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Photographing Cityscapes

Okay, so the title is a big DUH! In any event, I had an opportunity recently to visit both Chicago and Las Vegas and to take some photographs. I decided to focus on architecture in both cities. These two cities could not be more different. Chicago is filled with bold and imaginative high-rise buildings that feature stunning architecture and style! Las Vegas, on the other hand, is somewhat of an adult fantasyland, the architecture here focuses on creating the illusion of something magical and exciting in hopes that you won’t mind losing your money while you are gambling!

The environment for both cities is also quite unique. Chicago hugs the shoreline of Lake Michigan, while Las Vegas is located in the desert. Chicago is a city of big business, big commerce and big industry. Many major corporations are either headquartered or have bases there. Las Vegas, is a city whose industry is hotels, casinos and visitors.

In any event, both cities provided some great photographic opportunities. In Chicago, I did make an effort to try and take all of my photographs in the early part of the day to take advantage of some beautiful blue skies and white clouds. One of the photos in this post features two towers, the tower on the left is black and the tower on the right is a bright silver. The reflective surfaces created a lot of glare. The sky was somewhat dark so I decided to process this photo as a monochrome image.

Trump Tower is on the right.

Trump Tower is on the right.

The next photo was in the shadow of the Chicago CTA (subway) “L” train, with the iconic Trump tower in the background. My vantage point for this photo was standing in the street near the curb trying to avoid being hit by a car, truck or bus! When I uploaded this picture to my computer, I was initially disappointed in it because most of the picture was in heavy shadow. Fortunately, Adobe Lightroom’s shadow slider opened up this picture considerably along with the use of the Tone Curve tool. The lighting was somewhat tricky, but it created what I think is a good photograph. You can be the judge of that yourself!

CTA's Elevated "L" Train with the Trump Tower in the background.

CTA’s Elevated “L” Train with the Trump Tower in the background.

One of my favorite photos of this trip is titled Diving Platform. When I first saw this building I thought “Now that is a photograph waiting to happen!”. The sky was blue as was the tint of the building. The issue was where to stand, so I tried several angles. The best position was standing as close as I could and pointing the camera straight up and using the tree branches to enhance the photo. Since it was the middle of the day, many people passed by, some looked at me with a little curiosity but most just ignored me!

Building acroos the street from the Sofitel Hotel. Photo shot at midday.

Building across the street from the Sofitel Hotel. Photo shot at midday.

I also took quite a few photographs that featured highly contrasty, bright skies and therefore the resulting photographs were not very good. So I didn’t post them to hide my lack of photographic skill! I had the opportunity to see firsthand how important the correct light actually is, even for shooting in the city. I did some sunrise photography in Chicago and I was quite pleased with those pictures, but I decided not to post them in this blog in order to be brief.

Las Vegas, because of its location in the desert, the skies are extremely bright during the day and generally speaking clouds are somewhat limited. This definitely makes it difficult to take daytime photographs of the buildings along the Las Vegas strip. I did attempt to take one photograph of the New York New York Hotel and Casino which I posted in this blog. As you can see, the sky is quite boring and lacks any interest. I had to use the graduated filter in Adobe Lightroom to lower the exposure just to make it a presentable photo.

Under the category of people say weird things, I’m sure the following situation has probably happened to you. As I was standing with my camera mounted on a tripod and pointed to the New York New York Casino, not once, but on several occasions people asked me what was I doing? I smiled and fought the urge to say something really sarcastic and merely replied “I’m taking a photo of the casino”.

Shot in the late afternoon from the MGM Hotel & Casino Sidewalk.

Shot in the late afternoon from the MGM Hotel & Casino Sidewalk.

