Friday, May 28, 2010

~ The Indianapolis 500-Mile Race ~

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Start your Engines!"

Traditionally in the Indianapolis area, the month of May has  been packed with race related events leading up to the pageantry and excitement of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
I have lived here for the past 21 years and I enjoy going out to The Indianapolis Motor Speedway with camera in hand to capture the spirit of the fans, the celebrities, the symbols and, of course- the race! The photo ops are endless...
The opening photo of this week's blog is the top of the Borg Warner Trophy presented to the winner of the 500 mile race. On Community Day, the public can get a close view of the 153 pound, 5-foot 4-inch sterling silver trophy. I took advantage of being 'up close and personal' and photographed the trophy from all angles. The photo above was my favorite of the bunch. I decided to process this iconic symbol in black and white, giving it an historic feel. (After all, it has been in the winner's circle since 1936!)
(Canon EOS 1-D Mark II, Canon 70-300mm DO IS lens, 1/1250 second @ f 6.3, ISO 200)
Most areas of the track are open to the public on Community Day, including "Gasoline Alley" where all the race teams work on their cars. This image was made kneeling beside this pit crew member during a pit stop practice session in one of the garages. I chose to shoot this photograph with a Lensbaby, making the 'sweet spot' frame the words 'Indy 500' on the tire. The blurred edges create motion to an otherwise static image.
(Canon EOS 1-D Mark II, Original Lensbaby, 1/1600 sec @ f 4.0, ISO 200)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hand Held Panoramas ~ Super Bowl XLIV

After last week's post, a few inquisitive people emailed me about hand held panoramas. The image I have chosen to feature this week is a hand held panorama made from my seat at Super Bowl XLIV in Miami, Florida this past January.
We should all carry and use a tripod as often as we can, but sometimes we find ourselves in situations without one, as in this case when bringing a tripod into the stadium was prohibited. (not to mention impractical!) I wanted to surround the viewer with the whole scene, which would have been impossible to accomplish in one frame.
So, when this panorama idea presented itself to me, I utilized all the components of a successful panorama mentioned in last week's blog. In addition, I had to keep a few more techniques in mind:
The first was to make sure the hand held camera was as level as possible when shooting the series of images. Second, was to use a mid range focal length to prevent any distortion. The next point to remember was to overlap each frame a little more than the 25% mentioned last week to give the stitching software more information to compare and match between frames. And most importantly, I needed to shoot more than one series of images of the scene, which I did at key moments throughout the game. The reason for this is that the success rate for stitching hand held panoramas is obviously much lower than those carefully set up on a tripod. In fact, I shot 13 series of this scene from my seat throughout the evening and only 2 were acceptable for further processing!
This week's featured panorama was made from 9 frames and was a post processing challenge because of the movement of the fans in the foreground. The image required intensive work in Photoshop after the stitching process to correct the blurred people in the foreground. I feel the finished image was well worth the extra effort, giving the viewer the feeling of sitting in the end zone amidst all of the excitement.
I realize that hand holding a series of images for a panorama is technically risky to attempt. However, I have learned that by trying to create one under less than optimal circumstances, I will at least have a chance for an acceptable finished product. Without trying to shoot the series, I am guaranteed no image at all!
Please visit my Panorama Gallery .  37 of the panoramas here were hand held.  Can you guess which ones?

(Each frame for the Super Bowl panorama was made with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon 24-105mm f 4.0 IS lens, 1/60 second @ f 5.0, ISO 800, Arcsoft Panorama Maker 3.0, Adobe Photoshop CS4)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Panorama~ Little River Rapids

This week's image was made on a rainy day during my recent trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. But wait...this isn't a single image. This scene of the Little River Rapids by the Tremont Campgrounds is made up of 10 images!

Often, I find myself unable to capture a scene in a single frame, and so I resort to creating panorama images. I have created panoramas from as little as two images and as many as 16!

Good composition is important in any image, but takes even more thought when creating a panorama. A visually successful panorama usually has an anchor point at each end of the stitched image.

When creating this scene in the camera, I was very aware of the log to the left that leads the eye down the river, as well as the leaves hanging from above on the far right adding interest to scene and giving the eye something to study above the calm stretch of water. The diagonal line, achieved by shooting the scene obliquely, adds to the strength of the image. (Please click on the image to enlarge it for easier viewing)

To accomplish a successful panorama of this scene, I had my camera mounted on a tri-pod. (OK, I admit it- sometimes I hand hold the camera to create them, which will be a topic for a future blog entry) I photographed the scene from left to right, overlapping each image by about 25%. The exposure and focus remained the same throughout the series of images.

Upon my return home, I created the final image I had pre-visualized in the field by stitching my 10 frames together using Arcsoft Panorama Maker 3.0.

Each frame in this series was made with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II,
Canon 24-105mm f 4.0 IS lens, 2.5 seconds @ f 16, ISO 50

Sunday, May 9, 2010

~Happy Mother's Day~

Today, is Mother's Day- a day set aside to celebrate mothers and motherhood. Most countries follow suit with the United States, declaring the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.
However, my mother always tells me what her mother told her: "Every day should be Mother's Day..." After raising two children of my own, I definitely understand what she means!
In addition to wishing a Happy Mother's Day to all moms and moms-to-be, I would also like to extend a very special wish to my own mother, who happens to be celebrating her 84th birthday today, as well. How you ever successfully raised five of us (making it look easy and living to tell about it) will always be an amazing and mysterious feat to me! I love you.

This week's image was made during a portrait session in my studio. After photographing a small baby for a while, she needed a well deserved break. Her mom and I allowed her to remain on the backdrop for some relaxing play time. I continued to observe and photograph, going beyond the traditional portraits they requested. This image resulted as a cherished keepsake for mom; freezing a tender moment in time.
Canon EOS 1D Mark II, Canon 70-300mm DO IS lens, 1/125 second at f 8.0

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Birds ~ Great Egret Display

Before my regular post on the weekend, I thought I would post some "pretty" bird behavior after grossing out some of my friends last week. This image was taken just before the sun set at the Venice Rookery in Venice, Florida. (Is this better for you, BK?)
(As always, clicking on the image will enlarge it for viewing)

Canon 50D, Canon 600mm f4 IS USM lens, 1/80 sec @ f 4.0, ISO 800

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Eye to Eye

This past week, I was invited by a close photo friend to join her at Fort De Soto Park near St. Petersburg, Florida for a day of bird photography. Fort De Soto is the first landfall of migratory birds returning from South and Central America in the spring as they cross the Gulf of Mexico, so it is an excellent place for bird watchers and photographers.
Our mission was two-fold: to practice photographing birds and bird behaviors and to practice using (and carrying!) our super telephoto lenses. During the course of the day, we saw a large variety of birds. Luckily for us, most of the birds we observed at close distance were either wading slowly by the shoreline or standing quietly making it easier to track them in the viewfinder and to make compelling bird portraits.
However, capturing bird behavior was another challenge altogether, which we quickly learned required patience, extensive knowledge of bird behaviors, prediction, and quick reflexes!

I must admit, I did not capture many bird behavior images from the day and I have gained a new respect for bird photographers...
It's not as easy as it looks!

This week' s image is one of my most interesting images from the day's experience. The heron was wading at the shoreline and seemed to be trying to figure out how to eat a fish head it had found in the water. It made numerous attempts to do so, positioning the fish head in different directions before finally succeeding. This frame was my most successful shot of his dilemma.
(Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 600mm lens, 1/1600 sec at f 4.0, ISO 400)