Home ....... Galleries....... About Me ....... FAQ'S....... About Me ...... Schedule ....... Contact ....... My Lightbox ....... My Cart ..... . My Account

Sunday, January 31, 2010

20/20 gallery and several new images!

 If you go to the Galleries page on my website you will find a gallery of the best 20 images from my "Twenty Nights in Twenty Days" project. I am pleased with the results. While doing the project I noticed several other blogs which encouraged people to do a 365 project. I love to shoot but I can't imagine trying to come up with a good interesting image for everyday of the year. On my project I had a couple of days where I wasn't too thrilled about the results. It is just going to happen occasionally. Once I hit the road when my art show schedule starts back up there will be days when it will be quite difficult to find the time to shoot something interesting, process the images, and post it to my blog. Some days there just is a lot of other things that need to get done. I did look at a link from a "365 project"  image that was posted on a blog. The first 20 out of 23 images were snapshots of the guys 3 year old doing things. Several were cute but most were boooooooring! Some were poorly exposed and poorly processed. I would never make my fans suffer through something like that.
Sunrise at Bryce Canyon
Soooooo..what do these three images have to do with my Twenty Twenty project? Absolutely nothing.  Sometimes I review and process images immediately after a trip or shoot. I'm always real excited about some of them but it's still a good idea to review them at a later date. Your emotions, expectations, and memories have faded by then and you can look at what you shot with a new and fresh outlook. Many times instead of shooting new work you can create some nice images by reviewing and processing some of what you already have. Bryce was taken back in November. The rainbow was taken back in late August while in Colorado. It started sleeting on us right after taking it. A small image on the internet probably doesn't do it justice. Zion was shot several years ago.
Rainbow from Mount Evans

Winter in Zion

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day twenty with some changing light!

It was quite cloudy and sprinkling a little as I prepared to head out for my evening shoot. The weatherman had said we had a chance of evening storms. My wife was home and said she heard were under a tornado watch. She also said she had to go to Baker's Furniture in downtown Garland to pick up some leather samples and maybe we could eat dinner at the Italian Restaurant just off the square. Considering the way the weather was looking I decided that plan sounded like a good idea. I would take my camera gear and shoot some things while she was in the furniture store. I started out taking some pictures at the Hubbard's Cafe that I had shot on the first day of this project. The Christmas lights were down and maybe I can get a different feel to a picture of the place. Turns out I may like it with the Christmas lights better, but the weather sure changed after I got there. The sun had already been down for 15 minutes or so when the clouds started clearing. Off to the east I could see the tops of some thunderheads which had turned very pink after the setting sun. Cool... but why can't I be out shooting landscapes when it does this. It would have also looked great behind the Dallas Skyline. I did get a nice shot of the front of Vetoni on Main which is in an old building located a block off the square. Nice place with good food and reasonable prices.
Vetoni on Main

An interesting side note about Hubbard"s Cafe. Do a Google search for Hubbard's Cafe. The second thing in the list is my image of it I put on Flickr. I wonder how long it will take my image of Vetoni on Main to reach the first page of a search?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Camera Club Visit!

Mormon Church

 My good friend Jeremy Woodhouse was giving a presentation at the Dallas Camera Club last night so I decided to shoot my way to the meeting which would start at 7:30 pm. It had been a while since I paid a visit to one of the meetings and said hello to some of my other friends who are still active in the club. My first and main stop was to shoot a Mormon Church in North Dallas. I had photographed it years before with film and had to do that through the fence. I was able to get inside the fence last night and digitally combining several images gave me much better results than my previous effort. My 24mm tilt shift lens also was a big help shooting this tall steeple which you are close to. After shooting the church I headed west towards the camera club meeting. I made one more stop to photograph this taco stand on Harry Hines Blvd.
 Be sure and check out the two new widgets on the sidebar. They both give you a way to look at some of my Flickr images

Taco Stand

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Eisemann Center!

I went over to the Eisemann Center in Richardson yesterday evening. It looked like a chance of some clouds and color in the sky for sunset. About 25 minutes after sunset the clouds off to the west pinked up and I was able to get them reflected in the front glass of the center. Just inside the entrance they have some lighted sculpture things high up on the walls. Kinda cool! I had about five minutes to shoot inside before they locked the doors for the night. I also wanted to photograph the dancing water that is across the street and have the Eisemann Center behind it. A red car was parked between the two while I was there. I guess I will get that shot next time.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Searching for Photos in Oak Cliff!

Hunt Oil Building

 Yesterdays Dallas Morning News had an article about how 20 local photographers were going to document the changes on Fort Worth Avenue, an area just southwest of downtown. I decided to go check the area out and see what it had to offer. While driving that way I decided to make a quick stop downtown and photograph the Hunt Building. This late in the day would have sunlight on the front of the building. I like the results. The front of the building isn't flat and curves as you see it in the photo.

