Sunday, December 9, 2012

Mathers Bridge, Indian Harbour Beach, again

Nikon D90, Nikon 18-200mm lens at 28mm, f/16, 1/2sec, ISO 800

As I walked back to my van yesterday evening, I looked back at the bridge and had to stop for a couple of extra shots.

I love the deep blue sky at dusk.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Mathers Bridge Lights

Nikon D90, Nikon 18-200mm lens at 105mm, f/22, 1/30sec, ISO 800
One "corner" of a local drawbridge; Mathers Bridge in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla. 

I arrived just before sunset yesterday (Fri. 12/7/12) and in only a few minutes the sky turned from so-so to amazing.

I'm so glad I stopped and got out with my camera.

I was able to get some really good sunset shots but also some really interesting ones of the bridge's structure.

I liked the light in this shot and did a Photoshop Elements approximation of the Orton process on it.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

After Sunset, Sebastian Inlet, Florida

Nikon D90, Nikon 10-24mm lens at 10mm, f/16, 1/40sec, ISO 800
After sunset one day at Sebastian Inlet State Park.

Sebastian inlet is on a barrier island and is the nearest water access from the Intracoastal Waterway to the Atlantic Ocean from where I live in Palm Bay.  This is about fifteen miles south of our home.

In the photo I'm standing on the south shore of the inlet, and the camera is facing west and a bit north, back toward the mainland.

I could barely make out that wood stork there on the left, so I turned on my flash and held it up in my left hand pointed toward him.

My aim was a little off, the light from the flash hit mainly just short of of the stork, but the flash startled him and he flew away.  No chance to re-aim my flash for a second try.

I like this shot anyway, though it's not great.  The deep colors in the photo really bring back to me how pretty and peaceful it was there that evening.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sunset in Palm Bay, Florida - Friday, Nov. 23, 2012

This afternoon (Friday, Nov. 23, 2012) Lovely Wife and I went out to a park at the western edge of the town we live in.

There weren't but a couple of wispy little clouds in the whole sky, but the colors of the sunset and afterward were very dramatic anyway.

Usually a partly cloudy sky really helps make sunsets more colorful as they catch the colorful light, but clouds weren't really needed today.

Good times.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Max Brewer Causeway - Titusville Florida

This past Saturday evening, Daughter Number One and I drove up to Titusville, Fla. and went to the ocean at Canaveral National Seashore.

The sunset was good, not great, but as we headed home from the park I saw the Max Brewer Causeway lit up and very pretty in the fading blue light of the sky.

We pulled over and tried for some time exposures of the bridge and crescent moon.

A front had come through and the temperature was dropping and the wind was blowing very, very hard.

I have a big, heavy tripod and although I blocked the wind as much as I could with my body, I could see that many of the time exposures of the bridge were slightly blurry when blown up large on my computer.

These two photo came out the best of the bunch.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Shepherd FM1000 Electronic Flash Meter Instructions (update 3/29/16)

Do you have a  Shepherd FM1000 Electronic Flash Meter, but do NOT have the instructions?

I'll email you a copy of the instructions that I wrote for this meter.  [As of March 29, 2016, I still get requests for these instructions about twice per week, so I'm still sending them to folks.  My email is below, feel free to ask and I'll send it along to you.]

I bought a Shepherd FM1000 Flash Meter  from eBay a while back.(it also meters ambient light)

My reasoning was that I could use it for both my occasional flash/studio setup type photography and also use it as an ambient meter with my old Kodak and Zorki cameras which have no built-in meter.  This older meter didn't cost me much; very much in line with how frequently I use it.

No one that I can find has placed the instructions for this 1980s era meter on the internet.

I can find a copy machine copy of the Shepherd FM1000 Flash Meter instruction manual, but I refuse to pay $13 for a photocopy of it, I paid a couple of dollars more than that for the friggin' meter!

