I'll be posting some random thoughts here about my photography: my travel plans, technical information behind some images, stories about how certain pictures were captured, etc.  The timing of the postings will also be random as my priority is capturing new images rather than writing about existing ones.  I hope you will feel free to comment on any of my postings and I appreciate you taking time to read my entries.

 

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Nikon D850

October 15, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

I placed an order for the Nikon D850 camera on the morning it was announced (August 24, 2017). I'm anxious to get the D850 for the following reasons:

  1. I'm currently shooting with just one camera. I really need a backup, but don't want to buy a backup since I would like my existing D800 to take that role. I feel like I've been rolling the dice too much lately taking photography trips with just the one camera. Going to Iceland this winter without a backup is not going to be an option!
  2. I don't expect the images to look a whole different between the D800 and D850. But, I think it will be a bit easier to capture some of the images with the D850. I sold my D700 a while back...and really miss the higher frame rate for sports. The D850 will enable me to shoot youth sports with more keepers again.
  3. I'm hoping the D850 will have a quieter shutter as I shoot inside churches a lot.
  4. A more flexible LCD screen will help me when I'm laying on the floor under my tripod trying to line up shots of ceilings!
  5. I find it challenging to zoom in to focus manually with Live View with my D800. It's my understanding that the resolution is much better on the new screen...and that will make life a little easier.
  6. I often shoot wide to create straight lines (requiring cropping) in architectural images. The extra megapixels will provide extra cropping capability.
  7. I will enjoy ISO 64 as a base...I shoot a lot of longer exposures.
  8. I find the focus stacking feature of the D850 to be intriguing.

Those are the main reasons...but there is no bigger reason than needing the backup!

For those of you who track such things, I placed my order at 8:00am Central Time on August 24th through B&H Photo. I have no idea where I stand on the waiting list...just hoping to get my camera by the holidays!


The Barrio Viejo Trade

October 12, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

During my last long road trip through the western portion of the United States, I visited Tucson for a few days. While in Tucson, I enjoyed photographing the Barrio Viejo neighborhood. The old neighborhood features many very colorful homes. It's a photographer's paradise.

One house in particular was super colorful with bright turquoise walls and a red door. I timed my visit for what I hoped would be the best lighting. As soon as I had everything set up and was about to start taking pictures, the owner of the house arrived and started to park her car between me and the house. She noticed that I was taking pictures, so she offered to park down the street instead--but only if I would carry her groceries into the house from her car! She was just returning from shopping at Costco.

I agreed to this offer and went on to photograph the house, as well as several other houses in the neighborhood, for quite some time. To view my photographs from Barrio Viejo, please CLICK HERE.

Here are a few from the turquoise house:

Barrio ViejoBarrio ViejoBarrio Viejo near 915 S Meyer Avenue in Tucson, Arizona on August 8, 2017

Barrio ViejoBarrio ViejoBarrio Viejo near 915 S Meyer Avenue in Tucson, Arizona on August 8, 2017

Barrio ViejoBarrio ViejoBarrio Viejo near 915 S Meyer Avenue in Tucson, Arizona on August 8, 2017 Barrio ViejoBarrio ViejoBarrio Viejo near 915 S Meyer Avenue in Tucson, Arizona on August 8, 2017


"Palouse Hills" Wins Photo of the Day!

October 08, 2017  •  2 Comments

This morning, my "Palouse Hills" picture won Imaging Resource's "Photo of the Day". CLICK HERE to view Imaging Resource's Photo of the Day page.

This is the first picture from my "Great Western USA Loop" road trip to be recognized with a Photo of the Day. Until just a few years ago, I had never heard about the Palouse. While planning for this long road trip, I was looking for an interesting location to visit between Spokane and Crater Lake National Park. I decided to stay in Colfax, Washington to photograph the Palouse region of eastern Washington. During my stay in Colfax, I drove to the summit of Steptoe Butte three times--twice for sunset and once for sunrise. The haze from the local forest fires diminished my results from the two sunset photo shoots. But, luck prevailed for a few minutes just after sunrise one morning--and I was fortunate enough to create one of my favorite images of the trip.

This marks the 45th time that one of my photographs was recognized by Imaging Resource as its "Photo of the Day". Click here to view all of the winning entries over the past few years.

Palouse HillsPalouse HillsImaging Resource's Photo of the Day for October 8, 2017


Custer's Last Stand!

October 06, 2017  •  6 Comments

Over the past two years, my microstock earnings have been on a slow, downward spiral. I'm certain that this decline in activity is not only impacting me--it's an industry trend due to the massive influx of digital images in recent years.

