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Mini Photo Adventure 2: Surreal Tractor

surreal photograph of an abandoned tractor

Part 2 of my outing with an Olympus dslr. The sky is actually composited in because I found the sky uninteresting at the time. Once again, an entry-level camera provides wonderful shots. And I’d like to add at this point that the camera did very well at high ISOs.

Final processing courtesy of Topaz Adjust and Nill PhotoFX bundle.

Exposure Data: ISO 1600, f/5, 1/640

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Mini Photo Adventure: Inspiring My Friend

photograph of broken hammer

I was offered a bit of a challenge recently. A friend of mine owns an entry-level Olympus dslr and was skeptical that he could take great shots with it. At first, I just tried to reassure him with my usual lines that “It’s the photographer, not the camera.” But I decided to take it a little further this time. He offered to lend the camera to me while he attended a family event, and in turn I said I would shoot with it and blog about my experience. So here’s the first entry in this two or three part mini series. :)

I was fortunate to tour a largely abandoned barn over the weekend and got some shots that intrigued me as an artist. I’d never worked with an Olympus model before, but I was quite pleased with the results it delivered, such as the shot of the broken hammer above.

I hope everyone who reads this little series will be inspired to practice their craft and grow confident in their own abilities. A camera is a mere tool, albeit a fascinating one. But in the end, the mind behind the camera will be what makes a great shot. Happy adventuring!

Exposure Data: ISO 1600, f/5.6, 1/125

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Too Much Darkness? – A Friendly “Rant” on Doing What You Love

Photograph of statue double exposure

Not long ago someone I know accused me of being morbid, no doubt an instinctive reaction to the low-key nature of my work. I respectfully disagree with that view. Instead let me present a dream.

I’ve had light sensitive eyes all my life. I’ll squint when other people’s eyes are wide open. And since I squinted so much in my younger days, I made good use of it and imagined a “World in Twilight” where a dim reflection of our universe was the norm.

Over the years that act of imagination colored my professional leanings. Fascination with the shade and long thought sessions held in solitude: these led to a desire to create images that would make other people stop and think for a while too.

Take the image above, where a little double-exposure action gives even cold stone a soul of sorts. Aristotle may have said “Nothing is what rocks dream about.” But with a few image manipulations, stone can be seen to dream in truth and the viewer dreams right along with it.

I love making these kinds of images. And if I’m doing what I love, what I believe I was made to do, isn’t that at least part of what life is all about?

Exposure Data: ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/400

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Industrial Photo 3: Tachometer

photograph of tachometer

An old tachometer salvaged and ready to be installed. When I shot this in my uncle’s garage, he told me that the gauge wasn’t the most valuable thing in view. The tach is actually sitting on a valve cover for a vintage Corvette.

Exposure Data: ISO 6400, f/5.6, 1/100

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Industrial Photograph 2: Elbow Grease

photograph of car workshop

Did I mention I don’t like fluorescent light? And I’m not the only one. Not even mentioning their harsh quality, these lights actually cycle rapidly from one color to the next, easily throwing off your white balance. But one solution to the problems of shooting in fluorescent light is to shoot in black and white and in “shade.”

This shot of some machining equipment took place under some scaffolding holding some old car bodies. They provided a little shelter from the harsh overheads. Of course this meant a high ISO as I refused to use flash in this case. Plus I was constantly on the move, and a tripod would have been impractical in the cramped spaces I was working in.

Exposure Data: ISO 6400, f/5.6, 1/100

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Industrial Photograph: The Smell of Oil

Photograph of vice clamps

I recently visited my uncle, a mechanical wizard who builds his own custom cars. So many tools and auto parts waited to be photographed! A row of vice clamps in particular caught my eye, and they looked so contrasty that I decided to do a black and white shot of them.

Even though I’m not very mechanically inclined, I still find myself drawn to machinery. In a way, each piece is its own work of art. The only real fly in the ointment was the lighting. Fluorescents everywhere! To avoid using flash while free holding the camera, I had to bump up the ISO to very high levels: something I don’t normally do. Fortunately, Topaz DeNoise came to the rescue.

Exposure Data: ISO 6400, f/4.5, 1/100

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How to Write for Photography (or “All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from the Yearbook”)

photograph of blogging

Whenever I blog, I always have flashbacks to my high school experience. I was the typesetter for my school’s yearbook for two years’ running, so I learned a thing or two about effective writing that I’d like to share with you today! :)

1. Try not to pad. It’s not just the modern “wall of text” that people fear, but just plain unnecessary words. Just the facts, please.

2. Add value to your pics. For each picture try to tell the viewer something that isn’t obvious from viewing alone. For example, if you see a photo of child writing something, explain (in a few words) what she’s writing about.

3. Be confident. You posted your pics because they mean something, so write accordingly. You’ve posted your best work, and there should be no apologies for showing off that kind of effort.

Let me know if you’re curious to know more. In any case, happy blogging!

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Mouths to Feed – Wildlife Meets Street Photography

photograph of baby birds

In street photography, you have to be prepared to answer the occasional challenge from a passer-by. Even if your lens isn’t pointed toward any human being, some may still wonder what you’re doing. I discovered a bird’s nest under the pediment of a building where I have my current day job; so I set my 60D at a distance where the parents of the chicks (a pair of barn swallows) wouldn’t fear to return and set my drive mode to high speed burst. Meanwhile several people gave me strange looks while I waited for the desired moment. Fortunately, all it took was a smile and a pointing index finger to show what I was after.

It was worth it, of course. I wound up showing the shot off to several folks in the building after I finished post-processing. And almost everyone was enchanted by the site. Let’s face it: there’s nothing quite as cute as baby birds.

Exposure Data: ISO 6400, f/6.3, 1/500

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And I Shall Move the World – A Photographic Tribute

archimedes photograph

Archimedes did more than shout “Eureka.” Not long ago, a codex of his work recovered from an old black letter text revealed mathematical calculations that would have saved us a lot of work technologically speaking. And I recently learned the Ernemann camera company (since absorbed into Zeiss) even named one of their models after him. So if anyone deserves a tribute photo, it’s this great thinker.

Archimedes camera

The Archimedes plate camera

Since I can’t resist an intriguing piece of photo gear, here’s a few historical details about the Archimedes camera itself. It was a plate-format model produced around 1901. It had a 150mm f/6.8 lens fixed to the body and an “automatic shutter,” as opposed to manual where the shutter had to be opened and closed by hand. It was known as a detective camera because it appeared to be in disguise as a small briefcase. Its viewfinder was on top of the unit, much like a DLR. The lens and shutter assembly could be removed and swapped with other camera, an interesting prelude to our modern SLRs. Apparently lens swapping wasn’t all that common a scenario in 1901.

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Creepypasta: Round and Around

Photograph of Ghostly Carnival Ride

Welcome, one and all, to Coffin’s Carnival of the Mysterious and the Extraordinary! Feast your eyes and ears on spectacles that will thrill, electrify and haunt you to your dying day.

Witness the dreadful drama of the Freak Parade. Dare to challenge the Games Master in the Booth of the Bold. And, if you dare, climb aboard the Wheel of Destiny from which no one escapes!

Thank you for your ticket, Madam. Welcome aboard. Pay no heed to the cries of those lost souls above you. Their fates are already sealed.

Round and around the wheel turns. Bear witness, ladies and gentlemen, to the endless hypnotic cycle: the everlasting despair of those who heed the call of the night. Stop your ears against it, but you cannot escape! No one escapes!

Wake up now. Wake up. You are in your own room. It was just a dream.

Pay no attention to the echoing laughter from outside.

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