Sunday, September 30, 2007

Panorama: The Indian River Lagoon

I've put a few panoramas on this and my other blog in the past couple of weeks.

They were much easier to work with and to get a nice look with than I ever imagined.

This one that I'm posting here today was every bit as difficult to work with as I thought they all would be.

But I like the result, and learned a few new tricks, so it's well worth it in the end.

I'm going to try to use this one in the title banner of my other blog.

I did my usual Sunday Picture Post on my other blog, Least Significant Bits if you want to go check them out.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Wellness Center

I took these on a photo safari one day in Melbourne Beach, Florida.

This shape of building is a bit out of place here now, what with everyone being so determined these days to build a Mediterranean style house in Florida these days, but it isn't out of range of lots of old buildings here.

The older buildings and homes in Florida are mostly wood frame structures, and this one looks to be really old.

It's in need of a paint job pretty badly, but I'm glad to see this old house given new life as a business, because it sits in a section of this area that has become ultra-prime real estate.

There can be a perfectly nice but old 2 or 3 bedroom home in Melbourne Beach, but the house's value vs the value of the dirt it sits on is negligible, so many folks with the money who want to by-golly live in walking distance to the ocean will buy the house and lot, tear down the old house, and build a two or three story Mediterranean style on the lot.

Consequently, when driving in the area to see how the rich folks live, you might see an older couple lovingly tending the yard of their old, 1100 square foot house, and next door is a brand spankin' new juggernaut of a home. It's starting to look really weird over there.


I liked this old place, warts and all, and that gorgeous, massive mimosa tree out in front of it there.

I used the Orton process, or my digital approximation of it, on that second photo of the Melbourne Beach Wellness Center.

Too bad they were closed by the time I was over there, my aching back could have used a rub. Though I'm not exactly sure what exactly does go on at a wellness center.

I've been spending most of my spare time working on the photos from the wedding that I shot this past Saturday.

I hope to be getting around to everyone's blogs, photos, and leaving comments as I'm able to steal time here and there in the next few days.

Friday, September 28, 2007

New Life for a Dead Tree

When we first moved to Florida and found this park over on the barrier island, this tree was a truly MASSIVE old oak that had huge old limbs sagging near the ground.

Numbers One and Two Daughters would climb in it, and even Lovely Wife on occasion.

Alas, seven years or so ago lightning struck the tree, burning and killing it.

The city of Melbourne Beach, where this park is, had an artist carve these dolphins into the tree as if they were coming up out of the water.

If the tree had to die, at least it now serves as a nice piece of art.

I've been working to try to approximate the Orton process a little better than my previous attempts at it.

While I've done well enough in the past to make photos that please me, they never had that "glow" that using the Orton process on a few frames of slide film does.

I think I finally nailed it with these.

This was exactly the look I was hoping for in all my past attempts.

Now I can use it on each and every photo for the next few months until I drive y'all crazy and y'all beg me to stop.

I'm just kidding. I know y'all won't beg me to stop, you'll just stop coming.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Too Many Rules These Days

As many times as I have been to this park in Melbourne, I've yet to see a boater pause before launching his boat, and reading the signs.

Oh well, they're probably there more to cover Brevard County's behind than anything else.

The stop signs beside the playground, now those signs I can understand.

I've seen lots of folks obey them.

This is one of the parks I like to visit on lunch breaks when I feel the need to get away from work...

...and it's not 95F (35C), or 105F (40.5C) with the heat index (humidity) factored in.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Old Stuff

Working on wedding photos, so I went back and I found a couple of my 35mm slide scans to post here.

This photo was taken in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1984.

I like how the color version looks sunny and inviting, but the black and white version looks like it's about to storm.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Candlestick Bush

The Canna Lilly that I posted on Sunday from the vacant lot across the street from our home, is just a few feet from this candlestick bush.

I love the blooms on this.

And this one is growing wild over there just like the canna lilly is.

I'm working on wedding pictures and only had time to prepare one for today.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Flying Man

This one doesn't really need any comment, does it?

