Sep 19, 2012

Schaeffer & stuff

Yowza I've been busy lately. I suppose, I have been, as they say, busier than a one-armed paper-hanger. With what, you ask? Life, in general. In the last week, I changed the blades on the riding mower, mowed, trimmed the trees, cleaned out the car port (took a load to the dump) and pulled out the stakes from the horse shoe pits (after gouging my left shin on one). I also went to the Maryland Wine Festival this past Saturday. I drank plenty of tasty wines, though I found that an ice cold Pepsi paired best with the pit beef sandwich I ate while I was there. But Sunday I actually got a ride in on the mountain bike. I met Damien and rode 14 miles of singletrack at Seneca Creak Park. Good times! It was a nice & easy ride with a few stops to take in the sights and chit chat. As usual, we ended up at the Dogfish Head Alehouse after the ride. Not one for Oktoberfest beers, I was shocked that I truly did enjoy their Punkin Ale. The images in this blog post were taken with my new Samsung Galaxy S3 phone.

Sep 14, 2012

It's video friday

Its a beautiful Friday afternoon and as I sit in the office, devouring this tasty ham sandwich (on a sesame seed roll no less) I am exploring the skilled and creative genius of videographers at As I slouch in my seat watching this video, I imagine pumping my way through the humpy sections these riders roost. Table-topping the bike beneath me as I float through the air. I envision landing those steep transitions and G'ing out hard in the exit berms. And as I sit up straight and the sesame seeds fall from my shirt, onto my desk I am sucked back into reality.

The video below is a trailer for From the Inside Out, a film by 2nd Base Films.

Sep 12, 2012

Mauch Chunk Lake

Work has been extremely hectic this week. So much so, that I haven’t had a moment to process the photos I took this past weekend while I was camping. Last Friday, my friend Keith and I met at Mauch Chunk Lake Park right outside of Jim Thorpe, PA and spent the weekend at the campground. We ventured in to town a bit on Saturday morning but otherwise spent a lot of time reminiscing and catching up on things. Saturday afternoon a major storm rolled through and it rained on and off for the rest of the day and night. However, we didn’t retire to the tent immediately. Instead, we spent a lot of time outside in the drizzle, wearing rain coats taking mini hikes around the lake and trying to keep the fire going. Keith was wearing a yellow rain suit which gave off a great glow by the light of his head lamp. I shot a few different scenes with him as the subject. This one in particular I like quite a bit. His headlamp really lights up the inside of the cooler and is hidden enough that it looks as if the cooler may be the light source itself.

I also shot a few sunrise photos on both mornings. I had my camera mounted on the tripod on the shore of the lake by 6:45 both mornings. Saturday morning was overcast but Sunday morning was glorious.

Sep 7, 2012

Tractor beams

Yes, it’s another HDR image. Every night, on the way home, I pass by this water tower in Scaggsville (I feel sorry for the women who live there). Unfortunately, I usually pass it while shifting into 4th gear, cruising down the on-ramp to Route 95. So last night, I drove around until I found the neighborhood in which this monster lives and took a few exposures.

I have a thing for water towers. They’re quite literally “outstanding” and loom like quiet giants, high above populated areas. In my eyes, the beacon at the top of this tower and the dirt and rust streaking down the underbelly, give it a very sci-fi appearance. The pillars supporting the circumference of the tank, mimic tractor beams, and I suppose you could view the center column as a massive beam itself. The Trekkies out there, know what I mean. Of course hippies and college kids may just see it as a giant ‘shroom. Far out man!

Hear me Rohr

I've really been on an HDR kick lately. This is primarily because the latest version of Photomatix makes merging multiple exposures incredibly simple. The D800 is a real thrill to shoot with and I'm taking it with me everywhere I go. I've been using my Tamron 28-300mm lens with it for the last week and they make a great team.

Last night while leaving the office, I bracketed 3 stops above and 3 stops below proper exposure for a couple of scenes in the shop. This is a 1000 series car, WMATA's oldest series of rail car, built in 1973 by Rohr Industries. They came out great in my humble opinion. I really love that hyper saturated, hyper detailed, surreal, look of this HDR image. It's also kind of neat to note that this particular car, Car 1002, is the third car delivered to WMATA's rail system (After cars 1000, 1001 & 1002).