One of the benefits of being in the desert were the clear skies. I decided to take advantage of this by getting up at 4:00am the next morning to take some photographs. The Paris Hotel and Casino was situated in a favorable spot to catch the first glimpses of dawn breaking. I set up my camera across the street from the hotel, interestingly enough in front of the beautiful and very photographable Bellagio Hotel and Casino. The reflecting pool that you see is the pool that contains the famous water shows that the Bellagio is known for. This photo is another example of taking advantage of light, both the manmade light from the casinos and the light from the early morning sky. The photo was processed in Adobe Lightroom and Nik software’s Viveza 2 helped to brighten up the Eiffel Tower.

Shot at daybreak from the Belliago Hotel & Casino sidewalk.

Shot at daybreak from the Belliago Hotel & Casino sidewalk.

A little later that morning, I walked up Las Vegas Boulevard to the new Aria Hotel and Casino complex. Near the hotel are two very unique condominium towers along with an upscale shopping mall. The towers are unique in that they are actually built to look as if they were leaning in opposite directions. I took several shots from different positions because each time I peeked at the LCD screen the buildings tended to look straight! Finally, as I stood at the edge of the street corner in harm’s way, I got the best angle for the shot! Again, the early morning sky helped to make this an attractive picture. Later in the day, the sky was much too bright to take the same shot.

Aria Condos and Shopping Mall. Shot in the early morning. These towers really are tilted its not the camera!

Aria Condos and Shopping Mall. Shot in the early morning. These towers really are tilted its not the camera!

So what have I learned from all of this? Besides the fact that I needed my wife to watch out for traffic as I took pictures, that lighting really is important. Another thing I learned, is if I am going to take a lot of pictures of tall buildings, I may need to invest in a tilt-shift lens to correct the distortion caused by a regular lens in this situation.

As I have said before, this blog is not intended to teach anything because I don’t have enough skill as a photographer to take on that task. This blog is my attempt at documenting my experiences as an amateur photographer. Do any of you amateurs have an experience to share with shooting cityscapes? Let me know by leaving a comment.

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Local Photo Opportunities

It has been a long time since I have posted anything on this blog. It’s not really very surprising when you consider I haven’t had anything to talk about. In the last month or so I have been taking photos that were mostly photos of the family vacation and other things that were not appropriate for my blog. I am not even a big fan of Facebook, it seems too many people are publishing way too much personal information and I don’t plan to join the crowd.

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I decided to take a short trip to Frederick Maryland for a day of sightseeing. Frederick is an historic town from both the colonial period and Civil War standpoints. Many famous Americans such as George Washington, Francis Scott Key, Robert E. Lee and the first American-born canonized saint, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton have visited, stayed in or in the case of Robert E. Lee fought in the vicinity of Frederick, Maryland. Roger Taney, a local attorney, eventually became the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and presided over the Dred Scott v. Sandford case (1857), that ruled slaves, were not considered at the time the Constitution was written as citizens and, whether free or slave, could not be considered citizens of the United States. Most American High School students are taught about this seminal case in their U.S. History classes. The historic downtown area of Frederick is filled with old buildings, shops, restaurants, theaters and other points of interest. The nearby area is rural and has many historical sites to explore. Among them are several very old covered bridges.

I decided to bring my camera and to make this a photographic sightseeing tour. One of the first sites was “The Angel” painted by Artist William Cochran on the Carroll Creek Park Bridge. This style of art is known as “trick the eye” and is intended to be seen from several different viewing angles. The images I’ve included in this blog do not do justice to this rather unique painting. Interestingly, it took quite a while to take these three photographs because every place I stood the image did look different but not significant enough to notice! When I got home I went through the 10 or 15 pictures I had taken and picked out the three that you see posted in this blog as the best representation I could make of the visual trickery of this painting.

While we were walking down, interestingly enough, Church Street, I saw a stark white church with two spires that caught my attention. It was the Evangelical Lutheran Church established in 1762. I decided to take a photograph standing as close as I could to the church and looking straight up so that the spires and the pinnacle of the roof all pointed to a bright blue, cloudless sky. I might add that before I went on this trip I decided to try and use different angles and perspectives for some photographs. This idea came to me from one of the photographic books I was reading that discussed the idea of trying to find different viewpoints and not take the same old photographs everyone else does. Seems to me this came out rather nicely, but what are your thoughts?