I took this recently over the beach where I was taking the panoramic photos.

I heard the engine and looked up and there this guy was, flying north above the beach, about 200ft/61m above the surf.

It's one of those rare times I wished I could be doing what that guy was doing.

I had the camera on a tripod, shooting the panorama at 1/80 of a second. When I looked up and saw him, I snatched the camera off the tripod (hooray for quick release gizmos) and took three shots.

The slow shutter speed was fine on the tripod, but the pilot's a tad blurry in these photos.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Vacant Lot Across The Street

Directly across the street from our home are two vacant lots.

We've been really surprised that with the housing boom of the past few years they've stayed vacant.

I've seen these flowers grow over there over the years and the other day after work I walked to the edge of the road with my camera and took this shot.

The ditch was full of water from a recent rain, so I couldn't get closer. I zoomed in on it as much as I could and made the shot.

I love the anti-shake technology these days. My favorite lens has it, and the evening I took this I was zoomed out to 200mm.

Anyway, I really liked the photo and the flower just looked amazingly beautiful to me.

It's a little over six feet tall, and there's a clump of them that grows together in one spot on one of the lots.

I looked this guy up, and it's a Canna Lily, a 'Yellow King Humbert' (Canna x generalis)

I have a couple of neat photos posted on my Least Significant Bits blog if y'all want to go check them out. One of them is a black and white photo that I'm really proud of.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Another Great Sky

These photos were taken from our church's parking lot yesterday evening.

I'm shooting a wedding at our church today and when I got to church for the rehearsal yesterday evening, this was the western and eastern skies.

I just stood out there looking at it for a while. Storms had come through earlier and this was how things looked after they moved on and the skies began to clear.

I love all of the different levels, colors, and types of clouds.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I Did Some Research

OK, here are my best guesses.

The plant with the cute little flowers is a Weeping Lantana (lantana depressa), and the blue-black wasp lookin' thingy with the reddish orange wings is a Spider Wasp

Or a Tarantula Hawk (Pompilidae wasp) Apparently they hunt spiders.

I found this info at a site where folks like bugs a lot: Large blue-black wasps, most with orange wings. Some species have orange antennae. Females have curled antennae, males straight

According to that, I'd call this guy a male spider wasp. Why he was all over these flowers, I have no idea.

Now, y'all can take that as true or not. I tried to research the flowers and the bug on the internet and that's what I was able to find.

But you know how it is with the internet; sometimes you don't know if the info out there is accurate, or if my matching ability from the photos I took to what's out there is correct.

And I'm tired of taking pictures of things that look neat-o, but that I have no idea what they are.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Another Panorama

This one was taken at the same place as yesterday's photo, but before I left, I went to the edge of the water and hand held a series of shots to try to make into a panorama.

I basically followed a few simple rules when trying my first panoramic shots.
1. I obtained the ideal exposure for the most important part of the photo, the sunny area in this one, and set my camera to manual and took ALL of the shots in the series at that SAME exposure. That gives the best chance for the images to merge smoothly.
2. I overlapped each photo in the series by at least 1/3 of the frame. This was to give the Elements program the best chance of lining up the different photos correctly.
3. Try to keep the camera as level as possible. I used my tripod mostly, but today's panorama is composed of shots that were all hand-held.

There are attachments that you can buy and use on your tripod to make taking the series of shots for a panorama more exact, but they cost a lot of money, so I didn't buy one.

Since we're on the east coast, we drive over to the beachside (barrier island) and watch sunsets over the Indian River Lagoon.

You get better changes of success by using a tripod, but I also wanted to see how successful a handheld series would turn out.

My Nikon D70s has optional grid lines within the viewfinder which I leave on all the time. They're invisible to me now except when I make a point of noticing and using them.

For this shot, I used one of the lines to line with the far side water line in each photo.

It turned out pretty well.

