A couple of weeks ago I went to the shooting range with two of my sons and one of my daughters. We don’t get to go often but we enjoy shooting when we can. While we were at the rifle range a few guys showed up with some serious weaponry, including the Barrett M82 shown above. I don’t know why anyone would bother to own any .50 BMG but each to his own. Everyone at the range stopped to watch some rounds being fired out of that gun. After shooting a few rounds each, the owner turned to all of us and asked if anyone would like to shoot it. I thought for about 10 milliseconds and said “Ummm, yeah!”. I offered to pay for the round (about $5 each) but he declined and said that everyone should get one free round. My son and I each fired off a round as did a couple of others. Frankly, due to the design of the gun, the recoil was no worse than the .30-06 I was shooting. What a rush. My daughter was too chicken to give it a try despite several attempts by the owner to talk her into it.
Later we let one of the guys shoot a few rounds in our lane at the pistol range. He was shooting a .50 caliber pistol — a Desert Eagle — and let me shoot that one too. ”Hold tight” were his only words I couldn’t believe the weight of the gun even with only a single round loaded. Fun.
I brought the camera along mainly because I wanted to take pictures of my 7-year-old at the range. We got some interesting shots of my daughter shooting the 9mm too. It turned out to be nice to have it along for the shot above too (taken by my son).
We had a great bunch of little ones (three of whom are my children) gathered at a recent graduation party. I grabbed a hastily posed shot of some of them who happened to be playing near me.
I shot this using shutter priority and on-camera flash. I started out the night shooting with some off-camera lighting but it really got unwieldy due to try to take shots from all different directions (with no assistant). There was nothing but open sky above (and walls were too far behind me) so fixed bounce flashes was out of the question. I also tried a second remote flash for additional light and backlight but wasn’t satisfied with the results I was getting so I abandoned that. If I had the ability to bounce that flash I likely would’ve been happier with the second flash. Sometimes I use a 3′ sync chord and handhold my flash to get it off-camera but my cord went AWOL for a few weeks (it has since been located).
Since I was casually recording the event as a favor I wasn’t under pressure (except my own) to have “perfect” shots. This picture — and most of the rest — turned out fine IMO. Blue hour was just ending so I was able to retain some color in the sky even with the fast-ish shutter speed. A back light or rim light would have been really nice to separate the heads from the background but this was a quick candid afterall.
My camera was a Canon 5D mkii so high ISO was an available lever. I shot most of the evening using an ISO between 1600-4000. In the RAW files there is some noise — especially in the underexposed areas — but Noiseware is great at fixing that up. I can’t recommend Noiseware enough although I hear good things about programs like Noise Ninja and Topaz DeNoise too.
There’s yet another reason to think twice about breaking into our home. We recently gave our daughter a Remington 870 20 gauge shotgun for her birthday. She had asked for one and how can a dad resist giving his girl a present like that? We don’t get to shoot nearly as often as we’d like but we enjoy shooting together whenever we can. You know it’s been a good day when you end up with this.
Simple photograph here: She wanted pics with the shotgun so we were just playing around to figure out what shots might be cool and ended up with this one. I used on-camera flash bounced up and behind the camera and focused on the end of the barrel using a large enough aperture to blur the background and the shooter (her request – “I don’t have makeup on, Dad”). I had to use at least a 1/125s shutter speed because she got tired trying to hold the gun still after a couple of frames. Fiddled with contrast, did some spot corrections, local exposure adjustments, etc. I would have loved a different background but there really weren’t many options in the house (we wanted an indoor shot — that whole “protection” angle).
Lest anyone freak out about gun safety I’ll point out that the gun is not pointed *at* me. Secondly, we are strict about personally checking our guns to make sure they are empty. We don’t rely on “the other guy”. I personally inspected the gun before handing it to her and getting anywhere near the end of that barrel. Finally, although it’s difficult to see in this pic, her finger is outside the trigger guard.
Went shooting with my girls this weekend at a friend’s house in Fredericksburg (see this pic for the awesome sunrise view we had on Father’s Day). Later that evening I remarked, “Wow, we shot a lot of clays today”. I quickly corrected myself, however, amending my statement to “Well, we THREW a lot of clays today”. We have fun regardless of how well we shoot on a given day. Lots of memories come out of these events.
