.

This is looking up Decker's Creek under the bridge on University Avenue, near the Waterfront Park.  I took it from the railroad bridge of the rail trail.


Got a new toy to play with.  It's a  commercial tilt-shift lens called a Lensbaby Composer.  This particular model has been discontinued in the U.S., being replaced by the much more expensive Composer Pro.

I'm quite happy with the plain old Composer, thank you.  I think it's more than adequate for my needs and ability.  It comes with an assortment of apertures that you drop into place on top of the lens.  They are held in place magnetically.  The wider the aperture, the more pronounced the blur.

You shoot this thing in aperture priority mode, and the camera more or less sets the speed to 1/60 sec.  Here's a sample shot at f 2.8, using the built-in flash.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Grand View

Yesterday, while waiting to have new tires put on my car at Sam's Club, I shot this view of Evansdale Campus from behind Wally World at the University Town Center.

It's amazing how many buildings you can see clearly from that vantage point.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Back to Dents Run

Took the long way home from the University Town Center this afternoon.  Went up and over Chaplin Hill and stopped for a few minutes at Dents Run covered bridge.

Once again, I took groups of three bracketed exposures a full stop apart and processed them into HDR images.

I managed to hide my car behind the right wall in this second shot.

This is the same hill behind the bridge that I shot early this year.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

An Overlook(ed) Photo

While eating breakfast this morning, I looked over the bunch of pictures that I shot at Coopers Rock on Sunday.  One that I had previously overlooked seemed promising.

I had framed a picture of the view from behind the overlook.  Shooting from a tripod I got off three shots at 1/200, 1/400, and 1/800 second at an f/3.2 aperture.   These were processed by NIK's HDR Efex Pro 2, using the "deep" preset.  Added a little bit more processing with ColorFX Pro 2.

Can't find much to complain about with this shot.  This has perhaps the best foliage colors of the Coopers Rock shots that I had taken.  The composition is nice, with the fir tree in the foreground providing a crisp framing effect.  Lines from the overlook walkway form a small triangle at the bottom.  A beautiful blue sky with puffy clouds is not too overdone by the HDR effect.  You can hardly see the sightseers on the overlook.

That'll do, pig.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Macro Monday

A brief trip up to Coopers Rock on Sunday gave me some macro opportunities.

If there was a do-over on this shot, I'd move that leaf stem away from obscuring the acorn.. I was concentrating on getting a nice shot of the puffballs but didn't appreciate how the acorns added to the composition.

Wintergreen (Gaultheria)

Milkweed seeds.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Woodburn Hall

I snapped this picture of Woodburn Hall yesterday morning (8:15 a.m., as you can see by the clock), while on my way there to do a demo on Office 365.

Sunrise was at 7:34 a.m., so this time is technically within the "golden hour."    You can see the lovely effect that the morning sun has on the clock tower.   I tried to use the sycamore tree to frame the shot, but it fell a bit short of my desire.

See the tower behind and to the left of the clock tower in the above picture?  That was my vantage point several hours later when I took the following shot at 10:50 a.m.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Morning, Morgantown

I was back in the tower of Woodburn Hall this morning.  This time, I came prepared.

This one is an HDR composite of three shots taken at 17 mm focal length.  You're looking up the river (South), towards the Lock & Dam and the Wharf District.

This is another HDR series taken at 55 mm.  Same view.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Obsessive Tweaking

It's hard to leave well enough alone. I couldn't fight the urge to re-work the original image of the Mountain Lair from the previous posting.  All of those vertical and horizontal lines gave way to tell-tale lens distortion. While I addressed some of that previously, I had neglected to notice that Oglebay Hall in the lower left was also showing signs of pillowing.

So, I started all over again.  This latest attempt also adds a variety of adjustments and filters to bring out additional detail.

Still not being able to leave well enough alone, I ran the finished version through a Topaz Simplify (BuzSim) filter.  It's not too bad in its own right:

Friday, October 11, 2013

A nice place to reflect

This is a shot of the WVU Mountain Lair taken from the side.  The reflective glass in the center is showing Stewart Hall, which is behind me.   I love the way that the Lair reflects Stewart Hall in the background, the framing provided by the trees, and the play of vertical and horizontal lines. I just wish it was sharper (shot at 1/30 sec exporsure, hand-held).

Monday, October 7, 2013

Looking Out - part 2

The two views posted previously in Looking Out from the Inside didn't require much post processing.  This one did:

This is another iPad 2 camera shot taken from the tower window in Woodburn Hall.  It's looking out over the lower part of the downtown campus, showing the old field house -- Stansbury Hall -- in the center-right.  There's a nice view of the PRT campus station and tracks heading down to the Walnut Street station.  That's the Westover bridge spanning the middle, with the Morgantown lock & dam just visible at the head of the river.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Looking Out from the Inside

WVU's Woodburn Hall has been the subject for a number of my postings.  This time, I had the pleasure of completely turning around my perspective.  Instead of photographing the outside of the building from different angles, I got the chance to look out from the top of one of its towers.

After taking part of a faculty orientation session to a forthcoming migration to the Office 365 email system, I got an unexpected invitation to see the view from one of the towers.  Naturally, I jumped at the chance, but I just had my iPad 2 with me.  Well, as they say, the best camera is the one that you have with you.

