A Good Chat During Sunset

Five years ago today I was in Indianapolis making some photos of the Super Bowl village. I thought that Indy did a great job hosting the Super Bowl. If you know me then you know that I don’t like crowds. I decided to get away a few times to find something a little quite to photograph. It was also a cold day so any chance to get out of the cold for a minute was a good thing. I made my way to this parking garage next to the old Robert’s Camera store to make some images. My sunset shot of Lucas Oil is one of my more popular photos, and actually hangs in Lucas Oil. Just before I made that shot I was looking out of the elevator bay back towards the city. As I was doing so I was messaging back and forth with my future wife. At the time we did not know it, but we were on a course that would change both of our lives. As I was waiting for her replies I would make a photo. This was one of those that I made that day.

Revisiting the Old stuff

I don’t like to rework old photos. Maybe it is the fact that as a kid I watched George Lucas drastically change his great movies. Speilburg also decided to take the guns out of the FBI agents hands many years after the fact. I really feel that the image is what I thought it was at the time. I have gone back to rework some of the older stuff. The image of Lucas Oil was touched up a bit prior to selling it. This is a photo that was never published, and really not edited. There was a reflection from the lights in the bay that I was in on the glass. I couldn’t get rid of it at the time so I was never published. Content aware makes easy work of that so now I can finally put this one out there.


Photographing Cinderella’s Castle

I have said in previous posts about my trip to Disney World that I went in thinking that I would not make that many images of the princess castle at the Magic Kingdom. I did not want to focus on the thing that most people think of when they think of Disney World. I wanted to focus on the little things that make the park so great. Of course when I made it to the park I could not listen to my own advice. I made many pictures of the castle from many different angles. On the first day at the park I made some images from my balcony thinking that I wouldn’t need anymore from there. The ever changing weather that week in Florida made sure that I would keep shooting the castle. It seemed to always look different, and that made it fun to photograph. I was not going to miss a shot just because I went in thinking that I wouldn’t shoot the castle much. When we go back to Disney World I will not make such crazy proclamations prior to the trip. I didn’t want to get stuck on just the one thing, but by doing that I jeopardized making the images that presented themselves to me.

Rain Does Not Mean the End of the Day at the Magic Kingdom

On our first day at the Magic Kingdom we were soaked early on in the day. The rain that normally just lasted for a few minutes in the afternoon kept going into the night. Most people would have been upset that they were rained on, but sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. The rain combined with the nightly fireworks gave us an opportunity to meet Anna and Elsa. This is a very sought after meet and greet with wait times going over three hours. Because of the conditions we waited under thirty minutes to meet the princesses. We then walked over to the other side of the hall to meet Rapunzel and Cinderella with no wait at all. We took a negative, and made one of the biggest positives of the trip out of it. I think that when you travel you have to be flexible and roll with what comes your way. I made the photo above as we were changing clothes to head back to the Magic Kingdom on that day. We went back to have dinner, and we were lucky enough to get to make a couple of dreams come true.

Watching the Fireworks Over the Magic Kingdom

The days are long when you are at the Magic Kingdom. You are going at a pretty good pace all day, and just when you think you can rest for a while the fireworks begin. I saw them every night, but only seriously photographed them on one night. I set my tripod up on the balcony of our room to capture some of the excitement. I say tripod, but due to the nature of our trip my tripod was at home in Indiana. I used my Joby Gorillapod to secure my camera to the back of the desk chair that was provided with the room. Once I was set up it was just a matter of timing my shots. I was in bulb mode using a shutter release cable to fire my camera. I could have the shutter open as long or as short as I wanted it. When shooting in RAW mode I have a little wiggle room as far as exposure goes. I was at ISO 100 so I allowed myself a little more room to edit there as well. You never really know how the fireworks show is going to go so you need to allow yourself some room to edit. You don’t want to be tied down to one exposure when something happens that would ruin your shot. You want to have the flexibility to decide when you have what you are looking for.

It’s Not the Camera

If you read this blog often then you know that I like Canon cameras. I own a few of them, and I use them for different things. Here I wanted to travel light so I took my 7D Mark II without the battery grip and the 18-135mm lens that comes with it. That gave me a lot of options as far as my composition goes. This is a kit that you can buy for around $2,000. It is not the most expensive kit that I own, but sometimes you need to just use what works. The kit was light enough for the Joby Gorillapod to hold it up. The 1.6x crop factor of the 7D Mark II allowed me to get in a little tighter on the Magic Kingdom from our room.

Shooting the Nightly Fireworks at the Park

During our trip to Walt Disney World I was in a few locations shooting the fireworks that are set over the park every night. For this particular photo I was on the deck of our room at the Contemporary Resort. I wanted a room facing the park for just this reason. I liked shooting the park at other times of the day, but I thought a relaxing shoot from the balcony would be nice as well. They really do put on a nice show, and if you pay attention to it they will repeat it every night. I guess the fact that they will do the same thing every night cuts down on many costs.

