While I’m still wallowing in sorrow over the Red Sox / Yankees game getting rained out — the game for which I held a ticket for a seat behind home plate — you’ll have to suffer through more Fenway Park pictures. On my trolley tour of Boston one of the stops was Fenway so I spent a bit of time taking pictures and watching people as they gathered for Saturday’s game. I had tried getting tickets for this game but it was sold out.
I asked the guys above if I could take their picture together and they obliged with commentary on how they didn’t like each other. The guy on the left (jokingly) wanted to make sure his picture wasn’t going to be on the cover of Guns and Ammo — he didn’t want the government putting him under surveillance. The vendor below also willingly allowed himself to be included in the shot of his wares.
For the shot of the crowds on Yawkey Way I put the camera on a 2-second self-timer and held it up high by lifting my tripod high overhead. After 4-5 tries I ended up with a decent perspective.
On the day of my scheduled game I stopped by the park again and found an open gate. I later learned — after being educated by the nice security guard who asked me to leave — that it was open in order to let a tour exit the park. The guard (he really was nice about it) did agree to let me walk to the nearest entrance to the stands and snap a few pictures. It wasn’t a great photo spot and the rain was starting to really come down but I took what I could get. The thick white line at the opposite end of the field is the infield tarp. They were just getting it out to cover the field when I arrived.
I frankly haven’t been very impressed with the iPhone’s HDR feature until yesterday. The image at the top was taken with my iPhone 4S with the HDR option turned on, then edited quickly with Lightroom to add some contrast and clarity mainly. I often try the HDR feature and don’t see a ton of difference. This time the HDR option just happened to be left on from the last time I’d tried it but as you can see, the results are impressive for a phone camera.
Here are the straight-out-of-the-iphone images:
I’m pretty shy about getting my picture taken and am rarely happy with any pictures I’m in. However, inspired by other photographers, I occasionally attempt a self-portrait. Every attempt has ended up in the trash. I don’t even save the original files because they’re so bad. I’ve always got some goofy look, fake smile, or crinkled forehead (those who know me are saying “That’s how you really always look!”).
I did save this self-portrait though. It was taken in the “bean” as the Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park is affectionately known. I tried it just for fun and it *is* fun IMO to look at yourself all distorted, etc. One doesn’t expect to look good in a photo like this. That’s reason #1 why I kept this one. Reason #2 is that little girl with the camera in the background. Cute.
My kids love the bean. When we returned home my wife asked the kids how they liked their trip. For the 3-year old it wasn’t the walk through the city, or the overnight stay in a nice downtown hotel. His response? “I touched the bean!”.
The processing was relatively straight forward. Slight tweaks to basic exposure and clarity in Lightroom then off to Photoshop. My first thought was to go really edgy with it using Topaz Adjust but once I got in there I found that it also brought out too much of the dirt and fingerprints on the bean. What I settled on was the original exposure from Lightroom with a Topaz Adjusted version of myself masked in at 50% (ish) opacity. A small curves adjustment finished it off.
More bean photos to follow at some future date.
My wife, myself, and two other couples visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial last night. We had been told that it had the most impact at night so after dark we took the walk from OKC’s Bricktown to the memorial. We chatted loudly as we walked the streets but naturally became somber and hushed in tone as we arrived at the city block where the bombing occurred.
Our entrance was through a 4-story tall bronze “gate” which led to a 1″ deep reflecting pool which replaced the street along which the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building once stood. There was a bronze gate at the other end of the pool as well.
Shortly after our arrival we were approached by Tucker, one of the National Park Service employees. He was quite friendly and asked if we had any questions so one of our company asked him to explain the various pieces of symbolism contained in the memorial. Tucker did a fantastic job explaining the memorial with great enthusiasm — I will be writing the park service to commend him. As I recall there were 8 major elements in the memorial. The bronze “Gates of Time” represented the minute before the life-changing event. One gate is marked “9:01” — one minute of innocence before the blast. The other gate is labeled “9:03” to mark the first minute into the healing process after the blast. The reflecting pool is there to allow one to look into it and see a life forever changed by what happened.
