Orlando, Florida – When You Wish Upon an HDR!

If you are in Orlando how can you not visit Disney World??  I was in for the Daytona 500 and had a free night.  My goal was to photograph fireworks during the Dreams show at the Magic Kingdom.   I had never photographed fireworks…so I set up camp early in the perfect spot waiting for darkness.  The sunset had just passed (although it was not too sunny) and the blue hour arrived!   I timed my shots as Cinderella’s Castle turned  different colors.    I got off about 4-6 shots of the castle in various colors before it became too dark.    Here is a shot with the castle pink.  I added a little star trail to give it that Disney effect.  Easy to do…its in your brush pallette if you use Adobe Photoshop.  I just did a few sizes.    Not bad to start the night!    Then I awaited the fireworks show…..pics coming soon!!!!

Here is some info from the web:  Cinderella Castle is the iconic fairy-tale fortress that serves as the gateway to Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom theme park. It is not only one of the central icons of Walt Disney World Resort, but its romantic beauty has also come to represent all of the Walt Disney Company. The castle is located in the heart of Magic Kingdom theme park—just above the central hub of the Park. Many Guests catch their first glimpse of the castle from Main Street, U.S.A. When you first see the soaring spires, ornate turrets and shimmering moat, you know you’ve left the world of today and entered a magical new land full of fun and fantasy.

While it may be initially startling to see a medieval castle rising 190 feet into the sky at the end of a street right out of classic small-town America, the dream-like magic of the contrasting images captures the promise of the enchanted adventures awaiting you. Step inside Cinderella Castle, and it’s like you’re walking into a fairy tale come true. The castle is as beautiful inside as it is on the outside. Inspect an amazingly detailed mosaic mural—including tiles made of real 14-karat gold—and enjoy vignettes from the 1950 Disney animated classic, Cinderella. The mural contains one million pieces of glass in approximately 500 different colors.

Have a magical day!!!

Talke Photography Settings:

  • amera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 22.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/22
  • Gear:  Tripod, Cable release
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Photomatix, Color Efex Pro, Viveza

Daytona, Florida – Daytona 500

I just returned from a trip to Florida.  You know its a tough winter everywhere when even in February..Florida is cold!  This past Sunday the 14th was the Daytona 500….NASCAR’s first race os the season and the biggest race of the year.  I have posted before I am a casual fan, but there is no sporting event that I have ever attended that can top this race!!!  200,000 people…tough to beat!  I have been to this race I think 4 of the last 6 years?  No matter how many times I attend…I truly love it!

Its a full day indeed.  I went this year with my father-in-law George (his first time!) and we arrived at Daytona around 6:15 AM.  Had breakfast and walked to the track at around 8 AM for some shopping!  We shopped for an hour and had passes for the Fan Zone.   For the Fan Zone you get to walk around the stages near pit row and listen to drivers speak, music playing, eat food, watch car inspections, walk through pit row and onto the field.  The big draw is to walk on the track and sign the starting line and walls before the race.   As the cars are brought out….you cant get right next to pit row, behind a rope.  Only a few feet from the starting lineup!   After the cars are inspected they are rolled out one by one.  So I stood and took pics of each car coming out for about 2 hours.  My father-in-law was a trooper and stood next to me the whole time.  I had my big lens – Nikon 70-200 VR on a monopod and snapped away!

The pic above is from the lineup which includes Tony Stewart’s car….race ready.   If the crowds are not too heavy around the cars, close up shots are possible.  I saw Dale Jr’s car rolled out and could barley get close!  So we hit the stands for the race at about 12:30 and grabbed some lunch and our seats.

As our seats were first row right by the fence you see in the pic above…I wanted to grab a shot from above as the race started.  I walked up the aisle and took the shot above (turn 4) as lap 1 was just about to start!   Mark Martin is in the lead and Dale Jr. is is in second!  The shot above is at 200mm focal length.    I took a few more shots throughout the race and they were just ok.   This was the biggest lens I have ever taken to a race and made some conclusions about shooting races.  1) Use a bigger lens  2) Get pit passes  3) Practice beforehand if possible

Any fan that wants great shots like you see in Sports Illustrated…from the stands..its impossible.  I can assume a 400mm or 600mm lens is necessary to get those cool shots.  Added to that your photo location has to be from the pits.  How to get there…hmmm…maybe you have to be a professional.  So lesson learned as I tried to push my photography limits this day.  If anyone is a race fan and knows how to get such a photo pass…please let me know!   I’ll get into the race details in a future post next week.  A fun day and I can’t wait to get back again.  As I have a long post..I’ll skip the photo settings for the day.  Have fun and let the race begin!

