A Look At Independence Hall on Independence Day

Today is a special day for our country. In 1776 the Declaration of Independence was approved on this day. Two days earlier the congress had voted to form their own government. In fact John Adams sent his wife a message saying that from that day on July 2nd would forever be remembered in America. We took to calling July 4th our Independence Day though. It is a day when we celebrate the heroes that risked their lives for something that they believed in. In a time when most politicians care only for themselves it is refreshing to look back at those who dared to do what was right. As I stood there thinking about what those men could have lost by signing the Declaration of Independence I couldn’t help but wonder who in our present time would come forward as our hero.

Fun In Post Processing

On site I had an idea for a photo. I wanted to have a photo with equal space on each side of the bell tower. In post I would have a little fun making a red, white, and blue photo using the graduated filter tool in Lightroom. For some reason I usually use my preset which has the red (or orange) on the left side of the photo. With the blue sky on the left though I changed things up a bit, and had the left side blue with the right side fading in with red. Using the graduated filter to add color is a fun way to go a little crazy on a photo. A little artistic freedom is a great way to celebrate the freedom of our country today.


Looking Back To 1776 at Independence Hall

One great thing about my wife is how she thinks. With a late night flight out of Philadelphia she planned to spend some time in Philly after we left Ocean City last week. She knows how much I like history, and that we have flown through Philly many times, but never stopped. She used to live just outside of Philly so I would guess it was all old news to her. It was a place that I have always wanted to visit though so we stopped in for a couple of hours. It was great to get to see some history, but this just made me want to go back and see it all with a lot more time on my side. There is a lot to see and take in, and I want to come back when I have the time to do it right. It was great to spend a couple of hours in the footsteps of greatness though.

Ice Cream Over Liberty

On the drive up to Philly from Ocean City the oldest had a lot of questions about the Liberty Bell. We explained the whole thing, and she seemed pretty stoked to see the Liberty Bell. She was stoked until we got within a block of Independence Hall that is. As I could finally see the bell tower and started to walk a little faster the kids noticed an ice cream stand. So of course with our destination in site we stopped to order ice cream. At the time I was laughing as our priorities changed so quickly. At the time I came up with the hashtag #givemelibertyorgivemeicecream. I was shocked to see that I was one of many that had come up with that already. Thankfully there was not an ice cream truck out front in 1776 or we might still be having tea time.

Looking Back On My 2010 Trip to Laporte, Texas and the San Jacinto Monument

It is hard to believe that it has been almost five years since I followed the Purdue run through the NCAA Tournament. That trip started off in the Pacific Northwest, but then a week later I found myself in Houston, Texas. The result was not one that I wanted, but such is the case for most teams that attend these types of events. Three of the four teams that came to town would go away unhappy. When I make a trip like this I like to see some of the historic locations where I am. I visited both the George Bush and Lyndon Johnson Presidential Museums, and on the last day I made the trip to LaPorte, Texas for a couple of reasons. One is that my hometown is LaPorte, Indiana. I have always wanted to visit the twin city to my hometown. The other reason was to see this monument. The San Jacinto Monument was erected to commemorate the Battle of San Jacinto. It is the world’s tallest masonry column so why wouldn’t I want to go to the top of it? One of those photos from the top has appeared on this website in the past. This was a very cool monument, and I wish that I had gotten out my dSLR to photograph it.

Having Your Phone Replace Your dSLR

When I made this picture I was convinced that my phone was just as good as my dSLR. I think at the time for what I was doing with my photos it was just as good. If all that you are going to do is to place your photos on Facebook, then the best camera for you is the one in your hand. In some of the situations on that trip I wish that I had made a photo in RAW with a dSLR. The information in that RAW file is so powerful. You can recapture the data that your eyes could see, but that camera cannot. The iPhone gives you the jpeg, but you also get the edits that your phone thought that you would like. It dictated how your photo would look. I still make photos with my phone, but I know that if I want all of the data that I must get out something that shoots in RAW.

Photographing a Legendary Stadium

Last year I covered some pretty cool events. Most of those though occurred here at Purdue. Last fall I have expanded my reach a bit, and covered some things that I normally would not have done. One such stadium was Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Before shooting my first game there I had never been to this historic stadium before. I have wanted to go, but it just was never right. Having a courtside side seemed like the right time to go. I had initially planned to shoot the stadium a bit when I arrived early, but it was already pretty crowded. I either want a full stadium to shoot, or a completely empty one. I decided to wait until the next day when I would be shooting the women’s game to make my stadium shots. I arrived even earlier than the day before, and I found an empty stadium. As it turns out I did not have to get there that early, but you never know about these things. I really enjoyed shooting inside of the historic gym, and I hope that I can shoot in there again soon.

I thought that it would be a bit campy to have a photo taken of me measuring the hoop and free throw line like they did in the movie Hoosiers. Talking to the team that I shot for on Tuesday though it sounds as if they had some fun recreating some moments from that classic film. Why not? There are not a lot of stadiums like this left that still host basketball. Purdue and Michigan still have their old field houses on campus, but they have been repurposed to host other sports. This grand old palace while having just gone through a major facelift still has the old charm to it.

