This post leads into the last shot I posted of the city. I took a couple of steps back and snapped off some shots of the other people enjoying the observation deck. There are usually quite a few people with DSLR’s pressed up against the glass, trying to find the right angle to eliminate glare from the sun and building lights while avoiding the atrocity I call window smudges! I messed around a bit in Lightroom to convert it to black and white, then just exported the unaltered shot into Nik Softwares Silver Efex Pro. This program is just amazing for black and white conversions. I don’t think any other software is quite a match for it! I thought my Lightroom version was looking pretty good, but Silver Efex Pro just seems to know something I do not and bested me and my Lightroom sliders.
Yesterday was quite a blizzard here in Alliance. I think it is the most snow I have had at any place I have lived since I left Utah. I definitely enjoy the hell out of it too, I wish I had a snow mobile, a snow cat, or skis and a mountain, but it was fun enough driving around the last two days busting on through drifts in my truck. I headed out east for about 35 miles to explore a little bit and look for some shots. It was really, really, really cold with the wind chill! It was actually painful on exposed skin within seconds in the area I took the shot of the do not pass sign. Also got a better shot of the trains. They were parked up and down the tracks today with no one in them. I think they picked up everyone and sent them back home in a van for New Years.
Anyways, in the next day or two I have a haphazard tutorial on my HDR/DRI process that I should be able to post. I was going to post a write up on these shots as well, but my HDR and DRI versions sucked pretty bad. These are just regular shots. *Edit, figured out why my bracketed shots sucked.. Was shooting at 800 ISO all day.. Nikon needs to make an option that resets the ISO to 200 after cycling the camera on and off for tards like myself!
I just cannot win and today marks the second year in a row that I am living far away from my wife during Christmas! At least this time we will only be apart for a couple of months. Last years 10-month separation was way, way too long! Last December she went out on her own one night into Tokyo with her D40 in hand as well as her trusty little Gorillapod to capture the jaw dropping Christmas lights strung up around the city during this time of the year. Please do not ask me why I did not ever make it out to see these lights the year before, they are quite a display and I still have no clue how I missed out on that opportunity completely. Here are some of my favorite shots she took from that night.. Not too shabby if I must say myself!! I love you wife! Merry Christmas everyone!
I have seen some wicked sunsets here in the Alliance area and thought it would be nice to get out of the house today and try and get a shot of a train while the colors were just right. I had seen a spot about 10 minutes out of town that I thought would be nice and saw this train leaving the yard as I was heading out. I was surprised at how little time I had to get my tripod set up and get the camera on a gimble, these things move faster than they look I guess. The clouds were not playing nice as they blocked the sun and left a very gray scene. The only shots that were okay were once it passed me and I turned the other direction facing towards the sun. This is actually the back of the train, the locomotive pushes on it.
I haven’t touched this blog in a while, but there is good reason for this. I took a conductor position with the BNSF railroad in Alliance, Nebraska. I am about to start into my 3rd week of training out of 15 weeks total before I shake baby noob status and become a regular full-time employee. I have been wanting to get out of working in an office and instead working outside and this position definitely offers this as well as the ability to work almost anywhere in the mid-west and western states.
Photography wise, Nebraska speaks to me a lot more than Georgia ever did. The sky is one of the few places in the country that has very little pollution in the sky, the sun starts to bake warm sunset tones onto the terra firma by about 1:30 pm, and there is a ton of interesting farm scenery and plenty of abandoned buildings sprinkled through out. The biggest problem I have will be finding time away from the volumes of books I need to study to pass all of my tests in between my OJT.
I don’t usually go into churches on my own free will, but I spied this abandoned beauty right off the side of the road the first time I was in the area for my hiring session a few months ago. I made a couple of mistakes to chalk up to my list of photography foibles.
- The D700 remembers what ISO you shot at last in RAW or JPEG rather than just using whatever ISO you dial in, at least this is what I think happened. The camera was at ISO 1250 in JPEG when I pulled it out of the bag and I knew enough to dial the ISO down to 200. Then I switched to RAW to shoot Like a Boss and ended up coming home to discover all my shots were set at ISO 1250. I assume the camera remembered what I was using the last time I shot RAW, but I will have to test this to be sure.
- When I went inside the church, I started walking around like a clown not being cautious with my steps. Sure enough I stepped right onto the only piece of wood with nails sticking straight up. Lucky for me, the nail was not long enough to make it through the sole of my tennis shoe. FACT- Anyone who has ever been in the military has 1/4 parts blood and 3/4 parts random inoculations running through their arteries and veins. I now deplore inoculations and anthrax filled up the last remaining space that tetanus would need to occupy my circulatory system. This is why they now mist the flu vaccine straight into my brain via my nasal cavities due to all of the empty space up there.
- I left my polarizer back in Georgia with my wife who will not be moving out here until she separates in February or March 😦
The interior shots are HDR’s that I could barely sharpen due to the higher ISO creating noise problems during the HDR processing and the outside shots are just that, outside shots. Had I not taken the shot of the church from the outside, knowing it was taken in the middle of the day when the sun is the strongest, I would have guessed it was DRI processed, but it is just the Nebraska 5-hours-long sunset at about 1:30 pm with the sun behind my back!
This shot kind of reminds me of Blade Runner. I guess I am supposed to like Blade Runner, I have watched it multiple times and I just cannot get into it no matter which cut I watch, and this shot is exactly the same.. I have worked on it multiple times in the past and just cannot really get into it. This is my last attempt and I really am not sure about the selective coloring, but I put too much time into the shot and I might as well post it!