I managed to shoot about 40 rounds out of the 12 gauge before I got tired of the kick then I switched to the 20 gauge (we had three 20s out there) and went through another 50-ish. The girls and friends went through their share as well and we ended up with quite a pile of spent shells, part of which you see in the pic above. We also shot plenty of rounds out of a 9mm Glock, a .22 Ruger pistol, and a couple .22 rifles.
The pic above was created by tonemapping three exposures, the darkest of which just helped bring down the metal reflections a bit. I blended in a bit here and there from the original exposures and parts from a layer processed with the “photo pop” preset in Topaz Adjust. Added a curves adjustment, a slight levels adjustment (brought in more blacks), and a bit of sharpening to all that and voila…there it is.
People who have really “lived” have fascinating stories to tell. Some are fascinating just because they took place in such a different time than we live in (back when people walked barefoot through the snow, uphill both ways, to get to school). Others are remarkable because of the people they involve. You know, those stories about someone they knew or befriended as children who eventually became someone famous, maybe an important political figure or famous athlete. Many of their stories are of interest because they took place before so much of our culture became so sissified…back when kids were allowed to climb trees without signing waivers and lawyers weren’t hanging around everywhere like vultures.
“Bearpa” is shown above telling stories to my wife and a couple of the kids by the fire one evening. We recently spent a (cold) weekend camping on their ranch while we hunted for deer. Between hunts and during meals Bearpa shared many stories of interest to all. He’s a wise man and imparted much of his wisdom and knowledge — about hunting and life in general – to all of us.
I only had the camera out here and there (was busy hunting and skinning myself) but when I did it was usually in very low light. I used 1600 ISO most of the time yet some shots were still very challenging. If I left the camera in “normal” metering mode it overexposed much of the image since so much of the background was dark. So, I switched to partial metering (which on the Canon 50D is essentially spot metering using 9% of the center of the frame) and this allowed me to expose based on the brightest portion of the frame and keep it from being blown out. I also used an exposure bias of -1/2 all the way to -3/2. Notice how the picture of Bearpa beginning to skin a deer has deep black shadows in the background and how he himself is just a tad underexposed. This captures the scene perfectly in my opinion. This was taken out in a barn late at night, and the slightly underexposed picture reflects this. I cleaned up the night shots with Noiseware, which works magnificently.
Due to my back pain (this was pre-surgery) I was limited on how much I could twist, turn, and get into good positions but I did manage a few other shots. The trophy wall below is an HDR from 6 exposures and the one from in the blind was taken with my iPhone.
What an autumn our family had in 2010 — I hope my three regular readers didn’t miss my blog too much. We dealt with breast cancer, a back injury which will require surgery, and the normal busy-ness of a family with lots of children. All is good however. My wife is doing great and I’m walking again. I might even take a picture sometime soon.
God is good. While in bed with a severe back condition — which was most of the month of December — I meditated a lot on Philippians 4. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”. So, I did that. In my pain I rejoiced. In my pain I thought of a thousand things I was thankful for and expressed that thanks to God.
What’s with the picture above you may ask? The whole family is headed out to a friend’s ranch next weekend to hunt deer and stock up on venison. Our friend needs to cull some of the herd in order to keep the deer healthy and we’d love to have the meat. He is going to show us his method of processing a deer from field to freezer. He’ll show us how to make our own venison sausage (many variations). Since I am now able to stand and walk reasonably I am going to take advantage of the opportunity to hunt on the weekend before my surgery (which is just after the final week of deer season). I can shoot and wield a knife just fine and my oldest son can do all the lifting. I went to the range and sighted in the rifle yesterday (and blasted a bunch of rounds out the Glock). While I had the rifle out I had my son snap a picture of my younger son and me holding our guns. My six year old (in the picture) inherited this BB gun as a Christmas present and just loves to shoot. Don’t worry — we keep the gun out of reach, only let him shoot with supervision, and make him wear eye protection. We tried to be serious in the picture but came out looking like deer in headlights.
I hope to be taking pictures again soon. It’s been necessary to put the camera down for a while but I think I’ll have time to do a little bit here and there in the near future. Maybe I’ll have something useful to post as well. See you around.