Jumping the Gun on a New Me: Mid-day Photowalk

For the regular readers, you’ve likely noticed a sharp decline in the posts I’ve been making. After switching roles at work I got into a bit of a funk where I felt wholly unsatisfied with my job and my current state in the world. In turn, it led to me not getting and out and shooting as much and seriously lacking inspiration. Earlier this week, I decided that wasn’t good enough anymore and I needed to shake things up some. I promised myself I would simply “be happier”, I’d work harder, and I’d also push to focus on the things I care about more. One of those obviously being photography. I figured that if nothing else, I could burn up my hour lunch break at work by instead of sitting around on my phone, going out for a walk and snapping some photos of random things. It would of course be mostly downtown Ogden near my office, but for now it would force me to shoot something. Anything really.

Yesterday was day one of the new method and it went exceptionally well as while I was wondering the street behind my work, I caught a few construction workers who were working on the old Keisel Building, which I’ve wanted to explore the inside of for a while, and I asked if I could poke around. They said it was fine but just look out for stray nails and such as it was a construction zone after all.

As it currently stands, the building is mostly done with the demolition side of the long term renovation plans and the interior has been pretty much gutted. However, there are still a number of the more interesting embellishments from the original building which made for some neat photos. Since the Kiesel building was primarily office spaces and home to a number of businesses, one of the cooler features was the mail chute that ran alongside the elevators from the top floor to the bottom:

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Aside from those, the elevator control mechanism on the top floor was open to dig through as well as a huge vault on the first floor:

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Outside of the fun, little things, I got a cool shot of the stairwell, and a fun picture of a busted up window on one of the top floors:

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Finally, I got up to the roof where I got a panorama shot of the clouds rolling in over the mountains now that our first good snow is completed:

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All in all it was a great day. I got some good work done, I got some sweet photos, and my mood was much better than it had been in a while. Even a nasty puddle was looking pretty good:

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So hopefully I will be posting here a little more often, as I get out and shoot more and who knows, maybe I’ll find the inspiration I’ve been wanting (even though I’m not sure what it would even look like at this point).

As always, until next time –thanks for reading!
-D

Hiking the frozen Waterfall

Last week I had hear from some friends that the waterfall was frozen over around this time of year since it finally got cold to do so. The hike went while substantially more difficult do to the ice and slush, also happened to go quite a bit faster than usual. I’d wager it’s because of all the snow creating a long ramp to the top. In some places the snow was up to my waist or about three feet deep. So between sliding about or sinking into a random pit trap, I finally made it too the top where I managed to snap a few shots of the waterfall:

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While I don’t think either of the shots is perfect, I like the blues and contrast on the top one. I also like the more prominent detail of the black and white version.

Since both of these images were composites of multiple, I realized after getting home, the angle I was standing at wasn’t optimal for getting a good wide-angle shot of the whole thing. So for today’s lesson I suggest this tidbit:

Be willing to move around and shoot from different angles! By standing in the one spot, I thought I had what I needed, but alas, I was wrong. I could have likely spent a little more time up there trying a few different things, but I had plans with the wife to go see a movie and didn’t want to be stuck on the mountainside during the previews. However, I will likely get back out and try again before the winter season is officially over and spend a little more time on the next adventure.

Another positive note, is because of all the snow we’ve gotten this year, I am very excited to see the waterfall come spring/early summer. It should gushing at a rate I haven’t seen since I first moved here.

On the way back down, I did stop to try and catch a long panorama of Ogden as the mix of sunlight, clouds, and shadows was just gorgeous. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out:

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Sadly I haven’t shot a lot this past week aside from that trip so hopefully this week will be better for that. As always, until next time — Thanks for reading!
-D

Stay very “Still”, I’m learning something new!

I had every intention of going back out to Farmington Bay this weekend. I wanted to try and catch the Bald Eagle migration before the 13th, when all the local bird refuges will be packed with old people and their point-n-shoots yelling and hootin about the birds inevitably making it impossible to shoot. Of course, here in Ogden about a foot of snow dropped on Friday night and when I woke up on Saturday morning it was still coming down like the next Ice-Age was beginning. Not being one to let a something like infinite snow get me down, I decided instead I would take the time I would be cooped up in the house to learn a new style of photography.

