Archive for November, 2011

Best Frickin Sunset EVER!

I was on my way home from work when the sky just started to glow. I found a place to pull off where there was a good view, and there were already several cars there and people snapping away with their cell phones. I can’t blame them – this was probably one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen. I only had my phone but I’m still pretty pleased. Gotta love that Galaxy S II! The blog-sized pic just doesn’t do it justice, so I linked the pic to a big old honkin’ PNG version. Bandwidth-impaired, beware…

Just Little Blurry Blobs…BUT…

I thought that I might try my hand at doing a little bokeh shaping. For those not familiar with the technique, it uses a mask that covers the lens with a cutout in the shape of your choice. When you take a picture with the mask in place, blurred light sources in the background (the bokeh) take on the shape cut into the mask. These aren’t very good, but they are interesting…you might even be able to guess what the last two are…:-)

Hugs and kisses

I see them in your eyes

Pennies from heaven

Same to you, buddy

Real Estate Ad

For Sale:
Rustic little two-story abode, nestled among the trees in the countryside. Has witnessed many generations of pattering young feet and tapping beaks. Weathered look and outdoor plumbing perfectly suits the back-to-nature types. Some gentle TLC and a few twigs will restore this little number to its former glory. Owners are wintering down south but can be reached by carrier pigeon.

Faces of Thanksgiving

The Annoying Guy with the Camera was in rare form on Thanksgiving Day. Here are a few faces I managed to capture…

Oh the joys of big sisters

You want a picture of me?

You’re starting to annoy me…

Can He Paint? No, But He Can Photoshop Like Mad

I’ve been experimenting with various Photoshop filters a lot lately, and I’ve gotten where I am really liking the results. Here are a few I’ve done recently.

I’ve Got Art In My Heart…

…and angst in my pants…or something like that. Anyway, I was doing some texture and brush filtering on a tree shot I took back in October, and I came up with a combination I really liked. Only problem is that it really loses something in the resize to fit on the page, so I’m linking the image here to a full-size version.

A Lot to be Thankful For

There were 14 people, tons of food, and one annoying photographer at yesterday’s Thanksgiving gathering. The weather was absolutely perfect, which gave us all the opportunity to play outside most of the day. I took over 500 shots, and you’ll be seeing a lot of them over the next few days.

He Went Hungry Today

This is a Turkey Vulture…
Turkey Vulture went hungry today, because after we were done with the turkey, there was nothing left but the bones…

Black White and Blue

Got this shot of a duck on Kestrel Pond, and I thought it was pretty cool just because of the water. The light was really poor though, and the colors even worse. So, I took out all the color except for blue…I like the effect…anybody else?

Sunset at the Civic Center

Here are a few more taken in Civic Center Park as the sun went down.

Holy Capitol Dome, Batman!

I completely forgot that I never finished posting the shots from the Denver Photo Walk last month, which means I never got around to my favorite pics of the whole walk! So, here they are!

Can You Keep It Down In There? There’s Too Much Noise

Since the days have gotten shorter, I have found myself in the position of shooting in low light more often, for obvious reasons. In doing so, I have proven to myself, if no one else, the benefits of having a good camera and good glass. If I was pressed to do so, I could probably give you a dozen motivating factors in my decision to buy a DSLR. Oh yeah, there are a lot of reasons…but the one that made me “pull the trigger” can be stated in one word. Noise. Noise is the bane of any digital photographer who shoots in low light. This problem is only exacerbated by the smaller, cheaper sensors in point and shoot cameras. It can literally ruin a shot, and has, many times, for me.

As an illustration of all this, let me present two cropped images of the dome of the Capitol building in Denver. Both were taken at roughly the same time and from the same location, and they are both handheld shots, but more importantly, they were both taken at an ISO setting of 800. The first was taken with a Canon SX10IS. This is the camera I’ve used almost exclusively for the last three years, at least prior to May of this year. It’s been a great camera, and I love the 20x zoom, but as you can see, the SX10’s poor high-ISO performance means that this shot is virtually useless. Even with massive noise reduction, the image ended up so mottled and the loss of detail was so great that at any size above a thumbnail, the picture looked like crap. Unfortunately, the only means to avoid this problem is to put the camera on a tripod and do a longer exposure at a lower ISO, but in this case, as in many others, that simply wasn’t possible.


This image was taken with a Canon Rebel T3i. It was taken at a bit wider aperture (2.0 vs 2.8) and a slightly slower shutter speed (1/50 sec vs 1/60), but the ISO setting was the same at 800. What you are seeing here is a perfect illustration of the difference between a consumer level point-and-shoot and a DSLR, albeit still a lower-end one. Better camera gear does not equate to a better photographer. What is DOES equate to are limits that can be much higher than with cheaper cameras. The only problem now is that it’s also much harder to blame the camera when I shoot a clunker…


For the Love of Photoshop Filters

Seeing as how my limited skill behind the camera means that rather than getting “The Shot”, I most often end up with “A Shot”, post-processing is very important to me. In particular, Photoshop is usually my salvation. I use Photoshop extensively on my images, an I have an armada of third party plugins ready to step in and save me at a moment’s notice. I took a picture of the tower at Crown Hill yesterday, and I thought it would make a good example to illustrate some of the things that can be done with a photo when it comes out of the camera less than compelling. Shown below is the original, straight out of the camera except for a resize to fit the page.

I suppose it’s an okay snapshot, but to me, it’s kinda flat, washed-out and boring. Let’s see if there is anything that can be done to spruce it up and make it more interesting…

Read On…

Show Me the Birds

Ok – Have some birds…

Hooded Merganser couple

Merganser fledgling

Common Flicker

American Coot

I Shall Name Him Buster

Remember my little friend the Sparrow Hawk from last week? He was back when we went down to Crown Hill today. He was also a bit (but only a bit) less shy.