San Francisco, CA – Neiman Marcus Rotunda (HDR)

Before I visit any location…I make sure to form a list of sights to see and search all avenues for ideas.  I use books I have, Google Images and Flickr.  I searched San Francisco on Flickr and saw a shot from the Neiman Marcus Store downtown.  When Horace Kwan and I started our photo opp day, we hit this sport first.  I figured the rotunda would be great using a fisheye!   Any circular shape in fisheye looks wonderful.  It captures the feeling of the effect just right.   Just a floor above is a restaurant and if I can recall we were in the women’s clothing section.  We set up while people were shopping and grabbed a few shots!   I must admit sometimes you feel like a dork carrying your tripod around taking photos…and in a department store…that makes us super dorks!  LOL   But after it is all said and done…and your pic is finished…its all worth it!   Just goes to show you…photographers will take pics anywhere!

Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 10.5 Fisheye f/2.8
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 10.5.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/2.8
  • Gear:  Tripod, Cable release
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Photomatix, Color Efex Pro, Viveza

San Antonio, Texas in HDR

Any city in HDR is always great.  Night or day!  Of course day shots need some clouds…if possible.  I posted this same shot on Dec 29th as a nite view.   This was the early AM shot from my Hilton hotel balcony.     San Antonio is a great little city thanks to the Riverwalk.  Right below the trees on the left is the Riverwalk…covered nicely!  I need to get back soon and visit more of the San Antonio Missions that are just about 5-10 minutes from downtown.  I will then be on a HDR mission trail!

I just returned from Florida and visited Tampa, St. Augustine, Disney and the Daytona 500.  Will get some pics up in a few days!  And I just received a nice package from Nikon…the 70-200 f/2.8 VR (first version).  I hope to have my first video review up for this lens soon!  I have rented and used it a few times, just an amazing lens.  More details to come!

Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 12.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/16
  • Gear:  Tripod, Cable release
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Photomatix, Color Efex Pro, Topaz Adjust

Yosemite National Park (Infrared)

Here is another Infrared shot from Yosemite at a location called Tunnel View.   It seems that black & white and Yosemite go hand in hand.   Just a wonderful amount of tonal variance indeed…thanks Ansel Adams!    This is one magical place!!   I had no idea that IR snow scenes would be so perfect!   I must shoot more in this weather…but it will be tough as I live in Texas.   Not much snow in Austin.  I sure hope I can return to Yosemite in the late spring??  Just to dream….greenery and flowers along with such mountainous beauty  = one of mother nature’s top creations in the world!!  I was told that late May early June is the best time to visit Yosemite.

Since my return I have been reading up on this location.  Something I do often if I visit a spot for the first time and plan to return.  I found a cute little Photo Guide Book…. The Photographers Guide to Yosemite by Michael Frye…click on it to take you to the Amazon link.  Only $9.95.   I’ll also study more Ansel photos as well.  I try to compare what I took for the first run and see what I can do to improve my shots for the next time…or even scout other great locations.   I just love the endless possibilities photography can offer!

Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D70S (Converted to Infrared)
  • Infrared Conversion:  D70S modified by LifePixel
  • Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 19.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:   1/100
  • Aperture:  f/22
  • Gear:  Tripod
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Silver Efex Pro

Springtime Flower

It has been a long winter and I see lots of snow has been everywhere in the world.  Let’s brighten things up with a nice springtime flower!   Only in the past few weeks I have learned to add textures to photos….a  nice flower with an added texture is wonderful!  Like a painting.    Hopefully spring will be here soon!  I am eager to use my macro lens again!!

Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 105 VR F/2.8 (Macro Lens)
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 105.0mm
  • ISO: 1400
  • Exposure:  1/8000
  • Aperture:  f/5.6
  • Gear:  Hand Held
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4

San Francisco, CA – Amazing Grace (HDR)

It is photos like this that make HDR a favorite of mine.  There are certain subject like interiors of Cathedrals/Churches that make HDR’s stand out.  I know there are HDR nay-sayers, but how can you dislike what HDR does to a scene like this?

Grace Cathedral is a lovely small Cathedral that sits above Nob Hill in San Francisco.  I had about an hour here and took quiet a few shots.  This one became an instant favorite of mine!   I took a few straight on fisheye’s and liked em, then this one popped out and the angle creates a wonderful feeling!  What is great about this Cathedral is that I had my tripod all over the place and not one person asked me not to use it!   So I snapped away!   I am not sure of the history of Cathedrals, but there are quite a few I have seen that look very similar from the outside.  Notre Dame, San Fernando, Grace Cathedral and I am sure many more!   I’ll post this outside view soon!

Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 13.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/11
  • Gear:  Tripod, Cable release
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Photomatix, Color Efex Pro, Viveza