The worst family photo you never took?

Here we are in the 2017 Holiday Season, and I’m thinking about the oft-dreaded family photos and family photography again.

This is the fourth time around for the main points of this post. I’m posting it early this year so you’ve got some time to let it sink in, or perhaps share it with “that” person.

I think that family photography relevant every holiday season, and you’ll probably see it every holiday season as long as this site is up.  It will change as I change throughout the years, no doubt.

Hopefully, maybe, possibly, it may inspire someone out there.

The topic of family photos is relevant not just during the holidays, but every day…  I’m reminded of that as Papa Frog is not here this Christmas.

It’s a bit of a history lesson, and a life lesson.  Enjoy.  Ponder.  Reflect…

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What’s the worst family photo you never took?

If you’re thinking about the worst family photos you ever took, go back and reread that last line and think about it.

It’s probably the time of year, besides wondering what to write about, that led me to this topic.  We have a “family photo wall” that’s set up something like a family tree.  All of the family photos are in black and white – as most of the originals were.  I have yet to find a good photo of my Great-Grandmother to put on our family photo wall.  That still bugs me.

And then, there’s a song I haven’t heard in a while that always puts me in one of those melancholy, reflective, contemplative moods – “Time Passages” by Al Stewart.  Take a ride on the Wayback Machine and check out this video on YouTube of Al and Shot in the Dark performing the song back in 1978 when it hit the radio waves: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRKyGhgoNE8

So, where am I going with this?  Isn’t the topic family photos?

Well, way back when, some families were great with taking family photos during the holidays – or any time for that matter- and some weren’t.  Some stored their family pictures well, and some didn’t.

All things considered, if you go back let’s say 50 years ago – family photography was a lot more complicated than it is today.  There were flashbulbs to load in the flash gun, and then exposures to calculate and settings to set on the camera.  Fast forward to the Instamatic camera that took 126 roll film and flash cubes!  An absolutely (well, almost) people-proof system that while easy to use, unfortunately didn’t necessarily take great pictures – but preserved memories to stimulate the mental hard drive nonetheless.  And then the 110 roll film cameras became a brief rage because they were small.  Never mind that so were their negatives, which meant that their practical use was limited.

Fast forward a bit to 1976 and Canon’s AE-1 35mm film camera.  It was the first “camera with a brain” (a microprocessor) and it forever changed amateur photography.  Load it with film, put the lens on the automatic setting, put the flash on and set it to automatic, set the shutter speed to 1/60 of a second – and indoor family photography changed again.  (My AE-1, passed down from my Father, is a few feet away as I rewrite this.)

41 years later, we have digital cameras in our phones as well as DSLR cameras that represent the great-great grandchildren of the AE-1.  Most people are using digital instead of film these days.  The cameras have great metering systems, automatic flashes, flashes that adjust their brightness for the scene, red-eye reduction settings.  It’s actually pretty easy these days to take a good (great?) picture.  Maybe it’s not so good for professional portrait photographers, though.

In the old days, you had to wait days or hours to see if the pictures were good or not.  More often than not, if you weren’t happy with your results, you didn’t get a chance for a “do-over” until the next family gathering.  Even then, you may not have been able to catch the picture again.

Perhaps the best thing about digital photography is that you can look at your picture seconds later and see who had their eyes closed, or mouth open, or who was making a funny face or obscene gesture.  If you don’t like what you got – yell at everyone (politely, of course, because it is the holidays) and take the picture again.  And, repeat as necessary…

Filum is practically free in the form of memory cards.  No – that’s not a typo.  It’s film as my maternal Grandfather called it.  It’s Pittsburghese.  Don’t believe me?  Look it up!

And – no more having to spend $3.00 extra per roll for 1-Hour processing of your 4×6 prints.

So, where am I going with this?  Well, I’m almost there now.  Thanks for bearing with me.

OK, I’m there now.

Here goes:

Take pictures this family season.

Lots of them.

Get ‘em with their eyes closed, or with that glob of gravy on their chin.

Get ‘em when they’re groaning or while they’re sleeping.

You could even get ‘em when their smiling. (Hopefully that’s with an image you got from Laughing Frog Images 2017 holiday sale!)