Using Long Exposures to Shoot Fireworks

Last year I put out a post giving out a few tips for shooting fireworks. You can read that post here. My first rule on that post is to use a tripod. I did not have one with me here. I wanted some very long exposures so I had to improvise. I used my Joby Gorillapod to mount my camera to the back of the desk chair provided with the room. That gave me enough height to get over the top of the railing without having to have my rig dangling eight floors above the ground. From there it was a matter of waiting for the right times to shoot the fireworks. I wanted a lot of light in my frame so I had my camera in bulb mode using a remote trigger. For this particular shot I had the camera shutter open for 13 seconds to get all of this in the one frame. During that 13 seconds I was even lucky enough to have a monorail train come through the photo. I love the bursts of color of the firework during a long exposure. The streaks look great, and make my handheld shots from a couple of other locations look bad.

Waiting For the Perfect SunriseĀ at the Magic Kingdom

While we were staying at the Contemporary Resort at the Magic Kingdom I would wake up before everyone else to watch the sunrise. Some days you could see right away that nothing was going to happen, and other days it was just a matter of how fast the clouds moved through. I never really got the sky lit up like I would have liked to have seen. On this morning though a little after the sun had come up I did get some nice color in the sky. An interesting cloud helped me fill the frame a bit as well.

Using the Canon 18-135mm Lens

I had not picked up my Canon 18-135mm lens since I bought my Canon 24-70mm lens a couple of years ago. I had other options that would work with my Canon 5D Mark III lens. I decided to take it on this trip though with the thought of having a little more options as far as focal length went. In the end I only used it for shots from the hotel back at the Magic Kingdom. When this site first started I used this lens a lot. It was an amazing lens for me at the time that I didn’t think I could replace. Even after dusting it off it still will give you a good result.

The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida

Following Through on an Idea

Most of my early memories of the Magic Kingdom come from the photos that we took on our first visit. It is hard to fathom, but I first went to the Magic Kingdom 34 years ago. The look of the photos from those film days inspired me to try something while I was there. I had an idea for a wide park shot that looked like an older postcard. On the morning I made this photo the light was hitting the castle just right to get a very interesting photo. When I had made that photo I zoomed out to make this one with the postcard idea in mind. I think that it really has that old time feel to it. I toyed with taking out the cell tower, but decided that it should stay.

Using Perfect Effects 9 On the Image

I don’t use my plug-ins nearly enough. I have some really cool plug-ins for Lightroom and Photoshop, but I just don’t leave Lightroom that often. For this image I used a Holga filter inside of Perfect Effects 9 by On One Software to get this look. It really gave me the old film camera look that I had in mind when I made the image.

The Elf on the Shelf

Every year our Elf On the Shelf Nobow appears. It is always an exciting time to see where he ends up in our house. I took this photo a couple of years ago as Nobow hung out with some of my step daughter’s stuffed animals. It really is a fun tradition to see what kind of hijinks that Nobow can get into. He can show up in some crazy places as he watches over our house for about a month leading up to Christmas.

Reworking One of My Favorite Photos

When I started this blog I was always on the lookout for a new subject. I had to make a photo a day for an entire year, and of course that meant that I always needed a subject. That year really opened my eyes though, and many of the photos that have followed since are because I still always have an eye out for a new subject. It was on one of those early days that I spotted this barn. I was headed out of town, but I knew that I would end up back there later in the week. I called the photo High School Pride because of the sign on the building. I would later find out that it was the barn of the Anthrop family who I had photographed before. I was only 56 days into my project at the time, but I was already learning that you had to take the great subjects as they came. This was an early success that I still like to this day.

The Reworking Process

Part of the joy or agony of a photographer is the fact that you are constantly learning something new. I really don’t like pull a George Lucas and constantly revisit old photos. This was one though that I knew that I had to do. The sky always bothered me a bit, and I knew that I could fix it with the skills that I now possess. I was still early in the editing process at this time. I was using HDR for everything, and the results were not always good. Here though I knew that I could make a photo look much better so why not? I took my three source files, and ran them through Photomatix again. Instead of using the program to make the final photo I took the 32 bit file that had all of the data of the three files, and sent it to Lightroom. Inside of Lightroom I used the sliders to get the final result that I was looking for. At the end of the day I feel that I made the photo better, and much closer to what I saw on that day. That is what it is all about. The dark forbidding clouds in the first photo just put out a vibe that I was not looking for.

More Sports on the Way

This may be the last post that does not revolve around sports for a while. Over the next week I will be covering a lot of sports for a few different teams. I was lucky enough to get a new client that has three games in the area this week. This coupled with the normal sports for me means that I will shoot sports each of the next six days. I will be traveling a bit as well so my posts may be a bit brief. In the end I will have some photos from some new venues which I really need. A portfolio with images all shot at the same school start to all look the same. I will shoot two games in the historic Hinkle Fieldhouse this week, and one at the newly renovated Purcell Pavilion at Notre Dame. It is an exciting time for me as I branch out a bit.