Friday, December 31, 2010

 Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 @54mm, polarizer, ND8 neutral density filter, ISO 100, single image HDR, f/22, 30sec.
  After 3 years of staring at these silos waiting for a decent scene for them to be photographed in, I finally got my chance this morning.
  These pair of silos sit about 200 yards away right out of my back door. The entire time we have been in our sub-division, they have dared me to take shots of them, but there has not been a background or angle that I liked until this morning.
  When I took my dogs out a little after 7:00am I noticed the wonderful cloud formations taking place right behind the silos and knew I had to run back in and get my gear (I did finish with the dogs, though).  The clouds were moving very fast and were very dark to the west but great sunlight coming from the east.
  The shot at the top of the post was one of the first I took by putting a polarizer and ND8 neutral density filter on the lens.  This allowed me to use a 30 second exposure and blur the clouds. My kind of shot!
  The pic below was one of the last ones I took without and filters on the lens. I was bracketing shots for HDR.  It was the -2 of one of those brackets. It really shows what kind of formations the clouds were demonstrating. 
  What a great way to start New Year's Eve. Everyone have a great and safe 2011!
 Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 @48mm, ISO 100, single image HDR, f/22, 1/8sec.


Thursday, December 30, 2010


 My wife puts out several lighted fixtures in the yard for Christmas decorations. We don't string lights on the house like Clark Griswold, but we do have about 10 different lighted ornaments. This particular ornament is a lights rope Christmas Tree that spirals up around center stake to a lighted star at the top. Very colorful.
 When we pulled in the driveway from our 5 hour jaunt back from West Tennessee, the ornament was a little brighter. It was sitting under a corner of the eave on our front porch. The 4 inches of snow apparently clogged up the drains so the melting at that corner came down on to the tree and froze as icicles on the spiraled rope lights.
  When it got completely dark, Melissa turned on her lights and it was really beautiful. So I unloaded the camera and had to take some pics.
  I really like light bursts so I got in close with a small aperture.  My free, downloaded HDR software does not handle any real bright light very well, so after a few tries I once again enlisted the help of brother Jim for some expert processing.  He came through once again.

Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Canon 50mm f/1.8mm lens, ISO 100, 3 exposure HDR at f/16

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


    Christmas morning, my brother Jim and I couldn't resist the opportunity to jump out into the snow fall and try to catch some photos out on my mother's property.  Mom has 40 acres or so of land and just about every corner of it brings back some kind of memory of growing up there.
  Jim has been posting a series of shots on his blog, Behind My Eyes, sharing some of those memories through great photos.
  When we got near the back 1/3 of the property, it turns from pasture land into wooded land.  On this part of the land we have small creeks and a spring. In the springtime I plan on exploring these areas for some of my more usual moving water pictures. Upon reaching the beginning of this wooded area we noticed this corner post with an old rusted hinge bolted to it. We immediately loved the photo op, but the fence post also jogged some memories of my own.
  The entire property is surrounded by barbed wire fence that at one time was used to keep my dad's cattle in check. In the wooded area of the property, trees would break, fall over and damage these fences and the cattle would occasionally venture out into adjacent property.  Several times Dad would enlist Jim and I to aid him in repairing these area of damaged fence. It was not a fun job because it did not matter what the weather was like, it had to be fixed. This usually involved herding the cattle back in, then getting rid of the tree, then using a come-a-long to pull the fence tight while Dad hammered in some u-shaped clips to clamp the fence. You can see one of those in my shot above.
  Really liked the triangle shapes involved between the hinge, corner post, and the angled gusset post.  Unfortunately, the shallow depth of field didn't allow for the snow to be visible but it wasn't necessary for the subject of the shot anyway.

Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Canon 50mm f/1.8mm lens, ISO 100, 3 exposure HDR at f/2.8

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


  This is a second photo from the abandoned old house that I explored the day after Christmas in Gleason, TN.  When I walked through this old house I often wondered who the last inhabitants were? What kind of people/person were they? How long ago were they here?
  It's obvious that it has been a long time since anyone lived here. There were 3 chairs in what was the living room. There was remnants of an old couch in another room, but just chairs in here. They looked like they would have been nice, comfortable chairs at one time. The organization of the chairs doesn't really mean anything due to the fact that there was not a centerpiece in the room such as a coffee table or an old TV. The whole room has probably been tossed around 2 or 3 times over from partying kids or possibly even drug dealers, who knows?
  The old blue paint peeling off the walls gives the impression it was a brightly colored room and very festive.
  I took shots from through the front window you see back into the room as well and will likely post that shot in the coming days.

Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 lens @ 28mm, ISO 100, 3 exposure HDR at f/11.0

Monday, December 27, 2010


  On my Christmas travels to West Tennessee, I spent the night at my Mother-in-Laws' house in Gleason, TN. At the end of her road is a house that has been abandoned for approximately 25 years.  I took the opportunity Sunday afternoon to explore this house and take several photos.
  This light switch really caught my eye. Don't know why, it just did. It was in the main hallway that connected every room in the house and ran straight from the front door to the back door.
  I guess the attraction of the switch was that it was really the only part of the house that looked both like it could be used and like it was just as decayed as the rest of the house. Around the corner was a rectangular hole that looked like it once held another light switch that has since been taken out or was never put in.
  I had a great time exploring this house with the exception of now windows or doors blocking the wind with sub-freezing temps outside.  I will post at least one more from this house in the coming days.

Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, ISO 100, 3 exposure HDR at f/5.0

Thursday, December 23, 2010


 Well, I wasn't planning on posting another pic until after Christmas but if you check out my brother Jim's blog,  Dad's Shoes,  you will understand the reasoning for the extra post.'
  Upon arriving at my mother's house this evening Jim bracketed a few shots of these very same horse shoes. I will not go into explaining the meaning behind these for Jim does it so well in his blog. He does mention in his blog that when we got together in July at our family reunion, I was the only one of us to point the camera at our dad's horse shoes.  If you look at my Facebook page, my profile picture is a shot Jim got of me doing that very thing.  Anyway, this is the shot that I came up with from back in July to bookend brother Jim's.
  Chris Nitz suggested we do a collaboration. I guess you could say that is what this is. Please take a look at Jim's blog if you haven't. The story behind these shoes is way better than any photo can capture.

Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 @ 28mm, ISO 100, single image HDR shot at f/4.5, 1/40 sec.


  Probably won't get to post another photo until next week sometime so I thought I would capture something Christmas-sy and post.
  This is my wife's centerpiece on our dining room table. She created both the wreath and the centerpiece which is filled with Christmas ornaments and lights. At night it is lit up with a beautiful blue light.  I took the shot during the day because I just happen to love the lines created by the sun shining through the blinds and the way they change direction from the table to the wreath and on to the centerpiece and chair back.
  Hope everyone has a great and safe Christmas! See you next week.

Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 @28mm, ISO 100, 3 exposure HDR at f/25.0


  Today's post is a continuation from yesterday's post. I just got up-close and personal with the conveyor motor from the robot conveyor from yesterday's image.
  If you look at the label on the motor, it has been dented several times. This could be from a number of things that get pushed around in the area.  You can see the yellow guard that is framing the shot and how beat up it has gotten in the protection of this motor.
  Used another shallow depth of field on this shot to try and isolate the label on the motor.

Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 lens @ 28mm, ISO 100, 3 exposure HDR at f/4.0.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


  After seeing Chris Nitz grungy pics and my brother Jim's shots from his tool shop at work I decided to explore my workplace for some interesting, grungy shots. 
  I am a Design Engineer at Tennessee Watercraft, Inc. in Vonore, TN.  We are a Yamaha owned company and we design and produce jet powered sport boats.  You can check our product out at The daily activities for the facility start with the production of all of the fiberglass parts, installing all other purchased parts and everything in between.
  This includes trimming and cutting all the holes in our fiberglass small parts such as hatch lids, helms, and bulkheads.  The machine you see in today's image is a conveyor that shuffles these small parts around a pair of  Motoman robots that do the trimming and cutting.  If you been around fiberglass at all, you know that this is a nasty area when these robots are takin' care o' business. These machines have been in use for about 10 years now (very innovative for the boating industry when we put them in). The caved in protective fence and the rusty fan cover on the conveyor motor are a signs of the wear and tear these machines have endured over that 10 year span.
  I have a shot from another angle that I will show in a later post.  I really enjoyed exploring the facility and have found several other opportunities for these type of images. With the ugly grey colorless outdoors we have in East Tennessee right now, these combined with my basketball photography will help me make it to spring.

Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 lens @ 28mm, ISO 100, 3 exposure HDR at f/4.0

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


  Was trying to post a Christmas shot tonight but none of the shots I took looked post-worthy. So I decided to reach back into my archives and go to a much warmer climate.  Today's post is Conasauga Falls in Tellico Plains, TN.
  It is not the most difficult set of waterfalls I've had to find, but the 1.5 mile hike down to it is slightly rough. Coming back up the mountain will take the wind out of you as well.  It is well worth the hike, though. I hiked by myself back into this virtual paradise of a location back in the fall and even though the water levels were down considerably, it was breathtaking.  There are several different levels even further back from where my shot was.
  Two weeks after I made the trek, the entire family hiked back here with me and in the spring when the green comes out and the water levels are back up, I will spend a lot of time here.

Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 @ 28mm, polarizer filter, 3 exposure HDR at f/16

Sunday, December 19, 2010


 Getting a little in Christmas spirit tonight! My daughter, Jocelyn, one day started to make her own Christmas Tree in her bedroom. My wife was trying to get her to clean her room at the time so she ended up having to tear down her creation with the incentive that we would buy her a small tree to put in her room.
  Needless to say we bought her the tree, mounted it on a stool in the corner of her bedroom and she decorated it. 
  It is a beautiful little tree, but this evening I noticed that when the lights are out in her room and the tree lights are on, it creates a kaleidoscope of light against the walls.  I immediately grabbed the camera, set it up, and snapped off a bunch of shots.
  The last shots I took turned out to be the best. I used a small aperature to create a burst effect with the lights on the tree.  The stocking she hung on the tree for her stuffed animals both reflected and let through light and created a great effect.
  Happy Holidays from the Denham household!

Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80mm lens @ 28mm, ISO 100, f/16, 5 sec., single image HDR.


  The Tennessee River separates the state of Tennessee into 3 sections, East, Middle, and West. Not sure which direction the river runs but it makes a U shape from Knoxville south through Chattanooga down through Alabama and then back up north sectioning Middle and West Tennessee and ending at Land Between The Lakes at the Tennessee-Kentucky border.
  One fall morning I made an early trek to downtown Knoxville to try and get a reflected shot of the lights of downtown on the Tennessee River. I tried to find a vantage point on the south-eastern side of the river but just didn't know my way around and was unsuccessful. I didn't give up on getting some kind of shot, though, so I drove across the river into downtown and followed Neyland Dr. down to the river front.
  I found a landing on the river called Volunteer Landing.  This is a very popular place during University of Tennessee football games. The football stadium is right on the river, the "Vol Navy" docks here and parties until game time when they leave their boats at the landing and cross the street into the stadium.
  There are 4 bridges that span the river downtown. The one I traversed was Highway 129 or Alcoa Highway as it is known around here. It is roughly a half a mile to a mile back west of Volunteer Landing. There are 3 bridges that cross almost right next to each other just east of the landing. The first is an old train bridge, followed by the Henley St. Bridge, then the Gay St. Bridge. This arrangement of bridges caught my attention and I had to catch them in a shot.
  I got down as close to the water as I could on a cement walkway that leads front he dock up to the road and a restaurant on the river.  The orange railing and golden sunrise provided contrast against the dark colors of the bridges.
  I got my reflection on the Tennessee River. Instead of the lights of downtown, though, it was the string of bridges that spanned the river itself.

Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80mm lens @ 28mm, ISO 100, 3 exposure HDR at f/16

Thursday, December 16, 2010


  The southeast United States has been seeing some unusually cold temperatures this year.  I can't remember the last time we got snow in December in East Tennessee. It really is a welcome change though. Growing up in Michigan, I got used to and liked the snow.  The low temperatures, single digits at night and 20's during the day, are a little tough to used to before January and February though.
  The low temps does make for some neat photos, however.  The shot in today's post was taken yesterday morning on Tellico Lake. The day before we had gotten snow and some ice so both docks at work were covered.  The sky was very grey-blue with the oncoming ice and freezing rain we were in store for later in the day.
  The clouds did form a nice parallel line with the horizon just above the tree line and mountains visible on the other side of the lake which allowed a sliver of orange and pink light to shine through contrasting the ice blue clouds and lake reflection.
  The dock I was staked out on had two lights that work kind of like lighthouses over night so no one runs into the dock.  I aligned the single light I placed in the foreground on the horizon between the sunlight and it's reflection on the lake almost as if the light is force behind the sunlight. This was accidental but looks really neat. A neutral density filter allowed for a long exposure (30 seconds) and a glassy reflection on the water.
  All in all I really like the way this shot came together. I think it visually displays how cold it was that morning.

Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 lens @ 28mm, D9 Neutral Density filter, ISO 100, 3 exposure HDR at f/16.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


  Today's post is another of my older shots that I posted to Facebook a while back. With the creation of my photo blog and the opportunity to share with different people, I wanted to post it here as well.
  Fall mornings in the south are awesome. Cool nights with heavy dew followed by warm days usually result in the sun burning the dew into fog even before the sun rises above the horizon. This makes for some dramatic scenery.
  On the way to pick up my wife from work one of these fall mornings I couldn't help but stop at this pond and capture the fog rising off of it in front of this little red barn.  I have taken pictures of this barn before but it had been 9 or 10 years ago, before digital.
  This day the brown algae had formed up on the surface of the water as well and lent itself perfectly to the foreground of the shot. I set my tripod at it's lowest setting in order to place the algae large in the foreground.
  The trees and shoreline of the pond entering in from each side help draw the attention to this little red barn. 
  I passed by this barn again this morning and the pond was completely frozen with snow on the banks. Maybe this calls for a winter visit as well.

Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 @ 28mm, 3 exposure HDR @f/8.0

Monday, December 13, 2010


  Most of my photography travels take me down the Cherohala Skyway. This particular roadway is a 45 mile road that connects Tellico Plains, TN and Robinsville, NC. The Tennessee side of the skyway winds through the Cherokee National Forest which then turns into the Natahala National Forest on the North Carolina side.
  Both of these forests border the Great Smoky Mountains with the highest point on the skyway being 5290 feet.
  There are several hiking trails that branch off the skyway.  One particular morning me and my good friend, Tim Owen, decided to hike on a photo excursion on one of these trails in order to catch some fall color with the sunrise.  The trail we had chosen was called Hooper Bald. Hooper Bald is at 5100 ft and is about 7 miles into North Carolina.
  After an eventful hike at 6:30am up the trail in the dark with the only light being that of my cell phone (neither of us thought to bring a flash light), we successfully made it to the top of the bald which is at 5100 ft. The light was gorgeous, however the vantage point was blocked by the brush that surrounded the outer rim of the mountain. This was very disappointing. Tim was determined to find a view of the sunrise. I, however, elected to try and find a shot of some kind.
  After trying to get some silhouettes of some small bushes I looked opposite the sunrise and saw some amazing color. The sky separated into 3 different colors down to the western horizon. I found this baron tree in the dead center of the bald that was surrounded by hay grass. I found my shot!
  I knew that this would lend itself to HDR to expose the tree, grass, and not to overexpose the light that sets the shot off.  So after bracketing several shots, I came to this one as the one I liked.
Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 @ 28mm, 3 exposure HDR at f/8.0

