Thursday, October 30, 2014

Platte River Falls

My son and I visited Platte River State Park for the first time this week.  There was a photo of a waterfall that had shown up on a screen saver and he really wanted to see one.  Since this is fairly close, we decided to drive there to see.  Not having been there myself, I really didn't know what to expect.  I had viewed others photos of the falls, but you can't really get an idea until your actually there yourself.  I decided to take my camera along to grab a couple practice shots.  If the time works, I think I may go back and try some other stuff.  The photos are two little fall leading up to the bigger falls.  The little ones, as you can see, are only about 6 inches tall.  There wasn't a whole lot of water rushing over them since we haven't received much rain in the last month.  It provided just enough for some nice blur.  

We hiked down to the river bed following the trails that had been there for some time and stood in the river bed that was now a nice sand bar.  Since it was mid day, the sun was coming through the trees pretty directly, so it made capturing the shadows under the falls tough while trying not to blow out the highlights of the lighter areas.  Cameras cannot capture the same type of dynamic range as the human eye, so you have to really compensate for that.  Post production software, such as Lightroom, help quite a bit when confronted with this situation.  I moved in closer to try and avoid the harsh light.  I used f/13 to get a longer shutter speed to blur the water but it wasn't enough.  I had to use a 6 stop neutral density filter along with a Circular Polarizer (2 stops) to get the timer to between 45 and 60 seconds.  In total, I had 8 stops of light between the ND and CPL.  The last shot was taken at 65 seconds.  As always, click on the photo to view it larger on my website.  Prints are also for sale.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Foggy Morning on the Prairie

I visited family this past weekend and was greeted by some pretty awesome fog the following morning.  My son and I set out to get some breakfast pizza but were sidetracked with the site we had before us.  Not really having been in a true fog, I decided to take him out to see the countryside.  We stopped by the family hayfield to capture a couple iconic shots that I really love.  I plan to print these for myself as something to remember.

All of these photos were taken within miles of each other.  The sun was rising quickly, but the fog was hanging on.  The suns rays illuminated the fog in a beautiful hue that worked great with the frosty browning grass.  Here are a few from the morning.

"Trails End"

"Golden Bales"

"Windmill Sunrise"

"Lone Tree"

"Prairie Windmill"

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Epcot is not only famous for well being Epcot, but they have a very cool light show every night called Illuminations.  The fireworks last for about 15 minutes and are very awe inspiring.  I used my fisheye lens to capture as much of the show as I could.  I didn't have room for a tripod in my luggage so I had to use my shoulder to keep the camera steady enough through out the 1.5 to 3 second shots.  There were some blurring photos, but the majority of them turned out great.  We camped out under a tree due to the amount people nesting their way around the lake.  Some of my shots had a nice tree view; however, it didn't spoil the mood or effect of the fireworks that evening.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

White Ibis of Disney

A continuation of my last post about the wildlife at Disney.  Along with ducks, there were vast amounts of White Ibis waiting for the people of Disney to drop their food for them to swoop in and snatch up.  Usually the ducks were faster, but if there was enough or if the food was far enough out the Ibis would jump into action.  Here are a couple shots of the White Ibis.  I wasn't able to catch them in action because I didn't have the right lens for the job, but I did catch these.

Another fascinating thing that you don't see everyday is the amount of Newts they have in the Disney area.  If you stray off the concrete at all, you quite possible would step on one of these little guys.  One caught the particular interest of the boys because of its cool under the chin red bubble.  When he would breathe or at least I think that's what he was doing, a red bubble of skin would appear under his chin.  I don't know if they are a relative and will have to do a little more research, but it reminded me of a bearded dragon.  

Monday, October 13, 2014

Disney Ducks

Some more photos from Disney.  Every park, zoo, or frequently traveled area that has wildlife has some wildlife that has gotten so use to humans that they really aren't scared of us anymore.  Such is the case of the Disney ducks and White Ibis.  There are signs stating specifically, "Please do not feed the wildlife", but it doesn't appear that those are followed all that often.  Plus, having all of the lunch tables right next to the area they camp in is kind of inviting people to do that.  Epcot has plenty of little grassy area just off the path where people choose to eat and no one is perfect, your going to drop something.  When you do, rest assured these guys are ready to jump all over it.  They were so close, I was using my kit lens to take photos of these guys.  They were that close.  No cropping.

They were getting braver and braver so I switched to the fisheye lens to see a funny face.  This lady decided to get close and personal!

She even gave herself a kiss as she was looking into my lens.  Luckily duck bills are not rock hard and she didn't scratch my lens.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Last Few Weeks Random Shots

It has been some time since I posted anything and you may have been wondering if I had fallen off the face of the earth.  Maybe you didn't even notice or care.  If you have been one of those wondering, I have been busy these last couple of weeks with lots of awesome family time.  We went on a little vacation.  Then, the oldest and I spent a chilly 35 degree night in a tent, camping at Jubilee.

Going to such an awesome place as Disney for vacation, I couldn't help but bring along a camera.  I blew threw almost all of the 68 gigabytes in storage I took for the trip.  It was so much fun seeing the kids enjoying "The Happiest Place On Earth".  Mom and Dad were truly exhausted by the time the trip had come to an end, but I think we did enjoy a few things before we were done.