Using the FM1000 meter for both flash and ambient light work is not rocket surgery, so I just wrote my own instructions.  I used the instruction manual for the somewhat different Shepherd XE-88 Flash Meter as a basis for terminology of the parts and to get my instructions to have a similar feel to a Shepherd manual.

I'm just writing this post in case someone in the future searches for a copy of the Shepherd FM1000 Electronic Flash Meter Instruction Manual.  Hopefully search engines will list this post as a link and they'll see this.

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!
The site now has a .pdf copy of the ACTUAL Shepherd FM1000 meter manual linked on their site!  They are asking for a super-reasonable $3.00US if you decide to download it.  This official Shepherd FM1000 manual is in English, French, German, and Spanish.
Here's a link to the Butkus site's page for the Shepherd FM1000 meter.  This page has a donation link for you to give to them for their kindness in finding and scanning the manual, as well as a link, near the bottom of the page, for the .pdf of the manual.

If you still want a copy of my incredibly verbose version, just email me as in the next paragraphs and I'll send my manual along to you as soon as I see your email.

Note about the actual manual;  I FREAKIN' KNEW THERE WAS A BATTERY CHECK FEATURE.  I'll have to update my version to include this for completeness, and to assuage my OCD in these matters.

I have the Shepherd FM1000 Flash Meter instructions in both Microsoft Word (.doc) and .pdf versions and if you need them, email me at mastersja at and I'll email back to you whichever version you prefer. (That email address is current as of 3/29/2016)  (Version 4 of the instructions is available as of Monday, May 5, 2014. Email me for an updated copy if you have an older version of the instructions, see the version number in the file name.)

If you receive a set of instructions from me, please read them carefully and let me know if you find mistakes that I need to correct. (I DID go to Louisiana public schools, so there are probably some mistakes and I'd appreciate your help finding them so that I could correct the document.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Nikon P7100, lens @ 202mm (35mm equiv.), f/6.3, 1/100sec, ISO 1600
This butterfly was nice enough to pose for a while on one of Lovely Wife's flowers out by our swimming pool.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Out To Sea

Nikon D90, Nikon 18-200mm @ 200mm, f/5.6, 1/30sec, ISO 800

We were at Sebastian Inlet, about twenty miles south of our home, and it was almost too dark for photos.

This one fishing boat was heading out to the Atlantic, and I did an old school panning at a slow shutter speed and took about eight frames.

This was the best of the bunch and I really like the way it turned out.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Black and White #39

Nikon D90, Nikon 18-200mm @ 200mm, f/16, 1/400sec, ISO 200

Stopped on the side of A1A while we were heading north.

The late afternoon sun was reflecting on the water, a simple thing that never fails to lift my spirits.

In addition to the sun on the water was this one sailboat moored out in the Indian River Lagoon (Inter-coastal Waterway).

I though the major contrast would look good as a B&W.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sea Turtle Egg Nests

Nikon D90, Nikon 10-24mm @ 10mm, f/16, 1/80sec, ISO 800
Yeah, it's a pretty unimpressive beach shot, but see the stakes in the sand with orange tape around them?

Those are turtle egg nests.

Lots and lots of sea turtles lay their eggs on the coast here.

If you were a mean person and wanted desperately to get into trouble, digging up a turtle nest here will get you into all the trouble you could possibly handle.

I have always wanted to see the baby turtles hatch and try to get into the Atlantic.

I'm not even sure when that happens.

Anyway, it's still a really neat happening down here, sea turtles laying their eggs.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Surf's Up!

Nikon D90, Nikon 18-200mm @ 60mm (=90mm), 1/40sec, f/11, ISO 1600
Nikon D90, Nikon 18-200mm @ 18mm (=27mm), 1/30sec, f/16, ISO 1600
Ron Jon's Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach, Florida is a must-visit when family comes to town.  It's such a fun, cool place to explore, even if no one in your group surfs.

