Category Archives: Photography

Our World – HDR Photography the Easy and Inexpensive Way

I am a picture taker, not a photographer, I don’t give a flip about f stops, RAW format, and shutter speeds and all the rest. I just want a decent photograph. One thing that I find a really difficult is taking decent photographs when the subject is in a shadow, or when there is a lot different shadows and sun on the subject. It drives me crazy. I found out something this past weekend about a way to overcome, at least partially, these problems.

I was at the Philbrook Museum and I was trying to take a photograph of one of my favorite sculptures there, “Prayer” by Allan Houser. I have never had much luck. I decided to try the “Bracketing” function for the exposure setting on the “P” mode of the camera. I have a Canon Powershot SX40 HS and I understand that the “Bracketing” setting is pretty common. Basically on that setting the camera takes three shots, one with the correct exposure, one underexposed, and one overexposed.  So the shot above was the correct, the one below is a little overexposed, and the one below that is a little underexposed.

Next, I found a website once I got home Fotor HDR Software that combines the three photographs into one. It also has to do some other magic like correcting for the movement of the camera  while you are taking the the three exposures. 
The result is called an HDR photograph. HDR stands for “High Dynamic Range” where by taking multiple images and combining them one can get a photograph closer to what one sees with their own eyes. Check out my friend Wikipedia HDR for more information. Back to the Houser Sculpture, below is the result.

Houser Sculpture Philbrook HDR

I am really happy with this. Everything looks better.  I’m sure that there is software out there that can do the thing a lot more handily than the web site. I’m not into software though. I like to do everything on the cloud. Software requires updates and then moving the software to a new computer is always a hassle. I’m intrigued by the Photoshop model now where you kind of rent the software. I’d love to hear from somebody who is doing that to see how it is working. I notice that Paintshop offers HDR tools and you can buy it for $80. I have an older version that I could upgrade but it was verrrryy slooooooowww. I have a new computer but I don’t want anything that drags.

Feel free to correct me if I have the whole HDR thing wrong. I’m just now getting into it. Also if you have information about other websites or software that can do HDR I’d love to hear about that also. 

Below are some more pics from Philbrook that I did the exposure bracketing and then processed them through the Foto HDR site.

Philbrook Tulips HDR

Red and very dark purple tulips.

Hippo HDR Philbrook

This is a good example of a subject that is hard to take a photograph of due to its shadowy setting.

Philbrook Tempietto HDR

The Tempietto is the signature structure of the gardens at Philbrook.

Philbrook HDR

This is Philbrook built by Tulsa Oilman Waite Phillips in the late 1920’s and then donated to the City of Tulsa in the 1930’s. It houses an outstanding art museum. Check out the Philbrook Museum of Art‘s web site for more information.

Anyway, I feel that I have discovered a great tool that anybody with a rather modest camera can use. I’d love to hear from other people who use HDR imaging.

I’m linking up today with Our World Tuesday.

A Tale of Woe in Four Photographs

#snapseed #spooky #creepy #apartments #downtowntulsa #igersok
How can a place be sunny and dark all at the same time?

Sunday was a great day, cool, sunny, and clear. Heather went shopping with her Mom.

Logan and I decided to go close to downtown to see what what we could see. I took along my Holga 135 PC Pinhole Camera.

Logan at #cainsballroom in the #bradydistrict #tulsa #oklahoma #igersok
Kid has never heard of Bob Wills.
Did you know that Bob Will’s grave is a virtual geocache here in Tulsa?

We checked out Cain’s Ballroom, or at least the sign and Reunification Plaza, the Meadowgold Sign on Route 66, and ONEOK Field.

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We never figured out what the deal was with the shopping carts. We liked the color though.

We checked out the murals behind the Living Art. I shot a whole roll of 36 exposures.

I dropped them off at Walgreen’s and then came home. Heather came home and we went to the Rib Crib for some Q.

#selfie by Logan at #livingarts #mural #art #publicart #downtowntulsa #oklahoma #igersok
How do you like my new girlfriend?
She certainly has a full set of teeth.

