Contrary to local belief my Head is full of ideas, most of them fleeting and unformed. Some reoccurring, but needing some form of outlet. A few are actually pretty good. Lets see what comes up!
Looking for something motorsport related consider visiting our sister site www.speedovision.com It's HOT!
As of today consider this site a work in progress. Things just are to dated and in no way reflect my current level of competence. Look for lots of unannounced updates, and structure updates. A total redo if you will .. But it all has to start somewhere. Like now!
Hello Old Friend... StudioD and Alien Skin Enhance 6
What 4 months since my last post.. Bad Poster, Bad Poster…. Well what’s new? Other then a mindset redirection over at Speed Vision of MD.. Two things come to mind. One is the rebirth of “StudioD”, play on words. Studio for my vintage Sunpac folding lightbox and D for Doug, get it? and another is a trial run of Alien Skin Exposure 6. Lets look the specifies.
“ ©StudioD ” - In 2008 when I was much younger and new to Flikr, Santa left a SUNPAK Mini Studio under the tree. Forward to Feb 2nd of 2009 and one of my early Flickr posts was one a model organ made by Father in Law, using said device. As with so much of what I have, it saw sporadic use early on, but was quickly relegated to the back of the closet.
Lets fast forward up to last Wednesday (52814) when Norm Barker, Director of Pathological Photography @ The Johns Hopkins gave a presentation to the Central Maryland Photographers Guild on Micro Photography. Toward the end of his presentation it was mentioned he used a portable light box and carried a small bit of good black velvet in his kit to use as an impromptu backdrop because of it’s ability to absorb light. Being a good minion of who’s ever presenting, come Tuesday morning I too has a piece of my own. Up from it dark containment the Sunpak Mini Studio was transported, the black velvet backdrop incorporated and “©StudioD” was created. Immediately the resulting imagery of things laying around the house were a cut above what had been shot prior. I was pleased
Alien Skin Enhance 6 Saw several tweets a few days ago singing the phrases of Alien Skin’s new release of Enhance. 6. Being a constant user of NIK, Perfect Photo Suite, Topaz, and Alien Skin products on almost all of my posted images inside of Adobe CS6 or as a standalone I investigated and later D/L a trial copy of the software. On use I was very impressed with the vast range of effects included and started incorporating them into published images using “©StudioD” or on motorcycle racing images..
To be sure this software will be in my image manipulation tool kit but only when I can free up the $149 needed for purchase. Which is a shame as the more I look into the options the more Im amazed at it’s abilities
What's New With You?
Nothing much as of now. Did visit the past in Ilkchester MD, The ruins of “St Mary’s Monastery” and Simkins Paper Mill will warrant a revisit as will the Old B&O rail infrastructure.
Later on in the week it was a visit to the Providence Cemetery in Gamber MD.
Like a Fish out of water .
OK I’m almost a week over due… Old ways return quickly.
Last Friday and Saturday I was inside the 53 year old Baltimore Arena to capture all the packaged action of “AMSOIL Arenacross” Never done this exact kind of shooting so I did some pre event scouting on the internet as to “the best way”. Thusly armed on Friday afternoon I headed down into the inner city for some high adventure. And then things started to go bad. First rule of anything is know your destination. Not being the most knowledgeable person about things Baltimore i went to the Downtown Convention Center, which I found out was not hosting a Arenacross event that night, or ever. I was advised to perhaps try the Baltimore Arena which was having some kind of motorcycle thing. So back out into the rain and city hustle and bustle went I, feeling a little stupid for the mistake. Finding the Arena (which turned out to be right across from my choice of parking garages.) my next challenge was to locate the “Promoters Will Call” which turned out to be “Go up to the next black awning, ticket booth is there” to “Go to the little Black Awning in there”, gurrr right back where I started. And a reminder that all this meandering was taking place lugging full gear, in some heavy cold wet rain. But once found, picking up my media package was quick and painless, the promoters had it down to a tee. Now the real business starts. Part of my pre-event routine is a pit walk through followed by reconnoitering of the racing surface, in this case, involved 4 levels. Previously I had set the flash up for second curtain sync. to add some “spoke blur” to the shots. I was very surprised to find the lighting in the Arena was great. No flash was really needed. Happily I kitted up and started shooting.
