Phoenix International Raceway – Excerpts from a Photo-Shoot

This photo shoot is one of those “let’s play with our camera and see what we get” shoots. The location is the Phoenix International Raceway the first week of November. NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) rotates through this raceway about twice a year. My wife and I and my oldest daughter and her husband thought it would be fun to go as none of us have been to any NASCAR races. This particular day was National Military Service Appreciation Day. I tell you this only because this always means some great military aircraft flyovers before the race starts.

The only reason I brought my camera was that my oldest is getting back into photography (it left her somewhere during those college years a decade ago) and has been picking my brain on different aspects of taking interesting shots. That particular week, we had been talking about shutter speed and how that can open up the door to dramatic shots of things you normally don’t get to capture. With the flyover scheduled before the race and the cars during the race going past us at 110 mph, I thought this would be a great opportunity for her to experiment.

The flyover came and I was laughing so hard at her I almost didn’t get any shots myself. Watching her head twist and bob as the jets and planes flew over as she was still trying to find them in her viewfinder was worth the day. So lesson one – fast activity does not wait for you to line it up in your viewfinder. Anticipate the direction of the subject and shoot numerous shots to capture one great one.

(I should note that I used 1/1600 shutter speed on all the attached shots)

PIR 4

PIR 4

PIR 5

PIR 5

PIR 6

PIR 6

Notice on these shots of the flyover that the propellers are caught frozen because of the shutter speed. If you were doing a technical photo shoot for the purpose of capturing propeller driven airplanes flying, you would slow the shutter speed done to catch the blur of the propellers spinning to create more realism in the final shot.

Since we weren’t into this except for examples of shutter speed, we didn’t get too creative with our angles and just shot what was going on around us. Our seats were at the end of the straightaway, so the cars were flying past us at about 110 mph on the other side of a massive chain link fence. You literally held your camera steady, aimed it and shot a series of captures when the group of cars came down the straightaway. In person you had to eye the car as it came into your field of vision and follow it with your head very fast as it went by (ignoring everything else) just to see any detail of the car. Notice in the next two shots the people walking in front of the fence. See the guy in the red shirt and the girl coming up the steps with the black cap straight across from him and facing his direction in both shots. The time frame between the shots is negligible, but note none of the cars are the same in either shot…that’s how fast they were going.

PIR 2

PIR 2

PIR 3

PIR 3

The final shot gives you a perspective of the cars that just pasted us and are going around the curve. Except for the fence issue, the clarity and detail is great.

PIR 1

PIR 1

This wasn’t a glitzy sexy photo-shoot, but I shared it because there are elements you can capture of fast moving subjects and make them creative. Thoughts?

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Southern Colonial Home – Featured Art Print

My featured Art Print this week is “Southern Colonial Home” done in black and white from my Black and White Sketches Gallery.

I love the architecture of old southern homes, the intricate lines and shapes. What better way to accent those elements than a sketching technique that focuses on those features. I worked to make sure that there was almost an overload of detail in this print. I wanted the final product to not just be a representation of the elegance of southern colonial architecture, but to pull out the intricacies of this style and the setting itself. Notice the detail in the leaves and the plants that dominate the front yard of this southern belle. This particular scene is from New Orleans, Louisiana. The house is located on a tree-lined street that faces a boulevard. The street has large classic southern mansions lining both sides. A black and white sketch allows for the lines and contrasts to dominate the final print without the distraction of color. The remaining question is: “Did I do this southern colonial home justice?” Thoughts?

 

 

I invite you to come into the gallery to view the addition of new art prints to the collection in Black and White Sketches.

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Gas Works Park – Excerpts from a Photoshoot

I am continuing in my sharing of photography I did when I was up in the Seattle area in September. Today, I have attached 9 shots I took of Gas Works Park on Lake Union in Seattle. This urban park is really an interesting experience. Check this Wikipedia Link to see an aerial of the park to get an idea the size, how much is grass and how much is left over from the gasification plant.

For anyone not familiar with this park, Gas Works Park is a 19-acre public park located on the north shores of Lake Union. Lake Union is just north of downtown and is well known for the houseboats that dot the shoreline as permanent residence (used in movies like Sleepless in Seattle). Besides pleasure boating, the lake is also used for seaplanes landing and departing between Seattle and the San Juan Islands as well as Victoria, Canada on Vancouver Island. The site itself is the old Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant. The park is famous for the remnants of the sole remaining coal gasification plant in the US. The land was bought by the city of Seattle in 1962 for purposes of turning it into a park. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.

