Monday, December 5, 2016

The Silk Mill After Dark



This past weekend Road Runner had two meetups at the Lonaconing Silk Mill.  The first group shot in the afternoon and then we had a second smaller group that shot for a couple of hours after dark.    I did very little shooting during the day and was quite pleased to just watch the group having fun.   A few of the first time shooters at the mill had a look of amazement that I remember having the first time I shot at the mill.    The place is truly frozen in time.

Now after dark is a different story.   We limited the number of participants after dark because we did not want each other’s lights to create interference.  The group size worked out perfectly and I’m already looking forward to doing this again!

The image above is of a belt driven drill press in the basement, just one of the nearly unlimited number of subjects possible when the sun goes down.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Two Nights Behind Bars


Recently we concluded hosting 2 nights of Light Painting at Eastern State Penitentiary.   This was an afterhours event where our participants pretty much had the run of the prison to take their creativity to new limits.  I must admit that I was quite impressed with a lot of the work our participants shared on our Facebook Group page.

The shot above is of the iconic barber’s chair located in one of the cells.  This particular cell is off limits to entry and we always respect such restrictions.   While we like most other photographers would love to get the best spot, etc., we also have a healthy respect for limits, whether in this case imposed by Eastern State or usually the National Park Service.   All too often photographers disregard such limits and restrictions and end up trespassing or creating damage to natural resources in their quest to “get the shot”.   We believe in the quote, “Leave no trace”.

Back to the barber’s chair.  I would have loved to be in close and paint the light on each part of the chair and the cell walls.  It would have rendered a much better feel to the image than painting from behind the camera.   So in order to work around this obstacle,  I first used the light to cast a strong shadow on the back wall.  Then I used the light to paint each wall, floor and chair in separate frames.  I combined the various images in Photoshop using layers and masks to give it more of a painted feel.  I then did a little dodging and burning to add to the effect.  

If you want to spend an evening behind bars, we are already making plans to do this again next year.  Be sure to join our Meetup group if you would like to attend!


Thursday, November 10, 2016

An Explosion of Color



The shot above is a shot from above so to speak.  A few weeks ago Denise and I spent a week in the Finger Lakes area of New York.  The color was quite nice in a couple of areas and in many others areas the trees were early in the process of turning colors.

The image was taken from a Phantom 3 quadcopter.  I have noticed that other photographers either love the idea of these photography platforms or hate them.  I totally understand the love portion of this equation.  But the hate portion I don't understand.  Like all things in life there will always be people who are reckless or careless.  I can only speak for myself, but I always check for flight restrictions before flying and always try to fly in a safe and responsible manner.

To me, aerial photography is another venue to express and exercise creativity.  I look forward to seeing where this technology will go next!    

Monday, October 31, 2016

Our Latest Meetup




This past weekend we held a Meetup at the Patuxent Air Expo 2016.   Originally the Blue Angels were scheduled to be the main attraction, but their appearance was canceled due to recent changes involving how many weeks they can perform without a break.  I was obviously disappointed and suspect many others were as well.  As they say the show must go on, and Patuxent River Naval Air Station put on an excellent show!

The star attraction was the F-22 Raptor.  I love airplanes of all types, but to quote a friend of mine who is a pilot, "that plane does things an aircraft should not be able to do".  In the shot above the Raptor is participating in the Heritage Flight.


In regard to the shot above, I always shoot propeller driven aircraft at shutter speeds low enough to capture the movement of the props. This is usually around 1/125 of a second. Doing this means that a lot of my shots are going to be blurred and otherwise unusable.  It just depends on how accurate my panning is compared to the speed of the aircraft, often times not as accurate as I wish.  I have suggested to other photographers in the past that their prop shots should not show frozen propellers.  This suggestion is often not welcome.  However, when I look at the work of top notch airplane photographers the props are not frozen.

If you notice the shot above is not the correct aspect ratio for a DSLR.   It looks like a panorama crop.  It's not a crop.  The shot showed the planes too close to the left side of the frame, so I added 5 inches to the canvas size on the left side of the image.  Then I used the selection tool to select the blank part of the new canvas and then used the content aware fill to extend the sky.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

We Love Cape May



We Love Cape May


Each year since we started this adventure called Road Runner Photography Tours we have held a Cape May Tour.  But truth be told, Cape May was a favorite of ours long before we started Road Runner.  This year Mother Nature was quite nice and provided us with good sunrises and sunsets every day of the tour.   But Cape May is so much more than just sunrises and sunsets, with the shore birds, salt marshes, fishing boats, people, and the list goes on.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Playing Catch Up




The last several weeks have been a whirlwind and I have just now found time to update the blog.   Our last post was about our annual star party at Spruce Knob.  We followed that up with a Labor Day Weekend tour again in West Virginia.  A number of our clients were concerned because heading into that weekend Hurricane Hermine was making her way up the east coast and rain was predicted.   We were optimistic that everything would be fine and we were treated to really nice conditions throughout the weekend.


The image above was shot at Seneca Rocks at noon.  I used an infrared converted Nikon D200 and then to get the motion of the clouds, I used a Singh-Ray 15 stop neutral density filter.  This allowed me to expose for 5 minutes under the bright mid-day sun.  We recommend Life Pixel for camera conversions.  Click this link for more information on LifePixel.

P.S.  Don't forget to use our code to "ROADRUNNER10" to save 10% on Singh-Ray Filters!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

A Wonderful Weekend





Last weekend we finished our 3rd annual astrophotography and camping meetup at Spruce Knob, WV.  Each year the event becomes a little more popular and this year I think was the best yet.

This shot was taken on the far side of the lake looking north.  The exposures were a collection of 2 minute exposures that spanned a period of about an hour and 45 minutes.   I would have preferred to let the exposures keep going for 2 or 3 hours, but I was also expecting to get up early for sunrise and unfortunately I’m the type of person that needs a fair amount of sleep.   I usually use Photoshop to assemble my star trails but this time decided to try StarStax and really like the little comets on the end of the each point of light.  So I think I’ll be using StarStax a little more often.

If you want to join us on our next camping trip or any of our Meetup adventures be sure to check out our group.