Category Archives: Photography

Digital Editing & Composition

In these days thanks to digital cameras, the ability to tweak the pictures is even easier.  In most higher level cameras, you are able to capture your images in RAW  format.    If your camera is capable of shooting in that format you always should.  It is actual “pre-processed”.  Once it is converted to JPG, TIF, or any other standard graphic format, certain aspects of the image are locked in. In tge RAW format, you can make adjustments to the white balance, contrast, color saturation, and sharpening.  The disadvantage of RAW files is that they are big and take up lots of hard drive space.

In the old days of film, we had to scan either the negative or the print, which added another layer of degradation.  With that layer removed, it opens up a lot of possibilities.  Rather than try to describe every aspect  of the digital modification, I’ll save a few thousand words, and say it with pictures.  Here is the original picture:Original RAW image

The colors are washed out and the rainbow doesn’t stand out too well.  Since the file was still in RAW format, I was able to adjust those things, until I came out with the following:

Tweaked image

I left the branch on the far right, because it sort leads the viewer’s eye to the rainbow.  Your eye follows the arc of the rainbow to the clouds and moves across the image from right to left. Your mind looks for the other end of the rainbow coming out of the clouds.  Nature was not cooperating, and I felt there needed to be something where, the end of the rainbow would be.  A pot of gold crossed my mind, but was a little to cliché.  I had another picture of two ladies walking along the beach, with the reflection in the shallow water washing into shore.  When I first cut and pasted them into this image, the angle of the water on the beach was totally  wrong.  So I had to edit out everything but the ladies and their reflections.  They were n the top layer, so as I erased the things around them the tweaked original showed through.  It took me over four hours, and I did the editing with the image blown up to 800%,  I wanted the result to be accurate enough, that from the gallery image a poster size 20″ x 30″ photo could be printed.  Sound the drum roll, here is the resulting image.  BTW all three of these images are low resolution, so I didn’t have to put the big copyright symbol on them.  You can view the full resolution image here.  Remember that most browsers resize the image to fit on your screen.  In most cases, your cursor changes from an arrow to a magnifying glass to show this.  You must keep clicking on the picture until the cursor changes back into  an arrow, to reach the maximum resolution on any image.  Then you can see the true detail.


In closing, let’s finish on the the viewer’s eye path. The angle I shot the beach was lower on the left, and higher on the right.  This angle draws the eye back into the starting path, of the branch pointing at the rainbow.  This circular path draws the eye into the photo, and keeps the focus within the image.  This composition, also conforms to the rule of thirds, which is a good subject for another blog post.

Unique Perspectives

Sometimes events are so rare, or happen so seldom, that you feel extra pressure to capture it correctly. I know that every moment in each of our lives is unique, but I’m thinking of things like the recent “blood moon”. It had been 33 years since the last one, and won’t happen for another 18 years. We get ready for a photo shoot like this as best we can. We clean our lenses meticulously, make sure we have spare batteries, and maybe even study other’s methods of shooting in the past. In my case the event came and went with a cloud cover over Central Florida, that obscured all of it. What made it worse, was this was on my birthday.

I channeled my frustration into finding a new event to chronicle. Hurricane Joaquin was passing the Florida coast far out to sea, but creating much larger waves than usual. There is an outcropping of coquina rock, that is the second largest anywhere in the world along the Atlantic coast. It is located about an hour north of Daytona Beach in Washington Oaks State Park. I had not been there in probably twenty or thirty years. My memory of its location have conveniently forgotten that it was about a quarter mile hike to the rocks, from the entrance to the beach. We had planned the shoot for high tide. The waves would be smashing into the rocks most dramatically then.coquinabeachwaves01 That also meant slogging our way through soft sand with waves often reaching our knees or higher. Add to that an extra ten or so pounds of extra camera equipment, and you have a real challenge for someone who is far from good health. But this time the even wasn’t going to slip through my fingers.

I took about 700 shots, that I am still working my way through. I had one that jumped out as a really good candidate for HDRI, which is posted below in low resolution. beachdock01_hdriThe one further up is just a quick choice. I still have so many similar ones to pour through.

