Choo Choo Station

Here’s a shot from inside the restored train station in downtown Chattanooga. The station isn’t operational; it’s now a historical spot for music and arts. There are a few old trains at the station converted to shops, restaurants, and a hotel.

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Choo Choo Station
Inside the restored train station of the famous Chattanooga Choo Choo

The Frothy Monkey that I posted about the other day is just to the right. We just finished lunch, and I was waiting for the valet to return the car when I took this photo. The little choo-choo motif on the right seals the deal for me.

a lot more pretty pictures

The whole time I was here, I couldn’t stop humming the old Andrews Sisters song (https://youtu.be/FdrYYUuT07Q). I wonder if you can still catch a train to Tennessee from Track 29 at Penn station. I doubt it, but it would be cool if you could.

Hometown Mangroves

This section of mangrove is within walking distance of my home in Palmetto. I think it’s interesting how the roots appear chaotic, yet the structures create a fortification against the erosion of the land.

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Hometown Mangroves
A section of the mangroves in my hometown of Palmetto, Florida

Half of Florida would be washed away if not for mangroves; they are an excellent example of how life evolves to overcome. It also seems like an example of order versus entropy, the seemingly disorganized root structure is well suited to ensure it, and the land survives in place.

other images of mangroves from the gallery

What you see here is an HDR image composed of five exposures. The mangrove roots were dark, so I blended an overexposed frame for that. The sky was bright in comparison, so I combined an underexposed frame for that. In the end, my seemingly haphazard approach to composition resulted in something slightly more enduring. It is my very own example of order from chaos. Perhaps that is what I should call mangrove photography. Or not.

Lifeguard Stand #2

This was taken at Coquina Beach one evening last week. I took a similar picture a few years ago that I wanted to try and repeat. Over time my preferences and technique evolve and it’s fun to retry shots to see how they come out.

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Lifeguard Stand #2
A lifeguard stand on Coquina Beach in Florida

As in an earlier post this week I mention that the software is getting better. Both images are HDR but notice how much better the ghosting is in the newer version. In the older version, you can see double impressions of tall grasses, not so in the new one. I used Photomatix in the old version and AuroraHDR 2018 in the new image. Maybe I should go back and reprocess the old version in AuroraHDR just to see how it turns out.

more lifeguard stands

I know some of the rescuers that work at this beach and these stands are where they spend much of their time. There’s some kind of aesthetic of lifeguard stations on a beach that begs to be photographed. I’m not sure what it is but I have a collection of them. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if there happens to be a nice sunset as well.

Old Photos New Software

This is an HDR image full of fall colors that I took four years ago in New Zealand. It was the first morning of a five-day workshop with Trey Ratcliff. In the southern hemisphere, April is in Autumn so the leaves were turning.

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Old Photos New Software
This is an old photo I processed with Skylum’s Aurora 2018

I had recently purchased the Sony A7R and now, four years later, I’m still impressed with the images. Since that time Sony has created two new generations of that camera so I now use the third generation A7R III. Also, since that time Trey and Skylum introduced HDR software known as Aurora HDR. Now Aurora is in its second or third generation as well. As a result, I’m revisiting these old photos with the new software. The software has improved to the point that it’s very easy to make old photos look amazing.

New Zealand gallery

Four years seems like such a long time, I would go back in a heartbeat. For a photographer, New Zealand is a dream. But I did take thousands of photos while I was there so even if I don’t get back right away I still have these photos to look at and enjoy.

Clouds in the East

This is an HDR shot made from three images. It’s Benderson Park which is a rowing venue in Sarasota. I took this early in the morning when the water was still, and the reflections were clear.

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Clouds in the East
This is Benderson Park in the early morning

I’m pointing mostly east. Around here the clouds almost always come from the east and dissipate over the Gulf of Mexico. I don’t understand it but for whatever reason, you have to look east to see clouds. Something to do with the Florida geography.

more from Sarasota

I like images like this. Maybe it’s the reflections or simplicity of the scene. Granted it’s an empty scene, but that suits my aesthetic which is mostly minimalism. In the end, I shoot scenes like this because it’s what I like to do. And that, I keep telling myself, is what matters.

Far Beach

I’ve been processing older photos lately and I ran across this one from three years ago at Far Beach in Key Largo. Going back to review old photos gives me a chance to reflect and contrast. These days I use new software called Aurora HDR and its powerful enough to breathe new life into old memories.

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Far Beach
Far Beach in Key Largo Florida

Here is a link to a similar scene from the same day. I processed that one using different software and then added an overlay of texture. My style continues to evolve so who knows what I’ll do in another few years. Nevertheless, this just makes me want to take another look at my earlier photos.

florida gallery

Also, this was taken on my first full frame Sony camera, the A7R. I now have the third generation of that line but looking back I’m impressed with how well it did. It makes me want to dust it off and give it a spin for old time sake, but I will still use the new software. Kind of like going to visit an old friend and bringing a new bottle of wine.

