Revisited – November 2013

November was a big month, but we didn’t get a tremendous amount of shooting in.  The trip to Colorado for our wedding did yield some beautiful shots.

Photo picks from November for black & white conversions:

Happy Holiday everyone!

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Snap-shots of the Realm

Once upon a somewhat long time ago…I used to attend the Minnesota Renaissance Festival every year.  Times change and other opportunities present themselves and you don’t always keep traditions alive.  This year was mine and Cyn’s first time back in many years.  It was also our first time back as non-smokers.  Wow.  I guess I always knew that second-hand smoke stinks, but I never imagined to what extent.  There were cig and cigar puffers everywhere.  It was especially bad when eating and when we sat down to watch Puke & Snot perform.  Another misnomer is even in the outdoors, tobacco smoke doesn’t dissipate as quickly as one might think.  My sincerest apologies to those I have smoked around and thought nothing of it.  I hope to never again pick that nasty stinky habit up.

I would be very surprised if this last Saturday was not a record attendance for the festival.  There were carload upon carload of people stacked up on HWY 169 for a few miles.  I remember having to deal with some traffic, but not like this.  We didn’t exactly show up at an optimal time either.  I would highly recommend arriving 2 hours either side of noon; it may not have mattered this day though.  We drove in with a wave of a few thousand I am sure.  Both sides (King & Queen’s gates) parking areas where stacking up quickly.  It took us an hour and fifteen minutes to get there and another hour and fifteen minutes to get in.  Leaving was a similar experience.

There was one thing abundantly clear, this festival had grown considerably during our absence.  It is somewhat tricky shooting at a festival like this.  There is so much going on in the background of every frame.  I shot the festivities with my nifty 50mm.  Anything worth it would have to be pretty close.  I usually shoot with a 70-300mm, so this was a completely different experience than the norm.  Not only could I not zoom, but I was fixed; not wide or narrow.  This is one place where everyone is pretty o.k. with getting their picture taken though.  It certainly made for an enjoyable afternoon.

We meandered about watching people, shows and other performers.  We had our share of food and drink as well.  After about 5 hours we had our fill.  Here are my shots from the afternoon.

The house in the woods has eyes!

And a mouth.

Roscoe, MN Abandoned.  Roscoe is a teeny tiny little town that is no more, but once was, in the Southeast corner of Goodhue County.  

I was on my way home from Albert Lea yesterday and spied the broken remnants of house in some woods on the edge of a field.  It was a typical abandoned house.  It does very much look like it has eyes and a mouth…ooOOOoooo spooky.

2013: Week #37 Photography

This week I was on the road a bit.  St. Cloud on Tuesday & Wednesday.  Albert Lea today.   Windshield time it is often referred; I don’t mind it at all…except for being away from home and traffic and road construction. More often than not it puts me in the vicinity of something interesting to photograph.  Here is my week – a lovely mix of mostly urban, road kill, traffic and some 5-o.

Less than optimal exposure…what can you do?

How many times have you looked over your shots and found images where the exposure could have been better?  Happens to me more often than I would like to admit; especially when I am shooting my D60 on auto ISO.  It is early in the morning.  A fair amount of the time I am driving down the road or just hanging out the car window.  I usually do not use a tripod in these situations. Needless to say, I get some less than optimal images.  That is o.k.  Sometimes.

I am not debating that the goal should be to get “it all right” straight from the camera.  That would be prefered, but what about those times when that doesn’t happen for whatever reason?  For me, if it is a shot that I really like, I will lean on a bit of post-processing to revive the situation.

The image below was shot right out of my car window on the way to work one morning.  There was just something about the farm shed, the sunrise and the sunrays that worked for me.  There are several ways to approach this correctly, but I didn’t have time or tools in hand to do so (more time than anything).  From past experience, though, I know I could work with the exposure I captured.

Original – ISO 800 | f/7.1 | 1/125 @ 46mm

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In Lightroom there are a number of things you can do, most of which do not do much for me in regards to this image.  You can pull shadows, drop some highlight and pop a bit of clarity.  It really brings out the noise nicely.  Too much playing around and things look real bad real quick.  Like this…

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My very next instinct would be to go black & white.  It is easy enough to burn in those areas where the grain is pretty extreme and still preserve enough detail in the image to make it interesting.  With any black & white, I also try strive to portray a full tonal range.  That isn’t always possible; if I hit 8 or 9 out of the 10 zones I am happy with that.  Silver Efex Pro can work miracles at times.

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There are many other option besides black & white.  It just wasn’t working for me on this one.  Cyndie and I use Pretty Presets for portrait work; these presets also work great for landscape and other types of photography.  The application of the preset takes all of the low lights and creates a silhouette.

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I don’t mind this at all, however I would like to see some detail in the low light.  That is accomplished easy enough – pull some shadow out and there you have it.

Final Image.

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The Stone Barn

It never ceases to amaze me how incredible the treasures are nearby where we live.  They are quite numerous and wonderful.  The Stone Barn just outside of Nelson, WI is one of those treasures and it is in a league all its own.

I am sure I am not alone when I say I enjoy a fine wood-fired pizza.  There are several components of a great pizza; crust is one of them.  Crust is a very important one to me. This crust is like a delightful cracker.  It is very light and has wonderful flavor.

