Coming up with names for my photographs is always entertaining. Hope you like this one, another from the early morning trip to Baha'i Temple. I don't want to say for sure that this is the last photo i'll post from that morning, but it very likely may be. I try to keep things as fresh as possible, but I did commit a whole morning to just shooting the grounds of this Temple so it's only fair that I at least post a few photos from it.
Here is the photogenic Flamingo statue in the loop. It's always interesting to return to places that I've photographed before and see if I'm able to come up with unique compositions or ideas around the same structures. In this case, I pulled out the fisheye lens and got up close to a puddle to give a bit of a reflection off of the Flamingo. I think the curve of the fisheye really works well with the curves of this statue.
It's also interesting to go back and reflect on images i've created earlier in photographic career. After I have finally gotten over the cringe-worthy over-processing, I find solace in knowing that I have come a long way as a photographer. One day, I'll likely look at today's shot and think how awful it is (it's why I have a hard time printing any of my own photographs), but it's all part of maturing as a photographer and I'll always have room to improve my skills at photography.
This is an 88 second exposure of the sun rising behind the Adler Planetarium. I finally got around to wet cleaning my camera sensor for the first time ever. I've had the camera for about five years now and was always too afraid of damaging the sensor, so I had always opted for the air blower cleaning instead. Well, needless to say, it really paid off. Here is a before and after.jpg of the wet cleaning. The dust spots always show up worse when shooting at high f-stops, making long exposures kind of a pain to edit. Well, with a freshly cleaned sensor I went out shooting early Friday morning and cranked the f-stop to f/16. This shot was a good half hour before sunrise, so no filter was necessary to give the camera enough time to let the clouds move like you see here. Long exposures like this can be tricky for a couple of reasons. First, the clouds have to be just right, too cloudy and the background will be a blur off white, not enough clouds and the sky will just look clear. Getting the timing right is tough too. My camera is only capable of calculating the appropriate exposure if it is below 30 seconds. This means it's usually trial and error to get the exposure just right, and requires counting the time on my watch. It can be frustrating too when you wait minutes at a time, only to see that the exposure is way off. I can't imagine trying to do this during the days of film shooting!
This image was actually quite challenging to produce. Since I was shooting straight into the sun, I had to blend together multiple exposures to minimize over-exposed highlights and under-exposed shadows. While it didn't come out perfectly I think what I made out of this shot is pretty cool. This is Iceland's famous Ice Beach.
This was another one of my favorite stops on our photography tour of southern Iceland. This is Mount Vesturhorn which is not only a fascinating mountain range in and of itself, but it is surrounded by a black sand beach covered with hills on which grow straw plants.
In any other country this might seem like a strange occurrence but Iceland possesses so many unique landscapes that encountering a place like this is par for the course.
The pilot of our chopper, Grant, new what he was doing when he set me up for this shot. With the left side door off of the aircraft, he made a sharp left turn around the Willis Tower allowing me to take this shot as I was leaning down onto the city.
It's always scary standing in the middle of the street to get a shot. Even though there were very few cars at this hour of the day, the thought of a car coming down while my focus is entirely on framing the picture adds a little bit of urgency making this shot tougher than usual.
Today's picture is one from Mary Bartelme Park also known as Adams-Sangamon park. Special thanks goes out to Brian on this one who even joined me at 6am to make sure I got the shot.
Yet another shot from the past weekend's trip on top of the roof of the Hancock. Having unobstructed views and not having to worry about shooting through windows made for a great shoot this past weekend and I am really happy with how this one came out.
Due to having some amazing photographer connections, I was recently asked by the Willis Tower Skydeck to take some photos to be sold in the Skydeck gift shop. Everyone at the Skydeck was extremely nice and accommodating, and allowed me to capture both a sunrise outside of the typical operating hours, along with a sunset, pictured here. I took several shots which I hope to be sharing here in the coming weeks.
Also, while I have not had the chance to post as many photos recently as I would like to, that will definitely be changing. In addition to all the Skydeck shots that I have waiting for me to process, I recently did my first engagement shoot (more on this soon), I will be attending a workshop this Saturday and will be heading off to the Bahamas, all great opportunities for some photography. Stay Tuned!