Sep 5, 2012

Casing the joint

On the drive home from work today, I stopped to explore a medical complex that caught my interest while shooting a nearby water tower the other morning. As I drove down into the complex I got really excited at the site of the decrepit clump of old buildings right next door. Big beautiful buildings sat situated on a campus connected by sidewalks. Doors were boarded and locked and dense vines wrapped around the deteriorating porch beams and railings. My experience in these kind of places had me on the look out for a roving security guard so I parked, checked my camera settings and hustled into the complex and out of sight. While roaming around with my camera down at my side, playing the part of an innocent yet curious passerby (not a far stretch right?), I bumped into a young lady and her daughter coming from a nearby gym. I asked if she knew anything about the place and she gave me a great run down. It's known as the Springfield State Hospital and it closed in the mid 80's. Then she gave me some really good information and saved me a few hours of scouring urban decay message boards and Flickr discussions - thanks lady! While I was there I quickly snapped a few bracketed photos and created the HDR images you see in this blog entry. I'm busy the next weekend with a camping trip to Jim Thorpe, PA, but I'll work out the details of my visit to this place next week. Stay tuned...

Sep 3, 2012

Oh Henryton!

Today has been really dreary with small storm cells passing through the area all day. I kicked off my morning with a trip out to an old site where my friend Seinberg and I used to shoot urban decay photos all the time; Henryton State Hospital, which was once a tuberculosis sanatorium. The complex is made up of several buildings which served as treatment and housing for tubercular patients and later, the severely mentally handicapped. As cases of tuberculosis dwindled, so did the need for this facility and eventually in the fall of 1985 its doors were closed. Now, all that remains are the shells of buildings and just barely. Today was the first day I've been back to Henryton since February 28, 2009. When Seinberg and I used to crawl through this place in 2008 & 2009, there were always a few interesting scenes to capture depending on the weather. Sunny days at Henryton were always fruitful because of the great grid-work shadows the sun would cast through the broken windows and holes in the roofs. Brightly painted rooms always had fantastic murals of cracked and peeling paint. And as I walked through the halls, breathing sweatily through my asbestos mask I couldn't help but remember awesome times when my friend and I snapped away in amazement. It was such a rush back then. Turning the corner, or opening a door and exclaiming "Oh man!" as a dilapidated scene lay covered in dust, basking in sunlight and rife with irony. But, as it stands today, kids have gone crazy with spray paint inside, and apparently kicking down walls is all the craze. A couple of buildings have even been burned down. I ran into three teenage kids 30 minutes after I had arrived. Not one for small talk, I left the place frustrated and with only 12 exposures to my name. Of those 12 exposures, I created the 3 HDR images in this blog entry. Still, it was fun to walk the halls once again and though I won't return, it's stirred up thoughts about other sites I used to frequent.

Here is a gallery of images I took at Henryton back in 2008. It's not as nice now, as it was back then!

Sep 2, 2012

Floating ashes

Yesterday I burned some dead brush in the back yard. The air was still, and when the large dead leaves caught fire, the heat would loft them straight up into the air. I watched the curling smoking blades twisting and twirling aerobatically while they floated and drifted drunkenly down to earth. They underwent an interesting transition with their veins glowing bright orange contrasting against their flickering white and black sinus. Cooling and blackened, they disintegrated, shedding small particles in all directions. Spirals of smoke trailed behind their descending souls.

I put my Nikkor 85mm on and tried to capture the scene. I shot the leaves at f/1.8, and therefor caught only a very shallow pane of focus. If I had shot them around f/4 or 5.6, I probably would have caught the entire leaf in focus. Still, the D800 impressed me. I used the continuous autofocus for these shots and while I tracked the floating leaves with the shutter release half depressed the camera zipped the scene into focus with speed and accuracy.

Sep 1, 2012

New Camera: Nikon D800

I bought a D800, Nikon's best pro-sumer camera and the highest resolution DSLR on the market today. Typically I try not to look at new equipment in the world of photography. It only makes me want it. Still, I have had my D700 for three years and with the number of significantly brilliant and fun features Nikon has incorporated into this camera, I felt it was time. The D800 is, in a word: phenomenal. Some of the things which nudged me to buy were: high definition video capability, a 36.3 megapixel full frame sensor, and even more increased light sensitivity. DSLR's are only getting better and better and I know that in a few months, the D800 may be topped by another camera out there, but I am so glad I picked it up. I'll be using this one for quite a few years. I seem to buy a DSLR every 3 years. My history with these DSLRs gone like this: D70, D1, D80, D700.

The camera arrived Thursday night. So on Friday morning I took it to work with me and stopped to shoot some water towers in the morning light. A nice dense fog lingered and I soaked my shoes and pants in the morning dew while I snapped away in awe. I used my Tamron 28-300 for the shots below. The composition is not the best, but I wanted to get some images up on the blog here. These were shot around 6:10am. Processing was done in Adobe Light Room 4.