Just get ‘em.

That way, you can always talk about the worst family photo you took.

It’s better than lamenting about the photo you never took.

That could well be the worst one…

Oh – I almost forgot – this post could be a great pre-holiday gift for someone you know.  Don’t be afraid to share it.

 

Photographing Fireworks Tutorial

Well, it’s almost that time of the year again – too much food, sunburn, mosquitoes, flies and photographing fireworks!

And then, go to work the next day!

(Yay!)

Follow the photographing fireworks tutorial to make images like this!

Follow the photographing fireworks tutorial to make images like this!

So, for those of you who will be out photographing fireworks this year – either intentionally or as an escape from the madness of the day, I’m recycling some posts that can help you process your images and impress friends and family with your work.

At the very least, this will give you some great images to display on your wall, smartphone or tablet.

Click on “Continue reading” in the snippet below and enjoy!

Photographing Fireworks

This tutorial is easy to follow and uses free software – it can’t get much better than that.

If you’re not inclined to make your own images, or not willing to fight the crowds, we’ve got some images for you to look at here on Laughing Frog Images.

Enjoy friends and family, and be safe.

 

It’s Mine! All Mine!

Did you ever wonder what goes on in a hummingbird’s mind when it approaches a full feeder and there’s no one else around?

This little one paused for a couple of seconds on approach to lunch and seemed to be pondering a nearly full feeder with no one else around when I made this image.

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Which caused me to think why it paused there and just what might be going through its’ mind…

Was it an It’s mine! All mine! moment?

Was it “gee – there’s no one else here – I wonder if the food in this joint is any good?”

Or, “Wow – I finally beat the crowd?”

Maybe it was “good, there’s no one else here – I can have seconds!”

Perhaps it was “he/she’s not here to see it, so I’ll just have one more for the road”

I think we all have those moments when we think It’s mine! All mine!

For me, it’s a brownie and about a quart of whole milk.

Did you know that since a batch of brownies is really just one big brownie before it’s cut into pieces, it’s technically just one brownie? 

Mrs. Frog doesn’t buy that logic – but think about it. Really think about it.

How can you argue against that logic? 

If they’re supposed to be called brownies, then they should be baked as brownies, not as a brownie.  But,

I digress….

It seems that the only time It’s Mine! All Mine really happens is when Mrs Frog just needs an anchovy or two out of a whole can…

The image can be found in the little winged things gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

For the photographers out there reading this, here’s a tech tip: 1/320 second shutter speed is not fast enough to freeze the wings of a hummingbird in flight.  It does, however, freeze the body and expression of the hummingbird while preserving the motion of the wings.  Which, in itself, can make for an interesting image as it did here.  Tamron 18-270mm VR zoom at 270mm, ISO 320 at 1/320 second, f6.3.

 

Heceta Head Sunset

While I was shooting the Heceta Head Lighthouse from an overlook on the Oregon Coast highway, it was ridiculously easy to turn to my left and shoot the sunset.

At least when the clouds were being fairly cooperative, that is.

When it got to time for the sun to drop that last 15 degrees, it finally dropped below the clouds and then it was time to consume some pixels.

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The Heceta Head sunset shots were interspersed with Heceta Head Lighthouse shots – the same conditions that made a beautiful sunset gave me the killer light on the lighthouse, shore and water.

Several different images from those few minutes have made it to the sundowns, sun ups and things in the sky gallery on Laughing Frog Images for your perusal, enjoyment, and purchase.

Is there a trick to getting sunset photos like this?  I wish I could say there was, and that I’ll tell it to you for a price, but there really isn’t.

There is, however, the need to be able to adjust your aperture (bigger numbers are better) or shutter speed (higher is better) or both, which isn’t always possible on a point & shoot or smartphone or tablet.

In a nutshell – shoot a bunch, and change your aperture and shutter speed as you shoot.  You’re changing your exposure (like I did), which gives you the same subject matter in a number of different images.  If your camera/device lets you pick a point in the image for it to adjust/expose to – pick a bunch of different points and fire away.  Then, pick what you like and delete the rest.

There.  Lesson over.

Now go shop Laughing Frog Images!

