Saturday, January 31, 2015

Egret Landing

Nikon D90, Nikon 18-300mm lens at 300mm, f/5.6, 1/500 sec, ISO 200
I took some photos of this egret as he was coming in for a landing at Blue Cypress Conservation Area near Fellsmere, Florida, and I liked this one the best.

I'm not great at photographing birds in flight, but this one came out pretty decent to me.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Gator Jerky

Nikon D90, Nikon 18-300mm lens at 240mm, f/11, 1/400 sec, ISO 200
Signs for gator jerky are pretty common in Florida.  It's sold on the side of the road like fruit and vegetables from the back of folk's pickup trucks and at small stands.

I haven't had the guts to try eating it though.

Yeah, this photo is a bit soft, but in my defense, I was driving.  There were no cars as far as the eye could see, either in front of me or behind, so I slowed to a stop in the road.  That didn't prevent me from being nervous, as if doing something wrong, and snapping the shot so quickly that it's a bit blurry.  I probably could have sat there a whole minute at least before another car came along, but I don't break rules easily or effectively.

Still, I finally got a photo of a gator jerky sign, a very Florida-y thing to see.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Blue Cypress Conservation Area, near Fellsmere, Florida

Nikon D90, Nikon 18-300mm lens at 18mm, f/22, 1/8sec, ISO 200
This past Sunday, I went a few miles south of Fellsmere, Florida to the Blue Cypress Conservation Area.
The day was as pretty I've ever witnessed in my 52 years, just gorgeous with a high of 65F (18.3C).
The Blue Cypress is basically swamp.
Lots and lots of birds, but they are hard to photograph because there are airboats back and forth through all the waterways all day long that cause the birds to fly from place to place a lot.
This was a stretch of swamp along a walking path where I could get away from the boat ramps and boats coming and going.
I approximated the Orton effect in this photo.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Favorite Photo of Atlas V Rocket Launch, Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Nikon D90, Nikon 10-24mm lens at 10mm, f/16, 139 seconds, ISO 200
Crop of above photo
I live about forty miles (65km) south of Kennedy Space Center.  You've heard of that.
Just south of Kennedy Space Center is Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where many rocket launches also happen, especially US military sponsored launches (Secure military base).  This puts this photo having been taken from about thirty miles south of the launch, as the crow flies.
This was a US Navy satellite being lifted to orbit on this Atlas V.
I knew the launch was that day, but sat, searching Google Earth for a good local location to get a time exposure shot of the launch.
I settled on, and went to Ballard Park, set up and took a few practice shots and waited.
When I saw a big portion of the sky light up behind those palm trees, I started my exposure.
This is one of my best photos I've taken in a long, long time.

The second photo is a crop of the first.
I just loved the way the light through those clouds looked there above that home and palm trees.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


I just kinda liked how these crinkled, knocked crooked signs looked. 

I guess such things as this sign never get looked at again after being placed, to see if they need adjustment or repair.

It reminds me of Ebenezer Scrooge's line in A Christmas Carol, "Time will erase it at no cost to us."
Nikon D90, Nikon 18-300 lens at 120mm, f/11, 1/100sec, ISO 200

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Low Clouds on the Beach

A couple of weeks ago (Jan. 8th), I was having a bit of "cabin fever" and got out with my camera even though it was cloudy and yucky looking at home. 

When I looked toward the Atlantic, the sky seemed to be clearing up, so I took a chance and headed out.

It cleared up some before sunset, but the low clouds over the beach looked kinda dramatic.
Nikon D90, Nikon 10-24mm at 10mm, f/22, 1/160sec, ISO 800
Nikon D90, Nikon 10-24mm at 10mm, f/22, 1/160sec, ISO 800

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ron Jon Surf Shop Custom Dodge Magnum (Photos From My Archive)

I was looking through some of my photos from years past and thought I'd post a few today.