After the Q, I went back to Walgreen’s and not a single exposure was usable.

Bummer.

It was still a good day though.

Thank Goodness for Smart Phone Cameras and Ipods.

Brushing, Falling, Rotating, Double Exposing, Scraping, Burning Roundup and How Obamacare has Ruined our Medical System

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(When she says no photos cuz she isn’t wearing makeup, she is not kidding. I don’t think she needs makeup btw.))

We had storms starting Saturday night and all day Sunday. I lost track but I think we pretty much had it all. Snow, Freezing Rain, Sleet, and Ice, we even had some Thunder and Lightning. Of course this being Oklahoma we were just glad we didn’t have a tornado. The only thing Heather knew to do was get some paint and clean rollers and start painting. She is good at it.

#sunrise on the #beach #alabama #redneckriviera #tinyplanet from last summer dreaming of this summer

My blog friend East Gwillimbury Camera Girl intrigued me with a “Tiny Planet” photograph of hers. She told me that she uses Photoshop to make hers. I’m lazy and I’m too cheap to buy Photoshop so I found a Tiny Planet App for my generic android phone and I’ve been trying it out. Above is a dawn scene at Orange Beach Alabama. All this snow has me wanting to go get my feet wet in the Gulf of Mexico again. Seriously go check out East Gwillimbury Camera Girl. She is a very good and prolific photographer.

#tinyplanet #snapseed #brick #windows #downtowntulsa #oklahoma

This is my favorite brick wall in downtown Tulsa. All rotated and Tiny Planeted.

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And here is the view out my old cubicle window.

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And just when you can’t stand any more, I have more. This is sunset on the banks of the Arkansas River. I promise, no more. Today at least.

@thedianasblog #DianaPhotoApp #DianaPhoto #DoubleExposure #Diana #photoApp #myEdit #like #camera #vintage #art #insta #instaphoto #nofilter #trail through the city #igersok

I found another app for my Ipod Touch. It is called Diana. It is about double exposures with different filters. Its fun to play with but it takes a while to find pleasing results. I like the trail through the city above.

Logan Diana Double Exposure

And this is our neighbor’s big willow tree and son Logan. (Not my neighbor’s son you understand.) I like how the willow drapes around his shoulders. I’m not much for the SOOC concept. I don’t think it means much with today’s cameras. I don’t think it ever meant much.

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Anyway, paint, snowstorms in March, and new apps are the only changes around here. I’m getting about that age.

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The past few months I’ve had some lesions froze off my face and hands. Monday I got a persistent little bugger scraped and burned. Wasn’t that big a deal except a big headache after the local wore off. I have a tiny little bandage. The nurse said if I wanted she wrap my head with layers of gauze to get more sympathy. I told her no thanks, I’m with a tough crowd. So I got the little bandage. A plain one with no cartoon characters. And no sucker. Thanks Obamacare, thanks a lot. You took our suckers away.

Alan's Profile Photo

So I’m going to upping the defcon level on SPF and wide brimmed hats and long sleeve shirts in direct sun. I’ve worn sun screen 365 days a year for over twenty years and I always wore hats. But they were ball caps. The front of my face, including the world’s biggest solar collector nose is fine. It was the side of my face that the ball cap didn’t cover that was the problem. 

Hey so what’s new with you?

Skywatch Friday – Waning Crescent Moon

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Last week I noticed one evening that the moon was setting down our street so I went and grabbed the “good” camera and a tripod and set it up for some delayed shutter action and took some shots. I think they are okay for what they are given the world’s brightest street light was lined up with the moon.

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When I zoomed in my superzoom things got a little better but still kind of grainy. I think you call this a waning crescent moon because at the time the crescent was getting smaller every night. Then of course we get the new moon and then the crescent starts growing until we get a half moon and then when over half the moon is illuminated it is the gibbous moon. I have gone my whole life and not noticed the word “gibbous” until recently and now I see it everywhere.  Stuff like that happens all the time to me. I see a word that I swear I have never seen before and after I look it up I see it everywhere. I guess it means that I’m either really slow or I’m still learning, or maybe both.

