When I was out in California a few months ago, I got up really early to go down to the pier in Manhattan Beach to get some early morning sunrise shots. I grew up in California but I forgot about the normal overcast layer that burns off later in the morning. Not to be defeated by some overcast skies, I walked around and took some shots anyway. I wandered out to the end of the pier, turned around, and thought this scene was great.
I really love this old film feeling. Here I’m using VSCO Film by Visual Supply Co. to get this look.
So, I’ve lived in the Washington, DC area since 2005. Before June of this year, I’d never been to New York City. Yeah, I know. It’s close and easy to get to. It just always seemed like something I could do later. Plus, in a city that size, how do you decide what to do first? Anyway, I got to go up to NYC for work and when I was there, I surveyed the landscape from a window in our offices. I had a good time up there! Yes, it is a great city!
The Strathisla Distillery in Keith, Scotland is one of the smaller distilleries in the country. It’s a wonderful little place that’s also the home to Chivas Regal. Strathisla is one of the main whiskys that make up Chivas Regal. Luckily, we made it just in time for the last tour of the day. There were a few places where photography wasn’t allowed for various reasons but this shot was okay as it was outside the distillery walking from one building to another.
I wasn’t overly familiar with Chivas Regal and had never had Strathisla itself before visiting. Of course, there was a tasting at the end of the tour and we ended up taking home a bottle of the Strathisla Cask Strength. It’s really quite enjoyable. If you can get your hands on some, pick up a bottle!
I took this the week after the space shuttle Discovery landed at Dulles airport. The Udvar-Hazy Center was switching out the Enterprise for Discovery and sending it up to New York. The shuttle sat on the back of the NASA 747 for a few days before they were ready. I was at Dulles heading out to the C terminals to take a flight to Los Angeles back in late April. If you’ve never been to Dulles, they have these strange people movers called “Mobile Lounges“. They look like something out of a 1970’s sci-fi film. They have their place but they are slowly being phased out in favor of a modern train system that goes underground.
As we were riding along in the Mobile Lounge, the driver stopped and announced to us that we’d be stopping for one minute to view the shuttle. Well, I threw my bag on the floor, ripped out my camera, and started shooting away. I got a few good shots even though I was just a little too far away for my 55-200mm zoom.
While we will all welcome the new trains at Dulles, it sure was great that we got to stop and see the shuttle out there on the tarmac that day!
In the U.S, we just don’t have a great train system that goes everywhere. Before I took a 4 hour train ride from Edinburgh to London, I didn’t have a full appreciation of how great long distance train travel can be. We just don’t make voyages this way in the U.S.; at least I don’t! I can’t wait to travel by train again!
What do you think of train travel?
I used to have a huge fear of flying. I never avoided flying because of it but I sure did white knuckle the arm rest. I’m still not 100% okay with it during turbulence but it’s so much better than before. I actually look forward to flying and have flown more times this year than ever before. It all changed when someone I worked told me, “I only let myself be afraid for the first 15 minutes. After that, I just tell myself, ‘that’s it. time to be afraid is over.'” I thought to myself, “well, that’ll never work.” I was wrong! It totally worked for me.
Proof that I can be okay on the plane is this shot. I pulled out the camera, fiddled with exposures, lenses, etc. and grabbed this shot from my window seat. I thought the red Virgin Atlantic logo on the winglet against the deep blue of the sky and the Atlantic made an interesting photo.
For this post, I thought I’d show you a behind the scenes view of my recent trip to San Francisco.
This outing was something that I’ve been wanting to go do for a while. I shot for about an hour without even noticing what time it was. Unfortunately, traffic was a little heavy and I arrived. As this is a pretty popular location, quite literally an entire van load of photographers had set up with tripods and all sorts of gear! An instructor was moving around the group helping here and there, making suggestions. There was a really great creative vibe in the air.
So, I missed the sunset but got to take pictures through the blue hour and into dark. The fog was coming in and the lights on the bridge were coming up making it all worthwhile. I also got to do a few things other I had really been wanting to do. I wanted to shoot some longer exposure shots to blur the water and get a great effect. I wanted to get that classic star pattern in the lights that you get from a high f-stop. I wanted to shoot on a rock solid tripod base. I wanted to use an ND filter to lengthen my shutter speed.
