Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 6: Tiles

Taking a cue from one of the photography emails I get daily i decided to play with word tiles.  Considering i have a few sets of these laying around from the kids I didn't think it'd have too hard of a time finding a few to make something.

The first task was what should I spell out from things I have around the house.  I was in the mood for potato soup and I remembered that there was a whole bag of potatoes in the cabinet.  It was around 12:30-1pm on a sunny afternoon so I knew I wanted to use natural light.  I picked out a potato and had to move the fridge to find the last tile i needed for SPUD and grabbed the cutting board as I didn't feel the counter top would have looked as well as I wanted it to.

I had my Pentax 50mm f/1.4 on the camera and I went with that as its a better piece of glass than my kit lens.  I got as a close because I wanted to crop within the camera and keep as much of the count as I could.  The hardest part for me with this was composing it.  I had the potato where I wanted but the tiles were a problem.  I wanted it to sort of look like they were put there by a child but every time I placed them they looked well, placed.  I finally settled on what you see above.  The sun coming through the kitchen window gave me more than enough light and I like the shadow that it casts on the far side of the potato. 

I changed the angle of the shot and took about 8-10 shots.  I kept coming back to this one after I was done and this was about the third picture I took.

In editing I didn't really have to change much, I bumped the tone curve a bit for the highlights and brought out some of the shadows.  ISO was 200 so no worries about noise.  I played with the colors a bit so the tiles would stand out a little more.  I knew I had to do a bit of cropping but realized the upper right corner had a bit of the counter top in it and i couldn't remove it without removing more of the picture than I wanted.  I hopped back to the Photoshop side and clicked the "clone stamp" tool.  I had used it before and I have gotten some decent results from it.  Well as you can see, you can't see the counter top in the picture.  Of all the aspects of the photo, it's one of the parts I'm most proud of. 

Would I have done anything differently?  Maybe I could have gone from a higher angle and placed it where there was a little more light coming through, from maybe the living room windows.  Its an ongoing process but I've been pleased with the photos I've taken this year so far.

There's no "B" side for this one as I couldn't really find another angle or way I wanted to present this.

Tonight's film: Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

January 5: Country Road Take Me Home

January 5, 2013: Country Road

Being as the winter time yields little daylight its hard for me to get out and explore the area I live in.  So when I get a clear afternoon after work and about a half an hour I tend to get the urge to go outside and shoot.  I decided I wanted to drive around some of the country roads here in the Hershey/Palmyra area, especially ones I hadn't been on before.  Hanging a right instead of a left I came across this short stretch of road.  Now I wasn't out looking specifically for anything but I remember reading about lines and rule of thirds and having a focal point in your photo.

I'm not sure if i was able to capture the line and create that focal point especially since the road is wavy and curves upwards.  There aren't a lot of straight, flat roads in Central PA and not a lot in far country either.  But I put the car in park, waited for the road to be clear and walked out on the road and crouched.

I was using my JC Penney 135mm f/2.8 for this shot.  I set the aperture to f/8, metered the camera (the lens is completely manual) and fired away.  The first shot was a nice hue of blue, as I had forgotten to check my white balance before shooting.  This is something I always do and can't seem to remember consistently.  I took about 5 shots from this perspective with each shot at same shutter speed and aperture.  The only thing I did differently was changed where I pointed the camera and focused on.  I don't know if it made much of a different, maybe if the lens was being shot wide open at f/2.8 but at f/8 I figured I had a good enough DOF to capture the whole scene.

In editing in CS5 I tweaked the highlights and shadows a bit to add a little more contrast.  I shot at ISO 200 so no sharpening was required, at least that i could see, so none was applied.  I found that when I shoot outside and the sky is blue I like to bump the luminance and saturation of blue in the photo.  Blue is one of my favorite colors and I like to see it in my photos so it normally stands out.  I tweaked the greens and yellows a bit to balance them out as a well.  Cropped the photo a little bit and I was done.  I've read over and over to edit/crop in the camera.  So when I was taking the pictures I was making sure what I wanted was in the viewfinder before pressing the shutter button.

