Monday, December 29, 2014

Praying for Cold

I'm not a fan of cold weather and that is putting it mildly.  But one thing I look forward to is freezing temperatures that last for several days.  Here in Virginia we often flirt with freezing temperatures in the winter, but most of the time it's not enough for lakes and streams to freeze.

But freezing temperatures can be had if you are willing to travel. I have had great luck in the winter finding frozen water in nearby states of West Virginia, Western Maryland, and Pennsylvania.  I prefer to work the edges of streams and lakes.  Last year in Maine we did walk on some frozen lakes, but they were covered with about a foot of snow so there was not much to photograph. If you do decide to walk out on a lake or stream please be sure it's safe.  A picture in my opinion is not worth risking your safety.    If you stick to the edges I think you will find plenty on interesting patterns and shapes, just remember to dress for the elements.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Working a Subject

I have heard a lot online recently about revisiting old locations.  It's great advice and something I encourage everyone to follow.

The shot above is of the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, VA, located just south of the Pentagon.  So what could possibly change by revisiting a subject multiple times?  Your perspective for starters.  I know when I revisit a location I typically see things differently than before.  Sure I see some of the same things I have seen before as well, but the clouds and the light could possibly be different.  Especially if you go during different times of the day or different times of the year.

Small differences can sometimes make meaningful differences in how you see or interpret a subject. It's ok to go with preconceived notions of what you want to shoot but don't let yourself be limited by such thinking.   Just be open to what is in front of you and don't forget to look behind you either.

Of course this is an HDR image.  Photomatix is my favorite tool for creating HDR images.  It is available as a free download and is fully functional for 30 days.  If you decide to purchase use the discount code "RRPT" for a 15% discount.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Grandpa's Truck

Do you ever revisit your old images?  I do on occasion and probably should do it more often.  I took this picture almost 10 years ago.   It was a truck in the woods on my grandfather's farm.  As a kid I thought I had been just about everywhere on that farm, but never saw this truck.  After the farm was sold to a developer I decided to make what I thought was one last visit, but in truth I ended up going back several times.  The developer had cut a road through the woods and this truck was visible from the road.  I think many years ago it was probably left parked at the edge of a field and over time the forest kept growing and eventually encompassed the truck.

When I shot this truck I knew that I needed to take more than one picture, but this was before I had learned much about HDR.  So I took a few brackets and it was enough to keep the sky behind the trees from blowing out.

Skip forward to today.  I loaded the 3 bracketed images into Photomatix and then moved the HDR image into Photoshop where I applied a little contrast and then used Topaz Impression for the painted look.

With today's technology I can achieve a look that exceeds anything I thought possible at the time of capture.

Photomatix is my favorite tool for creating HDR images.  It is available as a free download and is fully functional for 30 days.  If you decide to purchase use the discount code "RRPT" for a 15% discount.

Topaz Impression is a fantastic tool for creating that "painted" look.  Use the code "roadrunner" and click here for a 15% discount on Topaz products.  Topaz products are fully functional for 30 days, so give it a try.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Softer Side of Grunge

When I'm shooting an abandoned building most of my pictures tend to have a "grungy" look.   This is usually accomplished with the use of Photomatix and some selective editing in Photoshop.  But a couple years ago on my first visit to Scranton Lace Factory I decided to take a different approach.  I did some shooting with my Lensbaby and the soft focus optic.

I love the soft focus optic and use it frequently with flowers.  The soft focus optic is different from the other Lensbaby lens options because there is no focus spot, rather the entire scene is soft, yet in focus.  But for some reason it seemed like the right tool for the scene in front of me.

Clients of Road Runner are eligible for a 10% discount on Lensbaby Gear.  Contact us for a discount code.

Photomatix is my favorite tool for creating HDR images.  It is available as a free download and is fully functional for 30 days.  If you decide to purchase use the discount code "RRPT" for a 15% discount.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Beautiful Day at the Beach

We just finished a very busy summer and fall and now it's time to catch up on things that could wait.  One of those things is to revisit images from the past year.  The shot above was taken during our Cape May Tour last month.  The sunrise was less than hoped for due to a total lack of clouds, but there is always something to shoot.  You just have to open your mind and let it come to you.  The sun was backlighting the incoming waves and the only thing that could have made it any better would have been bigger waves!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Midnight in Palouse

On our last night in Palouse this past summer we were treated to a great evening of clouds with a full moon.  This picture was taken around midnight and with a 2 minute exposure it looks like daylight.  If you look close you will see the movement of the stars.  I did not notice the lighting when I took the picture but what a wonderful surprise when I first reviewed this image on the computer.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Midnight Train

Last weekend Denise and I finished another fun photo tour in Cape May, NJ.  This year was our second in Cape May and we are already making plans for a return trip in 2015.  Whenever we do a photo tour we arrive anywhere from a couple to a few days ahead of the group so we can scout to make sure old favorites are still looking good and hopefully find some new locations. 