I'll have to go back one day when it's time for sunset and get one with the outrageous colors that can result.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

In The Frame

I really liked this shot taken of the Indian River Lagoon and decided to frame it.

This is one of Lovely Wife's and mine favorite places to sit and watch sunsets.

On this particular day I was at the end of my energy allotment for the day and didn't wait around until sunset. It's a nice, manicured park in a well-to-do part of town.

I put a couple of new photographs on my Least Significant Bits blog today if y'all want to go over and see them.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I Know, and I Don't Know

I tried to look up what these plants were, because honestly, I had no idea.

I found out that the plant in the first photo is called Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).

The second one, although pretty nifty looking, eluded all of my attempts at finding out what it was. The leaves on the plant reminded me of magnolia leaves, but nothing I could find online under magnolia plants and trees looked like this.

So number one is Buttonbush, while number two is a mystery.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Watch Out For Those Little Guys...

This guy wasn't scared of me. Not one little bit.

To prove it, he did a few push-ups for me.

I took a couple of pictures and moved along.

I wasn't going to mess with anyone who can do twice as many push-ups as I can and not break a sweat. But now that I think on it, I have no idea whether or not lizards even sweat. He might have been at the limits of his strength and been doing whatever the lizard version of sweat is just to try to scare me into leaving.

Whatever. It worked. He won.

The second one is just some wild flowers or weeds maybe. I liked the photo anyway.

Note: I embedded one of my new panoramic photos into the title block of this photography blog. I posted a larger version of that shot on my other blog today, if you care to go over and see it. I'm really liking how doing good panoramas is relatively easy. Easy enough that it's not discouraging, and hard enough that I feel a sense of accomplishment. Cool.

If you go over there, you might want to read and look at my Sunday post. I posted some photos of a Delta Airlines facility tour in Atlanta in the late 1980, when I worked for them. It's pretty neat and interesting.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My First Ever Panorama

You'll definitely have to click and enlarge this one.

I've always wanted to try my hand at doing a panorama.

Yesterday, with camera and tripod in tow, I headed for the beach. I listened to college football on the radio.

It was a tug of war because I like watching American football (college), but really wanted to get out and about after our usual afternoon Florida thunderstorms.

So I listened to the University of Central Florida come within a hair of beating the University of Texas, and also heard University of Florida totally shellac the University of Tennessee.

AND, I got to take a bunch of pictures. I ended up taking well over 200, but probably 80 of those were sequenced shots to attempt to stitch into panoramas.

The one I put on here today was the one that I liked best.

This is the beach at one of our favorite parks here on the Atlantic. The surf was really mild, almost like the Gulf of Mexico. The water had a gorgeous light green color in close, but you can't really tell that in this panorama.

Anyway, thanks to Photoshop Element's photomerge feature, and then a little touching up by your's truly to make the transitions between photos look smoother, I ended up with something I really love.

I can't remember for sure, but I think this was a stitching together of nine horizontal shots, taking in a full 180degrees of beach, from looking left to looking right.

It captures a bit of the feel of walking down the stairs to the beach, and standing there, gazing left and right to take in the scenery.

Hope y'all like it as much as I do. There'll be a few more in the future.

P.S. My new Slik 700DX tripod that I bought a couple of months ago is a dream. It's big, heavy, and solid as a rock. I took my time with it and carefully used the built-in bubble levels to make the series of shots as careful as I could.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

To the Bat Cave, Robin! er, Bat Box! er, Whatever That Is.

I'm tired of naming my posts Real Florida #whatever, though that's still what I'm trying to show you.

They had this box mounted on a tree, and it has a bat painted on it. I don't know if it's a bat feeder or a place or bats to hang out, or what. (Get it? Bats hang out... Ha Ha. Oh well. That's about as high level as my sense of humor has been operating lately.) It was interesting, and there weren't any people at this park for me to ask. Not even other visitors. I had the entire park to myself, which was nice, but I'm not above asking total strangers what that strange box could be for. I'm not normally a person that would speak to strangers, but when my curiosity is up I sure would. But there weren't even any total strangers there for me to ask. No workers at the park either, so I'll just have to imagine it being a hang out or something.

