Dungeon Corridor

JoDee and I visited Fort Popham in Phippsburg this past week. This old ruin is truly amazing to visit. The interior actually reminded me of the underground catacombs in Fresno, and I thought back to Tolkien’s underground dwarf kingdoms. I wanted to recreate an image I had in my head of a dungeon corridor, but since this wasn’t exactly an underground setting it was necessary to create a small illusion.

I set my camera on a tripod and deliberately underexposed the ambient light. Then I had JoDee take four separate shots while I walked to four different pillars and held a speedlight that the camera triggered wirelessly.

Photoshop was used to stitch all four images together via layering and removing my own presence with the clone stamp tool.

Exposure Data: ISO 100, f/22, 1”

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Mansion Ruins

 

Near Portland Head Light in Maine lies Fort Williams, an abandoned fortress and mansion that was used to monitor shipping for the city of Portland. Though closed in 1963, it’s still a great place to get some urban exploration photographs. Unfortunately the section once housing the Goddard Mansion, a place used to house soldiers’ families, has been largely fenced off.Fisheye on Tripod

Thank goodness for tripods and fisheye lenses! I’d seen quite a few ultra-wide-angle shots of castle courtyards and was inspired to try something similar here. Mounting my Rokinon 8mm onto the 7D body and clamping everything onto a tripod, I extended the legs and set the self timer for ten seconds while I hoisted the camera over the fence for a peek into what was once the floor of the mansion, now quite overgrown with grass and weeds.

Floorless, roofless, and tenantless, the mansion still held some ghostly grandeur as the lowering sun shown through the empty window frames. I tried to imagine what the mansion must have been like when it was fully in use, both as housing and the club for the non-commissioned officers. And now it’s an empty hulk whose only sound is the sea’s wind and the distant crash of waves on the shore. Time left this place behind, a plaque in the front yard all that remains to tell of what happened here.

Exposure Data: ISO 125, f/11, 1/85

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Sock Monkey in Graveyard

Does anyone besides me see something just a little creepy about sock monkeys? Those staring button eyes, the perpetual red grin. Put them in the right context and they can be positively chilling.

With Halloween approaching, during our honeymoon I took my new wife to Providence in Rhode Island, home of H.P. Lovecraft, and took her on a tour of some very haunting environments. One of these is the churchyard of the Cathedral of St. John’s Episcopal, a place with a great deal of history not to mention being one of the haunts of Edgar Allen Poe himself.

Now enter the sock monkey. JoDee had just acquired it as an amusing wedding present from a close friend and decided it needed to be photographed. I couldn’t help but oblige when she placed it on a nearby grave stone. The idea of the sinister doll is quite the horror story staple, and inspiration followed rapidly. :)

This shot was taken with my Lensbaby Spark. The bokeh effects of this speciality lens truly suited the scene. Later on, Topaz Black and White Effects was used to create a second layer, some of which was erased with a soft eraser tool to preserve the little guy’s original colors.

Exposure Data: ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/125

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Dark Lighthouse

Another product of our recent honeymoon: a distance shot, taken with a Sigma 150-500mm zoom, of Ram Island Ledge Light. There is a certain mystique about the image of the lone lighthouse in the midst of the sea, its keeper isolated, the endlessly crashing waves an eternal music in the background.

To underscore this dream-like quality, I first used the “ghostly” filter in Topaz Adjust and then black & white effects to add a slightly sepia quality.

For some reason the word “filter” means something different than it used to. It used to exclusively mean the tinted attachments for slr lenses. But gradually it came to include digital effects added in post-production. And because most effects can be achieved without buying new hardware, just about the only screw-on filter I use these days is a polarizing filter. But that’s for another post.filterpolar3

Mostly the choice of a digital filter is left up to artistic license. But I can definitely recommend the Topaz Labs line, which is quite extensive. Imagenomic and Nill PhotoFX are also good choices. The main thing to remember is to try out a filter for yourself before you commit to buy. Most vendors offer trial versions and all photography shops I’ve interacted with will allow you to attach an accessory to your camera to give it a try in the store.

