Archive for March, 2012

I Miss Her…But Don’t Tell My Wife :-)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/4288119145/

BMW in Black and White 16mm, f/10, ISO 100

A couple of days ago a friend of mine emailed to ask my opinion regarding new tires for his car.  That car — pictured above — was my car and daily ride for four years and his inquiry reminded me of some of the pictures I had taken of it.  I wrote that I was thinking about selling it when I posted this street scene from Paris a couple of years back.  Shortly after that post I did sell it (obviously).  I think I gave my friend a really good deal, but my wife thought we should pay him to take it off our hands.  So, don’t tell her that I miss it!

As for the picture itself, first know that I wasn’t so into my car that I took pictures of it all the time.  Rather, I occasionally used it as a test subject when I wanted to learn something new about photography.  The picture above was taken in my driveway for a dailyshoot.com assignment — “mode of transportation”.  I started out to make a “normal” HDR (if there is such a thing) but bagged that idea.  Here’s what I wrote about it at the time: “Another opportunity to try for a decent shot of the car. From the beginning I intended to make a black and white HDR image so I took bracketed exposures. However, the tonemapped image (from Photomatix) was terrible and I quickly determined that the best image would come from the normal exposure with a few bits and pieces masked in from the over-exposed shot. Still HDR in the manual sense (manual processing), just not tonemapped in Photomatix (or similar software).  Lots of room for improvement but there’s that real job thing…”.  There *are* a few glaring defects in the photo but I like the overall look and decided to post it in spite of those.

For any car buffs out there, this is a 2000 BMW 540i with the six-speed manual transmission and sport package.  I miss the power of the V8, the handling, and the six-speed manual, but not the constant repairs 🙂


Party Portrait

My Beautiful Wife 70mm, f/2.8, 1/125s, ISO 3200

Candids are often my favorites and this is no exception for more reasons than one.  This shot was not posed at all unless you count “Please look over here for a second” as posing.  My wife of 25+ years loathes being in front of the camera so I appreciate that she indulged me this time.  There was nothing to bounce flash off of (outdoors, no roof or ceiling overhead, no wall nearby) so I used direct flash with a diffuser.  I started the evening using a 3′ sync cord and holding the flash off-camera at arm’s length but tired of that fairly quickly.  Lightroom was used for most of the processing and for noise reduction (ISO 3200 was used) but I also cloned out a few unattractive elements around the scene.  I didn’t do any skin retouching or the like.


Kayak Trip To Secret Falls, Kauai

I apologize for some not-so-great pictures included in this post — they were taken with an old, low-ish resolution, waterproof point and shoot camera that I borrowed for our trip.  I made sure that the lens was dry before using it but it didn’t handle glare from the sun very well.  Had I been aware of that I would have shaded the lens whenever I shot into the sun.

Should you ever happen to visit the Hawaiian island of Kauai I highly recommend taking a kayak trip up the Wailua River to Secret Falls (some call it Sacred Falls).  Actually, you have to kayak AND hike but it’s well worth it.  The kayak part is roughly 2 miles each way if memory serves me correctly and the hike is a pretty easy 3/4 of a mile.  Overall the trip takes 4-5 hours.  We used Ali’i Kayaks and our guide was TC.  He was great.  There was the usual tour guide humor but also a lot of interesting information.  He answered all sorts of random questions from us as we hiked.

The outfitter provided dry bags for each couple (just happened to be all couples in our group) in which we could pack a lunch to be eaten at the falls and whatever else we wanted.  I packed my Canon 5D Mkii in a dry bag that I brought, then put that inside the other dry bag.  I didn’t know what to expect at the falls but decided to pack the DSLR.  I did not pack the tripod.  After some quick paddling instruction from the guide — several of our group had never been on a kayak before — we paddled upstream.  Along the way we viewed several movie filming locations but the only two I remember are one where Indiana Jones was running from the natives through the jungle and a village which was used to film the African village scene in the movie Outbreak.  We beached the kayaks, hiked to the falls, and hung out for nearly an hour to eat lunch, wade (people like me) or swim if you were crazy (my wife and sister-in-law) as the water was freezing.  I got someone to take our picture…from the instruction I had to give I wonder if he’d ever used a camera 🙂  The shot below doesn’t give a sense of how tall the falls are given the wide-angle lens used.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/6873738470/in/photostream

Secret Falls, Kauai 24mm, f/5, 1/320s, ISO 400

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/6873740210/in/photostream


Seattle Skyline Snapshot

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/6861448692/in/photostream

Moody Skies In Seattle 50mm, f/1.4, 1/4000s, ISO 200 – Click to view larger on Flickr

“If you own a house which faces west on an island in the Indian Ocean and your youngest sibling is left-handed and your primary vehicle is white, then subtract line 21 from line 13, multiply by 0.285, subtract your latitude and longitude and enter the result on line 85.”  What’s that got to do with anything?  I just did my income taxes and it seems like half the directions are as nonsensical as the one above.  So, I’m just venting…our tax code is too complex and MESSED UP.  It doesn’t matter what political party affiliation you claim, whether you think the system is fair or unfair, or you think the rich should pay more or less — I don’t see how anyone could disagree that it’s a mess.  Solutions?  I don’t get into those kinds of debates online 🙂

In a previous post I showed a bokeh panorama (or “bokehrama”) from the same place the above picture was taken.  The one above was a quick snapshot as we packed up to get out of the rain.  I hadn’t planned on doing much with it but as I continued to see it among my photos it grew on me — I like the overall gloomy mood contrasted with the random colors of the skyscraper windows for example.  Having a bit of detail and drama in the clouds helps too and I don’t think I would like it as much if the skies had been a flat gray.