Shirts, jackets, hoodies, pants, skate boards, surf boards, and most every type of souvenir that you can think of plus many you would never have thought of can be found here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Rykman Park Sunset, Orton Treatment

Nikon D90, Nikkor 10-24mm lens @ 10mm (15mm in 35mm equiv.), f/22, 1/30sec, ISO 800
Looking west across the Indian River Lagoon (Inter-coastal Waterway).

This was a sunset after it had rained most of the day.  Did a digital version of the Orton process to this one.

My Big Sis was visiting from Louisiana, and her first day here it rained most of the day.

We went out in the afternoon after the rain stopped, though it was still overcast.  We could see that the sky was clearing a little over the Atlantic, so we went over there to see if it would clear up more.

We took her to our favorite sunset watching spot, Rykman Park in Melbourne Beach.  The western sky cleared as the day ended and we witnessed one of the most colorful sunsets I've ever seen in sixteen years living in Florida.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fishing Boat, Sebastian, Florida

Nikon P7100, f/8, 1/2000s, ISO 400, lens @ 37mm (173mm in 35mm equivalent)

We live in Florida.

Most of my family lives in Louisiana, a sixteen hour drive away.  We don't see each other much.

My Big Sis became a huge Keith Urban fan a number of years ago, and bought a Sony super-zoom point and shoot camera to take concert pics with.

Her desire to learn the nuts and bolts of photography to help her take better photos of Keith Urban led her to take numerous camera courses and join a camera club.

She upgraded to a Sony A55 slr and she has become a really good photographer.  Lots of natural talent, and a great sense of composition.

Big Sis visited our family in early July, our first time together since she has "gotten into" photography.

We had a really great time during her visit.  The east central coast of Florida has lots of good photo opportunities that cannot be found in northeast Louisiana.

One evening we all went out to eat at a great seafood restaurant in Sebastian, Florida, called "Squid Lips."

While waiting for our food Big Sis and I went out on the pier behind the restaurant.

I was struck by the late afternoon sun on this particular boat.  Of the photos I took of it, this was my favorite.  Not really sure why, but this one strikes a strong emotional chord within me.

I think it might be that late-day sunlight that always imparts such a peaceful feeling to me.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Neighbor's Banana Tree

Nikon D90, DX Nikkor 10-24mm lens @ 10mm, f/22, 1/125sec, ISO 200

Our neighbor, across our back fence, planted a banana tree.

It has gotten tall enough to reach over and see what's happening in our yard.

Testing out my used, but new to me, Nikon 10-24mm lens I bought on ebay.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Time Exposure 1

Yesterday evening, Sunday, Lovely Wife and I went over to the "beachside" (barrier island) to watch the sun set.

Too many clouds blocked the best part of the show, but then I began to take some time exposures after it had gotten pretty dark.  It was nice to sit and feel the cool breeze after a really hot day.

Rykman Park pier in the Indian River Lagoon, Melbourne Beach, Florida.

Nikon D90, Nikon 10-24mm lens at 10mm, f/22, 38 second exposure, ISO 200.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Kloiber's Cobbler Eatery

The orange door there is the entrance to Kloiber's Cobbler Eatery.  (say THAT ten times fast)

This was taken in Titusville, Florida.

I'm sorry to say that I didn't see the word "cobbler" as we drove by and I took this photo, otherwise I would have yelled stop for a cobbler break.

I love me some cobbler, and little hole-in-the-wall places like this are usually outstanding places to eat.

So now I'm left plotting a trip back to Titusville, a town I don't go to very often.

Plus, this older part of Titusville has a great mix of old and new buildings and re-purposed buildings like this one.  Lots of great colors mixed with the old brick building styles.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pritchard House, Titusville, Ga.

This is the house and yard on the other side of the weedy fence in my previous post's black and white photo.

Just to show how completely ignorant I am of achitectural styles, I though this was a Victorian home.

Well, it ain't.  It's "an outstanding example of the Queen Anne architecture, a distinctly American form that was popular from approximately 1876-1910."

Whatever, it's still a beautiful place and seemed strange to see such a stately old home in Florida.  (i.e. it's not cinder block and it's not painted in Key West pastel blue, green, or yellow colors.)