On my first night scouting I met up with good friend and Cape May resident Charles Ritter.  Charles has lived in Cape May for many years and knows all the best locations and even after a number of years he is still finding new locations.  It looked like sunset was going to be a bust so I suggested to Charles that we  do a little light painting instead.  Believe it or not there is an abandoned rail line deep within the town and these box cars seemed like a great subject for the effort.  

Speaking of light painting,  I will be teaching light painting at Nature Visions on November 15th.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wild Wonderful Abstracts II

I just finished a quick edit on last weeks pictures from West Virginia.  We had a really great group of photographers and as usual West Virginia does not disappoint.  

I posted a few of my other pictures over on the Road Runner Blog.  

Friday, October 10, 2014

Wild Wonderful Abstracts

Fall is in full swing in West Virginia and our tour starts tonight.  This week I have been scouting the back roads for hidden gems and found a little known waterfall that I hope we will be able to share with our group.

The image above is one of my motion abstracts.  It was taken on the road to Dolly Sods a couple of days ago.

I will be presenting a program on abstract photography at the following camera clubs this fall.  I hope that if any of the dates and locations are convenient you will come out and see the presentation.

October 20th -  Reston Camera Club
November 12th - McLean Camera Club
November 13th - Charlotte Camera Club

Friday, September 19, 2014

Not Everything at the Asylum is Creepy

One of my favorite locations to shoot is the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.   Being able to shoot there at night makes this great location even better!   Some people love the idea of working in such an environment at night and others seem afraid.  Even after having a couple of abnormal experiences at the Asylum, I’m not afraid and welcome the opportunity to work in such a great environment.   The image above was shot during my last visit a couple of weeks ago.  I used a specialized technique to light paint this small scene.    If this sounds like a fun place to shoot you should consider joining me next May 2nd for a Light Painting Workshop.  Click here for more information and to register.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Lost in Iceland

We were not really lost, in fact we were never lost in Iceland.  We always knew exactly where we were thanks to modern technology.  But the Phrase “Lost in Iceland” comes from my friend Einar who owns Focus on Nature.  Being lost in Iceland is a very good thing when you are a landscape photographer.  Being “lost” means not thinking about the turmoil in the world, politics or other pressures in your life.   It means just being one with the rugged and beautiful landscape that constantly surrounds you in Iceland. 

The photo above was taken in the Icelandic Highlands.  In order to visit the Highlands you must have a 4 wheel drive vehicle and be willing to get off the beaten path.  But the rewards of doing so are tremendous.  

On additional note, our friends at OnOne Software are updating Perfect Photo Suite this fall and we wanted to be the first to tell you about it! We have not had a chance to get our hands on a beta version yet, but the new features sound exciting! Lightning fast RAW previews, improved selection tools, a Smart Photo feature that lets you reedit your photos with previous settings intact are, just a few. Of course there are discounts for existing users and introductory pricing for new users.

Click here to check out OnOne Perfect Photo Suite!

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Sense of Scale

You have probably heard that adding something of a known size, such as people, to an image gives the viewer a sense of scale.   The panorama above is just a tiny part of the of the massive Vatnaj√∂kull Glacier.  This glacier is an ice cap that covers more than 8% of the country and has an average thickness of 1,300 feet!   Can you spot the 4 hikers on the glacier?  

Friday, August 22, 2014

12 Inches

If you were one of the folks that followed our Icelandic Adventure on Facebook, you might remember a post by my friend Jeff Johnson titled “12 Inches from the end of Road Runner”.  Jeff took a picture of me leaning over the edge of a canyon and Denise standing behind me.  I suspect had we fallen it would have been the end of more than just Road Runner Photography Tours.   But we were in no real danger and the steam rushing through the canyon was irresistible to me.   We are going back next September and if you would like to join us, check out the Iceland page on the Road Runner Photography Tours site.

Iceland is a landscape photographers paradise!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July Update

I can’t believe Summer is halfway over!  I was thinking it had been weeks since I blogged, but when I checked it was just a little over a week.  I have been really busy with the Road Runner Meetup Group the last couple of weeks and time is just flying by.  Last weekend we held a Meetup at Spruce Knob West Virginia to shoot Star Trails, but mother nature did not fully cooperate.  We had thunder storms right around sunset and had to take cover for about an hour or so.  Then we were treated to nice clear skies for about an hour or so until more clouds rolled in.   

The good news is I was able to get time this weekend to work on some favorite techniques like Light Painting and Motion Blurs.   