Processing the Photos

When I bought my new computer in September I did not reload the presets that I used to rely so heavily on back into my computer. Every photo is different, and I wanted to edit them that way. The preset was a good starting off point, but I thought that I relied too heavily on them. I did a few things with these photos to process them here. The main tool that I used for the image above and the first one below was to merge three photos together in Photomatix to get as much information in the file as I could. From there I sent the 32 bit file back into Lightroom 5 to work on it there. This seems to be the best method for a scene like this with a very high dynamic range. You can use one RAW file, but you are always compromising with it.

Some Bonus Photos of the Stadium

Here are a few other photos of this great stadium that I made while there over the course of a couple of days. It really has a lot of rich history inside of it, and it is a must see if you are a sports fan.


Having Fun at the Feast of the Hunter’s Moon

Last Sunday we visited the Feast of the Hunter’s Moon to have some fun with the kids. I did break away a couple of times to make some photos of some of the interesting aspects of the Feast. During the tactical demonstration the re-enactors fire off vintage weapons. The fire from the powder makes for a great photo, but it is not always easy to capture. If they would fire the weapon with any kind of cadence like I posted in the title it would make things easy. Instead they fire at will, and usually after holding the gun up for quite some time. It really becomes a guessing game. Getting the smoke is easy, but getting the fire requires a little luck. Here I was focused on the right person at the right time. My guess paid off.

Covering The Tactical Demonstration

At one point during the tactical demonstration they started moving up the ‘battlefield.’ I found myself moving with them, and it reminded me a lot of covering a football game from the sidelines. They would fire a volley and move up. It was very much like following a good football team down the field. The only difference is that in football the wounded are removed after the play and not the battle.

The Jackson County Courthouse

One of my favorite Presidents is Harry Truman. In 2005 I followed some of his footsteps around Missouri. The main goal of the trip was to follow Truman, but I did pick a weekend that the White Sox were in town. While he was part of the town Truman put a statue of Andrew Jackson on one side of the courthouse. It is only fitting that the town would erect a statue of Harry on the other side of the courthouse. The courthouse is now just a relic of an older time. No offices are in here anymore. The courthouse has now become another piece of Harry Truman history that you can walk through.

Using the Kodak CX6330

This is one of my older photos. This Kodak camera is the one that I started using when I had to give the Sony Mavica back to my parents. I actually received this camera as a gift so that I would give the other camera back. The first thing that I noticed about this camera was the way that it rendered colors. The Mavica was a bit desaturated, but this Kodak was great. I used this camera for about a year before it broke on me in Illinois. I was driving through a bad storm with my air conditioning on. As I opened the window to make a picture of the storm something popped in the camera, and it never came back on. The humidity must have busted something in it. That paved the way for my next point and shoot which then showed me the way to a dSLR. I would love to visit Independence and Kansas City Missouri again with my current gear. Many shots I was just not able to make with the gear that I had in the low light. Now I know that I would be able to make them.

Photo of the Day

Today I go back into the archives again for one of my early photos. I was shooting in full auto most of the time back then, and any exposure that was made correctly was due to the fantastic nature of the light meters in these current cameras. The good news is that back when I took this picture I did not know about Twitter or Facebook. They may not even have existed then in fact. The photo was made for my own enjoyment. I did not have the multiple cameras and lenses that I have now. I had one camera and two lenses. It was a simpler time for sure. That being said I would love to have a shot at this sunset with a tripod, my Mark III, and a wide range of my lenses now.

Technical Data

I really tried a few things to make this photo pop a bit more. I ran it through Color Efex Pro to try and get some more out of it. For some reason I didn’t like the result. I ended up just using the sliders in Lightroom on the jpeg to bring out some of the details that were missing.

Photo of the Day

Today I thought that I would post another photo from the LaPorte County Historical Museum. This is the famous Tucker ’48. Only 50 Tuckers were built, and fewer remain intact. This is a rare car for sure. George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola are both proud owners of a Tucker. Coppola even directed the movie about the car called Tucker: The Man and His Dream. This is a cool car, and makes the $5 that it costs to get into the museum worth it for sure.

Technical Data

For this photo I decided to try something a little different. I normally edit photos in pretty much the same fashion. I hear that there is a new analytic program for Lightroom to show you your trends in editing. I think I am pretty sure that I know what it will tell me.  I love the HDR Look presets from Matt Kloskowski. I usually dial them down a bit, but they are a great starting point. I used that one here as well. What I did differently though was to crank up the vignette a bit. I normally get rid of it completely, but I felt that it added to the image here.

Photo of the Day

Today is Martin Luther King Day. Many businesses and government agencies are closed for the day in honor of this pioneer of the 60’s. In 2006 while in Atlanta I visited his gravesite. It had recently been in the news when Martin’s wife Coretta Scott King passed. The museum and historic grounds are a great place to visit, and I highly recommend it if you are in the Atlanta area.

Technical Data

This is another photo that I took early on in my photography career that I wish that I could do over again. I had my camera in an auto mode without knowing what to do. I let the camera control the scene, and of course it did not expose for my subject. Most of my early photos were ruined this way. Luckily with Lightroom I was able to save many of these older photos. This is one that a few slider tweaks helped bring back.