MoonConnection.com has some excellent material on the moon and moon phases. Check them out.

Skywatch Friday

Holga 135PHC – Pinhole Camera – Second Roll

I’ve been experimenting some more with my new pinhole camera. This time I loaded it up with some ISO 100 speed film which is pretty slow. Some of the shots required up to 45 seconds of exposure time. Sunny shots required about two to five seconds. Needless to say a tripod is required. Keep in mind there is no lens. Instead the camera has a whole 0.25 mm in diameter. Which of course is pretty small. So it takes a while to get enough light in there to take a photograph. The PinHoleMeter iphone app that I have on my Ipod Touch is invaluable for this process.

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First I went to Centennial Park on Friday. It was quite overcast and so the exposures were taking a while. I know the pics are fuzzy but I like them anyway. I am not saying that they are good, just that I am seeing some possibilities. I think they have a timeless quality about them.

Centennial Park Fountains

Another pic that makes me think that I need new glasses.

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I’m kind of in a bare branch tree mood these days.

Swan Lake Fountain - Pinhole Photography

They next day was Saturday. The sun was out Saturday and brightened up everything. Plus I had a cable release in addition to the tripod. I was having to hold the shutter open before and that adds to the unclearness. Anyway Saturday I was at Swan Lake Park in midtown Tulsa. With the extra light the colors pop out a lot more.

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And again, I like the timeless touch and feel to these photographs.

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And I like the deep colors.

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Anyway, I’m still having fun with my new camera. It is amazing to me that one can get photographs without a lens just a tiny hole.

Lessons learned so far. I think that I get far better results with the 400 speed film rather than the 100. So I’m going back to the faster film for my next roll.

Have you been amazed by anything lately?

Pinhole Photography: Holga 135PC – First Roll

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My MIL Nana gave me another film camera for Christmas, a Holga 135 PC. It doesn’t have a lens, it has a small hole (one fourth of a millimeter) where the lens is supposed to be. This is getting back to basics on photography. It has a manual shutter also. The shutter opens when you press the button and closes when you release it. This is because very little light gets through the pinhole and thus the shutter needs to be open for an extended time.

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In bright sunlight you just open and close it as fast as you can. For shots in shade it may require up to 10 seconds. Inside shots can require a minute and a half.

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(This is our dove nursery. We always get at least one dove nest here every year. Last summer I think we may have had three. Not all at the same time. We try and leave them alone and not stress them out.)

These cameras are known for making soft dreamy shots. Also, there is no focusing as it has a large depth of field.

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The hard part is figuring how long to expose the film. A lot of chatter on the web about buying light meters and blah blah blah. Fortunately there is an app called PinholeMeter that I downloaded to my Ipod Touch. It uses the Touch’s camera along with the fstop and film speed to give you an exposure time. It worked great. Complicated light situations like the above are fun. I took readings on the rock wall, the shadowed glass, the wreath, the hedge, and the shadow. I got widely different exposure times so I used the wreath setting. As a result the rock got a little overexposed. It makes me appreciate all the ciphering that a digital camera does when it sets the aperture and exposure time.

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(My tree shadowed on my neighbor’s wall. So you legal experts out there, who owns the shadow?)

All I need now is a “Take the Lens Cap Off” app. I took about ten shots before I realized that the lens cap was still on. Oh well.

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(I love garden decorations. You don’t have to water them for one thing.)

I took the first roll of shots in and around the house just to test it and the app out a little bit. I am really pleased with the results.

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(Neighbor’s willow tree. Pretty but I hate those long strings that fall in our yard. They don’t mulch very well when I mow the yard. They don’t rake up very well either.)

Of course this camera requires a tripod because of the exposure times. I am also going to get a cable release for the shutter. Anything to cut down movement of the camera is helpful.

Backyard Wheelbarrow
(Old school red wheelbarrow. How do you store your wheelbarrow?)

These images were made with 400 speed film. I have now loaded it with some slower 100 speed film and will be taking it out and about a little bit.

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(I see lots of opportunities for double exposures.)

