Paris, France – Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower - Blue

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR

I have not posted a shot of my favorite sights in the world for a while…the Eiffel Tower!   Night shots of the tower are wonderful! This was one lucky evening (as I have posted before)…getting to see the tower in blue.   This shot was when I walking up to the tower along the side paths.  No matter how many times I see this view…it still amazes me!   The tower has only been a few colors before….another cool one would to see it in red (they have done that in the past)!  Maybe one day?  Enjoy!

Cleveland, Ohio – Fountain of Eternal Life (HDR)

Cleveland - Fountain of Eternal Life (HDR)

NIKON D300, Nikon 12-24, HDR in Photomatix

While in Cleveland I happened to look out my hotel window when I checked in to my room….just out front was this fountain.  I decided to head out for a few shots when it became dark.  I had no idea what the fountain looked like, I could only see it partially from the side in the hotel.  I walked only 50 yards and witnessed this fountain lit up at night.  Very nice!  It is called the Fountain of Eternal Life…beautiful!

Here is some info from the web:  The Fountain of Eternal Life, also known as the War Memorial Fountain and Peace Arising from the Flames of War, is a statue and fountain in Cleveland, Ohio designed by Cleveland Institute of Art graduate Marshall Fredericks and dedicated on May 30, 1964. The sculpture, which serves as the city’s major memorial to its citizens that served in World War II, is situated on Memorial Plaza, which is part of the Cleveland Mall.

The fountain was initiated and promoted by the Cleveland Press, which raised $250,000 in donations from private citizens and various organizations for the project. The centerpiece is a 35-foot (10.7 m) bronze figure representing man escaping from the flames of war and reaching skyward for eternal peace. The bronze sphere from which the figure rises represents the superstitions and legends of mankind. Four granite carvings, representing the geographic civilizations of the world, are placed around the sphere. On the surface of the polished granite rim surrounding the fountain are bronze plates bearing the names of 4,177 Greater Clevelanders who perished in WWII and in the Korean War. Following a complete restoration during the construction of an underlying parking garage in connection with the neighboring Key Tower, the memorial was rededicated on Veterans Day in 1991.

Fountains are great subjects at nite for HDR..  I took my traditional 5 exposures, tripod and cable release.  It was a bit windy this nite and I had to keep wiping off my lens as the spray form the fountain kept blowing in my direction.  Cleveland has some great photo opportunities I had no idea about.  I only had a few hours, so I plan to go back soon and get some more photos of Cleveland. Like they say “Cleveland Rocks!”

News!: Coffee Table Book, HDR E-Zine, Texas Monthly Mag

A couple projects in the works coming soon…

1) Places 2 Explore – Coffee Table Book:  A nice photo book of my best travel pictures available in a size of 13″ x 11″ will be available for purchase….details on this soon!  Hope to have it ready in a few weeks!

2) HDR Digital Review (HDR):  I am planning on putting out an E-Zine with a few great HDR artists where we post HDR photos and technique to achieve the HDR. This way people learning HDR can view different methods and styles, while seeing some great photos!  I am planning to have it available as a e-mailer in PDF format.     This may take until later this year to get the first issue out.  It may start out as quarterly and we will go from there.  If you are reading this and want to get in on the “early” mailer list…just email me at and please put “HDR Digital Review” in the subject header.  As it gets close to fruition, I will make a few more updated posts.   If you are a digital artist and would like to try to make a cover design (recognition will be noted on every cover)…email me rough ideas!  Thanks!

3) Austin Bat Photo – my photograph of the Austin bats will be published in the upcoming Texas Monthly Magazine (October 2009 issue).  I’ll post details when it is available!

Until then, thanks for reading Places 2 Explore!!!

Cleveland, Ohio – Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (HDR)

Cleveland, OH - RR HOF (HDR)

NIKON D300, Nikon 10.5 Fisheye, HDR in Photomatix

I recently had an evening in Cleveland, OH and stayed downtown.   The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was in walking distance, so I set forth for a few pictures!  I got there after closing, so it was quiet outside and the ease of taking photos was there for the taking.  I snapped away from every angle with my wide angle 12-24 and the fisheye 10.5 lenses.   I had a feeling that the fisheye close up to the building might give me a great angle and effect.  I set up my tripod, cable release and took 5 exposures, post processed in Photomatix and here is my shot!  I really enjoy taking photographs with that Fisheye lens.  I may have to reconsider buying one next year or rent it again when I am on a nice trip!

Here is some info from the web on the Rock & Roll HOF: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum located on the shores of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States, dedicated to recording the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, and other people who have in some major way influenced the music industry, particularly in the area of rock and roll. The museum is part of the city’s redeveloped North Coast Harbor.

