Monday, December 31, 2012


ISO 400, f/5, 1/500 second, 22mm
  Oh come on, you've done it. Driving along and you see cows grazing in a pasture next to the road. You lean outside and say, "mooooo". You half expect the cows to mo back, don't you?
  This morning I was driving along Highway 411 between Madisonville and Englewood and noticed a large herd of these black and white cows laying around near the fence line. What the heck, I stopped and had a shot of a group of them looking at me hanging around in my head. Unfortunately, my shot never developed.
  When I approached the fence I expected the cows to walk away but they did the complete opposite. Everyone of them came up to the fence and checked me out. This killed my first idea. Then the man that owned them drove into the pasture in his tractor and placed a large hey roll out for them and the crowd thinned out.
  There were two that still hung around to see what I was up to. I took the camera off the tripod and squatted down low to shoot through the fence to get an up close shot. I bumped up the ISO to 400 and opened up the aperture to f/5 to make sure I got a quick shutter speed. Cows don't usually stand still for very long. I fired off some shots and this one stood out.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/15 second, 19mm
  There have been several times that I have though about stopping and photographing this barn. It sits on Highway 68 between Madisonville & Tellico Plains, TN. I actually tried one time and was sadly disappointed at the results.
  Today, however, with the trees barren of their leaves and the sun setting low just behind the barn, the scene pretty much framed itself. Tremendous blue skies with gorgeous white clouds streaking across made for a great background. All I had to do was move myself until the sun was perfectly arranged to sunburst of the roof of the barn.
  With the bright sunlight I had to bracket the frames and do an HDR. The main thing that I wanted to maintain is the long shadows from the trees and the barn that were reaching out at me.

Friday, December 28, 2012


   Just to continue with my obsession of photographing hey rolls. I was out this morning driving around between Sweetwater and Madisonville and stumbled upon this field. These two rolls were leaning up against each other and the sky formed really well behind them blocking the sun just enough to get some detail our of the clouds. I grabbed a vertical shot as well with the blue sky and clouds almost forming an arrow pointing down at the rolls.
Was hoping to get back to East Tennessee and see some snow on the Smokies but was disappointed to see none at all. Hopefully, as the new year creeps closer, we might see some snow on the mountains.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/6 second, +0.7EV, 19mm
Oncoming clouds Sunday morning at Paris Landing Marina. Seemed like they were oncoming for a 1/2 hour or so. Was very cool. Jimmy Denham and I took advantage of the opportunity to catch such a neat cloud formation.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/8 second, 19mm
  The lake was like glass at Paris Landing Marina on Sunday morning. So much that you can't even tell where the height gauge stops and starts.
  Had to climb a bit for this shot. Scaled down some rocks to get low and catch the entire post and the rock & leaves in the foreground as well. Pretty scary considering that the rocks I was climbing on were covered in leaves and not sure of my footing on them.

Monday, December 24, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/10 second, 24mm
  For about a half an hour yesterday Jim and I were treated to visual show put on by a group of clouds that stretched their way across the sky. They started out bursting above the horizon like and explosion and just continued to get larger and stretch out and up across the sky.
  Earlier, I had been out at the end of the fueling dock shooting the sunrise with a small sailboat at the end of the next dock named "Fiddle". When this neat cloud formation encompassed the entire sky it dawned on me to run back to that spot and catch a reflection of the same composition. The water was just like glass the entire morning and made for a fantastic reflection.
  We captured this cloud formation from in front of the marina with the lake height gauge and I will share a shot from there in a later post.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1/10, 19mm
  One of the best things about Christmas vacation is getting together with my brothers and my sister. And when that happens, there is usually a couple of photography excursions with my brother Jim. These turn out to be the highlight of my vacation. Being able to share the love of photography with him has kept us close even though we are hundreds of miles away between East Tennessee and Minnesota so when we get together and shoot it is usually a very special experience.
  This morning we were quite puzzled as to where we were going to take pics. So we just got into the car and drove toward Paris Landing State Park and ended up at the Paris Landing Marina.
  Fantastic choice! Mother Nature cooperated quite well, too. Giving us some dramatic clouds and wonderful light with a glass like lake. Unfortunately, our access to the entire marina was cut off by the security doors so we were bound to the main building and the gas pump dock. We made the best of it though.
  This shot is a product of my new Manfrotto tripod being able to get my camera right down on the deck behind this cleat that was aptly prepared to tie down an incoming boat that needed gas. The back light from the rising sun absolutely made the shot wonderful for me.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