Note the beautiful landscaping and compare to the other side of the surrounding fence from my previous post.

The Pritchard House was built in 1891.

added later, (Technical note:  I've been learning to correct distortion in photos, and adjusted this one to correct that building-leaning-backwards look from having used a wide angle lens pointed upward.  Now I need to learn to leave a little more space around my main subjects when photographing them to allow for the bit of cropping needed after a perspective correction like this.)
Original leaning-over-backwards look.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Black and White #38

This was taken at a beautiful old historic home in Titusville, Florida.

The yard on the other side of this fence was manicured and beautiful.

But on the street side of this obviously high-quality and expensive fence it was Weed City.  As someone who grew up cutting lawns for people, I can't imagine a worker with any self respect not taking ten extra minutes with a weed-eater to trim outside this fence. 

But I'm not them I guess.

I've been trying some different techniques in Photoshop Elements 9 to get nice, contrasty black and white images.

This is not a great photo, but I was able to get a range of tones here that I do like.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Crane Creek Promenade on a Saturday Morning

Not much to say here.

This walkway along Crane Creek in Melbourne, Florida, and the Melbourne Harbor Marina in the distance, is close to home and a great place to walk, photograph, and otherwise enjoy the beauty of Florida.

My second try at jumping on the HDR bandwagon.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Gone Fishin'

I was impressed that these teens were out net fishing just after dawn on a Saturday morning.

Sometimes when I'm out wandering and photographing things, I take a photo that doesn't impact me at the moment of pressing the shutter, but when I get home and see it on computer, I really, really like it.

This is one of those photos for me.

About three weeks ago, I had a sleepless night with my back and about dawn I decided to get my camera and go take some photos in the morning sun.

Lovely wife is an early riser and woke up before I left, so we went down to Melbourne Harbor Marina, one of my favorite local photographic haunts.

We parked in a park next to the marina, the Crane Creek Promenade, a nice walk along the banks of Crane Creek. (Which is a great local place to see and watch manatees. Sadly, no manatee sightings on this morning)

The marina is located at the mouth of Crane Creek where it meets the Indian River Lagoon.

I used to get up at the butt-crack-of-dawn when I was a teenager and go fishing for bass in the local bayous in Monroe, Louisiana with my friends way back when, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to see these fellas doing it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

Taken at the Melbourne Harbor Marina in Melbourne, Florida.

If I'm stumped for somewhere to go with my camera, I can always head to this marina.  Boats change over time so there's usually something new to see and photograph.

And few things are as varied as a marina during different parts of the day. Morning is one kind of beautiful, and sunset is another kind of beautiful.

We (Lovely Wife was with me on this particular Saturday morning) usually park up the road at a local park called Crane Creek Promenade - Manatee Viewing Area and walk along the creek until we get to the marina.

Sadly, there were no manatees in view on this morning.  It has gotten warm enough that they move out to the Intracoastal Waterway, and the ocean.

This sign was put up since my last foray into the wilds of this fairly upper crust boating area.

I have no idea what most of the pointers are pointing to, must be to placed boaters care about that a land lubber like me would not understand.

P.S.  I have always HATED that friggin' Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign song by the 5 Man Electrical Band.  Even as a kid when it was originally out.  Don't get me started on Tesla's 1980's version.  But, as often happens, years of unintentional hearings of the song have left me with many of the lyrics memorized.  It popped into my head while uploading this photo.  Now I'll have to start iTunes and play some King's X to input some good rock 'n roll into my massive cranium.

Monday, May 21, 2012

My First Stab at an HDR (-like) Photo

I've never been much of a jumper-onner.  Bandwagons hold little appeal for me.

This psychological trait is probably a result of the overall mental state that also has me preferring the life of a loner.

So as the High Dynamic Range imaging made possible and popular by the attributes of digital cameras has been all the rage for several years now, I've never tried to get this look in my own photos.