These are of a Dodge Magnum station wagon nicely customized in the style of a 1940's Woody, for Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

They were taken in 2008.
Nikon D70s, Nikon 18-200mm lens at 20mm, f/4.5, 1/1250sec, ISO 200
Nikon D70s, Nikon 18-200mm lens at 36mm, f/4.5, 1/1000xsec, ISO 200
Nikon D70s, Nikon 18-200mm lens at 31mm, f/4.2, 1/1000sec, ISO 200

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pelicans in Palm Bay (the body of water)

Nikon D90, 18-300mm lens at 300mm, f/9, 1/125sec, ISO 200
I live in Palm Bay, Florida, about equidistant from Jacksonville and Miami.
Many who live here don't know that there is a body of water on the Indian River Lagoon (Intracoastal Waterway) that the city is named after.
I was on the sidewalk, walking along the shore of Palm Bay when I heard a racket and turned to see this pelican starting his take-off from the water.
My camera was set for rather sedate landscape shots, not action photos of birds taking flight.  But, without time to change settings, I fired off a bunch of shots, hoping for the best.
The above photo was the best of the bunch of the pelican taking off.
I do like the way his wing tips are a bit blurred and you can see his wet stomach and drops of water falling off his tail.

Nikon D90, 18-300mm lens at 300mm, f/5.6, 1/400sec, ISO 200
The above photo of the two pelicans and the boat coming into the bay is one of those photos I took just calmly pointing here and there and taking photos of what looked to be decent compositions.
After getting the photos on the computer and going through them, I found that I really liked this one.
It's a good "storytelling" photo, it has distinct foreground, middle ground, and background subjects, similar to how stories have a beginning, middle, and ending.
The background buildings and land are on the barrier island across the Intracoastal Waterway.  That's some prime real estate out there.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Timed Exposures, Palm Bay (the body of water), FL

Nikon D90, 18-300 lens at 18mm, f/11, 30 seconds, ISO 200
This past Sunday afternoon 1/4/15, I had the urge to get out and about with my camera.  I was heading to the beach to see how the Atlantic was looking, and never made it there.

The light was so good that I stopped on the side of the road on the way to take some photos of a train track / road crossing, and then stopped at this park on the Intracoastal Waterway, officially known in this area as the Indian River Lagoon.

This park, Castaway Point Park is on one end of the body of water named Palm Bay, after which the city is named.  (or it may be that the bay was named after the city, I don't know for sure)

I had taken photos all through the sunset and then turned and I thought the park itself looked pretty with the lights throughout the trees and took one last photo, this 30 second exposure.

It turned out to be one of my favorites of the day.

This next photo, I had taken about fifteen minutes prior to the above one.  It is looking to the Florida mainland from the pier I was on, toward the city of Palm Bay, across the water of Palm Bay.

I liked this one too, how, although the sky was almost dark, the 1.3 second exposure allowed a beautiful blue sky to appear in the photo.  That's streaks of car's lights along US highway 1, which runs from Key West up to Maine.
Nikon D90, 18-300 lens at 18mm, f/5.6, 1.3 seconds, ISO 200

Monday, January 5, 2015

Michael Dolsey Designs MD335 Deluxe Guitar Photos

My homemade light strips from my previous post were used for lighting to take these photos of my most recent guitar adoption, an orange, Michael Dolsey Designs MD335 Deluxe.
Nikon D90, Nikon 18-300mm lens at 52mm, f/13, 1/30sec, ISO 200
I have had severe g.a.s. (guitar acquisition syndrome) for years concerning a jazz type guitar.

My fantasy is the Gibson L-5 CES, but at $10,000, it's way out of my budget.  I looked at more reasonably priced copies of the L-5, but I ended up deciding to get a Gibson ES-335 style guitar instead.  I can get jazz tones, but also rock out as needed.

No need to go into too much detail about guitars on a photography blog, so I'll just say that I have been pleasantly blown away by the beauty, tone, and playability of this Michael Dolsey guitar.  I fully expected to have to change out the pickups soon after purchase, that's happened several times over the years, but this guitar is spot-on what I wanted in tone, right out of the box.

