Friday, October 30, 2009

Twas the night before.....

Sorry, wrong holiday.  But, it is the night before Halloween.  First, notice the new poll to the right.  Vote if you wish.  Spent a little time down by the lake tonight.  Somewhat clear skies, full moon, and fast moving clouds due to the strong wind made it a night to try some nighttime photography.Very little time, though, indeed.  Just too cold by the water with the strong wind.  I did get some nice shots that fit the mood of the weekend.  Shooting at night, you need to have long exposure times in order for the camera to capture any light, therefore, any image.  By varying how long I allow the shutter to be open, you can get some really neat effects with the biggest being color changes and star trails or even cloud trails.  I could've really played around and got some interesting pics, but I just wasn't prepared for how cold it was by the lake.  Here's a couple of moody shots.  The first one is pretty much straight from the camera.  The second I warmed up the colors a little.  .


Thursday, October 29, 2009


The pathway to a little lake in one of the forest preserves towards Woodstock. I know its a cliche pic of fall, but the picture really didn't do justice in portraying its vibrancy and beauty.  My goal when I took this picture was to get a shot of a couple of deer I have seen on this path two times now.  I am always unprepared to get the shot, though, and they get startled and take off as I round the corner.  This time, I was prepared, but alas, no deer today.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Turf War

Looks like someone wandered into the wrong neighborhood.  I waited for violence to ensue, but it never happened.  I like the way they were able to double up the troops by using their reflections.

Duck Soup?

Couple of nice shots that go a pot with some celery, chicken base, some rice, etc.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I've been trying real hard to find a way to "show off" the rest of the pics from my trip. Throwing a pic or two up on a blog is slow way to go, plus I don't always like the format.  I've been a member of a photosharing website for awhile, though, and forgot about its slideshow format that they offer. So, drumroll please, I now offer you this fabulous slideshow of my trip(kinda brings you back to when you were 5 years old and your crazy  Uncle Chet brings out the projector, huh?).  Well, this will not hurt as much, I promise.  A couple of things:  Click on the picture here and it will take you to my SmugMug page. Once there, you should see the slideshow.  On the left hand top you can adjust the speed of the slideshow, slow-medium-fast, on the right hand top you make the show fullscreen.  You can manually scroll through the slides by using the arrows.
If for some reason, you do not reach my SmugMug page, you can also reach it by this:
If you use the link, click on the slideshow picture and it will take to the slideshow where you can adjust how you view the show. 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Getting close to the end

I'm starting to get to the end of my Michigan trip pics and I think this is one of my favorites.  This farm scene was created with my favorite technique of HDR(combining 3 pictures with 3 different exposures)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Blue Dawn

While up in Michigan, one of my goals was to do some night photography.  Unfortunately, just a little bit too chilly those nights to really do much. Night photography is wonderful since the cameras these days can be set to keep the shutter open long periods of time which in turn let you capture star trails and actually expose the picture to where it sometimes can look like the middle of the day.  Even though I didn't do the middle of the night thing, it didn't matter.  Sunday morning I was up around 5:30 thinking the sun would be coming up soon and I'd get a nice sunrise. Wrong!!  Sun didn't come up till around 7:30 and that was when you were just starting to see any light peek above the trees.  I decided to setup around 6:00 and brave the cold.  With alot of experimentation, I did get some neat exposure shots with it pitch black around me.  Its really amazing how much light is always around you even though your eyes don't see it.  The times of the morning for these three, in order:  6:22 a.m., 6:38 a.m., and 6:40 a.m.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Yellow Fever

First of all, check out the new poll on the side and place your vote.
Driving along on Monday, I was really rather disgusted with the fall color in the area.  Then, I thought maybe its like this each fall, and I just got spoiled with my trip to the UP.  Boy, was I wrong. The last two days the colors have popped like finger paints in a microwave.  It has been absolutely spectacular.  Here's an example:

Oh, to be 5 years old again

Here's my 5 year old.  We needed to get all dressed up nice, hair combed, and all that for a special function.  One of the few times my son puts on a suit.  So, the first second my back is turned, he's outside, down the street, in his socks, rolling around in the leaves.  You can tell by the look on his face he knows I am not happy. You can also see by the look on his face that he's not too concerned about me not being happy.  Oh well, do it while you can.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Big Bird

This hobby offers quite the education in things I never thought I would want to learn.  Two things I've learned about while doing this is flowers and birds.  If you ever want to learn about these two things, post a picture and ask the question "What the H*^@ is this?" and you will be overwhelmed with responses. It's all good, though.  In a past post, I learned that the bird in the pics is called a Blue Heron.  They are quite numerous around here, but unless you look for them, they blend into the environment.  Many nights throughout the summer, after dinner,  the kids and I would get in the car in search of  "THE BIG BIRD".  We found alot of them at various locations throughout the area so now I can find at least one in the area at any given time.  But, its a hard bird to sneak up on.  They usually hang out in areas that aren't real accessible and if they are in the open, they're on the lookout for you.  This one stood still for awhile, fishing, and even though he was probably a good 100 yards away, he heard my cell phone ring and off he went.  Pics are a little more blurry than I would like, but gives you a good idea what its like to see them.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Chasing Waterfalls 2

