Bisbee, Arizona at Twilight

By PF Staff in Favorite Photos on Jan 6, 2013

Bisbee is an old mining town in southern Arizona.  In its heyday around the turn of the 20th Century, it was a thriving metropolis.  A large percentage of the nation's copper came from the mines here.  My maternal grandfather worked in those mines, and he and my grandmother are buried in the old cemetery just east of the town.  Over the years, many photographs had been taken by others from this vantage point looking up Main Street to the west.  Amazingly, photos taken 100 years ago and those taken today are strikingly similar, as the old buildings still stand.  The mines petered out in the 1970s, and were abandoned as too expensive to operate.  Bisbee became a tourist destination, but the ghosts of the past still linger on its streets and in its buildings, both literally and figuratively.  Many supernatural sightings have taken place, and books and TV shows have been produced on the various phenomena.

A Pentax Rodeo

By PF Staff in Favorite Photos on Jan 5, 2013

I was looking for some place that I could make use of my newly acquired Pentax K-5's low light capability. Just by chance I stumbled upon a amateur rodeo taking place not 5 miles from my house in Texas hill country.

The rodeo started at 7PM and it got dark very quickly. There were flood lights, but they were not very bright. I knew that I needed a high shutter speed to stop the action.  I put on a Sigma 70-200 mm lens, set the aperture to 2.8, the focal length to 200 mm, and cranked up the ISO to 6400. That seemed to give me a shutter speed of about 250. It would, I figured,  be barely enough to stop the action. I was hand holding the shot, but I was able to rest my elbows on the fence. The image stabilization that was built into the camera body might just give me the extra sharpness that I was looking for.  I knew that I could get a faster frame rate if I shot in JPEG, but I decided that RAW would give me more latitude in later post processing. I used an after market camera base with a second battery. I have heard that I could get a faster response with it, but I have never been able to figure out if it is really true or not. Still it would not hurt my chances, and the vertical grip helped to steady the shots.

For each rider I shot a series of two to four shots.  I was hoping to get that one action shot that told the "rodeo story."

The Making of Flamingo Paradise

By PF Staff in Favorite Photos on Jan 3, 2013

Flamingos are colourful, stately and graceful birds. Their zoological habitat is usually well designed, offering an interesting and artistically pleasing backdrop for making great photos. In short, they make great models. As well, this particular photo presented a few challenges – to make the birds really stand out, I needed to improve the depth of field by blurring the background. And since the birds are quite detailed, this required careful use of the magnetic selection tool. In short, this photo needed additional modifications.

Frozen Flame: Capturing Prince Niah's Performance

By PF Staff in Favorite Photos on Jan 2, 2013

Prince Niah Performing (click to enlarge)

I chose this photo for my submission because it was one of the first pictures I took that I was particularly proud of. I'm normally pretty timid about taking photos in public but this performer was so fantastic that I wanted to capture the moment as best as I could. This picture was taken at a yearly event that showcases the diversity of the different cultures in the city. The photo was taken at the Caribbean pavilion at this event and the performer, named Prince Niah, was a contortionist/fire breather (obviously). I only had a few chances to get a nice plume of flame and I'm very very pleased with how this turned out.

Galaxy Road

By PF Staff in Favorite Photos on Jan 1, 2013

There are a lot of reasons why this is one of my favorite pictures. I've always been inspired by a lot of beautiful pictures I've seen of the milky way and wanted to capture it myself. "Galaxy Road" was taken in August when I made my first trip out to truly dark skies to observe and photograph the stars. This state park took about 3 hours to drive to from the Chicago area. The drive was well worth it as I could see thousands of stars, dark clouds and nebula in the milky way, and a couple dozen meteors. The beautiful night sky is always up there, I just think it's a shame that the light pollution from cities blocks out so much of it.

Click to enlarge


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