Thursday, May 21, 2009


I was hoping to put up another post before we are off to vacation, but things did not work out. I was hoping to get on at work Saturday but we had severe thunderstorms and the power was out for 2 hours and we ended up being busy any way. So Sunday we had a Cub Scout pack hike in the afternoon. Monday Isaac had a school picnic and parent conferences in the evening. Tuesday at work it was a busy shift. So basically the week was shot and here it is Thursday and we leave tomorrow after school for a week at Walt Disney World. While there I know I will have plenty of shots to discuss since last time we took 2300 photos. So I will get back here in a little over a week to add some more to the Evolution of the Shot.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pomeroy Mason Bridge

On April 21, 2009 the Bridge connecting Pomeroy, Ohio and Mason, West Virginia met the first of several explosions to bring the structure down. The bridge was a cantilever truss bridge built in 1928 by the Mount Vernon Bridge Company of Mount Vernon, Ohio.

The center span would be the first to be destroyed. Due to river traffic the demolition company could only shut down the main channel for 24 hours without facing penalties. The approaches and piers would be destroyed later.

The day of demolition I went early and set up the camera on the tripod and got ready. I set my settings on manual and raw capture to get the fastest frames per second. I was working that day and got called away so I left the remote shutter release with Dad to take the shots. The only problem was, while I was away the clouds cleared up changing the exposure settings. Dad was not aware of the how I had the camera set and triggered the shutter on cue. The captures were overexposed by 2 stops!. Luckily I had used RAW and I could salvage the shots. I merged them into an animated gif.

So this week on May 14, 2009 the Mason, West Virginia side's time was up. I set up in the same location. This time I used RAW and aperture priority. Where I set up, the local news station had set up also. My youngest son had been talking for a year about going to watch the bridge blow up. He had seen the first demolition and did not like it because of the noise. This time I let him bring my ear muffs I use in the wood shop this time hoping it would help. It did not, he said it was too loud. Apparently it made a good news story because we made the local news.

Link to WSAZ News Video

It was an overcast day with rain, but I managed to get another series of shots and again merged them into an animated gif.

So after the implosion I drove across the new Bridge of Honor to Mason, West Virginia and took a few shots wreckage and equipment that had already moved in to remove it.

One thing I noticed is how clean the copper clad explosives cut the steel. Here is a photo showing the cut. You can see the copper on the inside of the cut and the c-clamps used to hold the explosives in place are still attached.

One of the features of the bridge design and construction was the eye beams. Shown here is the end of one of the eye beams protruding from the wreckage.

The cutters quickly moved in to remove the debris. It did not take long before some of the first large pieces were being hauled away.

This is not what I have normally been blogging about, but it was an interesting subject for my lens so I thought I would share.


Information pertaining to the date of construction and manufacturer was found on

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

The Eastern Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum) is very active at this time of year. I've had to remove several "tents" from my trees and yet every where I turn I find another caterpillar. Most of the time they are moving rather quickly so the other day when I found one on sitting still on one of my roses I thought why not grab a shot.

I went and grabbed the gear. Put the camera on the tripod to make focusing easier, using the 70-300mm and a 20mm extension tube. My Sony HVL-F58AM flash off camera. I started with a small aperture of f14 and the hand holding the flash to the right. Popped off the firsts shot and drew back with a gasp.

The flash overpowered the shot and was on the wrong side of the subject. So I dialed down the flash EV -0.7 stops, switched hands and shot again.

The flash was still overpowering the exposure so I dialed it down to -1.7EV and gave it another go.

This time the exposure looked better but the depth of feild was too deep so I closed the aperture down to f5 and moved off center.

I liked to look but the main subject was supposed to the the caterpillar, not the leaf. So I centered and zoomed in a little more for the final shot.

So after importing the raw image using Ufraw and adjusting the levels, curves, contrast and sharpening for the final image.

This set required 12 shots to get the final image. You can click on an image to see a larger size.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Lily of the Valley

The other day the Lily of the Valley that my great-grandmother planted along side my house was in full bloom. The smell was great and I wanted to capture the beauty of the tiny white flowers. I had a few ideas in my head so I grabbed my camera and headed out.

It was a gray overcast day and had been raining off and on for about a week, so I thought it would be a good chance to catch some water on the leaves and flowers. I wanted to capture the delicateness of the flowers while still seeing the all the details of the foliage. The key to me was showing that these were my flowers that had been raised by my family for over 60 years.

I started out hand holding my 70-300mm lens with a 20mm extension tube, using manual setting I adjusted to what the camera's meter told me was the correct exposure for an aperture of f10, and took the first shot. Looked at the LCD and the image was dark.

I did not want to adjust the aperture because I wanted to catch as many many details as possible and at a 90mm focal length at 1/200 I did not want to slow down my shutter speed. So I headed to the camera bag grabbed my Sony HVL-F58AM flash, set it to TTL, slightly recomposed and fired off a shot. .

The composition was good, the details were good but the thing that got me was the flash overexposed the details in the white flowers. So I dialed down the flash exposure compensation 1 stop, cropped in tighter and shot another shot.

I really liked this shot with the water drops on the flowers, the composition, the colors and depth of field. It is a good shot but it was not what I wanted to see for my final image. Out of time before I had to go get my 5 year old from pre-school I put the camera away and headed off unsatisfied. When I got I was working around the house and it hit me like a ton of bricks I should use a wider lens. So back out I went with my 18-70mm, 12mm extension tube and flash. With a few quick frames to adjust for exposure and depth of field I got the shot I was looking for.

To me it showed the details of the flowers that had been undisturbed and the brick of my house let my know that this was mine, not some shot that you could google showing just the flowers and foliage. The only down side was that since it had not rained for a couple of hours I was minus the water drops. I guess I could have grabbed a sprayer and made the drops myself but I was happy with the shot. I uploaded it to the computer and using the RAW file and Ufraw I made a slight exposure adjustment. I then took the image into Gimp and adjusted the levels, contrast, and sharpened the image to get the final image.

In all I took 28 photos to get to this point. Sometimes I can get to where I want to be in one or two shots but sometimes it take several shots over several hours.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Evolution of the shot

I am by no means an great photographer when compared to many of the outstanding photographers out there today and in the past. As I am continually learning new techniques and honing my skills. I have often wondered, did Ansel Adams or any other great photographer just walk up with his brand new camera, plop it down, and end up with amazing shots the very first time he took a picture. Or did he and many others got through an evolution of trial and error to learn what works.

When I started taking pictures a few years ago with a film SLR I hated the fact that I could shoot the picture and then wait to have the roll developed only to find that the picture was not what I was originally intended it to look like. Then after upgrading to a digital point and shoot, and seeing the "light" of the LCD preview screen, It dawned on me I could take a shot and if I did not like it I could reposition, recompose, or change the exposure to get the shot I wanted. I did not put much effort into this with a point and shoot though because I did not think of it as a serious medium for photography or a tool to improve. Last year with the addition of a DSLR I would take shots, recompose, and adjust exposure but still did not get the photo I was looking for. I kept on shooting though and my pictures have greatly improved over the last year.

Lately I have found that I can visualize what I want the final image to look like, but don't know how to get there. There are many great resources on the web to learn from (see my links section) but they seem to discuss their final images only. After thinking about over the last few weeks I have decided to contribute, however great or small, by showing some of my shots and how they evolved for me.

I will show the initial shot, describe it, and then each successive shot until the final image. I am doing this to help myself develop the thought process that I think I need to make this "evolution of the shot" progress quicker so maybe one day I can plop the camera down and just take that million dollar shot in one take. Maybe someone reading will be able to learn something as well.