Because of the abundance of light high speed capture of the racing action were pretty easy to net. As I was after more of the unusual capture I quickly hit on a technique to use the flash set at 3 stops over power to override the ambient light and under-light the airborne bike and rider.
And that being accomplished is anyone shocked that soon playful Photoshop, Alien Skin Eye Candy 7, versions started surfacing in short order..
And then the camera died.. I’m still not sure what exactly happened but my 5DMIII shut down. I put in a fresh battery and it to shortly shut down. As a result Fridays captures of the actual show were mostly make with my iPhone. Dejected I went home to process and recover what I had capture and re-flash the camera’s firmware. My original intent was to shoot the Friday show only. Now I had to shuffle existing plans to allow a return Saturday engagement.
And return we did, everything worked as expected, the camera gremlin didn’t return. Now that I sort of knew the ropes, things went pretty good, with a good percentage of keepers to put on Speed Vision of MD. Most of the night I shot at f:5.6 around 1/250th ISO 850/1000. The Second-Sync flash worked a little to good, A few high speed pans didn’t benifit from the dragging flash.
Over all I had a great time, the event staff was more then accommodating, the Baltimore Arena staff were helpful and more then wiling to share their “tails of the road”, of course, of which I found fascinating.
Addressing the “Fish out of Water” title. This is a young mans sport, no real place for “silverbacks”. But if I could turn back the hands of time…. How fun would that be?
Here and there and back again.
A truly learning experience
You may quote me "One day you get the Lensbaby, but most days the Lensbaby gets you". Last week mostly, out of curiosity,I let a Lensbaby Composer Pro /w Sweet 35 Optic come into my life. And as after other life changing moments such as Marriage and Childbirth, things are never quite the same. I love the endless possibilities this little tilt shift lens hints at, but in practice worthwhile results are seeming to elude me.
On Saturday I went on Andy Smith's Visual Reality (re)Photowalk in Gettysburg Pa. with the intent of making this a "Lensbaby" only event. To compound the issue I decided to also shoot 3 shot bracketed images for HDRs. Because this was my first real world outing with this little lens my lack of familiarity with it's operation became apparent quite rapidity. Let me explain, as this is a manual lens, F stop's and focus are entirely up to the user. But what really bit me was setting the shutter. A very high percentage of images were either under or overexposed. To late i discovered if the cameral was set to AV mode, a decent shutter speed was set But that was a day later, on Saturday my total capture of "Keepers" could be counted on my fingers. Oh well, live and learn. Maybe next time.
Dance they said, and it was good. Update
This year events seem to be few and far between. Almost at the last second, my young Child Bride (CB) and her dance companion decided to attend Nadirah Nasreen's Annual Hafl at the Pasha Land restaurant in Gaithersburg MD. Reservations were made over the phone for the following night (Sunday) and the excitement slowly started to build for both of us. Her, because she loves the Dance , and has so for almost 35 years. Me, it was an event, my real passion, photographing events. I have my favorites but as a rule, The Middle Eastern Dance events are not on the top of my list.. Don't get me wrong, I love photographing Middle Eastern Dancers of all shapes and sizes. And what's not to love, the colors, movements, music? No what's not to love is the venues.. It's a real challenge to capture a worthwhile images of the dancers in a High School Gym, Senior Center, parking lot or worse. Which with small exception is where they are. Fact of life, the girls love to dance where ever they can to show off their skills, and to do this "You takes what you gets."
But I have, as they say, digressed. We both went into our usual preparation modes, hers are not for public consumption, mine are more of a mechanical nature. Batteries to be charged, cameras & lens' needed to be selected. Which always proves to be a dilemma. Most times not knowing the where's why and whens of the venue always makes it at best, a guess. This time not being different, I decided to travel light with the 5DMII, a 50mm f/1.2, 100mm f/2.8, and one flash to deal with what ever lighting situations were presented.
When we arrived at Pasha Land at the appointed time, I was a bit distressed to see the restaurant was really not that large, and was packed with dancers and guests, with space already at a premium . which built when we came to find out our reservations had more or less, "flown the coupe". Lucky for us the owners daughter did some magic logistical redirection and we were ushered to our table, right out front. This was much appreciated by CB and friend as they almost were out on the dance floor. For me any use of the 100mm F/28, was ruled out. The only other bullet I had was the 50mm f/1.2 which was still a little long for this space. ("Darn why didn't I pack a wide angle?" ) As the excitement built, drinks ordered, menu choices made, I stated to realize the pickle i was in. When the dancers started to line up for the first group dance, the front line was only a foot and a half away from the front of the lens.