Remember, we’ve got a 25%+ off sale on things associated with consuming liquids for the rest of October.  Check the blog for full details.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

On a long weekend on the Oregon coast, Mrs. Frog and I crossed one off the bucket list – we stayed in a Bed & Breakfast at the former Lightkeeper’s Quarters at Heceta Head Lighthouse.

(You don’t have to stay there to tour the Lightkeeper’s Quarters or see the lighthouse.)

You can learn more about the lighthouse itself by clicking here.

I don’t know what to say about it other than it’s one of those places that has a sense of place, and you should have it on your list, whether you stay in Florence or at the B&B.

The waves in Oregon are different from what I’m used to – and perhaps for you as well.  They’re constant – you can see that in some of the images in the gallery.

Swimming in many places along the Oregon coast can be hazardous to your health.

Don’t like the weather?  Wait five minutes – it may change!  Like the weather?  It could change in five minutes!

The wind only seems to blow about a quarter of the time.  From each of the four directions, that is.

If any of that sounds like a complaint – you’re absolutely wrong!

It’s beautiful.  It’s rugged.  It’s rainy.  It’s sunny.  It’s foggy.  It’s windy.  It’s breathtaking.

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Heceta Head Lighthouse is in the far left-center, the Lightkeeper’s Quarters are in the center, Devil’s Elbow is the rock formation in front of the Lightkeeper’s Quarters, and the waves. 

Just look at the waves.  This image was made just before the sun disappeared below the horizon, hence the “sweet” light.

Heceta Head Lighthouse is a delight for photographers of all levels and persuasions.

What I found wildly interesting was that over 90% of the people I saw photographing Heceta Head Lighthouse from along the Oregon Coast Highway were using their smartphone or their tablet.  From a snooty photographer’s perspective I was thinking to myself “why are they doing that?” and “where are their “real” cameras?”  And then, I took a breath, and realized that (1) it’s 2015, and (2) maybe they think I’m the crazy one.  Ultimately, images speak to each of us differently, and who I am to question what one sees and treasures in their images.

I made over 300 images of Heceta Head Lighthouse.  In the fog.  In the mist.  At dusk.  At night.  In the few minutes of sunshine that I had.  And then I previewed.  Then, I processed.  And I cropped.  All in, 95% of the images didn’t make the cut for one reason or another.  Mist or fog droplets on the lens.  Mist or fog that made the picture “bleah” as Snoopy would say.  Fuzzy due to the mist or fog.

Seventeen images made the cut, and they are presented for you in the Heceta Head Lighthouse gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

Perhaps the most amazing thing to me was that you could stand at the base of the lighthouse and see eight beams of light emerging from the Fresnel lens.  Yes, eight!  I didn’t know that was possible.  I know that when I was south of the lighthouse, I could only see one light every ten seconds – the pattern for Heceta Head Lighthouse.  I know that I could see two main beams at night from the Lightkeeper’s Quarters.  And I saw eight when standing at the base of the lighthouse.  I don’t understand it.  I can’t explain it.  I don’t know if that happens at all lighthouses.  I haven’t researched it.

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I included an image of this in the gallery and noted in the caption to order this at your own risk.  Due to the fog and mist that night, I don’t expect it to reproduce well.

I simply know one thing about the eight beams of light I saw: it’s absolutely fascinating, no, mesmerizing, no, spectacular.  Yes, spectacular.

And that make me want to go back.

And that makes me tell you that Heceta Head Lighthouse is one for your Bucket List.

I hope you enjoy this gallery as much as we did in making it!

The Lunar Eclipse

Like millions around the world, I set out to photograph the lunar eclipse Sunday night.

Like some of those millions, there were clouds in the image I envisioned.

Like some of those millions, the “blood moon” portion of the evening’s show was really a view of clouds faintly backlit by the moon.

Nonetheless, out came the “Mother Pod” – that’s my really big, heavy tripod that I picked up about 20 years ago to hold two cameras at once for night railroad photography.

If you saw it, you’d understand why it has its’ name.

Out came the camera and the big lens and the 2X extender and the cable release.

And it all got put together.