Yes, I certainly have many photos that I thought could have benefited from this technology, but at the time of their "taking," I did not use a tripod or take a bracketed set of the images.

A couple of weeks ago, after a sleepless Friday night (back pain), I grabbed my camera and bag and got ready to go somewhere local and take some early Saturday morning photos.

My wife wakes early, and came with me, and we ended up on a walk around a local marina that I like to visit for its beauty.

I ended up trying my hand at HDR with this scene at Melbourne Harbor Marina in Melbourne, Florida.  It's located on the mainland where Crane Creek meets the Intracoastal Waterway.  (Our local section of the Intracoastal Waterway is officially the Indian River Lagoon.)

Anyway, it's certainly not a great photo, but I found that I tend to like my HDR photos a little less harsh than many others I have seen.  Many seem to have the "HDR look" screaming at me.  I also added a little softness to the photo to give a bit of the dreamy quality that helps the photo impart some of the emotional impact I felt walking around a beautiful area on a beautiful morning.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Stress-free DSLR Sensor Cleaning

I've never been afraid of the coming days when I knew I'd have to do some serious dust removal on my D90 sensor despite the many, many, many, many articles on the interwebs on just how delicate a job this is.  So freaking delicate a job that you should pay to send your camera off to have a "pro" do this for you.

Maybe it is because, as a digital engineer who has worked hands-on on outrageously expensive electronic prototypes for fifteen years, I have lost the fear of working on something that cost a mere $800.  (I know that was a terrible sentence, but I don't feel like rewording it.)

For nearly the entire year of 2011, as I languished at home on long-term disability with my back, I kept my eye on certain items on the internet, eBay, Amazon, etc., that I wanted to buy as Christmas presents for my family and myself.

My thoughts were thus, these items that I had identified, would, over the course of the year, be found at a fantastic price somewhere before Christmas.

I was largely successful in this, and sure enough, we had a very "lean" Christmas that was in fact pretty good because of my "great deal" purchases spread throughout the year.

One item that Santa brought me was a Promaster CCD/Cmos Sensor Cleaning Kit.

My electronic sensor cleaner built into the D90 finally was unable to remove several stubborn dust specks that appeared in my shots enough that I was sick of editing them out.

So a couple of days after Christmas, I opened the sensor cleaning kit, read the instructions a couple of times to be clear on the process, and used the little rubber tipped thingamajigs to touch to the D90's sensor and then to touch to a little plastic looking pad in the kit to deposit the offending dust.

I did this enough times to cover the entire surface area of the sensor and used one of my "studio" backdrops for small items (a pale poster boards from Michael's crafts store) and verified quickly that the offending dust specks were, in fact, GONE.

So, if you aren't afraid to clean your own DSLR sensor, and know you don't really need the "wet" type sensor cleaning, I can personally highly recommend the Promaster CCD/Cmos Sensor Cleaning Kit. The link there takes you to the one page instructions with photos so you can see the kit and how easy it is to use.

Doing this yourself only takes a few minutes, literally, and you're done for a while.

This kit is about $35US on Amazon, and I set an ebay search for one and got mine for less than $20, shipped.  If you need it NOW, it's worth the full $35 in my opinion, but patience, and careful internet searching for this kit can get it to you for a good bit cheaper.  Mine just happens to be the Promaster brand, but the same exact kit is also sold under other brand names as well.

About the photo:  As a kid, one of my very favorite Hot Wheels was the Red Baron.  Several years ago, there was a release of larger, more detailed versions of Tom Daniel's custom hot rod designs.  This version of his Red Baron shows the backdrop I use for small items, and nary a dust blob in sight.

I know it's not a great photo, but I have begun my long-avoided reading and experimentation on photographing in a portable studio setup with a multiple wireless flash system.  For a landscape and outdoor photography guy like myself, this is an area of photography that I'm definitely having to learn to crawl, pull up, and walk all over again.  It has been fun so far, but I know I have a long way to go for dramatic lighting.

But this Red Baron photo was so nice and devoid of dust blotches that I was totally excited.