Thursday, June 28, 2012


ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/30 second, 50mm
  My wife has a new flower blooming in the back yard. We have a Cherry Tree that is growing extremely fast and around it, my wife planted some Irises.
  This Red Iris was the last to bloom with a purple and yellow set. The Red Iris appealed to me because it looks like it is made of velvet.
  Last week I grabbed the good ole' 50mm and went out and caught some shots of this gorgeous flower.
  With a large aperture the depth of field was very shallow so the background was a complete blur. The sun was setting to the back and right so it provided a slight back light which highlighted the edges of the flower very slightly.
  When I processed this I didn't do anything out of the ordinary and then I opened the file in OnOne's Perfect Effects Free 3 and found the Tijuana Sunrise filter. This filter casts a redish tint with a slight hint of yellow all over the image. This tint really connected the background with the red color of the Iris and set the shot apart for me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


ISO 800, f/14, 1.6seconds, 19mm
    One of the main things I learned at Richard Bernabe's North Carolina Waterfalls Workshop is how to use the camera's histogram and to get proper exposure in my shots. By learning to properly expose my images, I have started taking smaller amounts of pictures and instead taking properly exposed pictures.
  I am not going to delve into trying to explain proper exposure and the histogram. If you want to learn how to use the histogram and get good exposure, buy and download the ebook EXPOSURE by Michael Frye. His ebook gives the simplest and easiest description of how to use and apply the histogram and get proper exposure.
ISO 800, f/14, 1.6 seconds, 35mm
   The two images in my post today are perfect examples of using the histogram to get proper exposure. Each of these shots is of the same small waterfall on The Roaring Fork Motor & Nature Trail in the great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  When I approached the waterfall, and each shot, I composed the shot and then took a meter reading on a portion of the water, preferably the whitest part, using Aperture Priority settings. I then switch to Manual and use the settings that I got previously. I use Live View on the camera so that I can see a live histogram and so I can set my focal point at anywhere in the frame I want instead of the 7 points through the viewfinder.
  I set my focal point and then check out the histogram. If the histogram is pushed to far to the left, I then adjust my setting accordingly to push it back out to the right. I then take a shot and look at the histogram of the image. If there are "blinky's" or over exposed spots in the shot I will then adjust my settings again to eliminate them and take another shot. Usually, this process only takes a couple of shots to accomplish and when I'm done, I have a nicely exposed shot.
  Now there are cases when you can't get everything exposed properly throughout the entire shot. This is usually when you are shooting a high contrasting scene like bright white water with an extremely dark forest background. This is usually the case with waterfalls. I will either auto bracket when I get my desired exposure for the water and then use the +2 EV image and layer in the forest background or I will take an additional shot with the correct exposure for the forest and layer it in. I have also lately begun to use HDR to get the dynamic range of light blended  with all three shots.
  With today's two images, I was able to get proper exposure throughout the entire shot because the light was fairly even all through the frame. Another great thing about getting good exposure is that you don't have to spend as much time editing the image. These two only had some slight saturation and sharpening adjustments and that was it.

Monday, June 25, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1.6 seconds, 19mm
  Greenbrier is a totally different type of spot in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park than any other place I have been so far. It is more like the Cherokee National Forest and the Tellico River than spots such as Tremont or the Roaring Fork.
  There is still a wonderful river that runs through there and the road follows this river all the way back to the Porter's Creek Trail. It is not very "mountainous" like the other places I have visited so the sun gets a good bit of play along the river. This leaves out the number of green, moss-covered rocks you normally see along the rivers of the Smokies.
  What reminded me most of the Tellico River is the large rocks in and along the river. Some of them getting downright huge.
  This photo shows an example of these incredibly large rocks. The rest of the river is completely blocked from view behind the second set of rocks in the midground of the image. Somehow the water winds through these rocks and even sometimes settles in little pools like that of the of the foreground and create wonderful reflections of the blue sky above.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


ISO 400, f/16, 2 seconds, 19mm
  The one feature of the Roaring Fork Motor & Nature Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the bright green moss covered rocks that litter the entire river. From the smallest to the largest rocks are virtually all covered in moss.
  Several times my buddy Tim Owens and I have stopped to photograph the fork, but it was always after we had hiked to Grotto Falls and the sun was up bright and created harsh light to photograph with. Wednesday morning, Peyton McKee, my daughter Jocelyn, and I set out early with the sole purpose of capturing this beautiful part of the Smokies in better light.
  We stopped several times along the trail and took a number of images. This post is just behind Reagan's Mill. The flow of the stream is paralleled by the overhanging Rhododendrons.


