How I know God guides my photography.....

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies announce what his hands have made. Day after day they tell the story; night after night they tell it again. They have no speech or words; they have no voice to be heard. But their message goes out through all the world; their words go everywhere on earth."
Psalm 19: 1 - 4 (NCV).

Every time I look through the lens of my camera I see God working. Every day He reveals His majesty. Every night He shows me how He creates beauty even in the darkness. Even if I had not known Him before I started taking photos, the moment I looked at His creation up close (or far away) I see His glory and He guides me to see His beauty in all He has created. Photography just allows me to capture an image of what He has created.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Winter turns to......

There is just something spectacular about the first blossoms of spring. Well, it’s not quite spring yet, however the almond blossoms in my neck of the woods have started to bloom and the weather today was calling me out to enjoy the sun and the views.

My youngest daughter (who is a very accomplished photographer) and I just took off for a five hour ride into the countryside. Through the valley and the rolling hills, past the still barren grape vines and old gnarly walnut orchards, and finally up over a rise until we came upon what can only be described as a sea of pink and white. It’s almond blossom time and it was just what I needed to get the camera out and ready to go take pictures.

Recently I had been reading up on various filters that photographers use to create these special shots. One (and one which so many photo enthusiasts forget about when creating a photo bag) is the “Neutral Density” filter. As with so many filters, there are so many grades and sizes (differing in as many ways as there are different lens a photographer can use). I had to pick one to experiment with so I picked a mid-range ND 4X (each “X” reduces the f-stop on your lens so less light comes through the lens allowing for a longer exposure time and a different effect in the photo. It’s too long to explain here, but trust me… if you’re using a DSLR, you should look into getting at least one Neutral Density filter for your camera… pick the lens you use the most).

Here are just a couple of shots I took today. Over the next couple of weeks the intensity of the blossoms will only grow larger as more blooms burst open. I’ll add a comparison photo later so you can see the difference. Today was a very bright sunny day with only a few wispy thin clouds. Next time I hope to have those thunder-heads that I like to photograph in the picture to bring more interest and form. Spring is a great time to get out and start shooting.

The first photo was facing north by north west. I was using a Pentax 28-105 mm telephoto lens and shot at 1/30 sec at f 4.5 at 68mm (that's 102mm at 35mm film). I did use flash, spot meter,auto exposure, and an ISO at 100. I used my new Neutral Density filter 4X, along with a UV(O) filter and a Circular Polarization filter (PL-CIR). Considering the density of the lens and the polorization filter, I really had to shoot at a longer time length even though it was a very bright sunny day. (It would have been easier if the wind had cooperated... however, the shot came out well in spite of the movement.

The second shot (of the almond orchard) was facing south (this was about 9 a.m.) and into the direction of the sun. Again I had all the filters on the camera. Facing the sun did make the shot a little more challanging. I shot again at 1/30 of a second (do to the filters), and at f 6.7. Auto mode, ISO 100. The lens was wide open at 28mm (42mm for those familiar with 35mm film). No flash this time as it would have taken a lot of flash to compensate for the back lighting of the sun (LOL)... Spot metering is the only way to go with that many filters. It was fun trying out new equipment and trying to get different effects. After I got home I was able to take the orchard photo and expariment with PhotoShop and this was the result... Ah, so much to shoot, so little time to play.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Amgen Tour in Modesto, California

This post is just a little off my usual photos... The reason? The Amgen Tour of California just finished in Modesto, California (February 17, 2009 a little after 4 P.M.) and I just wanted to share the moment with others. I was on the East side of Sycamore Ave. at Coldwell (just down from Enslen School). The race circled in front of the school twice. The first time throught I took still shots, however, for the final sprint to the finish in Downtown Modesto, I decided to take short segments of video. These biker were within inches of where I stood on the turn and when they emerged in mass - well, just click on the video and see what I mean. Even with the heavy rains we've been having this was well worth being wet. The streets were lined with thousands of spectators.... Enjoy.

Here is one of the many still shots I took.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A quick look back to the dark ages of my digital photography...

Recently I’ve been thinking about going back and looking at some of the photos I took when I first started working with digital. My first digital camera was an Olympus Camedia C-4000 (4.0 Megapixel) point and shoot. It didn’t have many whistles or buttons (nothing like the DSLR that I currently use. It only had 3X optical zoom and the lens was an AF zoom 19.5-65 mm lens. It was fun going back over the photos I took (all the way back to 2004…. seems like a lifetime ago in camera innovation years). Even with only 4.0 Megapixels there were many photos that even by my standards today are very enjoyable to look at. Here are two that I took in July 2004 while on a vacation in England and Paris, France.
The first photo is a picture I took at Stonehenge. I put it in Photoshop and using a filter/plug in tool called PhotoTools (Pro-Edition) I converted what was a normal color picture into an infra-red photo, and using a layers filter I brought back the color of the stones from the original photo into the infra-red photo. Then in the crop tool I converted the photo into a “two to one” ratio photo (15 inches by 30 inches). It looks eerie with the conversion. I’ve included the original untouched photo and the conversion. As I’ve said in other photo posts, some time you should never throw away a photo just because it was taken on a low resolution camera. With all the new photographic programs and plug-in filters that are coming out, you never know when you may be able to turn an old ordinary photo into something useful in the future.
The second photo was taken at night at the base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. I was waiting in line to go to the top (height – not one of my favorite things). Even at that early stage of digital photography I was constantly looking around and trying to imagine what a specific photo might look like. Most people take photos (like the one attached) of the full Eiffel Tower and just leave it at that. I planted myself directly under the tower and directed my view directly upward. No fancy programs (PhotoShop/Light Room2 or any of the other programs), just a direct photo. I liked it then and I still like pulling out the CD I saved it on and look at it every once an awhile. Nothing fancy, but something enjoyable for me. I guess that goes along with why I take photos… the remembrance of people and places I’ve been.

The only photos I regret are those not taken... then wishing I had.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Another view of the South of France in Winter

Please, please, please.... excuse my multiple flicks (slide shows) of Southern France (Arles to Lyon). There are just so many photos that I took that if I were to have a separate post for each, this post site would run out of memory before I ran out of pictures. So, rather than just post my pictures, I thought you'd enjoy watching while listening to some French music. The first song is by Charles Aznavour (Reste); and the second is one of my most favorite French female singer - Edith Piaff (Sous le ciel de Paris). I hope you enjoy not just the photos, but the music as well.