This image is from a single frame captured with a 50mm lens.  You may note the odd settings used — not typical for a landscape shot.  The fact of the matter is that I had just used roughly the same settings for the panorama I linked to above.  For this skyline image I sped up the shutter one stop with a flick of the dial (didn’t need quite the length of exposure that I needed for my daughter’s dark skin) and snapped this quickly so we could get going.  Something like f/8 would’ve been sharper, etc. but there was no time to worry about that stuff.  I cropped to a more panoramic aspect ratio (and cropped out another visitor to the park who was in the left side of my frame) then processed mainly with a bunch of curves and masks to selectively adjust contrast.  I tweaked the white balance a bit to move from a completely black and white cast toward having a wee bit of warmth.


Hawaiian Sunburst

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Hawaiian Sunburst 17mm, f/22, 9 exposures, ISO 100

While in Hawaii I managed to catch the sunrise most mornings (not necessarily for pictures).  As the sun rose over this jetty in Kauai I stopped all the way down to f/22 in hopes of getting a nice sunburst — success.  The lens flare effect (real — not added in post) is nice too.  I had hoped to get more interest and/or color out of that rope in the rocks but it doesn’t add much unfortunately.

The image was processed in Nik HDR Efex Pro using 9 exposures.  Lightroom was used for most of the touch-up and then Photoshop was used for curves and noise adjustments.


Seattle Skyline…Rained Out

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/6840336856/in/photostream

Kerry Park, Seattle, Bokeh Panorama 50mm, f/1.4, 1/2000, ISO 200, stitched from 16 frames

My daughters and I went to downtown Seattle today to hang out and on the way we stopped in Kerry Park (thanks, Jim Nix for suggesting it).  I had low expectations regarding the weather but did hope to grab a skyline panorama in any case.  Long story short, the rains came and other visitors got in the way somewhat so all I managed was the quick, handheld bokeh panorama (from 16 frames) shown above.  I look at it as making lemonade out of lemons — we did what we could given the conditions.  I gave up on my plans for a high-res (zoomed in and in-focus) panorama since the rain was hard and blowing directly on to the lens.  We headed to lunch at Pike Place Market and afterward the clouds broke and the sun peeked out.  We headed back to Kerry Park on our way back home but by the time we got there it was raining hard again — could barely even see across the water.  I didn’t bother trying any more photos.  I may try some black and white treatments with this one someday…


Playing In The Snow

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Snow Portrait 70mm, f/8, 1/125s, ISO 400, flash

We played in the snow today — quite a change from the warm, Texas weather.  While I have no interest in living in a snowy climate again I do enjoy getting in the snow every once in a while.  I took five of my children up to Stevens Pass in Washington for the express purpose of playing in the snow.  There has been all sorts of snow up there in the past few days so we knew it would be fun.  Things looked even better when it began snowing in the Seattle area before we even left the house.

After getting all wet and cold we headed back down the mountain and explored some side roads to enjoy the scenery.  At one spot my daughter (the one in the picture above) pointed out a spot she thought would be nice for a group photo (below).  At another nearby spot she asked me to take a few pictures of her in front of a bridge and the snow-covered trees (no one else wanted to get out of the car again).

Photo stuff…In the group photo below you can see the snow falling in front of our faces — we wanted to show the extent of the falling snow.  However, in the individual shots we wanted to avoid the snow in the face and found a space under some trees which allowed that.  However, it was so dark that we had to add some flash into the mix (no gels used).  With the others waiting in the car I didn’t spend much time perfecting things but we like what we got.

The odd composition above came from just moving around trying different things out.  I don’t like it…but my daughter does so I’m posting that one.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/6834915050/in/photostream

Snowy Group Portrait 70mm, f/6.3, 1/125s, ISO 640, no flash


Say ‘Cheese’!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/6978321999/in/photostream

Cute 40mm, f/6.3, 1/80s, ISO 800

Just plain cute.  I grabbed this while my wife and her sister were trying to get our youngest to smile for the iPhone.  Sometimes these are the best pictures.

Since this is supposed to be a photography blog I can’t leave out the processing…I hit the “Auto” button and did a couple other minor tweaks in Lightroom.  Manual mode, flash bounced off the wall behind the camera.


Shooting The Big Gun…

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Hormone Therapy For Men...Testosterone Rush

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).

Just for grins, here’s a link to a post about another fun family (and friends) shooting outing.


Filters And Layers

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/6967631567/in/photostream/

Twirl

Another post written on a plane between Austin and Seattle the other night…I like this WordPress post scheduling thing…

A few months ago I tried out a new “technique” (for lack of a better word) to create the image above.  I used — with some tweaks along the way — this tutorial at Digital Darkroom Techniques.  You may or may not find the actual image interesting (I only like *some* things about it) but the method to create it may be of interest to you — and you can tweak/customize it to your heart’s content.  It came to mind to post about this when I saw a similar image last week.  The creator of that image didn’t mention where they got their inspiration but I immediately thought of my image above.

My starting image was the one below, which happened to be sitting around on my desktop when I decided to try out the steps laid out in the tutorial.  You can read about how I made the starting image HERE.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/6821511114/in/photostream

Blue Hour Baseball

I won’t go into any details on the steps involved since the tutorial does a fine job of explaining it.  Try it out, try changing things up with respect to which filters/angles/layers you use, and if you don’t mind, put a link to your results in the comments.