I loaded the JPEG files into PhotoShop and cleaned them up a little bit.  For this shot, I also used a Topaz Labs Detail 2 filter to bring out a bit of the color.  The results are not unpleasant.  That's WVU's Life Sciences Building in the lower left.

Here's a view in the opposite direction, looking out over the rooftop of Martin Hall.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fair Weather

It's been a few years since I've gone to the Buckwheat Festival in Kingwood, West Virginia.  The festival is in the last weekend in September, and it's either cold, wet and drizzly, or muddy as hell following a period of cold, wet and drizzly.  This year was a rare exception.

I lugged my camera around with me in hopes of shooting something interesting.  Most of the time, however, I kept it slung.  To quote a Warren Zevon song, "It ain't that pretty at all."

Here's a shot to show how nice the day was:

Towards evening, I tried to get a motion shot of the Ferris wheel.   This was taken from the back side, near the street.  I sat on a bench and steadied the camera on my knees.  It's a one-second exposure, cropped to leave out the back sides of some facades.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dead Friday

For quite some time I been using my original Mensa for Dummies artwork as the opening screen for my iPad.

I decided it was time for something new:

Monday, September 16, 2013


 A pair of hooters, sitting way up high... on the back corner of Stewart Hall.  This building on WVU's downtown campus was originally a library, completed in 1902.  It's not uncommon to find stone owls near the tops of old buildings.  These are supposed to help keep pigeons away. 

Then again, the owls are an appropriate motif for a library.  They are an ancient symbol for Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Small Faces, Redux

Same day -- different attempt.  Earlier, I worked with four of the stone(d) ladies, but one was rougher than the rest.  In this version, I've taken it down to three, using a different lady I had previously missed.

I tried a different combination of filters on this attempt, modifying the antique plate effect filter to give me more selenium.

Small Faces

Shot these this morning off of the sides of Stewart Hall, on WVU's downtown campus.

There's a home football game at WVU early this afternoon, and there was already traffic around, students on foot, heading for the PRT station and a ride to the game. People in cars driving by were probably wondering about the odd man aiming his tripod-mounted telephoto towards the upper part of the building across the street.

These appear to be casts of real faces. The ones on the far left and far right look to me as if they're related.
I've heard some say that at least some of these are relatives of the architect.  Can't confirm this, though.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Now's The Time

I got to spend a few hours on the main floor of Stewart Hall yesterday, and you know what that means!  I got to photograph the venerable mouse, which appears at the top of four different columns.

This was with a much better camera and lens than my previous attempt with the iPhone, but I can't say that the results are better.  This one is a little harder to see.  Something is missing...

Yes, this is much better...

Monday, September 9, 2013

Slumming Hammocker

Snapped this on my noon-time lunch trek down the rail trail.

There's nothing "special" about this shot, but it left me curious.  Somebody with a backpack has set up a hammock near along the river near McQuain park.  A well-equipped vagrant?  Someone thrown out of the house?  Sleeping it off?  Bought a hammock and just had to test it out?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Glory Hole

Four different f/stop shots combined into a High Dynamic Range image of the center of a Morning Glory.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Bumble Fleur

This was taken today.  It's a pastiche of PhotoShop plugins and filters.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Garden-variety foxglove (Digitalis purpurea).  Caught a bee bumbling out of the upper tube

According to Wikipedia, "the plant is frequented by bees, which climb right inside the flower tube to gain the nectar within." You don't say?

This was shot with the on-camera flash.  I'm waiting on parts to repair my ring flash.  My camera fell a few feet onto a carpeted floor and the hot-shoe mount to the flash unit cracked into a bunch of pieces.  Luckily, replacement parts are available on eBay.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Aphid punchers

Rounding up the little doggies before sundown.

Textures and Filters

It has been a while since I had played around with the AlienWare SnapArt suite, so in honor or #textureblendtuesday on Google+, I present the following:

The rendering filter is pastel - soft portrait.

Here's another summer re-run:

This one used some NIK filters to bring out more detail in the white petals.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Silver-spotted Skipper

I met the Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) today at lunch.  According to Wikipedia, this is supposed to be "the most recognized skipper in North America."  Needless to say, I had absolutely no idea what this was until a few minutes ago.  Additional Silver-spotted Skipper trivia:  adults almost never feed on yellow flowers.  Hmmmm.

Once again, I have to credit the Massachusetts Butterfly Club for helping me ID this butterfly.

I'm almost as bad with identifying flowers, so forgive me for not naming the co-star in the above picture.  Here's a younger version of same flower:

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Barbie's Little Sister

Meet the Hobomok Skipper Butterfly (Poanes hobomok) -- at least I think it is.  There are something like 3,500 different species in this family.   I saw this little bugger perched on a poison ivy leaf during a lunchtime walk along the rail trail near the Mountain State Company.

I was struck by its weird wing design.

Post Script:  The Massachusetts Butterfly Club (!) is a great resource for images.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Steady as She Goes

So much of my experience in photographing the world around me seems to serve more as a cautionary tale.  Take my lunchtime walk with camera down the rail trail.

I haven't progressed beyond my usual boring subjects of flowers and bees.  Even more to the point, though, is that I'm attempting these pictures without benefit of a tripod.  This shot is "good enough for government work," but the slight blurriness of a handheld shot is a bit shy of publication quality.

I've got a perfectly vivid flower and a somewhat cooperative bumblebee.   The problem is that this picture isn't sharp enough to really stand out.

Sure is a pretty flower, though.