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!
We are leaving for 2 nights in Savannah early tomorrow morning. That doesn’t allow us much time for exploring, but we’ll take what we can get! I give you a couple of snags taken on the East Rim Trail at Zion National Park. These are all single exposures taken in the middle of the day thanks to the polarizer I bought for the 16-35VR. I am not completely sold on using a polarizer on a wide angle, though. I think the sky looks just about as unnatural as your average HDR or DRI shot, but I also have a ton of shots where parts of the sky are so dark compared to the rest of the shot, that I cannot even figure out how to even it out and have it still look natural in post. I am tempted to stick with my 14-24 and sell off the 16-35, then just build my own filter holder for the 14-24 so I can at least use square graduated density filters.
When we landed in the States earlier this year, we went straight from the airport to an auto dealership and purchased a vehicle. From there we visited families in Utah and Idaho, the road tripped through the Tetons, Yellowstone, Wyoming, South Dakota, all the way down to Georgia. There was still a lot of snow in the Yellowstone area and a pass we wanted to use was closed about a mile and a half from the top. We ended up taking an impromptu trip on the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. It is like a different world in this area after living in Japan. Completely desolate and vast, wide open spaces. Here is a 4-shot pano I snapped from a pull out.
After driving from South Dakota down to St. Louis in a day, we were pretty tired and it was very late, but we made a quick stop to see the Gateway Arch. I don’t know how this thing is able to stay standing in a wind storm. Would like to go back for their fireworks display. I have seen some amazing shots with the fireworks going off right next to the arch.
Neither image is HDR or DRI. Just messing around with Lightroom presets and then adjusting sliders from there. Sadly, I spent two evenings at Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island and didn’t really get any decent shots. There are a far stretch! I had problems with my CP causing really dark, unevenly exposed images. The sun was setting to my back in most shots, so I will have to keep that in mind in the future. These filters sure are a learning experience!
This was my first fireworks show that I have ever attempted to shoot. I thought it would be an easy affair other than finding the right spot amongst the throngs of people. We were at Jekyll Island on the coast of Georgia for the event, so we set up a small plot on the beach and waited for the show begin. I figured it would be cool to get really long exposure by stopping down to about f18 and even covering the lens between bursts to get as many fireworks in the shot without overexposing the areas below.
This does not work. You are lucky if you can get a series of 2 shots without the bright blasts completely over exposing the area of explosion and also lighting up the smoke in an unappealing way. I was getting my best shots by capturing only one at a time, which meant lowering the exposure to around f9 for proper exposure. Ideally you would be somewhere like Sydney Harbor that has a linear series of shots that do not explode in the exact same spot in the sky.
The last thing I would like to have changed, but is usually out of a persons control is the wind. If you could keep the wind blowing directly against your back as you face the display, that would help hide the smoke that easily lights up in your shot. I wasn’t too happy with the shots, but it was a good learning experience for next time.