Tuesday, March 31, 2009

sowle sister

This photo was taken last Saturday at the Jamail Skate Park, when they opened it up to young girls. It was amazing to me how fearless these girls were on skateboards. There were lots of knee pads and helmets, even a cast or two, but these young ladies were all out there doing what they love. And I guess the same could be said for the group of 10-15 Bay Area Photo Club members who were there also - each one doing what they love trying to get that one unique shot ... although I don't think any of us were in helmets. A masked Lucis Art layer was applied to the image above to bring up the contrast on the concrete, a texture was added to warm up and bring in even more grittiness, and the corners were vignetted.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

black and white

Above is another photo from the Digital Days photo shoot last weekend with Shelley Boozer. I did some fairly heavy eye retouching on this photo after watching a great tutorial on facial retouching on kelbytraining.com with David Cuerdon. I guess my only wish was that her left eye wasn't in such deep shadows and that both eyes were equally prominent. I retouched only her right eye, so I think it makes the contrast between the two even more apparent. I'd be interested to hear opinions - does the dramatic lighting make up for the unequal weight the eyes seem to have?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Astros fan

After shooting the sunrise, our photo club members went over the the Jamail Skate Park, where they were having an all-girls skating competition and exhibition. The little guy above in the Astros cap was one of the spectators. The aged photo effect was achieved with a golden texture in overlay blending mode, then another layer of a greyscale emulsion in color burn blending mode, which was masked and applied only to the edge.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

our fair city

On the Bay Area Photo Club field trip Saturday to the Joe Jamail Skate Park, we got there a little early (quite a bit early, actually) and shot the sunrise behind the downtown Houston Skyline from the Sabine Street bridge. These are two takes on the scene - the top uses a plug-in called Lucis Art and adds more midtone contrast, and the bottom is more of a panoramic blend of a couple of different exposures. I'd like to get opinions on which one you like better. The Lucis Art style (top) always seems to generate opinions - you either love it or hate it. Anyway, please comment - photographers and non-photographers.

Monday, March 23, 2009

looking out on the horizon

Over the last couple of days, the Galveston Historical Foundation has been conducting sea trials and day sails for the tall ship Elissa. After getting battered by Hurricane Ike six months ago, the restored 1877 square rigger is looking great and appears to be back to its pre-Ike elegance. The dock where Elissa is moored is pretty beaten up, but that hasn't seemed to deter the volunteer crew and foundation members who are great stewards of this historic vessel. The photo above was taken of a crew member on Monday afternoon's sail.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

digital days

This weekend, I had the good fortune of attending Popular Photography's Digital Days Workshop and Seminar in Houston. Besides driving home some basics that never hurts to hear again and again, they had a long session on Adobe Lightroom and photo shoot Sunday with live models and light set-ups. Shelley (above) was ever so patient while provided some great poses for aspiring portrait photographers. Processing involved mixing a sepia layer from Nik Silver Efex with reduced opacity and using OnOne Photo Tools Angel Glow filter from Kevin Kubota.

Friday, March 20, 2009


No, not the Graceland in Memphis -- Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, where I visited last spring. As you can see, still experimenting with textures. Including a monochrome version below.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

still life

I'm still experimenting with textures. This still life photo of a bowl of apples was taken for a Bay Area Photo Club assignment many months ago, long forgotten, and now resurrected to practice on. I think the texture definitely gives it a new feel - good or bad, I'm not sure. But more interesting for sure.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

forster's tern

The Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council is sponsoring the seventh annual Featherfest in Galveston April 2-5, and as part of the birding festival they're having a weekly photo contest during the four weeks leading up to the event. I've been fortunate enough to win second place in each of the first two weeks. This image of a forster's tern was captured last May at one of my favorite spots for bird photography. It's an image that I had forgotten about until recently while going through my 2008 bird images. These little terns were so fast. They feed like a pelican, diving from high above and plunging into the water to capture fish. They hover for just a split second before they start their descent. It's probably one of the most challenging of all photography I've done -- birds in flight. Yet, it's also one of the most rewarding when you manage to catch a frame right at the peak of action. This is one of my entries for the final week of the competiton.

Monday, March 16, 2009


...from the ongoing floral series. Hope you enjoy. This week is spring break here on the Texas coast, and the weather is supposed to be great. I hope everyone gets outside and enjoys the great outdoors - birds, flowers, beaches, or whatever inspires you.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Young Cowboy

More experiments with texture and tone --- this photo was taken at the Houston Rodeo on Wednesday as kids and women of all shapes and sizes took their turn on the mechanical bull.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pow Wow

This photo has been around for a while. I've always struggled with how to present it. I was in Arizona a couple of years ago during the Christmas holidays, and we went to a Pow Wow in Tucson on New Year's Eve - during the day. Like most Arizona days, the sky was cloudless bright blue, and while I liked the overal face and capture here, I always thought the blue sky made it feel like more of a snap shot. Since I'm doing an upcoming tutorial for the Bay Area Photo Club on textures and edges, I've been experimenting with various techniques for blending layers and masking. Please feel free to comment, especially on the texture - does it help or is it a distraction?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

handful of beads

Here's another photo from the Fat Tuesday parade from Galveston Mardi Gras last week. This image was postprocessed a little differently for me - some soft focus, tinting, desaturating, and some burning to simplify the background. I'd be interested in opinions. It seems a little counterintuitive to be desaturating Mardi Gras images, but I just felt like doing something different.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Here's another photo from Mardi Gras last week in Galveston. It was taken at the pet parade down the Seawall on Sunday. As I was working on this photo I was trying to determine what kind of hat this is --- synthetic fur, not animal looking at all. Anyway, I was (and still am) stumped. If you have any ideas, please feel free to comment. A fractal texture has been added, so the level of contrast and sharpness is a bit exaggerated. Still, even though I couldn't figure out the hat, I thought it made for an interesting, and at the very least colorful, image. I got to thinking about the images of people I've posted on this blog since September, and it seems like most have hats on. It's almost uncanny. What is it about a hat that draws you to an image? Is it some kind feeling of nostalgia back to the days of when people got "dressed up," they wore a hat. And is the eye of the photographer or viewer subconsciously drawn to that?

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Mardi Gras parades are all about the beads. It's not uncommon for people to leave the parades with huge wads of beads around their necks. This photo was taken at the Fat Tuesday parade in Galveston last week. This woman was on one of the floats throwing out beads. Strands hang inside the floats, and they are thrown to revelers along the parade route. Taking photos is somewhat dangerous. You're looking through a viewfinder and not really paying attention to the beads, frisbees, cups, and dubloons that come flying at you.