All posts by The Gray Bull

Novice photographer using Canon gear. I tend to like photographs of urban scenes. My other interests include casual blogging and travel.

Blog Posts

Suburban Lake at Sunset

This blog post will continue with the theme of finding photo opportunities near home during our Covid19 induced shelter-in-place regulations. I was feeling the need to take a short drive just to break the tedium and remembered seeing a site that I thought might make a good photo. It is only about 15 minutes from my home, so it seemed to be a reasonably short though not an essential trip! After checking one of my apps for sunset times and location and I grabbed my camera, tripod, and car keys. I took some shots right before sunset and several afterwards. The photo below is the one I chose to post. I took the liberty of over saturating the colors with Adobe Lightroom just to see how far I could push things.Suburban Lake at sunset

 

I hope you are staying healthy and finding some photography opportunities at home or nearby! Please come back to www.cestlavie4me.com to view more of my Covid19 photos.

Blog Posts

Fading City

The COVID19 Pandemic is keeping most of us from going out to continue our photography hobby. This means we need to find some other activities or get creative with photography outside of our tried and true routines. As I was watching a television show, and there are very few worth watching, a clip was run showing how deserted New York and other major cities looked. It was a very surreal scene, but it did give me an idea.

I proceeded to open my Adobe Lightroom catalog to find some cityscape photos I had done in the past along with some photos with trees and a few with clouds. These photos were then composited with Adobe Photoshop to create my version of a Fading City. Hopefully, our urban areas will come back to their former vibrancy but there is guarantee of that! We may all get used to an unexpected difference in urban life after COVID19.

Fading City

Hopefully, you are finding some creative outlets for practicing your photographic hobby. Please come back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com to see what shelter-in-place photography project I attempt next time. Stay healthy and keep shooting!

Blog Posts

Suburbanscapes

In keeping with the theme of finding photographic subjects in or near your home as we shelter-in-place during the COVID-19 pandemic, I managed to take a few photos in my neighborhood this past week. The so-called Pink Moon occurred this past Tuesday night. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy night in my area, so I had no photo opportunity for the Pink Moon. On the other hand, I did have a beautiful, colorful sunset that evening. Here are three photos from my neighborhood that I am classifying as Suburbanscapes.

Stormy Suburbs

Pastel Sky

Suburban Sunset

Shelter in Place

Suburban Sunset

Heavenly Glow

I enjoyed taking these photos so much that I have decided to try to photograph more Suburbanscapes near me in the future.

Wednesday was a clear night, so I took multiple photos of the nearly full moon. Below is a composite photo of the scene I saw that evening.

Suburban Moon

Suburban Moon

Hopefully, you are also finding interesting photo opportunities in or around your home and neighborhood during this strange time in our lives. Stay healthy and come back to visit www.Cestlavie4me.com.

 

 

 

Blog Posts

Simplicity

Years ago, I read “On Walden Pond” by Henry David Thoreau. I vaguely remember it as being an interesting book at the beginning, but it started to lose my interest as the pages wore on. Perhaps I was too young to really appreciate the wisdom contained in those pages! Today with the Wuhan Virus or Novel Corona Virus or COVID-19, whatever you choose to name it, I am starting to gain new insights into simplicity! Sheltering-in-place and social distancing have been forcing me to take life a little slower, to appreciate what I have and where I am at this stage of life. It is even affecting my photography hobby.

Recently, I blogged about photographing everyday scenes around your environment or trying some new photography techniques with whatever may be at hand. A couple of days ago, I was sitting on my deck and enjoying the sunshine and peacefulness of my surroundings. A big bumble bee flew over the deck railing and came right in front of me and seemed to be staring into my face! Just as suddenly it flew away. The thought occurred that perhaps it would return, and I might be able to photograph it.

I went back into the house, opened my camera bag and pulled out my camera. Returning to the deck, my chair and my jazz music, I patiently awaited the return of my subject. Finally, it returned or perhaps it was a different bee. Afterall, they all look the same. Since most of you reading this blog are hobbyist photographers you know how difficult this shot would be and how many wasted shots it takes to get close to a decent photo of a bee in flight. It was a challenge. But I did have one good shot.

