Hanging Out Just Outside of the Hilbert Circle Theatre

I made this photo just before heading in to the John Williams concert in early February. As I was driving up to the circle the light was starting to look nice. I hurried up and parked to make a few photos. I was only armed with my iPhone so I knew I was not going to make any award winners, but it is still nice to make some photos when the light is good. Here I liked the warm lights of the theatre against the blue sky.

Playing With An Idea

As I said above this photo was never meant to win any awards. It was really just me playing around with an idea. I wanted to see just what I could do with my phone. I decided to try a nine photo panoramic to see how Lightroom would handle it. I was surprised when it went right through with no problem. Sometimes Lightroom does not like certain kinds of panos. This one seemed like a slam dunk for it.

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Arch Madness is Back at the Scottrade Center

Yesterday my tournament season started at the Scottrade Center with the second day of Arch Madness. This is the third year that I have been here for this tournament, and it is a great time. It is so cool to walk around the town and see fans from all of the teams walking around. They are great to be around because it lets you know just how big this tournament is. In this league it is hard to get an at large bid so you really have to win out here to sniff the NCAA Tournament. The next couple of days will go a long way towards making the dream come true for one team.

Getting A Day Behind

I am purposely offsetting the blog a day to give me some time to write and process what will occur each day on this journey. As I write this I may have to travel a long way in a short period of time, or I may be able to sleep in and take a ballpark tour. This time of year everything is up in the air. Being a day behind on the blog will allow me to write something that makes sense instead of trying to rush a post just to get something up. Hopefully these stretch into next week as that means Indiana State has made a run.

Ten Tips To Help Improve Your Drone Photography

One of the coolest purchases that I have made for my photography is my drone. It really allowed me to see things in a new way. Sometimes you need a change in perspective to jump start you for a while. The drone certainly did that. Below I have listed ten quick tips to help you get off the ground with your drone. They are things that I found useful early on, and I still use today.

10. Stay safe and obey the laws – While drones are fun they are also potentially dangerous. Your first instinct may be to take your drone out and fly it without thinking about where you are. The first tip is to first stop and look at where you are flying. Can you even fly your drone there? I have come across places that I thought were in the middle of nowhere that actually are very near a small airport that I didn’t even know about. The laws are in place for a reason so make sure you know what they are, and obey them. The first bad drone crash will be the last one as they will probably all be banned.

9. Prepare your drone pre and post flight – This tip kind of goes hand in hand with the tip above. I put them at the top because I feel that they are the most important. Before flying somewhere new make sure that you props are in good shape and secure. Another important tip is to calibrate your drone. Not getting a proper calibration in can result in a flyaway or a crash. Before you have even left your house make sure that your batteries are all fully charged, and if possible you have a few backup batteries for the drone. One battery can give you a long flight, but multiple batteries can mean a fun day of flying. One quick post flight tip is that I always swap cards out. I take out the card that I used to make my images, and I immediately place a new card in the drone. This prevents you from getting out a ways with your drone and then realizing that you have forgotten a card. It also prevents the same scenario without having one on you. I have done both and it is not a fun feeling.

The Sun Sets Over the Purdue Bell Tower

8. Shoot in RAW – I always shoot in RAW, but with the drone I feel that it is even more important. The megapixels of your drone vary from model to model, but they are not fantastic in any model. You want the most data that you can get for your images in post. Shooting in RAW makes that happen.

7. Think of all of your post-processing tools while in flight – You have a lot of tools at your disposal in the digital darkroom now. Early on in my flying days I was not using everything available to me. One way to increase the quality of your image is to get a little closer to your subject and make a panoramic. With the steady nature of the DJI crafts it is very easy to do. A slightly more advanced move is to make what I call a vertirama. This is where you stitch a photo made from vertical pans. Combining these two styles can make for an interesting photo. Continue reading “10 Tips For Better Drone Photos”

Hanging Out At The Hall of Presidents at Disney World

If you know me personally then you know that I have always enjoyed looking at how our Presidents became what they are today. It is really cool to sit in the Hall of Presidents and listen to some of them talk about our country. They do a great job of making these Presidents look real enough from where you are sitting. It will be interesting to see what happens to this exhibit over the course of the next few years.

