Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Great Falls at Sunrise

While I was off work a few days during the Christmas season, I took the opportunity to go the Virginia side of Great Falls National Park and take some pre-sunrise and sunrise pictures.  The wonderful thing about taking pictures 30 minutes or so before the sun rises is you can easily extend your exposure time to 10 seconds or more.  This allows the normally turbulent water to appear smooth and silky.
Pre-sunrise image of Great Falls.  10 second exposure

Red sunrise sky reflecting in the water above Great Falls
High Dynamic Range image of the pre-sunrise sky at Great Falls

It turns out that I was not the only one out there, although I was not as adventurous as he to climb out on the ice rocks so close to the falls.

A fellow photographer capturing the ice on the falls
I wish everyone a Happy New Year and thank you for visiting my blog and leaving comments on my work.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Total Lunar Eclipse 20101221

We had a total lunar eclipse early on the morning of Dec 21st, a rare event to coincide with the 1st day of winter.  Unfortunately, the weather was not the best with a layer of clouds that drifted in and out of the view finder.  More importantly, the rush of Christmas preparations prevented any dedicated all night photography outing.  So, using a variety of tools including The Photographer's Ephemeris to estimate how the moon would move in the sky, I set the camera up before I went to bed.  I set the timer to start taking pictures around 01:30 when the moon entered the Earth's umbra (shadow) and programmed the timer to take a picture every 2 minutes for 99 times (the max on my timer).  That placed the last picture around 04:40, just before the moon left the earth's shadow on the other side.  Using my experience from the Lunar Eclipse in February 2008, I used an exposure setting of F/4, 0.5 seconds and ISO 400.  While this was a good exposure for the moon during the eclipse time of total eclipse, it cause the moon to blow out before and after.  The clouds didn't help any either. 

The image below is a composite of selected (19) of the 99 images I captured.  The lens was a 24mm lens in portrait (vertical) orientation, so the motion you are seeing is how the moon moved down the sky between 01:30 and 04:40 this morning.  Not my best image, but not bad either given that I just set the camera up and went to bed.

Total lunar eclipse from the early morning of Dec 21st 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Giving Back

The past week, Angela Goodhart of Goodhart Photography and I teamed up to give back to God and our community this Thanksgiving and Christmas season.  We worked with the wonderful staff of Inova Loudoun Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to provide free portraits to some of their long term residents.

Angela and I really enjoyed working on the project and I got to learn a great deal about "formal" portrait photography -- something I had not done extensively before.  But the greatest joy was getting to meet the residents of the facility and using the gifts and talent God has given us to bless them this Holiday season.

The idea for this project was inspired by Craig Tanner of "The Mindful Eye."  One of his  Daily Critiques a couple years ago was on a portrait that someone had taken as a service project in a senior center.  Craig challenged his audience to find ways to "give back" to the community through their photography.  Angela and I built on that thought to provide these free portrait sessions and prints.

We used a two-light set-up with the main light on camera left and the fill on camera right, about 1.5 stops down from the main light.  Both lights were about 45 degrees between camera and subject.

Thanks again to the wonderful staff at Inova Loudoun Nursing and Rehabilation Center (and especially Mabel) for not only helping to make this project possible, but so much fun.  And thanks as well to my daughter for helping set-up the backdrop and lights and recording the name of each resident so we can easily get their portrait to them.

Merry Christmas,

Thursday, November 18, 2010


My family and I went to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington DC earlier this week. Cameras were not allowed around the printing presses, but were allowed in the atrium and gift shop. The ceiling of latter was very ornamented.  I guess they don't have much problem coming up with money to pay their contractors.
Ceiling of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nature Visions Photo Expo

Three of my images will be featured in the Nature Visions Photo Expo this weekend (13-14 November 2010).  The expo will be held Saturday and Sunday at the new Hylton Performing Arts Center on the Prince William County Campus of George Mason University.  Hours are from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm.  If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to visit and look at all the images accepted into the expo.

I'm Watching You
Lotus on Canvas
Fall Triangle

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Saguaros, Sunrises and Star Trails

Saguaro at Sunset, McDowell Mountain Regional Park near Phoenix, AZ
I just returned from a 3 day trip to Phoenix and was blessed by a gorgeous sunset the first night and beautiful clear skies the next two nights.  Pictures of long exposure light trails, with the stars swirling around the North Star, have always been favorites of mine.  I have tried, unsuccessfully, several times over the past couple years.  I finally succeeded early one morning a couple weeks ago with a star trail over the Potomac River.  However, I couldn't get a long enough exposure before the sun rose.  More importantly, I lacked an interesting foreground.  The Saguaro Cactus and desert night sky of Arizona could solve both of those issues.

Light Trails at McDowell Mountain Park near Phoenix, AZ

I arrived in Phoenix to cloudy skies -- not promising conditions for star trails.  I went to McDowell Mountain Regional Park anyway, if nothing else just to scout out the area.  I arrived just after sunset.  While there I played around with some long exposures, light painting saguaro cacti and finally capturing a 6 minute exposure of the night sky as I drove the car back and forth along the road -- with only the parking lights, no headlights.

More images and light trails after the jump:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Columbus Day Weekend Shooting

Sunrise over the Potomac River

With the long Holiday weekend, I went out a couple mornings for some early morning photo sessions.  I was largely motivated by the Mindful Eye Community Assignment on long exposure night photography.  This assignment required an exposure time of 4 minutes or longer.

