Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Photo Of The Day

This is a photograph I took during live fire training exercises that involved several area fire departments where I live. An old farm house out in the country had been donated for them to use and then burn down. After weeks of interior smoke and live fire training, the house was finally burned down in a controlled burn.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Photo Of The Day

This is a photo that a took inside a fully involved house fire. The house was being burned for live fire training exercises. These three fire fighters were instructors that posed for me after lighting the living room on fire so a hose team could come in and put it out.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Photo Of The Day

Ft. Jefferson is located about 70 miles west of Key West Florida in the Dry Tortugas National Park. The fort was started before the civil war and was one of the largest coastal forts ever built. Due to continued improvement in modernizing artillery, the fort was obsolete before it was even completed. A must see place if you ever go to Key West Florida.

Ft. Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Photo Of The Day

This is a Polar Bear I photographed at the St. Louis Zoo. He had just broken the surface of the water after a swim and started shaking off the excess water

Polar Bear - Urus maritimus

Monday, March 14, 2011

Photo Of The Day

This is a HDR photograph I did of an abandon and crumbling building I did in Jerome AZ. Jerome is an old mining town that sits high up in the mountains. The mine is closed and the town has serious mine subsidence problems and is literately sliding off the mountain in places. The town has become a haven for artists and there are quite a few unique shops and galleries. I was just walking the streets when I passed this building. I took a 3 exposure bracketed series hand held. I used a Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon 24-105 mm f4L IS lens. Since I did not have a tripod I dialed my ISO up to 800 to have a high shutter speed on all three of the exposures to minimize camera shake. The bracketed photos were processed in the NIK HDR Pro software.

I have no idea what used to be in this building but I loved the architecture. If you click on the photo it will open larger in another widow.

Unknown Abandon Building, Jerome AZ.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Photo Of The Day

The Malachite Butterfly - Siproeta stelenes, has black and brilliant green or yellow-green colors on the uppersides and light brown and olive green on the undersides. It is named for the mineral Malachite, which is similar in color to the bright green on the butterfly's wings. The Malachite is found throughout Central and Northern South America, It's distribution reaches as far north as Southern Texas and the tip of Florida.

Malachite Butterfly - Siproeta stelenes

Monday, March 7, 2011

Blue Morpho Butterflies

One of my favorite places to photograph is the Missouri Botanical Gardens Butterfly House located in Chesterfield, Missouri. In the winter months when it is nasty, cold, and drab outside, it is hot and humid in the tropical interior of the butterfly house. In March every year they have "March Morpho Mania" For the month they add thousands of additional Morpho Butterflies to their normal inventory.

Achilles Morpho 

Interesting Facts about the Blue Morpho Butterfly:
The Blue Morpho butterfly is a tropical butterfly found in Central and South America.

This Blue Morpho butterfly can also be considered to be one of the biggest butterflies seen, their wingspan measures 5 – 8 inches in width.

Its characteristic blue wings are extremely beautiful to look at. The brilliant blue wings are not really brightly colored for the female Blue Morpho butterflies.

Female Blue Morpho butterflies have a dull blue with brown edgings for their wings. They also have white spots in the blue area.

At birth, the caterpillars are reddish brown in color. They also have green colored patches on the back area.

The undersides of the wings of the Blue Morpho butterflies have a dull brown shade. This brown color is dotted with many eyespots.

When this butterfly is spotted flying, it is one of the most beautiful sights one can ever imagine. The flapping wings create a fine blend of the bright blue and the dull brown colors and the flashing colors create a beautiful effect. 

Common Morpho Butterfly

It is frustrating to get good open wing spread photos of the different species of the Morpho Butterflies. Their underside wings are a dull Brown color with eye spots, and this allows then to blend into the vegetation very well and hid from predators. When the Morpho lands they generally immediately close their wings up to blend in. I have very few good photos of Morphos for all the hours I have spent in the butterfly house. You have to be very quick to catch one that is opened up.  

Friday, March 4, 2011

First Impression NIK Silver Efex Pro 2.0

The other night I download a free trial for the NIK Software, Silver Efex Pro 2.0 I have been doing my conversions to B&W in Adobe Photoshop CS5 and this allows me quite a bit of flexibility and control over the final outcome. I have been wanting to try The NIK software for converting color photos to B&W. I have read many reviews on it, and it is considered by many to be the best conversion software available.

I scrolled though a couple folders of photos I had and grabbed a photo that I had never processed or used before. This is a photo I took at the state capitol grounds in Nashville TN. A statue of Stonewall Jackson that is on a side of the capitol building overlooking the city. A harsh midday light and not much though put into the shot as I was really walking around try to find a good angle to shoot the capitol building. I processed the photo in CS5 and then took it into the Silver Efex Pro conversion software.

Processed in Adobe CS5

So like most men, I did not bother to read the directions, help file, or getting started guidelines. I just started moving sliders and playing around. I am somewhat familiar with the NIK software,  and now use their HDR Pro software. They have numerous presets to give you a wide choice of looks to your photo with one click. Or they are a good starting point to then allow you to tweak it to your taste. I have a lot to learn to get a handle on this software but found it allows amazing control of the image. Numerous vignettes and edge effects allow you great creative control.

Processed in NIK Silver Efex Pro 2.0

After playing around for about 15 minutes and trying all the tools, sliders, and effects, I created this B&W image from the original color photograph. In my humble opinion, it looks much better as a B&W. It still is not all that good of a photograph, but with more knowledge and practice, I am sure I could make some further adjustments to enhance it further. The NIK website has live web training and video tutorials for all their software products. On my first try I am really impressed with this software. I am sure I will be adding this software to my toolbox. 

Clicking on the photos will open them much larger in a new window.

Have a great weekend,


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Photo Of The Day

This was a photograph that I thought looked much better when it was converted to a B&W. This barn sits along a country road that was once far outside the city. The urban sprawl will soon turn this farmland into another subdivision. This was a massive summer storm that was moving about 30 miles per hour.