ISO 200, f/14, 3.2 seconds, 24mm
  One big reason that my trip to the Roaring Fork Motor and Nature Trail was so amazing was the explosion of blooming Rhododendrons all along the trail.
  This particular spot was just past Alfred Reagan's Tub Mill. The entire mountainside here was completely covered with Rhododendron and the background of the image shows the white sea of blooms. It was completely breathtaking.
  Way more to come from the motor and nature trail.

Friday, June 22, 2012


ISO 400, f/14, 3.2 Seconds, 19mm
  My mother is always talking about how beautiful Rhododendron are. I have never seen one bloom until just a couple weeks ago and I would have to say that I agree with her.
  Yesterday, while photographing at the Roaring Fork Motor and Nature Trail in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the Rhododendron were absolutely taking over. This picture that I have posted today was the first stop along the trail and these Rhododendron were hanging just perfectly so that I could place them as a frame on the left side of the image opposite this lovely waterfall. The trees in the background were also blooming and connect the foreground and background together.
  Later posts will show just how awesome the blooming trees were in the Smokies.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


ISO 800, f/14, 1.3 seconds, 19mm
  Spending our vacation in Pigeon Forge, TN this week allowed me the opportunity to get out into the Smoky Mountains and do a little photography. This morning, I left just before sunrise with my daughter, Jocy, and Peyton McKee. Peyton is a teenager who has expressed a genuine interest in photography and since we were sharing a cabin with him and his family I extended an invitation to join me on my photog excursion. He excitedly said yes.
  Even though Peyton did not have an SLR or even a tripod to set his camera phone type camera on, he did a remarkable job hand-holding his camera and got several beautiful images. He said he had a great time.
  We explored the Roaring Fork Motor Trail on the edge of Gatlinburg, TN. The Motor Trail winds around 10-11 miles in a loop and is home to one of my favorite trails and waterfalls, Grotto Falls. Just past Grotto Falls, the Roaring Fork Creek joins up with the road and follows along side it. One of the biggest things that drew me to the Roaring Fork was that it was loaded with plush, moss-covered rocks. You very seldom saw a rock that wasn't completely green with moss.
  We came to a spot along the trail that had an old mill and I noticed this long rock that pointed the direction of the river and I had to take a shot of it with the cascades in the background. Not only did I shoot this rock but I coerced my favorite model to crawl on top of it and capture her laying on it. I have said in the past how much I loved it when Jocy joined me on a photography run. I was especially glad when I came home with this one. I always seem to get her in an image when she goes.
  Was extremely happy with the visit to the Roaring Fork. The Rhododendron were in full bloom and just covered the mountainside and made for a beautiful morning.  More shots featuring those Rhododendron and the Roaring Fork to come.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


ISO 1600, f/2.8, 1/200 second, 50mm
  Visited the Hollywood Wax Museum in Pigeon Forge, TN on Tuesday. The very first thing you see is this large statue of King Kong with his mouth wide open and a nasty look on his face. Couldn't resist snapping a shot of the big primate and catching the fire in his eyes.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Casey set to make his move  { ISO 1600, f/2.0, 1/640 second, -1 EV, 85mm)
  The 3 week high school basketball camp swing started a couple of weeks ago. Friday and Saturday I got to go watch my son Casey and his team play 5 games. On Friday, I was going to experiment with some remote strobes but instead just started shooting away at the Tennessee Wesleyan College gymnasium.
  My shots were turning out very clear and crisp and I was achieving shutter speeds of 1/640 to 1/1250 second which I don't normally get with the 85mm Cannon 1.8 USM lens. I wasn't going to com.plain though cause I liked to outcome.

ISO 1600, f/2.0, 1/1250 second, -1 EV, 85mm
  After the first game I noticed that the EV settings on my camera were set to -1. This is usually turning down the exposure a full stop. And it was, but it was also adjusting the shutter speed to compensate and giving me the faster speeds to stop action. Wow! This was totally unexpected.
  I immediately started experimenting with shots at -2 as well. I did get even faster exposures, but the image was too dark to even pull anything out in Camera Raw. -1 continued to keep plenty of light and fast enough shutters to make really good images. Who Knew?

ISO 1600, f/2.0, 1/400 second,-1 EV, 85mm
  If I continue to shoot next year's basketball games I will definitely mark this little tidbit away and apply when I shoot.  Now this may have been caused by shooting in the daylight every game and getting some additional natural light (and probably is). But, you never know.