A Presidential Pano

One thing about the Hall of Presidents at Disney is just how wide that it is. It is impossible to get it all in one picture without including too much of the nonsense around the stage. One way to get rid of that problem is by making a panoramic image. I stitched together five shots of the Presidents to make this one image. I think that I did a quick job of it in the moment and some of the Presidents are a little fuzzy, but some of them are a little fuzzy in real life so maybe that is not so bad.

Flying The DJI Phantom 4 Pro In Chicago

On April Fool’s Day of all days I took the Phantom 4 Pro up for a quick photo. I followed the guidelines to make sure that it was a safe and a quick flight. I was not too sure about flying the drone in the downtown area. I don’t know that even though it was allowed that it should have been done. I basically went up to make this photo, and then right back down. There are too many people around for my taste.

Seeing More Of The Scene

When I first came up to this scene I knew that I couldn’t get everything that I wanted in this shot. I had the idea for a vertirama. I made one photo for the top of the picture, and then panned down to add more into the photo. Had I known what I know now I would have done the same by panning to the right and the left of this scene as well. I have been able to make some pretty epic panoramas this way. I don’t think I will try this photo again so that is too bad.

Looking West In Austin From the 43rd Floor

While staying with my future brother in law this past October I realized that this was the last time that I would have this great view from his balcony on the 43rd floor. He is moving to Indiana and saying goodbye to this place. I thought that I would make this panoramic as a way to remember the view. As a person I hate being in high places. Looking over the edge of this balcony just makes me cringe. As a photographer I like all of the little scenes playing out into the distance. Here you have the Colorado River, ACL Fest, and new buildings going up. I wish that I had done this a year ago. It would have been fun to compare the images side by side. So much construction is changing the skyline of Austin.

A Seven Shot Panoramic

This shot was made by stitching together seven shots to get the result that you see above. I really wanted to play around with the Sony rX1 II to see what I could do with a large panoramic. I would love to get ahold of the Sony A7r with some long glass to really test the 42mp sensor on the camera. Zooming in tight and just making one large panoramic with the ability to zoom in would be pretty great. This was a first good test though, and a cool way to remember a view out of the window.

The Week In Photos

Here is a link to my 2017 ACL Edition of the Week In Photos. This is my weekly roundup of some of my favorite photos. On a week with some travel and a festival it quickly becomes a travel log for that week. That is a pretty cool thing as well. Take a look and tell me what you think.

An Unexpected Contest

I really never expected to be a part of the 2017 MiLBY’s. I only shot two minor league games this year, and they were in the same ballpark on back to back days. With that in mind I wasn’t even looking for the contest. It took a reader pointing it out to me to see that I was a part of it. My photo of White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada signing autographs before his game against the Indianapolis Indians was selected as one of the photos of the year. If you look at the other photos nominated it is just an honor to be there. If you want to help me win you can click here and vote for my photo in the Photo of the Year section. Two years ago I won with a photo that I made in a similar situation. I only shot a couple of games, but circumstances worked out well for me.

Blue Hour at Williams Stadium

Williams Stadium at Blue Hour

During the game against Indiana State I had a couple of chances to make an interesting photo of the stadium. Just before I made the photo above a nice color was tipping each of the clouds. I had the idea to run up and make this photo, but Indiana State was on the opposite end of the stadium driving. My job of course is it capture that action. A few minutes later when Liberty had the ball and the odds were in my favor to not miss anything I ran up into the stands to make this photo. This is a unique stadium that is always changing. It was cool to capture it at this moment in time. I moved quickly back down to the field to watch ISU kneel down to end the first half. It was the perfect time to make this image. This will be the only image from the game that I post today. Tomorrow I will have my full recap post up with images from the game.

