Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. To some it means parties and cookouts. It is a nice day off, but it is also about the men and women who died while serving the country. It was initially called Decoration Day. In 1967 the day was renamed Memorial Day, and in 1968 moved to the final Monday in May to create the three day weekend that we enjoy today. So today you can enjoy your burgers, but as you do remember the over one million Americans who have died to make the day possible. Wars are an awful thing that should be avoided at all costs. When they happen though many who are too young to die are sent to fight. Here is to all of those who cannot enjoy the day today.

Photo of the Day

This photo was taken from the top of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Indy last winter. I was in town for the Supercross race, and I decided to try and go to the top of the monument as I arrived very early. The trip to the top is actually very inexpensive. I think $5 got you on the elevator to the top. From the elevator it was just a narrow staircase ride to the observation area on the very top. Both the staircase and the actual observation area were built in an era before McDonalds was popular. The area is cramped, but does offer a nice view of the city. From this angle I was able to see Banker’s Life Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium.

Technical Data

This photo was missing something. The cramped quarters and thick glass did not allow me to make the exact photo of the traffic in the circle that I wanted. I did make one that I liked very much though. I first ran the photo through Focal Point 2.1 to add the blur effect to the photo. I wanted it to look a bit like a miniature. Due to the gray nature of the cloudy day I also converted the photo to black and white inside of Lightroom 5.

 

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carb day

Photo of the Day

I had this idea for a picture a while back, but the image was on an old hard drive. While moving everything over to my Drobo I imported my pictures from Carb Day last year in Indy. I have always liked this picture of the front stretch. Being Carb Day though the stands were very empty. For that reason alone I did not think that this shot was all that worthy. I had one idea though that might make this picture much better.

Technical Data

I originally made this picture using three images that I combined in Photomatix to make one HDR image. I was very happy with the result as it brought all of the color and texture out from that day. This was what I saw. That being said I wanted to go a step further here. I used Focal Point 2.1 from On One Software to give it a tilt shift look. I really think that this effect took a normal picture and made it pop just a bit more. I really like what this software can do, and I will try and make use of it much more as time goes on. Just before I exported the photo I used the spot removal tool to get rid of the plane and banner that was flying in the corner. When the blur was applied it looked more like a dust spot than a plane so it had to go. I have a couple of more ideas for the Focal Point Software that I will try when the cars come back to Indy this May.

last gasp

Photo of the Day

Here in West Lafayette/Lafayette we have been watching the river rise for the last few days. It reached just over 25 feet yesterday. For the record 11 feet is considered a flood. It has not been that high since the late 1950’s. Today it finally started making its way back down to a normal level. It is still far from there, but Highway 43 was nearly passable when I drove through. Had I been in someone else’s car I might have tried it. I was taking some pictures near the Highway 52 bridge when something sounded like it landed behind me. I turned and saw this fish that had to be baking on the pavement. The water went down fast enough to strand him on the road. I took a couple of quick pictures, and then helped him back to the water. Hopefully he makes it with a great story to tell his friends. I think that the eagles are gone for good because this would have been a easy target for them. Their loss was my gain though. I didn’t find any interesting subjects until this one flopped for me. I really needed something in the foreground for a picture to work. I don’t know where this fish came from, but it was a great gift.

Technical Data

This was going to be part of a three shot HDR image. The fish was still so I thought that it was dead. While the overexposed image was being taken he decided to flop. Once that happened this image was going to be made with just the one exposure. With the bright sun I had already compensated a bit so this was only one stop overexposed instead of the normal two. I brought the picture up to the proper exposure in Lightroom, and that is where the real fun began. I wanted to try a preset that I don’t normally use on this photo. The cloudless sky was boring so I thought that I could make something interesting with a preset. Maybe I have been using Instagram too much lately, but I like some of those looks. I decided to try one of Trey Ratcliff’s presets called Aurora on it. It really seemed to do the trick. I had one of his other presets on it already, but it was a bit too much. Aurora really seemed to get this image to where I wanted it. While Lightroom was slowly rendering my image something happened. My preview was a bit blurry for a second, and it gave me an idea. I took the image in Focal Point which is part of the On One Suite to add some drama to the image. I created a blur from the center of the fish that made it the focal point of the image. A good photograph does not need to do this, but I had a boring photo that needed some help. For me this made the image, and now I could post it online. Looking back through my photos I think I had a great shot had a took a couple of steps to my right and put the fish in the lower left of the picture. I was on a road though needing to work quickly so I just went up and snapped. I need to get better at seeing the scene right away. That will come with time.

big hurt vs. johan

Throwback Photo

I took this photo on the same day as the Throwback Photo from last week. While playing around with images that I could use the tilt shift technique on I came across this one of Frank Thomas at bat against Johan Santana. I have always liked this image because if showed two giants squaring off. On this day Frank Thomas (the Big Hurt) would win out as Johan was knocked from the game in the fourth after giving up seven runs. Johan did not let that get him down though as he would go on to have one of the best second halves in baseball history on his way to the 2004 Cy Young Award. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I think that this was the last game he lost until 2005. At any rate he had an incredible streak that put him at the top as one of the greats in the game at the time. Frank Thomas as we all know ended up with 521 home runs, and should be a first ballot Hall of Famer next year. This was fun to watch for me because my team was getting the best of the Twins for once. They did not do that a lot back then. Ozzie Guillen was putting the pieces in place for a World Series run the following year. As I said last week this was the fourth baseball game in two days that I watched, and I loved every minute of it.

Technical Data

Once again I used Lightroom to get this shot where I wanted it to be, and then I sent a copy of the picture over to On One Software’s Focal Point 2.1 to mimic the look of a tilt shift lens. I love how this effect makes the scene appear to be one inside of a toy box. For this photo I also felt that it heightened the pitcher vs. batter matchup as well. I think that it makes this photo a little better than it was straight out of the point and shoot that took it. I always had trouble making pictures with a point and shoot in low light situations such as this, but I got lucky here. Lucky enough to preserve a great matchup on the diamond.

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.

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.