Friday, December 28, 2012

December update

Still a little quiet on the photography front but I did have the chance to work on my recent group portrait photo.  Fired up my printer and after doing some maintenance work (head clean/tank change) ran off a couple of prints so I can mount and frame the best one.

I did consider getting out and about this morning for a sunrise photo opportunity but it turned out to be a pretty flat and overcast sunrise.  Instead I think I'll look to trying out my new Lastolite 40in shoot-through umbrellas (thanks Santa!).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Quick update

Not a lot happening on the photography side of things right now. I did take
a few family group portraits over Thanksgiving but not much else.

One thing I did finally do though was sign up for Adobe's Creative Cloud.
Now for a monthly subscription I have all the latest versions of Adobe's
software - Photoshop and Lightroom being my main interest. Of course this
means that I have to do a crash course on getting to know the new versions.

This and "normal life" stuff has been keeping my attention lately. Add in
the upcoming holidays and finding gifts for family (on both sides of the
Atlantic) and I'm finding my time vanishes quicker than I would like. At
least I do have a couple of weeks time off coming up soon, so I plan on
getting in plenty of photography in that time.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Another good day of learning

I had a pretty productive day yesterday and learnt a few new things to boot, which is never a bad thing.

The day started off with my decision to do some photo reconnaissance at Turkey Mountain in Tulsa.  I've been wanting to locate some higher elevation viewpoints of the Tulsa metro area as there are some promising potential photos to be taken.  

Once at Turkey Mountain I decided to leave my tripod in the car and took the monopod instead (so glad I did this) to save weight.  Also, the supplied carry strap on the tripod doesn't work too well as it is top heavy so keeps flipping itself upside-down.  And, as I later discovered, a monopod makes a pretty useful hiking pole to aid traversing broken terrain.

However, I did find at the end of the day, my Lowepro Stealth Reporter bag is not very suitable for hiking over several miles of trails.  My shoulders are not very happy today...then again, have a few aches and pains in other places too!  Suffice to say I will be investigating a back pack for future trips here....and I fully plan on returning.

Okay, back to the trails and views.  I picked the "yellow" trail as it followed along the line of the Arkansas River and had the higher potential of good views over Tulsa.  Unfortunately as it turned out, the views were a little disappointing in a photographic sense.  There were few spots where there was uninterrupted views of the (interesting) Tulsa skyline(s).  Even the Autumnal trees with the lesser foliage did a good job of blocking things.  Don't get me wrong, the trail was very enjoyable, just not what I was looking for.

My best opportunity came at approximately the mid-way point on the trail, when I got to the "spider" part, where the "pink" trail passed close by and there was a view of the Tulsa downtown area:

Admittedly, in this recon photo, the sky is pretty boring and I will need to zoom/crop quite a bit to concentrate on the downtown skyline but it certainly has potential.  Should look much better with a great sunrise/sunset lighting the buildings and skyline...just need to be here at the right time to catch either.  Although, I'm leaning more towards a sunrise as I'm not so sure I fancy navigating the trail back down to the parking lot in the light of dusk (or later) - definitely need a good headlamp to light your way so as to not lose the trail and/or injure yourself.

Here is a zoomed/cropped recon photo to give a better idea of how things would look:

Again, a pretty flat and boring sky - not helped with this being taken in the early afternoon but then again, this is just a recon to find viewpoints to revisit at a later date when the light is better.

My only real "keeper" photograph of my visit is this one of the trail itself.  I spotted this tree that had grown around a huge boulder just to the side of the trail and the autumnal leaves just added to the scene:

All in all I had a great time at Turkey Mountain and fully intend to visit again.  I want to learn the trails better (recon them for photo viewpoints/vistas) as well as be there under more favorable lighting conditions to capture better photos of Tulsa.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New photo post coming soon

Not a lot of activity on here lately as I've been rather distracted. I
have, as time allowed, been putting together notes for a more in depth post
and also been taking some more photos. Not sure if any are post worthy but
at least I'm back behind my camera.

Hope to get everything together this weekend and with me having a 1 week
vacation coming up next week, I fully intend to take a lot more photos.

