Finding New Views Of Williamsport Falls

According to the sign Williamsport Falls is the tallest waterfall in Indiana. I have visited this site a few times, and each time I try and find a new composition to show the area. For most of this trip I focused on doing that with my drone, but I did set up my tripod a few times. This was one of the more interesting views that I had that day.

Trying A New Preset

Of course now with the new profiles in Lightroom the whole preset concept may be on the way out. This is one of my presets that I called Sam’s Piano. It is a very light and easy black and white that I really like.


My Seventeen Favorite Drone Shots of 2017

If you had to pick one thing about my photography that changed in 2017 it had to be my usage of a drone. I got my drone shortly after the new year, and I knew that I would overuse it at the beginning. I made a special folder on my website with that in mind. When I started HDR photography I would HDR everything. I used HDR on dogs, beer bottles, and even a pizza. When you have a new toy you tend to play with it too much. That was the case of me with my drone this year. I made some good photos with it during the course of the year. I also made some terrible photos with it just to get out and fly. As the year calmed down a bit so did my usage of the drone. It has now become a tool in my bag to use. I have some ideas that I have been sitting on for a while now with the drone so maybe it needs to come out of my bag a little more this year than it did at the end of last year. Here are my seventeen favorite drone shots from 2017.


This is the first shot that I made with my drone after I purchased it. It was a cold day and I wanted to go somewhere with few people in case I did something wrong. We went to the local park where I was able to fly my drone with nobody around me. This was the result of that trip. It will never win any awards, but it was the start of me finding what I liked to do with a drone.

17. One thing that the drone allowed me to do was to be somewhere else. I live in an area surrounded by houses and trees. When something amazing happens in the sky I have a very narrow view to look for it. With the drone I was able to go up and above everything else to find moments like the one above. The double rainbow photo is made by stitching together six separate shots. This taught me that I can use a lot of the techniques that I use on the ground in the air.

16. This is the home that I grew up in. At the end of the month the house will change hands to someone else, and they can bring up their family there. I love this house because it has so many memories in it. At some point though you have to let things go and let others make memories there too. I like that I was able to make a shot of it with my drone to get the lay of the land so to speak. As I put up my countdowns this week you will see more from here I would bet.

15. One of the fun things with the drone is to go overhead and find patterns. Here as I covered a yoga group on the Myers bridge I was able to go above everyone to make a cool shot. I wanted to see all of the colors of the mats. The straight down look was one that I really like. It is just a new way to look at life. You will see it much more before this countdown is over.

14. Here at the Indianapolis Museum of Art you can really see how the straight down view makes a huge difference. Those people running by the benches probably didn’t realize that they formed a skeleton. From overhead it is obvious. This year was all about experimenting with the drone to find what I liked about it, and what seemed to work. This was one of those days where I was just experimenting.  Continue reading “Top 17 Drone Shots of 2017”

Using the DJI Phantom 4 Pro at the Potholes

One site that I never get to enough is the potholes near Attica, Indiana. This is a unique geographical area where the water has made a very cool path through a ravine. I have seen many photographs of it from different angles, but none from above. I wanted to take my DJI Phantom 4 Pro over the top to get that top down look. I think that you could really get a good view of them that way. The light was not cooperating though as the sun came out ruining my idea. That is okay as it just means that I will have to go back and try again! The best part about photography is that sometimes even a fail is a win. You an make a couple of pictures that you like, but the main photo that you had in mind doesn’t work out. Now I get to go back and give it another try on another day. I think that I will have a better plan this time to fly a little safer through the tree obstacle course.

Using the Lee Big Stopper to Create Ghost Water

One thing that I don’t use enough is my Lee Big Stopper. A few years ago this was a must have for me. I was always out somewhere that I could have used it. Of course when I finally got one I was always shooting sports, and not using the Big Stopper. This year I need to get it out more. It has a permanent place in my quadcopter bag which is always with me so I won’t have any excuses. Here it adds a little to what would have been a rather boring photo.

Taking a Different Path

When I was making the above photo I was thinking about how most of the water takes the same path over the rocks here. In fact it has done it for so long that it has cut that path into the rock. Only a small portion of the water comes down a different way. I thought that this is a perfect metaphor for the last couple of years in photography for me. I spent that time doing the same things over and over and banging my head into a wall trying to make something happen. This year I decided to pull back a bit and go back to photographing everything that is interesting to me. I have really had a great start to the year, and I have had a much easier time writing the blog when it is not constantly game recaps. I needed to get out of the rut to help make myself a more creative photographer. I would like to think that when I do shoot sports know that it shows a bit.

