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.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Mother Nature Puts on a Show

Last night I had the pleasure of presenting my program on Abstract Photography to the Upper Uwchian Area Community Photography Club (UUACPC). On the drive home I could tell there were storms in the distance.

 As I neared the Maryland border I was finally able to get close enough and find a suitable foreground at the northern edge of the storm. I did not have my lightning trigger with me, so I just set the camera to take 20 second exposures and just kept hitting the button.

 If you belong to a camera club in the Mid-Atlantic Area and would like me or Denise to speak at your club please drop us a note.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Don't forget to shoot in your backyard

One of the joys of being a landscape photographer is traveling the country or perhaps the world to pursue your craft.  In this blog I would like to suggest that you not overlook your own backyard.   I'm guilty of this I must admit.  For the past several years I have been working to cultivate a nice garden at home.  Last year I was taking another photographer friend to the airport for a trip to Iceland and he looks around my front yard and asked if I had been taking pictures.   It was a reminder that my hard work from years past was paying off and there was a lot to photograph.  I too was guilty of overlooking the beauty in my own yard.  

Since then I have made more of an effort to photograph the beauty of my own yard.  The blog image is one of my Calla Lilies shot with the new Lensbaby twist 60 with a macro adapter that fits between the body and the lens so I could shoot a little closer.  Clients of Road Runner Photography Tours are eligible for a 10% discount on Lensbaby products, so drop me a line if you want to make Lensbaby part of your photography toolkit.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sunflower Season

The middle of summer has arrived and if you live in the DC area we are lucky to have some great fields for sunflowers that are open to the public.   Mckee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area grows several fields each year and currently the flowers are peeking!

Having shot the sunflowers each year for the past several years I find it a bit challenging to come up with fresh compositions.  On the way to the field this year I noticed some fast moving puffy clouds and was hoping to do some long exposures,  but by the time I arrived the clouds had moved out and I was left with a clear blue sky.   I reached for my seldom used fisheye lens and came up with the shot above.  I used a reflector to light up the face of the flower, but fill flash would have been an option here as well.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


When I started thinking about this blog, I was going to title it “How’s Your Friday Night?”.  The only reason for that question is that I see others post pictures on social media asking such questions when they perceive their location is better at that moment in time than yours.

I’m not convinced that everyone would want to be standing in 3 feet of cold mountain water on a Friday Night.  But this is how I spent last Friday evening and I can’t think of any place that I would rather have been.  Even considering the mild case of poison ivy that was a result of this evening.

This little spot is hidden away on the upper part of the Rapidan River just inside of Shenandoah National Park.   The road getting there is a bit of a rough ride and not something I would want to travel without a 4x4 truck.  The entire evening I had this little portion of the park all to myself.   I love doing tours, workshops and meetups but last Friday evening I really enjoyed the solitude of having this little spot all to myself.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Another Great Meetup

This past weekend our meetup group visited East Broad Top Railroad in Pennsylvania.   The East Broad Top was once a short line railroad that transported coal from the mines to another railroad for transport to the end users.

Mother Nature did not really cooperate and we had a fair amount of rain, but there was plenty to shoot indoors and everyone really enjoyed this location.  

We are in the early stages of planning a return trip so be sure to join our meetup if you want to be notified of our next trip.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Return of Mother Nature

This past weekend while my partner Denise was busy leading a Meetup in Assateague,  I decided to drive out to Shenandoah National Park.  My first plan was to spend the cloudy afternoon shooting waterfalls, but I lost a couple of hours due to a nail in one of my tires and the subsequent trip back to the city to get the tire repaired.   I still made it to the park in plenty of time for sunset.  The clouds were looking quite promising leading up to sunset, but the magical light never happened.  

That’s okay, I still had plenty of time to shoot landscapes, abstracts and even do a little light painting after dark.   Just a few weeks ago the park suffered a forest fire that affected over 10,000 acres.  In the shot above you can see the fire damaged trees but at the same time other trees are leafing out.  I have no idea what the long term damage might be to some of the trees, but to this untrained observer it looks like Mother Nature is quickly repairing the damage.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

On The Move!

It just occurred to me the last time I blogged was almost a month ago after wrapping up our Charleston Tour.  Since then I have been super busy with our Meetup Group, and traveling the camera club lecture circuit.  No complaints, it's always a blast getting out and meeting new people who share this passion we call photography!

The image above is the latest in my Motion Abstracts Series.  I prefer a cloudy day for this type of work and of course try to keep the sky out of the image.  Even though the tree does a nice job breaking up the boring gray sky, I decided a couple Flypaper Textures were just what I needed to take the problem with the gray sky "out of the picture", so to speak.

If you want to learn more about Textures, my partner Denise regularly lectures on textures to camera clubs in the Mid-Atlantic area. Her next lecture on Textures will be at NIH Photo Club on June 14th.  If you want to check out Flypaper Textures, be sure to use our discount code to save a few bucks.

Monday, April 11, 2016


We just concluded our first tour of Charleston, South Carolina!  I was last in Charleston about 8 years and revisiting this fantastic city was even more fun than I remembered.  Charleston has so much to offer photographers.  The beautiful architecture of the old city,  beaches for sunrise, plantations and gardens to just name a few of the great shooting locations.

We are looking forward to returning to this great city!   Drop us an email at if you would like to be notified when we offer our next tour in Charleston.

If you would like to see additional images from this recent trip head over to the Road Runner Blog!  

Friday, March 18, 2016

Closed On Sundays

I'm pretty sure the sign has nothing to do with the car, but on my last trip to the old truck graveyard I saw this old Mustang Convertible just sitting in the back of this 40 foot trailer and knew this was a shot I wanted.

When I was kid most places of business were closed on Sunday, now it seems just the opposite, very few places are closed on Sunday.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Old Truck Graveyard

Above is one of the few old cars at a favorite location we call the Old Truck Graveyard.

I have shot at this location for the past few years and have shared this awesome location with our Meetup Group almost as long.  This last trip we were treated with nice overcast skies which provided nice soft light.  During all of my previous trips we had nice bright sunny days and the resulting harsh light that goes with what non photographers call a beautiful day.

I always like to visit locations more than once.  Each time you go back you see things you might have missed on earlier trips.   This trip was no exception.

The image above was shot with my Nikon D200 converted to Super Color IR by Lifepixel.  Then I used Macphun Intensify and finished with Nik Color Effects and Flypaper Presets.  Check out our discounts page for details!  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Too Much of a Good Thing

As I write this blog people in the mid-Atlantic states are digging out of a historic snowstorm.  This time the predictions were amazingly accurate with almost a week's warning prior to this historic storm.  At the start of the storm I was hopeful that we would get a nice snow, but not so much that I could not get out and make some images.  By the time the weekend was over we had well over 2 feet of snow. Getting out to make images in the fresh snow was not an option this time.

So instead of getting out to make some images, I have been stuck behind the computer working on presentations, website updates, and of course doing some image processing.

The image above was shot 2 years ago in Maine.  During that trip there was only about a foot of snow as I recall and getting around was pretty easy compared to the leftovers from the current storm.