The Good and the Bad

This is another HDR photo that I created using AuroraHDR 2018. Actually, this was a little tricky to make because it’s a long exposure using an ND filter shooting directly into the sun. The aperture of F14 is what creates the starburst effect. I combined five photos ranging from one to six seconds in length which gives the water a smooth quality.

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The Good and the Bad
On average I like the photo, despite some flaws

Even though I spent hours on this I’m not totally happy with it. That’s because I’m aware of all the technical flaws it has; noise in the shadows, lens flare and lack of detail on the rocks. I’m posting it anyway because I like the overall effect and feel. And also, each time I work with photos I learn a little more. In this case I know what I need to do next time I have a similar scene; each time I get a little better.

more from san francisco

In the end, it’s the scene and the mood that are most important to me. The technical aspects are important also, just not as important. I was able to recreate the idea I had in my head at the time, so it’s a win. I’m posting it because on balance, I do like the image. And to tell you the truth, that’s why I do photography in the first place.

Oasis in Plain Sight

One of the things I like most about Sarasota is their public spaces. This is a good example of that, an oasis in plain sight.

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Oasis in Plain Sight
Oasis in plain sight – Bayfront Park in Sarasota

I took this in the middle of summer when we get amazing clouds. I don’t normally take pictures of city parks but this one is situated right on the inter-coastal waterway so I couldn’t resist.

Every time I drive by this park seems empty. I’m not sure if people just aren’t aware of it or what, but it’s the perfect spot. Just stop the car, walk over to the water and sit on a bench. As far as parks go this is one of the prettiest in the area.

more Sarasota photos

This is an HDR image; I took three photos with different exposures and combined them in AuroraHDR. It makes it possible the show the whole range of light when there are extreme ranges like this. It’s hard to take an image like this any other way.

Quite the Scene

I can be a real geek sometimes; like this time. I had it in my mind I was going to take some epic photos and so I brought a bag full of gear including a huge lens and a tripod. Things didn’t turn out as I expected so there I was with all this gear in the middle of a public pathway as the sun was setting. I made the best of it and quickly setup for the shot. A couple came up and said they wanted to be on TV. Obviously I looked like I was from the local station. I must have been quite the scene.

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Quite the Scene
Quite the Scene before me and of me when I took this in Sarasota

This is the image I got and so I didn’t come home completely empty handed. But to be quite honest I could have done better with less. I love gear and so this happens a lot. I always bring more gear than I need. However I can count on one hand the times I used everything I brought. It’s not about the gear; it’s about being present in the moment and working with what you have.

Lately I’ve started experimenting with slimming down what I take. By that I mean two or three lenses. Again, even the times I bring two lenses, I end up using only one. Recently I’ve left the house with just one lens on my camera. No bag, no filters, no tripod. I start out with a feeling that I forgot something. However as I start to take pictures I’m less encumbered and more attuned to what’s around me.

It’s not the camera it’s what between the ears. Taking good pictures requires a state of mind more than a heavy piece of glass. Some of the most amazing photographers on the web use inexpensive cameras. That’s not to say all the equipment is unnecessary, it all has a proper time, place and use.

more sunset images

I like the gear because I’m a geek but maybe I need a little intervention. I think of myself as being on a twelve-step program to be free of lens clutter. I’m not there yet, but at least I know it’s an issue. That’s the first step to recovery.

Now I’m off to read about the just announced Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM and 12-24mm f/4.0. I might need one of those in my kit.

Queenstown Reboot

This is an image I took on my first day in New Zealand about two years ago. As you can see from the colors it was autumn in the southern hemisphere. If I recall I was so happy to see all the fall colors that I quickly processed the photo and posted it a few hours later.

Queenstown Reboot
This is an image from Queenstown that I’ve just reprocessed, I think it turned out better than the first time.

Now when I look back on that image I realize my tastes have changed. That’s a nice way of saying the other picture makes my eyes bleed. The colors of the original are amped up quite a bit and appear too bright and unrealistic.

And so as I was looking at some of my old photos the other day and I thought to myself, why don’t I reprocess this? Since I have the original RAW files I did, only his time I used different tools and techniques I’ve acquired over the years.

More New Zealand images from the Gallery

This is a three image HDR that I originally combined in Photomatix Pro, this time in AuroraHDR Pro. Last time I wanted the colors to blast so I oversaturated them, this time I wanted it to be a little more realistic. I think both versions have their pros and cons, (I’m being kind again). The old image looks pretty good as a thumbnail or on a phone, this one looks better on a large screen or print.

Each image has its place, but as I continue to evolve as a photographer and artist my taste change and so do my techniques. This is just another example of that. I plan on reprocessing a few more from that trip so stay tuned.