Catching Williamsport Falls at a Good Time

Lately I have found myself back at a lot of places that I visited in 2011 and 2012 as I was getting serious about photography. These are the places where I learned a lot of the tricks that I use today. I think I have been doing it so that I can fly my drone over them to get a different vantage point. I made a few photos of the falls from many vantage points this time though. One thing that I have learned over time is that the photo that you think is great on site may not be the one when you get home. By exploring your options you find new angles that you may never have thought of. The composition above was one that I liked, but you lose scale this way. The water falls about 90 feet, and you cannot really tell that by this photo. A well placed person or identifiable object would help show that scale. I went to the falls with Trevor Mahlmann with the thought that the falls would be going good with all of the recent rain. We were right as we had a good stream to photograph.

Flying the DJI Phantom 4 Pro Over Williamsport Falls

One reason to head back was to use the DJI Phantom 4 Pro to try and capture a new angle of the falls. On my first visit the path was closed so my only photos were from the top of the trail head. Now I have many different angles to look at, and the drone really helps that out. I had this top down view in mind right away. I wanted to show the trail that the water has carved over time to get down to the bottom. It really is amazing the power water has over time.

Going Live on Facebook Again

I thought that this would be a great place to go live on Facebook from. It was a unique view, and something that many people may not know about. What I didn’t realize was just how much the sandstone walls would mess with my signal. Out of the four minutes or so I was live only about two minutes of that were archived. That meant that I was glitchy for about two minutes of the broadcast. The two minute video is concise, and at times seems like it was cut for time on purpose. Maybe Facebook knows that I am long winded and did that to save everyone time.

Leaving Something to the Imagination

One thing that I wanted to do on the shoot was to leave part of the falls out of the frame. Sometimes you can count on the person looking at your photos to finish what you have started. I have said it before, but I am a completionist. I like to see everything in my photos. I have been working this year to leave a little to the imagination. I think a photo like the one above is a good part of a story. It gets in a little closer to something that you know already. As a stand alone piece it could be interesting as well as you have to work on it a bit in your mind.

Photo of the Day

Before my trip to Maryland I decided to try out my ND filter close to home to see what it could do. I knew that an ND8 filter would not give me too much in broad daylight so I had to use cloud cover to help me out as well. The potholes at Fall Creek Gorge near Williamsport really gives you many opportunities to try and slow down the water. When water is slowed down by using a very slow shutter speed you give it a dreamy quality. I really had fun trying this process out, and it really helped me out greatly when I made my way to the ocean. I will have a couple of those shots that I took in the next few days as I go through my pictures from the trip. For once I have not gone through every single photo yet. I usually look through my pictures right away the night I take them. I was the kid that had his baseball cards opened in the car on the way home. I usually do the same with my pictures, but I took this opportunity to spend some time with the family rather than going through pictures. I have found many that I liked during the trip, and I was pleasantly surprised with how some snapshots turned out.

Technical Data

The first part of this process was to change the image to black and white. I used the HDR black and white (light) preset by Matt Kloskowski in Lightroom 5 to start off. From there I made a highlight, temperature, and blacks adjustment to get the photo where it needed to be. This was actually a very quick edit. Those are the best kind. I did use my ND8 filter on the scene though to get the silky look to the water.

New SmugMug Site

Yesterday SmugMug rolled out a new design for their site. I have been using SmugMug for a little over a year now, and I finally feel like I am part of the site. I was basically just using it as a dump site for my photos in the past. Now I have designed a layout that I like with some links to other places to see my work. I will link to my new site here so that you can visit it if you wish.

New SmugMug site

Behind the Scenes Video

Below is a video that I made at the potholes on the day that I took this picture. I thought that it would be a good idea to use my GoPro Hero 3 to make a video of the short trip to the potholes.  I will try and do this for more and more of my shoots just so you can see a bit of what goes into the photo.

Photo of the Day

I was amazed at how different the landscape looked once I descended into the potholes at the Fall Creek Gorge. I went from driving down a rural road to something that looked more like it was in the tropics. That might be the pull that keeps me going back to the gorge. It is really hard to make pictures like this without traveling very far, so I feel lucky that it is only about an hour from my door.

Technical Data

This picture was one where HDR was needed for sure. Most of the scene was easily visible, but some of it really was deep in shadows. I wanted to show what I saw when I stood on this site. I took the three images that I bracketed at -2, 0, and +2 on site, and ran them through Photomatix. Usually I take the 32 bit file back into Lightroom, but I didn’t like the way that it turned out that way. I decided to edit the photo in Photomatix as I used to. In those days I would just work off of the Painterly preset that came with the program. I liked the look it gave me, but it was not very realistic. This time though I took what I have learned since then, and moved the sliders on my own. I think this end result is much more believable, and in the end I like it much more. I did take it back into Lightroom 5 to perform a couple of slider adjustments to it. The first one was to add some of the blacks back in.

