Monday, March 28, 2011

Oh boy... more parks.

The fact that it is still cold out has really put a damper on my creativity. Since I like to take pictures outdoors and there aren't any flowers, leaves or anything green growing yet I'm left with trees and stumps basically. I don't quite feel comfortable enough to just wander around in downtown GR with my camera, or anywhere else where there would be lots of people. I would like to give light painting or night photography a try, but again it's pretty cold and I'd rather not be out late at night freezing my fingers off.
So in light of all that I went to yet another park on Sunday night. This park is actually a series of nature trials right next to a summer camp. I decided to go later at night in hopes that I could try sunset images again. Since I failed to scout out the park beforehand I quickly discovered that the park was next to a large valley which was taller on the other side and didn't make for the most impressive landscape. Also since it was a nature trail park there were many trees and it was difficult to get to the edge of the valley to get a picture or to get a shot that wasn't 99.9% trees.

While walking along the trails I did find one little tree/plant that's leaves had managed to hang on all winter. I had to get some pictures of this trooper.
The top two are my favorite, actually the middle one is because there is more contrast... But I also edited these two to make them black and white, also pretty excellent.

Now here is the sunset through the extremely large amount of trees in the park. Again, not the most impresive images but since I went out with the intent of getting sunset pictures I might as well include what I have, regardless of the level of not awesomeness that they are. The two silhouette ones are kind of cool, I like how you can notice the color changes in the sky... or at least what little bit of sky you can see through all those trees. The third image isn't the best, but the sunbeams are alright.

Lee was kind enough to tag along with me on Sunday to take these pictures. I'm glad he's willing to go, I feel less awkward taking pictures when I have someone with me. Maybe it's just because I like having someone to talk to. While we were walking along the trails we found a really big tree that had fallen over and while I was attempting to get some pictures of the unearthed roots (none of which turned out, bummer) Lee climbed onto the base of the tree. I told him he could stay up there and I'd take some pictures of him. We quickly found out one thing: I would never cut it as a model photographer. I've never really done portraits before so I didn't know how he should stand. When he asked me what to do, I just told him to do whatever he wants and I'll just take pictures. He then asked me if I should be saying things like "work it". I did say it, although I was laughing and I highly doubt that it was convincing. Needless to say I apparently need some work doing portraits and learning how to interact with the people I photograph. (If you want to be a victim of my attempted portraits let me know, I need the practice)
So, here are some "portraits":
Black and white:

Flickr link for this set of photos: Indian Trails Park

Do you like laughing? Do you like butter? Do you like Paula Deen?

Saturday, March 26, 2011


So in my intro post I made mention that I generally dislike using programs to do any editing to my photographs, but today I had a change of heart. I recently joined a photography forum and someone had posted a thread asking if anyone doesn't use photoshop, or basically if they don't do any post processing. Their idea was that using these programs doesn't give you a "true photograph" since you are altering the image coming straight from the camera. At first I mostly agreed with them since I rarely use editing programs on my images, but then I read the replies by other forum users and they made many good, valid points in support of post-processing. The comment that got me the most was that even when developing black and white film, an individual uses filters to adjust the contrast of images. I love using filters when developing my pictures from film. People often used techniques like adjusting contrast, burning and other processing techniques in the darkroom, now that images are done digitally, it's just a new darkroom. The digital darkroom. Basically these techniques allow a photographer to get the image as close to how their eye saw it as possible. As I've said before, as advanced as cameras may seem these days they are no match for the human eye and can never quite convey the same image that your eye saw at the time the picture was taken. These post processing techniques, whether done in a darkroom or in photoshop give the tools to recreate the image to a better degree of accuracy.

In other words: Now that I realized post-processing is a technique I used before, and loved, just because I'm doing digital photography doesn't mean these processes still aren't relevant or useful. I also realized that basically what I meant by my dislike of heavy editing is editing that pushes color past normal levels, extensive airbrushing/sharpening, etc. Essentially any technique that actually changes the image to make it seem more unrealistic. It is very hard to convey my opinion on this topic in words so I'll try to provide an example:
The first image is the one straight from the camera, no processing done by me. Next I have what I consider a good process of the image that makes it fairly realistic to what I actually saw that day, since my eyes adjusted better to the harsh sunlight of the day and were able to pick up on more color than my camera. Lastly I have what is, in my opinion, a way over processed image. I cranked up the saturation and contrast and it makes the image very unrealistic. So that is basically when I dislike post-processing, when the result doesn't seem real.

So in light of my change of heart I spent some time tonight post-processing a few of my images from previous posts. Enjoy:

Much more interesting if I do say so myself. And as always they are on my Flickr account, which is in my links bar on the right side.


And just for fun:

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Yeah, there really is a park in Grand Rapids called Lookout Park. It's on the east side of the Grand River and overlooks the northern part of the city. I figured it would be a cool place to try getting some sunset pictures over Grand Rapids. As with most of my ideas it sounded way cooler than it ended up. Today was a beautiful, sunny day, but of course as soon as the sun started to set there was a bunch of clouds all in the way.