Exposure Data: ISO 200, f/6.3, 1/1000

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Blood Fountain

 

Providence, Rhode Island: home and haunt of famous horror writers and my favorite city. As part of our honeymoon, I took JoDee on a walking tour of the College Hill district; and during the night we both enjoyed the Ghost Tour, held every October. Not only did we take in some entertaining local legends, but tackled some interesting photo projects.

This fountain sits in front of the Athenaeum library on Benefit Street. Nearby, the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe was allegedly sighted by a frightened library patron. And as the tour guide related this macabre tale, I had JoDee assist me with an idea.

I composed this shot using a speedlight and two wireless triggers. JoDee handheld the flash while I manually focused a zoom lens set at a focal length of 18mm. The resulting side lighting brought out some amazing textures.

After deliberately underexposing for the ambient light, the flash becomes the primary or “key” light source. In that type of situation, the photographer needs to avoid head-on flash illumination as it creates a very flattening effect, unflattering for portraits and one that tends to de-emphasize texture and detail. Mounting the flash off-camera at an oblique angle provides much better results.

Also, as an interesting side note, I afterwards recalled some scenes Ghost Guidefrom my wife’s favorite vampire-related television show and altered the hue of the photograph to make the rust stains a bit more “bloody.” Halloween, here we come. ;)

And in case anyone would like to attend a ghost tour for themselves, check out the guides at http://www.providenceghosttour.com/

Exposure Data: ISO 100, f/5, 1/100

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Bride and Groom Forehead Kiss 1000p

On the eleventh of October, I was filled with joy to marry my assistant JoDee! And if you need to determine how happy I am to be her husband, just look at this post’s photograph. She and I are starting a wonderful life together, and I’m pleased to share part of its opening chapter with all of my readers.

But this is a photography blog, so what’s my point? Simply put, I did something on the Big Day that I’m not sure how many would want to attempt. I wanted to be my own photographer!

But since I can’t clone myself, I acted more like a coordinator than an actual shutterbug. Providing the gear, selecting the settings, giving direction to the assistant shooters and providing disposable cameras for guests to use during the reception constituted most of my self-imposed duties. But when it came to the formal portraits, I took a more direct role. I wanted to do these Twilit Lens style.

So for the above photo (and others like it), I set up a brown muslin with a few fall-themed props. Two small Promaster softboxes were used for the light sources, so I was easily able to handhold my dslr. However, for the above “selfie” I broke out the tripod and had an assistant compose and take the shot according to my directions. A 50mm prime lens was used here, a lens I prefer for most of my portrait work because of its high image quality. Later, I used Imagenomic’s Portraiture filter to add some nice softening effects.

I had more fun on my wedding day than I ever thought possible and began an amazing new adventure. I love you, JoDee!

Exposure Data: ISO 200, f/1.8, 1/80

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Memories of Music

Photographing the street means that life comes to you. Whether you wander around or stay put people are on the move, doing things you might never expect. And all the while your mind is moving too: imagining, remembering, questioning. With both internal and external forces working at once, a vision can sometimes appear.

I had the 7D with zoom attached and roamed the circumference of a city block. Among the scenes were two groups, one of street performers and one of tourists. Both had one thing in common: interesting faces. Up came the camera.

I have people in my life that talk a lot about the insane era of the 1960s. Protests, wars, assassinations, space flight: all of it made for a chaotic time that forever marks the memories of those who lived through it. Now, fifty years later, the ‘60s generation is aging; what might it be like for a Vietnam-era musician to look back on his rebel days? To capture this idea, I used Photoshop’s layering feature to overlay one image with another, along with a soft eraser to blend the two. Topaz Black & White Effects was also used on both images to bring out additional detail.

Exposure Data
ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/200
ISO 250, f/6.3, 1/200

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