Sunday, December 12, 2010


  My trip home from work every evening takes me south on Highway 411 towards Madisonville from Vonore. When I turned onto 411 heded home on Thursday evening, I was greeted with an incredible light show of a sunset off to the southwest.
  I don't usually get to photograph the sunset because I am normally going on to another function directly after work.  I didn't have any where else to go that evening and couldn't pass up the opportunity to stop and fire off a few shots.
  There is a set of railroad tracks that runs parallel to Hwy 411 that is between 100 and 200 yards from the highway.  I wanted to use these tracks in my shot so I immediately turned down an alternate road and found a decent vantage point to compose from. 
  I was really drawn to the crossing gates on either side of the tracks so I oriented my camera where I had one up close and the other fully in view behind it.
  I composed at an angle to have the train tracks behave as leading lines carrying the viewer's eye from the front and right of the shot to the glowing sunset in the back, and left.
  With an extremel contrast in the scene of bright and dark light, I took shots with the intention of processing it as an HDR. With that in mind I auto bracketed the exposures at a -2 setting.
  Tried to process the HDR myself, but the software I use does not do well with extremely bright spots in the shot. It overexposes it to the point that it turns black. This was disappointing.
  This called for some backup. Yesterday I gave brother Jim a call and asked if he do the processing for me. He said yes and I forwarded the shots to him.  A few hours later, viola! Jim sent back the image you see at the top of the post.
  Needless to say, I was extremely happy. 

Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80mm lens @ 28mm, polarizer filter, 3 exposure -2 HDR at f/11.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

High School Basketball

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS, Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, ISO 1600, f/2.0, 1/640 sec

  One of the true purposes of purchasing my DSLR was to be able to take pictures of my kids participating in sports. My daughter is a cheerleader for youth football and my son plays high school basketball.  This has rekindled my love for sports photography, which is the reason I got into photography 25 years ago.
  My son's team has a new coach this year and he has asked me to keep stats for him.  This combined with the fact that I do the Public Address Announcing at the home games makes it very hard to take pictures. I have wrtten off getting shots at the home games due to the announcing, which is not so bad because it is the worst lit gym that they play in. I have managed to find a way to log the stats and take shots at the away games, though, and am having a great time doing it.
  The equipment that I have limits me a small amount.  My DSLR's max ISO is 1600 where a more advanced camera could get me to 6400 or even 12,800. In well lit gyms like you see in the picture above, this is not a big problem. When I get into gyms that are not as brightly lit, I have to enlist in the help of my flash. This brings me to my next equipment shortcoming. I don't have an external flash yet so I am still using the camera's flash which keeps me from being able to bounce light and has to flash directly at the players. So far this has not been a problem, I just don't like it.
  The only other limitation is that I don't have a fast zoom lens. I am shooting exclusively with a Canon 50mm f/1.8. I really like this lens but shooting anything further out on the court is next to impossible. I do get some shots in focus out on the court, there are just not enough of them.

Both Shots:
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS, Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, ISO 1600, f/2.0, 1/640 sec

  One of the biggest lessons I have learned to get great individual shots is taking advantage of pre-game warmups. The teams tend to do repetitive drills in warmups and it allows me to stay pointing in a single spot or zone and take shots of each player in succession. The two shots above are two of my best that I have gotten and they were both in the same pre-game. There are at least another half dozen from this pre-game that turned out very well.


Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS, Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, ISO 1600, f/2.2, left pic. 1/320 sec, right pic. 1/200 sec.  flash at -2

  One of the other lessons that I learned is to get underneath the basket. Most of the action takes place there and most of that action is physical.  This causes a lot of great faces and reactions as you can see in the two pictures above. This goes double for high school girls basketball. Girls, without trying to insult them, don't play as fast and jump as high as the boys so they are closer together and more contact tends to happen.
  When I get under the basket, I try to get as low to the ground as I can. This creates a more dramatic angle and I've found it helps to get a piggy-back from the lights in the ceiling.