1st Shoot in a While

On September 7th, my cousin’s family and I went for a picnic at Tomoka State Park.   Three of the four of us there, are photographers, so we set out to dodge the dog size mosquitoes for a few good shots.    One of the first things we came across was a large bird of prey (no it wasn’t Klingon).  At the time, we decided it was a swamp eagle, but after Googling the breed, I don’t think so.  I was shooting the longest glass, a Quantaray 70-300mm Zoom + Macro, with the 35mm equivalent of a 450mm lens on my digital CCD sensor.  Between the distance to the bird, the quality of the glass, and the fact I was trying to hand hold the shot, below is the best of the fifty or so shots I took.

Swamp eagle NOT

The other 150 or so pictures I took were of landscapes and macro photography of specific flora and tree stumps.  There are some mediocre shots that with a bit of cropping and tweaking, may be worth posting.  My favorite four shots that are full frame, and just like they were shot, I put through some HDRI software.  Below are a couple of the before pictures, and if you check out the HDRI gallery, you will see the after version. ftomokabeach72dpi

I am going to keep this post short, because I am still deep into updating several websites.



So keep those shutters clicking, and I’ll see you after my next shoot.  One other thing I do end up shooting a lot, is my two new kittens.  But they are featured on my website.

P.S. To those FB friends, who are getting notifications of new blog post from both catlover and badgergallery, I am working on a way you can opt out of one, the other or both.


Lowepro 288This entry actually covers three shoots. I have my Cannon photographer’s vest (pictured in June 13th post), which makes the weight of the 3 to 5 lenses and flash seem negligible. Mainly because the weight is dispersed around my body, rather than in one place. I have a Lowepro Off Trail 1 waist pack, but it is so bulky, with my camera on a side sling strap, it is a swinging battle. Below pictured in green, is a plain old fanny pack. The spectacular side benefit is, that it is designed to hold two drink bottles. Those drink holders double as lens holders perfectly. The center section is left for filters, cleaning cloths, spare batteries, flash unit or whatever your little heart desires. Another bonus is that it doesn’t scream, “Hey, I’m full of expensive camera equipment.”, that might attract the attention of less savory characters.

Fanny Pack

I decided I would shoot like a pro. I was going out to do a macro shoot. So that meant my trusty FA 200mm, my 50mm f 1.8, an assortment of close-up filters, macro extension tubes, and an HD wide-angle macro filter, I just got. Proud of my forethought and professional approach to this shoot, I went off to explore a new local park and gardens.

Almost from the moment I arrived, until the time that I left, I was presented with a plethora of unusual and interesting wildlife. These creatures screamed for a long telephoto lens, so I could capture some close-up shots. Instead I spent the bulk of the shoot with my FA 100mm prime, trying to sneak up on the all too wary critters, for that magical close-up. Either it is a case of Murphy’s Law, or I am still just miles away from being a true pro. The lens you need the most, will always be the one you do not bring.




While shooting in Central Park…. Ormond Beach, FL, not New York (unfortunately). Well maybe not. I met a mother out for a run, with her kids on tow on their two wheelers. They were making a bee line for the dock with a small bag of bread. The children’s squeals of delight, let me know that something was happening, that my camera was missing. I asked permission to benefit from their offerings to the local animal population. Expecting to see a few ducks, I made my way to the waterside, to find a mass of turtles gathering for the bread feast.

Friendly family of turtle spotters.
Friendly family of turtle spotters.

They quickly ran out of bread, but my previous lesson of paying squirrel models, union wages of bread had me prepared for this opportunity. Mom divided up the stale, whole wheat bagels, which the squirrels had “pooh-poohed”, as being below them. The turtles thought the fare was delightful, and invited friends and neighbors over to enjoy the bounty. The sound of Mom’s squeals, dwarfing those of the children’s, directed my attention to a particularly large specimen. One turtle’s shell, was between 30? to 36? inches in length. It made the other residents look like Lilliputians.

It is hard to get an idea of the size of this guy just from the head
It is hard to get an idea of the size of this guy just from the head

The lessons learned are, 1. Always bring bread to photo shoots in the park. 2. Follow the sound of squeals for interesting subjects, and 3. Friendliness goes a long way. You never know who might be your talent scout for new and interesting subjects. BTW, I promised Mom I’d Google the breeds of turtle, to see if I could determine the Godfather’s family line. My guess is Florida softshell, Apalone ferox, which can reach 100 pounds.


I haven’t figured out how to make a post stay at the top, so if the order of these thoughts seems incoherent, then it probably my mind. Well, that too, but I may re-order these once I figure out how, continuity notwithstanding. I am tempted to cross the photography aspect of this blog with the health issues I’ve faced, and my ongoing recovery. There are a multitude of photography blogs out there by people who’ve forgotten more about the craft, than I will ever learn. Where I might be able to bring a different viewpoint, is from the standpoint of the older or physically challenged follower of this medium we love.