The next photos that I decided to publish were of the Loy’s Station Covered Bridge that was originally built in 1880. It spans a rather small creek named Owens Creek. At one time there were a great number of these covered bridges in Frederick County; however, today only three remain. I visited them but decided to post pictures of this one bridge. This also gave me an opportunity to try my skills in Adobe Lightroom and convert the color photograph to a black-and-white one. I think I prefer the black and white version even though the right side is slightly blown out and somewhat distracting. That is one of the problems that I continue to experience and hopefully my photographic skills will improve enough to eliminate this in the future. Or I might try to do what’s recommended and that is to take the photo in better lighting conditions; but unfortunately, I was there at 3pm and I took the shot and that’s as good as it was going to be!

I guess the thing to take away from this blog post is that there are many great photographic opportunities just about anywhere you look. You don’t have to travel a long distance to find some interesting things. Having said that my wife and I are planning a train trip to Chicago and then flying to Las Vegas later in October. Hopefully I will have some great photographs to show you in that blog post; however, you never know about these things! Until the next post remember to keep pressing the shutter button because there is always a great photo out there, we just have to find it!

Blog Posts

A Bee and a Butterfly

The wings of a Bee

The wings of a Bee

Open Wings

Open Wings

I recently went on a family vacation with my grandchildren, my daughter, son-in-law and my wife. We rented a home in North Carolina that sat on 75 acres and included river frontage on the Dan River. The home and setting were beautiful and I decided to take advantage of some of the numerous photographic opportunities there. So my first order of business was to determine what might be hidden among the 75 acres of undeveloped land!

 My oldest granddaughter and I are both interested in photography, so she went with me as we scouted locations for a photo shoot. As you can imagine we found several scenes that were idyllic and well suited to photography. We stumbled upon an old home site that only had two weathered stone chimneys remaining standing. It created a fantastic photo opportunity and my granddaughter decided she would concentrate on that. She must’ve taken 100 different photos of that site and most of them turned out quite nicely.

 I decided to take advantage of the numerous butterflies that were flying about in a field of flowers near the home. Early the next morning I walked to the field and set up my camera and tripod. I then frantically proceeded to turn and pivot the camera to try and capture a butterfly as it landed on a flower. This proved to be an extremely poor idea! Trying to capture a butterfly in flight is not an easy task to do, especially for a novice photographer such as myself. It must’ve been very comical to see me jerking my camera around trying to catch an elusive butterfly on a very small flower. I’m lucky that I didn’t knock the camera down or fall over the tripod with my clumsy self.

 The next morning I decided on a new plan of attack. I got up and took one of my younger granddaughters with me and asked her to pick a flower that she thought butterflies would land on. The flower she picked out I set my sights on it, and proceeded to focus on that specific flower and then wait for something to land on it. This proved to be a much more fruitful strategy. It just required patience on my part. Thankfully I captured quite a few photos of both butterflies and bees on both that flower and an adjacent one. I guess the moral of the story is to think things through before you start shooting somewhat aimlessly, especially with moving objects such as butterflies and bees!

 As I was reviewing the photos in Adobe Lightroom I noticed a couple of consistent errors on my part. Although I focused on the flower, I didn’t take fully into account just how narrow the depth of field would be for that type of a shot. As a consequence, some of the flower in the foreground was very clear and sharp but as you can see the rear of the flower was out of focus. Fortunately both the butterfly and the bee were in sharp focus. I was particularly pleased with the photo of the bee because you can clearly see the detail in its wings! Another problem I noticed was with composition. I planned to have a good bokeh in the background so that the flower, the butterfly or bee would stand out in sharp focus against the foliage in the background. Unfortunately, I think I had too much of the background and that created a sense of clutter in my photographs. Take a look and tell me what you think.

