DTA- It's What's for Christmas

LDecided to take a few pics to show off my hard work after getting the shop ready for the Christmas shopping season! Enjoy:

Location: DTA Humboldt- 1063 H Street Arcata, CA
Subject(s): Christmas tree, decorations, logo's

It's a Carson Mansion Christmas!!

Finally some Christmas lights!! The Carson house has been haunting my photographic dreams ever since they put the lights up on it. Problem is, the only free time I have had to shoot it has been while it was raining and my camera is not exactly waterproof...  Well, the rain finally cleared up a few nights ago (at least for the night) and I saw the lights on my way home over the Samoa bridge & jumped at the opportunity.

I have been reading up on HDR and looking at examples online for quite some time & thought that the Carson Mansion would provide the perfect subject for an HDR photo, especially with the Christmas lights all strung up. So I grabbed my tripod out of the car, and my cross-screen filter (makes lights have four points) just for fun, and set up everything from 2-3 different locations in front of the house and to the side of it. I used my Exposure bracketing feature on the camera taking three pictures each time I pressed the shutter button (the first at my set exposure, the second a stop below, and the third a stop above) and planned to combine them later in Photoshop using the automate HDR feature. Below are each of the three images before editing:

I was surprised at how easy it was! However what was not easy was trying to get the picture to look as close to real life as possible. I got close enough to make me happy for my first attempt, but I might try coming back and doing it over again after I get a bit more familiar with the ins and outs of the feature. Personally, I think it looks a little Tron-ish but I did watch the new movie the day before I took the photo's so I'm sure that didn't help! By the way, GREAT movie- I really enjoyed the first one but the second was even better! Back to business- Below are the combined photos, which were then edited in the HDR feature of Photoshop:

I used the corss-screen filter for a few shots before I noticed that the four-points it was making around the lights were much larger and pronounced than I wanted. So I remembered my focus-stacking technique and used it here. I took one pic of the house with the cross-screen filter:

and one without the cross-screen filter:

 and then combined them as partially transparent layers in Photoshop. By making them transparent layers I could control the power of the four-points coming off the lights.

Location:  Carson House Mansion-- at the foot of M Street in Eureka, CA
Date/Time: 12/ /10
Subject(s): Long exposure, christmas lights, HDR, architecture
Notes: some photos used a cross-screen filter, others no filter, all taken with tripod and long shutter speeds

The benefits of RAW

The more I shoot RAW images the more I love them. That's all for today!

No really, RAW images are the creme brulee of images... Our last few days in GA we went over to a friends house to hang out and the guys ended up re-hashing old times with some flaming irish car bombs. Of course, I was enlisted to photograph this glorious event, all the while thinking "I'm not so sure this is a good idea..."

The kitchen was the only place irish car bombs could be had without catching the carpet on fire or burning his gorgeous hardwood floors. Problem with that was that the kitchen was really dark- on top of that once I did a few test shots (with the camera- not the car bombs!!) I realized that if I wanted to catch the fire coming off the glasses I would need to make the kitchen even darker. Was I worried? HELLS NO!! Why- because I was shooting RAW!!! I just set my shutter speed around 1/60 which made it low enough to just barely make out what would be in the image and set my camera for continuous shutter release.

Of course, the images were too dark to see much of anything in:

However I just opened each one in camera raw and edited them as a batch to lighten them up and keep the fire showing. I mostly tinkered with the exposure, fill light (which I normally try not to use because of the noise), brightness, and white balance. BIM BAM BOP- a few minutes later (okay, maybe like 20) I had the pictures I wanted from the beginning!

Location: Inside, very dark lighting
Subject(s): Irish Car Bombs, flame, people
Notes: shot in RAW, edited in Camera RAW & Photoshop


Thanksgiving brings back memories of tables and counter-tops crammed with every food imaginable. I remember how hectic thanksgiving always was trying to make it to everyone's dinners/lunches, which between my dad & step-mom's family, grandma's family, grandpa's family, step-dad's family, and boyfriends family left me pooped everytime. So this year since we were in town for the big headache and belly-ache inducing day we decided to gather everyone together at one house for one dinner. Sounds crazy right? Well, we survived, scratch that- we rocked that thanksgiving.

With all the people around and the different families my goal for the day was to get group shot to give to each of the families, as well as a few random candid shots. Last year I spent quite a bit of time shooting the food so I wanted to focus on the people this year, since I only get to see them once a year!

I shot everything in RAW instead of JPG (now that I have photoshop & camera raw I will never go back to jpg's!!) and then did some short (ie- 5-10 min per picture) editing in camera raw then photoshop to finish them up with the border.

After thanksgiving we went skeet shooting- my first time- where I shot a shotgun- also my first time- AND I actually hit a few skeets! By a few I mean like three out of at least 20-30, but that seems okay for a first-timer. It was really cold and windy out so I didn't take too many pics (expensive camera + freezing fingers + muddy hills & lakes= IMPENDING DOOM) but I tried to focus on getting images where the shooter and the skeet were both in the frame, and hoped I could get a few shots of the skeet being hit and breaking. I didn't have much faith in the later as I left my polarizing filter at the house and the reflection off the lake was killer.

Perfect Shot!!

DTA Skeet Skeet

Location: Lagrange, GA
Date/Time: 11/25/10
Subject(s): group shots
Notes: shot in RAW, minor editing