Winter Storm Clouds


The Kansas State University Olathe campus is closed tomorrow because of the weather, still not sure if the campus here in Manhattan will be open or not.  I’m guessing it will be business as usual. Last week we got hit pretty good, maybe 7-8 inches of snow, not the 12-15 I was expecting and kinda hoping for, but I didn’t waste what “little” we had.  It started out as just a small group of us friends throwing snowballs at each other but it morphed into this epic snowball fight with like 20 people!  It was a lot of fun.

Anyway, with all this snowy weather we’re having, I decided to post this image.  I actually took this back in January.  I think I was on my way to class or on my way to the office.  I was carrying my camera, using my Carry Speed Strap, so it was handy and easy to get to.  I take my camera with me everyday, but I usually have it in my bag, and I’ve found that unless I have it out of the bag, even if I have it with me all the time, I’m not going to take more photos.  That’s why I got the Carry Speed Strap, so I could easily carry it outside the bag and be ready to take and make photos.

This photo is a HDR image.  I used Photomatix Pro to merge three DNG RAW photos bracketed from -2EV to +2EV.  I then imported the merged or tonemapped image into Aperture 3 (I use Aperture 3 to manage all my photos).  I did a few adjustments in Aperture like exposure and added contrast using curves.  I lightened certain parts of the image with the dodge tool, just brushing it in on parts of the lamp-post and some of the snow.  I also used the intensify contrast brush (I really like this one!) to darken the clouds in the background a bit more and make them stand out a bit.  I then used Nik Color Efex Pro Aperture plugin to bring out some more detail and add some “brilliance” to the photo.  The last step was to send it to Photoshop for sharpening with the unsharp mask filter.  That was pretty much it.

Winter Storm Clouds

 

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA* 16-50
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 16mm
Aperture: f/10
3 image HDR, bracketed from -2 EV to +2 EV

 

Kansas State University150th Anniversary Kick-Off


Wow, it’s been over a week since I’ve posted anything.  I’ve been super busy and things have been a little on the crazy side.  I feel like I’m getting kinda behind on things.  I actually meant to post this a week ago, but it’s been crunch time for one of my projects and a bunch of other things that also need attention.

A week ago, on Valentine’s Day, Kansas State University officially kicked-off its 150th Anniversary celebrations.  I thought it would be this huge event, but it turned out to be just a short program at Ahearn Fieldhouse.  There were lots of high-profile people there, like Sam Brownback, the governor of Kansas.  There were a ton of free cupcakes and ice cream, and part of the marching band was there, but, overall, I was actually a little underwhelmed.

I didn’t take too many photos and I didn’t bother to take photos of people, even the famous ones.  I’ve found that most people shots, especially of people I don’t know, even if they’re performing on stage, bore me.  There is one exception, I do like to take photos of cute little kids playing and having fun.  Like there was this one little girl (I actually know her parents) who was so excited to see Willie the Wildcat and get his signature and give him a high-five, it was so cute and genuine.  That reminds me, I’ll actually be shooting a friend’s kid’s birthday party tomorrow.

So, anyway, instead of people photos, I shot a panorama of the entire event from the other end of Ahearn.  Panorama’s of landscapes, those are what I really enjoy shooting.  What I’m posting today is the one I’ve finished processing.  I’ve got a couple more to do, but this will probably be the only one I’ll post here.  If you’re wondering how I process these, take a look at my HDR-Panorama tutorial.

KSU 150th Anniversary Kick Off

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA* 16-50
ISO: 800
Focal Length: 16mm
Aperture: f/14
39 images stitched into a HDR Panorama using Photomatix Pro and Photoshop

A Peek Into Fantasy Land


It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow so I was originally planning on posting some photos of flowers that I took last summer and fall, but I was a little disappointed with how the red roses turned out.  Some of the shades of red were blown out, having no detail.  I could get it back by under-exposing but then that messed up the rest of the image.  Anybody have any ideas on how to take photos of red flowers?  Do I need a different lens?

So, instead of doing a Valentines post, I came across this image I shot back in October.  It was a beautiful, autumn day, and I had just received a new lens, the DA* 16-50 mm and I was excited to test it out, so after class I went for a walk around the K-State campus. This was one of the images I came back with.

