I Love late Summer Skies

One of the great curses of being a photographer is nothing escapes your notice. Here I was last evening enjoying a round of disc golf with Paul and Gerrit and just having a grand-ole time.  As we were playing, I was noticing the play of the late evening light on the landscape around us, the deer in the distance at the tree line, the lone red tailed hawk flying overhead and even the Canada geese flying towards the pond (BTW, none of this did my golf game any good!).

As we completed our round, the skies lit up with their late evening color and I started to wince internally…… Because here I was without a camera. Well dang and other epitaphs..

Then comes the memory!  I always have a camera with me. It might not be the one I want, but it is a camera none the less.  Grabbing my trusty iPhone I was able to snap off a couple of shots…

Summer Skies 3

I love the cloud play in this one…  In fact, it made me sit in the parking lot for a while to see what else the sky was going to do.

Summer Skies 2Summer Skies 1

These two photos are from basically the same spot in the parking lot and show what as little as 10 minutes can do to the sky.  At this point the sun had dropped below the horizon and the great pinks and blues replaces the yellows and oranges… You can even see the moon peeking through on the right hand photo.

Life is good when you see what is going on around you. I feel blessed every day with the gift I have been given to share what God has created with those around me.


What do you see?

What do you see 1

Every one has their morning rituals. Mine include the normal absolutions like showering, brushing my teeth and getting dressed. One of my quirks is the morning run to QuikTrip to start the day with a large diet Coke. While some people start their day with a cup of coffee, I just cannot stand the taste (much to my wife’s amusement).

So, this morning is like all others and as I head out the door, I notice that the rains from last evening have left a little gift on the shrubs around our front door. The spider webs that cross through these shrubs are coated with these tiny rain drops. With the morning light hitting them, it is as if some one had draped them with jewels.

Contemplating this on my drive, I realize that what I have just seen is a microcosm of the world around us. There is much beauty to behold if we will just take the time to look. Our creator has blessed us with many things, from the jewels on a spider web to the spectacular sunrise, do we take the time to see?


Random thoughts of a disturbed mind.

Dear diary, it has been more than a month……

Ummm, that’s night right….  Let’s try….

Father, please forgive me, it has been more than a month…..

Hmm, that’s night right either…

Well dang.   Let’s just say, it has been more than a month since I have had a chance to drop a thought or two here. (Where has the time gone?) Lots of things going on in the McKennon household.  A church merger that wasn’t. Trips. Dinners. Weather.  Lots of different things that I could of commented on, but no! Silence.  So now, dear reader, you get to pay the price.

First random thought.

Last week I decided it was time to get my semi-annual shearing. My hair was getting a little long and the beard and mustache were interfering with eating. So Ruth and I headed to the local great-clips to get the assigned task done.  So, as I sit in the chair, the stylist asks how I want it cut.  I state, “Military style, off the ears and the back of the neck and taper it please.”  So, as I am sitting there chatting with her and hearing the snip-snip of the scissors, I notice that most of the hair falling on the nice black cover I am wearing are more white than brown… Well, just dang.  I guess this is not unexpected as my 50th is rapidly approaching..

Now for the sad part. At the end of the hair cut, the stylists states. “Let me get these stray hairs for you!” and she proceeds to trim my eyebrows (EYEBROWS!), ear hairs and nose hairs. And to make matters worse, it takes her longer to do these than it does to cut my hair!

I guess that solidifies the deal, I am official getting to be an old man!  Jeez, when did this happen.  All that white hair and then the eyebrows standing up and enough hair in my ears to braid… WOW, who knew??!!

 

A night time visitor

FrogLast evening as Ruth and I returned from dinner with friends, I noticed that we had a visitor at our front door. This little guy was sitting there next to the porch light enjoying the buffet that we were offering..  Isn’t he cute?

He (I assume it is a he until proven otherwise!) is only about an inch long and was very interested in getting away from my camera.  As I shot him with the flash, he pulled all of his legs in under his body and tried to make himself as small as possible.  Upon seeing that, I let him alone to finish his feast.