The “Field of Empty Chairs” was the most significant part of the memorial to me. The field itself is the footprint of the former building. Each chair has the name of a victim and is placed in such a way as to indicate the floor of the building where the person was killed. I attempted some pictures — all I had was a basic point-and-shoot camera — but none are good enough to post .
Other symbols included the Survivor Wall, Survivor Tree, Rescuers’ Orchard, Children’s Area, and the Fence. Tucker explained each one and even gave us insight into why the memorial’s designers chose to represent things as they did. However, I’ll leave it to you to read about these on the internet if you are interested.
Despite the poor quality of the night-time point-and-shoot pictures I decided to post them anyway and I encourage each of you to take a bit of time to remember the victims of this horrible tragedy. We marked our remembrance by doing something Tucker suggested. We dipped our hands in the reflecting pool and placed them on the bronze gates for a few seconds. This leaves a lasting hand print on the bronze — a lasting mark of our visit.
(Many years ago) I was born on the south side of the Windy City in the Roseland neighborhood. My family moved to the south suburbs when I was pretty young, then out to a rural area (still close to the city) in high school. I went to lots of Blackhawks games in Chicago Stadium, Sox (and Sting) games at Comiskey Park, and even managed one Cubs game at Wrigley. Incidentally, I never made it to a Bears game — haven’t ever been to a pro football game to this day.
I remember watching Stan Mikita, Pit Martin, and Keith Magnuson play for the Hawks. I loved Sox players like Chet Lemon (when I was really young), Harold Baines, and Carlton Fisk. I had a home run ball hit by Brian Downing back in the 70’s. I wasn’t actually at the game and honestly don’t remember if he played for the Sox or the Angels at the time. I was at the 1983 game where the Sox *could have* clinched the division but they needed a win or loss from someone else so they didn’t clinch until the following night…something like that. I watched every game of the Bears run up to the Super Bowl in 1985 — what a fun season. I practically worshipped Karl-Heinz Granitza of the Chicago Sting.
I wasn’t big into autographs but I had Harold Baines, Walter Payton (got that one at the auto show in McCormick Place), and Johnny Morris (got his in the stands at Comiskey Park the same day I got Baines’).
Although I now live in Texas, the rest of my family still lives in the Chicago area and downtown Chicago is pretty much a yearly destination for our family. We take the Metra in to the Randolph station from the south side, walk the streets, and take in whatever attractions we feel like that visit. The kids love it. I haven’t visited since really getting into photography but I’m really looking forward to it. [Side note: One member of the family lives in Milwaukee but we Chicagoans simply consider that a suburb…those of you from Chicago appreciate this I’m sure]
The picture above was taken as my wife and I were landing at O’Hare en route to Paris. I grabbed the camera a bit late and missed some better shots but I’m still pleased with this one — reminds me of home.
There has been a worldwide outpouring of support for Haiti after the devastating earthquake in January. Governments contributed on behalf of their countries. Individuals donated time, money, and materials. Our son spent time in Haiti helping deliver much-needed healthcare.
Last night I took in a soccer match at Austin’s House Park and what a perfect night for a game — temps in the 70’s, mild breeze.
What does that have to do with Haiti? The game was friendly match between the Austin Aztex (pro team in the USL) and the Haitian National team. The Haitian team has no home currently because their stadium is serving as housing for displaced Haitians. The Aztex did not charge for attendance and donations of cash, cleats, and other soccer gear to benefit Haitians were being taken at the door.
I brought the camera along just for fun. I took some shots here and there but mostly concentrated on watching the game. Although I have zero experience with sports photography, I managed to capture a few cool action sequences. However, the images that are my favorite were captured *after* the match. I had wandered behind the goal for the last few minutes of the game. The whistle blew and I prepared to make a beeline to the exit. What stopped me was the fact that as soon as the match ended, the players who had been adversaries for the past 90+ minutes suddenly became friends and began to hug each other. That isn’t unusual after a sporting event but I had a sudden sense of what the Haitian team members must be going through emotionally. I flipped the camera back up and captured a few images of this scene.
Oh — the match was a 0-0 draw.
[Update: The match drew 4132 in attendance and raised $11,500]
Located west of Austin, TX (about 20 miles from downtown as the crow flies), Hamilton Pool is a favorite swimming hole for many Austin-area residents. It’s formed at the point where Hamilton Creek pours over a 50 foot waterfall into an incredible grotto.
