The Weekend in Review

A weekend full of music and history began Friday with the Uproar Festival. I will say right off the bat that Godsmack was very disappointing. Their set consisted of songs that they have been playing live probably for the past five years, sans two. They have two recent albums with newer material that they did not even touch. well, one song from Four,and one from the Oracle. That was it for the newer stuff. AND Sully’s guitar sound was terrible. Maybe the rumors of a disintegration are true. Shanon Larkin is always great. I love watching him. OK, so it was not that bad, They performed great as always. I just wanted to hear an updated set list, not one that I heard two, three and four years ago.

Now that I have that off my chest Shinedown ROCKED! I have not followed them that close and other than the radio songs I am not that familiar with them. I had a point and shoot with me so the pictures were only so so. Barely Facebook worthy. We were in section 304. I would so love the opportunity to shoot one of these shows with my gear but it is very difficult bringing in “removable lens” cameras to these venues. One of the better ones of the night:

We were fortunate enough to meet them and be there when they received this cake from Rock Candy Cakes. This cake interrupted our conversation but hey, it is not everyday that you meet these guys in their own dressing room. Cool stuff, they are very down to earth and have gained a new supporter.

With little sleep that night we ventured up to West Point Saturday morning for a two hour tour and a walk around the museum. Guided Tours do not really offer the affordability of pictures it seems, everything is go, go, go… and at an installation such as this there is no such thing as a self guided tour. Got some pretty nice pictures of the Cadet Chapel everything else is just memorabilia. These are all on Flickr page. The first shot of the museum came out really good so I decided to bracket a set and HDR it. I really like the way this turned out.

The main event was on Sunday with a trip to the NY Renaissance Faire. We had gone a few years ago and have wanted to return ever since. T’was a great day in merry old England with the “employees” never breaking character. Sword fights, Jousting, street performers, wenches, comedic nuns and even a Royal Chess Match.

This is in the running for my favorite shot of the weekend. Two days may be the best way to experience the show, it is just not possible to see them all in one day. We witnessed the two big ones and a couple of little ones. Bring Cash, lots of Cash, lots of cool little shops and nary a one takes anything but cash. Make sure you get a turkey leg, no utensils allowed! We might have to go back before this season ends just to take in the smaller shows. And spend more cash……And take more pictures.

I have updated my Flickr page, please check it out. Lots of pictures from the weekend.

Thanks for stopping by, till the next time!

Panning the race

Six years ago I attempted to indulge in the world of bicycle racing. I was in decent shape, followed a training plan to put me in what I had thought to be a competitive state of physical beastliness. Maintaining a heart rate of 150 for two hours was easy! What I was lacking was top end. 190 seemed to be my breaking point, only could last five minutes before the panting ensued. So I did not train right. During my regroup phase life got in the way and I was thrown into the just another recreational cyclist category. Nothing wrong with that at all. Getting up at 05:30 to go race a bike was not really my favorite thing to do anyway.

For those of you that have never tried it, racing a bicycle is no joke. Certainly not just a bunch of silly looking guys in spandex.Notice the trailer, max effort there. It is a shame that the person who brought cycling in America to the limelight is under so much scrutiny. The dude never tested positive. Enough said. Besides, spandex is quite comfortable and provides great compression to the muscles. Just no Boy George Spandex please…

Much harder than it looks

Rollers, something I never got the hang of. Core, core, core. In the US most of the races are criteriums. Round and round a 1-2 mile loop. It is only in the past few years where the larger stage races have gained popularity here. Used to have to go to Europe to check out a big race, now you just have to go west….young man. Need a big east coast race.

Since this is supposed to be a photography oriented blog….

an attempt at panning

a better attempt

I felt like I did not have enough room on my first attempt, so I isolated the trailers the next time they came around. Harder than it sounds. Shutter speed was 1/30th for these shots.

Busy weekend coming up, hoping for a Fryday night surprise at the PNC Bank Arts Center. Thanks for stopping by! Till next time…

What’s to Come

I just wanted to follow up on my ISO remarks from the previous post, and show a great example of the difference between somewhat low vs somewhat high iso settings. As I performed my weekly duties of taking the garbage receptacle out to the curb I noticed a spider preparing his dinner table for the night. There was a little light shining on him from the front of the house so I decided to grab a couple of shots. Too little light, did not feel like flash so I grabbed a couple, did not get what I wanted and said see ya to the spider.

So for whatever reason as I walked back into the garage that was illuminated by two 60 watt bulbs in the door opener, camera still in hand, I saw some color and decided to experiment with iso settings in low light. For those of you who may not understand or appreciate this I am hoping these pictures clear it all up.