 

 

More of Ruth’s wonderful jewelry and a lesson learned

I have mentioned many times that Ruth has taken up jewelry and I have taken on the task of documenting her pieces. As I was unhappy with the shots I was taking (and trying to learn it on my own) I decided to watch a few videos on Kelby Training to see how the pros did it.. Let me show you what I learned…

 

Necklace bronzeNecklace Paper

These are both the same necklace.  See any difference?  The one on the left looks very shiny, but the eye does not really look at the necklace because of the bright spot in the middle. Although an interesting photo, it does not do the necklace any favors. (Lighting on this one was a spot light under a piece of bronze Plexiglas with a flash overhead to light the rocks.)

The one on the right is a very different lighting pattern and better shows the necklace for what it is. The background on this one is a piece of 12×12 paper used for scrapbooking and the lights are behind and to the side.  It really adds to the photo.

 

Necklace no front flashNecklace front flash

These two photos are of the same necklace… I much prefer the one on the right as the pendant is much more pronounced and the necklace as a whole looks more pleasing.  Same light pattern and the necklace above with one small chance.  I used a handheld flash behind a diffuser to the front of this one. So it is lit with three lights.  Amazing what can be accomplished when you think it through!

 

As you can see, I am still experimenting as a photographer. I am not there yet, but I continue to get closer!


Life in black and white

New Mexico Pano small

As I have continued my life’s journey into photography, I have come to realize a couple of important things. One is that I will never be a great portrait photographer, and two is that I am heading towards being a really good landscape photographer. Other photography styles such as photo-journalism, still life, studio and etc. I have not really tried yet.

This realization led to some interesting experiments during the last week. I had just returned from New Mexico visiting my parents and travelling around the state in which I took about 1,600 photographs.  Some of these were for mom and dad’s 50th wedding anniversary (CONGRATS!) and others were family events.

However, some of the photos were just for me (like the one above). I shot most of these with a color image in mind. However, something amazing happened when I returned. This came in the form of a class taught by Moose Peterson.  During this class, he was in Monument Valley and was taking a series of images. He was talking about what he was looking at as he pressed the shutter and how he intended to present the final image.  This caused me to take a look at a few of the images I had captured during the last week.

I was simply stunned by the difference that made.  I guess black and white will be part of my bag in the future.

 

New Mexico SkiesNew Mexico Desert

As you can see from this example… There is nothing wrong with the color image at all. But it is rather boring. When converted to black and white, wow!  I love the image… It gives the sense of desolation that you feel when standing there.

Character Tre Character tree B&W1a

Another example of converting to black and white is seen above. I really like the image on the left as it was something I spent 20 minutes setting up. However, the one on the right gives me a better sense of the drama of the skies… WOW!  Who would of thought black and white can make such a difference.. Same shot, but very different feeling.

 

With all of this in mind, I expect I will be looking at the scene in my viewfinder with a very different set of thoughts in the future.


A happy accident

Sometimes in photography, as in life, you can plan for things to happen. You can give yourself every chance to succeed. You can dot all the I’s and cross all the t’s but life just wont coöperate. During those times, you can give up or you can continue what you are doing out of the sheer joy of living!

Tonight was one of those times for me. Ruth left early this evening to attend a ladies event she is part of. This left me with a couple of hours alone with the camera. As it had raided all day (and was drizzling on and off now) I decided not to wander too far from my house. Grabbing the camera I noticed that the day lilies outside our back door were looking rather interesting with the rain drops sitting on the petals.

I set the camera for the settings I wanted (ISO 400, Aperture F4.0, and let the camera choose the shutter speed) and pressed the shutter button. However, I noticed just as I pressed that the photo just did not look right. Displaying the photo again on the view screen, I noticed that it was really fuzzy (see below).

Happy Accident 2

 

It was then that I noticed that the camera lens had fogged up, caused by the difference in humidity and temperature between the house and outside. I could not keep it clean. Every time I cleaned the lens, within seconds it would fog over again. I know from experience if I had waited for 10 minutes or so that the problem would correct itself. However, as it was threatening rain again, I chose to keep trying to clean the lens.