The Bill Before the Game

If you follow this blog then you know that I always make a few stadium shots before shooting a game. I am there before the fans are so I always get an empty stadium shot. The goal of course is to make a full stadium shot later, but in case that does not pan out I have this to fall back on. When shooting for a team it is a cool way to get some content out early as well. Here the team was still a couple of hours from arriving at the stadium so it may have been their first look at Williams Stadium as well. I did a little something different here. I was using my 24-105mm lens to make the photo. I could have brought out the 11-24mm lens that I had with me, but I decided to try a panoramic. I held my camera vertical and made seven three shot exposures moving from right to left. My camera was set in manual so all of the exposures would be the same. Once in Lightroom I combined all of the three shot images into HDR photos and edited one with the field and sky to get it how I wanted it. I then copied those settings to the other six photos. From there it was just a matter of letting Lightroom stitch the photos together. I like how this turned out. It only took 21 images to make, but it was worth it. One thing that I like about the pano is the detail you can keep in the photo. You can zoom into the top of the mountains and see the LU for Liberty University at the top of one, and a ski hill with skiers on it on another.

The Week In Photos

Each week I put together an Exposure page with some of my favorite photos from the previous week. Here is the post for last week. This is a fun exercise for me, and a great way to put some of my photos out there that normally would not be out.

Watching the Sunset in a Familiar Place in an Unfamiliar Way

During my short stay in LaPorte I was having some fun with my quadcopter. As the sun started to set I had wasted most of my batteries on the storms that were rolling in during the day. I only had enough battery for a short sunset flight so I tried to wait until it was at its peak before I was up in the air. It was very cool to see down this street I grew up on and then see over the top of everything as we got our nightly show from the heavens. This is one of those photos that I think means more to me than to anyone else, but I love it just the same.

Down the Street Into the Storm

The photo above is close to something that I have been working on. I have an idea for a photo, and I just need the right situation to present itself to try it out. Here I wanted to show the beautiful sky overhead, but at the same time I wanted to show a little more of the foreground. I made a vertirama of the scene with my drone. This allowed me to get everything into one shot. The Mavic allows you to turn your camera. Right now on the bigger models that is not an option. So panning down while shooting and stitching photos together in post is what I have to do. I get a bigger file this way, but I also get some of the headaches that come with stitching files together.

Ball State Comes to Town to Face Purdue

Last night I was at Alexander Field to cover Ball State as they take on Purdue. This is the first of three times that I will cover the Cardinals this season. The highlight of those games will be their contest against Indiana at Victory Field next week. There are some personalities on this club that will be fun to watch over the course of those three games. This was a good first look at the club.

The Beautiful Light

Great light is not something that you have all of the time. As the days get longer the light is also not as good for longer periods of time. When good light comes your way you have to have some fun with it. Above you can see some of the light streaming onto the field. For a couple of innings just the pitcher and the infielders were in the light. This creates some opportunities to have a little fun. I was not shooting for Purdue, but the chance to play with some light is always a good thing.

A Beautiful Night

Last night was a perfect night for baseball. Even as the extra baseball kicked in it was still gorgeous. In the top of the ninth I was taking some time between pitches to try to make a panoramic of the scene in front of me. It was just beautiful, and I wanted to show it all in one photo. The photo above is the result of nine photos stitched together. At first I wanted to make a pano with three photos, but then I realized how much more sky I could include if I titled my camera into portrait mode and shot that way. It was more work, and once again Lightroom did not know what to do with it. Photoshop luckily did know what to do with it, and it did a great job.

Extra Baseball With the MAC Yet Again

For some reason when I am involved with the MAC we go to extra innings. Last year it was the 15 inning game between Ohio and Purdue. This game looked to be over a couple of times before the 12th inning, but great plays kept it alive. Finally in the twelfth red hot Sean Kennedy hit yet another home run, and that was the difference in the game. This was an exciting game with plenty of moments that could have broken it open. People who say that baseball isn’t exciting are not watching the right thing. Continue reading “Ball State Baseball Takes on Purdue”