After some browsing online and pacing about the house I realized I had most everything I needed to give “still life” a try. The first attempt went horribly awry, for a number of reasons really. This was the setup I initially put together:

My camera settings for some reason weren’t set to shoot in RAW like I normally do, but rather a mid-level jpeg meaning I was already starting with a bad image. From there, I was shooting with various lights and no diffusion so I ended up with harsh shadows and clipped blacks. On top of all that, I wasn’t too careful with the backdrop, basically using some old black shirts to whip it together. So I ended up with shots like this:

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Overall, they aren’t terrible images, but it isn’t great either. There was room for improvement. After getting online and chatting with some of my photography friends who provided some valuable insights, I opted to spend the next day finding out how to assemble a light box, and try again. After some debating and more pacing about the house, I came up with the idea to use my old work shirts and some picture frames to build a box. I ended up with this setup for shoot number two:

This shoot went much better I think. I fixed my camera settings, checked the calibration on my monitor (which still seems to be good) and with the diffusing I was able to get a couple more attempts at shooting some of the scenes I shot yesterday, but hopefully without all the problems.

After moving the lights around to about four dozen different positions, I ended up with a configuration similar to the one above with a front light, a side light and a top light, all with some varying level of diffusion (as the shirt parts were thicker in some areas than others (with intention of course). My second round of shooting and post work ended up with these shots:

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All in all, I am much happier with these photos than I was with yesterdays shots. There is still a lot of work to be done as I also ended up with some awkward highlights like on this shot of the spoon/cup:

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I’m not entirely sure what is causing that white blotch on the spoon as it isn’t a part of the spoon itself but regardless of how I angled the lights it was always there. I’ll be probably putting in a ton of article reading and research these next few weeks to learn what I can about lighting and I probably pick up a better light kit/box to see if it makes up for some of the issues my homemade one has.

Hopefully in the next few weeks, I’ll have this down a lot better and I can put together a tutorial like I did for the infrared work I’ve done. I hope you’ve enjoyed this installment of the blog and as always, until net time — Thanks for reading!
-D

A Short Excursion to Farmington Bay

Last night after some waffling on where and what I should go and shoot, I decided finally to drive out to Farmington Bay and see what I could find. Like it’s northern brother Bear River, Farmington Bay is a bird refuge nestled not far off of the Great Salt lake. Also like Bear River, I was surprised to see that there are parts of the refuge in which hunting is allowed. It could just be me, but the concept of being gunned down while I’m sleeping/eating doesn’t seem to be what I thought the definition of “refuge” was. I could be wrong of course.

Part of the reason I opted for this area instead of my go to (which is the Bear River area) is that Bear River hasn’t been super profitable for me in terms of seeing actual wildlife. I did manage a few cool shots the last time I was there, but in most cases it’s a total bust. And I figured if I was going to sit out in the snow and cold for two hours, I may as well gamble on a new place since I’m pretty much convinced Bear River is the La Quinta of migratory bird spots. As it turns out, Farmington Bay, while it wasn’t the Bellagio, it was definitely an upgrade. maybe somewhere between a Nice Howard Johnson and an Embassy inn and suites.

The bird life was plentiful as a decent sized grouping of Great Blue Herons had rolled through and opted to make camp for the day. Even better, they seem to not care at all about passing cars so if you shot from your window you could actually get pretty close. Something I didn’t realize until later. For the first half of the trip I was trying to get out of the car and sneak up on them like a loud and stupid asshole. Nonetheless, I did manage to find one who was either deaf, or had just won the Powerball, cause he gave no shits whatsoever:

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As I got back into the car and was ready to move on down the road a little more I did catch one just be-bopping down the boulevard and shot this from out my passenger window.

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Since the car was technically moving, I’m totally gonna count this towards my photo project.

