Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Kittens (lighting from the side)

Nikon 810, 105mm (28-105), 1/60, f/4.5, ISO 2500

This summer we fostered a set of six kittens, taking care of them until they could get spots at the Lawrence Humane Society. The day before they left us for the next step on their journey, we let them run around loose in the bedroom for awhile. I set up a pair of small continuous lights rather than use a strobe (thinking the flashing might spook them). Because the lights were near the same height as the kittens, the result was classic side lighting.

Side-lighting can produce different effects based on the positioning of the light and the subject. The photo above is a classic side light (with the source itself in the frame). On the other hand, in the photo below the subject is lit from the front by both lights. It isn’t quite the same as an overhead source, but it isn’t as dramatic as the first photo.

Nikon 810, 105mm (28-105), 1/100, f/4.5, ISO 6400

Nor is it as dramatic as a side light from behind. This little guy was constantly on the go, and the combination of back light, body posture and motion blur captured his personality well.

Nikon 810, 98mm (28-105), 1/100, f/4.5, ISO 6400

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Best of the 365 Blog – June 2018

This “best of” is going to be shorter than usual. Early in June I decided to suspend the 365 project for a little while. I had some other things going on in my life and just generally needed a break.

Nikon 810, 500mm (150-500), 1/200, f/6.3, ISO 400

In this photo you can see one of the “I need some time off” factors. Two of the outdoor cats had kittens, and we decided to rescue them rather than have a handful of cats become a growing colony. This the first time that I saw them out of their hiding place long enough for me to go grab a camera.

Nikon 810, 8mm, 1/80, f/13, ISO 2000

My friend Ken likes to go to the Combat Air Museum in Topeka as a palette cleanser at the end of every school year. I tagged along this time so I could use the 810 to redo some of the pictures I’d taken there in the past with equipment with lower dynamic ranges.

Nikon 3000, 55mm (18-55), 1/125, f/5.6, ISO 110

Seizing the kittens proved to be more complicated than we first expected. They managed to get in under the deck steps where we couldn’t reach them. Knowing that their moms would move them if we didn’t get them all at once, I used a crowbar to pry up some of the boards so we could get at them. Everyone was successfully rescued.

Nikon 810, 28mm (28-105), 1/125, f/13, ISO 100

For one of the last photos I took before taking a break, I went to the Kansas City Kansas Public Library’s food truck day. Which turned out to be one food truck. Still, it provided some good photo ops.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Fireworks 2018

Nikon 810, 28mm (28-105), 2 sec., f/4.5, ISO 100

This year I thought I’d try something new for Fourth of July photos. A Petapixel article described a technique that produced puffy, flower-like images. My results differed, but I’m nonetheless pleased with what I got.

The trick was to set the shutter for long exposure (I went with a second or two), start with the lens completely out of focus and then snap to clear focus while the shutter was still open. The result is an image that’s partially in focus and partially out. It ended up creating an illusion of depth of field, which altered the perceived size of the subject (kinda like the tilt shift technique).

Our eyes work in ways quite similar to our camera lenses. So we're used to a more or less infinite depth of field for subjects at a distance but a narrower field for things that are close to our faces. That's why the part-in-part-out focus of the fireworks photo creates the illusion that it's a smaller object closer up.

Nikon 810, 28mm (28-105), 2 sec., f/4.5, ISO 100

I also brought the wrong tripod (going with the heavy one for stability but forgetting that it can be kind of a pain to point up at any angle greater than 60 degrees or so). So several of my sky burst photos were hand held, producing another interesting effect even when I wasn’t changing the focus mid-shot.

Nikon 810, 28mm (28-105), 2 sec., f/4.5, ISO 100

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Best of the 365 Blog – May 2018

The end of this month marks the second year in a row that I’ve successfully completed the 365 project.

Nikon 810, 75mm (28-105), 1/100, f/9, ISO 100

The sight of a tree covered with white blossoms in the middle of a graveyard was too interesting to pass up, so I actually retrieved a camera from home to get the picture. Unfortunately, at the time I was also playing around with some filters in Lightroom. I noticed after the fact that switching this to black and white makes the white blossoms indistinguishable from everyday green leaves.

Nikon 810, 75mm? (28-105), 1/1000, f/4.5, ISO 400

Narrow depth of field makes for a good photo from the college’s flower garden.

Nikon 810, 300mm (75-300), 1/160, f/11, ISO 100, cropped

During this year’s annual visit from the carpenter bees, I finally got camera, lens, light and subject to line up perfectly.

iPhone 7

The clouds blew through without dropping any rain, but they certainly look ominous.

Nikon 810, 18mm (18-35), 1/60, f/5.0, ISO 800

Part of the series of photos I took in the caboose we rented in Arkansas.

Nikon 810, 48mm (28-105), 1/60, f/4.0, ISO 400

Another caboose shot, this time a rain-slick exterior.

Nikon 810, 105mm (28-105), 1/60, f/6.3, ISO 250

I stopped for awhile in a small park in Eureka Springs and took pictures of some yarn-bombed trees. It was a relaxing experience.

Nikon 810, 75mm? (28-105), 1/100, f/4.5, ISO 5000

Back at home, some used limes in the sink turned out to be more visually interesting than the average daily desperation photo.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Food truck edit

Combination of two photos

Here’s the challenge: I’m after a shot of the art on the side of a food truck. I want the whole side of the truck in the shot to give the art some context (“food truck” rather than “painting”). But when I step back far enough to get the whole truck in the frame, I end up with a sign blocking the shot.