I also decided to experiment a little bit with Adobe Lightroom by creating a vignette for the photo of the butterfly. I think this helped remove some clutter and also focus more attention on the butterfly. I’m interested in your opinion of this and any other comments you might have on my photography especially anything that can help me improve! Until next time, keep shooting!

 

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Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop Elements Horsing Around

Earlier this year I purchased a copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom by Scott Kelby. This proved to be an easy read and I learned a great deal about using Lightroom. That is, until I tried to figure out the Print Module. I just seemed to be one of the people who didn’t get it. I had problems getting different sized prints to come out correctly and I could not figure out how I was making mistakes when Scott Kelby’s book told me I could easily get it! Since I was not printing anything other than 4×6 inch prints and that was working out ok when I just exported a file, I decided to stop reading the book. In hindsight, this was another of my poor decisions in photography along with bad compositions, soft images and blown out highlights! I suspect some of you reading this blog have had similar or maybe worse experiences.

In the last couple of weeks I decided to make a definite commitment to learning how to use the print module in Adobe Lightroom version 6. I made a monumental decision to start where I usually start which is to begin looking at Adobe TV and the training material on Adobe’s website to learn more about the products. This was helpful but unfortunately it did not give me the detailed background I really wanted. I decided to try a different approach and began looking through YouTube.com to find some free training videos. I discovered a gold mine of great resources! One of the ones that I enjoyed watching featured professional photographer Robert Rodriguez Jr. and it was sponsored by B&H Photo. You can click on the link below to watch the video.

B&H Photo with Robert Rodriquez, Jr. and Master the Lightroom 5 Print Module

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4c-Bu8St3L8

Another great resource was my local photo club. At the last meeting I brought up the fact that I was having difficulty with the print module and asked one of the club experts for some help. Denise was kind enough to spend the majority of the meeting explaining to me not only how to make the Lightroom Print Module work, but also gave me more detailed insight into the whole area of digital printing. In the way of a brief commercial, let me say that if you have not yet joined a local photo club, what are you waiting for? I have learned a great deal being a member of the club and have even competed in some of the photo contests. I have not won anything yet, but hope springs eternal even for the worst of photographers!

Denise gave me the idea of also using Photoshop for printing. I do not have Photoshop but I do have Photoshop Elements version 13. I have done some small editing with Photoshop Elements but nothing significant. So this gave me another opportunity to expand my knowledge. This time I decided to go right to YouTube.com and seek out some resources. I looked at several different videos and found one series from Anthony Morganti to be very helpful. He has a whole series of training videos on Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Lightroom. You can click on the link below to look at one of his videos.

Anthony Morganti’s Learn Adobe Photoshop Elements – Episode 7: Layers and Layer Masks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ml13ZCHrvs4

I now felt that I was ready for the challenge of creating not only a composite photo using layers from Photoshop Elements but also printing the results using my newfound skills and acumen! Now I just needed a photo to edit that would be interesting and challenging. I looked no further than my last post of A Horse of Another Color. I decided to use a picture of a brick wall that I had taken recently just for this type of project. Adobe Lightroom’s Print Module also allowed me to create a gray mat and include a graphic with my initials as a watermark on the photo! This blog is not meant to be how to do it blog, so I won’t bore you with the details. It is sufficient to say that I had fun creating the composite photo in this post and also printing it successfully. When I showed the picture to my wife she said she didn’t like it because it was not natural or real! Critics are everywhere! I guess that is the great thing about photography at the hobby level, you just have to please yourself! What are your thoughts?

Fun with Photoshop Elements or just horsing around!

Fun with Photoshop Elements or just horsing around!

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A Horse of another Color

When I started this blog I was using a Canon Rebel T3i. This camera has been performing well for me and meeting all of my needs. Since I purchased the camera with the kit lens I have upgraded the lenses to the EF series. My primary lens is the Canon EF 24 – 70mm L-series lens. This is an incredible lens designed for a full frame camera body. For the last several months I have been debating whether or not I should upgrade the camera body to the new Canon 70d Mark VII, older full frame 6D or wait for the replacement to the 6D.