Jim Nix (http://www.nomadicpursuits.com) invited me to go shoot at the pool this weekend. I’ve lived in Austin for 19 years, 9months, and some-odd days and I had never been to Hamilton Pool. Because of this fact (and of course because Jim’s a great guy) I took him up on the invite and had a great time going after some images. Got a bit of exercise too.
You can see Jim in the photo below. I saw him standing near the falls and I plopped down my tripod right where I was to capture an image which included him. I had seen incredible images of this pool but they didn’t have anything as a reference point to convey the true size. Including a person in the frame gives the viewer a real sense of how big this grotto is.
3-exposure HDR, center exposure 18mm f/14, 1/2s, ISO 100
On the drive out the skies were looking promising for HDR (lots of texture) but by the time we were there and set up they seemed to have turned almost to plain, gray overcast. I didn’t end up with decent skies in any of the shots I’ve processed at so far.
I’m not super happy with any of the images so far but they’re good enough for me to at least enjoy them. I was on a semi-strict timeline that day but I came away with some angles I’d like to explore further on my next visit. My hope is to visit again on a *partly* sunny day (want some awesome clouds to include in the shots). I would also like to visit in the spring when there are some leaves on the (currently bare) trees.
Here’s another shot of Jim working on some compositions. The foreground is busy with all those branches but I still like the shot because of how the focal length compresses Jim and the falls in the frame.
3-exposure HDR, center exposure 70mm f/20, 1/2s, ISO 100
And one more, a spot along the creek with some interesting water, trees, and reflections. I might have played with more angles here if it were not for my schedule.
3-exposure HDR, center exposure 24mm f/13, 1/13s, ISO 100
One of the fun things about photography is exploring new places and taking time to see new viewpoints. Diving deeper into photography this past year has caused me to view old places in a new way and visit new places that I wish I had seen years ago. An example of the former would be the Texas State Capitol building. I’ve been there many, many times in the 20 years I’ve lived in Austin but never took a picture there until 2 months ago. An example of the latter would be the cliffs high above the Pennybacker Bridge (or “Loop 360 Bridge” to most of us locals). What an awesome place and I can’t explain why I’ve never taken the time to visit before January of this year.
My daughter and I have been doing most of the assignments on dailyshoot.com. I approach these in a semi-serious manner. I want to improve my photography both in the technical aspect and the creative aspects therefore I make an attempt to come up with something original that also challenges me from a technical standpoint. However, I have a family and can’t devote all my time to the assignments so I often compromise and complete them with a result that I’m not entirely proud of. That’s OK though — I’m still learning in the process.
Today’s assignment was to “go somewhere today you’ve never been, even just a different street, and make a photo”. I was headed out on a date with one of my daughters tonight and we chose Mangia Pizza on Lake Austin Blvd. Yum. Not quite as good as Giordano’s in Chicago but ‘yum’ nonetheless. While pumping gas at the station next door we were looking at the incredible houses high on the cliffs above Lady Bird Lake. As usual I had the camera stashed in the trunk so we grabbed it and walked down to Eilers Park (or Deep Eddy as many know it) to attempt a capture or two of those houses. I’ve been to Mangia many times before…never took the time to go down to the park.
Eilers Park was built on a tract of lakefront which the City of Austin purchased from A.J. Eilers in 1935, for a price of $10,000. According to http://www.friendsofeilerspark.org/, “Mr. Eilers and his partners had developed the property as a resort that included a spring-fed pool, a bathhouse, rental cottages, a bandstand, and concession stand. The park had a carnival-like atmosphere with a Ferris wheel, music performances, free movies, and much, much more.” Over the years the park deteriorated but over the past several years improvements have been completed and a master plan for new projects has been created.
The image above is an HDR generated from 3 exposures. The light was just right. I wanted to capture a wider scene with several of the houses on the cliff but there are plenty of power lines around. I’m just not that good with photoshop yet and the lines would have seriously detracted from the image. I also had to shoot above some brush in the foreground which is why the house is tight to the bottom of the frame. I’d love to find out more about this house…someday. For now it remains another “place I’ve never been”.