There are seven levels in the building. The first through fifth levels feature many permanent and temporary exhibits documenting the history of rock and roll. Temporary exhibits display items from artists that have only been borrowed for a short period of time, such as the Warped Tourdisplay in 2007, showcasing memorabilia from the tour’s 12 years in existence. The museum has also put up numerous musical films for viewing, such as 2007’s temporary exhibit running George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh. Some of the permanent exhibits include a history of audio technology, a section of mannequins donning outfits of famous performers past and present, and an area which looks at music scenes in various cities throughout different eras, including Memphis in the 50s, Detroit, Liverpool and San Francisco in the 60s, Los Angeles in the 70s,New York City and London in the 70s and 80s and Seattle in the 90s.

The third level is where the actual Hall of Fame is located and includes a wall with all of the inductees’ signatures. The seventh and final level of the building is a temporary exhibit which features a certain group or artist for a period of time. It occupies the entire floor, which is the smallest since it is at the top of the pyramid. Some of the artists featured include Led Zeppelin, Elvis Presley, The Supremes, The Who, John Lennon,U2, Bob Dylan, The Clash and The Police.

I’ll post another Cleveland photo tomorrow…until then Rock On!!!

Austin, Texas – Capitol Building (HDR)

Austin Capitol Dizzy HDR

NIKON D300, Nikon 10.5 Fisheye, HDR in Photomatix

I had one last nite with the fisheye before I had to send it back to LensRentals.   I decided to head downtown to get some sunset shots of the Capitol Building.  It worked out great…as I pulled up and a quick downpour arrived.  I knew by the clouds it would pass by and hopefully give me some nice clouds for any HDR.

I took a few shots inside the building with the fisheye.  Not bad, but it would be better inside with full sun in the afternoon as it would light up the dome better.  My target was to take the Capitol building form the back at sunset.  A little before 8 PM I ventured out back and set up my tripod.   In the back section of the building there is a wonderful rotunda.  I figured with a fisheye – anything circular – I would be able to capture a big part of this area in the photo.    I took quite a few shots and just decided to tilt the camera and see what it looked like.  I got this very dizzying photo!  Kinda cool!   That why its always good to move around and try different angles!  You never know what you will get!   Hope your head isn’t spinning after seeing this shot!   Enjoy!

Pittsburgh, PA – Clemente Bridge (HDR)

Clemente Bridge HDR

NIKON D300, Nikon 12-24, HDR in Photomatix

Here is one last shot from Pittsburgh for a bit…it is an HDR of the Clemente Bridge.  Here is some info from the web:

The Roberto Clemente Bridge, also known as the Sixth Street Bridge, spans the Allegheny River in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. Named for the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball player Roberto Clemente, it is one of three parallel bridges called The Three Sisters, the others being the Rachel Carson Bridge and the Andy Warhol Bridge. The Three Sisters are self-anchored suspension bridges and are significant because they are the only trio of nearly identical bridges—as well as the first self-anchored suspension spans—built in the United States. The bridge was renamed on August 6, 1998. It is closed to vehicular traffic on Pirates’ and Steelers’ game days, providing a pedestrian route to PNC Park and Heinz Field.  The Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation in cooperation with the Riverlife Task Force, the City of Pittsburgh, and Duquesne Light Company, funded and managed the architectural lighting of the bridge. On November 20, 2002, the bridge was lit for the first time.

I have walked over this bridge many times heading to see the Pirates games.  Such great views of the the park going to the game and wonderful views of the city when walking back at night.  This HDR captures the feel of the bridge.  It was perfect timing…the storm above drenched Pittsburgh about 15 minutes later after I took this shot.  I set up my tradition 5 exposures, cable release, tripod for this shot and post processed in Photomatix.   I always enjoy my visit to the “Burgh”.  If I had more time, I’d surely try to HDR every bridge near downtown.  This city has such character.  You can just tell it was a hard working area back in the days.   Enjoy!

Pittsburgh, PA – Heinz Field (HDR)

Heinz Filed - Fisheye - HDR

NIKON D300, Nikon 10.5 Fisheye, HDR in Photomatix

As a huge Pittsburgh Steelers (National Football League) fan – how can I not take photographs of Heinz Field when I visit Pittsburgh!  I have taken a few of these shots before, but never with a fisheye lens in HDR!    Currently the Steelers are the Champions of the NFL.  The won the Super Bowl by beating the Arizona Cardinals this past year.   The new season is about to start and they might have a chance for another title?  We shall see!

The Steelers are the fifth oldest franchise in the NFL.  Founded July 8, 1933. Originally named the Pittsburgh Pirates, they were part of a 10 team league.  Current teams in existence from this league are the Chicago (Arizona) Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and New York Giants.