 The thought of moving to a full frame camera body has been very intriguing to me. It seems that most of my photographs are of people or objects that are stationary. I’m not a nature or a sports photographer, so the features of the 70D were not my priority. I tend to enjoy urban scenes and anything that strikes me as interesting. As it happens, I was at my local camera store talking to the owner and he asked me if I would consider buying a slightly used Canon 5D Mark III that had only 17,000 shutter operations. I told him that was slightly above my price range and skill level. He asked me about both and then he made me an offer I could not refuse. I’m now the proud owner of the Canon 5D Mark III!

 Fortunately, the Canon operating environment for both cameras is fairly similar. In the last several weeks that I have owned my 5D, I have been able to make the transition from the Rebel fairly easily. There are many, many features that I cannot take advantage of as of today, but I hope to incorporate the new features as I continue to employ this camera in my photographic journey. The quality of the images from my Canon 5D Mark III are certainly a horse of a different color from those taken with my Rebel T3i!

 Recently, my wife and I were driving through the countryside on the way to a farm market to buy some fresh produce. As I turned into the parking lot I noticed a multicolored, whimsical statue of a horse in the field a few yards away. Fortunately, I had my camera in the car, so I decided to take advantage of an unexpected photographic opportunity. The image of this horse is probably only the 20th or 30th picture that I had taken with the 5D at that time. The picture style was set to neutral and I have done some minor editing with Adobe Lightroom version 6. The colors are bright and the image is sharp. I now understand why more the more advanced photographers in my photo club have advised me to always keep some extra money set aside for camera and accessories purchases!

Horse of another Color

Horse of another Color

 

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Using Lemons to make Lemonade!

Recently, I decided that I wanted to work on some new photographic themes. Living near Washington DC I decided to capture some scenes that the average tourist does not see when he or she visits. Now that I have been taking photographs for a while I decided to do some preparatory work. I took the Metrorail to the Shaw Station and then walked around the neighborhood. As I saw interesting residential buildings I took some pictures of them with my smart phone. I then used my recorder app and made notes about the location and where I thought the best position to take the photograph would be. When I finished my day and returned home I found that I had selected 10 different locations that I thought would make interesting photographs.

Bistro Before Editing

Bistro Before Editing

I then did some research on where sunrise or sunset would be relative to these locations. This helped me to decide whether to take pictures in the morning Golden hour or in the evening Golden hour. After all of this preparation I felt quite proud of myself! The only other decision I needed to make was when I would take the first set of photos. Since I was quite excited about the potential I selected this past Thursday morning as the day to start the project.

On Wednesday evening I checked weather.com and saw that Thursday would be partly cloudy, but no rain was in the forecast. So at 4:30 AM on Thursday I drove into Washington DC full of excitement and anticipation of a great photographic journey. I just knew I would have beautiful, colorful morning skies as backgrounds to my shots. As I was driving on the George Washington Parkway, I noticed that the sky was partly cloudy and now I started to get concerned along with being very sleepy! I arrived at my designated parking area, took out my camera, gadget bag and tripod and started walking to my first location. Within five minutes of leaving the car it started to drizzle and a few minutes later rain was falling profusely from the sky!

I decided that I could either go home or use this opportunity to take some different photographs. So I decided when you have lemons the best thing to do is to make some lemonade! Since the ground was wet and it was still somewhat dark and cars and buses had their headlights on along with the buildings beingwell lit; I decided to do some motion blur shots with the added benefit of reflections on the wet street. When the rain stopped I took a few pictures of some of the buildings that I originally planned to photograph, needless to say I did not have the beautiful colorful sky I originally wanted.