Alamo Courts

 After shooting the Hunt Building I made my way to Fort Worth Avenue. The Alamo Courts attracted me the most and I got the above image. It has a fence around it and is set for demolition. I would have loved to have taken this shot after dark with the lights on. I really didn't feel that was going to happen so I moved on. I took some pictures at another old motel and also found a great spot to shoot a skyline of downtown. The skyline shot will be better when some construction cranes are removed though.

The Texas Theater

 My plan was to go by the Texas Theater on nearby W Jefferson Blvd. if I wasn't delayed by something else that caught my eye. Well, I ended up there. This is the theater where they caught Lee Harvey Oswald years ago. No cars out front and nothing going on at the theater last night, but at 6pm the lights were still off. I took some shots anyway and do like the processing I used which gave the place a vintage look. It was actually a lot darker than it appears in this image.
 The image below was taken Saturday night. We ate dinner at a place called The Original Mexican Food. The window out front says the best Tex-Mex on the planet. Hmmmm... I 'm trying to think who I would award "the best" to. I think I have tried everywhere though. This is a picture of the front of the restaurant after I had some fun with Photoshop's liquify tool.

The Party Room

Sunday, January 17, 2010

An evening in Fort Worth!

Water Gardens
Fridays rain had stopped and it looked like we may have some nice light and clouds around sunset as I headed to Grand Prairie to pick up Gary yesterday. When I got to his house I could see that a line of cloud cover was already over Fort Worth and overcast skies was the kind of light we were going to have for our shoot this evening. We got some good shots from the Water Gardens and the Modern Art Museum but I do think a deep blue sky might have improved our images.

Omni Hotel

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rain and more rain!

Yesterday evening the rain started and continued through the night. There was no let-up where I could go out and take a few pictures without possibly getting my equipment wet. I did take a couple of things. The top image was shot through the front window of my truck as I drove down the wet streets. Quite funky and abstract. The lower image was taken in a covered parking garage I sought refuge in. I may have stayed and worked it a little harder if I had realized that the rain is not going to stop! It was raining when I started writing this but has now quit and I actually see some blue sky. Maybe the weather will behave tonight.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sometimes you just have to keep going back!

Entry to the Corner Pocket
I got together with my friend Mike Pittenger to go photograph in the rain last night. The afternoon had been gray and drizzly and I felt we could get some good reflections in the streets after dark. We drove through nearby Wylie,Texas looking for some interesting things to shoot. A few pixels were used up but nothing terribly exciting came of it. I decided we might try the Square in Garland. I know I keep going there to shoot but when conditions change like this you can create images not possible when it is dry. Good subject matter can be shot in a variety of ways. I also knew Mike had not seen the theater and it would give him a chance photographed it. When we got to the square the streets were dryer than I would have liked. It had only drizzled a little in the last two hours. Mike had some fun shooting the theater and I got a nice one of the entry to The Corner Pocket. We called it a night and we headed back to his place to get my truck.
 I stopped to get something to eat on the way home. I noticed it was raining quite hard outside now. Eat fast.  Bring me the check. Rain has let up. I need to get back to the square. The streets were much wetter when I returned and much stronger reflections. Below is one of numerous compositions that I took from an assortment of puddles that I was able to work with.

Plaza Theater in the Rain #3

I thought I would included this last image. It is the darkest of the four exposures which were combined to make the final image above. If I was still shooting film this is probably close to what I would have had to use as my image of the reflections. It is dark enough to retain some detail in the bright marquee but it leaves everything else much darker than what my eyes could see. Some people seem to think digital is sooooo easy. The truth is that you need to have quite a bit of software skills in order to get the above version instead of what is below. Just thought I would throw that out there.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I decided to go hit some golf balls yesterday afternoon since the temperature finally got back up in the 60's. I also threw my camera gear in the truck because I had spotted this old house behind the practice range. Once again I hoped for some great sunset light and didn't get any. I did use some long exposures which gave me the chance to run inside the old house and pop off my flash. I did this several times in several exposures which were combined. Still not satisfied I said to myself  " why don't you just over process this image like so many other photographers are doing. Some people seem to really like that look." I show two stages of this process below. I really tweaked the second one. What bugs me about both is the glow or halo where the sky meets the trees and house. I have toned it down in these examples but the affect is usually much worse in some of the work I see on the internet.

After shooting the old house I headed back towards home and drove through the square in Downtown Garland. The coffee shop was open and I decided to take a few shots. The second one shows a good reflection of the Plaza Theater in the window.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A New Look to the Blog!