Overall I am happy with it.  I'm pretty pleased with the composition which is one of my main focus points in 2013.  If the road had been flatter from front to back (behind me the road curved up and away I couldn't see traffic coming behind me), I would have laid flat on my stomach and gotten that shot as well. 

Here is my "B" side.  A little tilt makes the world seem like a slightly stranger place.

Usually there is some sort of film playing while I write this blogs which usually takes place at night while everyone is sleeping so i'll finish these with whatever I am watching:

Tonight's film: The Evil Dead

Sunday, January 6, 2013

January 3: Happy Birthday

While watching the classic film Blow-Up (1966) about a London photographer who may or may not have witnessed a murder I decided to do a late night photo shoot. Mind you this was 10:30pm at night and I was already set to go to bed. I got up off the couch and unpacked my new tripod and went out in to the kitchen where I eyeballed the birthday cake that was left over from the day before.

I put my 50mm f/1.4 Pentax and lit a candle and started shooting. The above picture was the best of the bunch. The shot was at f/3.5 I probably could have gone up to 7.1 to add a little bit more depth of field. I really enjoy the picture but notice that the composition is a little plain. It was late and I was more interested in getting a picture in low light and seeing what would come of it with the candle lit. The plate, to me, is centered too much in the middle of the frame to be completely effective. I could have shot it from further up, with me standing on the chair or the plate on a lower surface. The kit lens (18-55) would have provided more flexibility to zoom in and block out more of the table. I could have also added a black cloth to make the cake more of a focal point.

 I stayed with the 50mm f/1.4 because its a better lens and gives a sharper image. The only post-processing aspect that I'm not happy with is the candle. Its too blown out for me. I could be wrong and it could be a good picture with it as is. I know the burn tool in PS CS5 can help, maybe, but I'll keep learning.

And here is the "B" side

Friday, January 4, 2013

2013 Photography Journey

Wow, so i just realized I did not blog the entire year of 2012. Kind of shows how and where my focus has been. I started 2012 trying to write short stories. I got 1 1/2 done. The completed story I like, but needs re-written. The half done story is just that, half done. Will I finish it? I would like to, but we will see. It just takes time and the will power to finish it. Its late but I felt I should get something down to get this ball rolling. If I go to bed without writing I will feel incomplete. I need to focus my photography and figure out what my focus for me will be. Will it be portraits? Landscapes? Candid? Cemeteries? Whatever the case is I want to find it out. The way I plan on accomplishing it is by taking my camera with me everyday and shooting. Shooting, something, anything, as long as I find something in my viewfinder I will feel accomplished. I started tonight with a quick and impromptu photo shoot of my leftover birthday cake. I took my new tripod and remote trigger and fired away. Nothing great. I like what I got and see what I missed. I hope tomorrow to blog about it and go from there. Here is the "B" side.
I'll take my 2 best and pick an "A" and "B" side and go from there. Maybe if I write down what I'm seeing and not seeing it'll help me. I plan to do this with each photo and see if I see themes, patterns or anything else that points to me as being my voice in photography. I turned 32 yesterday, lets start this journey now. M