I have to apologize for not posting very frequently lately. Ever since completing project 365 my posting has been pretty erratic, sometimes I manage to post several days consecutively, and sometimes not managing to put anything up for weeks at a time. The beauty of a hobby like photography is that there is no obligation, and I can come and go as I please. I've had a strong urge to take some photographs, so I set the alarm for just before 5am this morning and snapped (among others) this photo of the Marilyn Monroe statue. I have tried various compositions, and watched other photographers attempt to capture her as well, and I never thought I would say this but I am really happy with how this one came out.
This Monday, I set out on a mission to photograph a subway station, something which I haven't done before. Not knowing exactly what I was looking for, I jumped on the Red Line and made a couple of stops before finally giving up due to the overwhelming number of people present, and my inability to find anything interesting. I started to head home, content with the fact that I would do so empty-handed, until a light bulb went off in my head, that it was the perfect time to get a shot from the bar on the top floor of the John Hancock Center, The Signature Room. You see, not only was it a Monday night in January, meaning the bar would be less occupied than normal nights, but being in the middle of winter, the sun sets closer to the south making it more possible to get the colors of the sunset in the shot when pointed towards the most interesting portion of the city from the Hancock Center, the south.
I opted for the fisheye lens hoping to get as much of the view as possible, I was pleasantly surprised with the earth-like effect which I had not initially intended.
I think I found a new favorite subject to photograph: Lightning. This shot was a miracle for many reasons. First, it was a crazy coincidence that I had my equipment on me when I was here in this highrise. Second, this was my first attempt at shooting lightning ever. I didn't really know what settings to use, but through trial and error and an enormous amount of luck I was able to make this capture.
For those interested in capturing lightning, the concept is pretty simple. You'll need a tripod because you'll want the expsosure to last a few seconds. Since I was behind a rain covered glass window, I had to turn my aperture lo enough to get the fewest number of dust and rain drop spots in the frame. The rest is pure luck.
Yesterday, while browsing one of my favorite non-photography websites, the topic of HDR came up in a comments discussion and one of the comments contained the following quote:
"HDR=The autotune of the photography world"
This ignorant commenter is relating the use of autotuning in the music industry - the process of digitally modifying a vocal track by making pitch corrections - to the creation of high dynamic range images. This implies two misconceptions about HDR that need to be cleared right now.
1. The HDR image creation process (also called tonemapping) is easy.
False. For proof, check out my HDR Tutorial. I think there are a lot of people out there that think HDR is simply a button on the camera or a program that easily turns a standard image into a tonemapped one. This is not true, it has taken me almost 2 years worth of trial and error with all the different sliders and settings possible, to get the production of my photography to where it is now, and I am still learning new things every day. No two images are ever the same, and each image that I produce requires a different balance of settings to achieve the right balance of light.
Ok, so maybe it is not easy to create a tonemapped image from brackets, but any amateur can create a compelling HDR once they learn tonemapping, right? This brings me to misconception #2.
2. The HDR process can turn any photo taken by an amateur photographer into something appealing.
This couldn't be further from the truth. When producing an HDR image, all the rules of good composition, lighting, and time of day still exist. If you don't believe me, take a look at some of my early work and you will notice a complete disregard for many of the core principles of composition. I will admit that a byproduct of the HDR process is the creation of excellent looking texture and this leads certain subjects to be more suited towards HDR than others. The below image of a wine cellar at Castello di Verrazzano is a perfect example of that. That does not, however, mean that any composition, with any set of f-stop, white balance, ISO, and expsoure settings would come out looking like the image you see below.
I give my readers the benefit of the doubt, and I believe that it is only a small percentage of people that still have these misconceptions about HDR photography. For the critics that are still out there though, I ask you to stop looking at HDR as some sort of cheap equivalent of autotuning in the music industry and start seeing HDR as what it really is. HDR is simply a breakthrough technology in the photography industry. Photographers can embrace this technology, or they can ignore it.
If you ever visit Italy, put this place place on your list. This is Cinque Terre during a beautiful sunset. Cinque Terre literally means "Five Lands", and is a section of the Italian coast containing five different villages, all with a beautiful, colorful style architecture which you can see here.
