Austin, Texas – Field of Dreams – HDR

Baseball filed - Rainbow

NIKON D300, Nikon 12-24, HDR in Photomatix

This picture was taken last nite in my local town. A matter of perfect timing.  We had some storms come through Austin the last day or so and the sky was looking good for a late evening shot.  I had planned earlier in the day to hopefully try an HDR of the baseball field.  I wanted to see how it would turn out.  We first went to get yogurt and after finishing drove back to the ball field.  As we pulled up – we looked up and saw the  rainbow!  What timing!  Funny that a few days ago when it was raining and the sun came out – I thought to myself – how would an HDR of a rainbow look?   Now I had my chance! 

I brought my wide angle lens as I wanted to get more of the field in the shot and took a bunch of pics.  This was 5 exposures on a tripod with a cable release.  Post processed in Photomatix.   I like how the rainbow is cut off from the end of the clouds.  If we had some corn fields in the background – it would be a field of dreams.  Build it and they will come!

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Paris, France – Eiffel Tower

La Eiffel Tower

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR

Here is a close up photo of the Eiffel Tower.   If you have been reading my blog – it is one of my most favortie sights to see in this world!  I’d say it is also one of the most photographed sights in the world as well.   I’ve walked around the tower many times looking for different angles and views.   Sometimes a close up shot works.   What is interesting about this picture is the names on the side of the tower.  I had no idea they were they until I processed this shot!    There are seventy-two names under the first balcony on each side of the tower.  They are scientists, engineers and other notable people that helped Gustave Eiffel with the tower. 

I touched up this shot with a filter from Color Efex Pro 3.0 to give it the brownish hue.  I’ll be back in Paris soon!  I am looking forward to eating my traditional crepe filled with whipped creme and chocolate right next to the tower at this cute little stand by the carousel across the street.  Enjoy!

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR, Color Efex Pro 3.0

It was my first visit to Berlin last summer.  I had only a Sunday late afternoon to see the sights.  I must say it is one of Germnay’s most beautiful cities!   When I arrived via taxi from hauptbahnhof (train station) I saw lots of trailers down one street.  When I checked in they told me that Tom Cruise was filming the movie Valkyrie.  A movie based upon actual events that was about a plot to assassinate Hitler during the height of WWII.  It is out on DVD now…I hope to see it soon.   Unfortunately, I didnt get to see Tom cruising the streets.

I took a hop-on-hop-off tour bus and enjoed the sightseeing from the top of the bus.  Some sights to see in Berlin are;   the Berlin Wall (some sections are still standing), Checkpoint Charlie (famous former border crossing  point), Fernsehturm TV Tower, Alexanderplatz, Berliner Dom and much more!    The photo above is of the Protestant Cathedral.  I added a little filter effect in Color Efex Pro 3.0 to give it a cool feel.   I walked around the shops and restaurants around Checkpoint Charlie and had a wonderful stay.  The people were very friendly and there were many tourists. 

I hope to get back to Berlin again one day.  Wunderbar!!! (wonderful in German)  Its not just another brick in the wall!

Austin, Texas – Capitol Building

Austin, Texas - Dome Interior

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR

Here is a photo of the interior dome at the Texas State Capitol Building –  in my hometown of Austin.  This is probably my favorite place to visit in Austin.  I enjoy stopping by downtown for some photographs once or twice a year.  I’d like to go again soon.  This time to try an IR (Infrared) shot of the building and of course and couple more HDR’s.  You can check an earlier post I made of an HDR of the exterior of the building. 

Here is some history of the capitol building – The Capitol Building was completed in 1888 as a winning design in a national competition. It took seven years to build at a cost of $3.74 Million dollars.  The architecture is based upon 15th century Italian designs with round arches and a symmetrical composition. The Texas Capitol building is one of the largest in gross square footage of all state capitols and is second in overall total size only to the National Capitol in Washington, DC. In 1993 the the building underwent at $75 million underground extension. On top of the dome is a staue of the Goddess of Liberty.  There are 22 acres of surrounding grounds.  The grounds contain 17 monuments.  The four oldest monuments are; Heroes of the Alamo, Volunteer Fireman, Confederate Soliders and Terry’s Texas Rangers.

It is a very impressive sight in Austin.  As you drive down Congress Avenue the building lies straight ahead.  Austin is famous for segway tours – I am sure they have one of the grounds!  You can walk around inside the building and when you get to the interior of the dome look up and he picture above is what you will see!    I have yet to take a full tour, but will do it soon!  If you plan to visit Austin one day – this should be stop #1!   Have a great day Y’all!

Maria Sharapova – Palm Springs, CA

Sharapova 07 copy

NIKON D300, Nikon 70-200 VR, TC-14EII Teleconverter

One of our favorite sports is tennis.   Not only to play, but also to watch.   As it is the best time of year for tennis – the French Open and Wimbledon are coming up in the next few weeks.   My favorite women’s tennis player is Maria Sharapova.   She has beauty and a drive to win unlike any other player I have ever seen.   That winning attitude has made her go far in life.   She had been injured over the past year and missed alot of action.   We were lucky to see her only tournment play this year in Indian Wells.  She is now back playing this past week in Poland and I’m sure will regain her form soon!  

