Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rusty Relaxation

This is another in my E 6th St series...  It's a shot from the front of a place called Cheer Up Charlies...  I took a LOT of liberties with this one to give it a gritty look...  Just wanted to try some different stuff...



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Monday, May 27, 2013

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Guarding the Tomb

This Memorial Day weekend is for relaxing, bar-b-que-ing and generally enjoying ourselves.  However, it's really the weekend for reflecting on those who sacrificed their lives so we can do those things. Please remember those who gave their lives for our freedom.

This is a shot of a Soldier guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery near our nation's Capital.  Not sure if you can read the inscription on the tomb itself, but it states, "Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God."  It's an impressive and moving sight if you ever get a chance to go.

The Tomb Guard marches 21 steps down the black mat behind the Tomb, turns, faces east for 21 seconds, turns and faces north for 21 seconds, then takes 21 steps down the mat and repeats the process. After the turn, the sentinel executes a sharp "shoulder-arms" movement to place the weapon on the shoulder closest to the visitors to signify that the sentinel stands between the Tomb and any possible threat. Twenty-one was chosen because it symbolizes the highest military honor that can be bestowed -- the 21-gun salute.



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Friday, May 24, 2013

Couple in Light

While waiting for the baseball game between the Rangers and the Tigers to start, we grabbed a bite to eat and found a place to sit right near the edge of the stadium.  When I looked over from our table, I saw this couple walking away from us and they were getting bathed in this great light shining through the archways.  I thought it was kinda cool so a grabbed a snap.  I tried to make it pop a little more by converting to black and white and giving it a pinhole effect.  I kind of like it.  Do you?



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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Daytime Panorama

I think this is my favorite panorama that I've done so far. I took this at the Tigers - Rangers baseball game on May 18th. It was a horrible game for the Tigers.  The Rangers beat them 7-2.  I was bummed.  However, my nephew Dylan, his friend Jared and Dylan's mom, my sister-in-law, Annette were all pretty happy!  I think Eileen was bummed for me, but happy for the Rangers nonetheless.  As you have read, we all went up to enjoy the game and we all had a great time, except for the score of course.

Usually when I go to these games I only take my little point and shoot camera.  I can get some decent panoramas with that, but last time I tried it I got some really bad results.  So, I went to the Rangers website and read their camera policy.  Theirs is very similar to Sports Authority Field at Mile High in that you can bring any camera as long as it doesn't interfere with other fans' enjoyment of the game.  So, the big boy went with me this time with the intent on getting a nice pano!  So here it is!

This is not an HDR but it is a composite of 16 shots.  I took 15 for the panorama itself to make sure I got some great overlap for Photoshop's photomerge process and then I took one shot of just the infield during a pitch and masked that in so as to capture the moment and make sure everyone on the field is focusing on the task at hand.  If you look at the largest version of the image on flickr, you can actually see the ball as it's crossing from the grass to the dirt on its way to the catcher.

You see, usually when I take a pano from a sports stadium such as this, I don't really pay much attention to what was going on down on the field because the I'm normally using my point and shoot and everything is usually moving as I take the shots. All that action gets jumbled during the photomerge process and turns out kind of messy.  Well I wanted to make the shot look normal on the field this time plus add a little interest.  I think it worked.

Oh, and one other thing that makes me happy about this pano is that when I did do the merge, the resulting image was already straight and level so I didn't  have to do any warping!  That was awesome!  Just a little cropping and content aware fill in a couple corners!  I couldn't believe it!  Especially from a handheld pano!  That's rare for me because even when I use a tripod it comes out way tilted and I have to do lots of warping to correct some distortion.

Also this shot took a little work to process other than the merging and the masking of the infielders.  The sky that day was very hazy and I really had to crank out the structure slider in Nik Viveza to bring out the clouds.  I also used a little blue filter for the sky.  Then I added in some contrast, a little darken/lighten center in Nik Color Efex 4 along with a few other minor tweaks and here you go!

Lastly, I did take a night time panorama as well that I will put out some time.  I hope it turns out as nice as this one.  I have started on it a little bit and one thing that is different is that it's not quite as wide as this.  Oh well, just something to remember for next time!

Click on the shot to see a larger version.  Or click here to see the largest on flickr.


BTW, the players on the field in the shot are as follows:

Tigers:
P - Anibal Sanchez
C - Alex Avila
1B - Prince Fielder
2B - Omar Infante
3B - Miguel Cabrera
SS - Jhonny Peralta
RF - Torii Hunter
CF - Avisail Garcia
LF - Andy Dirks

Rangers:
3rd Base - Elvis Andrus
At Bat - David Murphy
On Deck - Lance Berkman


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Monday, May 20, 2013

UPDATED: Birds Barbershop

I stopped along east 6th St this morning to try and get some more shots.  While looking, I stumbled across Birds Barbershop.  The inside has this black and yellow monochrome-like decor and the place was lit with globes of lights sitting on the counters.  It's a great look!  It was closed, so I just pressed my camera up against the glass door in the front and fired away.  Maybe someday I'll go in there for a haircut and tell them I took this shot.  Maybe they'll give me a discount or maybe they'll see the shot and accidentally give me a reverse mohawk.  On second thought...

UPDATE (5-20-19):  I just read that if you go into Birds for a haircut, they will give you a free beer when you leave!  I may have just discovered my new barbershop!

 

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Friday, May 17, 2013

My Take of a Coastal Photo

David Nightingale of www.chromasia.com is a world renowned photographer and Photoshop trainer who has mastered just about every form of photography there is, from portraits to abstracts to HDR.  He's so good, he can make a picture of powerlines look good.  He's one of the best I've seen!  I even had the honor of attending one of his courses here in Austin a few years back.  He is also a master of using Photoshop, mainly Photoshop's curves adjustment to help transform images into great works of art.  He has an excellent photoblog as well as a great training site.  If you are really interested in getting the most out of your photos, check it out.  It's very much worth it.