One of the things I learned on my trip to Upper Michigan is that it is the waterfall capital of North America.  I did not know this until I was doing some trip research.  They aren't all Niagara Falls, but many are quite sizeable.  The pics here are of one the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi next to Niagara Falls.  Standing a decent distance away you could feel the mist of the water as it hit down below. This is the upper section of the Tahquamenon Falls(sound like phenomenon).  There is a lower section, but it is not nearly as impressive.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Close to home

I took a break from my Michigan pics today and shot a nice one, I think.  I drove a scenic route home and checked out the color on the Fox River in Cary.  There wasn't alot of color along side the river, but I found some nice hues on one of the piers.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Let it snow

Yes, it really did snow on October 10th and the UP.  Here's some pics of the wonderful weather conditions while I was there.  It really wasn't bad. Some snow on Saturday night and then a pretty good snowfall on Sunday.  It was nice to see that the Yoopers have just as hard of a time driving in the white stuff the first time each year as we in other parts of the country do.  I saw several cars in ditches while traveling a small stretch of highway. The first two pics are just of the amount of snow that came down.  The third is a picture that I converted to Infrared.  I think its a really cool effect.  It is a technique used alot in wedding photography.  Some pros actually convert their cameras(not recommended for a novice) to only record infrared pictures. I used software, but someday if I replace my present camera, I might convert my old one. I thought this converted pic fit in with the snow pictures nicely.  In reality, the trees and the leaves were in full fall color. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chasing waterfalls

Well, I got through the first couple  hundreds pics from my trip.  Only 1000+ more to go.  Normally, I take all my pics from a shooting session and view them all one by one.  I immediately delete the ones that are really badly shot. This usually amounts to about 15%.  You know, the ones where you forget to take the lens cap off, take a shot of your feet, etc.  After that I go through them again and look for the specialty shots.  Sometimes I take 3 different exposures of a scene to later combine the 3 and create a High Dynamic Range Image (HDR).  Sometimes I take 6-9 shots of a wide area moving the camera a little across a horizontal plane and create a panoramic shot and then stitch them together to create a large panoramic view.  As you see, these two techniques alone can create a large number of shots.  The hard part is recognizing while going through all these shots which shots were meant to be used for these two photo techniques.  These pics will usually amount to about 20-25% of my shots.  After that, I go through them again and look for the best of the rest,  the ones that really came out about the best that they could be, the ones that need little to no post processing i.e. cropping, exposure changes, etc. This usually is about 25% of the remaining 60%.  The final 35% are the ones that could go either way.  They, with the help of some post processing, like Photoshop, Lightroom, or some other editing program, could turn out to be a great shot.......or they could end up in the trash.The goal always is to get the best shot you can out of the camera.  But, it don't always happen.  That's where you can
work magic with a marginal pic.  The best two words to explain it, though, are "Time Consuming".  The beauty of digital is: You can take as many pics as you want and it ain't gonna cost you a penny more(unlike film), and you can often fix a lot of little things after the fact (Photoshop).  The bad part of digital is: You can take as many pics as you want, but they all could be bad pics and you can spend alot of time fixing a lot of the little things after the fact (a bad pic out of the camera will usually remain a bad pic no matter how many hours you put in trying to fix it).  Also, I love photography and I love viewing and sharing my shots, but going through them all one by one several times and really critiquing them..... well, you get my point.  Even I get sick of seeing them.  So far, I have been pleasantly surprised at the low number of automatic deletes I have seen  while going through them.  Let's keep our fingers crossed that this continues for the next 1000
Here is one of my favorites so far.  It is a shot of the Munising Falls.  If I remember right these falls are about 50-60 feet high.  I didn't attempt it myself with all my gear, but there is a walkway behind the falls that gives you a really neat view.  In winter,the falls freeze into a column and it becomes a popular destination for ice climbers which I guess are like rock climbers.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Color me Red, Orange, Yellow.....

Here is just an example of the fall color I found shortly into Michigan.  I don't think it ever gets this vivid here in Illinois even at the peak of the color change.  What only made it better is that the main roads were in pristine condition, went on and on for miles, and you could drive an hour or more without seeing another car on the road.  Simply spectacular.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I'm Back!!!