Gas Works Park 1

Gas Works Park 1

The first shot confirms you are in Seattle with the Space Needle in the background and gives you an idea of the expanse and openness of the lawn area.

Gas Works Park 2

Gas Works Park 2

The second shot shows part of the largest part of the plant that is still on the site. The last time I was here (2.5 years ago), these structures weren’t fenced off and there wasn’t the amount of graffiti on them. I am assuming the two are related.

Gas Works Park 3

Gas Works Park 3

The third shot zooms in on the structure; with the graffiti being a rather sad statement to the intent of the park.

Shot number 4 gives you an idea of some of the remnants that are free-standing scattered across the lawn.

Gas Works Park 4

Gas Works Park 4

 

Number 5 is a series of concrete arches that must have supported large pipes connecting the facility just displayed with the facility in the next series of photographs.

Gas Works Park 5

Gas Works Park 5

Shots number 6 -9 are pipes clustered around and in a pavilion across the park from the initial shots. The bright colors remind you of a children’s playground.

Gas Works Park 6

Gas Works Park 6

Gas Works Park 7

Gas Works Park 7

Gas Works Park 8

Gas Works Park 8

Gas Works Park 9

Gas Works Park 9

I hope I have done the park justice with these shots and given you a taste of the uniqueness of it. I applaud the city for their dream of turning this into what is the most unusual urban park I have ever been to. Thoughts?

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Calla Lily – Featured Art Print

My featured Art Print this week is “Calla Lily” done in black and white from my Black and White Photography Two Gallery.

I love the simplicity and elegance of their bloom. When we lived in San Diego, we had a couple of “groups” of calla lilies scattered throughout our flower garden area. They would bloom proficiently in the winter months with the cooler temperate climate along the coastal regains of Southern California. The winter before we moved, I had this one loner pop up in an area of the garden where I didn’t think I had any winter flowers. A small leaf popped up and then this tall elegant bloom all by itself.

I love the calla lily in black and white. It highlights the shape and purity of the white bloom. In this shot you can see great detail even down to the minor imperfections on the blossom itself. That is what I love about this particular shot. Notice also in the background, you get a hint of some sort of back drop…it’s a fence and notice there isn’t anything else…this bloom was truly standing by itself all alone. Thoughts?

 

 

I invite you to come into the gallery to view the addition of new art prints to the collection in Black and White Photography Two.

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Fort Casey – Excerpts from a Photo Shoot

I am continuing with my sharing of photography I did when I was up in the Seattle area in September. Today, I have attached 9 shots I took of Fort Casey on Whidbey Island. I think these shots are great examples of how to create a story through photography. Most of these shots are architecturally oriented and when shooting this type of element, I look for interesting angles or framing opportunities to create a unique visual experience while still trying to relay the look and feel of the subject.

So lets talk about Fort Casey so you know what you are looking at. Today it is a 467-acre state park that houses the remnants of the physical fort and guns along with Admiralty Head Lighthouse. Fort Casey was part of a trio of forts that were built to protect the Puget Sound from invasion by sea. They were called the Triangle of Fire and were known for their big guns that had disappearing carriages that could be lowered for protection and then raised to fire. Building started in 1897 and the forts became obsolete with the invention of the airplane (they weren’t designed against air attack) and the modernization of battleships.

Fort Casey 1

Fort Casey 1

In the first shot, you get a perspective of how the fort sits above the entrance to the Puget Sound.

Fort Casey 2

Fort Casey 2

The second shot gives you an idea of the structures that were created to house the big guns that sat on their disappearing carriages (the structure to the right), with the separate towers to the left, I would assume for a visual over the guns and protection against return fire.

Fort Casey 3

Fort Casey 3

The third shot shows the top of the Admiralty Head Lighthouse just north of the fort. The view would be from shot 2 and turning around.

Fort Casey 4

Fort Casey 4

The fourth shot is more of the same front building, but showing one of the big guns.

Fort Casey 5

Fort Casey 5

The fifth shot shows a close up of the big gun with my lovely wife in the picture for a perspective of sheer size of the guns (yes, she has no idea she is now part of a blog :) ).