I love my digital cameras but there is something about film that really gets me. The richer colors of film, the nostalgic look, I don’t know exactly what it is but I just love film. I know that film in general and pinhole cameras in particular are pains in the butt and the effort is worth it to me.

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(Hey, how about a shadow selfie. Holding down the shutter.)

What did you get for Christmas? Tell us about it.

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Skywatch Friday – Pretty Blue Skies and then it gets Bad.

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Here is a big ole artificial tree downtown next to a temporary ice rink. I wandered over there during lunch one day to check it out and decided to take a shot with my small Nikon point and shoot. Don’t ask my why I tilted it like that. I’d have to tell you that I felt like it and that may strike some people as being a little cheeky. So don’t ask. I do promise you that I hadn’t been drinking though. Note the shadow of the tree to the left. I’m telling you that for a reason, so take note of it, please.

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So then I went to the other side of the tree and using one of my plastic film cameras, the Lomography La Sardina I took another pic. Note that the shadow of the tree is to the right. Got it?

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So, then I thought, “What can I do with this tree?” So I went and stood in the shadow of the tree and took a picture of the tree with my film camera so that the sun was behind the tree. Then, without advancing the film, I turned turned the camera ninety degrees and took a pic of some ornamental grass nearby. So I got a double exposure of the grass on the tree.

Just what you always wanted right, a brown tree. Boy, I can tell you can’t wait until you see my next invention. You have to admit that the sky in the first pic was pretty. 

Okay, well check the link below and check out some Skywatch Photographs posted by people who actually know what they are doing.

Skywatch Friday

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Christmas with the “P” Setting on the Canon SX40 HS

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(A little over the top on the lighting intensity but that is how I’m rolling with my P mode this days.)

My “big” camera is a Canon SX40HS Powershot. It is a nice point and shoot with a Superlens which combined with great low light capabilities makes for great concert photos and is “concert legal” because it is is small and doesn’t have the separable lens. The only time I’ve ever been interfered with is at a Sting concert last year at an Indian casino in Thackerville, OK and all the ushers were doing was waving their finger at me. I’d put the camera away for a little while and then resume when they got busy waving their finger at somebody else.

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(I think ice and Christmas lights go well with the P  mode.)

Anyways, the camera has been pretty much locked into the “A” for Automatic setting most of the time unless I used the low light option at a concert. I was using maybe 1% of the camera’s capabilities and I was okay with that.

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The problem was that I was a little frustrated with several things. First off, taking pics inside under artificial light often gave everything a yellow cast and then taking pictures of things like Christmas lights didn’t turn out very satisfying. Also, taking of back lit objects led to dark shadows. I learned to live with all that. I don’t strive for perfection in my photos, I just forge on ahead and go with it.

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(Heather and Rascal, with no yellow! And some detail on Rascal. He usually comes out as a black blob.)

But recently I’ve learned about the “P” setting on my camera and a whole new world has opened up. It’s got adjustments for everything that has been troubling me. It gets the yellow out of inside shots. It has ways of correcting the exposure on back lit objects. You can emphasize or deemphasize colors. I feel like I have a whole new camera!

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(Nana, the world’s great MIL and Fiona.)

Sure, I read the manual a little bit but the fastest way to learn this stuff is via Youtube videos. My favorite are those made by an English lady who goes by “Snapdragon.” Here is her 5 minute video on the “P” mode.

I just love her voice. I understood her perfectly on this video. On some of her other videos I had to replay certain sections and I still had no idea what she was saying. Is their an English to Okie hack out there so I can get a translation?
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So, I’ve been playing around with it. The bear shot above would have been almost impossible before I used the P setting. Now, I’ve learned how to get the camera to using the right exposure.

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This is the kind of shots I was getting before learning the P setting.

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I love inside shots without the yellowish tint.

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And how to make colors pop out. Don’t be yakking at me about how I’m altering the pic to something unnatural. How about I just agree with you and we end the discussion! Sorry to be so blunt. I’m not much of a purist on the whole SOOC thing. I’ve learned on some of Snapdragons other videos on how to edit pics in camera. Given all the things that can be done to photos both during the exposure and afterward I don’t think that SOOC has a whole lot of meaning any more.