Bistro After Editing

Bistro After Editing

As I was looking at my photographs in AdobeLightroom V. 6 that evening, one of them caught my eye and I decided to do some additional editing on it. I noticed that the sky was bland and colorless, so I decided to add a new sky using Adobe Photoshop Elements V. 13. This was going to be a challenge as I just barely knew how to use Lightroom and I had not spent any time with Photoshop Elements! Fortunately, I had a nice sky photograph that I had taken some time before with my smart phone. I proceeded to look at several videos on YouTube that described using layers and layer masks. After multiple attempts I had a reasonably decent copy of the Bistro you see in this post. Although I made some mistakes, for first attempt I think it turned out rather well.

Lesson learned: Preparation is great and important nut you also have to be flexible and find a way to turn a problem into an opportunity to photograph! Keep shooting and come back to visit this blog again in the future or subscribe to the RSS Feed at the top left of the page.

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Cane River National Heritage Area

This past April, my wife and I went on a genealogy road trip. My portion of the trip took me to my ancestral home in the State of Louisiana. One of the many historical areas we visited was the Cane River National Heritage Region.  This region is famous for its creole heritage and the home of many plantations that were founded upon slave labor when Louisiana was part of the French Empire.  If you would like more information on this region, visit this link http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Cane+River+Creoles+of+Color&FORM=RESTAB .

I want to discuss my photographic journey as stated in the launch of this blog. One of the things that have kept me busy has been learning the ins and outs of Lightroom 5 and recently version 6. Most of the photos in the Cane River Gallery were edited with Lightroom 6. It seems that I am finally getting a better for feel for using this powerful tool.  I have been using videos on Adobe’s site as well as YouTube and one purchased online web class and finally it is coming together for me. I wonder how many of you aspiring photographers have struggled to learn Lightroom. I haven’t even given learning Photoshop a moments attention!

As for these photos, a key technique that I failed to grasp was making sure to use a shutter speed high enough to avoid camera shake and fuzzy or non-sharp photos. All of these photos were shot handheld and on several the focus suffered from a slow shutter speed. Take photo shot inside the Magnolia Plantation Store at ISO 1600, 24mm, 1/6 second @f4.0. Handholding at 1/6 of a second is a bad idea. This photo suffers from a lack of sharpness.  I also could have helped myself if I had carried my camera bag with the speedlite inside, but I didn’t!

The photo of the Cotton Gin was one of my favorites of this trip for many reasons. It was obviously outdoors and shot at ISO 100, 24mm, 1/13 second @f18. The picture would have been significantly better with a different combination of shutter and aperture when handholding. The next photo is the machinery inside the cotton gin building.  It is very old and dusty and the interior was dark. I shot this at ISO 400, 28mm, 1/6 second @f4.0. Again this is too slow a shutter for handholding and needless to say I missed my speedlite!

Another photo that suffered from this slow shutter malady was of Cane River Lake.  I actually got down on my knees to shoot thru the foliage in the foreground. Again, the photo lacks sharpness primarily due to a slow shutter when handholding the camera. This was shot at ISO 100, 33mm, 1/15 second @f16.

I think the other pictures came out much better. What is your opinion? By the way, my camera is a Canon Rebel t3 with a Canon 24-70mm L series lens (the good stuff). Hopefully, my next post will feature some improved photos. Let’s see how I progress, afterall, c’est la vie 4 me.

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My Photo Club Contest

In 2013 when I decided to start my photography hobby I joined a local photo club.  This has been a great opportunity to improve my photography as well as learn new aspects of photography and meet some very amazing photographers. We meet twice a month.  The first meeting usually features an accomplished photographer as a guest speaker and the second meeting is our club photo contest.

I have entered several contests but as you might expect, I have not won any prizes.  That is not important, what is important is the contests cause me to try different things and have new experiences.  Our last contest used the theme of bridges for our subject. This turned out to be a nice solo adventure for me and I was rewarded for my efforts.  Usually the judge just looks at my picture and moves on. This time he actually stopped and looked at it for a long 20-30 seconds and then said “nice image“.  I felt like I had won an award!