Stay tuned for the new posts.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Weekly update

Once again my weekly update is by email as I have not been spending much
time with my camera. Still in a retrospective mood and trying to figure out
how to move forward in my creative endeavors. I've really noticed how my day
to day responsibilities are restricting my drive and creativity where my
photography is concerned. Mix that in with my lack of direction as to
subject matter and what inspires me and you have a pretty large obstacle to

I know I'm not alone in these things as I thing every creative individual
faces these things on a regular basis and I just need to tear things down,
to create the new me with which to move my photography to the next level.
Just not sure on how long this will take and what all will change to achieve
the next phase. All I know is that things are not working as I would like at
this time.

I hope to have some new photos to share soon, so keep checking back.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Not many photos lately

It's been a pretty quiet week photography wise and I haven't spent much time
behind my camera. Instead I've been a little preoccupied with my day job.

I did drive by a pretty impressive scene one day but I didn't have my camera
and as I was on a major highway, I couldn't have stopped anyway. Instead I
used it as inspiration to go back and see if I could find a safe location to
take the photo/scene. So far I haven't found a good vantage point to give a
similar point of view as I saw driving along the highway. So this is going
to be a work in progress until I find the beat point of view.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Visit to Woodward Park

I made another visit to Woodward Park in Tulsa, to pass a little time before heading to the airport to pick up my wife from a training trip to Virginia. It was the early afternoon so the light was bright and harsh, so I made use of my speedlight (with a diffuser dome) to provide some fill light to even out the lighting in the photos.

So once I arrived, I headed to the training garden to have a nice variety of subjects. There I found a nice selection of different flowers, plants as well as some structures and a pond full of colourful koi. I will be adding a full gallery of photos both here and on my website (I also posted a gallery on my Google+ profile) but as it's currently late - and I need to get to bed - I will post a teaser selection watch this space for the remainder of my photos.

Hope you like the photos:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Low key weekend

Ever had one of those weekends when you planned to take some photos but events conspire to change your plans? I had one of those weekends.

The only photos I took were on Saturday morning, when I captured the colourful sunrise as I headed out to the local farmer's market. I fully intended to do some more photos either Saturday or on Sunday but abandoned the idea due to just being to tired/sleepy that I felt it unsafe to drive anywhere. Instead I just stayed on the couch and pulled up Google Maps on my MacBook and did some recon for subjects and locations.

Here is the sunrise from Saturday looking towards Glenpool, OK.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sea of concrete

The other day I saw these flowers blooming in the midst of a sea of concrete and felt inspired to go grab my camera to record the scene. Okay, it was my driveway but why let a small detail interfere with such a nice metaphor.

I used my speedlight off camera and to the left of the flowers, triggering it via a TTL cable, to provide a little fill flash and additional texture to the flowers and concrete. Nature continuing regardless of man's attempt to cover it up and tame it.

Of course, while thinking of the contents of this blog post I started thinking more about other metaphors that this photo could represent. The main one that came to mind was how it's symbolic of me (as a person and/or as a photographer) surrounded by a sea of concrete. Trying to make my place in the world (and world of photography) while all the time hoping there isn't anyone nearby with a can of weedkiller to cut me down.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Itty bitty spider

Today has been a low key day, which I don't mind in the least as I have not felt that energetic or motivated. So I chose to stay close to home and work on some photo editing and experiment with develop settings in Lightroom.  Inspiration did come to me to take some photos of the spider that has been living out on my front porch and seems to have set up residence there.

I started out with my speedlight mounted on a lightstand, set at approx. 45 degrees behind him so as to give some controlled backlighting - and to hopefully help combat the wind that was buffeting him around. I set the speedlight manually to its 24mm zoom setting, the head tilt to 45 degrees and placed a diffuser dome over it to further soften and spread the light. This worked pretty good for about 6 photos, then I had to grab my flash and stand due to a sudden downpour of rain.

As the rain was now turning more persistent and heavy I switched to on-camera but keeping the flash settings the same. Now I had a water-logged spider and web to shoot, so I made the most of the opportunity, shooting off several photos. 

Here's a photo taken with the flash backlighting the spider:

And here are two photos with the on-camera flash of a rather damp spider:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Weekly update and portrait photos

This past week saw me with a new assignment to take a series of corporate portraits for use on the company's website for staff bios. This required the use of a fairly basic lighting setup to minimize shadows and keep the lighting even so that even at thumbnail size, the portrait is clearly viewable.

