Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fall Colors

This past week / weekend I was able to get out and try to capture some of the Fall colors in the area. Plans to go to Starved Rock / Pere Marquette State Park / Garden Of The Gods just haven't quite worked out. It seems that there is always something going on that would cut a trip short or I'm just too damn lazy. So, you will have to settle for Peoria area shots.

Grandview Drive:

Grandview Drive again:

I have noticed that over the past day or two many of the yellows are turning towards brown, and a lot of leaves have fallen. So, I think for the most part, we have passed the peak. That's not to say there aren't any good colors left, but, there is a definite shift towards browns.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Photography Class

A few weeks ago, I decided to sign up for a Digital Photography class through the Peoria Art Guild. The class will focus on camera controls, basic photography concepts, and a small amount of post processing (Photoshop or similar).

So far, we've had two weeks of class. Each week, we discuss a general concept, and make sure everyone knows how to use their camera to exploit that concept. Then, we have homework to exercise what we've discussed and have to bring in several prints for review / critique. This is the part of the class I most look forward to. I have done so much reading and playing, I feel I have a pretty good understanding of the technicals in using the camera controls. Where I have difficulty is execution.

The first week's assignment was "36 points of view". We discussed framing your subject (basically the "rule of thirds") and Depth of Field (how much of the picture is in sharp focus from near to far). To keep some consistency throughout the class, we were to photograph a person at a location of our choice. We could have the subject move a few feet if needed, but, basically, we were to take the same shot from 36 different points of view (above, below, near, far, all sides, etc....). Hut ohh! People / portraiture is probably the furthest style of photography from my comfort zone! Hence, all the landscape type of pictures I generally take / post. I just haven't developed the eye for poses and all the little distracting things that seem to find their way into your shots, not to mention my horrible timing and I seem to always get the really bad facial expressions or catch someone mid-blink. Oh well, class is all about learning, right? Right!

So, after getting the assignment on Thursday night, I start thinking about who, when, where, etc... Oh, and we were supposed to use available light...so no flash...night is out! Anyway, the next day, Connie asked how class went. I told her that it went well, oh, and by the way, I need to talk to you...see...I have this assignment.... :-) She agreed to be my subject (whew!!). I tried to convince her that lingerie shots would be best (figured nude was pushing it heh)...she didn't buy into it.

Next, I decided on Riverfront park as the location, and the time was pretty much restricted to the only time that worked for both of us...about 4:00 Sunday.

We met at the designated time and actually had a pretty good time. Though, I think she was about as uncomfortable as I was most of the time. It all worked out in the end. Here are some of the shots I took to class:
Connie - Low Angle
This one (above), the only real suggestion was to loose the light colored building in the background of the lower left corner.

Connie & Keyarah
This one was a slight deviation from the assignment. But, I liked it quite a bit, so went with it. :-)

So, I made it through the first week of class and really feel like I learned quite a bit through the process (i.e. mistakes). A big "thanks" to Connie for being such a good sport!

This week's assignment...light and shadows. hmmmm.....

Note:due to the width of the current template, the pictures are resized to fit. If you click on them, the originals don't have those jaggie edges. I'm just too lazy to make yet another copy for the sole purpose of posting to the blog.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Peoria flickr Meetup

Last night, a group of people from the Peoria Illinois flickr group got together to attempt some sunset / night shots of downtown. We decided to meet on Fon Du Lac drive.

Unfortunately, the cloud cover that was supposed to be gone in the morning hung around until well after dark. So, sunset was less than spectacular to say the least. But, we didn't let that get us down.

The group leader, Dave Vernon, brought a rather large toy to play with.
The Human Bipod
This thing is enormous!! ...and heavy! In case you're wondering, Dave's "bipod" is Lola Takes Pictures. Unfortunately, none of the shots I tried with it turned out. It was getting fairly dark when I tested it, and the wind was really strong, so even mounted on a tripod and with image stabilization turned on, everything came out blurry.

