Might tunnel vision give us just a glimpse of the larger world?

Just looking helps a lot.


Morning light

The morning light was good today and who was I to waste it?

There is a bit of a ‘once upon a time’ element to this image.  It is a composite of five images taken at different exposures (high dynamic range or HDR).  I like to use that technique with good light in the autumn.

I’m still working with leaves caught in the chain link fence that keeps our dogs in the backyard and not wandering the neighborhood.

It says something to me about the light of God shining through us even in difficult circumstances.  Or I just like back-lighting.  Take your pick.

The morning light caught just a little of the flowering whatever-it-is.

A few more minutes and it just looked like weeds.

It can be rewarding to look up sometimes.

These few precious days, these few precious days.

Indiana Transportation Museum

Our camera club went to Noblesville, IN last weekend to photograph at the Indiana Transportation Museum.  There were a lot of old train cars on sidings and there were many opportunities for photographers.

Lots of opportunities for simple, graphic and vivid shots.

This image is a combination of three shots, one overexposed, one underexposed and another at the recommended setting.  It was processed with high dynamic range software.  Yes, the colors were that vivid.  The dynamic range of a single shot would not have been sufficient to capture the detail in the lighter and darker areas.

It is well worth visiting the Indiana Transportation Museum.

Meanwhile, back at the Indianapolis Art Center

Our camera club meets at the Indianapolis Art Center every week.  I often go early with my camera looking for opportunities.  I had shot flowers on this plant two weeks in a row and I was over there again this morning to shoot this flower.  I have come back to this plant four times.

This is a rather small flower, probably less than an inch from the tip of one petal to that of another and it was under a rather large leaf.  But there it was and I kept coming back.  I can’t identify the plant, it is probably exotic, perhaps from Africa or Asia.  Here is the leaf in case you can help identify it – it is about a foot long.

Interesting how one flower can capture us and bring us back repeatedly.  Fortunately it stays fresh for several days.

It was breezy this morning and elsewhere on the grounds of the Art Center these large leaves were waving in the breeze.  I don’t know what plant this is either, the leaves were about three feet long.

That is a new leaf unfurling in front of a mature leaf.  Shooting up close with the the wind blowing the leaves around made for a crap shoot as far as any given image was concerned but with a digital camera and a large CF card, I could take several pictures.  I hate to think of shooting with film under these conditions, one or two shots would have had to suffice; film is expensive.

Here is the mature leaf by itself:

And the new leaf alone:

Worth waiting for.

It was a good morning and I went home satisfied that I had more than I expected to get.  But I will still go back again for that special flower:

One small technical note: both flower shots are actually comprised of three images each shot at different exposures.  They were assembled with the High Dynamic Range tools in Photoshop CS5.  That software is doing its job.

Just a good day to shoot

Some days are a gift.  It was nicely cloudy this morning when I had the dogs at the bark park.  In between throwing tennis balls for Prince and Tuck I was able to get in a few shots.BP_7436

The clouds largely disappeared and later in the morning I was on the Fall Creek Trail at Fort Harrison State Park.  It’s hard to beat an autumn day, a good day for smelling the leaves and kicking through them.  Inside every six year old boy there is a six year old boy.  Inside every 70 year old man, there is a six year old boy. We were having a warm spell and a lot of people were enjoying it.

It being toward the middle of the day, lighting was more harsh than it was in the morning but shooting high dynamic range eased that.  The camera was on the tripod and shots were bracketed plus and minus two stops.  I later combined the resulting three images in Photomatix Pro and was quite pleased with the result.  There are times when I want some of what has come to be called the ‘HDR effect’, an effect that can push colors to the cartoonish side while the range of illumination is taken from, say, 13 stops down to eight or nine stops.  That cartoonish effect can be effective in some situations but not here.  All I wanted to do was compress the range of captured light into the range that can be displayed and keep the colors pretty much as they were.   Here is the result:Fall_Creek_7523_4_5Enhancer

One effect of compressing a wide dynamic range into a narrower dynamic range is that tonal transitions become more smooth and gradual.  Compare the above with this image, the one the camera recommended and was included as part of the HDR work:


This is very nice too but the brightness on the right side of the tree to the right of the path suggests why it isn’t a good idea to shoot at this time of day if it can be avoided.  All in all, a good result with new technology and better yet, a good day to be outside.

Shooting with an agenda?

Our little congregation was putting together a cookbook and they needed a picture of the church for it.  Since the  book was going to press on Wednesday, I went up early on Monday hoping to get a nice picture of the sunbathed  front of the church.  Good idea.  The sky was clear and promising.  I set up and got shot after shot over a period of several minutes but  it became clear that the right image was not going to be there.  And the patched parking lot in front wasn’t helping either.  Nothing much of interest as far as the light was concerned and the shot was poorly positioned and composed.

Not very interesting view of Church of the Saviour

Not very interesting view of Church of the Saviour

I’m a fan of Dewitt Jones and one of his dicta at this point would have been “turn around Barry, turn around”!  So I did and that’s when I saw this.

God beam

God beam

The church is situated on eight acres of ground and I’m sure I’ve looked back in this area before but there was never anything of interest or, better, anything interesting I was prepared to see.  It would have been difficult to pass up this shot in any case but there was another reason it was important to me.  In a few weeks I would be preaching while our minister was on vacation and I planned a sermon built around the idea of spirit and seeing.  I was looking for shots that I could use.

Religious language is very symbolic since it deals with the transcendent and unimaginable.  It is interesting to a photographer to see how often light is part of the description of the transcendent – ‘Light of the world’, ‘your word is a lamp unto my feet’, etc.  I had thought early on that a picture of a God beam would be a nice addition to the sermon.  And there it was.

We humans always have an agenda.  My ‘front of the head’ agenda that morning had been to get a good shot of the church.  One item in my ‘back of the head’ agenda, that vast pool of hopes, interests, and yearnings we all carry around, was to get a shot of a God beam.  I’m not going to argue that God gave me a present with that shot, the real gifts to me in the present context are the continued existence of Barry Lively and a growing appreciation of what there is to see.

Christians often quote Matthew 3:2 – ‘Repent for the kingdom of God is near.’  For some that can take on an ominous tone;  it is time to straighten out our lives for the end is coming.  A Bible scholar I know said that a better translation than ‘repent’ would have been ‘turn around.’ ‘Turn around for the kingdom of God is near.’  Indeed it was.  And is.

After working the God beam shot I still had to get a picture of the church.  I moved up the parking lot about 200 feet and shot from the other direction.  It was a better composition but the light was still not what I would want so I used a technique called high dynamic range (HDR) where I did the same shot (on a tripod) three times, overexposing, underexposing and exposing as suggested by the auto exposure feature of the camera.  The shots were combined in software to produce this image.

A better picture of Church of the Saviour

A better picture of Church of the Saviour

The light is still not great but the glow that came from the HDR treatment was nice.  And as it turned out the publisher changed the image from color to black and white.  If I had known that was what they wanted, I might have settled for one of the first shots I took at the original position and converted it to black and white myself.  I’m glad I didn’t know that.  Otherwise there would have been no God beam picture and I might have settled for a poorly composed picture of the church.  If ignorance isn’t really bliss, at least sometimes it is blissful.