Both pictures were shot handheld,135mm at f2, 1/60th of a second. (waiting for it….ok, done?)

The first was shot with an iso of 400

iso test at 400

The next with an iso of 2500

iso test 2500

The moral of this story for me anyway is do not be afraid to use high iso settings next time! AND use the rain ex before it gets cold out.

So, what’s to come? That was the title right? I am an avid follower and used to be an occasional participant in the world of bicycle racing so I will be checking out and shooting for myself a local race this weekend. On tap is also a trip to West Point and a visit to the NY Renaissance Fair. It is also time for me to seek willing participants (volunteers) for portrait work. If you or anyone you know would be interested in hanging out for 30 – 60 minutes, engage in pointless banter and get a couple of pictures out of it all please contact me. Location totally flexible.

Thanks for reading, till next time…

On the Spot

I have been sitting on my dance pictures that were taken during nationals almost a month now. Overall I was less than pleased with how they came out so I have been dwelling on the why’s and how’s, trying to figure out where I went wrong. The majority of them are good from afar, but far from good. I have been giving a couple hundred shots to the school the past two years but this batch just did not make the cut. There were some good ones but I do not think I would be confident to print any of them. For Facebook? Sure! Makes for some very happy dancers and parents of dancers too!

I like the composition and color but there is distortion in the faces especially around the eyes. I was using a 135mm f2 lens for 95% of the shots. This is handheld at 2.2, 1/400 and an iso of 800.  In camera metering was good. Focus looks good, you can even discern the wrinkles on the backdrop…. I used this lens at one of those outdoor adventure type races and it did a really good job so I conclude that it was me and my settings and that nasty blue background.

So my thoughts are this, ISO was too low, background was messing with the focus point, should have tried spot metering. I like to shoot these at around 1/500. So the moral of the story is do not always trust what your camera tells you. Of course all the educational material I take in says that too but mostly for outdoor stuff as indoor metering is a totally different animal. I will also be trying a Mono-pod next year when we start up again. I do not own a light meter, not sure that would help in these events anyway.

This is from our recital, iso was at 1600, I can see the eyes clearly. Although I was much closer to the stage for this. The thing is I had an f4 going and at 1/200 to boot. I looked back at photos for our first competition in February and I was very thrilled with those shots. I had an iso of 2000 set. Everything was crystal clear. Fortunately the camera I have is forgiving with those high numbers. Some of those pictures are on my Flickr page. Just click on the link!!

So now it is time for some off camera flash. Have to start simple and understand the settings adapted to the area i am using. Again, all manual so far. I think this will give me a quicker and more comprehensive understanding of how to set everything up.  I was experimenting the other night with the upcoming birthday girl. Nothing fancy, just two flashes through umbrellas. Her last days before she hits the teenage years…..Lord help me. Till next time!



A whirlwind of a week. I recently returned from a week in Disney on what I would call a pseudo vacation > Yes, It was time off, time away from home but we were there for a purpose. My daughters dance team qualified for the National finals held at the Coronado Springs Resort. We ended up having a very successful 4 days of competition. By the time the weekend arrived we were exhausted, but still managed to get in some park time.

I always take LOTS of pictures of the dances, trying to get that perfect action shot. This time around though  I wanted to concentrate on the emotions of the dancers during their routines as well as the compositions and lines of the dancers.  This is not the easiest thing to do when you are half way back in the hall even with a 200mm lens. iso’s of 1600, f2, f2.8, while trying to maintain a shutter speed of 1/400 or more. I seem to be having a problem getting the face crisp, but the rest of the shots are good. I will be experimenting with a monopod come regional time next year to see if that makes a difference.  Even though the wireless was very spotty I did manage to post a “photo of the day” for each of the days we were dancing. This one is from day two.


Naturally I took many shots of the surroundings, the parks and Britt meeting the Disney characters. Our resort had a large lake which provided me with some outstanding opportunities since there were ample amounts of large trees surrounding it.


I have been toying with HDR imaging over the past month and debating on trying a few photos using that process. Other than cropping and straightening I am currently not a believer in post editing and while I do own a couple of software editing programs I have no idea how to use them yet. I am sure the time will come when I must but for now the purist in me wins. HDR is just another tool, combining different exposures into one image, it provides a more artsy feel. Notice – I did not say artistic. Artistic is in the composition, artsy is in the manipulation. If my first result is any indication, I may have to explore this HDR outlet a bit more. All for now.

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