eagle fight

Photo of the Day

Today I went back to the Wabash River to find some more eagles. I went to my regular spot yesterday, but I only saw a couple of eagles. The pictures that I did manage to get yesterday were not that special. I am beyond just getting a picture of an eagle now. I would like to see some sort of action, or anything that sticks out to me. Today I went out with that in mind trying to find something interesting to me. I went to my usual spot, but things were looking slow just like yesterday. I decided to try a new location. I went out behind an apartment complex that is right on the river. What I found was a gold mine. There is a small retention pond behind the complex where the eagles seemed to like to hang out. I saw anywhere from 8-10 eagles at a time there. For a while I was concentrating on making pictures of two eagles on a couple of pieces of driftwood pretty far away from me. I knew that I would be near the end of my range, but they looked to cool to not make a picture of. While I was watching them a third eagle showed up. That one was not treated so well by the other two. The picture above shows one of the eagles showing his disapproval with a loud screeching sound. On my Facebook page (linked here) I have posted a couple images of the eagle flying away to avoid conflict.

Technical Data

I used my 70-200mm lens with the 1.4x extender on it to take this shot. On my crop sensor camera that gives me about 448mm of lens. For a football game that would be great. For something like this though I should have a bit more for a crisp picture. I had to crop quite a bit in Lightroom to get the eagles to somewhere that details could be seen. By doing so though I introduced quite a bit of noise as it was way too zoomed in. That meant that I could not really do much here except for a highlight shift. Anything else was just too noisy. I have to find a way to get my hands on a 400mm or a 600mm lens for a couple of days. With my extender I would be right in range to get some very interesting shots. Normally I would zoom with my feet, but here the landscape makes that impossible. I will keep going to the eagles though with what I have hoping that they help me out and come a bit closer.

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twolves tilt shift

Throwback Photo

This is an interesting photo for a couple of reasons. The first is that this capped off a great sports weekend in Minneapolis in 2004. It was May and in the span of two days I saw five sporting events. I saw two baseball games between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Ohio State Buckeyes Saturday morning. From there I went to the Metrodome to watch the Twins play my White Sox. The next afternoon I saw the White Sox whip the Twins to cap the baseball off. From there I ate in town before going to see game two of the Western Conference Finals between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Lakers. At a time when I was not getting out too much it was a great weekend away from work and my apartment. The second great thing about this game is the fact that several future NBA Hall of Famers were playing in it. Minnesota had Kevin Garnett who has since left for Boston. The Lakers were loaded with two stars ending their careers in Gary Payton and Karl Malone, and two in their primes in Shaquille O’Neil and Kobe Bryant. This was a lot of talent on the floor, and a great reason to pay to get into the Target Center that night. The T’Wolves won the game which was nice to see the home fans get what they want. I had no real dog in the fight so I rooted for the home squad. I felt that I had to because of the noisemakers anyway. I couldn’t beat them together if I was rooting for L.A. You can see them all over the arena in the picture. This was a nice way to cap off a great weekend.

Technical Data

I picked this photo out specifically so that I could use Focal Point 2.1 which is part of the On One Photo Suite 7. I bought this program shortly before heading to Colorado, and I really have not gotten too much into it yet. I was part of a webinar on it Monday morning though so I picked a few things up. I really like the fake tilt shift look that Focal Point allows you to do so I wanted to try it out on something. This shot seemed to be a perfect candidate. Before sending the photo to Focal Point I made all of my adjustments in Lightroom. Then I made a copy of the photo to send over. This was the second image that I played around with in Focal Point. It took some getting used to the controls, called ‘the bug’, but in the end the program is very simple to use. I just picked where I wanted the focus to be, and then the program does the rest. I did use the brush in the program to ‘paint in’ focus on the scoreboard. I think that it gives the arena a little more of a toy feel that way. This program has some promise, and I think that I will try and get some shots in the future with it in mind.

icy vines

Photo of the Day

Yesterday was an awful day around here. I really wanted to go back to the river to see the eagles again, but near freezing temperatures combined with a steady rain kept this fair weather photographer home. I did manage to find some beauty in my own backyard though. We have a clinging vine on an archway in the backyard, and looking out of the back window I noticed the way that the ice had formed on it. It really was beautiful, and I knew that the day wasn’t a total waste. Sometimes you don’t have to go far to get an interesting picture.