Fort Casey 6

Fort Casey 6

The sixth shot shows more of the building. You can actually go into the bunkers and wander around. Most of them interconnect underground and I assume that’s for protection during an attack.

Fort Casey 7

Fort Casey 7

The seventh shot shows more of the structure. One of the platforms for the carriage of the big guns is just out of sight in the top left, but shown in the next picture.

Fort Casey 8

Fort Casey 8

The eighth shot is one of the platforms supporting the carriages for the big guns.

Fort Casey 9

Fort Casey 9

The ninth shot shows a group of buildings just a bit further inland and slightly up hill from the main bunkers.

The entire experience was fascinating and I had no idea this type of bunker had been built in that era along the Puget Sound. Thoughts?

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Admiralty Head Lighthouse – Featured Art Print

My featured Art Print this week is the Admiralty Head Lighthouse done in black and white from my Black and White Photography One Gallery. It’s one of the six new art prints just added to that gallery.

The Admiralty Head Lighthouse is located on Whidbey Island north of the Seattle area in the state of Washington. It coexists with what was Fort Casey and is now part of the state park system. The location is the entrance to the Puget Sound. The lighthouse guided ships into the sound; while Fort Casey with it’s large guns protected the sound. The setting has a sweeping view of the water and across it to the Olympic Mountain Range on the Olympic Peninsula. The lighthouse was put into operation in 1861, rebuilt and moved slightly north to accommodate the guns of Fort Casey in 1903 and ultimately decommissioned in 1922. It was acquired and reopened by Washington State Parks in the mid 1950’s.

For this print, I went black and white to capture not only the mood of the day (rain and sun with heavy rain clouds moving in), but the contrast within the structure itself and the natural setting surrounding it. I shoot my photographs in RAW, which gives me the flexibility to use strong detail and the ability to adjust the many elements of a picture. With this shot, I went for maximum detail and played with the contrast and lighting to create the end result. The final art print does a great job capturing the look and feel of our visit to the lighthouse that day. Thoughts?

 

 

I invite you to come into the gallery to view the addition of new art prints to the collection in Black and White Photography One.

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West Point Lighthouse – Excerpts From a Photo Shoot

As I promised last week, I would be sharing some more lighthouses from the photo shoot I did around Puget Sound in September. This week, I wanted to share the West Point Lighthouse, which is also known as the Discovery Park Lighthouse.

This lighthouse was opened in 1881 and sits on a point of land that juts into the Puget Sound and marks the northern extent of Elliot Bay. Elliot Bay is the immediate waterfront that Seattle was founded on. It actually was the first manned lighthouse on Puget Sound. Access is via Discovery Park, which has restricted parking, and it is a little bit of a hike to get up to the lighthouse. Once there, you are able to walk around the grounds and get shots from a number of angles. My goal on a shoot like this is to capture the structure from as many different aspects as I can physically get. I got a number of shots and have posted what I think are the best five, each from a slightly different perspective.

West Point Lighthouse 1

West Point Lighthouse 1

The first shot is from the trail as you come up to the property. I like the composition of this shot as it portrays the isolation of the lighthouse with the added element of a large cargo ship on Puget Sound in the background.

 

West Point Lighthouse 2

West Point Lighthouse 2

This next shot is a little closer to the lighthouse and is framed to focus on just the structure while still keeping enough of the surrounding landscape to complete the scene.

 

West Point Lighthouse 3

West Point Lighthouse 3

The third shot is focused solely on the architecture of the lighthouse with just a hint of the landscape surrounding the building.

West Point Lighthouse 4

West Point Lighthouse 4

The fourth shot is from a slightly different angle and closer to the structure. This perspective created a different element of depth and architectural shape. Having seen the building in the other shots, you know that it is a long structure with the light in the middle. This shot gives you a different perspective defining more shape and geometry to the building.

West Point Lighthouse 5

The fifth and last shot taken just a few feet from number four, gives you a completely different view of the building. You now see an entry door at the end of the building. From this perspective, the building looks very small, as you really don’t see the length. With this side in the shade, it gives a different look to the many architectural elements of the building.

So, my question to you is: “Which is your favorite shot?” I will be using only two, three at the most to add to my Color Photography Gallery. Thoughts?

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