Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Atomic Annie

Nikon D7000, 35mm (35-80), 1/250, f/8, ISO 100, adjusted

Here’s another closer look at one of the stops on last month’s trip to Hays. Atop a hill across the interstate from Ft. Riley sits Atomic Annie, a large artillery piece designed to fire nuclear shells.

A mid-distance shot such as the one above provide a good sense of the subject and its surroundings. But it also doesn’t hurt to get in closer and capture peeling paint, scratched-on graffiti, and an interesting combination of diagonal lines.

Nikon D3000, 22mm (18-55), 1/160, f/6.3, ISO 100, adjusted

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Nikon D3000, 24mm (18-55), 1/200, f/7.1, ISO 100, edited

One of the pans I posted three weeks ago was shot in a cemetery not far from the Cathedral of the Plains. It was a tricky place to shoot from a storytelling standpoint, because different angles told much different stories.

Some of the grave markers were a little different from the stones that are common in this part of the world. They’re made from metal pipes, some fairly plain and some ornately decorated. A line of these older markers toward the back edge of the ground made it easy to compose a shot simplified down to the subjects, the prairie and the sky.

The photo below is a lot more inclusive representation, more like what you’d actually see if you were there. On the other hand, the composition is cluttered. The different kinds of headstones look chaotic, and the power lines in the background don’t exactly help. Overall this is arguably more accurate, but it’s much less peaceful.

Nikon D3000, 20mm (18-55), 1/250, f/8, ISO 100, adjusted

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Plaza bunnies

Nikon D7000, 18mm (18-55), 1/200, f/7.1, ISO 200

For years we’ve been meaning to get down to the Plaza during the Easter season and photograph the giant rabbits. This year we finally did it.

This shot was extremely popular on Facebook. It got more likes than anything else I’ve ever posted.

Nikon D7000, 18mm (18-55), 1/200, f/7.1, ISO 200, adjusted and cropped

Largely because of the shade, the photo needed some adjusting in Camera Raw. I switched the white balance to “auto,” changed the levels on the shadows and whites, and moved the clarity up a bit. I also took advantage of the lens distortion correction feature, which had built-in settings for the Nikon lens I used and fixed some of the bloating caused by the low focal length. This is what the original looked like:

Nikon D7000, 18mm (18-55), 1/200, f/7.1, ISO 200

My only big disappointment was the bunnies’ eyes. They used to be red light bulbs that created a glowing devil bunny effect at night.

Photoshop to the rescue!

Nikon D7000, 22mm (18-55), 1/125, f/8, ISO 100, cropped and altered

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cathedral of the Plains

Combination of several shots

The trip to Hays and thereabouts took us to the Cathedral of the Plains. I neglected to bring a tripod, so I didn’t think I’d get suitably awesome shots inside. But I had some fun shooting outside.

The example above is actually stitched together from a set of shots, the first time I ever tried this Photoshop feature on anything other than a straight left-to-right pan. It produced some interesting results (note the odd bend to the tower on the left).

Nikon D7000, 35mm, 1/320, f/9, ISO 100

I also took some less elaborate photos. The framing on this shot was fun, with the curve of the rose window forming a halo around the statue’s head.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Kansas pans

I went a little pan-happy during a recent trip to Hays. Kansas landscapes – from the Flint Hills to open pastures – invite extra wide compositions. I managed to get some good results even without a tripod. As usual with pans, you’ll get a better sense of the full effect from the larger view you get by clicking.

The first one is unusual. Most pans are created by panning (so it isn’t just a clever name) from a single point, typically the head of a tripod. But for this image I shot several photos while walking past a series of headstones in a graveyard. The result required considerable adjustment (Catherine Mary’s stone is still a bit more distorted than I’d like). But it’s still awesome how a set of five crudely carved rocks can tell such a poignant tale of a family’s tragic losses.

Here’s something more traditional (and less depressing). This pan covers 180 degrees along the side of the road near a large wind farm. I liked the contrast between the solitary, traditional windmill and the acres of giant wind chargers. This one’s more fun at full resolution than it is on the Blogger screen (though you can get a slightly better look at it by clicking on the image).

This is Fort Riley viewed from atop Atomic Annie Hill. The view extends beyond 180 degrees. Shooting down into the valley also caused the series to arc rather than line up straight, which cost a lot of picture at the top and bottom. Thus the narrow image.