 Both Shots:
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS, Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, ISO 1600, f/2.5, 1/200 sec, flash at -2

  Something else I have learned to do is pay attention to what is going on off the court as well.  Because my daughter is a cheerleader, I have an understanding of what they do and how they work on the sidelines. Their stunts and cheers make for some great action as well as shown by the two shots above.
  This philosophy of applies to the bench as well. Coaches are just as active and animated as the players are. This makes for great dramatic pictures if you can catch them at the right time. The shot below is one that I caught of my son's coach from the end of their bench.
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS, Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, ISO 1600, f/2.0, 1/1000 sec

  The last part of the game that most of us spend time taking part in but forget about when we have the camera in our hands is the fans. They are the most animated people at a basketball game. In the picture below, I was sitting in front of the this group and at a time out they started yelling across at the opposing fans. I jumped out on the court and turned to get a shot and they got louder and more excited.
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS, Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, ISO 1600, f/2.2, 1/500 sec

  This year's boys' team is 9-1 after their first 10 games. This has the opportunity to be a special team. If it turns out that it is, I guarantee you I wil be there with my camera in hand to record it. I am putting together a photo book of this team to sell to the players and their parents. So far, the reaction to it is very positive.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS, Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, ISO 1600, left pic. f/2.0, 1/500 sec

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS, Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, ISO 1600, f/2.5, 1/200 sec.  flash at -2

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS, Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, ISO 1600, f/2.5, 1/200 sec.  flash at -2
  The last two shots are of my son, Casey, and my daughter, Jocelyn. Without them sports photography would be nothing but a hobby.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS, Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, ISO 1600, f/2.0, 1/500 sec.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS, Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, ISO 1600, f/2.2, 1/200

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Neon Reflection

 Those of you who know me know that I have learned a lot of what I do from a photographer named Ian Plant. He calls his web site Dreamscapes because of the way he makes ordinary landscapes look anything but ordinary. Take a look at his work here.  I have all of his ebooks and they are worth way more than the $5 or $8 that I paid for them. My favorites by Ian are when he uses long exposures to capture fast-moving clouds that create awesome effects.
  This particular entry follows along those lines. The setting is at my place of business, Tennessee Watercraft, Inc. in Vonore, TN. TWI rests on Tellico Lake. If you look to the east Vonore is just on the other side of the lake and even further is The Cherokee National Forest and then the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With all of this wonderful landscape to the east you can imagine how amazing sunrises can be.
  Three days before I captured this image, I was in the same spot about an hour earlier in the morning. I took some interesting images, but none that I thought was good enough to post. I got some 30 second exposures that I thought were neat because the font of the dock was slightly illuminated by a flood light on the side of the building some 200 yards or so behind me.
  With the neat thought of exposing the shot longer to try to add to the shot, I returned three days later. I had not arrived as early as I had the previous time. This ended up being a good thing. With a little more light, clouds were more visible and unlike the previous day, there was lingering fog on the lake.
  I tried to use the leading lines of the dock and it's reflection entering in from the right to lead you from the front of the image to the back where the sunrise occurs.
  By adding a D9 neutral density filter onto my Tamron lens, I was able to block some light and leave the shutter open for 2 minutes. The long exposure gave the fast-moving fog a glazed look on top of the water and the clouds a motion blurr as they streaked towards the oncoming sunrise.
  With nary a ripple on the water the reflection of the dock and sunrise are a mirror finish with only the fog separating them.
  This was also one of the very first images that I took after reading Ian Plant's tips on using live view in my Canon DSLR to achieve better focus and exposure in my nature and landscapes. I use it constatly now and it makes an enormous difference.
  This shot may not qualify as one of Ian Plant's Dreamscapes. It is probably my favorite shot, and a stepping stone on the way to getting there though.

Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80mm lens, D9 Neutral Density filter, ISO 100, f/11, 2 minutes.