I was happy with one shot where I seemed to keep the lens clear.

Happy Accident 1

This image captures the petals with the rain drops that I was looking for. However, as clear as it is, it is still soft. Most folks would wonder if it was out of focus due to the blur in the center of the image.

All was not lost though, I shot about 30 frames while cleaning the lens between every 2-4 images.

Once I got back to the computer to pull the images up, this one surprised me!

Happy Accident

This one combines the softness of focus with just enough that is clear to make it a pleasing image. Also, the background blur caused by the condensation picked up the color of the flowers around it and lent itself to a much more pleasing image.  All things considered, I am very happy with this accident!


When Mike is Ruth-less

DCF 1.0

I have been teased over the last few days about being Ruth-less. Unfortunately, it was true. My lovely bride had travelled down to visit with her parents for a couple of weeks leaving me home all alone. It is amazing the traps that you fall into when you’re married this long. As I would watch a TV program or read something of interest I would call out and find that she was not there.

It is also quite bewildering that a few days of a business trip or a weekend away does not seem to have the same effect as an extended absence. It seems as if every day got longer and longer. Any one that does not believe relative-time time has not paid attention.

I am very glad she is back safe and that we have a weekend to spend together before the start of another hectic week…

(for those interested, the photo above is one of my very favorites of my wife. She was not aware that I had the camera out and was doing her quite time studying the bible as I snapped the shutter. This image says everything you need to know about her, from the bible in her lap to the coffee at her hand…)


Of sunsets and police officers

Sometimes in life, things happen that just make you smile! Last evening was just such a time. You see, my wife has been in Florida for a little over two weeks spending time with her parents and doing the daughter thing. This has left Mike alone in the house with way too much time on his hands.

Yesterday, Ruth called and said she was coming home today (WooHoo!), so to celebrate this last evening alone, I decided to head out with the camera again.

I have photographed sunsets all over this area, but there is one park that I had not used before. So grabbing my iPad and looking at “the Photographers Ephemeris”, I found the place in the park that offered the best chance for a sunset photo. Unfortunately, this did not show the tree line was going to block most of the event and that my ideas of catching the sun in the water just was not going to happen!  Oh well, But the images I did get, more than made up for it!

Lenora Park Sunset

I will say that I received a number of very odd looks from folks as they went about their play time in the park. I suspect they were wondering what the large guy with the camera on the tripod was doing and was he taking pictures of them!

Finally, one of the young mothers approached me and asked what I was doing. I had a great time showing her the back of the camera and the photos that were there.  She had concerns that I was taking photos of her kids.  Oh the days we live in.

Once the sun settled and the darkness started to arrive, I headed over to our towns center to take photos of a few buildings that are lit at night.

The first on my agenda, was the new town hall..

Snellville Courthouse

One of the great things about long shutter times is the ability to capture fun things. In this one there are two items of interest… The red streaks are cars that drove by during the 30 seconds the shutter was open. And the second is the blue sky.  Remember, it was DARK when I shot this!

30 minutes or so later, I had taken all the photos one can take of this building and I wandered into the parking lot to go home. Off in the distance I saw the steeple of the First Baptist Church in Snellville lighting up the sky. Well, I thought to myself, I’m here, let’s give it a try.

Baptist Church

And here is where the fun started. I guess that people driving down the street seeing a large bearded man in the parking lot of the local courthouse, wearing a black back pack and carrying a very odd-looking piece of equipment (my tripod) caused someone to call the local police department.

As I set up near the local cemetery for this shot and leaned over the lens the entire night lit up with blue flashing lights and a very bright spot light on yours truly.

The officer was friendly enough and just wanted to know what I was doing. So for the second time this night, I got to share the photos on the back of my camera. When I offered to take his portrait with the church in the back ground, he demurred rather quickly and likewise, when I asked him to use his light on the cemetery he also declined. Oh well, it never hurts to ask!

All of this proves is that I cannot be left alone two weeks without getting into trouble.

Oh, wait a minute, did I just mention that Ruth will be home in less than three hours???  I had better get the dishes done and the house clean before she gets home!