To achieve the lighting setup I used the following items:
  1. pair of Manfrotto light stands
  2. Nikon SB600 Speedlight
  3. Nikon FL-G2-AWB flash gel (shooting under fluorescent light)
  4. Nikon SC-26 TTL cable
  5. Nikon D100 (w/Nikkor 60mm Micro)
  6. Shoot through umbrella
  7. 32in reflector (using the white cover)
  8. large portable projector screen as the background
I also was trying out a new tethered setup linking my D100 to my MacBook Pro using Sofortbild (available here - I can report that the tethered shooting worked very well and I will certainly be making further use of the software.

Here is a diagram of the lighting setup I used for the shoot:
As you can see, I had my subjects stand facing into the shoot-through umbrella and than turn their head back to face me, so they were not (where possible) standing square on to the camera. Where possible I like to avoid shooting straight on at a subject as it just looks wrong to me. Yes, it can make the subject look "strong"but it also looks too rigid; it was also the wrong look for the shoot. The idea was to have everyone look friendly and approachable, so a more relaxed and casual look was what I was after.

One drawback I had to deal with was the bank of fluorescent lights directly over the head of my subjects - if you look at the eyes in my examples, you will see an additional catchlight from this. As it was, I made some use of the additional light to keep the shutter speed up while running the flash as rear-curtain fill flash to balance the flash and ambient light levels.

I also had some model release forms with me and had a handfull of the models sign them to enable me to make use of the photos here on my blog and my website. Those that I didn't ask
to sign a form will only have their photos used on the company website and not on either of my sites.

Now it's time to post a few example photos from the shoot -

Whitney Adams

Sharon Reese

Richard Chance

Kristina Adams

Larry Winegar

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ribbon cutting at OU-Tulsa

There was the official ribbon cutting event this past Friday for the new IT Data Center at the University of Oklahoma's Tulsa campus. I was there in my dual roles of an OU employee and as a photographer recording the event.

The main dignitaries for the ribbon cutting were: Dr Gerard Clancy, OU-Tulsa President; Loretta Early, OU Vice President and CIO; Dana Saliba, OU-Tulsa IT Director.

Gerard Clancy at the microphone, with Dana Saliba and Loretta Early seated

Dana Saliba at the microphone

Loretta Early at the microphone

Gerard Clancy, Loretta Early, Dana Saliba and the OU-Tulsa IT leadership team about to cut the ribbon

And the ribbon is cut - the data center is officially open for business

 Commemorative photograph of the ribbon cutting

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A case of DIY

After numerous failures and a large amount of money spent on repairing the sticky aperture on my Nikon 20mm f/2.8D lens I was on the verge of calling it quits and either letting it gather dust in a cupboard or try to offload it for some small return. In the last couple of years I have probably spent more than the value of the lens on having it serviced/repaired; the last service lasted less then 1 week before it failed again. However, I do like the lens so decided to do a little searching online to see if I could find anything of aid - and found a very detailed guide to repairing the lens myself at

So last night found me sitting down at a table, with the guide on my laptop screen, disassembling the lens. Pretty quickly I spotted that the diaphragm spring was not attached to its arm (again) so I knew what was needed to be fixed. I also knew by reading the guide that I would have to pretty much strip the lens down completely to get to the spring. In the process I also discovered that there was something (oil or grease) on the aperture blades so while I had the lens apart I took a couple of cotton swabs (q-tips) and carefully cleaned the blades; making sure that everything functioned correctly and smoothly.

Now, easy part over, comes the re-assembly and insuring the lens works as it should.  It took me a couple of attempts to correctly line things up so the lens focus movement moved correctly but everything went back together and it seemed to test out okay. I attached t to my camera and tested the aperture and focussing - both of which seems to be working correctly.

I'l be interested to see how long it will keep working before either the spring comes off or the blades gum up but at least now I know I can save myself some money and just fix it myself.