Sky HDR - The Denham Double Team

  One of the great things about having this blog is having a new avenue to post my images. Most of my Facebook friends have seen some of these shots like the one above, but I get to share them with new groups of people that haven't. I also get to share my insight as to the conditions and reasoning for taking and/or stumbling upon these shots.
  Unlike my brother, Jim, I don't delve into HDR photography that often. This is due to a couple of reasons. 1) I don't have and haven't yet been able to purchase a good HDR software. I do have a free downloaded software, but it is not as versitile as some of the more well known softwares out there. 2) I tend  to try and make the shot I take stand on it's own with minimal post processing. This doesn't mean that I don't like or appreciate HDR, but for lack of better terms, it just isn't my "thing".
  Jim, however, has become quite good and well known at it. Visit his sight here to see some his fantastic work.  The image you see above is a result of  Jim taking 3 of my shots and performing his magic for me.
  During the summer I have a much easier time of getting morning shots because my kids are on summer vacation and the only person I have to worry about getting ready is me.
  One morning in June, I was a little lazy in the fact that I didn't get up and ready early enough to catch the golden hour light. When I did make it to work, though, the clouds and sun were putting on an incredible display. Needless to say, I immediately pulled out the camera and tripod and set up by our old dock.
  I fired off several shots at different exposures. When I viewed the shots on my computer, the shots that were exposed properly for the light blowing through the cloud were underexposed for the dock and trees across the cove. And vise versa for the shots that the dock and trees were in good exposure.
  Later on that morning I gave Jim a call and asked for his help. I he had me email him 3 shots, one exposed for the sky, one for the dock, and one as close to in between as I could get.
  Later on that afternoon, he emailed me back 2 images. One was the one you see above, the other was a tonemapped image of the same shot. Even though the tonemapped image was good, it wasn't nearly  as dramatic as this one. The HDR process allowed Jim to pull the midtone colors out of both the dock in the forground and the green trees on the other side of the cove neither of which could have been accomplished with the standard photo process. He was also able to gain more detail out of the shadows and edges fo the clouds.
  I was extremely happy with the outcome of the Denham double team. We have combined a couple more times with shots after this one, but none have come close to equalling  this one.
  The biggest plus of getting back into photography is being able to share the interest (obsession) with my twin brother. With him in Minnesota and me in Tennessee digital photography with the help of the internet, text messaging, and social networking help us keep in touch. I have learned a great deal from him and met some great people through his social networking circles. I know that photography wouldn't be as much fun without him.
  Love you Jim.

Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80mm lens @ 28mm, f/22, 3 image HDR.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sticking Out In A Crowd

            Patience for a photographer comes standard with the art. Sometimes it takes hours of waiting and 100's or maybe 1000's of shots to get the particular shot you want.
            This goes double for the macro photographer. Or at least when this particular photographer shoots macros.
            When I bought my new SLR back in April, one of  the neat little do-dads that came with it was an attachment lens that serves both as a wide-angle adapter and when you screw off the outer part a macro converter. The macro converter came in real handy because it was springtime and flowers were all starting to bloom, grass and tree leaves were turning green again. So experimenting with macro photos of flowers was a must.
            There are two variables that add to the my patience needed to achieve macro flower pictures. One, the fact that you have a window of distance you have to be from the subject in order to be able to focus on it. Two, if the wind is blowing you have to wait for the right moment to even be able to take a picture, much less get the one you want.
            If you are set up on a tripod it is easier to display more patience because when you find that distance window, it's there and you just wait for the wind to die down and snap, you take your shot. Unfortunately, I wanted to be more flexible so I was committed to hand hold for these shots.
            Normally, I would say the wind does not cooperate. One of the standards of composition is isolating the subject by using selective focus or a shallow depth of field. In this case, the wind aided in creating this effect in two ways. Just shooting with the macro attachment forced me to use a shallow depth of field. With my focus steadily on a single flower in the cluster, the wind was blowing the outer flowers just enough to force some blurring, thus adding another level of isolation for the flower I was focusing on.
            Patience paid off with this shot.
Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Tamron 28-80 f3.5 lens (@28mm), macro attachment, ISO 100, f3.5 1/500