I framed this image so that the arch would frame the scene and add depth to it, giving it a three-dimensional look.  What I really like about it, is that the scene behind the arch looks like a fantasy land.  It’s like looking through this window into a completely different world.  What do you think?

Do you see that cone-shaped roof of the building in the background?  That’s the same one that’s in my earlier post called The Lonely Tower.

A Peek Into Fantasy Land

Marina Bay Sands


Almost two years ago, I had the opportunity to go to Singapore and actually stay at the Marina Bay Sands.  It was an “all-expense” paid trip as part of the Kraft iTaste program, and one night, I decided to slip out and shoot.  Everyone was tired after doing the night safari and had gone to bed, so I was alone.  I went for a walk, armed with my Pentax k-x and Gorillapod, to see part of the city at night and to shoot the hotel – it’s a pretty impressive structure, both day and night.  I didn’t get very far since it was late, but mainly because I focused on shooting the hotel and as a result stayed close by.  I took my time, trying different spots, moving around to include or remove certain elements from the frame.  The Gorillapod sure came in handy, providing an easy way to mount the camera to the bridge railings by simply wrapping the legs around them.  I stayed out for several hours and finally came back at around two in the morning.  It turned out to be a really good shoot and I came back with a few keepers.  Some of them I’ve posted before, but here’s another one to add to the list.

If you are wondering how I got the starburst effect, I shot at a small aperture of f/22.

Marina Bay Sands Between the Bridges

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-x
Lens: DA L 18-55
ISO: 400
Focal Length: 18mm
Aperture: f/22
4 image HDR, bracketed from -1 EV to +1.7 EV

Fireworks!


Today’s photos are different from what I usually post.  These are not typical HDR images where several photos are captured at different exposures and merged together.  Instead, these are single images with relatively long exposure times – between 3 and 4 seconds.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been behind in processing images.  I’ve been very busy with school so I’ve only now been able to go through some of these and I have many more to go through.  I took these images on July 4 at Wamego.  The independence day fireworks show at Wamego is quite famous in Kansas and may be the best fireworks display in the state.  I thought it was pretty cool and I had fun shooting it.  There were lots of people there with their mats and foldable lawn chairs.

I don’t have very much experience shooting fireworks, but if you think these look great and are wondering how I shot them, I’ll tell you what gear I used and outline the basic steps I took.  When shooting fireworks you need a tripod (this is a must) and a good tripod head.  I have Vanguard Alta Pro 263 AT tripod and a Vanguard ABH-230K ball head.  I really like the Vanguard tripods, but I really love their ball heads.  Very solid products.  Next, you need a remote release for your camera either wired or wireless.  I used the Pentax F remote for triggering my Pentax K-5.  For the lens, I used the kit lens, the Pentax DA-L 18-55mm.

July 4th Fireworks Show at Wamego, Kansas

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA-L 18-55
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 23mm
Aperture: f/11
Shutter Speed: 3.9s

I arrived at the show early so I could scout out a good spot where I had a clear view and was up wind of the smoke.  I had the K-5 mounted on the tripod, I set the mode dial to Bulb and set the camera to use the wireless remote.  There are two ways to set the remote in Bulb mode, either you hold the button down for the entire exposure time and release it to close the shutter, or you press once to open the shutter and press a second time to close it.  I can’t remember which way I did it, but either way should work.  I had the ISO set to 200, it should be low so you don’t get noisy images and for the aperture and shutter speed I played around with these during the show until I got what I wanted.  What I noticed was that with larger apertures (less than f/8) I had to use faster shutter speeds so the fireworks wouldn’t be blown out, but because the shutter speed was faster I didn’t get the nice light trails.  So I shot at smaller apertures (f/11) which allowed me to have longer shutter speeds and capture the light trails.  Overall it worked out pretty well.

I did most of the post processing in Aperture.  I used brushes to lighten up the people on the field and darken the sky and add contrast to the fireworks and bring out the colors.  I applied the brilliance filter in Color Efex Pro and sharpened in Photoshop.

I’d appreciate any feedback in the comments.  Thanks!

July 4th Fireworks Show at Wamego, Kansas

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA-L 18-55
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 18mm
Aperture: f/8
Shutter Speed: 3.6s