Sunday 16 September - update
Guess I didn't clean the blades that well as they are sticking again. At least the spring is still attached! I'll just have to do a more thorough job of cleaning the blades and see just how long the lens will keep working.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Request to camera manufacturers

Not that any are likely to be reading this but I would like to make a request to camera manufacturers concerning mode selectors on cameras. Would you please make them lockable so that they can't be accidentally moved and you are suddenly shooting in a different mode than you intended?

Admittedly this may just be an issue with my particular camera, as it is an old model - Nikon D100. The main function wheel that selects Exposure Mode, ISO, WB, Image Quality and AF Area has no locking function and as I found out yesterday, "after" I had been shooting some urban scenes, can be bumped off it's setting fairly easily. I normally shoot in Aperture Priority and don't always check the LCD after each shot. So imagine my surprise when checking the photos on my laptop and finding a little over half the photos badly over exposed due to the camera being on Manual...oops! I know I should have picked up on this at the time, what with the viewfinder readout and all but for whatever reason I didn't notice that anything was wrong/different. Guess I was just having one of those days where I was too interested in the subject to notice anything else.

Oh well, it's not like I can't go back and shoot the same photos another time. If nothing else I can view my visit as a recon one prior to my "real" visit.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Route 66 Village

I've made two trips now to the Route 66 Village in Tulsa, OK. My first visit was during the early afternoon, so fairly bright and sunny conditions. Not the best for photos as there is not much directional light but pretty good for photographing details.

My second visit was closer to sunset on a day that had experienced some passing rain and thunder storms. However, as I found out, the actual sunset was not very spectacular so I was not able to get any dramatic light in the sky. That's not to say the clouds didn't give an atmospheric look to the photos I took. Also, with the fast dropping light levels, I broke out my SB-600 to provide some fill light - I had my D100 set to rear curtain to keep the ambient light levels balanced with the fill.

(click images to open gallery in new window)

Daytime visit:

Evening/sunset visit:

Photo walk around parts of Tulsa

I have been trying to get back into the habit of doing photo walks to find interesting subjects in my locale. As I spend a lot of time in and around Tulsa (now), here is a small selection of Tulsa photos.

There are still plenty of things for me to explore and photograph, so this is just scratching the surface.

Most are using natural light, although there are a few where I did use a little fill-flash.

(click image to open gallery in a new window)

Galleries of OU-Tulsa Construction

These are photos I took of a construction project at the University of Oklahoma's Tulsa Campus where a new data center was being built for the IT department.

I had not worked on a construction project like this before so this was definitely a "seat of the pants" learning process for me. Looking back at the photos I can see things I could have done different (or better) but this is still a valid record of the construction process.

(click image to open the gallery in a new tab or window, depending on browser)

General construction:

North View Timeline:

South View Timeline:

Online presence and making changes

After some re-examining my online presence I have decided that I have been trying to do too much and spreading myself a little too far. What with this blog, a website, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn; it's getting that I'm spending more time trying to keep these up to date than I am taking photographs.

As I seem to spend more time here on my blog sharing updates and posting photos, I'm thinking I should build on this and start sharing my photo galleries here. That way I can share background info on the subjects, techniques and my thoughts/feelings much better than I can on my website. To this end I may rein back a little on my website while building up this blog, maybe even dropping my website completely if this works out for the best.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Unknown photo subject

I was out and about with my camera today, despite the 103F heat. To try and combat the heat and bright overhead sun I headed to Woodward Park so I could use the trees for shade and props. It also meant I could break out my Speedlight for some fill-flash, well, as long as I could keep my shutter speeds down low enough for my low sync speed.

While there I found, or rather my wife Lisa spotted this little guy (or girl) sheltering on the trunk of a tree. 

I happened to have my macro lens on my camera so I focused in pretty close, while giving myself some distance so I didn't cast a shadow from the end of my lens and took several photos with a pop of fill-flash to illuminate the wings. 

One thing I haven't been able to do so far is identify what species this insect is. I tried several internet searches but have not found anything as yet.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Re-working my photo library

Hopefully I have moved my photo library for the last time (other than regular backups). For the third time in so many months I have had to remove it from a laptop and re-install it on another. I guess that was the price to pay for using a laptop(s) I was borrowing and not one I owned. That has all changed now as I now have my own and can rebuild my library and get all my photos better organized. And yes, I went with a Mac; a used (pre-unibody) 15in MacBook Pro that I upgraded the ram and harddrive to 4GB and 750GB respectively.