Almost all of the shots taken during the trip were family oriented, but I did take some time to snap a couple for the blog.  Maybe you can recognize a few of them.

This is a picture of my youngest admiring the enormous Spaceship Earth ride at Epcot.

And a view from the other side

A view of the fountains in front of the big ball

From the Magic Kingdom, Cinderella's Castle from the Rose Garden.  Most shots you see if this castle are from Main Street USA, so I thought I would try something a little different.

This was one of our favorite rides from the trip, Big Thunder Mountain as viewed from the Liberty Ferry.  There may be no inversions or loops, but this ride is probably one of the longest roller coaster rides I have been on and worth the wait in line.

Walking through Epcot in the Germany wing, we were greeted by a little rain storm.  It quickly passed and provided us with a little color.  I was only able to capture this little section of the rainbow since my card was low on space, but it definitely fascinated the crowds passing by.

We had to stop and see some of the favorite Cars characters.  I thought this an excellent opportunity for some fisheye fun.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Botanical Macros

I didn't take too many macro photos at the recent trip to the botanical gardens.  Most of my time was spent playing with my new fisheye lens and having fun with the family.  After all, isn't that was family time is all about!

I did capture a couple of photos that I would like to share with you.  I have previously posted these photos on Facebook and a couple of other places, but I wanted to share them here.

The first is a monarch resting on a purple flower.  Monarchs tend to love this type of flower.  The only monarch shots I have taken are either on this flower or a cone flower.  I'm sure they love other types of flowers, this is just what I end up capturing.

This is a worker bee gathering nectar for the hive.  It was early morning so he had not been out too long.  Notice he doesn't have a whole lot of pollen on his legs yet.  

This little frog was hiding beneath some leaves beside a pond at the arboretum part of the gardens.  I almost stepped on him and his buddy prior to taking this picture.  My little guy saw him first and made me aware of his presence.  He stuck around for two photos and then hopped into the pond.

Not sure of the type of flower, but it was really neat to see the stark difference in color from the dark background of the bush.  I took this at f/2.8 to get as much of the bush out of focus as I could.  I wanted to make the flower jump from the darkness.  I noticed after the fact that I must have had the focus plain tilted slightly because the petals at the bottom of the flower are blurred and out of focus.  This is part of the problem of using such a wide aperture at this close focusing distance.  Your room for error is very small.

As always, click on the image to be taken to my website if you would like to view them larger.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Botanical Gardens

Last weekend I made my first trip to the botanical gardens.  We luckily picked a day when a famous interior designer was speaking so it was a little crowded until she began speaking.  We had a good time as a family enjoying most of what the gardens had to offer.  I think we may plan a little better and take a little more time next round.  Maybe even pack a little sunscreen.

I brought the macro lens thinking there would be many opportunities to take photos of various flowers and insects.  The kids had different ideas so most of the time was spend messing with my new fisheye lens.

Here are some photos from the recent trip.

I did get a couple of macro photos and will post them in a separate blog post.  I think I may have included enough fisheye fun for everyone.  As always, if you would like to see the photos larger, please click on the photo to be taken to my website or see all of my landscapes at

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Feeling Fishy

My beautiful wife decided that for my birthday she would surprise me with a fisheye lens.  I have been thinking of a fisheye for some time, but seeing one at a recent wedding got me thinking again.  The images it can produce are truly unique to any other lens out there.  Just a simple tilt of the lens and the scenery can give you a great big smile.  These are some of my first images taken with the lens.  All of them were within 15 minutes since it was a last minute test.  All photos were taken with the sunset at my back.  You can see from the 4th image the large cloud bank that had developed just before the sun set blocking any chance at a great colorful evening.

This photo was taken of the exact same spot, just tilted the camera up a little bit to get a little more sky.  

I decided to move down the road a little and split the difference.

The heavy cloud bank on the left was blocking out the sun so I turned 90 degrees to get some of the color from the fading sun.

To see more from the shoot, please check out my webpage by clicking on any of the photos above.  You can also visit my landscape gallery at

Thanks for viewing!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Handsome Men

I have been on a photoshop kick as of late and loving what I have been coming up with.  Today's photo comes from a long time of viewing photos and seeing the creativity some people use to take their family photos.  I normally do not like to put my children out on the internet, but I think this one is a good for that.  I initially was thinking of the whole family for this picture, but I don't think my profile would have fit very well with these handsome men.  So, they are the sole subjects and by far the best for this.  

How I made it.  

I set up a small area that wasn't going to get too much spill light from the windows.  I then used a 5 in 1 black reflector covered with black fleece like cloth to deaden the light as much as possible in the background.  I then used a speedlite shot into the backside of an octabox to get the most even light on their faces.  I then had the boy face profile and stare out a window to entertain them while I tweaked the light.  The flash was set directly in front of them, well more at a 1 o'clock to them.  This way I didn't spill any of the light onto the background to keep it a solid black.  I bumped my shutter speed to its highest sync speed of 1/200th of a second to completely wipe out any light that would have spilled from the surrounding windows.  I had a fairly wide aperture of f/4.5 and ISO 100.  I used a longer zoom lens set between 100mm and 115mm (which translates to about 160mm on my 7D) to get good compression of facial features and to flatten the image better for combining images like this.

I then took the three separate pictures of the boys and combined them in photoshop to make this composite.  

I believe this one is going on the wall.
"Handsome Boys"