Monday, February 28, 2011

Photo Of The Day

The spring flowers are pushing through and will be blooming very soon. I took these Tulips that were fully developed but had not yet opened up at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis, Missouri. I used very shallow depth of field to create the nice soft out of focus background.

Friday, February 25, 2011


I love to photograph Sunflowers. A field of giant sunflowers allows you to create so many different types of photographs. When I go to a sunflower field I usually end up trying to use every lens in my bag and create various compositions and effects with the varied focal lengths. Hoping to travel to Kansas this summer where they have amazing sunflower fields. These are some of my favorite sunflower photos that I have taken so far.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Photo of the Day

Well I had presidents day off on Monday and was going to bum around St. Louis all day and just take photos. The weather was cold and rainy so this forced me to think about going indoors. Well I stopped at one of my favorite places, the St. Louis Zoo. Due to the weather the zoo was virtually deserted and most of the animals that were suppose to be outside were inside or in hiding. The zoo has an amazing carousel that is located outside with all the animals being wild animals insread of the normal carousel horses. So I stopped and did some bracketed shots and processed them in the NIK HDR software.  I love how the HDR software can take a fairly bland set  bracketed photos and turn it into a piece of artwork.

St. Louis Zoo Carousel

Monday, February 21, 2011

Photo of the Day

It is Presidents Day, and a holiday for many people in the U.S., including me. So with a day off I planned on spending the entire day in St. Louis bumming around doing photography. There are many great attractions and locations in the St. Louis area good for photography. Many are free or very reasonably priced to get in to. So I got up this morning and it was raining with the weather predicted to only get worse as the day goes on. This cuts down my potential list of places to go to try and do some photography. On my indoor list of places is the orchid show at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. With it being a holiday and crummy weather outside I am sure it will be mobbed. To make matters worse, they have a very restrictive photography policy there and do not allow the use of tripods or even monopods. They have to do this due to the small space, narrow isles and crowds. The light is a mix of natural skylight and artificial light. A difficult challenge to get good photos. My Canon 180 mm macro is to difficult to hand hold and get sharp shots. In the past I have used my Canon 70-200 mm f2.8 L Image Stabilized lens. This generally allows me to get some decently sharp shots under the right conditions. So here are a few past photos from past orchid shows.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Photo of the Day

For me, certain subjects or scenes just seem to look better in Black and White. This is a railroad only bridge that crosses the Cumberland River in Nashville TN. I photographed this at 16 mm and had the camera at at ground level to really emphasis the rails. It was a cloudy overcast day, and this helped keep the tonal range well within the cameras ability to capture it all in a single exposure. It looked decent in color, but when I converted it to a B&W in Photoshop CS5, this allowed me to control each color channel separately and make the sky more dramatic than it looked in the color version.

Have a great weekend!


Tracks Across The Cumberland

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Perfect Camouflage

Many creatures in the animal world have evolved over time and developed themselves to blend in with their environment. This is usually for protection, but sometimes predators use it to conceal themselves during a stalk. I am fascinated by these creatures and how they have developed and used their appearance. I think the most intriguing evolution designs are found in the insect world. I was photographing the other day in the Missouri Botanical Gardens Butterfly House in Chesterfield, Missouri. I photographed a butterfly that has developed a near perfect camouflage.

When I showed this photograph to several people, there comment was "It looks like a dead leaf" Exactly! Look closer. Meet the Malaysian Dead Leaf Butterfly. When this butterfly opens up and flies, the topside of his wings has a beautiful color pattern. When it lands and closes up, it blends in so well it is almost impossible to detect. I watched a dozen people walk right by it and no one noticed it. Even while I was photographing it people stopped to ask what I was taking a picture of. I had to point it out and they had to get very close to even make out that it was a butterfly.

Just one more example of nature's amazing creatures.

Malaysian Dead Leaf Butterfly

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Majestic Bald Eagle.

I love many different types of photography, but I seem to really have an addiction for eagle photography.  Raptors fascinate me, but eagles are what I spend more time chasing and trying to photograph more than any other bird. The Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, our national bird, is the only eagle unique to North America. I am sure being our national symbol has had a lot of influence in my feelings, but having watched them for so many hours has only deepened my fascination of them. During the winter you can find me prowling the banks of the Mississippi River near my home to find the many eagles that migrate down from the north to find the open waters of the river to feed. Occasionally I get lucky and get a decent photo every once in a while. There does not seem to be nearly as many eagles this year as there have been in he past, but there are still enough around to keep me out there.

Bald Eagle Taking Flight

Bald Eagle riding an ice floe down the Mississippi River

Immature Bald Eagle sitting on the ice

 Alton Grain Elevator reflected in the water as an Bald Eagle rides the ice

Bald Eagle watches the surroundings from a high perch

Portrait of a captive Bald Eagle

Friday, February 11, 2011

Photo of the Day

One of my favorite places to take photos of animals is the St. Louis Zoo. A world class zoo that is free to the general public. A great zoo for photographers as most of the exhibits are well designed, open and spacious for the animals. With good technique, many times you can isolate the animals and make the photo appear as if it was taken in the wild. On this day I took my 70-200 f2.8 L IS lens with a 1.4 extender attached. The weather was pretty cloudy and overcast, so I dialed up to 800 ISO and shot this hand held at f4. 1/750 sec. shutter speed at 280mm of focal length, with +1/2 exposure compensation.

Have a great weekend!


Cheetah - Acinonyx jubatus

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Photo Of The Day

In the midwest we have experienced the hardest winter we have seen in many years. With the jet stream passing directly over us, we tend to get more freezing rain and ice than snow. A recent ice storm coated everything with a quarter to half inch of pure ice. I saw this Robin trying to feed on the ice covered berries in a tree. The problem was trying to get a grip on a perch. The poor Robin really struggled to maintain a grip on the icy perch.

A cold slippery grip

Monday, February 7, 2011

St. Louis Carousel in HDR

I have recently started working with HDR software. HDR software has improved immensely in the past couple years. HDR still draws criticism from a lot of photographers, but I think it is here to stay. For me, certain subjects really look great in the over the top surreal look HDR can create.

On Friday morning I went to the Missouri Botanical Gardens Butterfly House in Faust Park. I had intended to do some macro butterfly photography. Well my bad luck streak struck again, as I found out they were closed for maintenance until the next day.  So I had to switch gears and think of something else to photograph. Located inside a climate controlled building near the butterfly house is the restored St. Louis Carousel.   The carousel was built by the Dentzel Company of Philadelphia in the 1920's. The carousel was installed in 1929 at the Forest Park Highlands. When the Highlands burned to the ground in 1963 the carousel was the only thing left standing.

The carousel was purchased by a private individual and donated to the St. Louis County Parks. The carousel was operated at Sylvan Spring Park until 1980. The carousel was restored to it's original beauty and moved inside to Faust Park in 1987.

I went over to the carousel building and shot numerous bracketed shots to do some HDR processing. These were all done in the NIK HDR Pro software.

If you click on a photo it will open larger in a new window. This allows you to better see the amazing colors and detail that can be brought out with HDR software.