In that second photo, I just liked the way the sunlight looked through what passes for forest in this part of Florida. It was sure hot that day, and I zig-zagged as I could on the boardwalk to try to be in the shade.

It's still really hot here. The sun's definitely at a different angle and it feels like fall in my mind because of this, but the heat and humidity still are screaming SUMMER! Yeah, I know. It's technically summer, but you know what I mean. You look outside and want to go out there and do something and you almost die of heat stroke from the door of the house to the door of the car.

I'm looking forward to late October and November when we finally get a break from the worst of the heat and also that hurricane season ends with November's end.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Real Florida #7

With the hurricanes that blow through here every several years I wonder how a dead tree like this can stay standing. The only thing I can reason out is that the wind can't get a good grip on a tree without leaves or pine needles. I guess a dead tree is more aerodynamic than is a live one.

That second photo is nothing special to Florida, I just liked the shadows and lines. I reckon you can see wooden structures like this pretty much anywhere in the world. But this one was in Florida, so it makes the cut.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Real Florida #6

There are all manner of little air plants like this one in trees down here. I like them; they have lots of character and in my opinion go a long way to making your average pine tree look a more snazzy.

I'm sure that second photo just takes your breath away. It's not every day you see such a grand, sweeping view of saw palmetto plants.

Interesting note: the retired man that lives directly behind us goes out every year with his brother for a couple of weeks and they pick saw palmetto seeds. They kinda look like a small, hard concord grape. Saw palmetto is believed to help men's prostate issues.

It's one of those things that's never been scientifically proven, but he and his brother make a lot of extra cash from their efforts. I guess there's a big market for homeopathic/herbal remedies and they take advantage of this to supplement their retirement incomes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Real Florida #5

After all of my talk about pine trees and saw palmetto, I have to confess that there are hard woods in Florida. Not many, but most trees I've seen in cooler parts of the South will grow down here too. They're way outnumbered by pines though.

There are some of the most magnificent oak trees down here that I've ever seen in my life, and on my walk in the park the other day I took today's picture.

The little sign beside this small tree said that it is a red maple. I'll just have to take that as true I guess because I wouldn't be able to recognize a red maple on my own.

I liked the spotty sunlight hitting the leaves and thought it would probably make a good B&W photo as well.

I decided to practice digitally framing and matting the B&W image and I like it better than the color one.

Same photo, two different takes on it.

I put a couple of pictures of the beach here in the area on my other blog today, if any of y'all want to go over and look at them.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Real Florida #4

OK. I know these two photos are about as exciting as a bucket of warm spit, but this is as Florida as Florida gets.

Before Mr. Flagler, his bulldozers, and trains came to Florida a hundred years ago, this was what Florida looked like excepting rivers and lakes.

Every place in Florida that doesn't look something like these two photos once did look something like these two photos.

Ol' Juan Ponce de León wasn't looking for the pine tree of youth, he was looking for the fountain of youth. If you're looking for fountains (springs), your best bet is in boat traveling on rivers looking for their sources.

Lord knows that there were way too many pine trees to taste test had he been looking for the pine tree of youth. Plus, look at all of that saw palmetto that his men would have had to hack their way through to get to the pine trees.

One day when I think of it, I'll take a couple of pictures of the "vacant" lot across the street from out home. It's much like these photos, only thicker and harder to penetrate.

Sorry to bust y'all's bubble, but even Cinderella's Castle at The Magic Kingdom sits on land that once looked like this.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Real Florida #3

Heading into the park on the pathway.

This is a pretty small park and basically consists of a large loop that you walk around the park on. There are numerous areas with seating for you to take a break, but those were mostly in the sunlight so I passed them up. The pathway was shaded by the trees much of the way.

I would estimate the entire walk to be a mile or so, and even in the shade most of the time, I ended up getting overheated.