I set up this shot with my standard tripod, cable release, 5 exposures and post processed in Photomatix.  I also added a Neutral Density Filter via Color Efex Pro 3.0 to add an additional effect to the shot.   The Steelers currently have 6 Super Bowl titles, ties for most ever by any team.  This year could be the “Starirway to Seven”!!  =)

Austin, Texas – Driskill Hotel (HDR)

Austin, TX - Driskill Hotel (HDR)

NIKON D300, Nikon 10.5 Fisheye, HDR in Photomatix

Per my review below on the Nikon 10.5 Fisheye…here is the HDR.  It creates one amazing angle!  This statue is called the “Widowmaker”.  In the old days, if you got your foot stuck in the stirrup, the horse will drag you to your death.  That is why unfortunate incident is called a widow maker.  In the statue his friend is trying to save him the only way he can.

Built in 1886 as the showplace of a cattle baron, The Driskill remains a landmark of legendary Texas hospitality. Located on Sixth Street in the heart of downtown Austin, the luxurious, historic hotel is convenient to all that the city has to offer, including the Texas State Capitol, convention center, opera, symphony, fine dining, shopping, and Austin’s 6th Street music scene. Known as the “Live Music Capital of the World,®” Austin is home to nearly 200 music venues, many within walking distance of The Driskill.

I set the Fisheye lens up on my tripod, but lowered the shooting angle in order to get all of the circular glass panes above.  Used a cable release and post processed in Photomatix.   The lower angle increased the distortion and created a neat effect.   I’ll post a few more fisheye shots in the next few days.  Enjoy!

REVIEW: Lens: Nikon 10.5 f/2.8 ED AF DX Fisheye

nikon_10.5_mmI have alway been curious about Fisheye lenses and was eager to try one out.  Thank to LensRentals I was heading out on a trip and rented this lens for a week.

Here are some details on a Fisheye Lens:  A Fisheye Lens takes an 180 degree field of view. As for lenses anything wider than 12 mm is considered fisheye.  The curvature of the fisheye lens causes straight lines to become distorted.  The more straight lines you have, the more the distorted effect.  Shooting from a lower angle can also enhance the distortion.  There is no lens that has a larger depth of field than a fisheye.

After a week of having this lens here are my thoughts (remember I am not a technician – just a photographer): This lens is very small and lightweight (approximately 3″ in length x 2  1/2″ in Diameter).  So to carry this extra lens around is no problem!  I thought about using it mostly for architecture shots as this was my primary targets.  I did get used to it fast and new if the 12-24 could not get the whole scene in – the fisheye will get everything!  So it was nice to have this extra option.  Most of my shots were HDR’s.  Everything looked sharp and great!   It was a very fun lens to use.  I enjoyed shooting buildings and rooms.  You can see one of my HDR’s above using the fisheye from the Driskill Hotel in Austin.

I checked on Amazon – the lens cost is $685.00.   The lens is for the DX Nikon Camera’s and not for full frame.  The cost seems a bit high for an “extra” lens.  I’d say its not a must own, but is nice to have.  If I had the extra money and had all my dream lenses, I would buy this lens.  The photos are very different looking and offer such great perspectives.  I will miss having it.  Maybe one day I will buy one?  I’d give this lens a 9 out of 10 (just due to cost).  Happy shooting!

Pittsburgh, PA – Roberto Clemente (HDR)

Roberto Clemente HDR

NIKON D300, Nikon 12-24, HDR in Photomtaix, Color Efex Pro

One of the reasons why I am a Pittsburgh sports fan was watching Roberto Clemente play baseball.  I was quite young, but it stuck in my mind and I instantly became a Pittsburgh Pirates fan!  This statue of Roberto is located outside of PNC Park – where the Pirates play baseball.   The partial section of the bridge you see in this photo to the right is called the Clemente Bridge.  This bridge is closed down before all games as the fans can walk across it from downtown and enjoy some great views of PNC Park!

Roberto played for the Pirates his whole career.  Here is some info from the web:   He was one of the greatest baseball players ever to play right field and arguably to play the game. Watching Clemente track down balls that were bound for an extra base hit was thrilling. Watching him gracefully catch a deep fly ball and throw a strike to the catcher to cut down the runner was incredible. Tearing around the bases at full speed, legging out another extra base hit was exciting. Those were some of the natural skills that Latino legend Roberto Clemente portrayed when he played the game of baseball.  On December 31, 1972, Clemente was on a plane bound for Nicaragua to help with relief (food and supplies) for the earthquake victims and sadly his plane crashed into the ocean.  He is now in the Hall of Fame and this statue outside the ballpark is to commemorate his wonderful career.  Roberto is known at “The Great One” to all Pirate fans!  Many Latino players wear #21 in honor of Roberto.

This was my first capture of a statue in HDR.  The color version is located on my web site TalkePhotography.  This shot was the standard – 5 exposures, cable release, tripod and post process in Photomatix.  I wanted to give a different feel to the color version, so I played with some filters in Color Efex Pro 3.0 and this was the outcome.  A nice dated look.  Enjoy!