Marina at Lake Perry


The semester is finally over.  At first it felt like it was going by quickly, but the last few weeks have been on slow mode.  It’s been ages since I’ve processed any photos for fun and not for the paper or an assignment, but I finally got around to it.  It feels good to be back.  I just hope I can keep doing it and not get so wrapped up in robotics this summer that I put it off and neglect this blog, again, for the nth time. It’s frustrating.

It’s been a while since I’ve shot any landscapes.  This photo was taken over spring break, back in March.  I haven’t really shot any landscapes since then.  I’ve been shooting quite a bit of baseball.  Go K-State! Big 12 Champs in Football, Basketball, and Baseball! EMAW! It’s a good time to be at KSU! …but I digress. I was asked to shoot a wedding and some senior photos, but I turned them both down because of schedule conflicts, and weddings really aren’t my thing, yet… maybe in the future.  So, I haven’t been idle, I’ve had assignments, but, I just haven’t had the chance to shoot landscapes, which I really love, but hopefully I can get out on the weekends this summer and shoot.  If you guys have any suggestions of great places to photograph in Kansas, let me know in the comments, I’d appreciate it.

Now let’s get to the details of the photo.  I set the camera (Pentax K-5) on a tripod.  I set it to bracket mode.  I used a wireless remote to trigger the camera. I don’t remember locking up the mirror, but if you really want to ensure that you get the sharpest photos that your gear is capable of, do that too.  I took six photos.  In bracket mode I can take a max of 5 with one click.  That’s great, but I don’t use it, because theres a funky limitation, you can only take 5 photos within a range of 4 stops, like between -2EV to +2EV.  When shooting into the sun, you might want to shoot from -4EV to +4EV.  So what I did was to take 2 sets of 3 photos at a time, 2 stops apart.  The first set was from -4EV to 0EV, so a photo at -4EV, at -2EV, and at 0EV.  The second set was then from 0EV to +4EV, so a photo at 0EV, +2EV, and +4EV.  Now you might be wondering why I have two photos at 0EV.  Well, I have yet to really test this out, but I think with into-the-sun photos, I get better results in Photomatix Pro when I have a duplicate photo at 0EV or whatever the middle exposure of the set of photos is.  I processed all six in Photomatix Pro.  I then imported the result back into Aperture 3, I did some basic edits there adding some contrast and vibrancy.  I then used Nik Color Efex Pro to add a color contrast, which really brought out the red sky around the setting sun.  Finally, to sharpen the photo, I used Nik Sharpener Pro. I think I like it better than the Unsharp Mask filter in Photoshop.  If you have any comments or questions, let me know in the comments section.

The winter sun sets behind the hills, its last rays glistening across the water as it leaves an amber glow in the sky.

 Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA* 16-50
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 16mm
Aperture: f/11
6 image HDR, bracketed from -4 EV to +4 EV

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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

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

Sunset on a Farm


I enjoy shooting into the sun and trying to capture it right before it disappears.  Notice how flat this place is?  That’s south, central Kansas and boy are the sunsets beautiful there.  I also like the tractors!  The one on the left is hooked up to a planter, incase you were wondering.

I actually processed this photo a couple of months ago and decided to reprocess it, this time using Photomatix Pro instead of the Photomatix Aperture Plugin.  I think the results are better this time. A lot cleaner for sure.  I like it.

Sunset on a Farm

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA* 16-50
ISO: 80
Focal Length: 16mm
Aperture: f/13
HDR Composite using 6 photos from -3 EV to +4 EV
Merged using the Photomatix Plug-in for Aperture 3