All of that being said, he put an image on his training blog that he took recently and challenged others to process it.  He was OK with the results he got from it himself, but he wanted to see what others could do.  So the following is my take.  The first shot is his original straight from his camera and the second is what I've done with it.  You can visit his post to see what other have done as well.

I have to add that David said he liked this version of which I posted on FB so I guess I know what I'm doing a little... ;-)  What do you think?





Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Shangri-La

Among other things, 6th St east of I-35 has its fill of bars.  Not as many as 6th St west of 35 and - I think I'm right about this - probably not as nice.  I don't know what it's like inside this place here and I'm pretty sure I don't want to find out.  Can't say I trust bars with no windows. Plus, I've stayed in a hotel called the Shangri-La in Singapore a long time ago and I doubt this place is as nice as that was. I could be very wrong though and I guess that will just have to stay a mystery to me.  But, I did like how the name was lit with the arrow pointing towards the door.

This is an HDR but I masked in the -2EV bracket to emphasize the lit up name of the place.  Plus, I did a little dodging and burning as well.  Is it too much?  Let me know and thanks for dropping by.



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Friday, May 10, 2013

6th Street Cool Store

Downtown Austin is pretty well known for it's party area located on 6th street.  There are bars galore!  It's basically a mini New Orleans - a place where tourists and University of Texas students go to get their drink on.  I'm sure some locals go down there as well, but not like the tourists and the students.  All of this is located right downtown, west of Interstate 35.  The east side of 35, on the other hand, is not as nice.  In fact it is rather run down and is pretty much the Compton/South Chicago-like side of Austin.  Portions of it are starting to become gentrified though and some hip shops are popping-up.  One of them is the 6th Street Cool Store.  From what I understand, it sells a great variety of beers - something which makes me a fan already - and apparently the proprietors are very friendly.  I have never been inside, but I plan on going in some time.  It's located on the side of town where I work and I thought it was time to get a shot of it.  I think I will have to get shots of other sites as well because there are some pretty interesting things going on with the east side.  I hope you enjoy the shot and thanks for dropping by.



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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Little Photo Fun (TOT)

I went to the Riverwalk down in San Antonio last weekend for something to do.  However, it was the middle of the day and I kind of thought that any shots I would take down there would be of rather snapshot-ish quality.  Oh maybe I could've gone indoors somewhere, but I didn't have too much time and it was so nice outside that going indoors wasn't really a good option.  So, I came up with a plan...  I got this plan from the Sky Mall catalogs that you see on airplanes in the seat-backs.  They have these photo collages that spell out college names made up of shots of regular objects found throughout the various campuses.  So I thought, why not try this on the Riverwalk?  This is my attempt at that and I made a little poster out of it using some techniques from Scott Kelby and a few of my own.  What do you think? Can you tell what is spells?



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Sunday, May 5, 2013

I-35 Upper Deck in the Morning Panorama

Morning traffic in Austin is a nightmare, or better yet, a "morningmare"!  It's the worst.  The quicker you can get a jump on it, the better.  For that reason, I get on the road pretty early so I can beat most of it.  However, the rate that the city is growing, the traffic seems to get busier earlier and earlier.  Many years ago, Austin thought one way to combat the traffic woes was to put in an upper-deck on the expressway going through downtown that would have not off-ramps so drivers could take that option to help speed through.  It doesn't seem to really help anymore.  But, just off the decks on the southbound side of I-35 near 38 1/2 street lies a new office building which went up and has an 8-level parking garage.  It's free to go into and it has a great view of the decks.  That's where I took this 7-shot panorama.

If you know what you are doing and have the right gear, panoramas can be pretty easy and fun.  For me, not so much.  But, I did learn a lot about panoramas after taking and processing this photo.  It still needs a little work, but for me, I think it works.  The things I learned are as follows:

1. To take a proper panorama, one must know the "nodal point" of the lens of choice.  The nodal point is basically the area "inside the lens where the light paths cross before being focused onto a film plane."  That point is where you want the actual camera to pivot from while you take your shots for a panorama. That way, when it's time to stitch your shots together, the stitching software can blend the shots together as accurately as possible.  Otherwise, you will get some wild and unfortunate problems from stitching to distortion (other than normal pano distortion, that is).  Also, to figure out the nodal point, you will need a proper head and/or bracket for your tripod.

2. If you can't use a tripod or even if you have a tripod and not the right head or bracket, you can still take a decent panorama, but be prepared to fix a lot of stitching issues and perspective/distortion problems.  I ran into a lot of those with this shot, but a photographer out there named Klaus Herrmann, aka Farbspiel, who takes some great vertical panoramas (or vertoramas), has some great processing techniques that were invaluable.  His distortion correction video was a big help!  I learned a lot from that video and I also learned a lot from his "making of" videos.  However, if you watch those, be prepared to pause and play quite often because his techniques are quite extensive and he speeds up the vids about 10 times as fast as normal!  However, you can still get a lot out of them!  Those "making of" videos really helped me fix stitching problems.

3.  To take a good panorama, put your camera in portrait orientation, meter the main subject in the pano with your camera, note the camera's aperture and shutter settings, switch to manual mode and input those setting accordingly.   Then take all the shots to compose the pano with those settings.  That way, you won't have any blending problems in post-processing.

I guess those are the main things I've learned.  I hope you enjoy the shot and thanks for visiting!



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