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

30 years and 13 months

The last 13 months have brought upon a lot in my life: The birth of my daughter Allura A new career Turning 30 Produced my first film Wrote my first script Made many new friends Lost a friend Death of a family member On Nov 29th of 2010 I started with a new bank. This bank was completely different than the one that I had worked at for almost 7 years since graduating college. I knew I was in for a challenge and its come with many ups and many downs. I've learned a lot about banking and myself in that year. I've been challenged like never before. I've won some challenges and lost some, but I've learned a few things with every win/loss. My team is fantastic and keeps me on my toes. I look forward to many more days with them. I hit 30 this past January as well. Let me tell you, my body has repeatedly told me that it is 30 and I can't do certain things anymore. The first thing it told me is that I shouldn't be eating large amounts of food because I'll be paying the price. Getting old sucks! Since being in the working world for 8 years its hard to stay up past midnight on the weekends to squeeze in a few extra films or hours of video game play. The more I try and hold on to some of the things I used to do, the more I realize I need to do more things that I haven't done before. Instead of staying up late I should go to bed early and start working in the yard early instead of putting it off until the following afternoon. Allura being born was too awesome to contain in one or more blogs. Having my little guy Reeve was fun but a little girl is really a different experience and one that brings out my soft side. She's my little pumpkin and I will do whatever I can to protect her from all the villainous scum out in society. One thing that hasn't changed in the last 13 months leading up to the end of my 30th year: that's me. I realize I'm the same person i've been for the past 12 years or so since graduating high school. I'm fun loving, a big kid, wears my heart on my sleeve and an open book. I think sometimes my personality has held me back in certain aspects of my life and has helped me in others. I know one thing for certain, I need to start being more assertive with not just myself but in everything I do. I've always wanted to do many things and always just kind of waited for them to happen instead of going out and grabbing them. I need to start speaking my mind more. I tend to bottle things up and let them simmer and eventually they get to a boiling point and that's when I express my anger/frustration. I need to find a more useful outlet and I think I found that my muse likes it when I'm angry. She's shown up again today after my day turned out to be not such a good one. Will my creativity yield anything? Probably nothing more than a few hundred words of the short story or so I have rattling around in my head. I'm sure a lot of my friends will appreciate this blog since they all know I need to write more. I also need to keep up the emphasis on photography. My creativity ebbs and flows depending on the season and what else is going on. Not only do I thank my wife for putting up with me but I thank my friends for all the great times over the past few years. There have been ups and downs and everything in between. I'm me, i'm staying me, I'm a horse of a different color and I don't know any other way to be. I should embrace that more and stop thinking about what other people of me. I tend to let others opinions of me dictate how i feel about myself from time to time and that stops. I'm going to do the best I can at everything I do. I'm going to succeed and make the best life I can for my family and myself. Not everyone gets me but I get me.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


The smoke of the cannon fodder on the fields outside of Gettysburg were barely clear when the dead soliders of the Union and Confederacy sat back up. The armies of the Potomac and Northern Virginia were already on their way back down south when the townsfolk faced a new nightmare. Bullet ridden and mutilated the dead soldiers turned towards the small town and marched in unison towards a new target. The people in town were still taking in the damage done to their fields and town when they noticed the newly risen army of dead solidiers walking their way.

Town blacksmith John Shepard and his sons noticed the approaching figures and thats when they heard the screams...

To be continued


Focus, Daniel-son, thats what Mr. Miyagi said to Daniel Larusso in the first Karate Kid.

Focusing seems to be a lost art for me lately. I find myself at all hours of the day wandering about 15 random things in my life from what i'm going to be doing in the next 10 minutes to what I'm going to do when I get off of work. The minute I start something my mind is already focusing on the end of that task and what I'll be doing next. With having two kids time to myself has become a luxury. I wouldn't trade the time with my kids for anything in the world but I would love to rediscover the lost art of starting a task and seeing it through with complete concentration.. I'm not sure when this started or when I noticed it but I'd say its been since probably mid-2009 onward. I can sense it in just about everything I do. If i'm sitting on the couch reading a book, I find myself wandering whats going on online and stop to check the internet or whats on the tv and checking that. They say idle hands are the devil's playground, well I can say for certain that the devil isn't playing around with my hands.

I think I need to retrain my mind to a time before the iPhone and being completely jacked in and having my mind racing in 27 different directions. By doing that I think I'll be able to focus more effort at work and in the tasks I complete everywhere else.

Thanks to Skip for his constant blogging and unknowingly being my inspiration for starting to write again!