Gun Gravestone


Would it surprise you to learn I was raised around firearms?

Richard, my father, taught me safety and respect when it came to guns. He taught me to appreciate both their danger and the art of their construction, their proper use, to never point them at anyone for any reason. I took him seriously, and so did every member of our household. So there was never any gun-related incidents in our family.

Whenever I see a gun, old or new, revolver or semi-automatic, pistol or rifle, I remember his teachings. And during a trip to Providence, I came across a ghostly site where I seemed to hear his words again.

Nowadays, of course, the only shots I take are with a shutter button. That makes this picture doubly ironic. Rusting pistols and rifle barrels of all types were embedded in a concrete column, impotently peeking out of their stony tomb, seeming to whisper of days of war.

Sometimes street photography is actually about the street, not necessarily the people in it.

Exposure Data: ISO 125, f/5, 1/100


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Stony Saint

I’ve always enjoyed anything that smacked of medieval history. When you look at gothic architecture it’s easy to imagine yourself back in the thirteenth century listening to the chanting of monks. It can seem like history lies in every stone. So I was very glad to find this saintly carved figure over the entrance to a local church. Telling a story with pictures is easy when a subject has this much character.

To maximize image quality, this shot was taken with a 50mm prime lens. Later on HDR-like effects were added using Topaz Adjust filters.

Exposure Data: ISO 100, f/6.3, 1/100

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The Stone Queen


You don’t need to be catholic to appreciate beauty in religious architecture. And that’s just what JoDee and I did along a city side street in our never-ending quest to ensnare our eyes and yours. The elegance of the carving lent itself well to a black and white image.

Chiaroscuro (literally translated “bright and dark”) is a term used to describe the amount of dark and light tones in an image. In black and white shots, having a great deal of both of these contrasting tones makes for a more dramatic picture. To achieve this, look for a subject that shows a clear contrast between light and dark. Once the picture is taken, look at the camera’s histogram to see if it shows a bias toward the right (showing a brighter image). If those two conditions are present, then the subject lends itself well to a black and white image.

Note that you can always influence your histogram’s bias easily by varying your shutter speed. Faster speeds mean a darker image, while slower speeds increase brightness.

Later on in post-processing, digital filters can be used to not only remove the colors but to increase the contrast of the image, making the chiaroscuro even more pronounced.

Image Data: ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/125

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Church False IR


Infrared photography, based on heat rather than light, offers images with a different color palette. It’s a different way to the look at the world. And even though it’s technically restricted to film, digital effects can simulate it.

That was something I decided to try this week when I discovered this old church. As its boarded up windows stared over the town’s roofs, an atmosphere of quiet age brooded over its tower. I later learned it had been converted into a residence, and I admit to feeling a little envious of anyone who got to live in such an amazing place. It must be the gothic architecture: that always makes my mind take flight.Church Front

For the image itself I started by taking three bracketed shots with my tripod-mounted 7D and a Tamron lens zoomed out to 18mm. Each image was two stops apart, to capture the entire dynamic range. Later, Photomatix Pro stitched the images together; and Topaz B&W effects accomplished the pseudo-IR effects seen here. Lastly I added some of my signature vignetting.

Exposure Data: ISO 100; f/16; 1.6″, 1/3, 6″

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Magic Hour – The Sunset Tower

Posted: November 18, 2014 in Fine Art, Tips, Urbex
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Sunset Tower


Somewhere in upstate New York, there is an abandoned factory in the center of a nearby village. It’s owner is attempting to renovate it, but in the meantime it stares silent and crumbling over the heads of the nearby peaked roofs. It was late in the day when I drove by, and the last rays of the setting sun were touching its uppermost tower. I attached a 50mm prime lens and managed to snap a signature image at ISO 100.

Magic hour, golden hour, whatever you call it, the first and last hours of sunshine provide lighting quality you won’t find at any other times of day. If the sky is cloudless enough to admit sunlight at those times, the atmosphere’s refraction couples with the angle of incidence on your subject can turn almost any object into an instant work of art. In this case, the gray face of the factory tower turned into a castle’s turret out of an Arthurian dream.

Exposure Data: ISO 100, f/9, 1/80

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The Old House


“You really need to see this!” That’s what JoDee told me on that day. And that’s what she showed me on a morning photo expedition that kept us viewing one thrilling sight after another. She had recently been on a drive through the countryside where among other things she scouted out locations that begged to be photographed through the dark filter that is The Twilit Lens.

As one generation succeeds the next, families flourish and fade, often leaving behind strange legacies in wood and stone. And there were several of these buildings on this road, behind whose gray dust-rimed window panes only brooding emptiness grinned. The surreal silence of the structures and the colorless sun-bleached boards groaning in the wind creates endless movies in the mind. Let your own thoughts drift with me…

Part of the objectives of any photographic composition is to draw the viewer’s eye to the subject. And at the risk of sounding like a gear evangelist, the Lensbaby’s “sweet spot” and accompanying bokeh effect is something I never tire of; because this lens has a unique ability to draw the eye. And some vignetting and low-key digital filtering in post-production further highlighted the subject.

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

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Old Fort


Here is another honeymoon shot. The weather was cool and overcast, my favorite kind. The scent of the bay and the fishing industry were quite noticeable and lent an air of age. Our car’s trunk was packed with photo gear and our minds were filled with the love of exploration. Lobster pots were piled near a small dock at the other end of a cul-de-sac. And before us, the old fortress loomed.

When most people think about fisheye lenses, they see images in their minds’ eyes of heavily distorted interiors and exteriors warped wildly until they resemble a reflection in a funhouse mirror. But this inherent distortion can actually be controlled to make for extremely wide-angle landscapes views.

This external view of Fort Popham in Maine is a nice example. By leveling the lens with the horizon, the image looks less distorted and makes for a great panorama. In fact the view reminded me of some of the stories of gladiators in ancient arenas, fighting it out in the midst of towering walls while cheering crowds egged them on.

Bracketed shot taken with Canon 7D and Rokinon 8mm fisheye. Mounted on a Vanguard Alta Pro tripod and stitched together with Photomatix Pro in post-production.

Exposure Data: ISO 160; f/11; 1/400, 1/25, 1/10

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