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Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Loving Photography


HDR self portrait, Mark Miner


I like taking photographs much more than I like being the subject. I never quite relax when I get my picture taken. Once in a while there is a picture that I like of myself. This is one of them.

Taking a picture in low light with no flash makes for a very real picture.  The trade-off is a very shallow depth-of-field.  (note, my eye is in focus yet the word Nikon on the camera is not.)  Also, low light photography almost always has a slow shutter speed.  With a slower shutter speed, both the camera and the subject have to be extraordinarily still.

This picture was taken on Greg and Lana’s sailboat at night with just a small background light.  The iso is 1100 and the shutter speed is 1/100. The aperture is 1.4 which is as wide open as this lens gets.   (this is what causes the shallow depth of field.)

The photo has obviously been post processed.  The software is topaz adjust.


Image Software including HDR

I have several pieces of software that I use when editing photos. First and foremost is photoshop. I have learned a great deal about this fine program over the last year. I still probably only use one third of its capability. There are a very large number of excellent tutorials on the web for using photoshop. I usually wait until I really need to do something with PS and then look on the web for a tutorial on how to do it.

For HDR, I use several programs. To truly do HDR, you need to take several photos in rapid succession with varying exposures and then combine them into one HDR photo. This does not work very well with human or other moving subjects. For this you make your HDR from a single exposure. (This is actually pseudo-HDR because it comes from just one exposure) Even with one exposure you can get some truly interesting HDR photographs. My single favorite HDR software that I use when I only have one exposure is Dynamic PhotoHDR by Mediachance. It does an excellent job of spicing up photos and if you play with it enough, it looks great. There is a lot of customizing that you can do within software, yet it is very simple to use.


White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, BVI (British Virgin Islands)

Almost all of the photographs that I take today end up getting at least a little HDR manipulation. It adds drama and extra “pop” to a photo. It takes a photo that I like anyway and makes me love it.

“Flowers for Ryan”

Flowers from Grays lake. Converted to black and white and photoshopped for a while. I am going to make an art print of this one.


"Flowers for Ryan" 2010

Couchsurfing Chicago Style

Amy IS salsa!

Amy IS salsa!

First of all, let me say. I think they really got something right with this couchsurfing….

Recently I had the chance to visit Chicago CS style. I packed up some road food, (tortillas, peanut butter, honey and chips) loaded up my audio book and set out for Chicago from Des Moines. First stop was the wonderful condo very near downtown of Daryl, a 30yr old OR nurse who has been with couchsurfing since 2007. He showed me his place, gave me a set of keys to the very secure building and then he left for work. The place was great, had a spare bedroom and bathroom, and was in a wonderful location. I made a tortilla with PB and honey and headed out to Chicago on the EL train. Ten minutes later I was downtown. Over the next two days a fellow couchsurfer, Zac arrived and we hit a number of museums. (I have a membership to the Sci center of Des Moines, this got us into the field museum, The Chicago science center and the Adler planetarium all at NO charge.) Daryl had to work days so he caught up with us nights and showed us around Chicago including the best place to take a skyline picture!

We were having a wonderful time in Chicago and no place yet to stay on Friday. (Daryl had other surfers coming in) We went to the Chicago couchsurfing event on Thursday night. I met a bunch of cool couchsurfers including Amy and Greg. Greg said we could crash wherever he was crashing on Friday night. Amy was having a salsa party fundraiser on Friday night and she invited Zac and I to go. When we arrived we could hear the salsa music from a block away. It was great fun, there were many interesting people there. We met Amy’s roomates and all of us went out for drinks afterward. Everybody was very nice. We ended up staying at Amy’s place which was just a short walk from the bar. She had a great place, a comfy couch and a great shower! I left for home on Saturday morning. Viva la couchsurfing!!!


Random pics from this trip!

HDR, The New Face of Photography

HDR Photo from my deck in Des Moines

HDR Photo from Des Moines

HDR or High Dynamic Range photography will be crazy big in the next year.

Photographs have long lagged behind the human eye in recording a scene. When you stand on my deck and look at the sky, your eye adjusts for the brightness of the sky and you see the wonderful blue. When you look at the buildings, your eyes adjust to let in more light and you see the wonderful details of the bricks.

When you take a photograph, if the image is exposed for the buildings, the sky will end up too bright. If you set it to get the sky right then the buildings will be way too dark. The trick is to take DIFFERENT pictures, exposing once for the sky and once for the buildings and then combine them. This picture is a compilation of five images put together using the best exposed parts of each photograph. The merged image is a photo that hits the right exposure for every part of the scene.

St Patrick’s Day, Des Moines Style


I was faced with the choice going back to Cedar Rapids to celebrate St Patrick’s day with my friends, or staying in Des Moines and going out by myself.

I chose the latter in an attempt to learn a little bit more about my new city. Armed with a healthy scotch buzz and my trusty camera I took to the streets looking for a fun day.

First stop, Johnny’s Hall of Fame

Johnny’s Hall of Fame is a bar with a history dating back to 1962. It is definately a Court Ave landmark. This was a great spot with a huge window to watch the crazy people on the street. If you ever tire of watching the crazy people in the bar, there is always the window! (they also have Glenlivet!).


Next up, El Bait Shop and High Life Lounge

El Bait Shop has 107 beers on tap and is usually packed with people. I had a Northern Porter, yummy. It’s sister bar is the High Life Lounge (they are connected by a common entrance). The High Life Lounge is one of my favorites and has to be seen to be believed. It looks like a trashy neighborhood bar from the late 60’s early 70’s, with authentic signage, shag carpet, wood paneling, rotary dial pay phone, and small black and white tv that you would expect from the era. This place was filled with citizens as always. High Life is also a great place to go for cheap and tasty bar food.


I slid from this pair of fine establishments to Liar’s Club.

This place was crazy busy and had a live band that was fantastic. (Liar’s club also has the coolest website of the bars here.) (The song for their site is also in the movie Clay Pidgeons which is a dark comedy that you have never seen.)

St Pat’s Des Moines style was drunktastic.

I am sure that the folks in Cedar Rapids were doing it right too (they always do). If St Pats were tomorrow I would do it again!


See a larger collection of the pictures that I took on St Patrick’s day HERE.