Me all decked out in Khaki. No I don't work for Geico, and it isn't 3am.
Me all decked out in Khaki. No I don’t work for Geico, and it isn’t 3am.

The overwhelming bulk of equipment I will be talking about from a camera and lens standpoint, is Pentax, because that is what I have and what I can afford. That is not to say I would turn away those free Canon and Nikon systems, they sometimes give to bloggers to review. But until they do supply me with such, or the marketing department of Olympus, Fuji, Samsung, Leica, Hasselblad, Sony, Polaroid, or anybody else I might have missed, decides to send me some goodies, we will have to stick with what I can afford. There might be a Tamron, Takumar or Sigma lens sneaking their way in, and all sorts of manufacturers of accessories are fair game. Although that isn’t as sexy as the big two camera and lens makers, this other stuff is just as crucial to our craft as air is to our bodies.


If you recognize the title of this post, as the lyric refrain from a song in Fiddler on the Roof, then you are officially an old fart too. Yesterday, I decided to shoot a sunrise over the ocean. My cat’s tummy alarm went off an hour early, and sleeping with a full-grown cat sitting on your face, is impossible (as she has learned). So after feeding her, and seeing the darkness outside, I decided to do something productive. Like photograph a sunrise over the ocean. It was quarter to six, and I found that sunrise was at 6:23. Google Maps told me it was 11 minutes to a small ocean side park, so I had plenty of time to get my stuff ready, get there, set up and take the shots… Right???


Nice shot with solitary walker on the beach
Nice shot with solitary walker on the beach


My advice to you, is give yourself a bit more time, and plan it at some time that you are not still in a fog, from just waking up. I Googled, “what is the best lens to shoot a sunrise with?” Having only a minute or two to scan the responses, there were so many opinions, that trying to use the advice was useless. I packed a new (for me), Pentax 35mm autofocus lens, that on a digital camera translates to 43-306mm. My Trusty Pentax DA 18-55mm, and an FA 100mm prime. I had my little $20 Vivitar 1250 Tripod, along with a stone bag to steady it. So off I went at 3 to 5 miles over the speed limit to avoid a ticket, but still get me there in time to set up. although all of the stop lights conspired against me, I did manage to get there about four minutes before sunup.

Rest room building with sun higher on the horizon
Rest room building with sun higher on the horizon

As I set up my tripod, mounted the camera, reversed the tulip hood, I decided to use a circular polarizing filter. That was probably the smartest thing I did, for the whole shoot. Even with it, I ended up with some lens flare in some of the shots, but I got a bunch of good ones without it. I’ll post one or two small ones here in the blog, but check out the gallery for their larger, more detailed siblings. Things I didn’t do because of the rush, which I wish that I had done are: bring a shutter release, even though the tripod kept the camera steady, along with the camera’s anti-shake. A remote would have allowed for even more steady shots. I also wish that I had brought along a liquid lens cleaner. I had my special cloths, brushes, paper, but that gritty sand would have been better removed with some liquid. Things I did right, were bring plenty of extra memory cards, some liquid for me to drink (lens cleaning solution isn’t recommended to kill two birds with one stone), and a larger cloth to cover the camera on the tripod to change lenses under. That being so a minimum of sand gets into the body.


1024 Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach Shores, FL
1024 Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach Shores, FL

Yesterday, I got a late start for a photo shoot. I had planned on going to the beach for the first time in a decade or so, and an interesting thing happened. As I walked up to the beach approach at Frank Rendon Park, in Daytona Beach Shores, a middle-aged Oriental man, sized me up from head to toe, didn’t say a word, but gave me a thumbs up. Not to racially profile anyone, but I wondered if it was because I was carrying my camera the correct way (yes, there is a wrong way), I was obviously supporting the Japanese economy with all my photo gear, or because I had the guts as an old fart, to show up in knee-high black socks and hip hop shorts (You know the long ones)?

The link below is a photo blog I have been reading thoroughly. Ken Rockwell is a long time pro, sharing a lot of things he has learned along the way. It has really made me rethink my approach to photo shoots. Everything from tripods, to lenses, to what kind of equipment I need. Even for the casual shooter, there is a wealth of information here.

How to spot an amateur