You might notice a little different look to the blog today. I have added the same header as my web site plus the links to all its pages. The blog has been a separate entity from the web site since I started it a little over a year ago. I felt they should work together...and now they do! I also have a link to my growing gallery on Flickr. It is scary how many photos are on Flickr and how many people are looking at them. I decided I better jump on that train too!

Yesterday afternoon my brother went with me to the Mesquite Art Center to see the Photographing the West exhibit of photography. After looking at the exhibit we looked at the rest of the Art Center. We went to the car and got our cameras in order to photograph a meeting room that seemed to interest both of us. The room was much larger than necessary for the tables and 15 chairs. After we left the Art Center we drove through downtown Mesquite and then headed east looking for something interesting to shoot at sunset.  We photographed the steeple on an old church then headed back towards Garland. My plan was to stop by the Posados across from Town East Mall and add to my neon collection unless we found something we liked better but that wasn't the case. It has some great lights just like the Plano location but it is still different. I think got a better CAFE than I got last week at the other location.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Playing Around at the Old Cemetery!

I decided to do something a little different last night. Take a chance, experiment a little, try out a new technique. I have seen some work that was created with multiple images. They weren't really a variety of exposures but instead in each exposure a different area of the scene is lit with a flash. Usually colored gels are put over the flash to give added color. I went out to an old cemetery in Garland that I had driven by many times but never explored. Interesting place. It has one of those Historical Monument things telling about it at the entrance. I'm not necessarily a fan of cemetery photos but I'm sure I can get something neat with this technique in the future.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Stadium Double!

 The Ballpark in Arlington

My friend Gary went with me to shoot last night. Since he lives in Grand Prairie I decided that we could meet at his house and then drive out to nearby Arlington and photograph The Ballpark and the new Cowboys Stadium. We had another one of those "not a cloud in the sky" sunsets. Where have all the neat high clouds been for the last ten days? Both Stadium shots were taken from a bridge that crosses a small lake that is almost between the two stadiums. It was frozen solid except around the edges. We have been close to record cold the last two mornings, colder than it has been around here for about ten years. Both shots were 4 different exposures that were combined in Photomatix Pro. Instead of using the tone-mapping feature I have used Exposure Fusion to combine the images. Even after it has combined the images I make several new layers from the original exposures and mask in a few of the best exposed areas. A lot of extra work but I am pleased with the results and it is not going to give you that over processed funky look which so many tone map images have.

Cowboys Stadium
After checking out a few other possible photo locations around Cowboys Stadium we headed to Tom's Burgers and Grill. After a nice 1/2 pound burger we took a few shots of the exterior before heading back to Gary's house.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

 I did manage to get a good shot of the Dallas Skyline around dusk yesterday. Most of the best skyline images of Dallas are taken near the Trinity River levee just west of downtown. Not the safest area to be in after dark. I have to wonder why I finally go down there to shoot and go by myself. After hiking down the levee to get a better angle it was almost a relief to run into another photographer. We both photographed until dark and then walked back together. I  drove back into downtown and was able to get a shot of the Majestic Theater. A Laser Spectacular to the music of Pink Floyd was going to be shown at 9 pm. Unlike several nights ago when we drove by, I felt the lights in front of the theater would be on tonight. Even got a free spot from a parking meter that was right out front. All the surrounding parking lots were ready to start taking $15 from people attending the Light Show. Tickets to the show around $30 then about half that again to park. What a rip off.

After having some Mexican food with my wife I made one last stop and photographed C & M Tire. Its an out of business gas station which is now selling tires and chrome hub caps. I combined 5 different exposures but am pleased with the way it turned out.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I was over by the Hollywood Theater in Garland last night and spotted this sculpture at the Dart Station that was next door. The sun had set and it was just dark enough to use a flash with a red gel on the sculpture and have it pick up some of the red. I also added a texture layer, vignetted it and then reduced the opacity quite a bit. After shooting the sculpture I went across the parking lot and photographed things on the front of the Hollywood Theater. I chose to include this shot of the ticket booth and several funky looking posters. Still working on the Casa Linda Theater. The Bert Monroy filter takes a lot of work.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A work in progress!

Last night I stopped and photographed the Casa Linda Theater. It hasn't been open as a theater for a number of years but the front isn't much different than it has always looked. About 6 pm the lights came on and I quickly shot a variety of compositions and exposures. It was also about 30 degrees with 30mph winds and I wasn't wanting to stay out very long. I figured this would be a great subject for a photoshop project and I can do that inside. Some of the lights are out and there are some real estate signs out front. The handicapped sign also needs to go. I have made some headway but am not finished yet. The image on the bottom  is a combination of 2 exposures. I also fixed the perspective, got rid of the sign and fixed the lights. I also got a little tweak from Topaz Adjust. I plan to put some writing on the marquee and some posters in the windows. I'll keep you posted on how that goes.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A slightly frustrating evening!

