Friday, September 24, 2010

Photos of the Day

It is now officially fall and the weather appears to be changing to more fall like conditions this weekend. This is a great time to start planning for where you want to go to photograph and capture the fall colors. Where I live in the central part of Illinois across the river from St. Louis MO. may not be considered the best place in the country to photograph beautiful fall landscapes, but there are some amazingly beautiful scenes to be captured. I just have to work a little harder to find and capture those scenes.

Sugar Creek Bridge located near Glenarm IL.

The Sugar Creek Bridge is located in Southern Sangamon County IL. just south of Springfield near the small town of Glenarm. This is one of the only covered bridges left in Illinois and is on the National Historic Register. This is about an hour north of where I live and I have photographed this bridge in all the seasons.

Administration Bldg. Pere Marquette State Park
This log building is the administration building located at the entrance to Pere Marquette State Park located just north of Grafton, Illinois. Located on the bluffs overlooking the Illinois River, This beautiful park is a great place to capture the colors of fall. To get to this park from my house you drive Route 100 along the Mississippi River. This route is designated as one of top 100 most scenic drives in the country. It is a great drive, but in the fall it is stunning.

The biggest problem for me is not having enough time to get out and photograph all this scenery. As the days get shorter I am usually confined to weekends to get out, and there is always other things to do. Also the weather in the mid-west can affect the colors and duration of the season. Many times fall is short and drab due to unfavorable weather. The beautiful scenery is there for me, I just have to get out there and work harder to capture it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Photos of the Day

This is a Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar feeding on Swamp Milkweed. I shot this very early in the morning at the Edwardsville Watershed Nature Center. Monarch butterflies are some of the most unique butterflies in the world due to their annual migration from the eastern half of the United States to central Mexico.

Monarchs feed entirely on the various species of Milkweed plants. Milkweed is poisonous to other creatures, and this makes the Monarch poisonous for them to eat. This affords them a pretty good level of protection from many other creatures that would normally eat them.

Adult Monarch Butterflies will continue to feed on Milkweed plants and other nectar plants as well. I photographed this feeding adult at the Edwardsville Watershed Nature Center.  I have attached a link to a website that has extensive information covering the Monarch Butterfly. These fascinating creatures are a joy to observe and photograph.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Photo of the Day

                                   Busch Stadium, St. Louis MO.

This is a note on why you want to learn to do post processing work on your photographs. I see so many people buying and using really good quality cameras these days, but they really never learn how to use the camera properly to get the most out of it. The cameras now are getting really good and do turn out some very good photos right out of the camera. But, the photo can always be improved in some type of post processing software. I personally use Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended, but there are numerous programs that will do a good job for you. For people that are just getting into photography and want to really learn to edit and enhance their work I have been recommending Adobe Lightroom. Designed for the photographer in mind, it does a great job editing and cataloging your photos. And it is cheaper and easier to learn than Photoshop.

This photo was 6 images shot handheld in the vertical orientation. I knew this would be very difficult due to the deep shaded areas of the stands and the very bright skies. I took the 6 photos allowing about a 50% overlap on each photo to give Photoshop plenty of image to align with. I metered the brightest area in the middle of the scene and then shot manual exposure to avoid allowing the camera to change any settings and make the exposures off to compensate for the darker areas to the sides. there was about 4 stops of light difference from the shadows to bright sun, so I figured I would be able to keep much of the shadow detail and bring it up in post processing. Photoshop does an amazing job stitching photos together. Normally I would use a tripod and do a better job, but I was forced to do this quickly as I had to walk down the aisle to the front row of the upper deck and shoot between batters so I did not bother any of the fans.

Photoshop can align and compensate for you not being able to be as precise as if you were on a tripod. The are no seams in this and it turned out better than I expected for doing it in about 20 seconds. I was able to bring up the darker areas of the stadium, and also tone down the bright sky in post processing. The compression to size it down darkens it quite a bit, but on my 25 inch calibrated monitor it looks pretty good.