Now comes the task of installing all the software, resetting all the settings and presets, as well as just getting used to where everything is. Much like working with my camera, everything needs to be comfortable and familiar for best productivity.

I haven't spent much time behind my camera this last week. I have however been reading a new book on lighting and editing/correcting for "correct" skin tones. Been very interesting and informative so far. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Weekly update

Not been doing much photo work this last week, mainly as I've ben feeling under the weather somewhat. Instead I have been spending some time reading up on lighting and posing techniques as well as looking through my archives.

I haven't done very many portrait shoots but have found that the few I have done have provided me the most positive feedback from my subjects - and their friends. So, I'm wondering if this is an avenue I should explore further and undertake more portrait shoots.  Definitely something to ponder on.

I may have posted these before (or a version of them) but here are two of my popular portrait photos, slightly edited and cropped to 10x8.

Monday, August 20, 2012

5 days!

Regular readers of my blog will know that I have had ongoing issues with one of my lenses and its aperture diaphragm operation. Well, my patience is almost wore out now after it has failed once again.

I picked it up from my local repair shop this past Saturday and was pleased to be able to shoot with it once more. So much so that I was specifically shooting subjects with it in mind, including most of the recent photos I ave posted here and on my website. 

Today I went to use it and noticed I was not having the viewfinder darken when I activated the DoF button on my camera so I popped the lens off to check the aperture function. As you have likely guessed, the aperture diaphragm is "stuck" open for some reason (either gummed up/failed diaphragm blades or the actuator spring has detached again). Either way, the lens is only usable at one aperture setting and as this is about the 6th time of failure, I am seriously reconsidering weather it is worth pursuing any further repairs as I'll soon be out the value of the lens in repair costs.

You may be wondering where the 5 days bit comes from.....let me explain. This past Thursday when I was making my second visit to the Route 66 Village, I noticed a few photos seemed a little off on exposure but didn't think much of it as the light was so changeable. Today, after finding the lens had failed again I took a second look at the meta-data for the photos. I saw that the ones that appeared off where shot at apertures of f4 or f8 BUT the diaphragm was stuck at f2.8! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Second visit to Route66 Village in Tulsa

I recently took a second visit to the Route 66 Village in Tulsa, Oklahoma to see about taking some different photographs. To do this I timed m visit to coincide with sunset and it was a day where some passing thunder storms had blown through the area. As I found, the sunset was fairly un-impressive in its quality of light.

However, it still gave me an opportunity to photograph the locomotive in varying light and also to practice working with fill-flash.

Here's an example taken with available light:

Here is an example taken with a mixture of available light and fill-flash:

(A larger selection of the photos taken are available to view on my main website)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Good but can do better

I enjoyed my visit to the Route 66 Village but knew that my photos could
have been better or at least look different under different lighting

Today I paid my second visit and timed it to be there around sunset. To add
a little more interest, there had been a storm blow through the area, so
there had been rain and lightning but this also meant heavier clouds. The
sunset was a little disappointing as there was little colour to the sky but
the photos certainly proved interesting. I will post some in the next day or
two both here and on my main website gallery page.

Sent from my Motorola Smartphone on the Now Network from Sprint!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New gallery and teaser

I just posted a new gallery on my website from my recent visit to the Route66 Village in Tulsa. There they have (according to their website) the tallest oil derrick as well as a restored Frisco 4500 locomotive with rail-cars.

It was my first chance to really get up close to a locomotive and I was a little taken aback by just how big it is. Also just how high off the ground the cars really sit - I'm 6'1 and the caboose floor was at my chest height!

Here are some sample photos from the gallery:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Weekly update

Been a good weekend photography wise. Got my 20mm lens back from repair and it's working great - been checking it out on some new photos today. Plus the weather has been a little kinder today where the temperature barely got above 100F.

Spent some time at the Route 66 Village location along Southwest Boulevard in Tulsa, photographing the oil derrick plus the Frisco 4500 locomotive and cars. I'll post some photos tomorrow so stay tuned.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Quick post to keep with my weekly updates

To keep up with my intention to post at least once a week I thought I'd give a brief update to cover ideas, thoughts and actions since my last post.

