Monday, February 11, 2013

The First Week of February

February 7, 2013

Easy pickings shooting the kid and her kitty! Somedays it's easy doing this photo a day stuff. Not super interesting, but easy. Sometimes I'll take easy, especially on a Thursday...

February 6, 2013

After Teri came home from work I had a chance to go for a quick drive. I wanted to explore around the Blue Mounds area. I found my way down a winding ravine where I spotted an old barn. Stopping to quickly shoot it, I didn't think I'd gotten anything. It wasn't until I came home and looked at the image that I saw I had something I sort of liked.

February 5, 2013

Tuesdays we have dance class at Forte Studios. The kids are in a closed dance studio, and the parents watch through a oneway, smoked mirror. I thought I'd try to shoot Freja through the glass. I ended up chatting with a couple of the parents more than trying to shoot. Perhaps next week I'll figure out how to get a decent shot...

February 4, 2013

Freja and I took little Merida to the Mount Horeb Animal Hospital for a check up. I let Freja handle the kitten, and let her feel as if she was in charge of taking care of it. She even got to listen to its heart!

February 3, 2013

Sundays don't get much better than this one. It was a sunny, crisp day. While the girls when to yoga class I had an hour to go for a quick drive. I didn't go far, just around the roads to the north of our home. There's a particular ridge there that caught my eye.

We had a great day! All three of us had fun, and I prepared a nice dinner, and had a friend over to watch the Superbowl! What an exciting game too! The kid even got to make cake, and lick the beaters. Hands down, one of the best Sundays we've had.

February 2, 2013

A friend we'd not seen for a few months came over for lunch today. While she and my wife chatted, I prepared a simple soup. Afterwards the kids had a turn at making something together.

February 1, 2013

It was a quiet day at home for all of us. Teri had a few conference calls, I made food, built a fire, and the kid played with painting. We all simply enjoyed being home.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My First HDR Image

January 31, 2013

After a day spent at home with the family, and having been in the house for well over a week, I was ready to go outside and shoot. I chose to wait until after dark to try some experimental photography. I have a Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L that I love to shoot with, but really don't use often. When I do, it's mainly to shoot buildings, and that is what I planned for tonight.

What I hadn't planned on was just how cold it became after dark! With wind chill bringing the outside temperature down to -11°F I knew the first building I'd shoot would be the ONLY building I'd shoot. I drove to a small white church just outside of town. Built in 1852 the Springdale Lutheran Church stands atop a ridge. Lit up, it offered an interesting subject. I quickly parked in their lot, set up the tripod, set up my parameters, and then began to shoot as quickly as I could. Not really wanting to play around in the freezing wind I simply took exposures from 30 seconds, up to 1 second, and every stop in between. I shot two sets of images, the bottom of the church, and then the top of the church using the shift feature of my lens.

My first HDR image. The reddish clouds are from the lights of Madison to the East.

When I came back to the house, my hands aching from the cold, and took a look at my images, I realized I had a perfect opportunity to try HDR processing. I've seen a lot of really bad HDR images over the past few years. Here's a HDR Google Image Search to illustrate. While some folks really like the exaggerated, graphic quality of the images, I do not. I prefer HDR that has a more natural tonal value.

Never having done it before, it took me a while to sort out an initial technique. First I loaded all my exposures, one set at a time, into HDR Pro in CS5. After a lot of experimenting I narrowed my processing down to three exposures. It was a much broader range of exposure times than most of the tutorials suggested. At 30 seconds you could see setting, and back ground details, but the church was completely blown out. At the shorted end of the exposure spectrum I could see lots of details of the white church, and everything else was as black as a cave.

Eventually I was able to create an image that, to me, looked like what I saw when I was there in front of the church. Is it perfect? Not by a LONG shot! I have a lot of learning to do before I consider myself even slightly proficient in HDR. I guess I'll have to experiment with it a lot more over the course of this year's project.

Here's a little tutorial video on the subject.

Hunkering Down for a While

January 30, 2013

Today was a great day! Not only was it Teri's birthday, we also had a nice, big blizzard! This meant that she worked from home. For most of the day she worked from the space she's created in the living room, the kid played with her kitten in the den, and I did my chores, and grumped around the kitchen making food. I can't tell you how nice it was for all of us to simply be home together. She got enough of her work done that I am hoping she'll plan on working from home in the future.

Snow comes down heavy in the town.

In the early afternoon we decided to walk to the local coffee shop, Sjolinds Chocolate House. We practically had the joint to ourselves due to the weather. As we enjoyed our hot drinks, cake and Freja's made up games, I couldn't help but feel how well of a choice we made in choosing this town to live in.

My family enjoys a snack at Sjolind's.

As we prepared to walk home the Arctic Front that was following behind the blizzard hit us. The winds would often gust strongly, causing my wife & kid to walk backwards into it. Even this didn't dampen our spirits as we knew there was a warm fire waiting in our hearth!

January 29, 2013

Freja is beside herself with joy over Merida being here! She's been spending a lot of time playing with her new kitty. I set up a "nursery room" in our spare room in order to train the little thing. Now I hardly see my kid as she's taken to spending most of her time there!

Freja & Merida play in the nursery.

January 28, 2013

Merida arrived early today while Freja was in school. She was due here on the 31st but the shelter was able to deliver her early. I still can't believe we decided to get another cat. After all of our old cats dying off (the oldest was 21 years!) I swore we'd not have another. I was wrong!

Merida, our new bundle of fur!

January 27, 2013

It was a cold, icy day with lots of wind. We just hunkered down, and let it play out. I didn't feel like shooting. I still carried my camera to the Troll when I went for some lunch. Nothing special about today's photo at all...

Our local watering hole, The Grumpy Troll.

January 26, 2013

Since Teri had a busy week with work and travel we spent the day at home just relaxing. After putting the kid to bed we retired to the den, where we enjoyed the fire, some wine, and I gave her the birthday present I'd picked up earlier in the week. Since moving here she's been collecting limited edition prints from artist Kelli Hoppmann. I found an original piece that I thought she'd love. While I shot her seeing it for the first time, I neglected to shoot the actual piece!

I found an image where it was used as a book cover.

January 25, 2013

Another wonderful day at home with the kid. We built a fire, drew pictures, played a lot of games, and I did a lot of cooking. Freja keeps talking about her new kitty that'll be here soon. All in all it's a good life!

Freja and I play "Spot It!"

Freja works on a window drawing.

January 24, 2013

We're having an Arctic cold snap, with temps well below 0°F. I'd spent the day before preparing for it, moving in wood, cleaning the house, stocking up on groceries. Teri had to travel to Maryland for business, so it was just the kid & I home. We played games, did art projects, and enjoyed a nice fire.

Freja draws me a picture.

January 23, 2013

It's not easy living with a photographer doing a photo a day project. When there's not a lot going on, and it's a busy day doing chores, being the kid in the house can mean you get your picture taken a lot. Some days you may NOT want to be photographed! After trying one snap of the kiddo during a busy day, and her shouting, "NO PICTURES!" I put the camera down. So even though I took a photo today, it's not a good one...

Sometimes you just don't want to be photographed...

January 22, 2013

I took a little time to drive to Paoli, a nearby town with loads of charm. Teri's birthday is coming is coming up soon so I wanted to find something special. The Artisan Gallery is there. It's one of the finest art galleries I've experienced. When I go there I can't help but feel I'm back at the Carnegie. I used to spend many of my lunch hours strolling through the collections. It's rare that I find a gallery that evokes such a strong association to the museum. I always find something when I go there, and indeed I did this time as well.

Paoli Mill ~ 1864