Next up we have a tour in Iceland with a private group.  Iceland is a landscape photographers dream and I’m super excited!   We are returning to Iceland in 2015 and it's not to early to sign up! 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Kenilworth Gardens Meetup

Yesterday morning we had a fantastic Meetup at Kenilworth Gardens!  It was nice to see old and new friends alike.  We maintain a fairly active Meetup Group here in the DC area and if you don't belong I would encourage you to check us out.  

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day

Today we celebrate our independence and I thought it only appropriate to dig into my archives and find a suitable photo.  Taken earlier this year during one of my tours at the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, it celebrates my love of country and urban exploration photography! 

I will be leading the photography tour at the Asylum in September.  If you have never been, I suggest you sign up because we always have a great time!  

Thursday, July 3, 2014


We finished our second tour of the Palouse a couple weeks ago and it was a great time. I'm just getting started on reviewing some images due to a mishap involving transition from a smaller Synology Network Storage to a larger faster one.  

Here is one of my favorite images that overlaps 2 different sheds. 

Friday, June 20, 2014


In my last post I talked about the disappearing structures dotting the landscape of the Palouse.  This was the other grainery that we found undergoing deconstruction.  We found this on the last day of our tour and the site was occupied so exploring the structure was out of the question.  

I used Perfect B&W (part of Perfect Photo Suite from OnOne Software) to process this image.  While I like the original color image, I think black and white lends itself to this image.  Currently OnOne Software is having a summer sale on this really cool package!   This program works as a stand alone or integrates within Photoshop.  It's also available as a 30 day trial. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Changing Landscape

The beautiful landscape of the Palouse is changing.  The grain silo pictured above is being deconstructed.  Last week in Palouse we saw two old silos being dismantled.  The dismantling process allows for recycling the massive amount of wood in this structure.  In most cases the wood is used for flooring and building materials.  It appears that repurposed wood is quite popular.  In talking with some of the people doing the deconstruction, government regulation is the driver behind removal of these structures. 

While I understand some of the intentions behind this type of regulation, the newer silos lack the character of these old wooden buildings and I will miss them! 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Beautiful Morning

The wooded scene in this shot was taken on Hyatt Lane in Cades Cove prior to our Smokies tour.  We were out early doing our normal pre-tour scouting at Cades Cove and fog was abundant.  I had driven past these trees many times and never saw a picture, or a picture I wanted to make.  But this morning with fog in the background and sun hitting the trees in the foreground it was magical.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

First Night in the Smokies

When photographers arrive at their destination we hit the ground running.  At least I suspect that is what photographers do.  I know that I and most of my friends hit the ground running when we arrive, so hopefully extrapolating that theory out to all photographers is not too much of a stretch.  Although as I get older I'm learning that I need to pace myself. Photo workshops and tours often entail long days and nights and when you add the extra days that we spend scouting prior to the start of our tours, well it's easy to burn the candle at both ends.

So in April after securing our hotel room, we headed straight into the park.  I have been to the Smokies at least 6 times and this trip we enjoyed the best conditions I have ever experienced in the spring.

The image above is the dogwood on Sparks Lane but taken from a different viewpoint.  I used Alien Skin Snap-Art to achieve a painterly look and Alien Skin Exposure 6 to achieve the Fuji Velvia look.  Check out the link on the RRPT website to download trial versions of the great products from Alien Skin! 

Friday, May 30, 2014

A Single Window


This was taken during our recent visit to the W.A. Young & Sons Machine Shop and Foundry in Rices Landing, PA.

This was my second visit, the first one being last November.  The interior of the shop has 25 belt driven machines that still operate today.  The details in such an environment can be overwhelming, so after shooting inside I took a break outside and found this lone window.  I used a Lensbaby Composer to get the shot.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Longing for the Rolling Hills

In a couple weeks Denise and I will be heading for the rolling hills of Palouse.  We are super excited to get back to this unique landscape.  Fingers crossed for great clouds like last year!

I was taking a look at some of my Palouse images from last year.  Ah, the blue skies, white clouds, and the green fields.  But in the case of the image above,I think the rolling hills are best shown in black and white.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Behind Bars with Lensbaby

Last night I was doing a little photo editing and came across this shot from Lorton Prison.  I used a Lensbaby Composer to focus on the opening in the bars.  The Lensbaby is an old favorite in my camera bag and after not using one for the last few months, I'm finding a renewed interest in using this creative tool.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Old Car Heaven

Last weekend on our way to Carrie Furnace we found a nice private collection of classic cars.  Unfortunately we were pressed for time and I only got a few shots.  I’m looking forward to going back to give this subject matter the time it deserves.

I used Topaz Adjust to achieve the aged look.  You can always get 15% discount on any of the Topaz plugins by using our link and the code "roadrunner".  