After that guy I looped around the road and got towards the hunting area. Given I am not a fan of socializing with sociopaths I opted to head back the other way and just try to make due with the lazy, deaf heron. I did however snap a shot of this rat with wings:

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On the way back out I caught site of either an eagle of some sort or a gigantic hawk, but since he was hiding in the thick reeds I couldn’t get the camera to focus on him and not all the junk around him. Hopefully the next time I go back that way I can get a better shot. So I felt I was cold and wet enough and my wife had just text me to remind me that food was something people need in their lives and we should probably figure out dinner. I was so excited about the crappy, deaf Heron I’d forgotten I hadn’t really eaten all day. Of course that didn’t stop me from getting a few more shots on the drive out:

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I think the color is off on the second shot just a little. It feels maybe too dark. The first shot I think is as good as it can be since the bird managed to blend right in with the wall. Next time I go out, I’ll be sure to bring some high boots and beanie and prep for the long haul. I think there is a lot more to see and explore in that area and I am hoping that as we get closer to February the Bald Eagles will start showing up. I do so very much want to get a shot of one that isn’t in a cage at the zoo.

I think that’ll do it for this one. As always– Until next time, Thanks for reading!
-D

Meet the New Year, Same as the Old Year

What can I say about 2015? Well I could say quite a bit, but that’s actually for my next post. While this last year has been great it’s the upcoming year I am substantially more excited for. Much like this time last year it’s time to post some overly specific resolutions I have absolutely no ability or drive to meet and then wait 365 days so that I may wistfully reflect on them and make new ones. Auld Lang Syne indeed.

But before I get too far ahead of myself, and begin spewing forth the list for this coming year, I wanted to pull up my list form last year and see how I did. Let’s begin!

1) Take an award winning photo
2) Sell my Work
3) Get into Sports Photography
4) Have a real website

Well then … Where to start? Aside from the top of the list (yuck yuck), I suppose the best place to start is to find a dark corner and silently weep. Once I’m done there, I can come back and see what went so horribly wrong.

Not so surprisingly I only managed to finish one of these goals last year. And very much to my surprise it came in the form of #1. Right about the beginning of December this year, I got a message and an e-mail from Viewbug, which is the site I enter all my photography contests on, that I had won an award for one of my photos from January. This one in fact:

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I happened to win “Staff Winter Selection 2015”. I’m not entirely sure what that means or what I won, but I’ll take it. Scratch #1 off the list.

Regarding #2, I haven’t yet sold any prints, but I have put a lot of work into doing and I think there is much more to be done. However, towards the end of this last year, I have seen somewhat of a shift in my goals here. Instead of just trying to sell my work to anyone who’ll buy it (which I’ll still happily do), I’m now more focused on creating work that pertains to a long term projects instead of one-shot images. I think this year may be better suited for selling my work though. Since investing in all the things I needed last year to set up a booth for various art festivals, this year I can focus on actually going to said festivals.

For #3, somewhere along the line last year, this stopped being a priority for me. Not sure why, it is still something that interests me, just not nearly as much as other things at this time. I am wanting to learn a little bit from every genre of photography so that when I find my true niche I can apply everything else I’ve learned and hopefully find a truly interesting and enjoyable voice for my work.

As for #4, I actually explored this option a few times last year, but in the end decided not to spend the money at that time. Mostly because I didn’t have the scratch people were asking for. Instead, I opted to keep the blog alive and focus on a site sometime down the road when I can just do it myself.

This brings us to 2016. While I was only 1 of 4 on my goals last year, I am by no means actually bummed or discouraged. I learned and grew a lot in my picture taking and I am more driven than ever to succeed. On that note, here’s my goals for this year:

1) Learn two new styles of Photography.
I happen to work with both a concert photographer and a fashion photographer. So I’ve made it a goal to spend some time working with both of these gentlemen and absorbing as much information as I can. I also plan on trying some more of Eric Kim’s advice which is “Buy books, not gear.” and see what i can learn from that as well.

2) Start a photography club.
I may be overly optimistic or sociable, but I love the idea of getting all the photographers I know together to drink coffee and/or booze and take pictures of stuff. I participated in an instagram meet-up last year and it was a total blast getting to meet a whole slew of local photogs. It’s something I think I’d like to do every month this year.

3) Do a model based photo shoot.
I’ve met over the last year a couple of people who are pretty familiar with studio style photography and it’s something I’ve really wanted to try my hand at. Every time I find myself day-dreaming about starting a new photography project they usually involve models of some sort. What kind you might ask … Well, all kinds really. I have a few ideas in mind as of now, but I’ll save those for another time. If you’re reading this however and are interested in participating in a model shoot, be sure to leave a comment or hit me up on one of my networks so I can provide you with the details.