Yes, I survived my trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  So those of you participating in a "dead pool", betting on my demise, you lose.  It was truly one of the greatest experiences of my life. By all reports, I hit the fall color change right at its peak, had somewhat decent weather, experienced sunshine and snow, saw beautiful waterfalls, and met some very nice people.  I hit it hard while there snapping about 1200 pics in less than 36 hours.  And I'm going to post them all..........................O.K, I won't, but you'll wish I did.  I will post more on my trip over the next several days.  For now, here's a pic of the scene I woke up to Sunday morning.  I camped out in the Lake Superior State Forest on a lake called Canoe Lake.  These are unmanned camping sites, meaning there is no one, and I mean no one, on site.  All you find there is some cleared out spots,  a fire pit, a picnic table, a small box with registration envelopes for you to pay(it's all on your honor), and a drop tube to put your money and registration in.  I found out later that where I camped, there was not another living soul(human) within 15 square miles of me, maybe just another dumb person or two from Illinois or somewhere on another lake within the State Forest. My van was my castle with an inflatable mattress and lots of blankets  It worked just fine for just needing to catch some shut eye.  It was dark by 8:30 and I really wanted to do some nighttime photography with the clear skies and all, great for catching star trails.  But it was just too cold.  So I cranked the heat up in the van, did some downloading of pics into my laptop, read a little,shut the van off, and closed my eyes.  Woke up around 1:00 a.m pretty cold (found out it got down to 19 degrees Saturday night) and beautiful snow coming down.  Fired up the van again for about 15-20 minutes until I was once again toasty warm, shut down the van, climbed under the covers and was in deep slumber again until about 6:00 a.m. No sunrise around there until after 7:00 a.m. which really surprised me.  Once sunrise hit, though, it was a beautiful site.  It also warmed up to, oh, I'd say, all of 25 degrees.  After a photoshoot, I ate some stale donuts in my van and slammed down some lukewarm coffee from my thermos and hit the road to attempt to find my way out of there.  Note:  Upper Michigan is not real keen on putting signs up on their roadways, but then again, I think 90% of the time I was driving on a snowmobile trail.  Here's a pic of my Sunday morning.  The clouds you see were not rain clouds.  You guessed it.  More snow was coming a few hours later.  You really need to doubleclick on it to experience at all the view I had:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I'm "Leaving"

Get it. I'm "Leaving".  Ha Ha.  Well, as it is, I am.  I'm one day away from headin' nort' for a 4 day excursion to the wilds of Michigan.  Just me, my camera, a sleeping bag, a thermos, and a cooler.  So I thought a nice simple pic of leaves in process of turning would be fitting.  This will probably be my last post for a couple of days, but then, look out.  I should be armed with new material.  I will skip the puns, though, I promise.  

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Here's another one from this summer that I have selected for hanging on my wall.  Its an artsy pic of a night the kids and I went to the drive-in movie.  Good times.  Good times

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fun Saturday

On Saturday my wife and daughter had a function to go that didn't include my son, Derek, or myself.  So it turned into a nice Father/Son day.  We started off with a trip to the dollar store which is his favorite place in the world.  After buying  $1.00 worth of army guys, we turned our sights to lunch.  Whenever we drive past an Arby's he always wants to eat there.  So, we had lunch at Arbys's. Next was dad's turn.  I needed to hit Menards for some things and I wanted to go out to a forest preserve I know to check the fall colors, plus I knew Derek might like it there too with there being bridges and a small waterfall there, and some neat areas to explore.  He seemed fine with the plan.  First we go to the forest preserve since it was the farthest away and then we hit Menards on the back home.   The preserve was about 20 minutes away in between the towns of Woodstock and Harvard.  About 5 minutes past Woodstock, I notice he's real quiet.  I look over to see why. Its hard to talk when the lunch you ate 30 minutes ago is coming back up. Oh boy!  We did what we could at that moment, made our way to Harvard since at that point it was closer than turning around and going to Woodstock, got cleaned up, got a can of Sprite, and headed back.  After a little time and some drinks of Sprite he was in good spirits.  So, onto the forest preserve we go.  Nice fall day for a walk and we walked a beautiful trail around a lake and through a tall pine grove.  After that, Menards, and then home. Fun day.

Friday, October 2, 2009

New Lens

I got a new toy this week.  One thing there is no shortage of in the photography world are things to spend your money on.  Lenses are the quickest and easiest ways to spend large amounts of $$$.  Right after I got my camera I, of course, had to compliment my short to medium range lens that came with it, with a long range telezoom, a 70-300 mm lens.  It was not a high end lens by any means.  But, it did give me one more tool to explore with.  That lens served me well, but I have always wanted the next step up from that lens, a 55-250 mm lens.  Without going into a lot of boring details, even though it doesn't have quite the same focal distance, it is a much better lens optically and will give much sharper photos.  It won't be noticed as much online, but I know the difference will be seen in my prints especially at longer focal ranges.  So, after several months of doing some online surveys that pay me a small amount each month, some contest winnings from work, and selling my 70-300 mm on Craigslist(for more than I paid), I ordered and received my new lens.  Didn't have a lot of time this week to really play with it, but this afternoon I got out a little. Not the most interesting picture and similar to others I have taken, but its the start of what I am sure will be a long love affair.  The best part is I am going on a trip next week to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for several days of shooting fall color.  That will be the true test.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


On this cold rainy night, I spent some time revisiting some of my pictures of the summer. I've found several that I'm am going to focus on the next few weeks as far as doing any editing that needs to be done and then printing and framing for the walls of my crib. As I find ones I really like and if they make the cut for "hanging", I will post them on this site. For those who were followers of my past project, you may see some repeats. Oh well. Tonight, I'm starting with one of my favorites from the summer; my son, Derek, on one of his favorite rides at the carnival. Also, there is a new poll posted. It appears from my last poll that fall is a favorite for many, while winter a favorite of none. Vote early and often, the Chicago way.