Our family tries to go to a match every year.   This past year we went to the Indian Wells (Palm Springs, CA) tournament in March.   Per my previous post on Rafael Nadal…this is the best tournament to visit!  Beautiful Palm Springs in March is lovely!   Not only to you get close to the players, but you can watch them practive from only a few feet away!   I had rented through LensRentals.com a dream lens of mine – the Nikon 18-200 VR F/2.8.   This lens was amazing!  What does amazing cost??  $1900.00 just for this lens.   But what it can do blew me away.   I added a teleconverter to the lens and this added another 100mm of action to my camera.  As you can tell by the picture above…so close!  I was about 30 feet away from Sharapova to get this shot.

It was my first time shooting with such a big lens and using it in conjunction with sports.  So I had a learning process.  This shot is solid, but needs a little EV+ kick.  I will learn next time to work better with shadows.  I also took this hand held.  With so many people around it was difficult to manuever such a lens.  If you click on the link above you can see how big this lens is.  I’d estimate with my camera body, teleconverter, lens and the hood – the length of this outfit was around 18-20 inches!  Wow!  I overheard a few people around me say “that guy is getting great shots!”  Hopefully I will get this lens this year.  If not, I may rent it again for some baseball action.

We met Sharapova later the next day.  She was signing autographs and my 4 year old gave her a flower and Maria thanked her signed a poster for her and laughed  “hey isnt this poster bigger than you?”  Thank you to Maria…she was so nice to us!    Hope you think this photo is an “Ace”!

Seattle, WA – Space Needle

Seattle - Space Needle

NIKON D70S, Nikon 18-70

This is a photo of the famous Space Needle in Seattle.  Seattle is one of the best little cities in the USA.     Seattle is a medley of picturesque views of lush green hills surrounded by snowcapped mountains and sparking blue waters.   Mount Rainier stands the tallest mountain at 14,411 feet.   Seattle is nestled on a narrow strip of land between Puget Sound and eighteen mile long Lake Washington.  Seattle’s mild winters and cool summers work together to make the city lush and green, earning it the nickname, “The Emerald City”. 

Of course I have only visited in the summer when its been beautiful.  For those people that have or currently live in Seattle you can tell us how much it really rains there.   Some great sights to see in Seattle are; Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Waterfront, Pioneer Sqaure, Mount Rainier and you can take some wonderful  boats, cruises or ferries around Seattle.  And if you are there in the summer…see a baseball game – Seattle Mariners.  It is my favorite stadium in all of baseball!

Pike Place Market is the place to go to enjoy the Seattle experience.  To see the market workers toss the fish to each other is a wonderful sight to enjoy.   Here is some history I found on the net – Pike Place was founded on August 17, 1907.   A total of eight farmers brought their wagons to the corner of First Avenue and Pike and were quickly overwhelmed by over 10,000 shoppers!  By 11 Am they were sold out.  By the end of 1907  the first market building opened and every space was filled.  A century later Pike Place is known as America’s premier farmers market!  It attracts nearly 10 Million visitors per year!

If you are looking for scenic beauty, great food, music and some delicious coffee…stop in and visit Seattle!

Nurnberg, Germany – Spherical Dreams

Nurnberg, Germany - Globes

NIKON D300, Nikon 105 VR

While I was in Nurnberg walking around the Hauptmarkt (shopping area).  There were tons of little shops.   I stopped in one that looked fairly large.  I have heard Nurnberg is known for toys so I wanted to see what they had.  My goal was to find a cute toy for my little one (she is 4 years old).  Most everything was so wonderful!  Unfortunately they were all handcrafted items such as; beer steins, cookoo clocks (they were awesome!), plates, and amazing wood carved people (soliders, Santas, workers, etc…).  Everywhere I looked was a special sight to see!!   Not much for a 4 year old, but I did see these brilliant glass spheres hanging from the ceiling.  I thought to buy one, but I still had 1 week of travel left and a long plane ride…how would it survive without breaking?   I will go back later this year more prepared and pick one up!

German craftsmanship is tops in my book!   I was mesmerized at everything I saw. A wall of cookoo clocks brought me back to my childhood.  We had one growing up.  The steins were beautiful!  I luckily had my camera and took a few shots for fun.  The picture above had very nice bokeh.  For those that may not know what bokeh is…bokeh is derived from a Japanese word “boke” meaning blur or haze. Its a photographic term reffering to the appearance of a light sources in an out-of-focus area of an image caused by the camera lens using a shallow depth of field. 

I thought the image had a dreamy feel to it and I opened it up on Color Efex Pro 3.0 and added a soft focus effect to it.   Hope you enjoy!