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And I achieved, in a modest way, something that is almost impossible in a point and shoot. A little bit of bokeh. I know, I said a little bit. Snapdragon has over thirty videos on the camera and I’ve gone through a half dozen of them and will be looking at more. I don’t know if she covers other cameras or not but I bet you that whatever camera you have there are videos for it by somebody. Probably not with her hot English accent but you know, you can’t get everything you want in this world.

What’s next? She has videos on how to install and use “CHKD” on the camera. That stands for “Canon Hack Development Kit” and is something totally not sanctioned by Canon. It is internal software on the camera that enables one to shoot in RAW format and do all sorts of other wonderful things that typically can only be done on the “grown up” cameras. I am taking some time off over the holidays and I’ll be trying to install and use this mode. I just hope that I don’t turn my camera into a fancy paperweight.

So are using the full capabilities of your camera or is there a whole lot in there that mystifies you? I think with my new found skills on the P setting, I’ve gone from using 1% of the camera’s capabilities to about  2%. I still have a long ways to go and about two dozen videos.

Lessons Learned from Lomography

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(The old Amerada Hess Petroleum building. They packed up and moved to Houston in the 90’s. They left the building though. I like all the windows and the almost ceramic finish on the lower level exterior.)

Early last week before the big snow storm I grabbed my La Sardina Lomography analog camera and went for a walk around downtown. I’ve learned a few things about my cheap film cameras over the years. The first thing is that they work best on a bright sunny day. Duhh! is what you old time film photographers say, who would never leave digital. Sorry, is what I say, not everybody is as smart as you!

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(This is the old YMCA on Denver Avenue. It is being repurposed into condos now. I was a member of the Y for about two weeks in the early 1990’s. The clientele was kind of rough. Subject of another post I think. This building is similar to the Amerada Hess building because of all the windows, and the ceramic like exterior on the first level. The Amerada Hess building is at the far right of the photograph.)

Second, you have to pay attention to the details because there is no “A” setting. I’ve learned on the Sardina that for single exposures I better have a 400 speed film or things will be dim. If I want to do double exposures I better use 200 film. 100 film, uh, no. Also, you have to manually focus and for goodness sake take the lens cap off. Film photography is expensive, make the most of it.

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(The Tulsa County Courthouse. I’ll be visiting again to make my annual trip to pay our real estate taxes. It is across the street from the YMCA building. )

Third, you have to make yourself happy. Most people don’t understand why you are using film. Most of them happily abandoned film for digitial years ago and have never looked back and they don’t know what is wrong with you. (I’ll happily admit that a lot is wrong with me.) What of it. What can I say, I like the look and feel of the pics, I love seeing the grain of the film. Plus it is kind of like Christmas every time I pick up a roll of film. There is always some surprises and a few disappointments.

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So far I have four Lomography film and three other film cameras. I hope to get another for Christmas. This one a pinhole camera. In other words no lens, just a pinhole. That’ll be fun. That’s getting down to basic.If I get it, as opposed to the lump of coal I deserve.

So that is what I’ve learned. Tuition has been kind of high. What have you learned lately?

Photo Fun with my Takashi 521FX Camera

As some of you know I have a stranage collection of cameras. One of my favorites is the Takashi 521FX camera. It is relatively inexpensive and is designe for a number of effects. My favorite is the Negaive effects. I pulled it out of the drawer lately and took a few pics.

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A family friend’s long fence lined driveway. I really like the shadows of the fence.

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SuperPizzaBoy riding a horse. I have taken hundreds of pics of son riding a horse. I’m entitled to a few negative ones aren’t I?

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A landing on the Arkansas River.I love the chains and the water in the shot. Plus I like how the shadows are ligh colored.

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A segment of the beautiful Arkansas River trail system here in Tulsa. I think the negative shot really emphasizes how many trees we have.

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Reflections can sometimes be striking. This is of course a power pole reflected in a window.

Thanks for indulging me.