Starting this off I can report that I have taken my "troubled" lens in for it's latest round of repairs. Hopefully this time it should be simple and quick as it appears that it is a spring that became disconnected and not lubricant leaking onto the aperture blades.

The next bit of news is more a change of mind-set in how I process my digital files after I have taken the photos. Where possible I am trying to abide by the rule of "do it right in the camera" and not in the computer. While I like working with digital files in Photoshop type software. I much prefer being behind my camera taking the photos and have grown tired of spending so much time sat at a computer. To this end I am pretty much limiting myself to using Lightroom to process the RAW files from my camera and carrying out minor image corrections/tweaks. I am not at this time prepared to forgo the use of RAW and shooting entirely in JPG's as I still prefer the flexibility and adjustability of RAW files.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What have I been up to lately?

I will be making more frequent posts on my blog, where possible at least 1 post per week. To this end I thought I'd put together a post to cover things I've been doing since my last post.

I view photography as a continuous learning process. This has been made pretty clear to me when I was backing up my photos to an external storage drive. Looking at some of the photos that I took previously, even ones that were barely a month old, I was seeing things I could have done differently and what I am doing differently now. 

I've seen the biggest change in my photos since I switched from using my right eye to using my left eye when looking through the viewfinder. If you're wondering why I did that, it's due to a couple of things:
  1. Reading Joe McNally's book The Hot Shoe Diaries and seeing him demonstrate his camera holding/shooting technique
  2. Seeing an article online about identifying your dominant eye. As it turned out, I'm left eye dominant
So, putting these together, and the small matter of having a MB-D100 grip for my Nikon D100, I decided to swap "eyes". Oddly enough, it does seem to have made a difference to my work!

On the subject of books, I have been making good using of my Nook tablet to read photo reference books.  Mainly been looking at learning more on the use of flash, the Nikon CLS system and now on portrait lighting and posing. As you can gather from my reading choices, I am going to be working on improving my portrait techniques. I haven't done too much yet but I have been using fill-flash on my usual subjects (read victims!), my cats. I've also been practicing with use of colour correction gels to modify the light from my flash to balance with the ambient light in the room or to colour the light in the room.

I've also just recently completed my New York Institute of Photography Complete Course in Professional Photography studies, with good reviews and feedback from my instructors.  

Another big change I'm implementing is that I am now cropping my photos, and prints, to 8x10 instead of stubbornly leaving them un-cropped.  The main reason for this is that it is the standard photo size and also allows the use of pre-cut photo mats. With this being such a crowded field, why make things difficult for myself and anyone who buys one of my photos? 

Other changes I am looking at undertaking, once I can figure out the finances, is to replace my aging Nikon D100 camera body. Not only is it fairly old, it also has a habit from time to time of taking "blank" photos. It also is not compatible with the Nikon CLS flash system which is a pain seeing that I am working more with flash. I have a few ideas on possible replacements but need to fully decide on which one and also figure out how to raise the funds to buy it. I am also looking to pick up my own MacBook Pro laptop. I have been borrowing one from my day job to test it out and to compare it to a Windows based laptop for photo work. Clearly, I've found the MacBook to be much better to work with.

At least the final changes are not going to be any major problem, well, other than needing to have my 20mm f2.8D lens worked on to re-attach the diaphragm spring. I am going to reduce the amount of time I spend with a zoom lens and switch to using the aforementioned 20mm lens and also my 60mm f2.8D Micro lens. The 20mm on the D100 is effectively a 30mm lens due to the DX formats 1.5x crop factor, this being a good wider angle lens for every day photos. The 60mm lens is effectively a 90mm lens and is my go to lens for portraits as well as shooting my wife's hand made jewelry. I know modern zooms are much better performers but I still find the primes to be sharper and I also like the wider apertures for more shallow depth of field.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bee and sunflower

I like bees (and honey) and know that they are an important part of the eco-system. That's why I love to see them in my garden. It's also partly why there are native plants and sunflowers planted so we have an insect friendly habitat.