This photo here is from the very first town, Riomaggiore. If you do make it Cinque Terre one day, I would recommend staying for the night as the sunsets can be beautiful. We did not stay the night, and this picture was taken just minutes before the last train back to Florence left, so I didn't get to see this place in blue hour but I can only imagine the beauty of this place during that time. I got a great deal of satisfaction from taking this photo because these rocks were not easy to climb one handed while holding a very heavy camera rig. I was quite impressed with myself.
Today is a very special day on the blog. I am very pleased to introduce the first ever guest blog post: Brittany. I will keep her introduction short, because as you are about to find out, her writing skills put mine to shame. Brit and I just got back from a nine day european vacation. In addition to the recent europe pics, Brit has tagged along on many of my adventures. Without further ado...
Let me begin by confessing, I am by no means a photographer. I may spend a lot of time with one, but unfortunately, I really haven't absorbed anything he has tried to teach me. Honestly, ask me about white balance or bracketing or ISO settings, and you'll get nothing from me other than an expression of complete and utter bewilderment. However, having been beside our beloved ShutterRunner during many of his recent travels, I have come to truly appreciate the complexity of producing a great photograph. And let me stress, it can be an exceedingly taxing process. Not only does the photographer have to find the perfect moment to capture, but he then must set up his tripod, choose the right lens, find the appropriate settings on the camera, and manage to avoid hundreds of pesky tourists, all while trying not to bore his photographically challenged girlfriend on their first European adventure (well maybe that last one is unique to ShutterRunner). In my eyes, however, the greatest challenge a photographer faces in executing his craft is managing to preserve a moment while still remaining an active participant in that moment. Essentially, the difficulty lies in simultaneously preserving and experiencing the moment sought to be captured. Some distance between an individual and his experiences is undoubtedly created when he inserts a camera between himself and his surroundings. He risks becoming an outsider, someone who misses the magic unique to a singular moment in time that cannot and will not ever be recreated in the exact same manner. For these reasons, I did not take a single photograph when I studied abroad in Paris in late 2007. Despite the undeniably beauty of my surroundings and the millions of photo opportunities before me, I refused to be like the rest of my classmates, trapped behind their cameras, seeing the world through their lenses rather than their own eyes. I wanted to live each moment of my life in Paris without placing a shield between myself and those moments I knew I would never have the chance to relive. And in that regard, I very much succeeded. After three months, however, I was slightly saddened to come home with nothing but my memories. To this day, I truly regret my decision not to memorialize my experience in any tangible way.
Having recently been afforded the opportunity to go back to Paris, I wanted to do things differently this time around. And as luck would have it, I had an amazing photographer by my side to capture all of my new Parisian memories. Don't get me wrong though, I did not want this trip to become a picture taking free for all. I knew well enough from my first experience that falling into extremes is not the ideal avenue to pursue. Instead, we sought to strike a balance between preserving our memories and living each moment to the fullest. Whether it was snapping a million pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower and then sitting down to enjoy a picnic on the nearby lawns or it was sneakily snapping some shots in the Sacre-Coeur and then taking a seat on les escaliers de la butte while enjoying some beers and live music, we were able to successfully overcome the challenges of simultaneously preserving and experiencing each moment of our trip. Finding this ideal balance guarantees the best possible outcome: unbelievable memories and breathtaking pictures (like the one right below)!
Not really much to say about this shot. We were walking back from the Eiffel tower to our hotel, which is not a short walk by any means, and the further away we were, the better the sunset got, and the better the views got. We finally managed to stop atop this bridge and watched one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen in the most beautiful city in the world.
I took this a couple weeks ago while out shooting with Dave Wilson on North Ave. Beach. I find taking pictures of the sunrise and sunset in Chicago to be very difficult. Since there are so many tall buildings it's tough to capture a cool image of the setting/rising sun along with those very buildings that make Chicago recognizable.