Technical Data

This shot will never be sold so I did not work too hard on it. I applied a light HDR look preset to it in Lightroom, and then adjusted the exposure to lighten it up a bit. A slight tweak to the shadows and highlights, and this photo was ready to export.

upton goes deep

Sports Photo of the Day

Part of the fun of watching low A baseball is when a kid from your team actually makes it to the big leagues. It is even better when the kid becomes a star. That is just what Justin Upton has done. He went from riding the buses in South Bend for the Silverhawks to living the dream playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks. This off season Justin was traded to Atlanta where he will play alongside his brother B.J. Upton in the Braves outfield. Justin was far from a longshot to make the bigs as he was selected first overall in the 2006 draft by the Silverhawks. He was not doing so well off the bat, but then he found his stride. He then made pretty easy work of the minor league system on his way to Arizona. I have always liked this picture of the young star admiring one of his home runs.

Technical Data

I watched a webinar yesterday from On One Software about the many products in their Photo Suite 7 package. I bought the package just before my trip to Colorado, but I have not had the time to learn all that it can do yet. First I edited this shot with Lightroom using the desaturated light sports preset that Matt Kloskowski gave away for free. The photo has been sitting in a folder in Lightroom for a while with that look without me thinking about posting it. I took that photo into Focal Point 2.1. I had already played around with some wider shots in it so I wanted to see what it could do with something close up like this. I liked how it made him stand out a bit from the background. Now I would give this bokeh effect with my aperture, but at the time my camera was brand new, and I was probably still in auto mode. I would like to try some wider shots this year to see if I could achieve the miniature look with the program. So far I love the Photo Suite, and I hope to have a few pictures showing some of what it can do in the next couple of weeks. Once you get the hang of the controls it is a very easy program to use, and it can make some very interesting pictures.

eagle catch

Photo of the Day

Just over a week ago I was sitting by the Wabash watching the snow come down like crazy. I had about a half hour to kill so I sat watching the river. Little did I know that just about a mile down the river from where I was Michael Heinz was watching eight or so bald eagles fly around. He is a staff photographer for the Journal and Courier, and he took a great photo of an eagle flying through the driving snow. You can see that photo in the article linked here. Not only is it a beautiful photo, but with all of the snow flying in front of his lens it is a technically brilliant photo as well. Ever since I saw that article I have been meaning to get down by the river to get some pictures. That finally happened yesterday afternoon. I tried to wait until the sun was behind where I would be shooting so that I could use it to my advantage. I was ready to quit when I saw an eagle dive down into the water to get a fish. I took a crisp, clean shot of the shore behind the eagle. The actual eagle was out of focus. Luckily I got a second chance when I saw the eagle before the dive. I got this shot of the eagle just after catching a fish. This is the best shot of the bunch as far as clarity is concerned. On my Facebook page here I posted a couple yesterday, but they fell apart when I zoomed in far enough to see the fish in the talons. I have to figure out how to get closer to these eagles for sure.

Technical Data

Not much to say here. After I zoomed in farther than my 1:1 button would in Lightroom there was not much that I could do. I had to just let the picture go or risk pixelating it any further. The biggest technical data here is that it was shot with my 70-200mm lens zoomed all the way in with my 1.4x extender on it. On my crop sensor camera that gives me about 448mm of lens. Most wildlife guys shoot with at least a 600mm lens, but I will just have to learn to zoom with my feet. I think that a picture from a bit closer would look better anyway. My island in the middle of the river is coming back, and this would have been perfect from right there. I guess that is something to think about when I go out again.

heavenly light

Photo of the Day

The last time that I was in Colorado during the winter was in 2009. I saw some beautiful sunsets, but shot everything handheld because I did not have a tripod. This time around I had the tripod ready, but the beautiful sunsets did not happen like they did the previous visit. It seemed as if heavy clouds would always move in just at the wrong time. That is just how it works sometimes. As you can see here the light was good as the sun was going down, but once again clouds got in my way. Instead of focusing on the negative to camera left here I swung over to the right to get this beautiful light on Hahn’s Peak. The top of the mountain was often shrouded in clouds, but here that cloud gave off a nice glow. Once again this was shot handheld, but I wanted to put on a different lens, and the light was fading. I think that the end result was good though.