And I stared at the clouds with my camera, lens, 2X and cable release in front of me.  And stared…

Finally, the clouds showed some promise of breaking up.  Just a bit.  Well, not really, but enough to shoot between some of them.

So, I started to shoot.

And I remembered how much I like digital even though I still miss Kodachrome.  A SD card just doesn’t smell the same as a roll of Kodachrome, but that’s another story.

And I shot.  And shot.  And shot.  “Film” is free, and I get fairly instant feedback, so why not?

I missed the early part of the lunar eclipse due to the clouds.

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All in, I took about 140 shots between clouds (or so I thought) of the last third of the event in about 40 minutes until the clouds reclaimed the sky.

Most of them looked good on the screen on the back of the camera.  (Who hasn’t been there before?)

And then I downloaded them and looked at them on the screen.

First, let me say that there are clouds out there that you can’t see in front of the moon.  Didn’t know that at the time.

Anyway… I got about a dozen to a dozen and a half “good” images of the lunar eclipse.

Good thing film is “free” these days…

The lunar eclipse images are in the moon gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

Check them out and think about the possibilities for that bad patch on your wall or a gift for someone worthy…

Enjoy!

Technical stuff: raw images exposed at ISO 1000, f16, 1/160 or 1/250 second.

The exposures of images 1-3 were equalized using the Light EQ function in ACDSee Pro 8 to bring out the detail in the surface of the moon and to compensate for the uneven lighting. 

Absent this action, the lower part of the moon is washed out from the sun’s light. 

Fall foliage is coming

Fall foliage is coming.  To some of us anyway.

For me, this fall means I get to watch my leaf turn!  Well, it’s not quite that.  There’s more than one leaf!

But it’s not like Pennsylvania where I’m from, or fall in New England.

One of my favorite places to visit in the fall is New Hampshire.  If you haven’t had the pleasure, put it on your bucket list.

Great food, real maple syrup, and color.  Lots of color.

Glen Junction Restaurant just posted on Facebook that their pumpkin pancakes start this Saturday.  With maple cream…

That’s really what got me going about fall foliage…

Colors can be different from valley to valley, and from the bottom of the valley to the top of the mountains.  It’s a good thing digital film is cheap!

There’s a gallery on Laughing Frog Images devoted to fall foliage in New Hampshire.  Coincidentally, it’s called fall foliage in New Hampshire.  There’s more to be added to that gallery, and maybe this will get me going on that.

The image below is of Silver Cascade in Crawford Notch along Route 302 in New Hampshire.

I’d love to tell you how hard I worked to hike in for this shot, and what it took to haul my camera bag and tripod in.  But, I’d be lying.  You can park along Route 302 and take this shot from the safe side of the guardrail.

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This image was made with a Fuji S9000, 1/80s @ f7.1, ISO 80, in Fuji’s raw file format.  Yes, I used my tripod and a cable release!

Processing was done in Perfect Photo Suite 9.5, and it was cropped to a 1:2 format to remove the gray sky and rocks in the foreground.  It’s amazing what a simple crop can do!

There’s another image of Silver Cascade taken at about the same location in the gallery, but I left that in its’ original format so you can crop it yourself.

If all of this makes you think about a last minute trip to New England to check out the foliage, here are two posts from 2014 to check out:

A Week in New Hampshire

A Weekend in New Hampshire

And, if you can’t make it, do the next best thing and shop Laughing Frog Images.

Little Green Bucket.

When I was working on Stories at the Princeville Pier (the previous post), I couldn’t get my mind off of the little green bucket.

The original color image was simply washed out as I was deliberately shooting into the sun to be able to work with silhouettes in the final image.

I was fine with that.

But the little green bucket was calling me.

DSC_6943 lgb 600hI had to do something with that little green bucket…

So, it was back to the digital darkroom.

This time, I opened the image in ACDsee Pro 8 and did something I’ve never done before.

I’d read about it many times, but this was the Frog’s first time removing color from an image.

Using the Advanced Color Feature, I removed all of the color from the image except the greens.

The only evident color in this image is the little green bucket.

Yes, there’s a little left in the water.

But your eye is drawn to the little green bucket.

Depending on how you’re viewing this post, you might be doubting me right now.  If you’re doubting me, click here.