Yesterday morning, I did something I don't normally do. I went for a shutter drive. If shutter running is jogging through the city with my camera, a shutter drive is doing the same only in my car instead of by foot. I set my alarm for 5:30 in hopes of catching Chicago in its beauty during that golden hour prior to the lucky 7:11am sunrise. Having lived on the north side of Chicago for several years now, I thought it would be nice to try to capture one of the south side beaches that I don't usually frequent. To my dismay, just about all of the south side beaches were under construction. I found this out after parking my car and walking about a quarter mile from an area where the golden sand used to run endless miles but was now covered with gigantic clumps of dirt and rock and huge machines used to move these masses. That was not stopping me. I sneaked into the construction site which was rather active for this early in the morning. I was very nervous once I was in the site. I slowly approached this bulldozer stopping every once in a while to take a picture. I could barely compose my photos knowing I was about to get yelled at for entering the site. After taking my last picture, the one you see below, I headed for the exit. As I walked out, literally just feet away from the exit, one of the construction guards yelled over to me "Hey, you can't be here, get out of here!!!". It was too late, the damage was already done! Muhahahahahahahahahaha!
Today. There is only one way I can think of to start off this post and that is with a big "THANK YOU". Project 365 has been a personal project of mine, but photography, like all art, is not possible without an audience. The friends, family, fellow photographers and everyone else that have encouraged and inspired me have made this project possible.
I have had a lot of people ask me what Project 365 is. Project 365 is simply publishing a photograph every day for a year. Project 365 is the best way to improve your photography skills, because it not only forces you to produce a photograph every day, but it forces your work to be constantly critiqued. Project 365 is the marathon of photo projects, and how fitting is it that I have accomplished it while running.
At this point I am not sure what my next project will be if there is one. My plan is to take a break from photography for a while, and wait until I feel the urge to shoot again. Photography is a hobby for me so it is important that I keep it fun.
Today's picture is my first self-portrait! What better way to end project 365 than a picture of me running through Chicago with my camera.
Finding a hobby that you love is a once in a lifetime experience. Thanks to everyone for your encouragement, this has been amazing!
Today. This image was produced from the very last set of brackets I captured on my road trip to northwest canada. This was taken as the sun was setting behind us. As I mentioned in an earlier post, trying to capture a sunset shot while driving east is a rather difficult process. Eventually we spotted this tree, and I knew right away it would make a great foreground subject. It didn't dissapoint.
Today. After about 100 hours of total driving on my recent road trip from Chicago to Alberta, I made a very important observation. Driving west into a sunset is far easier than driving east away from one. On the way to Alberta, as the sun was setting I could easily compose photographs as I was driving. Driving east, on the other hand, was far more difficult because I relied on the rear-view mirror to decide the right times to pull over. This was one of those times.
Today. This is 3 Sisters Peaks in Canmore, Alberta. Canmore is just 10 miles from Banff and the perfect town to stay in if you are visiting Banff - this information courtesy of the trusty Frommer's travel book. We spent 3 nights in this town, and didn't think to look for places to shoot here until the last day. A quick flickr search for "Canmore", sorted by interestingness of course, revealed to us that 3 Sisters Peaks was the place for photography, and we weren't disappointed. After driving through several ski homes - think summer homes for skiiing for anyone that wouldn't consider going somewhere cold for vacation - we we arrived at this beautiful lake. The weather was kind and calm, allowing me to capture this great reflection of color.
Today. Who says people shots don't work in HDR? As long as your model can stay still for 9 exposures, I say people shots are perfectly fine subjects for HDR and Brit here is no exception. During our trip to Western Canada, we discovered a great trick for finding the most beautiful places wherever we were. This doesn't necessarily only apply to photogs, but if you ever want to find a beautiful place wherever you may be, just jump on flickr.com and search for the name of that city, then sort by interestingness. We did this trick for a few of the cities that we were in and it helped us discover some great sites. This here is Canmore, somewhere near 3 Sisters.
Today. I'm sick. I have come down with a rather severe case of the travel bug and it doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. What is it about traveling anyways? It seems like once you've been to one new place... you want to be to every new place. This shot is one of many to come from my recent road trip to Banff National Park in Northwest Canada. This here is Moraine Lake. What that link there will tell you is that I did not photoshop the color of that water. You see, this lake, and just about all of the lakes in Banff National Park, are glacially fed. The rock flour deposited from the glaciers refracts with the light in such a way that causes these bodies of water to appear the most glorious shade of bluish green. I can't help but to think that Bobby Boucher might spend some time here when he goes on vacation. I mentioned yesterday that photography offers an advantage over so many other hobbies for a variety of reasons. Well, another reason photography is great is because it forces you to explore and capture the world. I'm pretty sure that this is a corner of earth that I probably would not have seen had it not been for this crazy habit of digitally recording various light information onto my hard drive (perhaps an over-simplified definition of photography).