I was lucky enough to be able to do all these things that night! I had recently acquired a new Feisol tripod, which has been great. For its price point, it’s en excellent carbon fiber tripod. It’s very light and is very sturdy and quick to set up. The ball head works great as well! During my time up in the hills I used every lens I had to frame up different compositions. I tried with and without the ND filter. I made sure to use my timer setting so I could get my hands off the camera for less shake. I’ve got many more unprocessed shots but these are the first two I processed. They may not be the best shots ever taken but I’m pretty pleased with them! I’ve been learning a lot over the last year and I was glad I was able to put a lot of those new skills to use.
What do you think? Do you have any photo adventure stories of your own?
Nikon D7000, Sigma 8-16 (at 16mm), ISO 100, f/22, 30 seconds
Nikon D7000, Nikon 50-200mm (at 160mm), ISO 100, f/22, 30 seconds
- Nikon D7000: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/735002-REG/Nikon_25468_D7000_DSLR_Camera_Body.html
- Sigma 8-16mm: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/689637-REG/Sigma_203306_8_16mm_F4_5_5_6_DC_HSM.html
- Feisol CT-3401 Tripod: http://www.adorama.com/FECT3401.html?utm_source=ET&utm_medium=TransactionalEmail&utm_campaign=2point0Product7
- Feisol CB-40D Ball head: http://www.adorama.com/FECB40D.html?utm_source=ET&utm_medium=TransactionalEmail&utm_campaign=2point0Product1
As soon as we arrived in London, we set out while the light was still good. The Sun had broken through the clouds this day and after being in the wind and rain for several days, it was a welcome sight. As we rounded the corner, this iconic landmark swung into view. As there was so much between me and the tower, I zoomed in and grabbed this shot excluding what was below but showing a much simpler scene than one normally sees here.
It may be a bit cliche of a shot but I find I really like this one. I think the blue is a good contrast to the gold of the tower and the dynamic clouds set everything on their own plane. I would have liked a little more headroom above the tower but I think it works out alright as its such a small spire at the top. I personally think this would be a great shot for some travel or airline marketing but, maybe I’m biased!
In early May, my wife and I took a long planned trip to the Speyside region of Scotland for the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival that they have every year. As we were making the trip all the way over there, we decided that we should take a few days in Edinburgh and London as well. I had intended to put up a few good snapshots from the trip but this ended up being a transportation post!
Our conveyance to London. This was a great flight. We left at 6:00PM and arrived into London at about 7AM. Didn’t really get a whole lot of sleep but we had some insane leg room so at least I felt pretty rested upon arrival. Also, 7AM seems to be a great time to get into Heathrow. There was no one in line through the entire customs process!
Our car in Scotland. That Audi on the left. We picked something cheaper but got upgraded because I wanted an automatic. I really, really enjoyed driving that car!
We decided to take the train from Edinburgh to London and that was just a great idea. Opting for First Class was even that much better of an idea; it was only a little bit more! As we sped through the countryside, we were offered food and refreshments. I decided something truly British was definitely in order.
Sadly, we had to come back home. This was our plane shortly after landing at Dulles. The A340 is a great plane; very comfortable and the Virgin Atlantic service on-board was fantastic.
I’ve got over 1200 photos from the trip. I’ll try to find the few good ones I took and start posting those soon!
Another shot from high above the Golden Gate bridge. Had a lot of fun taking these!
I had to be in Los Angeles for a week for work so I decided to take a short detour and visit my native California for the weekend. My Dad and I went up to Point Reyes and hiked the huge amount of stairs at the lighthouse (308!), had a great lunch, and overall had a great day. On the way back to the South Bay, I stopped on the Marin side of the Golden Gate Bridge and set up for this shot.
As I arrived at the small parking area, I was amazed to see about 25 photographers and their tripods all set up as night fell. It seemed there was a class going on. I carved out a small space for myself and spent the next hour completely immersed in taking photos, switching lenses, trying out filters, etc. I had an absolute blast. When I had decided I had taken enough (and realized I was really hungry!) I drove on down the road, across that great bridge, and towards the south.
My wife and I headed north this afternoon to Halethorpe, Maryland to check out the yearly Heavy Seas Beer and BBQ event at their brewery. We had a great time last year and I was excited to go again. They had a great selection of rare beers both on CO2 and cask and had some great, great food. There was even a place to stand outside where we could get a litte sun.