Both images – Little Green Bucket and Stories – are in the coastal and beach scenes gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

Thanks for visiting.

Princeville Pier

When I saw this shot of Princeville Pier, I didn’t see it in color.

I took it in color, but I didn’t see it in color.

Not that there was much color in it.  They say you’re not supposed to shoot into the sun for a reason…

Lost yet?

I saw a some stories at Princeville Pier that could be told in shadow.

I saw a man pondering the rough surf in the harbor.

I saw two children.  Little boys testing mommy’s mettle.

One brave and adventurous – that’s the one on the left that wanted to help the small rocks get back into the water.  He’s deep in his follow-through after one such effort.

One has his bucket and shovel, but slightly more timid.  He wanted to play in the sand, but was not so sure that the cold water was worth it…

I’m not so sure that males ever grow out of testing females, how we do it and who we test just changes throughout lift.  But I digress…

Stories.  In silhouette.  In black and white. At Princeville Pier.

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I saw this as being a black and white, with the people silhouetted against the water.

I was shooting dead into the sun, and I knew I wasn’t going to get any detail of the people in the foreground, but I knew (hoped) that the shot would work in black and white.

So… off to the digital darkroom I went.

The color raw file was opened in Perfect B&W within Perfect Photo Suite 9.5.

I darkened it a bit to bring out the detail in the sand in the foreground, and also to emphasize the silhouettes.

I wanted it to be a bit gritty, especially the tree and hill detail across the harbor, so I selected a film profile that mimic’s Kodak’s legendary Tri-X Pan film.

I adjusted the shadow detail to bring out the detail in the columns supporting the pier.

And here’s the finished product.

Thoughts?

You can find this image in the coastal and beach scenes gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

The original image was made using a Tamron 18-270mm zoom on a Nikon D5100.  Exposure was 1/2500 second at f13, ISO 1000.

Astrojet

There was a time when air travel was civilized.  There was a time when there was a degree of decorum about it.  There was a time it was an event.

And then, there’s now…

American Airline paid homage to those times back in 2000 with the resurrection of the Astrojet livery applied to a Boeing 737 and 757.  It’s not paint – the aluminum is polished and the stripe and lettering are decals.

I’ve never seen the 757, but I’ve seen the 737 three times and flown in it once from LGA (La Guardia, New York City) to ORD (O’Hare, Chicago).  This is the first “good” image I’ve been able to get of the 737 Astrojet.  It’s at Gate D38 at DFW (Dallas – Fort Worth) International Airport.

The Astrojet livery honors the image applied to American’s first jet aircraft, a BAC (British Aircraft Corporation) 1-11.

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Admittedly, the Astrojet didn’t feel any different than any other plane, but it did make me think back to when flying was something special in my life and not a regular occurrence.

It also made me think back to the black and white pictures of early air travel – men and boys in suits, women and girls in dresses.  Dignity and decorum.  I’ve got to guess that the boarding process back then was different as well – orderly lines and civilized entry as opposed today’s cattle call and “What do you mean Group 4 isn’t first?”

Or, maybe the pictures were just figments of the public relations department’s minds?  Maybe it was as crazy as it is today?  Nah.  I have to believe that it was more civil.  I remember it being more civil even just 20 years ago.  Now, it’s rush-rush-rush and that look of “obviously you don’t know that I AM more important than you and I deserve to be in Group 1, not Group 4!”

Perhaps the only fun I find in air travel anymore is to watch people who try to defy physics by trying to shove a bag that simply won’t fit into the overhead bin.  They seem to think that if they push hard enough, or wiggle it, or turn it around, it’s miraculously going to shrink and fit.  And then, they get mad at the Flight Attendant because their bag doesn’t fit.  I see this play out on almost every flight I’m on.

There also should be a rule that if you can’t lift your own bag over your head, you shouldn’t be allowed to carry it on and try to place it in the overhead bin.  Just saying.  And no, for those of you that think this statement only applies to females, you’re wrong.  Been there.  Seen that.  Almost been hit by dropped bags more times than I can count.

This image of the Astrojet can be found in the commercial section of the planes gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

Lumia Icon on Auto setting, jpg image created from the dng (raw) image.