Taking pictures outside may be my favorite, but it isn't always the nicest. Since the sun and clouds weren't cooperating with me I didn't end up taking many sunset pictures, and the few I took weren't that excellent. I tried some tone mapping on them to spice them up a bit. I also used the scene dial on the camera and selected the sunset option because it adjusts the temperature of the white balance to pick up the red tones of the sunset.
Not exactly the most impressive image, but whatever. My tone mapping made it slightly grungy, but hey, it's a picture of city, cities are grungy.
This image I did lots of playing around with. A lot of my tone mapping just made this image look a lot like the previous one so I decided to try something different. I set it to black and white and the city turned out pretty cool, but there is a lot sky in the image and that was pretty boring. I decided to crank up the saturation highlights and it ended up showing color from the sunset so I rolled with it. So again with the sun and clouds being jerks my sunset images turned out kinda blah, but getting good shots in nature where I can't control much takes patience, it just means I get to try again someday.

52 Week Challenge: Week 3?
Well, I'm already one or two weeks behind on my challenge and needless to say I hate it. I liked the idea of giving myself a project to keep me taking pictures, but self-portraits are not really my thing. I don't like having to use my tripod, set the self timer and then try to come up with some pose that doesn't make me look any more lame than I already am. I don't consider myself the most interesting subject and I feel very awkward when people notice me trying to take pictures of myself. So, who knows if this challenge will last, at the very least I doubt it will end up being self-portraits, I will probably change it into something I find more interesting.

But this week while at the park I decided to set the camera on the bench and shoot it up.
I tone mapped both images, one in color and the other in black and white. I can't decide which one I like more. Of course I love black and white, but for some reason I enjoy the color one a lot too. Probably because the bench is red and, well, I like red. The depth of field is smaller and the camera mostly picked up detail on the bench and left my boyfriend and I out of focus, which is basically opposite of how portraits should be done, but who said I follow the rules? So yeah, by the way, that's my boyfriend Lee. He likes to wear his hood at all times when he's wearing a hooded sweatshirt, I don't get it.
And here is yet another attempt at a self-portrait. After my first, and best, attempt for a self-portrait above I went back to trying to get sunset pictures over the city I decided to take another self-portrait and of course forgot to zoom back out. The excellent result of my forgetfulness is this nice faceless shot of my butt. I am just a professional at self-portraits minus my face.

When I was getting ready to take my self-portraits I took some test shots on the bench to make sure it was a good place to set the camera and not cut anything off. Except for that one time where I forgot to zoom back out and cut off my head... But anyways, thanks for the help Mr. Bench, you were a star.

Link to the set of images from today: Lookout Park

Thanks again for reading! Comment it up please :)

Friday, March 11, 2011


Today was another beautiful day. I'm really hoping winter is done, I'm enjoying seeing majority of the snow gone. Not that the ground underneath the snow is all that beautiful right now...but it will get green and nice again. I was down visiting my boyfriend today at his hometown and he took me to an old, abandoned golf course. Apparently first the area was a golf course, but then that wasn't working out so they made it into a disc golf course, but then people kept stealing the baskets and so now it's just nothing. Lots of disc golf courses have problems with people stealing baskets and I want to know what the heck they do with those things? I just don't get people who ruin things for others...what jerks.

Slightly funny story time: So if you read my previous post you'll know how excited I was about playing around with HDR images. In my excitement I emailed my dad some of my pictures to show him my handiwork. And here is his response: "Well, this just proves the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. When I first got into photography I would go out and get pictures of stumps, rivers, rocks, etc. Your mom thought I was crazy because there were no people in them. I think you will find black and whites of the stump to be as interesting as color though." I am most certainly my father's daughter, I'm all about nature pictures like he is. Also before I read his response the following morning I decided I wanted to play with my images more and I actually made one of the images into black and white, so I cracked up when I read his comment about the images being just as interesting in black and white... because I totally agree. He also told me that I should use a lens hood in order to not get sunspots on my images like I did in some on Sunday. 

Anyway. Pictures, that's what this blog is here for.