Nor perfect but Oh well, time to make some lemonade.. It's only pixels anyway. The music started, the light dimmed (I wish) and the magic started. Knowing things were far from perfect but I would get what I could i sat back, stretched my right pointer finger and started firing away. The rest of the afternoon was a blur of whirling dancers, delicious food and trying to get that "perfect shot.
A note of apology to the dancers, I was unable to capture "keepers" of all the dancers due to their proximity and lighting, and I'm still trying to mach the dancer listed in the flyer, to the images..
My thanks to all involved in making Nadirah Nasreen's Annual Hafla! a smashing success. The images posted are from my Flickr site but many more are posted or are in process of being posted on my gallery site. so check back often. .
Changing Seasons, Changing directions
Look outside the season is changing, summer is giving way to fall, which will in turn give way to winter. My approach to images likewise has started to change somewhat. Prior I would accept more of less what ever the camera had captured, perhaps with some minor tweaks in Aperture. Now more and more I find myself using one, or more, of the NIK plugins, with an occasional forays into PhotoShop to use the AKVIS SKITCH plugin or to provide background effects.
Above John Brown - NIK HDR Efex Pro 2, NIK Color Efex Pro 4
Above "The Dancers" Post processing With Aperture 3, NIK Color Efex Pro 4, ApertureExpert’s Preset Pack #5 “Film & Funk”
Above NIK Color Efex Pro 4 and Aperture core tools.
NIK Silver Efex Pro 2 and Aperture core tool set. Also becoming a fan of the square crop in many circumstances.
Above Aperture 3, Adobe Photo Shop, AKVIS SKITCH Photo Shop plug-in, NiK Color Efex Pro 4.
Aperture 3.3 and the power of Smart Albums
First off, I am a fan of Apple's Aperture program, have been using it since V1,0 (had lots of opportunities for improvement then ). Currently it's at V3.3 and it's developed into a mature, feature packed, stable program. I currently have about 110,000 images and videos in multiple referenced libraries, living on DROBO raids, Aperture has no problem tracking, managing, and modifying the images as I see fit.
Recently I received two requests for images, One was a request for a specific rider, in a specific motorcycle race, The 2011' Barbara Fritchie Classic . Easy enough as I only shot around 1200 images at the even. The next request involved one rider, and a whole series of races held by the Baltimore County Trail Riders Association in 2011. A bit tougher as I shot almost 9000 images at the race venues in last year.
Here's how Aperture and more specifically the Smart Albums made the task easy. First pass I looked at the images from the event date in "thumbnail view" which allows very fast scanning of galleries. I then used keyboard command to assign a color tag to all images that met the search requirement. Then I create a smart album based on that color. Paste in the riders name and # in the keyword metadata. Delete the color tags, and redefine the Smart Album criteria to reflect the riders name and number. I then use the Zenfolio export tools to move the requested products to a specific gallery. The Flickr export plugin to post to Flickr so I can post a link to Facebook. I was really surprised how quickly these tasks were accomplished.. Shout out to Apple, keep up the good work, allowing me "to get things done".
Bellydancer's Passionate for the Pink V2 (update 11/11/11 -AM )
Local updates 01/01/12- AM
At least one pic from each act has been posted to the Flckr. Some images may have the wrong performer listed… If so, many apologies. Contact me and I'll correct quickly.
This weekend was the second annual running of "Belly Dancer Passionate for the Pink". To say the large assemblage of amateur Dancers (Middle Eastern, Modern, Ballet ), of all skill levels, coming together to showcase their craft in support of the "Susan G. Komen for the Cure" , was truly awe-inspiring, would be somewhat of an under statement. Captured 60 gig of media (over 1100 images and about 2 1/2 hours of HD video.) and filled my last chip, on the last shot, of the last act. Up side? Venue, performers, their performances, organizers, and of course the audience. Down side? Lugging about 100lbs of kit up three flights of stairs to the balcony, and then back down again to the car. What! Builds character and stamina you say? I'll have to take your word on it. . Hopefully the videos will follow suit. (? They all have some problemst). Enjoy.