The process by which you will find yourself enjoying a fabulous wood-fired pizza is simple:

Follow these directions; then…

We ordered the Bianca:  A mix of four fresh herbs and four cheeses on a garlic olive oil base.  Now that is a piece of heaven right there.

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The place was packed on this hot & humid September evening.  I was a bit worried about the crowd of vehicles when we pulled up, but that wasn’t a big deal at all.  Cyndie and I ran into (almost literally – it was very crowded inside) my cousin Sharon & her husband celebrating a wedding anniversary; they were on their way out as we were on our way in.

We were order #45.  As Cyndie can attest, sometimes I can get a bit hangry.  It had already started to cool off some and we both had an ice cold beer.  Life was good and the pizza was there in no time.  We didn’t have to worry about carting any left-overs home; there wasn’t even a crumb left.  That was the most delicious wood-fired pizza to date.  I highly recommend this establishment.  It would be a great time to go with a bunch of friends and order each kind they offer.  All of their pizza sounded very tasty.

What a great idea for a barn left in ruins.  All that remained was the stone foundation.  It makes for a unique and interesting venue.

I chose black & white for this shoot because I was a big giant dough head.  For some reason or another I did not look at the ISO setting on my camera; I am not sure why it was set to 1000 instead of 100.  Before any shoot – you always always always check your camera’s setting – especially ISO and exposure compensation.  I will chalk this one up to hungry as I have no other explanation.

Revisited – July 2013

July was an incredible photography month; perhaps the best on record yet.  I think this was the month both Cyndie and I have been waiting for.    Our back roadin’ activities picked up some, we took a MN North Shore trip and went to Chicago via train.  Back roadin’ is always good, no matter if you find anything to shoot or not, it is just plain relaxing.  The North Shore trip was fantastic given the less-than-ideal weather…or was it?  I think it is pretty difficult to had a bad time along Minnesota’s picturesque North Shore – no matter the season or weather.  If you missed the any of that series here is a recap:

THE PARKS

OTHER DESTINATIONS

THE IN BETWEEN

Here are my B&W conversion picks from July 2013.  I hope you enjoy them.  Comments, critique or any other feedback is always welcome and appreciated.

100 Miles of something

http://www.mississippi-river.org has a great website with information on where to stay, eat, shop, and things to do – all around Lake Pepin.  There are several 100 Miles of… links: vistas, boating, birding, fishing, history and even garage sales.

The big big big 100 miles of garage sales was May 2-4 this year.  Cyn & I didn’t get out for a drive until Sunday and by that time most sales where over and done.  We found some stragglers still open though.  I was more interested in the drive, but the potential for an awesome find is always around every corner.  The super-find of the trip was an old produce crate in the dumpster outside of Reads Landing Brewing Company.  I spied the little treasure as we sat on the patio sipping our fire-hot bloody marrys.

Prior to landing for refreshments we spent a significant amount of time roaming around the little river town of Stockholm, WI.  There are several unique shops to wander through.  Among them is a fantastic bakery – Bogus Creek Cafe & Bakery.  The cranberry walnut bread is out of this world.  You may have noticed in past posts…if there is a bakery in the vicinity  I’ll be sampling the local fare.

Stockholm is great small town to spend a few hours just walking around.  There is no shortage of interesting art.  Be sure to check out Adobe Stockholm.  Juno & Me has some of the best candies I’ve had is awhile and their pet product are worth browsing.  For more information on additional shops, see Stockholm’s official website.

Here are a few other shot I took around town before we got on our way to the next town.

There is so much to see and do around Lake Pepin.  Hwy 35 on the Wisconsin side boasts some spectacular views as does Hwy 61 on the Minnesota side.  You are never board around here – take a drive around the lake!

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The Big Purge

It has been a long time coming now.  Backing up to the cloud takes time even with plenty of bandwidth.  My recent back up revelations have led to incessant purging of files.  It is a very long process.  2011, not a complete year (Aug – Dec), has been reduced to approximately 1000 shots retained; I am sure that could even be reduced further if I really had to.  I will leave some for a likely future last round of digital cleansing.  I guess when I first started to dig into photography I kept everything.  For the most part I am glad that I did.  When I look back it is very clear to me what worked and what didn’t.  I know a few more tricks in salvaging an image that was less than perfectly exposed, but that isn’t the ultimate goal.  Shoot and learn; shoot more and learn even more.

I am hoping with further review of subsequent years to see a style emerging; your style isn’t so readily apparent to you – at least it isn’t to me.  I have spent the last few years experimenting with many different things photographically.  It is interesting to look back at what you have shot. Remembering why you shot something is my biggest challenge (thankfully the memories are still fresh).  These are a few photos from 2011 that caught my eye while sifting through the nearly 4000 shots.

Revisited – March 2013

This month’s revisited will be short and sweet in narrative.  March was a great photography month filled with all sorts of subjects.  At the moment, though, Spring is knocking a bit harder on the door.  The forecast-ed full day rain did not come to fruition.  Instead, there are blue skies and some clouds and it is 50 degrees.  It is time to get out of the house and go for a walk, a drive – something.

Here are my favorite March 2013 shots converted into black & white.  Happy Saturday all.