This is just a landscape shot of the lake on the course. The old clubhouse was nearby so I'm guessing this was near the first hole. It looked like one terrible first hole. Kind of a dog leg right around this lake which was down a pretty steep hill so if you slightly messed up your shot, you were done. Perhaps everyone failed at this first hole and left and that's why the course didn't survive...
Yet again I took all my shots today in aperture mode and using my dad's advice I used a lens hood. This shot I did with a larger aperture in order to get more detail. It wasn't high enough apparently because it doesn't have as much detail as I would have liked. This shot was also taken in RAW so that I could tone map it. Tone mapping is the process that makes HDR images like in my previous post. This process can be done with a single RAW file versus taking three JPEG images at the three different exposure levels.
This was a dead tree that looked pretty sweet. Then when I looked up I noticed you could see the moon behind the tree so I grabbed a shot of that. I wish that other tree wasn't creepin' down in the right corner, but whatever. I also tone mapped this image, and my trial program places a watermark on the image. Also when I got home I noticed that I apparently had a piece of dust or something on my lens so you can see the blurry shadow of that in the upper left hand corner... oops.
This was an old piece of farm equipment or something that someone kindly left out to rust and therefore create some cool images for me.
Here is that tree from on of my earlier shots. I saw this dead tree sandwiched by two live trees and just thought it looked cool.
The black shadows around the edge of this shot were unintentional, but it actually turned out kind of cool. The effect was created by my lens hood.

As always check out more images from today on my Flickr: Abandoned Golf Course Images

Thanks for reading. Now comment! Please.

Funny thing!: If you think all this news about how crazy Charlie Sheen is funny then you will love this auto-tuned song: Winning!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spring Break

Welcome to my spring break week, which actually started Thursday night at about 5:15 after my last class. So far this normally joyous time for students has consisted of being sick, working and that's about it. But I decided to not be a bum and go out, enjoy the outdoors and make the most of my time off. Today was actually pretty nice out; sunny and not windy, which makes for a nice winter day. So I headed off towards a local park in the area that happens to be right along a river...after I treated myself to a lunch at Qudoba. [For the record, it's terribly busy at Qudoba around 1o'clock...]

I frequently do reading on a digital photography website and this weekend I did a lot of reading about HDR (High Dynamic Range) images. Generally I'm against heavy editing in photos, but this technique just makes the colors of a photo so intense that I had to look into it. One description from someone who creates these images said that they use HDR imaging to create an image that is more like what the human eye sees. Our eyes and minds are way more powerful than any camera and can take in so much more when viewing something and sadly its not easy to convey this into a photograph, but HDR imaging, in my opinion, gives images back some of that natural coloring.

So I'll start of with my HDR images because I'm super excited about them. I'll post the HDR image and the original image, then add some comments below each pair of images.
So, image of the same object, but notice the.....depth of color in the first image. I guess depth is really the best way to describe that. This was a tree that I noticed as I was walking near the river. The had lots of rabbit tracks leading up to it and and I wondered if I'd be able to get any cool animal track shots when I discovered this sweet tunnel through the base of the tree. In order to create an HDR image like this I had to take 3 shots, at different exposure levels: -2, 0 and 2. Then I used a program to stack these images and it gives me a bunch of sliders to adjust different elements of the image. Luckily the program offers a complete free trial and all it does is put a watermark on my images. Totally acceptable until I can get rich and buy the program for about 100 dollars.

Again check out the depth of color in the first image, the HDR image, versus the regular second shot. It's so intense, I mean just look at the color of the water. The amount of fascination I have with this style of imaging is unfathomable; I am enjoying this way too much.

Again the HDR image is on top. Again that image is just amazing. Just stare at it for a bit.

Obviously I am infatuated with my HDR images. I'm not saying that they are the greatest masterpieces ever created and I am suddenly a master of HDR, but the new possibilities my mind has opened up with this technique has me super excited.

And now here are some more images from my day. Also today I worked in all Aperture mode. It's the easiest for me when taking pictures outdoors. I was walking around looking for cool things and I was in a few different lighting situations so adjusting aperture vs shutter speed is a much easier option. I didn't really adjust much else besides exposure. I was just too excited to try out HDR imaging that I didn't play with much else.
[Tree with some vines or something growing all over it]
[Close up on that tree with the sun behind a branch...trying to be creative here I guess]

Again I have more images from today up on Flickr. Feel free to go there and check out today's set: Riverside Park Images

Week 2- 52 Week Challenge
Well last week I got sick and was fairly busy with school and work so I am a week late on my challenge. I'll be posting another one this week to make up for it since it is break and I have no excuse for lack of time. I had my tripod with me today to help take my HDR shots so I decided to use it for my self-portrait. Well I felt kind of awkward because I was within eyesight of the road and lots of people kept driving by so I only ended up taking about 4 pictures of myself with the timer. None of them are all that awesome, but they are done. So, here is my "favorite" aka "the one I disliked the least":

Funny thing of the blog: (Yes, I plan on doing this every post, get used to it.)
So this is a link to an "comic". Basically it starts with a picture of some soccer guy in a really weird position, so then they copy and pasted him into all these other scenes and I found it pretty great. So enjoy: soccer guy comic

Thanks again for reading my blog. Please feel free to comment. As much as I might seem to enjoy writing for my own sake I do enjoy hearing what people thing of what I'm up to in photography. Tell me if you think my shots are cool. Tell me if I'm the worst photographer you've ever met. Tell me if you have any suggestions. Whatever. Just comment, I enjoy it. And check out my Flickr account anytime, I have a link on the left side of my blog.