Technical Data

To start off here I used Matt Kloskowski’s strong HDR look preset to get things going. From there I used the sliders in Lightroom to finish developing this shot. The main changes here was a white balance shift as well as adjusting the exposure. This was a very easy picture to develop.

fonz 2

Photo of the Day

Since my first photo of the Fonz went over so well I thought that I would put another one up. The first picture was the one that I thought of as I was walking up to the statue. This is the shot that I came up with after looking at it for a minute. This statue allowed me to get the upper half of the Fonz along with the river and some of the buildings behind him. The electric blue pants are also cut out this way which is a good thing. The sky cooperated nicely to give me a good background.

Technical Data

As with the first picture this is a three shot HDR image that was processed in Photomatix, and then developed in Lightroom. I bracketed three exposures two stops apart on the scene in order to gather more data. As it turns out I probably could have gone a little further in each direction as well. I ended up using the brush in Lightroom to brighten just the statue of the Fonz a bit. I also used the brush to darken the sky as well. This scene had a very wide range of light, and I did not see that on the scene. I thought the normal method would work. Thankfully both Photomatix and Lightroom helped me get close to what I saw when I was there.

times square

Photo of the Day

In 2008 we visited New York as our first big baseball trip. We got into town late at night just after a big rain. As a photographer I could not ask for more. I was not really shooting landscapes at the time though as I mostly just shot sports. In situations like this I would just put my camera in auto mode. It would get me results some of the time, but it would often leave me with a result that I didn’t like. This picture is an example of one of those times. Most of this shot was just dark out of the camera. Only through the magic of photo editing software was I able to bring it back to something that I could like. It was a grand scene, and I am glad that I was able to preserve this memory of my first time there.

Technical Data

Yesterday I participate in a Webinar for Topaz Labs. They focused on the Black and White 2 program that they have, but it got me interested in other webinars that they have done. I watched one on Night Photography on YouTube to get some ideas. It really did give me some insight into their products that I have not had. Most of my experience has been that it takes longer to use them than I can make the same effect in Lightroom. This entire shot was edited using Topaz products, and I really like the result. First off I oped up Lightroom to send the photo over to my Topaz center which is photoFXlab. I used that to open up Topaz Adjust 5. I saw Nichole Paschal who ran the webinar use Spicify on a night image to great success. I used the same filter here, and I liked what it did. The only problem though was that to get the scene lit correctly meant that I had a lot of noise. I then hit okay to go back to the lab so that I could open up Topaz DeNoise 5. This is a great product which I have used a little recently. I used the strong jpeg filter to get the noise under control. From there I was able to send the photo back to Lightroom so that I could export it. The only trouble that I see here is that when I edit a copy of a picture from Lightroom I lose all of my Metadata. I will have to fix that because I really like what the two programs can do together.

elvis ride

Sports Photo of the Day

When most people think of the King of NASCAR they think of Richard Petty. On a weekend when the Daytona 500 will occur his name comes up often because of his dominance of the sport. In 1998 thought the King of Rock and Roll made his way into NASCAR. Rusty Wallace raced the inaugural race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with this Elvis pain scheme. This was a very cool car that I bought as a diecast to have. How can you not love a car with the King on it that goes nearly 200 MPH? I was really thrilled to see the real thing when I toured Graceland in 2006. This was a sharp car that I was happy to get a picture of up close and personal.

Technical Data

As I said I took this picture in 2006 just a couple of months after getting a dSLR. I really had no clue what I was doing so inside in low light like this it was hit or miss as to what kind of a shot I would get. This was one of the shots where I got extremely lucky. Here I performed three steps to clean up this shot. The first was to apply the Matt Kloskowski light sports preset to it. That really seemed to sharpen it up for me. I then cropped the image because I did hot like how I framed it initially. The final step was to get rid of the noise caused by the high ISO. I did not use any third party software. I simply used the noise reduction portion of Lightroom. Sometimes this is all you need, and I completed a fairly simple edit with that.