If I had to be nit picky, I'd say that I would love for this guitar to have a fat neck instead of the very slim one that it actually has.  But, having said that, this is the only guitar I have ever kept that had a skinny neck.  For some strange reason that I cannot seem to put into words, this slim neck works well for me despite my much preferring fat necks on guitars.  I'm not arguing with success, and the pickups have a great classic vintage Gibson PAF type tone that I love.  I knew after playing it a while on the day it arrived that I would NOT be changing these pickups, ever.  I haven't moved the action or pickup height or anything, the complete setup was perfect out of the box.  Again, no reason to mess with success just because I like to tinker.  The only change is cosmetic, I took off the pickguard. I don't like pickguards on archtop guitars like this and my Les Paul.
Nikon D90, Nikon 18-300mm lens at 18mm, f/22, 1/30sec, ISO 200

Sunday, January 4, 2015

My DIY Versions of the SaberStrip Photo Light Modifier

Nikon D90, Nikon 18-300mm lens at 18mm, f/4, 1/30sec, ISO 200

I had a desire to buy or make some strip lights to use my old Nikon SB-28 flashes in and make better photos of my guitars, and the guitars of my friends who often have me work on their guitars for them. (One friend has a room full of Gibson Custom Shop guitars he has me adjust and work on for him. I can't give them back without taking photos and playing them a bit.)

First of all, if I had the money, I'd have bought two real SaberStrip light modifiers.  They look to be pretty amazing, and would be perfect for photographing guitars.

But, being on a fixed income (disability, ruined back), I wanted a cheaper alternative to the $135/each that a SaberStrip costs.

I am not much of a do it yourself person, but when things REALLY interest me, I can be quite handy.  (Like learning to do guitar adjustments and some types of guitar repair.)

I first searched the interwebs to see what kind of DIY versions of this device would be out there, and I was not disappointed, and quickly made a list of things to buy and also sketched some modifications to "improve" the homemade strip light for my personal use.

Hats off to Mr. Andrew Birklid, whose own DIY "Saver Strip" was the design I followed closely in making my own.

If you visit his site and instruction, you'll see that, compared to my photo of mine above, I cut holes near the bottom of the tubes to allow me to place and remove the flashes as needed, but more importantly, to reach in there and make setting changes to the flashes while in use.  The real SaberStrip requires that you take the bottom of the tube off and make changes and put the thing back together again before more shooting.

My version allows on-the-fly flash setting changes, which works great in reality.  In the end, for about $120, less than the price of one real SaberStrip, I made two, bought two heavy duty light stands, and two adapters for mounting the strips on the light stands, PLUS a new large photo tent.  That's the kind of financial efficiency I can live with!

Here's a photo of my finished DIY light strips in action on my Les Paul Studio guitar.

Sweet!  And they work wonderfully.
Nikon D90, Nikon 18-300mm lens at 34mm, f/13, 1/30sec, ISO 200

Saturday, January 3, 2015

First Methodist Episcopal Church, Fellsmere, Florida

Nikon D90, Nikon 18-300mm lens at 25mm, f/18, 1/400sec, ISO 800
This is the First Methodist Episcopal Church on North Broadway Street in Fellsmere, Florida.

Lovely Wife and I were out for a drive one day and ended up in Fellsmere, about twenty miles south of where we live in Palm Bay.  This gorgeous little church was looking great in the afternoon light, but alas, due to time constraints I just had to take the photo from the window of the car.  Not enough time to get out and roam for better angles.

I thought it had been a house that had been converted to a church, but we later learned it was not built as a home, it was built in 1924 as a church and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Homemade Mailbox, Fellsmere, Fla.

Nikon D90, Nikon 18-300mm lens at 52mm, f/11, 1/60sec, ISO 800
Yeah, it's not an exciting photo, but sometimes you don't have time to create "art" and you want to record something you like.

I really liked this old, homemade mail box in Fellsmere, Florida.  Lovely Wife was kind enough to stop the car and I jumped out took a photo of this old charmer.

He has lots of character, even if I wasn't able to get creative.