Inflight Entertainment

“Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.”
Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Looking at this photo and the thinking about nature somehow reminded me about “On Walden Pond”. The simplicity of a single bee in flight was a comforting thought in these difficult times and a signal that this difficulty will soon pass as surely as the bee quickly flying away. Perhaps one of the good things coming from this pandemic will be our reaching for more simplicity in our formerly busy and hectic lives. It might also lead us to appreciate more fully the people in our lives and what we have!

Please come back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com in the near future.

Blog Posts

Broken Heart

Continuing the theme of finding photo opportunities during the current shelter-in-place caused by COVID19, below is a photo I recently captured. There is a county park directly behind our neighborhood. Yesterday was a very bright and sunny day, so I decided to walk in the woods of the park. I hoped to find something to photograph and decided to take advantage of the harsh mid-day sun and the shadows it cast. The stump in the upper middle of the photo caught my eye along with the shadows from the nearby trees. I have titled this photo Broken Heart.

Broken Heart

Hopefully, I will find something else to photograph this week as we continue our shelter-in-place isolation. Try to find something interesting in your immediate surroundings to photograph. Use your creativity and please stay healthy!

Please come back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com to see what I photograph and share next time.

Blog Posts

Feathered Neighbors

Backyard photography can help us as we deal with Covid19 forced social distancing and the need to keep our minds occupied with something other than binge watching some streaming service. Many of you may not have a backyard or any yard at all, but you probably do have a window. Take your camera in hand and gaze into the yard or out of your apartment window and photograph something! If possible, go for a walk in your neighborhood for a little exercise and bring your camera along or just use your smartphone camera. Use your creativity and perhaps you may get lucky and photograph something interesting.

Being stuck at home can provide the opportunity to try photography techniques that are new to you, such as macro photography, using off camera flash, pet photography (if you have a handy animal), perhaps child photography is an option. Those of you living in urban areas might try some nighttime photography. The goal is to try something new and perhaps improve your photography skills. If nothing else remember “When you have lemons, make lemonade”!

Another opportunity that is available to you is that you can use these photos to improve your post-processing skills with Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop or other software programs. You can experiment with different techniques and tools.

I took my own advice a few days ago when my wife called me to see the two woodpeckers in the backyard. I am no wildlife photographer; I don’t even have a lens capable of photographing wildlife from a distance. The woodpeckers did get my attention as they furiously pecked away at a dead tree trunk on the ground, so I grabbed my camera. After firing off over 50 photos, my subjects decided to fly away. The photo below is the best one from this photo shoot.

Woodpeckers-0042

Now, the next challenge will be finding more backyard or indoor photography opportunities to keep me occupied. Please come back and visit www.cestlavie4me.com to see if I have found anything interesting. Now get off the couch and grab your camera and shoot!

Blog Posts

Back to the Blog

It has been a long time since my last post. Life has been busy, but not with photography. Recently, I was looking at some photos from a trip to Hampton, Virginia and 2 of them caught my eye. I decided to edit them to bring out the color of the sunset. In one I used the elliptical tool in Photoshop to make a selection that cropped out some distractions. Hopefully, I will start taking more photographs in 2020 and post more frequently. Here are the photos for your review.

Rusty sky rusty boats

Rusty Sky, Rusty Boats

Hampton Marina Sunset

Hampton Marina at Sunset

Blog Posts

Great Falls Park

Great Falls Park is one of the U.S. National Park Service’s small parks in and around the Washington D.C metro area (https://www.nps.gov/grfa/index.htm). It also happens to be only about 10 miles from my home. Last week two of my granddaughters had a school holiday, so we decided to picnic at the park. The day turned out to be a beautiful, late autumn afternoon and food always tastes better at a picnic outdoors!