Behind the Scenes Video

The day that I made these images I had my Go Pro mounted onto my camera. I made a short video of my trip that I have included below. I like the idea of these videos, and I hope to make more in the future.

Photo of the Day

Yesterday I spent the morning in between Attica and Williamsport at the Fall Creek Gorge which is better known as the Potholes. This is a great nature preserve that I have been to one other time. Yesterday though the water was down a bit allowing me to navigate much easier through the area. Of course it was thundering with a heavy rain not too far away so all the tranquility could be washed out very quickly. I moved very quickly to get the pictures that I wanted before getting out of there, and back to higher ground. Just down the road the skies did open up, and I wonder how fast the water was moving once the storm rolled in.

Technical Data

This is where I can have some fun again. I took some bracketed photos in order to make some HDR pictures, but here I just tweaked my RAW file for the metered exposure in Lightroom 5. I used an HDR preset in Lightroom to get the image close to where I like it to be, and then I tweaked the sliders a bit.

One big piece of technical data is the way that I made the water smooth out here. I used a 0.8 ND filter so that I could shoot with much longer shutter speeds. In broad daylight this filter would not really help me too much, but under cloud cover in a canyon it was perfect. It allowed me to blur the water, and let it make its natural pattern apparent. I love the idea, and I need to see about getting a darker filter for my trip to Ocean City.

On Location Video

I thought that I would try something new. Actually I mounted my Go Pro on my camera during the ARCA race a couple of weeks ago, but I have not gotten around to putting the video together yet. This video is a bit rough, but I like the idea of what I can do with the Go Pro mounted on my camera. It really does allow you the reader to follow along with me as I make some images. I plan on doing this more in the future so look for more videos. The video from the ARCA weekend is so big that it will be a massive project that I am not sure I am ready for yet. Maybe I will have it ready in a week or so. When it is I will post it here. You can also subscribe to my YouTube page to be notified when I upload a new video. I would like to try this same approach while photographing roller derby and other sports. I wish that I had this idea during the spring to give you a birds eye view at Purdue. Maybe this fall I can just start fresh during the new year. Enjoy the video that is directly below this paragraph.

baseline shot

Photo of the Day

Tonight I was in Williamsport to watch a high school basketball game. Of course I took my camera, but for some reason things were just not going well for me. I have had that happen before where I seem to be just a step slow.  The last game that I shot I thought I was on it, but not tonight. I did get some good pictures, but I had this idea for a wide angle shot. I have seen in before in magazines, but part of the learning process is to try everything. I decided to give this baseline image a try. My original idea was to do it remotely with my Rebel while I shot the game normally. Since I didn’t have the correct cable for that I spent a good part of the second quarter of the JV game waiting for the action to come to me. I really needed a bunch of action in this corner of the court or this would not be an interesting shot.

I really would not normally have taken this shot, but the gym was a very interesting older facility. When I walked in I was not pleased with the lighting. Of course part of that lighting is what gave this shot its charm. As I said I shot for a while during the JV game trying to get this image, but the players were not cooperating. What were they thinking staying in the offense? Didn’t they know art was in progress on the far wing? I went back down during the varsity game hoping that I would have another shot at making this image. I didn’t immediately get low enough, and on the first possession of the game the play that I wanted happened. Of course I did not get the shot. It was a while before the play came near me again. When it did my settings failed me. I was in aperture priority mode, and the picture was too dark. From there I did what I should have done very early on, and went to full manual mode. I ended up with this picture of a player passing the ball down low, and I decided that I had my image for the night. I will have to try this again when I am not missing so much of the action doing it.

Technical Data

Not much was done here in post. I simply imported the shot with the light sports preset into Lightroom with the rest of the shots from tonight. After import I got rid of the vignette around the frame to start off. It made the edges way too dark here. After that all that I did was to up the highlights, and bring back some of the shadow detail.

Today while out on a photo safari I stumbled upon this waterfall in Williamsport, Indiana. I actually was really into trying to photograph some shops a couple of hundred feet away from this. I found the entrance as I was turning around to head back home. I knew that I wanted to photograph it, but was leery of how the falls would look in HDR. Of course a lot of people use long exposures to soften the water so I thought why not give it a try. I experimented trying three different techniques on this, and of course the first one is the one that worked. There is a trail that leads down so that you can see the falls up close, but the trail was closed. That normally would not have stopped me, but I would not have made it with the shoes I had on with the muddy trail. I guess I will have something to look forward to down the road. You can’t see everything the first time. I know you might be asking why the bonus shot without an actual shot today? The answer is that I knew I was using two shots today so I posted this one first. Look for the other shot shortly. I had a good day shooting today. At least for me. More of my shots can be found on my Flickr page with the link on the blogroll at the bottom of the page.