Friday, June 15, 2012


ISO 200, f/20, 1/3 second 19mm
  A few years back, I used to drive by Kahite Golf Course every morning on my to work. I swore to two things back then, I would someday play that golf course (it is a beautiful course) and that I would someday take a photograph of this creek that runs out to and underneath the road from the course.
  I have yet to play the golf course so one of my swears is still undone. Yesterday, however, I did keep true to one of those swearings. The day before, there was fog hovering above the ground along the golf  course but this scene was tainted with a landscaper's golf car sitting on the hill. I was very disappointed and heartbroken.
  Thursday, though there was no fog, the cloud cover was really beautiful and the sun was just peaking above the horizon and directly over the point where the creek vanishes in the background. The sun provided some nice light on the creek and the large tree on the left side of the stream reflected in the creek with it.
  Don't know which hole is just in front of the rising sun but you can see the cart path just under the sunflare. Maybe someday I'll be able to tell you which hole it is and what I scored on it. Today, it will just have to be the remaining of the two swears I have with Kahite.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


ISO 100, f/8, 0.5 Seconds, 19mm
  It was a banner morning for photography this morning. I woke up early enough to catch some of the best light I have seen at sunrise this year.  A storm passed through over night and the back edge of the front was still hanging around for the sun to cast golden light onto.
  This is The First Baptist Church right here in downtown Madisonville, TN. It is pretty much the tallest building in town (unless the courthouse is taller they are very close) and I have been trying to catch some dramatic cloud movement for background against this church for some time now. When I drove through town on my way to Kefauver Park I saw the awesome orange light against the clouds and just had to stop and take some shots.
  I had to take an extreme angle, which I actually like, because if I backed up any more the power lines from right over my head would creep into the shot. The extremely angle allowed me to fit the crescent moon into the shot just to the right of the steeple as well. The clouds almost cover it up, but it still peeks through enough to make it out.
  Processed this as a 3 image HDR in Photomatix Essentials and then applied my new favorite Dreamland filter to the sky to soften it up and really enhance the colors.

Monday, June 11, 2012


ISO 100, f/5, 1/200 second, 50mm, -1 EV
  With rain pouring down the biggest part of the morning, the option for shooting a sunrise this morning was not happening. Fortunately, though, the rain subsided before lunch and around noon I walked outside with my camera gear and worked the flowers blooming in the circle island in the front drive at work.
  TWI has a flagpole in the circle drive right in front of the front entrance. The flagpole is surrounded by a cement island that has tall, beautiful pink and yellow flowers that have been blooming for a couple of weeks now.
  The rain drenched these flowers all morning and the water was dripping off of them and that always makes for some fun photography.
  With my trusty 50mm 1.8 lens mounted I started shooting flower after flower trying to get that macro-like shot. Trying to get a little larger depth of field than I usually do with this type of shot, I set the aperture at f/5. I then opened the on-camera flash which automatically fixed the shutter speed at 1/200 of a second. I used the flash for a couple of reasons. One, to help minimize my shake with a handheld shot. Two to get some catch lights in the water droplets.
  This particular shot is cropped considerably due to the fact that it was shot with a 50mm lens and not a macro lens. Someday, I would love a macro lens but for now, the 50 will just have to do. The only other special processing I performed was using OnOne Software's Dreamland effect from Perfect Effects 3 Free. My wife and I both though it added a tremendous effect on the image with the soft focus and cutting out some of the detail and drawing more attention to the water droplets.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


ISO 800, f/14, 2 seconds, 19mm
  Gosh what a great morning up at Spruce Flats Falls in Tremont of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Even though the rain caused our excursion to be cut short, we still got a good 2 hours of shooting at probably my favorite waterfall in the Smokies.
  Tim Owens, Matt Millsaps, and I made the 2 mile hike zig-zagging up and down the mountain side. This is a fairly easy trail with the exception of the rocky outcroppings and tree roots that you have to climb over in some spots. It tended to be really hard on my old ankles and knees. It is well worth the effort when you arrive at this majestic 20-30 foot waterfall.
  This particular shot is very similar to one I took at the end of last summer here and processed as a black & white.  There was a bunch more water in the stream than before and I understand exposure and heck of lot better so I wasn't sweating taking a similar composition.  As a matter of fact, last year's shot had a great deal of blue tint in it from over doing the processing and being slightly overexposed. That was the reason I performed the black & white conversion.
  Something else I did different with this shot was apply the Dreamland effect from OnOne Software's Perfect Effect 3 Free. I only used it at 50% opacity in Photoshop Elements before merging the layers so it wouldn't be completely soft-focused but would still have a soft, dreamy look to it.
  Lot's more images to share from this morning. I'll give you a hint, the Rhododendron were in bloom. WOO-HOO!