Sunday, December 5, 2010


  Yesterday, my wife and I were shopping in Aeropostle and I noticed the add pictures they had behind the checkout counter of the young people dressed in their garb posing in the snow. I remarked to my wife, Melissa, how much I liked them.
  Well, this morning the snow started falling in East Tennessee. I was at the computer, as I usually am when my wife works, and she texts me and says "u could have them put their tobagans and toukes on and get close ups of them with snow like the pics at aero."
  What a great idea!
  My daughter, Jocelyn, beat me outside. My son, Shea, woke up and immediately got dressed for the weather and we all went out and had some fun.
  With the snow coming down I did not want to damage my camera by letting it get wet so the first thing I did was put a polarizer filter on my lens. Then I covered the body of the camera with a Wal-Mart shopping bag that I made a hole in to poke the lens out of. Took one of Jocy's ponytail rubberbands to fasten around the lens, and we were off.
  This offered me another opportunity. Shea is 19 years old and this afternoon he will be leaving us to enter the United States Marine Corp. He will be in basic training at Paris Island, SC for 13 weeks where the only communication we will have with him is through written letters. This photo that I have posted here is the last shot I will get of Shea before he leaves.
  I don't know if I got the quality of shots that they have on display at Aeropostle (you can check out my album on Facebook here) but I did get a parting shot of Shea laughing, playing, and having a great time.
  Shea, we love you and know you will do well. Semper Fi!

Details: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Canon 50mm f1.8 lens, polarizer, ISO 200, f4.5, 1/80 sec.

Flying Into Sunrise

  Sometimes you just get lucky!
  My normal morning routine involves missing sunrise pictures due to having to take my kids to school, then on into my normal job.
  This one particular morning, I was walking into work and saw the way the clouds had bracketed a gap right above the Smoky Mountains in the background. I almost just continued on into work, but when I saw the way the light was streaking along the bottom of the clouds I had to fire off a few shots. Luckily, I always carry my camera with me into work.
  The thoughts of running back to the truck and getting my tripod entered my mind, but instead I just handheld right off of the parking lot.
  This really speaks well of my Canon 50mm 1.8 lens. 7:30am, sun hasn't come completely up yet and shot after shot came out clear as a bell.
  The lucky part of this shot came right before I packed up and went into work. Tellico Lake has hundreds of Canada geese that have settled on the lake. A group of these geese were on the shore in front of me and decided take to flight right in front of me. I captured their take off as well but they formed a wonderful little line right between the mountains and the clouds just before the sun peaked over the mountain tops.
  Most of you who are already my friends on Facebook may have already seen this shot. But I haven't taken anything new in a couple of weeks and the story of the acquisition of the picture is one of my favorites, as well as the picture itself.

Details: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS, Canon 50mm f1.8 lens. ISO 100, f8.0 1/5o sec.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


    This photo has no "this is what I saw and I composed it this way" meaning. The meaning behind this photo is completely personal. The young man you see toeing the free throw line in this picture is Jethro Griffin. I have known Jethro since he was in the 3rd grade when I was coaching and help run the youth basketball league in Vonore, TN.  I have watched him grow up and would love to say that I had a hand in developing both his basketball and people skills, but know that he has turned out way better than my influence had anything to do with. He is now a senior at Sequoyah High School in Madisonville, TN.     The reason I posted this shot is because the foul shot that he is eying, and he eventually sinks, is his 1000th career point at Sequoyah. In Sequoyah's short history, established in 1995, there have only been 6 other players to reach this plateau. I would be very safe in saying that there is no other member of that list that is more deserving of this honor than Jethro. His mannerisms and personality are as smooth and sharp as his moves on the court. I couldn't be more proud and happy for him.
  Sometimes photos carry more of taking in the experience than the composition can display. This is one of those shots.
  Congratulations Jethro!