Thank goodness that our Camry has a good air conditioner. I had that baby maxed out on the way back to work after my walk.

Also, I posted a nifty photo on my other blog today if you care to go over there and see it. I worked on it last night and really liked the way it turned out.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Real Florida #2

It was such a pretty day, though hot (92F(33C), 98F(37C) with heat index), and it had been a while since I just moseyed around with camera in hand, that I had taken half a dozen shots before even entering the park itself.

I'm proud enough an American to wait for a little breeze to come up and wave the flag a bit against that beautiful blue sky. One soon arrived and I got this snap. Notice the dead trees in the background. Florida is mostly sand, saw palmetto which grow thick and close to the ground, and pine trees. Alive and dead.

The second photo is where they had recently planted some plants to attract butterflies for one of their butterfly gardens. I didn't see any butterflies though.

I guess I was the only moron willing to risk heat stroke by flittering around the park that hot summer afternoon.

Today, on my other blog, Least Significant Bits, I posted six old family photos of my Dad's side of my family. If any of you care to, you can go on over and take a gander.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Real Florida #1

This week I went to walk in a park near where I work.

We all know of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico's nice beaches and tropical look. You've probably seen photos of nice homes with lush grass, flowers, and palm trees. If you have been to a Disney hotel in Orlando, then you've seen the lush landscaping that makes the area look like a tropical paradise.

Most of the lushness is due to watering and landscaping. Florida is really scruffy looking on it's own, without man's intervention.

The park I went to, Erna Nixon Park in Melbourne, Florida is typical in that it simply tries to preserve, inform, and showcase Florida's natural plants.

I ended up with quite a few interesting photos, and since it's been a while since I've had new photos to show here, you'll probably be getting these for a while.

The first photo was taken after stepping out of the Camry and closing the door. The sky looked amazing, framed by the tree limbs above me and the trees across the parking lot.

The second photo is just a zoom on the spiffy clouds.

The final photo is the park's sign. Notice the red "Fire Danger High" sign attached to the left of the main sign. Though we've had decent rain this year, Florida is pretty much totally made up of things that NEED to burn and will burn easily. Many of the plants down here don't drop their seeds until they are scorched by the heat of a fire.

They do lots of controlled burns down here in the forests, but not the city parks like this one so they are always careful of fire.

Man, let me tell you, it was hot! We have to keep the labs at work pretty cold with all the computers and electronics running, so I was glad to get back into the cold air even though I had a really fun time photographing stuff on my walk.

If you feel like reading for a couple of minutes, I wrote about a dream of mine coming true on my other blog today.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Hobbit

"This'll puzzle the nasty little underground creature," Bilbo thought:
An eye in a blue face
Saw an eye in a green face,
'That eye is like to this eye'
Said the first eye,
'But in a low place,
Not in a high place.'

'Ss, ss, ss,' said Gollum. He had been underground a long, long time, and was forgetting this sort of thing. But just as Bilbo was beginning to hope that the wretch would not be able to answer, Gollum brought up memories of ages and ages and ages before, when he lived with this grandmother in a hole in a bank by a river, 'Sss, sss, my preciouss,' he said. 'Sun on the daisies it means, it does.'

I have been rereading The Hobbit, and this particular riddle in that passage where Bilbo Baggins and Gollum have a riddle contest reminded me of this photo.

One of my Kodachrome 35mm slide scans from the early 1980s.

At least I think these are daisies. What I know about flower names and plant names wouldn't fill a thimble.

At any rate, I thought of this photo.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Rerun # 4, or so

It was either this, or nothing today folks.

This is a rerun of a photography related post on my other blog last November, in its entirety. The only change was that I moved the photos to the top in case y'all didn't want to read the text.

A Good Accident

Years ago, and I'm talkin', like, 1984, I had a good accident with my Canon AE-1 camera.

Lovely Wife and I were on the beach in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. It's up in the Florida panhandle (aka the Red Neck Riviera).

