Monday, May 30, 2011

Graduation Day

A couple of weeks ago our daughter graduated with a degree in biology. My parents drove in from Colorado and stayed in town for a few days to attend her graduation. But on that day my dad was unable to go. So I settled for having Rachel don her cap and gown once more and had her stand with my dad in our front yard.

The light from the setting sun was wonderful. I put the sun at my 2 o'clock position and added a bit of fill flash (set at -0.7) to lighten the shadows a bit. I used the 50mm lens and was standing on a planter in order to get a little height. In all I took 12 shots. I was happiest with this one:

Rachel and my Dad

Then I imported it into Lightroom, increased the "clarity" and "vibrance" settings to add a bit of punch, and then added a vignette to focus your attention on them.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 on aperture-priority mode using the 50mm f/1.8 lens; SB-800 flash; 1/200 sec at f/2.8; ISO 200; flash white balance; fine JPG.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sunday at Gettysburg

After having wonderful weather on Friday and Saturday, an approaching cold front turned the skies overcast and threatened rain. Despite that, I wanted to go see the first group of greyhounds get their chance to do the speed run and have their speed recorded. I love watching greyhounds run and trying to photograph them doing what they're designed to do is always a challenge.

I set my D300 to shutter priority because after I decided to use ISO 1250 I wanted to choose the shutter speed and let the camera choose the aperture. I set the shutter speed to 1/1250 sec. Why that and not some other number? To see the difference, here's a picture I took at the speed run using 1/250 sec:


See how the end of the tail, the feet, the grass, and the plastic fence are all blurred? This is because I was following the greyhound as it was running past me ("panning") and the shutter speed wasn't fast enough to freeze the action in this situation. But if you meant to render those objects blurry because you wanted to convey a sense of motion then 1/250 sec (or even slower, like 1/60 sec) worked as you intended. Try various shutter speeds and see what you get, then adjust accordingly. We're having fun, right?

Now, here is a picture I took after setting the shutter speed to 1/1250 sec:


See how everything on the greyhound, the fence, and (for the most part) the grass is much clearer? When I'm photographing a running greyhound I'll use a shutter speed of at least 1/1000 sec; I'll even go up to 1/2000 sec and faster to get what I want.

After watching the first part of the speed run it was time for me to pack my things and go with my two friends Aimee and Beth to another friend's house for lunch.  Our friend Meredith and her husband have a white greyhound, Turbo. I love white greyhounds -- probably because our first greyhound, Alex, was also white but had black ticking. The front door and windows let in plenty of light so I had to take advantage of it when taking Turbo's picture:



For these two pictures I used aperture-priority so I could focus on his eye and blur everything else using a large aperture on the 50mm lens.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 18-200mm zoom for pictures one and two. First picture: program mode chose 1/250 sec at f/8; ISO 1250; +2/3 exposure compensation; cloudy white balance. Second picture: shutter-priority; set to 1/1250 sec at f/4; ISO 1250; +2/3 exposure compensation; cloudy white balance. Both picture quality set to fine JPG. Third and fourth picture shot using the 50mm f/1.8. Third picture: aperture-priority; set to f/2, camera chose 1/1600 sec; ISO 800; +2/3 exposure compensation; auto white balance. Fourth picture: aperture-priority; set to f/2, camera chose 1/160 sec; ISO 800; +2/3 exposure compensation; auto white balance. Both picture quality set to RAW.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


After Saturday's afternoon sessions were done my friend Aimee and I went to the vendor area in the Gettysburg Outlet Shops parking lot for some quick browsing. There we came across a friend of ours who had her galga, Cara, and her galgo-mix, Paquita. I had to get some pictures of them both.

Paquita has this extraordinarily colored right eye: the top half of her iris is brown, the bottom half is light blue. I had the 18-200mm on the camera from the last photo session and so I used it for a few shots, but I wanted to try using the 50mm f/1.8 wide open to see what I could get. So I switched lenses and using the 50mm I got these:

Paquita Paquita

She wasn't really impressed with anything I was doing, so she gave me one of these:


(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 50mm f/1.8; aperture-priority; +1/3 exposure compensation; RAW files processed using Lightroom.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Saturday at Gettysburg

Saturday morning was a return to the Sachs Covered Bridge where I had a session to do with Sadie's half-sister, Mandy. She'll turn 11 in July. I met her and her owner, Beverly, perhaps a couple of years ago. I have never met any of Sadie's siblings (or Katie's, or Nikki's, or Alex's for that matter). But I think it'd be pretty cool if I did.