I did manage to grab a couple of shots that I liked. This one I cropped to a panoramic aspect ratio just for fun.
Nightime Panoramic

After we were done there, a few of us headed downtown to the Civic Center area. I set up to take a night shot of city hall, and after a couple of shots, I thought I'd strike a pose!
The Phoon

Anyway, it was a good time. Oh, and yes, Gordo, I'm following your advise and getting new friends!! Hopefully, I won't get in trouble for not mentioning it when someone gets new glasses or a new shirt. And if I'm REALLY lucky, I won't have to help pay off any of their gambling debts. :-)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Past Week...

Wow! Another week gone by and I haven't gotten around to posting anything. Not that I haven't thought about it, just not gotten around to it. So, this is going to be a mix of things.

Let's see... Last Friday, after work I went out to Banner Marsh to see what I could find to point the camera at. I ended up with a couple of post-worthy shots.
First, some prairie grass in the sun:
Grasses at Sunset

Next, the skyline and marsh after sunset:
Marsh After sunset

Which brings up something I was just thinking about the other day. Isn't "prairie grass" or those prairie restoration areas just romanticizing what's really going on? The reality of it is, it's a bunch of weeds no one wanted to mow. I think next year I'm gonna get one of those prairie restoration area signs and put it in my yard so I don't have to mow.


Saturday, I just did crap around the house most of the day. Then Saturday night, Went to The Owens' "Fall Bash '07". Drank lots-o-beer and had a great time!

Then, paid my dues on Sunday!! I was feelin' pretty rough for about half (ok 3/4) of the day. However, I still made it to the wings party (as in Buffalo wings....not the Paul McCartney band) Ritter had in honor of Gordo. We had a poker game that afternoon and 15 played, so that was a pretty good turn out! It was a really good game. But, I think Kate still hates me for busting her aces with my 7's (hit trips on the flop)!


Monday, I was finally feeling better (the miracle of sleep)! Being Columbus Day, I didn't have to work, so got to catch up on things around the house. My big (if you can call it that) project of the day was tearing up some of the yard for more garden space next year. It wasn't that much space, but it sure felt like it when I was out in the 90 degree October weather! While out there, I went ahead and pulled up one tomato plant that wasn't really doing anything. While tearing it out, I found a couple of these on it!
Tomato Hornworm 1

It's a tomato horn worm, and they're huge! Survivor man could live for a week of a couple of these!! (note: I don't know if they're really edible)

Well, that pretty much does it for anything new. The rest of the week has been fairly uneventful.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

401 Water Street

Over at the Peoria flickr group, we have been having some "assignments" lately. The members of the group, in an attempt to generate more traffic / interest, have been coming up with themes or topics to photograph, hopefully, while keeping the overall focus of the group (Peoria) in mind.

One of the recent assignments was 401 Water Street. This was an interesting subject, because with everyone shooting the same building, you get to see how others interpret, approach or envision the same subject.

I had an idea in mind, and it was similar to several other entries (but there were several completely different perspectives submitted as well), except I knew I wanted to use a ultra-wide angle for the perspective.

Here is my first attempt:
401 Water Street

This is what I was going for! Dramatic shot of the sculpture in the foreground, with 401 Water Street (including the illuminated water tank) in the background. The colors popped, exposure wasn't bad, and the sculpture definitely grabs your attention. (click the photos for a larger version)

But, I still wanted to try something more. So, I made a second visit. This time, my goal was to get a similar shot compositionally, but do it a little earlier at night during "the blue hour". By the time I got set up, it was actually a few minutes late, but, there was so much cloud cover that there wasn't much of a blue hour anyway. Since I'm here, I might as well snap a few.

401 Water - revisited

In an attempt to try something different, I processed this one a bit more radically. I ended up desaturating all the color channels except yellow, then faded the desaturated layer slightly to let just a touch of color come back through.

I thought it added an interesting twist. You can focus on the textures, and still have some color to add interest as well, but not steal the show. I also like the blotchy sky...I think the nearly monotone blues/blacks leading into the darkness adds to the mood.

I have been thinking of yet another attempt and trying a few other ideas. This type of assignment was perfect...some boundaries, but not restrictive.