The picture of the Key Bridge crossing the Potomac River at Georgetown is the “nice image”. The fun part is what it took to get the photo.  My adventure started with a Metro train ride to Rosslyn Virginia which is across the river from Washington DC.  When I left the train, I walked to the river and saw the bridge but the view was not very good, so I started to walk. Now Rosslyn is a mix of high rise office towers, shops and lots of traffic.  It is almost like another downtown for DC, so maneuvering through traffic to get a photo is tough.

As I crossed over closer to the river , I saw a walkway that led down to a trail near the river.  I proceeded to walk down the trail which was filled with bikers and joggers and me with my photo bag and tripod! Still no good vantage point, so I got off the trail and went walking down to the river. It was dusk and there was no one with me and the area was starting to look a little spooky.  I thought to myself “no big deal, I’m a big city kid!” I pushed aside some bushes and trash and soon was at the river’s edge with a good view finally!

There was some brick-brat on the edge of the water and I set my tripod up on that and literally stood on a small ledge and looked through my viewfinder to take some photos. After a few minutes of clicking the shutter I heard some noise. As I looked around I saw a man walking about 50 yards from me and he was talking to himself!  It was at that point that the big city kid decided he had enough pictures for the evening!

This photo was taken with my Canon Rebel T3 and a Canon EF 24-70mm L lens at 70mm. I used a shutter speed of 2.5 seconds at f11 and an ISO of 200. I hope you think it is a “nice image”.

Key Bridge crossing the Potomac River at Georgetown.

Key Bridge crossing the Potomac River at Georgetown.

 

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Macro Photography

It has been quite a long time since my last post.  Although I have continued my interest in photography it seemed like it was time to study the subject more. When I started this blog and the photography journey it was my intention to document my progress as a photographer.  It was going to be a blog with my successes and failures in hopes that any readers could identify with my journey. It was also an opportunity for me to play around in the blogosphere and learn some new things. That is still the plan, however, I needed to get more familiar with aspects of photography other that releasing g the shutter.

That’s a long way to say I’ve been learning new things. First of all, I joined a photo club and have heard some great presentations on many facets of photography. The speakers also presented their work and I could clearly see that I had a long way to go to even get close to their quality of art.  Next I took some lessons in using Adobe Lightroom 5.  I also looked at videos on both Adobe’s site and YouTube. I even bought an expensive book on using Lightroom.  Fortunately, for me all of this is starting to help and I’m getting more proficient in using Lightroom!

In the process of using Lightroom, I’ve come to the understanding that beauty is a very subjective term.  I wonder how many of you have also come to the conclusion that Lightroom by itself is useful but only if you have an idea of what you want the final picture to look like.  This has been a real challenge for me since my artistic eye is not well developed as you can probably ascertain from the pictures on this blog! To that end, I’ve recently started looking at photos on 500px.  This has now given me more ideas on what good photographers produce. This is going to take a lot of education to get me up to speed, but I’m looking forward to that.

As I mentioned, I joined a photo club and that is proving to be a great experience.  I’ve even submitted a couple of photos for the contest the club holds monthly.  I haven’t won anything or even finished above the bottom yet but I’ll keep trying. Recently the club sponsored a Macro Photography Workshop. I attend along with around 25 other photographers and we spent the day taking pictures of all sorts of small things. I am sharing some of the photos I took with you in this post.

Another item I am tackling is learning Photoshop. I decided to start with Photoshop Elements because it seemed simpler and was definitely less expensive that the full version of Photoshop. This software is somewhat challenging for me and I must admit it has been a slow learning experience. Have any of you suffered through either Photoshop Elements or Photoshop? If so, I hope the learning process is getting better for you! I did have a little success in making a composite picture. The first one that I

labeled Treasure Found is a composite. The shell is the one in some of the other pictures in this post and I used another photo for the background.  It came out ok for a first attempt!

Please take a look at the pictures from the Macro Workshop and if you have a minute, leave a comment for me.