While the girls were playing, I took a short walk to one of the overlooks of the falls on the Potomac River. I had brought my camera, so I proceeded to take numerous photos of the falls. While processing the photos at home, I picked three of them to present in this blog post. Lately, I have become enamored with black and white photography, so I converted these to black and white by utilizing DxO Silver Efex Pro 2 after the initial processing in Adobe Lightroom. I prefer the black and white photos.

Great Falls-0007

Color Image processed with Adobe Lightroom

Great Falls-0007-Edit

Black and White version processed with DxO Silver Efex Pro 2 Preset #043 More Silver

Great Falls-0008

Color Image Processed with Adobe Lightroom. In the bottom of the photo you can see a kayaker trying to row upstream. He never made it!

Great Falls-0008-Edit

Black and White version processed with DxO Silver Efex Pro 2 Preset #023 Wet Rocks

Great Falls-0038

The last image was shot at 1/125 of a second shutter speed to stop the action of the rapids. Again, in the bottom of the photo you can see another kayaker trying to row upstream, he also failed to do that! Color Image processed with Adobe Lightroom

Great Falls-0038-Edit

Black and White version processed with DxO Silver Efex Pro 2 – no presets, just a few adjustments and a red color filter.

Please come back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com to go with me on my photographic journey to become a better photographer.

Blog Posts

10 Adjustments or Less

The other day, I drove to my granddaughter’s high school theatre performance. Usually, when I go to this type of event, I take my camera. This day was no exception. Since I would be taking a few photographs after the performance, I did not bring anything other than the camera and its holster. As it happened, that evening a thunderstorm was forecasted to occur during the play. After parking my car, I looked at the sky and could see some threatening clouds beginning to appear. I got creative and placed my camera on the holster as a support base, set the aperture at f18 and the ISO at 100. This gave me a somewhat long exposure, but not nearly a slow enough one. I took a few photos and proceeded to go to the play.

The next day, I imported the photos into Adobe Lightroom and viewed them. Unfortunately, none were very good, which was not a surprise. I decided to have a little fun with post-processing attempting to process one of the photos with only 10 adjustments or less. The software I used was Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop and DxO’s Silver Efex Pro 2. My goal was not to make all the versions look the same but to see what type of variety I would get with only a few adjustments. Here are the resulting photos processed with 10 or less adjustments to the original RAW file.

The first photo is the original file with only the camera calibration adjusted.

Original Capture-0006

The next photo is a color version done in Adobe Lightroom and with 10 adjustments.

Color Version-0006

I then decided to convert the photo to Black & White versions with Lightroom, Photoshop and Silver Efex Pro 2. The photo below is the Lightroom conversion in less than 10 adjustments.

Lightroom Version-0006

The adjusted color version was exported to Photoshop and in 10 adjustments I obtained the photo shown below.

Photoshop Version-2

The last version is the adjusted color version edited in Silver Efex Pro 2 with less than 10 adjustments.

Silver Efex Pro 2 Version-

None of these versions would win any awards but it was an interesting exercise in post-processing. Please come back and visit www.cestlavie4me.com to see where my photographic journey takes me next time.

Blog Posts

Annapolis, Maryland – Street Views

Several weeks ago, my wife and I took a short drive to Annapolis, Maryland. She had learned of a “Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival being held that day. Kunta Kinte was the main character in Alex Haley’s Best-Selling novel “Roots”. I thought it might also be a good opportunity to try some street photography and it was!

Recently, I had read The Complete Guide to Black & White Digital Photography by Michael Freeman and attempted to use some of the techniques discussed in the book in processing these photos. Here are a few of my favorite photographs from our walk around the streets of Annapolis and the Kunta Kinte Festival. I used both Adobe Lightroom and DxO Silver Efex Pro 2 to process the photos. I enjoyed the opportunity to experiment with street photography and am looking forward to more of the same soon.

Which One-0007

                                                                   Which One?

Girl Talk-2

                                                    Girl Talk

Oblivious-

                                                                      Oblivious!

Pit Master-

                                                                       Pit Master

How Big--

                                                    How Big?

Please come back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com to continue following my photographic journey!