This also marks my last post from Georgia. As soon as I post this shot I am dismantling my computer and loading it up for tomorrows journey to Nebraska. This is the 2nd holiday season in a row that I will be spending away from my better half and hopefully the last!
We took a trip to a swamp in Southern Georgia with a crazy sounding name, Okefenokee. The swamp is pretty massive and full of spiders, alligators, snakes, and godless killing machines, aka bears. Consequently, I am not about to go camping here anytime soon! I took this 4 vertical shot panorama from the top of a lookout tower that was about 50 feet high. AutoPano Pro is pretty amazing software for stitching. I had a tripod set up for these shots, but the wind was blowing and 3 people on top of a lookout had the top swaying quite a bit, yet it still seems to have stitched even the foliage without a hitch.
Sundays spent around the Yoyogi Park entrance adjacent to Harajuku Station should be a treasure trove of seriously unique individuals for any photographer to find. The area is usually known for the cosplayers that hang out for the crowds to see, but I found that a lot of the cosplayers would bring along a photographer friend that was always a gigantic sleazy asshole to any other photographers in the area who would dare take pictures of a cosplayer in a public place. They would get in your face even if you were taking pictures from really far off. It is best to just move along a few hundred yards to the park entrance and catch the greasers and their awkward dancing! They had no problem with photographers as long as they do not light a match anywhere near their hair..
I usually process a group of photos from a particular day I went shooting, then pick my favorites and post them. These 2 shots taken from Asakusa kind of appeal to me enough to keep from putting them into my un-posted archive. There is something about the way that the Nikon 70-200 renders bokeh that I just love. Most of the 80-200 variants render bokeh in the same pleasing way. Pretty much the biggest reason why I have no desire to pick up an 85 f1.4D as I don’t need the extra speed and that is a lot of money for a slightly smoother bokeh look. Interestingly, the new 85 f1.4G lens produces busy bokeh that reminds me of my 50 f1.8, which I don’t really like that much. I have had thought about the Rokinon 85 f1.4 since it is about $250 and has a really unique look it produces, but more appealing to me would be using a lens reverser and some extension tubes for a killer macro lens.
Not Dodge as in the auto maker, but dodge as in a little dodging here and a little burning there really helped make this picture have an almost three dimensional feel to it. The four exposures ran through Photomatix HDR process helps with bringing out a unique look to the textures as well. I must say I love the new version. It is stupid simple to get rid of ghosted objects and even has a bunch of presets to get you to a starting point for getting your shot to look how you would like it. Anyways, I found this truck a while ago and wanted to come back with a camera during a sunset or sunrise. Got lucky on a trip to Andersonville and hit this as the sun was setting on our way back.
It has been a long time since I last posted a shot. Not sure why I haven’t had much interest lately, but I mostly blame the state of Georgia for not inciting that sweet, succulent desire to transpose life onto a camera sensor and attempt to call it art! I did go out shooting last week and Georgia nefariously called a legion of stinging or biting ants onto my leg in an attempt to derail my burgeoning photographic desires. Still, I feel I may have come away with some good shots, but we shall see once I load them onto my computer. I will say that it is highly possible I will be moving yet again within the next two months if my dubious plan comes to fruition. Until then, I give you the lanterns of Asakusa!
My eyes are more than healed enough to process photos, but I am still going to just fish into my archive of photos I have already completed but have yet to post. I think that snow monkeys and Fuji must be my weakness, because after a couple of hours around either, I end up with way, way too many shots! I don’t remember if any of these shots were DRI’s or not, but I am pretty sure that at least one of the color ones was a DRI.
On Thursday I had LASIK done on both of my eyes. My contact lenses were -7.00 for the left eye and -7.50 for the right, also known as way past legally blind. Eighteen hours later I was in for my post op and was reading half the letters from the 20/15 line, so things are going quite well. Still, I don’t quite feel like focusing on any pictures for very long, so I am posting up a picture of our kitten Mittens peering around her scratch post since my Mom thinks I do not post enough pictures of our two cats. I have a pile of shots that are either half completed or done and I just don’t quite know how I feel about posting them. I didn’t want to start posting too many cat pictures since there are already enough LOL cats that can has cheez burger on the web!
This iconic mountain looks like a mini Fuji. I had always seen Yōtei-san in the background of ski movies and in ski magazine pictures. I thought there were actual ski resorts on the mountain itself, but it is actually free from any of that. I cannot imagine how nice it must be at the top admiring the surrounding mountains before dropping in to the valley below!
Believe it or not, but I spent a lot of time pissed off at Japan. The high road tolls, sneaky expensive train costs, super crowds, waiting in lines, waiting in trains, waiting in traffic, humidity.. I found a lot to frustrate me. Then I left for Turkey thinking I would not be back again, then our plans changed and I ended up getting to spend a couple more months back in Japan before leaving.
While I was away I guess I started to realize how great it was for photography alone. You literally go anywhere in the city and take a picture and you will usually end up with an interesting building, shrine, or human element. I could never get bored of surfing trains deep into Tokyo with all my camera stuff and an iPod playing the soundtrack to life. The amount of unique culture in Japan is astounding and seems to find its way into almost all said buildings, shrines, and human elements. The way the Japanese people conduct themselves with utmost integrity blows my mind. You can walk around alone with a bag full of money strapped to your back in the middle of the night almost anywhere in Tokyo and you would be okay. I would love to go back someday, but next time up north in the mountains since I am not a big city type of person. Then I would have the best of both worlds dipping my spoon into the big cities when I grow restless from chilling in natural springs with my snow monkey friends.