Saturday, June 9, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 3.2 seconds, 19mm
  Friday morning was almost a bust as far as photography goes. Although I was out early enough, finding something that jumps out at me and screams "Take my picture". I happened to notice some thick fog crawling along one of the small farm hillsides on a back road that I had not traveled on before.
  This old barn seemed to be a good candidate for a subject against the foggy background. This neat wooden post provided the foreground element with the fence row and road side leading the eye through the shot.
  The sunlight in the background was blowing out the shot instead of providing morning color so I converted to black and white with OnOne Software's Perfect Effects Free 3 using the Secret Formula effect.

Friday, June 8, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 0.6 seconds, 35mm
  Got out to shoot some more this morning and found myself near the riding  stables at Rarity Bay Golf/Lake front resort community. This horse stayed more still than the other 3 that were grazing together in front of the main barn. Awesome golden back light supplies by the sun. Just needed to position this tree limb so that the sun didn't completely overpower the frame.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/6 second, 20mm
  I found myself with an unusual situation tonight. My wife was working and both of my kids were spending the night with friends.  I found myself having to spend the evening all on my own.
  I knew I needed to take advantage of this by getting out and shooting some pictures of some kind. I just didn't know where to go. This was a sudden happening so it caught me by surprise.
  I ended up driving around with the hope that something would present itself along the road. Nothing.
  I ended up pulling into Keafauver Park in Madisonville. If you have never been to this park, it has a large walking trail that surrounds a rather large pond (could be considered a small lake). There are baseball fields and basketball courts and a couple of pavilions and playgrounds. The pond is the centerpiece, though, so I walked around the pond searching for a composition to catch my eye.
  It didn't take very long. The first thing I noticed was this Weeping Willow tree that was right on the bank of the pond.  The sun was peaking through the spaces in the branches and setting it up for a nice sunburst through them.  I aligned my shot so the shadows of the tree created leading lines from the foreground to the beautiful tree and sunburst.
  Didn't realize until I was posting this that a duck happened into the frame just under the tree. Would have probably cloned this out in Photoshop Elements if I had noticed it, but after looking, I kinda like there. There are so many ducks and geese on this pond that it really give the shot a piece of Keafauver Park to have it in there.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


ISO 100, f/14, 1/25 second, 24 mm
  This was my first image taken at Fort Rosecran's National Cemetery at Pt. Loma in San Diego, CA back in January with my good friend Erik Kerstenbeck. The Memorial Day holiday that just past jogged my memory of this beautiful cemetery and all the other National Cemeteries where the brave men and women that have fought for the freedom of this country are buried.
  The very first thing that leaped out at me when we arrived here was the angles that could be created just by walking a couple of steps to the right or left. The long rows of headstones formed a perfect triangle shape that peak at this headstone marked "His Wife - Margery Grace". Because I didn't pay attention to the wording on the headstone when I took the picture, I don't know who Margery Grace's husband was. Wish I would've looked around and found out who, but the thought didn't creep in at the time.
  I have tried to process this image a few times in the past, but not since I purchased Photomatix Essentials a couple of months ago. This morning I ran it through the HDR processing and was very happy with the outcome.

Friday, June 1, 2012


ISO 800, f/20, 6 seconds, 19 mm
  It's amazing the difference a few months makes. Tim Owens and I visited the Middle Prong Trail in Tremont of the Great Smoky Mountains back in October and the fall color was just awesome. Last weekend we revisited the Middle Prong Trail in the height of Spring color. What a difference!
  In the fall, there were a lot of colorful leaves on the ground and still in the trees that just lit up the forest and river sides. The Spring brings a green cover over everything from the rocks to the trees. It also brings higher water levels with full streams and faster water.
  Which do I prefer? If I had to make a choice, it would be the fall. The colors range from yellow to orange to red and even though the water levels are lower, they are easier to maneuver in. I love both seasons, though and highly recommend revisiting locations in every different season because they change all the time.
  Picture details: Just downstream from Lynn Camp Falls on the Middle Prong of the Little River. Huge, moss-covered rocks create little cascades along the river.