Just because I knew this was coming and I didn’t want to bring my big ol’ DSLR, I rented a Fuji X100 for the weekend. Like many have mentioned, it definitely has some focusing issues as we handed it over to a stranger to take our picture and it chose to focus on the thing way above us and I had general problems getting what I wanted in focus. Overall though, it takes really great, really sharp pictures. I could see getting used to carrying such a powerful camera around when I didn’t want to carry the Nikon.
While I was stuffing my face full of barbecue I was standing underneath one of their large fermenters where they had set up tables. There was a great skylight above it and the light fell down in an interesting way. I grabbed the camera (after wiping my hands, of course!) and took this shot. I processed in Lightroom and used some Nik plugins to enhance.
Walking down a street in Portland, Oregon one night, I saw this train coming towards me. I hoped that I had my camera all ready with the right settings and this turned out pretty well. I’ve played around with the image for about a month or so, trying to get it to look just right. Just to play around a bit, I tried a desaturated version of the image. That seemed to work better with all the darks and lights and everything else going on in the image. If nothing else, it was a fun experiment!
LIke most people, I find looking at all the stats on my photo views and website views pretty interesting. So, this morning, I thought I’d share something that popped up to the top of the views for the last week.
I find this interesting because this isn’t one of the photos that I would have pointed to and said, “That’s a great shot!”. It’s interesting because you can see an abnormal interaction but other than that, its got too much space off to the left, the horizon is too high and I cut off the top of that hill in the background. All those problems and it got a lot more views than any other photo of mine on SmugMug this week.
I’m guessing this shows two things. The Internet collective as a whole loves seeing great photos but sometimes something interesting or different wins out. Or, maybe a large group of friends were making fun of the photo! Either way, I’m happy I could provide something for people to look at and maybe wonder a bit at what was really going on.
As far as what was really going on in the photo, my wife and I were taking a night cruise out along the coast of St. Lucia. It was a great party boat; loud music, rum punch, hors d’oeuvres. We had a great time. As we were sailing out, we could see this guy flying towards us at high speed in his small boat. As he got towards us, he slowed down and stopped next to us and had a conversation with the captain of our boat. They had a good talk and then he zoomed off back towards the dock we came from. It’s a pretty small island and every one seems to know everyone else but it was still odd for us to see this happen as its so far outside what we are used to!
Just after the chime sounded in the airplane during takeoff, I pulled out my camera and started taking pictures. The sun had come up right as we were taking off and it made for some really great light. As we headed back East, I got this shot. I’m kind of proud of this shot. It might not be the most amazing photo ever but I think its rather dramatic!
The weather is getting cooler here in Washington, DC which reminded me of our trip last winter to Boston. Probably not the best time to take a trip to the northeast but, as a kid growing up in California, I saw all these winter time pictures I didn’t understand. Snowmen in your yard, really cold temperatures, etc. See, all those textbook publishers are in the northeast so, to them, it made sense!
Either way, it was nice to enjoy a true northeast New Years up in Boston. While we were there, walking around, I grabbed this shot.
We stayed in St. Lucia just off this beach for a week. On the last day, we took a stroll around the beach and someone had left this small boat there, ready to go out. It was a really enjoyable trip and I hope we get to go back someday, although, I’d like to visit a few other Caribbean islands as well. The big thing I learned about photography on this trip was that a really wide angle lens is really wide. I rented a Nikon 10-24 from BorrowLenses lens and was surprised how much I could get in, how much closer I could get, etc. It’s a really great lens and I encourage everyone to try it out. That 18-55 kit lens can’t even compare for great wide landscape shots, in my opinion.
Its an important question. What will your presence look like? Its both an extension of yourself and what others know of you. Many people who read this don’t even know who I am so its important. I looked for a theme for days and days, not really wanting to pay a whole lot. In the end, I found something simple and free deciding that, in the end, a blog that’s actually turned on is more effective than one that’s merely sitting there waiting. As I get more advanced at this and if I continue with it, I’ll try something a little better. Who knows, maybe I’ll even decide tomorrow that I want something better!
All that aside, here’s a picture I took a while ago. It was taken in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC which is close to home. My wife and I were being tourists for the day and I wanted to visit what is my favorite museum in DC. As soon as the doors opened, I ran towards this spot to the right of the National Mall entrance and grabbed this shot before anyone could walk down the hall. Through the door is one of my favorite indoor spaces with large trees and a fountain. It’s just a great place to see!