When I arrived home today I saw a bee collecting nectar and pollen from our sunflowers. Of course I had to grab my camera and fire off a few photos.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

More photos from Tulsa - updated

Finally got around to taking some time off from my day job and spent a few hours in and around Tulsa to see what caught my eye in the way of interesting things to photograph. If you find yourself driving along 21st Street the Golden Driller is hard to miss and I've been meaning to photograph him for some time. The sky had some broken cloud which added some texture and interest to my photos.

(sourced from Wikipedia)

  • The Golden Driller is a 76-foot-tall (23 m), 43,500-pound (19,700 kg) statue of an oil worker, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It is the largest free-standing statue in the world, and the third tallest statue in the United States.
  • It was originally built in 1953 for the International Petroleum Exposition by the Mid-Continent Supply Company. It was erected in it's current location (in front of the Tulsa Expo Center) in 1966.
(here is the Golden Driller in relation to the Expo Center for scale)

(here is the Golden Driller more in isolation)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Re-visiting image experimenting

For a while now I've been interested in the look of IR (infra red) photography but I am also aware of its limitations - need to use a tripod and having to frame/focus before putting the IR filter on the lens. Add to that the issue that a lot of modern lenses don't even have an IR focus indicator. Probably would be easier to get a D-SLR modified to take just IR photos but I'm not in a position to do that.

To combat some of this I started experimenting with using a flash so I could do hand-held IR photos. Framing is still a slight issue as there is no way to view through the lens with a Wratten 72 filter on the lens, so framing is an approximation until I devise a viewfinder to attach to the camera. The focus is taken care of by hyperfocal focusing on my 20mm wide angle that has both a DoF scale and an IR focus indicator. On the flash I place a pair of "Red-AWB" gels to keep it into the red scale and not skew things too much colour-wise.

Here is an example taken from my garden to show the effect. The photo direct from the camera is all red (due to the solid red IR filter) and I converted it to black&white in Lightroom. Other than the conversion and re-size for the web there have been no other modification to the image.

Here are a few more photos to show the effect of "hand-held flash IR".

I will be refining this technique some more and want to use it on some architectural subjects.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Meadow Gold along Route 66 in Tulsa

After meaning to photograph it on numerous occasions I finally paid a visit to the Meadow Gold sign in Tulsa to photograph it. It looks good in the daytime but I will definitely be paying another visit when it's lit up.

The sign is over 70 years old and was originally located at 11th and S. Lewis but when the building was demolished in 2004 the sign was saved and relocated to it's current location at 11th and Peoria. It is the largest neon sign in Tulsa and possibly in existence at 30ft by 30ft in size. There are several plaques in the pavilion on which the sign was erected that gives all the history of both the company and the sign.

I will be reposting this photo on my website in a portfolio I am putting together of buildings and views around Tulsa.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

May's "supermoon"

Just like numerous other people the world over I was outside armed with my camera to photograph the supermoon last night. Took me a few test shots to dial in the exposure, helped by taking a spot meter reading off the moon with my handheld optical spotmeter and then compensating to shift the exposure zone for the moon towards white (zone system).

Anyway, enough talk about the photo, here it is for you to enjoy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Image file changes

I recently made a discovery in the settings of the editing program I use
(Lightroom 3) that allows me to export my photos at a resolution of 1 dpi.
This has multiple benefits for both me and also to visitors of my blog and
website - more so when I've finished updating images on my sites.

Having the photos at 1 dpi makes the file size so much smaller so they load
much faster in the browser window. Also it makes uploading them so much
easier. But from my perspective there is also the added bonus of lessening
any concerns that my photos will be misused; which is a whole post in of

Image use and copyright is something all photographers have to keep in mind
when posting photos online. It's commonplace for images to be shared and
reposted, which as long as my metadata and watermark are still there and/or
I get image credit is something I'm okay with. My concern was more that
having high resolution images online could result in someone taking a photo
and printing it (possibly multiple times). Also with a high resolution image
my watermark could be cropped/edited out with minimal impact; unless I went
with the full image watermark that obscures the image.