We got married in August of 1984, and I worked for Johnny's Pizza House. When I went into restaurant management with them, their unit in Ft. Walton Beach was my first gig as an assistant manager.

We were there until December of 1984, when they closed the restaurant for the winter. That's common out on "the island" as business dropped because of the lack of winter tourism there. As it turned out, the company didn't reopen the store, and sold it. It was too far from the rest of the chain of stores and didn't make enough money, that area wasn't an instant success for the company like opening another store in Louisiana would have been; there was no instant recognition of the company down in Florida.

Anyhoo, when we got packed up to move back to Louisiana, we went to the beach despite the cold weather. Our few months there were like a three and a half month honeymoon. How many people are fortunate enough to live in such a beautiful place when they first get married?

One of those last days, we had gone to the beach and I took a couple of pictures of Lovely Wife. It turned out that these last two photos where the last ones on that particular roll of Kodachrome slide film.

Also, I had apparently neglected to take up the slack in the film when I had first loaded it into the camera, and these last two photos should have only been one photo.

I took the one photo, wound the film, and took one more of her. The film didn't really advance to another section of film, my winding just took up all the slack in the roll in the exposed area, but it also released the camera to take another photo.

What I ended up with was an accidental double exposure.

And I LOVED it.

I've always wanted to take it somewhere to have a lab crop the photo and make a print for me. But, like many things in life, I put this off all these years.

I just came across this slide again this past weekend in my seemingly endless endeavor of scanning and archiving my 35mm slides.

But with the wonders of the digital age, I was able to color correct it just a bit, and make two different crops. So although I haven't printed either one, it's still great to have this accidental winner of a photo in a form I can look at and enjoy.

I submit, for your perusal, the original scan, and the two crops I made. (moved to the top of post)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

When They Were Young

Still don't have any new stuff worth showing, and have been doing a good bit of scanning old family photos and working on those.

Trying to scan a bunch at a time and when I can't sit there any more, I stop. Then later I try to pull them up one at a time and repair them. I found a box with a big envelope with a bunch of loose prints in it, and that's mostly what I've been scanning on the flatbed scanner.

I try to scan them as high quality as my scanner will allow, work on these huge .tif files as much as I can in 16-bit mode and then at some point convert them to 8-bit due to limitations in Photoshop Elements, and finish working on them.

I tend to key in on the people in the photos, dust specks and scratches on their faces and bodies, and if something is obvious on the background, I'll do a bit of repair there too, but I don't worry about that as much as the people themselves.

The first photo here is one of my mother when she was 15 years old. It was marked on the back of the photo that it was taken in July of 1950, which makes her having just turned 15. I don't know what the occasion for the dress was, but I got a kick out of this one with her being a bit younger than in most of the photos I have of her. This print was pretty scratched and I worked on it until I got sick of it, which ususally coincides with my back hurting from sitting at the computer a long time, and I stopped and declared it done.

The second photo made me laugh. That's my Dad when he was 18, just before leaving home for the US Navy. That's his little sister, my Aunt Gayle, sitting there next to him. It was taken in August of 1952. They both look pretty mean in the photo, which is what makes me laugh when I look at it. I don't know if they were caught unaware and hadn't smiled or if they were truly upset about something. This one was in much better shape than the one above of my mother. This one was still in a flip book with a cover along with other photos and had been better protected over the years.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Mom and Dad

Been working on some flatbed scans of some old family photos.

The first photo up there is my Mom holding me, I was about a month and a half old. I was born in October of 1962 and the development date of the film was December of 62. I really liked the focused and unfocused areas in this one. It looks like it was taken with a tilt/shift lens. In reality it was my Mom's Kodak camera.

That's my Big Sis and Big Brother behind us.

I had scanned the second photo sometime last year; it's a 35mm slide scan. This is also me as a little feller being held by my Dad. I love the little Douglas Fairbanks Jr. mustache he has there. And check out all the wood paneling in that house.

Anyway, I worked on the one with my Mom last night, and I thought I would add the one of my Dad as well.