UPDATE: Nikon has updated the tech specs section on the D7000 and now includes +-2EV autobracketing. Thanks to Chris Stern for pointing this out in the comments. I wonder if this was initially a typo in the tech specs or a last minute firmware upgrade due to the backlash from HDR enthusiasts? Either way I am probably getting this camera depending on when it comes out.
Today. Nikon officially announced its new camera yesterday, the Nikon D7000. Just about every review you'll read for this new camera has something great to say because all the specs on this thing are awesome, all but one anyways. I was shocked and disappointed to see that the new D7000 only autobrackets 3 images at 1EV. This, for those non photogs, means that its HDR functionality is pretty poor. In a world where HDR is becoming so popular (the iPhone just announced the addition of HDR functionality into its operating system) I am really upset and probably won't buy this camera anytime soon. What's the most disappointing to me is that this really has nothing to do with hardware, its a feature that can probably be turned on and off pretty easily within the cameras firmware, and for whatever reason Nikon chose against adding this. While I have taken some decent pictures with my D5000 I was really hoping to upgrade soon, and now I'm really not sure what I'm gonna do. Boo...
Today's shot is also from Tuesday morning's sunrise. This is Oak Street Beach.
Today. I had the fortunate opportunity to cruise around the loop yesterday afternoon, the clouds were outstanding and this is one of the cooler captures that I made.
Today. Another shot taken during The Windy Pixel workshop at North Ave. Beach. You may notice that I have a added a google search bar at the top of this page. This is because I changed my mom's browser home page to this site. She complained because she didn't know how to get to google if it wasn't her home page. Well, now she can search straight from here. You should make shutterrunner.com your homepage too!
Today. I was going to cut my run short when I saw some unreal clouds settling behind the Willis Tower. I have never seen a cloud like this one in the city and I knew it would make for a great picture. This was taken from the Division st. bridge near the Division and Halsted intersection. Unfortunately, Division is a busy street and I was getting a ton of tripod shake so this took me forever to get a good shot, but it just so happened that the best one I got was as these kayakers were passing underneath.
I usually don't promote anything commercial on this blog... actually I usually don't promote anything. But, Justin Kern from the TheWindyPixel.com is running an HDR workshop on June 12th, and June 19th here in Chicago. The workshop is an all day event, and will cover not only composition, and actually taking pictures, but after all the good light is gone, he will go through his workflow for post processing! I am extremely excited about this because Justin is one of my favorite photographers and I have already learned a ton from him, so I can only imagine how much more I will learn from this workshop. You can get The Rest of the Juicy Details Here.
Today. This is the Chicago skyline from up in a secret staircase in the Hard Rock Hotel.
Today. I had fun exploring the Hard Rock Hotel last night. This was a secret staircase we discovered in there. Tomorrow I will post a skyline picture from nearby this staircase.
Today. This was taken on this Tuesday's run during sunrise. The clouds were looking beautiful, and this was one of the nicest Chicago sunrises I have seen!
Today. Navy Pier just after sunrise yesterday morning.
Today. Industrial Sunset. I tried shooting this place before during a non-sunrise and it was not cool, this came out a bit more interesting.
Today. Lawrence University Memorial Chapel.
Today. This is Main Hall at Lawrence University in Appleton, WI. I went to college at Lawrence, and was in town this past weekend with some fellow soccer alums, so this week will be dedicated to posting pictures of Lawrence.
My guest blog post over at one of my favorite photography sites, The Windy Pixel ran this weekend, Go check it out here. Thanks to Justin for asking me to make this guest post. This was huge honor because I have been following his site for such a long time.
Today. Not really even sure where to begin. Today was an epic day. This shot was taken on a photowalk with several amazing photographers, including Trey Ratcliff, who is a world famous photographer. Trey was in Chicago this weekend for a book signing, promoting his new book, A World In HDR.I got the chance to take pictures with him, and got some tips along the way, today was easily the highlight of my short-lived photography hobby.
In addition to Trey, several other amazing photographers joined us, including Bob Voors, Justin Kern from The Windy Pixel, Bruce Simak, and a few others.