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fun with Flowers

This tulip was well past its prime when I decided to put it in a block of ice. 
Recently I have seen a number of great photographers who are doing incredible work 
with flowers that are well past their peak.  Considering that freezing the flower 
is not a pristine way to display the beauty of mother nature, why worry
 about obtaining pristine specimens.

While I enjoy this type of photography I admit I do it too few times a year.
I usually think about it in the spring, but for some reason I don’t in the summer 
or fall.  I need to work on that!  

Monday, May 5, 2014

How I spent my Saturday Night

This former fine automobile is perhaps the last abandoned car in Fairfax County.  I have no way of knowing this, but in our rather large suburb undeveloped land is fairly scarce.  Recently this car was brought to my attention and I could not think of anything better to do this past Saturday than a little light painting after dark.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Blue Bells

Yesterday we held a Meetup at Riverbend Park in Great Falls to photograph Virginia Blue Bells.   As usual we had a nice group of photographers and I think a fun time was had by all!  

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Just a quick post from my last trip to Longwood Gardens.  While the Blue Poppies are the main attraction, It's also fun to shoot the other poppies on display.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Introducing Sarah Wasinger

Last fall I had the opportunity to teach Sarah Wasinger a little bit of light painting while we were at the Lonaconing Silk Mill. At the time I commented on my blog that she had done the arrangement of oil cans and how I had enjoyed watching her work and really sensed that there was some serious creative talent within her. Skip forward a couple months and she recently emailed me to show me some of the work she had done with light painting in the months since the Silk Mill. To say I was blown away by the quality and creativity of her work is putting it mildly. Sarah not only has a very strong eye for image design, but she has also mastered the technical concept of light painting. I can hardly wait to see what she creates next.

Here is a link to more of Sarah's images.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


I look forward to spring each year because I really do not like winter.  Here at home I’m only seeing the slightest promise of spring, so each March I head to Longwood Gardens to kick off the spring photo season.   The star attraction at Longwood is the Himalayan Blue Poppies.  This year we were a little early, or perhaps the poppies were a little late, and the display area was fairly small and quite crowded.  

This year we had a group of 20 or so photographers from Road Runner Photography Tours Meetup join us so I found other flowers to shoot, like the one pictured above.  

I used the Lensbaby Composer Pro with the Double Glass Optic to get the shot.  

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Passenger Window

Last year at Nature Visions we featured Adobe Evangelist Julieanne Kost.   During one of her presentations she featured work from her “moments taken” portfolio.  To say I was blown away is a huge understatement.   I could not wait to get out and try this technique for myself, but of  course some things need to fall into place.  You need a driver and ideally you need an overcast day.  I would venture to say that if you try to do this while driving you are almost guaranteed to have a very bad and perhaps a deadly day for you or someone else. 

The technique is quite simple.  While moving forward find an object you are approaching and lock on it while panning as the vehicle moves forward.   You should expect a high failure rate but the few keepers you get can really be something special.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Great Falls

This past Saturday myself and about 30 other people from Road Runner PhotographyMeetup Group braved the cold weather for an early morning shoot at Great Falls.   The sunrise was not exactly epic but we made the best of it.  I got to visit with some old friends and meet some new ones and that part is always great!  When I finally got my camera out of the bag I saw this shot in my mind  and made it happen.   Because the clouds were less than ideal I thought it best to use long exposure.  In this case I exposed for 3 minutes.   The RAW file was triple processed using the smart object technique in Camera Raw.  This allowed me to process the RAW file for the rocks, the water, and the sky, blending them together in Photoshop.  

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Photographers Playground

Yesterday I was driving during the day and noticed a storm drain area on the side of the road with these incredible sheets of ice.   I was busy with my day job so I could not stop, but there was no question that I would be visiting this great spot right after work.  The time between arrival and sunset was about 30 minutes, but what a great period of time!   It looks like this area was flooded prior to the recent freezing temperatures, the flood waters receded, and the big sheet of ice cracked when there was no water underneath to support the ice. 

The trees in the background are a bit cluttered and not quite what I envision as a perfect landscape, but this was a lot of fun none the less.  

Thursday, January 2, 2014

First Picture of 2014

Each year I try and get out on New Year’s Day to take a few pictures.   Yesterday I took a day trip to West Virginia with friends.  Our first stop was the Mount Storm Power Plant.   Due to a traffic jam and police road block we arrived a little later than we had hoped, so I decided to just work on some long exposures.  The picture above was an 8 minute exposure using a Singh-Ray 15 Stop ND Filter.   I used the Flypaper Presets with Nik Color Effects  to achieve the color effects.   Click here to check out the Flypaper Presets and use the code (donr) to get a 15% discount.