Nikon D810, 28mm (28-105), 1/125, f/8, ISO 100

So I got another photo of the painting from closer in, with no sign blocking the view.

Nikon D810, 28mm (28-105), 1/125, f/14, ISO 100

Photoshop to the rescue! Back at home, I combined the two pictures. In the wide shot, the sign blocked only a small chunk of the art, so I needed only a little bit of the other photo. A mask, a free transform, a small perspective warp and a brightness adjustment made the replacement piece match quite well with the rest of the image. Then a crop cut out some unnecessary background elements.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Combat Air Museum

Nikon 810, 18mm (18-35), 1/100, f/6.3, ISO 500

Yesterday Ken and I went to the Combat Air Museum in Topeka. The location supplied no end of great photo ops. Though the airplanes are packed in a little too tight to get good wide shots of most of them, the museum abounds in fascinating details.

Nikon 810, 8mm, 1/60, f/3.5, ISO 1600

Nikon 810, 48mm (28-105), 1/80, f/14, ISO 3200

Nikon 810, 8mm, 1/60, f/3.5, ISO 400

Nikon 810, 8mm, 1/80, f/13, ISO 2000

Nikon 810, 75mm (28-105), 1/80, f/13, ISO 64

Nikon 810, 48mm (28-105), 1/80, f/10, ISO 64

Nikon 810, 75mm (28-105), 1/320, f/4.5, ISO 1600

Nikon 810, 75mm (28-105), 1/80, f/5.6, ISO 1600

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Yarn bombs

Nikon 810, 48mm (28-105), 1/500, f/4.0, ISO 100

On our recent trip to Arkansas I opted to forego my usual habit of running all over the place like a crazy person trying to get photos. Instead, I drove into Eureka Springs one morning and spent some calm time taking pictures in a small park full of yarn-bombed trees.

The experience gave me the chance to keep an eye on the histograms of the photos I was taking, resulting in some good exposures and clear color reproduction.

Nikon 810, 105mm (28-105), 1/60, f/6.3, ISO 250

Nikon 810, 105mm (28-105), 1/60, f/6.3, ISO 250

Nikon 810, 48mm (28-105), 1/60, f/4.5, ISO 250

Nikon 810, 18mm (18-35), 1/60, f/11, ISO 250

Nikon 810, 48mm (28-105), 1/60, f/6.3, ISO 250

Nikon 810, 48mm (28-105), 1/60, f/6.3, ISO 250

Nikon 810, 105mm (28-105), 1/60, f/4.5, ISO 250

Nikon 810, 75mm (28-105), 1/60, f/8, ISO 250

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Nikon 810, 18mm (18-35), 1/60, f/18, ISO 200

Amy and I recently took a trip to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where we stayed in a caboose. It was the real thing (tracks and everything), renovated to serve as a vacation rental. With no TV and little internet, the occasion proved ideal for photographing this fascinating location.

iPhone 7

Nikon 810, 18mm (18-35), 1/60, f/3.5, ISO 800

Nikon 810, 18mm (18-35), 1/60, f/5, ISO 800

Nikon 810, 18mm (18-35), 1/60, f/3.5, ISO 800
Nikon 810, 48mm (28-105), 1/60, f/9, ISO 400

Nikon 810, 75mm (28-105), f/5, ISO 400

Nikon 810, 48mm (28-105), 1/60, f/4.0, ISO 400

Nikon 810, 48mm (28-105), 1/60, f/4.0, ISO 5000

Nikon 810, 62mm (28-105), 1/60, f/4.2, ISO 5000

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Best of the 365 Blog – April 2018

Spring is in the air. At least sorta.

Nikon 810, 75mm (28-105), 1/125, f/22, ISO 100

I needed an illustration for a piece I was writing about cookie-targeted ads. By fortunate coincidence, my mom baked some particularly photogenic Easter cookies for us.

Also please note that I may be getting some bad data on some of these. I doubt that I shot this many photos with my 28-105mm lens at exactly 75mm.

Nikon 810, focus stacked (28-105mm), 1/60, f/4.5, ISO 6400

The Picasso exhibit at the Nelson closed early in the month, so I got over there on a quiet weekday before the crowds got bad. I took some phone photos the first time I went through, but I wanted to go back with the 810 and get some better shots.

Nikon 810, 75mm (28-105), 1/60, f/6.3, ISO 400

Happy Easter! Again courtesy of Mom.

Nikon 810, 75mm (28-105), 1/60, f/4.5, ISO 400

Though I admit that I shot this out of desperation to get a photo for the day, I nonetheless like the result. I was working on a masked layer color wheel in Photoshop, so this fit with something else I was already working on.

iPhone 7

Shower thought: the shadow of the shower curtain rod and rings looks like an alligator.

Nikon 810, 50mm (28-105), 1/60, f/4.0, ISO 1600

A good rain storm (especially with a little hail) is always a good opportunity for a study in motion.

Nikon 810, 75mm (28-105), 1/60, f/4.5, ISO 1600

Didn’t dare drink it, but it made an interesting photo.

iPhone 7

I noticed this tree in bloom on my walk from class back to my office.