As my earnings decline, my incentive to upload more images also decreases. One factor is that I sometimes have buyers contact me directly to purchase images...and when those photographs are available through stock for ridiculously low prices, the potential buyers typically go through the stock agencies for these same pictures. A few years ago, I projected that each new stock submission would ultimately generate earnings of $10 to $12. While this doesn't sound like much, when I upload 500 picture from a trip--I found the $5,000 to $6,000 in earnings to be worth making them available through the stock agencies. Unfortunately, new pictures are no longer selling at such a pace--despite my opinion that the pictures naturally tend to improve in quality as time progresses.

So, I'm making my last stand! I recently added 554 new images to my microstock portfolio! I will be closely monitoring the sales of these images. If they generate some income--even enough to offset some of the declining earnings of my existing images, I'll continue to play the microstock game. If they don't generate much income, this will be the last batch of pictures that I sell using this venue.

I'll continue to post my monthly earnings for quite some time so that everyone who reads my blog can continue to see this story unfold. Hopefully, my las stand will end up better than Custer's!

 


Great Western Loop Road Trip -- Distribution by Lens

October 01, 2017  •  3 Comments

Nearly every time I return from a trip, I'm asked about which lenses I used to capture the images. At the end of a trip, I like to look at the distribution of shots by lens. Here's how it looked for my most recent "Great Western Loop Road Trip":

I used just one camera for the entire trip--the Nikon D800. More than 75% of my photographs were captured with one of Nikon's "Holy Trinity" of lenses--the 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200. Before leaving on this trip, I upgraded my Nikon 70-200 VR lens to the most current version. I was so impressed with the quality of this lens that I am now considering upgrading my Nikon 24-70 as well!

Initially, I wasn't going to pack the massive Nikon 500 VR for this trip. I didn't expect for that lens to get much use. But, I'm glad I decided to bring it. In the end, I used the lens to capture 88 photographs--and they were some of my favorite pictures of the trip. It came in handy for some wildlife images as well as landscape pictures (particularly from the summit of the Steptoe Butte in eastern Washington). Here are a few of the 500mm images from this trip:

Steptoe ButteSteptoe ButteThe Palouse from the summit of Steptoe Butte in Steptoe Butte State Park near Colfax, Washington on July 25, 2017 Snow Leopard KittenSnow Leopard KittenSnow Leopard kitten at the Triple D Game Farm at 190 Drake Drive in Kalispell, Montana on July 21, 2017 Sea lionSea lionSea lion at La Jolla Cove at 1100 Coast Blvd in La Jolla, California on August 2, 2017


Starburst Blending!

September 26, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

During my last road trip, I stopped for a couple of nights in El Paso, Texas. I'm always looking for a good vantage point for a cityscape--and the Scenic Drive Overlook certainly provided that.

El PasoEl PasoEl Paso skyline from the Scenic Drive Overlook in El Paso, Texas on August 10, 2017 This scene was captured at f/8...but I blended in an exposure at f/22 to create the starbursts. If I had selected f/22 for the entire scene, I would have lost sharpness due to diffraction. So, I only used f/22 for the street lights by blending them in using the "Lighten" blending mode in Photoshop. This way, I was able to get the best of both apertures in a single frame!


Microstock Earnings through August

September 21, 2017  •  4 Comments

My monthly microstock earnings came in at $874 for August. This amount is slightly less than the earnings from last month and about $130 less than August of last year.

Following is a summary of my monthly earnings:


Mission Accomplished at the Red Rock!

September 21, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

During my last long road trip, I stayed at the Red Rock Casino Resort in Las Vegas for a few nights. One of my goals was to photograph the very contemporary looking lounge. Better yet, I wanted to capture this picture without anyone in the frame--a nearly impossible task!

Red Rock ResortRed Rock ResortRed Rock Casino, Resort Spa at 11011 W Charleston Blvd in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 7, 2017 There were several challenges to getting this shot:

  • This involved a cat and mouse game with security personnel! When I started to extend the legs of my tripod, security was on me in seconds. So, the tripod was out of the question. And, security was manning this area practically 24/7. After passing through this area many times, I noticed that there were very brief intervals when the scene was clear of security. I waited for one of those times to quickly set up the shot. I was only going to get one try at it--because once security tells you that you can't take pictures, it's not a good idea to keep shooting! In locations such as this, I assume that it is OK to shoot until I am told otherwise.
  • The tripod was out of the question. Yet, I needed to stabilize the camera. These are 3 second exposures--and I needed to shoot a sequence of bracketed exposures to retain detail in the chandeliers as well as the shadows. Fortunately, I had my RRS multi-clamp with me. I clamped the ballhead to the marble railing and then secured my camera to the ballhead.
  • Having the clamp is the only way to capture this picture. Even if I had been permitted to use a tripod, the tripod wouldn't have worked. I was using a fisheye lens--and with such a wide perspective I needed to position the lens over the ledge. The clamp allowed me to do this rather easily.
  • The clamp allows me to take shots without attracting the attention of security quite so quickly. With the tripod, I had no chance. But, with the clamp I was able to stand up against the camera and activate the shutter by pressing on the cable release near my pocket.
  • Even so, at one point during my sequence of shots I was approached by security. It's always the same conversation--do you have a permit to shoot? I reply by asking if that is necessary for photographs for personal usage (which these are). Security is always polite and asks that I stop shooting--which I do. But, while we were talking I was able to finish the bracket of exposures as I kept pressing the cable release.
  • This scene is usually crowded at nearly any hour of the day or night. Since I was staying at the hotel, I kept an eye on the scene. The morning that I departed for my drive to Tucson, I left the hotel very early in the morning. To my delight, the lounge was mostly free of people at 6:00 AM! I was able to clone one person out and use my mirror trick to remove another person!

In the end, I was able to create this apocalyptic style picture of a large Las Vegas lounge.

Mission Accomplished!


My Most Spectacular Sunset

September 18, 2017  •  2 Comments

During my last long road trip, I experienced my most spectacular sunset. Over the years, I've seen and photographed many sunsets, but the one at Scripps Pier on August 2, 2017 in La Jolla, California takes the cake! A professional photographer who was positioned right next to me mentioned that it was the best sunset that he saw in more than a few years.

A year ago, my travels took me to this same location. That sunset looked to be a promising one, but as the sun approached the horizon a thick fog settled over the water. All color was removed from the sky and most of the photographers left the scene before the sun was fully set. This time was a different story and I was rewarded for revisiting this site.

This sunset presented many phases...each with different colors and contrasts. The full photo shoot lasted well over 90 minutes. At times, the tide rolled over my shoes. Despite getting my shoes filled with salt water, I wasn't going to move an inch until I had captured photographs of this sunset!

It started with mostly overcast conditions and a very cool, pastel look. I was pleased with the lighting:

Scripps PierScripps PierEllen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier at 8602 La Jolla Shores Drive in La Jolla, California on August 2, 2017 Before long, the colors deepened and the orange color intensified near the horizon. I didn't expect it to get much better than this:

Scripps PierScripps PierEllen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier at 8602 La Jolla Shores Drive in La Jolla, California on August 2, 2017 Then, the sky started radiating with color that was reflecting on the beach all around us. This lighting was beyond anything I have ever experienced:

Scripps PierScripps PierEllen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier at 8602 La Jolla Shores Drive in La Jolla, California on August 2, 2017 Then, the clouds started to break up. This made for a more dramatic looking sky:

Scripps PierScripps PierEllen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier at 8602 La Jolla Shores Drive in La Jolla, California on August 2, 2017 The scene softened a bit just before sunset:

Scripps PierScripps PierEllen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier at 8602 La Jolla Shores Drive in La Jolla, California on August 2, 2017 I kept shooting after the sun dropped below the horizon:

Scripps PierScripps PierEllen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier at 8602 La Jolla Shores Drive in La Jolla, California on August 2, 2017 For my parting photograph, I stepped to the side of the pier for a different perspective. The camera sensor was able to pick up more of the light and color than I could see with my eyes. It was practically pitch dark during this exposure:

Scripps PierScripps PierEllen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier at 8602 La Jolla Shores Drive in La Jolla, California on August 2, 2017 I suspect that these photographs would look great printed on metal!


Courtesy in Downtown LA

September 15, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

During my last long road trip, I allocated a couple of days to photograph some of the amazing architecture in downtown Los Angeles. One of my favorite buildings is the Disney Concert Hall:

Disney Concert HallDisney Concert HallWalt Disney Concert Hall at 111 S Grand Avenue in Los Angeles, California on July 31, 2017 To me, the most amazing thing about this photograph is how considerate the pedestrians were. This picture was taken on a weekday morning on a busy intersection in downtown Los Angeles. As I was getting ready to take this exposure, nearly 15 people stopped in their tracks so that I could capture this picture. I wasn't expecting this type of considerate behavior in such a big city!

 

 

 

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