Monday, March 24, 2008

March 23, 2008: Brundidge to Greenville

I went home for Easter and decided to take the long way back home — Brundidge-Troy-Goshen-Glenwood-Luverne-Greenville. All in all, it was a pretty disappointing trip. I found a few nice structures to shoot, but they were all facing east and back lit so bad I was getting glare on the front element of my lenses.

The most interesting structures I could find were churches. Unfortunately, there wasn't a cloud in the sky, so there wasn't really anything dramatic about the shots. I went ahead and shot the buildings for reference and marked them on my map. On an afternoon when I have decent cloud cover, I'm planning to head back east and shoot those buildings. I can make it to Luverne and Glenwood in 25-30 minutes.

Since I wasn't getting anywhere photographically wise, I decided to head back to Greenville and shoot some wildflowers. I had covered all the wildflowers I could find earlier in the week, but they were wet and the sun had come out, so I got really bad burned our areas in some of the droplets. I decided to shoot the flowers dry, but the wind was blowing so bad I had to abandon that as well.

I ended up just going in to work to get get a jump on Monday's workload. Overall, it was a really frustrating trip. But, sometimes it goes that way.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

March 15-16, 2008: Road to Cheaha

I'm finally settled in at my new apartment for the most part. But, I still have a lot of unpacking to do. I've really put that on the back burner though. I have a roof over my head and food to eat. I don't really care if it's cluttered with unopened boxes.

I have better things to do right now. It's spring and the weather is warming up and the days are getting longer. I made an excursion to north Alabama to Cheaha State Park this past weekend. I really wanted some new scenery.

I took a long route to get to Cheaha because I wanted to go through downtown Montgomery to check it out for photo opportunities. You never know what lies along a road until you travel it.

I took these two images in Rockford on the way to Cheaha:

Cemetery 5

Church 1A

I was working on doing realistic HDR as opposed to all of the cartoonish/drawing style post processing I've been working on so far this year.

The first image was of waterfalls along the Highfalls Trail in Cheaha State Park. The next two are as described. All three are three images are HDR bracketed at -2/0/+2 EV.

The waterfall shot is all HDR. The cemetery and church shot are HDR masked over a tonemapped middle image in the bracket. There was some bad haloing caused by FDR tools. So I had to do a lot of masking to remove those halos.

The other photos I posted on Flickr have the North Alabama tag.

Overall, I was pretty happy with the trip. Some Flickr members liked the photos and others have been critical of them. But, I like the criticism. Most of it has been very helpful. If I want to keep expanding and improving my skills, I have to be open to criticism, whether it be positive or negative.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tutorial: The Orton Effect

I decided to write a tutorial on the Orton Effect because I couldn't find any that went into any real depth. The explanations of the tutorial were basically limited to do this and do that. Since this is a pretty popular photo effect, I though it would be nice to write a fun Photoshop tutorial in graphic format to illustrate this technique.

Each "page" is linked to a larger, easier to read screen shot. You can also download the tutorial in PDF format here.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

March 9, 2008: Modern Praetorian Redux

I've been a little busy moving lately. The time I've had to work on personal projects has pretty much been taken up by packing. The time I did have free, I mostly worked on photography. So, I' really haven't done much drawing so far this year.

I know I can't draw very well, but I find it enjoyable and relaxing; and that's what's really important to me. If, I keep at it, I'll get a little better over time, I hope.

Anyway, a few days ago, when I had no cable or Internet, I did a little scribbling and looked back through my sketchbook. I came across the Modern Praetorian drawing I posted earlier in the year and wasn't really satisfied with it. So, I reworded the caption, changed the background spatter because it was distracting and colored it in Photoshop.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the way the image is now.

2008 Excursions Notes

Excursions Notes:
July 10, 2008:
I've been too busy the last three months that I haven't had much free time at all. Things are finally starting to slow down, so I should be able to get back to doing a lot more shooting. On the other hand, I've been drawing a lot late at night.

March 9, 2008:
I finally completed moving across town and have all my utilities and services finally transferred to my new address. I've nearly got everything unpacked and in place. I lost my notebook with my notes for The Colony and the development of the Kasumi Effect and spent four hours searching through boxes I didn't plan to unpack anytime soon. Then I remembered I put it in a hard-case with the photo gear I keep in the trunk of my car. Funny how you can put something where you won't lose it and forget where you put it.

But, I should get back to shooting a lot more now. The time has changed so I have a good two hours of daylight after work. Which opens up a lot of opportunity to shoot locally. It also gives me a more daylight when I make some road trips. I may go up toward Birmingham and Oak Mountain State Park this weekend. I may leave about mid-day on Saturday and come back late Sunday afternoon.

I'm glad I really put my cameras away for the last couple of months of 2007. That break allowed me to get out of the bad habits I developed from being overworked in my last job. I've started thinking creatively again, learned a lot from studying message boards and I'm seeing things differently again. Its time to start putting things together.

February 28, 2008
I'm getting about an hour of good light after work now. But, I'm going to move over the next few days, so I've been busy packing and that's taking up a lot of time. I hope to get back to doing a little more exploring in early- to mid-March. It'll take me a week or so to get settled in and get everything unpacked and in place. It'll also probably take that long for the lame-ass customer support from Brighthouse to get my cable/Internet/phone hooked up at my new address. Their customer service sucks. Period.

January 12, 2008
The days are finally starting to get a little longer, so I have some daylight after I get off work at 5 p.m. Central. The majority of my photography excursions will amount to a scouting trip. I need to do a lot of exploring and a lot of waiting for the right time and conditions before taking photographs. Familiarity with the area will help me do that.