Now, computer screens behave much differently to a printed image. Most
printed images are at least 240 dpi and sometimes much higher depending on
the printer. A computer screen however displays by a different process and
dpi has no bearing on how an image looks. Most images on the internet are
set at 72 dpi as this is generally used as the default. You will not see any
differences between a photo at 300 dpi and one at 72 dpi when viewed on a
computer screen (other than poor image processing and compression, which is
a different subject again). Taking this even further, you can convert to 1
dpi and it will appear onscreen to look as good as a photo at 300 dpi.
However, try printing either and you will most definitely see a big

Sent from my Motorola Smartphone on the Now Network from Sprint!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mixed bag of things follow up

I recently posted about my technical problems...and after some further
investigation I want to update a couple of things.

To begin with, my scanner hasn't died. I tested it on my PC and laptop under
Windows 7 and it appeared dead. I then borrowed a Macbook Air and it worked
perfectly! So my issue is that Windows 7 will not work with my Epson
Perfection V500 Photo scanner - driver and software errors on install and
the scanner will not function.

I also found that my laser printer would not install under Windows 7 - a
Dell 1700n. And once again I was able to simply install it on the Macbook

After these final issues (have had a string if other issues too) I have come
to the conclusion that Windows 7 is not for me and my hardware. Instead I am
seriously looking to ways to switch to a Mac as it seems to "just work". And
luckily all the software and hardware that matters to me for photo work has
Mac install options on the install discs.

Sent from my Motorola Smartphone on the Now Network from Sprint!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mixed bag of things

I've recently been experiencing a mix of ups and downs; mainly a lot of technical headaches related to my digital workflow.

  • my main workstation had to be rebuilt as things were just not running properly
  • my laptop has an annoying habit of crashing at random times with random errors
  • my flatbed/film scanner has "died" and my backup film scanner doesn't want to work on my rebuilt computer
  • my recently cleaned/lubed 20mm prime lens has once again (before I even used it on camera) leaked lubricant onto the aperture diaphragm blades and stopped working
At least I do have some good things to relay. I seem to be experiencing a larger merging of my photography and my day job. Part of which is the recording of an on-going construction project relating to my day job. Then today I was invited to take the official photographs at an employee awards event.

So despite all my recent issues, things are still moving forward and I'm still taking photos. And each photograph moves me forward as a learning process and allows me to keep growing.

Sent from my Motorola Smartphone on the Now Network from Sprint!
(but edited to correct formatting)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Some observations while wandering downtown

Over this last weekend I spent most of it in the downtown urban area of the city with a couple of cameras. While there I could not fail to notice that of all the photographers and other people carrying cameras the common factors were DSLR bodies and large aperture telephoto zooms, which looked to be 70-200's or similar. Why this seemed strange to me was I was wishing I had a wider angle lens than the 18-55 zoom I was using, that or that I didn't have a DX sensor giving me a 1.6x crop on the lens.

I am spending a lot more time using wide angle lenses in my photography and finding I prefer to get closer and fill the frame. So much so that I will even be picking up a 35mm wide angle and finder for my old rangefinder so I can use that more for urban photos; the standard 50mm was just too long for most things in downtown Tulsa, or so I found. What's going to be pricy is getting a wider angle lens for my DSLR as I would really like something around the 20mm size (20mm for FX, 12.5mm for DX) so my choice comes down to either a new body and use my existing 20mm (once it's fixed, again) or find a 12.5mm DX lens for my existing body.

Either way, I don't have the funds to do this for the forseable future.In the meantime I'm just happy to be feeling more inspired and spending time with my cameras recording images that speak to me. Ultimately it's the photographer that counts and not the camera.

Sent from my NOOK

(edited and reformatted - the email client on my Nook Tablet had sent this as a wall of text)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

More photos of downtown Tulsa

Had a good weekend and explored some more of downtown Tulsa with my cameras - had my DSLR and my analog rangefinder loaded with B/W film.  Seems I wasn't the only one wandering around with a camera as I lost count the number of photographers I saw. 

I also want to add another of the sunset/dusk photos from my previous set of Tulsa photos as it too is part of the downtown area.

So first up is the second dusk photo:

Now for the daytime photos of building details that caught my eye:

There are more daytime photos that I am currently working through for minor editing and I will be posting more here - and also once I have the film developed I'll be posting some of my B/W images too.  Stay tuned for further updates.