4) Post more.

All-in-all I am ready for 2016 to be a great year. And better yet since this was a lot of reading comparable to my other posts. So here’s my first photo of the year, taken at Antelope Island on New Year’s day:

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Until next time, Thanks for reading!
-D

The Morgan Finale

First off, I should apologize for slacking a bit on the blog writing. I haven’t been able to put as much time into it as I would like, but with a new year now I have opted to make this more of a priority. So with that being said, I’ll make it up to you all with a couple of posts this week.

I’m sure you’re all wondering what I’ve been up as of late. The unfortunate answer is Work, mostly. But I did get a chance to get out and snap some photos, so that’s something. On Monday, my day kind of snuck by me, but I rolled out of the house in the early afternoon to try and get some shots of the Morgan area one more time, before I move on to another location. The first two photos are of the Wasatch Mountain Range. Unlike others I’ve taken of this area, I thought the cloud formations mixed with the winter-y landscape made for a nice image so I opted to shoot it and see what kind of angles I could get. I came out of it with these:

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I am pretty happy with how both of them came out. The more I come back to them, the more I enjoy that line of sunlight cutting through the clouds. The little farm in front of the mountains felt very serene and pleasant to just sit back and look at, which I think also makes for a good photo subject.

After that I rolled a little further down the road towards a small town called Taggart. On the exit to Taggart, you can go left and head towards the town, or you can go right and loop around the hill towards the train tracks. I opted to go right, and found a cool older trestle that connects to a tunnel as well as a nice little river. I ended up hanging out for a while just enjoying the quiet, but also managed to get a few shots there too:

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Snowy Trestle

All in all it was a fairly productive day. Once I’m finished with my cob through and edits on Tuesday’s photos I’l get those uploaded to Flickr et al and throw up a post about them as well. I will say, I did get to accomplish a few of my goals on the Tuesday shoot so that was kinda nice. Till next time, Thanks for reading!
-D

Snow White and the Huntsville

Today all in all has been a pretty solid day. I got the chance to get out and shoot some winter photos which seemed like and ended up being a lot of fun. There is definitely a trick to it I am still working on to ensure everything isn’t just white, but I ended up with a few shots that I kind of enjoyed.

A lot of photographers will tell you how important it is that you shoot at certain times of day or in certain seasons to get the right look you want on your photos. They weren’t kidding! The overall feel of the area I was in today was drastically different than the last time I had been, which was around the middle of summer. What was once a pleasant (although not terribly interesting) stream, had become quite a bit more beautiful and serene with the addition of six inches of fresh powder:

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Snowy Stream

The second photo makes me want a ND filter even more than I already did. Not that I necessarily need to have that silky look to the water in my photos (in most cases I prefer not having it), but in this specific example I think the image would have worked a lot better with it. Maybe I’m just being picky though.

On top of some neat shots of the stream I managed to get a small glimpse of the sun on an otherwise cloudy day and I thought it made for a rather cool, albeit desolate looking image of the dead trees not far past the trail head:

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I also thought it was rather interesting that amongst all the brown and white there was a little spot of red. One plant had not yet thrown in the towel and opted to take its winter nap yet. This is not entirely unbelievable given that it didn’t start snowing here till last week and we stayed mostly in the 60s till then. Nonetheless, I admire its resolve and hope it keeps up the good fight. Not like those other quitter plants that rolled up last month before it even got cold. Pfft, losers.

And of course, last but not least, the reason for the title. I primarily went out to try and get a shot of one of the smaller neighboring towns for a contest over on Viewbug and ended up with a simple but nice shot of the town of Huntsville (or at least part of it anyways):

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I like that it has the somewhat classic “little winter town” look, as it reminds me of a painting that hung up in my parents house the whole time I was growing up of a small cottage on a snowy road. Simple and peaceful.

Aside from that, I have not much going on in the near future as my work schedule looks to be hectic enough to prevent me from getting out for the next 6-8 days. Hopefully I can wheel another Sunday/Monday weekend and get both time to shoot and time to play with the kiddo. Best kind of weekend indeed. Till next time, Thanks for reading!
-D