The first shot, shown above, was of the Potomac River at Algonkian Regional Park about an hour before sunrise.  The sky was perfectly clear, the river calm, and the sun rising to the east provided a beautiful gradient of color across the sky.

More images after the jump.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Raptor Conservancy of Virginia Photo Shoot

Eastern Screech Owl (Red Morph)
Getting up close-up shots of those majestic hawks, falcons and owls fills nature photographers dreams and inspires them to go out and spend thousands on super long telephoto lenses.  For those who haven't made that financial commitment yet, the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia is a wonderful resource.  The conservancy is a non-profit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of injured, ill or orphaned native VA birds of prey.  If the bird can't be released due to permanent injury or some other reason, they use it to educate the public about raptors.  One way they carry out their mission is through photo shoots with some of their permanent resident birds.  These birds are very accustomed to humans, which allows the photographers to get close up shots with normal telephoto lens.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in one of their photo shoots at the Claude Moore Park Photography Expo.  I shared a session with 2 or 3 other photographers which features two Eastern Screech Owls (red and gray morph), a Barn Owl and a White Faced Scops Owl.

If you ever have the opportunity, I encourage you to participate in one of their photo shoots.  I believe they are planning to be at the Nature Visions Photography Expo in early November.

Some of my favorite pictures after the jump:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Claude Moore Park Photo Expo

I am pleased to announce that a couple of my photographs and three of my daughter's will be shown in the 4th Annual Claude Moore Park Photography Exposition.  If you are in the Northern Virginia area this weekend (September 18th and 19th) , I hope you will stop by and view these and all the images of the local photographers.

Being shown at the Expo include an image of an Eastern Box Turtle that I captured at Balls Bluff Regional Park.

Eastern Box Turtle, Accepted into juried show

I am very pleased that my image of the cadet cannons at Virginia Military Institute received Honorable Mention in the Advanced History and Heritage Category.

VMI Cadet Cannons, Honorable Mentioned, History and Heritage Category

For the 2nd year in a row, my daughter earned more, or at least better, ribbons than I did at the expo.  Her image of Great Falls received 2nd place in the Youth Nature's Backyard Category.

Great Falls, 2nd Place, Youth Nature's Backyard Category

In addition, her image of a Butterfly at Brookside Gardens was accepted into the show in the Youth Winged Wonders Category.

Butterfly on Pink, Accepted into juried show

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Broadlands Community Church 5K Run and Fall Festival

The Broadlands Community Church hosted its 1st annual 5K Run and Fall Festival on Saturday, September 18th, to benefit the Inova Hospital Pediatric services.  Over 160 people people participated in the 5K run.  Click below for a small video of some of the pictures I captured during the event.

A few pictures are featured below.  Check my Flickr page for more images.

Overall 5K winners

Making Cotton Candy

Games for the kids

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What's for dinner

Here's an image I created over the weekend.  The Mindful Eye, a photography Forum I read nearly everyday, has an ongoing member challenge of "Food and/or Drink" and a Community Assignment of "RGB Color."  My family and I came up with the idea of the picture below that I could use for both assignments.   What could be a more balanced meal than chocolate mm's from all the major food groups (or at least colors).

What's for dinner

To create this image, I obviously started with a bag of mm's -- actually two bags, that we separated into colors.  The table setting is on a piece of black fleece fabric and I capture the image with regular room lights.  To help remove some of the glare from the glass, I used a trick I learned in the book by Fil Hunter called Light, Science and Magic.  I placed a polarizer filter on my lens and captured two images, rotating the polarizer 90 degrees between captures.  I then combined the two images in Photoshop.

What do you think?  I look forward to your comments.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

San Francisco

I had the opportunity to travel to the San Francisco area on a business trip last week.  I had been wanting to capture an image of the Golden Gate Bridge, so after my plane landed late Wednesday afternoon, I hurried to try to get to the bridge before sunset.  Unfortunately I missed the overlook I was planing to go to and ended up further down by Fort Barry.  My first set images were clouded by the brown smog from the city.  
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
I also captured a view what I think is Rodeo Cove.  I captured 5 different exposures and combined then using Photoshop CS5 HDR Pro to give it a very ethereal feel.
Rodeo Cove
After leaving Fort Barry, I drove back to the Golden Gate Bridge area and found what appeared to be a fishing pier on the northeast side of the bridge.  It still wasn't the angle I was originally looking for, but it provided a nice view of both the bridge and the San Francisco skyline.
Golden Gate Bridge
For this last image of the Golden Gate Bridge, I used a long (~30 second) exposure and then processed the image in Adobe Photoshop Raw Converter to set the white balance to fluorescent to get the colors to look right.

San Francisco Skyline

Thanks for looking and I look forward to reading your comments.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A New Start

I had previously been hosting this photo blog at on my own web space. But, keeping the blog updated and, especially, updating the blog software whenever WordPress released a new version became tiring -- especially since the "automatic" updates never seemed to work, probably user error.  So, I thought I would try blogspot.  At the least it will prevent me from having to update the blog software and hopefully it will be easier to keep updated as well.

And just to get the photoblog started, I'll post one of my first, and still favorite, images taken of the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. as the full moon was setting.
More to come.