ISO 800, f/11, 2 seconds, +0.7EV, 19mm
  The new year will bring some new opportunities for me. Trips to Florida, Japan, and the Outer Banks in NC will take place in January, February, & March respectively. Those should all provide me with some fantastic photographic possibilities and am very excited about each of them (with the exception of the 14 hr plane flight to Japan).
  One of the neatest things that will accent my photography is a new Manfrotto tripod. I was very happy with my Dolica carbon fiber tripod but little things like sticking legs and loose grips really started getting old. I got a little more on a bonus at work than I expected and I treated myself to a new set of Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod legs and a 804RC2 Pan Tilt tripod head. These new items are going to take some getting used to.
  First, the legs are awesome! Rock solid Aluminum and without extending the center column stand at my eye level. My Dolica stood roughly 6 inches lower than my eye level and the difference is subtle but well worth mentioning.
  The center column extends and then can lay over on its side to both move the camera away from the legs and hold a very steady portrait orientation. This was a feature that I am very excited about. I can set the legs low and still get the camera right down on the ground if I need to. With the new 3 way pan/tilt head I can orient the camera in landscape in this position as well. Very cool.
  Speaking of the new tripod head, this will take the biggest adjustment for me. I am used to a ball head on my Dolica and moving the camera into position is very quick and easy. Now I have 3 different handles that revolve, tilt, and pan separately and if I have 2 or more loose adjusting at the same time gets very odd and confusing. I'm sure I'll get used to it and am will to be patient for the opportunity that this will give me in both being sturdier and being able to do some neat abstract photography  that I couldn't do with the ball head.
  Today is the first time I've been able to put the new gear to use and so far I really like it. There are two minor drawbacks that I am willing to deal with. 1)the tripod is a load to carry. The thicker aluminum legs are much heavier than the carbon fiber of my old Dolica but this also means they are much more sturdy and strong. Hiking with these sticks will get a little more strenuous but I need the exercise anyway. 2) That aluminum get COLD! It was in the high 30's this morning shooting and when I grabbed that bare metal it was a bit cold to the touch. I will just have to make sure I grab one of the two legs with leg warmers on them or make sure I wear my gloves.
  Today's post was taken this evening on my way home from work and couldn't resist the half moon hovering above the windmill just around the corner from the house. Very cool sunset tonight too so bright blue color surrounded it with some pink and yellow sunset color to the bottom of the frame.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 5.2 seconds, 19mm
 Winter has been wishy-washy with us here in East Tennessee this year. We will have 4 days with 65 degree temps followed by 2 days of 40 degree temps and mid-20's overnight.
  I actually like those nights when the frost gets to settle down on everything. As the sun rises in the morning, it burns that frost off and creates wonderful things like fog and that makes for fantastic photography.
  Friday morning saw a beautiful sunrise off of a frosty night and I found these few hey rolls anchored in this field right on highway 411 in Vonore, TN. My initial thoughts were to display the colorful sky and yellow/orange light behind them. The frosty conditions, however, turned my thoughts to black and white and getting a more wintry feel that was more the case with the frost that morning.
  Who knows, we may see some snow in the mountains in the next few weeks and I am just dying to get up in the Smokies and capture some of that wonderland when it happens.  We can only hope.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


ISO 100, f/20, 1 second, -0.7EV, 19mm
  Friday gave me an opportunity to get some early morning photography in as I got to work. Something I have never noticed before was this life preserver station hanging on a post on the floating dock. It is extremely dirty from the elements taking their tole on it from years of not having to be used over the years.  As soon as I looked at it I thought of Gilligan's Island and the preserver that they displayed the actor's faces in at the exiting credits.
  The sky was blue and pinkish just before the sun came up and the fog was floating across the lake. These made for some fantastic background.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


  One thing that was definitely prevalent with the Canon 5D Mark III was the full frame sensor. When I shot Bald River Falls on Sunday afternoon, not only could I fit way more into the frame but it made it very easy to expose the shot throughout. Even though I did some in-camera HDR, I really didn't need to.
  This is my favorite image from Sunday's shoot at the falls. The only true post-processing that I did was burning on the rocks and the foreground water and turning down the exposure on the sky visible at the top of the shot so it wasn't blown out.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


ISO 200, f/20, 0.8 seconds, 19mm
  I have been renting a Canon 5D Mark III for the past 4 days and all I can say is WOW!
  I shot some basketball, a wedding, and this afternoon I shot some nature shots over in the Cherokee National Forest along River Rd. Even though I didn't even touch the surface of the capabilities of this phenomenal camera, I learned enough to know that I will own one someday.
  There are a ton of things about it that I was impressed with. The full frame sensor, the high ISO quality, the amazing focusing. The list goes on and on.
  I played around with something this afternoon though that just blew me away. In-camera HDR. Now I know there are a lot of cameras out there that have this functionality. But I have not experienced it until now. On top of all of the incredible stuff, this was incredibly fun to play around with. You can autobracket +/- 1, 2, & 3 EV into an HDR on the camera and it will shoot the brackets and blend them in a separate shot. There are 5 tone-mapped settings from a natural setting to extremely painterly settings. You can toggle that it takes an HDR on one single or shot or that it stays on with every shot you frame up. I really liked the tool and enjoyed using it.
  With a beauty of a sunset starting to unfold I stopped and set myself up on a bridge that spanned the Tellico River that allowed me to have a great vantage point to the sunset and a small reflection of it on the river.
  I was patient enough to stay until the pinks and oranges were striking the clouds that streaked overhead and and fired off a few sets of brackets until the color passed on by.
  Now one thing that I learned form FADE TO BLACK posted by Richard Bernabe is that even if you use HDR, that you still need to keep in mind the actual tonal range of the scene and that even though you can expose the foreground in the HDR, it may be better to let the shadows of the scene still be a silhouette. I kept that in mind for this shot and just let the trees and shoreline stay black and actually made them darker in Lightroom.
  Doing this let the sky and the color of the sunset be accented instead of the boring dead trees detract from it. I let the HDR blend the colors going on in the sky in the natural mode in the camera and they really stood out against the dark hourglass shape of the treeline and it's reflection.