Mandy posed for me inside the bridge. Because she tires quickly I had to work fast. This was the first picture I took:


And this was the second:


I just used the available light that came through the open framework of the bridge -- I didn't think using flash was going to be a good idea.

Since it was late morning the sunlight was getting harsh and I used fill-flash to lighten the shadows a bit when I was shooting into the sun. I set flash compensation to -0.7 on the camera. I love how her ears stand up in these pictures:

Mandy Mandy

We were done within 30 minutes. I walked with Mandy and Beverly back to her SUV on the other side of the bridge and said goodbye. I'm hoping to see them both again.

(Shot with the D300 using the 18-200mm zoom, program mode, auto white balance; first picture: 1/100 sec at f/5; ISO 200; second picture: 1/100 sec at f/5.6; ISO 200; third picture: 1/400 sec at f/10; ISO 200; fourth picture: SB-800 flash, 1/320 sec at f/11; ISO 200. All RAW files processed using Lightroom.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Zoe sees a ghost?

One of the greyhounds I did a photo session with was Zoe, a brindle female with ears that stand straight up. Our second greyhound, Nikki, had ears that did the same thing. We've all come to adore ears that stand at attention. It's just too cute.

Gettysburg has a reputation for Civil War ghosts that some people say wander the battlefield and in town. While we didn't see any, perhaps Zoe did while I was photographing her. They're sighthounds, after all. What say you?

Zoe Zoe

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 18-200mm zoom set at 18mm; program mode; flash white balance; 1/320 sec @ f/9; ISO 400; +2/3 exposure compensation; RAW file processed with Lightroom. The first picture is processed using the creamtone preset.)

A few random shots from Friday's sessions at GIG

Here are a few random photos taken during Friday morning's session at the Sachs Covered Bridge near Gettysburg, PA:

I was looking for locations with open shade and avoid direct sunlight, which often meant standing in groves of trees and just asking for deer ticks to find us. But I thought that the subdued lighting inside the covered bridge might be interesting, especially since the openings in the sides of the bridge were right at greyhound-height.

While the first two images above were taken in overcast skies, the last two were taken inside of the covered bridge. I adjusted my white balance and also shot in RAW. I must have picked a good location to photograph because two wedding photographers also showed up for an engagement shoot after I started taking pictures of Boo and Cian. And it also so happened that there was a long-distance running relay that started at Gettysburg that very morning -- the bridge was a turn-around point for the teams running from Gettysburg to Washington, DC. While we were taking pictures we'd stop and take a break so that the people supporting the runners could come and pet Boo and Cian. They behaved so well.

The Sachs Covered Bridge is a very cool location to go photographing, so do stop by there if ever you visit Gettysburg.

(Shot with the Nikon D300; first picture: 18-200mm zoom; aperture-priority; 1/1000 sec @ f/4; ISO 200; flash white balance; RAW file processed using Lightroom Ultimate Fighter preset; second picture: 50mm f/1.8 lens; aperture-priority; 1/400 sec @ f/4; ISO 400; SB-800 flash; cloudy white balance; RAW file processed Lightroom sepia preset; third picture: 50mm f/1.8 lens; aperture-priority; 1/80 sec @ f/4; ISO 800; shade white balance; RAW file processed with Lightroom; fourth picture: 50mm f/1.8 lens; aperture-priority; shade white balance; 1/125 sec @ f/4; ISO 800; shade white balance; RAW file processed with Lightroom. Matrix-metered all images.)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday at Gettysburg

I had a wonderful time at GIG. I spent the morning at Sachs Covered Bridge and the afternoon at the Irish Brigade monument near the Devil's Den and Little Round Top.

The Irish Wolfhound statue that's part of the monument

I got my taste of what it's like to do photo sessions with greyhounds other than one's own:
  • when and when not to keep things moving;
  • do the best you can to keep the pups from getting too stressed from being in a strange environment;
  • remember you're at the mercy of what the hounds will or won't do;
  • look for decent locations;
  • pay attention to lighting;
  • don't get in the way of other photographers who also want to use the same locations as you do;
  • don't get run over by people participating in a relay marathon from Gettysburg to Washington, DC;
  • watch for deer swimming across a creek and for snakes sunning themselves on the bank;
  • and go over oneself looking for ticks who don't understand that you're covered in tick repellent.
And having my friend Aimee as my assistant was, well...I can't thank her enough for volunteering and wanting to help me, as well as for driving me around the battlefield so I could do these sessions. And thanks to my friend Petra who suggested these locations to me.

After finishing Friday's photo sessions at Sachs Covered Bridge and the Irish Brigade monument my ABT friends and I relaxed in our hotel room. I took a few snaps:

Kali Aimee and Zuni
Aimee and Kali