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

Fisherman and Son


The deadline for the K-State international programs photo contest is coming up and I’ve been going through my library trying to pick out my three entries for this year.  Last year I submitted three photos and 2 of them placed – one took first and the other was an honorable mention.  The one that got first place was a photo of the Marina Bay Sands that I took while I was in Singapore for the Kraft iTaste program.  The other one was the coin diver photo.

Because this contest is hosted by the Study Abroad Office, more than just submitting a photo of a beautiful place overseas, I want to emphasize culture and make the viewer wonder or think about the story of the subject within the image.  So in the process of looking for entries, I ran across this photo of a fisherman and his son out on Lake Sebu in the province of South Cotabato in the Philippines.  Lake Sebu is home to one of the many indigenous people groups in the Philippines, the T’boli.  Although the area has been modernized in many ways, you can still easily see things that probably haven’t changed in the last 50 to 100 years.  In this photo the fisherman and his son are paddling back to shore after checking their tilapia nets. Their little canoe looks empty, so they didn’t bring back any fish, so maybe the went out to feed them.  Take a close look at the canoe, it’s been carved out of a single tree trunk.  I wonder how long it took to make it.  Notice the paddle, that’s been hand-made as well, out of bamboo.  Also, the fisherman isn’t riding in the canoe, he’s out on the end.  These are things that I would venture to say, have remained unchanged for many years and give us a glimpse of the “original” culture of the people.

The T'boli Fisherman

 

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-r
Lens: DA-L 55-300
ISO: 800
Focal Length: 230mm
Aperture: f/8
Shutter Speed: 1/500s

 

 

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

Big 12 Football Championship: Rushing the Field


This was taken just after the Kansas State Wildcats defeated the Texas Longhorns to secure the Big 12 Football Championship.  Fans (mostly the student section) rushed the field and although it probably wouldn’t have happened, the group of people wearing yellow jackets were stationed around the goal posts to protect them from being taken down.  The reason I wasn’t down on the field was because I wasn’t able to get a press pass to shoot the game from the sidelines.

This panorama was processed using the same technique in the tutorial I wrote.  If you haven’t yet, make sure to check it out.  I’m quite surprised how well this image turned out.  I was shooting in bracket mode, hand holding the camera (no tripod), had the ISO up to 1600 and people were moving all over the place, but there really isn’t any ghosting in the photos.  Photomatix Pro does a really good job of removing it and aligning the source images.  I used to use the Photomatix plugin for Aperture 3, but I stopped a few weeks ago and started using Photomatix Pro because the results are so much better.  You can see the difference here.  The only disadvantage to using Photomatix Pro is that I have to export the original files from Aperture and process them in Photomatix Pro and then import the results back into Aperture, but it’s worth the extra hassle.

2012 Big 12 Football Championship Celebration

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA* 16-50
ISO: 1600
Focal Length: 16mm
Aperture: f/11
15 images stitched into a HDR Panorama using Photomatix Pro and Photoshop

Do you think this image is good enough to get into the student yearbook?