Last nights shoot started atop a parking garage behind Baylor Hospital. Dan was with me again and I had felt we would have a clear view of downtown from the roof of this five story parking garage. It was totally overcast so we knew the light would not be the best. After editing my images I have come to the conclusion that downtown just isn't near as interesting from that side. I will consider a location on the other side of downtown next time. After leaving the parking lot we drove a few blocks to an old diner we thought we would photograph. The front was full of cars so we continued on to the Adler Hotel. I do like some of the shots I got there. Do you like the version where everything is out of focus except the sign? After leaving the Adler we drove back by the Diner. Some of the cars had left so we pulled in next door and got our cameras out. Before I could take the first shot a lady comes out and hollers "you can't take pictures here, get off the property or I will call the cops". In an age where most people have a camera on their cell phone and good 12 megapixel point and shoots that fit in a shirt pocket are available, it amazes me that some people still get so worked up when they see a big camera on a tripod. If someone really wants a photograph of this place, they will get one. I don't need one that bad and tell Dan "let's get the hell outa here and go get something to eat".

 These last two images were not taken last night but I have been playing around with some processing techniques that I thought I would show you. The first is the Lakewood Theater in Dallas and the second is Mission San Xavier in Tuscon, Arizona. By adding a texture layer and a vignette I have given them a little bit of an aged and weathered look. Photographs of many different things can be used for the texture layer. Rough concrete, tile, or crumpled paper are what I like best. I don't intend for this to be a photoshop tutorial, but you set the blending mode to Overlay for the texture layer. You might also like adjusting the opacity or masking parts of it. Every image is different so you have to experiment some. Good luck.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Reunion Tower and the Hyatt Regency!

Today I decided I would head back downtown around sunset and photograph Reunion Tower and the Hyatt Regency. Some great clouds were in the sky earlier in the day and I was hoping they would create some nice sunset color that would reflect in the buildings. However, about the time I headed downtown the clouds were gone. The first shot was taken right after sunset and as you can see, nothing but blue sky. According to The Photographer's Ephemeris sunset was at 5:35. TPE is a great tool for figuring out when the sun and moon will rise and set at any location. The second image was taken at 6:02. The sky would soon be totally black so I hurried around to the other side of the hotel and took the last picture near the entrance to Reunion Tower. I got that accomplished just in time to still have a little blue left in the sky. Cool!

The weather guys say we may have freezing drizzle tomorrow evening and high temps in the 20's on Thursday and Friday. I better get out my long johns.

A Colorful Mexican Restaurant!

Several years ago I took some photos of the sign at Posados, a mexican restaurant out in Plano, Texas. I'm not sure if I misplaced the images, didn't back them up, or if they took off with an old computer, but I can't find them. They were taken with my 6MP Rebel. It was my first halfway serious digital camera and it started this cycle of having to save and keep track of all these digital images. Hopefully I keep track of things better now. As I write this I look at my main computer which has 3 external hard drives hooked up to it.
I have been wanting to get some more photos of Posados so I drove out yesterday evening. The sun was just setting when I arrived and it was still fairly bright outside. The lights were not even on yet so I sat in the car and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited. Finally about 35 minutes after sunset they turned the lights on. Ten minutes earlier would have been better. I really had to move fast because that little bit of blue left in the sky vanished not long after I started shooting. I do like the shot I got of the entrada. The Cafe sign would have come out a little different if I could have taken it about ten minutes earlier. The dark part around the lettering is actually painted a light gold but its color is overpowered by the red cast of the neon if its too long after sunset, which it was.Wonder if a little fill flash would have helped? I may try that next time.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Keeping your plans flexible!

I called my friend Dan yesterday to see if he wanted to go with me and shoot. He asked "where you going"? I said "I haven't decided yet. Maybe Fair Park or downtown Dallas." We decide to go downtown and check out the new Winspear Opera House. When we arrived at the opera house we could see people inside, possibly preparing for an event later that evening. However, the doors were locked and we didn't get a chance to ask someone if we could come in and take some pictures. We did spend about 15 minutes photographing in the area and I did get a nice image looking through the glass of the opera house.

We decided to leave the opera house and see if the lights were on at the Majestic Theater. No lights on...we keep driving. Dan says we should check out the Hunt Oil Tower which has been open for about a year. It has a bunch of blue lights on the top and a really great fountain in the front. Good thing it is Sunday night.  Finding a parking spot and dealing with traffic would be a pain if we did this during the week. We spent the rest of our time shooting the fountain which constantly was moving and changing colors. What a cool place to photograph though. I had trouble narrowing it down to only three.