Friday, August 29, 2008

Gulf Fritillary

Yesterday, I was at a camera store talking with one of the sales people and he mentioned the difference of using a regular UV filter vs. a digital UV filter on the front of my lens.

After some experimenting and actually seeing for myself how the light was refracted on the regular UV filters, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the difference between the two.

When I left the camera store, I went to my favorite spot to shoot butterflies in Safety Harbor to prove it to myself. I had only 1 digital UV filter on my wide-angle lens and I switched it to my 75-300mm zoom to shoot the above photo. Prior to exchanging the filter, I was in the habit of not using this lens at its full zoom because it wasn't the sharpest lens. I was always wishing I could afford better lenses. What a difference in sharpness. It's like light and day.

The above photo (on the bottom) was taken hand-held in the wind with the digital UV filter on this lens, while the photo on the top was taken with a regular UV filter on my lens under the same conditions.

Even an untrained eye can readily see the difference.

If you like my work, please comment. If you'd like to see more, visit my website by clicking here.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ybor City Walk

I've been playing around trying to get the "photojournalist" out of me by trying to be more creative. I'm not sure how this is going to work out, but this is one of my latest experiments.

This is a study in lines and textures. It's a portion of the Movico 20 sign/marque for the theater at Ybor Centro in Ybor City, Tampa, FL.

I like the various curves of the marque, balanced with just a bit of the siding on the building, showing a little brick and a partial palm tree. I believe the round-looking this is supposed to be a movie reel. This is gorgeous lit up and I'll have to try it once more at night to show the lights.

I've also been experimenting with different processing techniques, mainly the grunge look which seems so popular these days. Here is an example of the look. I really need your opinion about this. The original version is the lighter version. The man is a homeless man and he's creating flowers from palm fronds. He charges for them. I need to give him credit, since he's not panhandling. He's giving you something for a donation.

I think since he's homeless, he looks too clean. So, I gave the image a grunge look to make it appear more realistic.

Which version do you prefer?

If you like my work, please leave a comment. If you would like to see more of it, please visit my website here.

Thanks for looking.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Little Bit of Yesterday

On Saturday, August 23rd, 2008, I participated in Scott Kelby's (Photoshop User TV personality) World Photo Walk. There were 44 countries and 260 American Cities represented in this photo walk. Each group was limited to 50 participants, and each location conducted a 2-hour walk.

I walked with Dave Cross, another Photoshop User TV personality) in Ybor City, Tampa, Florida. Our group had 51 walkers including Dave Cross. We were instructed to split up and walk around the city for 2 hours, but since we were having a tropical storm, we had to be prepared to duck into someplace to stay out of the rain should we get a sudden downpour.

We were lucky, since the rain pretty much held out for the rest of the day. There were a few sprinkles, but not enough to keep us from walking. I covered my camera with a plastic Zip Lock bag when it started to rain.

My main objective was to shoot something that said Ybor City, without shooting what everyone else was shooting.

This photo was taken from outside an antique clothing shop. I framed it to show the turn-of-the century shoes along with a few accessories. It was difficult dealing with reflections, but by holding the camera very close to the glass, I was able to get rid of the reflections while still maintaining sharpness and my chosen composition. I shot just a bit over 1 Gb of photos and this one is one of my favorites. The lighting, since it was overcast, was perfect for showing detail and had very good saturation. You can see more of the photos from this walk by clicking here.

Ybor City is an historical section of Tampa built around the cigar industry. It is also a popular night spot among the youth culture of Tampa Bay. At one time, it was pretty dangerous to go into Ybor at night due to the high crime rate and car thefts.

Mayor Pam Iorio's pet project is to clean up Ybor City and make it a safe place to go at night. To date, she's got the crime rate down by 70%. There are street security cameras on nearly every corner that are monitored, as well as walking security. The parking garage has cameras on every floor and walking security as well. People are finally coming back into this part of the city.

If you like my work, please leave a comment. If you'd like to see more, please visit my website by clicking here.

Thanks for looking,


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary butterflies are, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful butterflies around. Lucky for me, they're very common in Florida and can be seen year 'round.

This one was captured while on my regular Monday evening meetup in Safety Harbor, FL. This meetup is about 80% social with a little bit of shooting here and there.

I try to get there early so I have some time to shoot before the crowd arrives. We started this meetup in April with 5 of our group members attending. It has grown to maybe 30 members on an average showing up every Monday evening. It's a great way to get to know one another better and to exchange tips and techniques with each other. I've learned a lot from these members--some complete novices and some of them pros.

We always end the meetup with a large group of us going over to the Taste Cafe for a bite to eat or something to drink. Robin, the owner of the Taste, has had to add more help on Monday evenings, but always makes us feel welcome. The food is great, too.

If you like my work, please leave a comment, and if you'd like to see more, visit my website by clicking here. If you live in the Tampa Bay area, and would like to join our Meetup Group, you can find the group here.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Ybor Centro

Wednesday night, my friends from my club and I went to a class given by my friend, Jim Sykes, who is an accomplished photographer with a studio in Ybor City, Tampa, Florida.

Just before the class, I was walking around enjoying the city and the old architecture. This building marks the center of the city. Ybor City is not really a city but an older section of Tampa. The city of Tampa was founded by Cuban immigrants who brought the cigar making industry to Tampa.

As you can see by the sign on this building, there are 20 theaters in this center as well as many quaint shops. It doesn't really come alive until nighttime when there are literally hundreds of people walking around enjoying the night life. It's a completely different atmosphere during the day.

If you like my work, I'd love to hear from you. Please leave a comment. To see more of my work, visit my website by clicking here. Thanks for viewing.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Guess What's on the Dinner Menu

I've seen Herons and Egrets eat a lot of things, but this dinner takes the cake!

This Great Blue Heron caught a Sting Ray for dinner. It was a great time watching him try to swallow it. I just kept watching that tail and wondering how he could avoid getting stung. It didn't seem to bother him however, because he managed to eat the whole thing in one gulp.

This one was photographed in Safety Harbor, FL at the Safety Harbor Marina. The tide was out, so there were a lot of birds feeding. Low tide is the best time to catch these magnificent birds out doing what they do best and at close enough proximity to create a good shot.

If you like my work and would like to see more of it, please check out my website by clicking here. Don't forget to let me know what you think.


Friday, August 1, 2008

Grapes and Palms

Just another experiment with HDR. This one was taken at sunset during our regular Monday Walk-Around Meetup in Safety Harbor, FL. The sky was actually this color and the clouds were just amazing.

I made several shots of these clouds and at one point there was a very faint rainbow shooting out just above these clouds. Unfortunately, it was very faint and although I tried, I just couldn't capture it.

It was really strange to see a rainbow, since there was no rain. I'm still trying to figure that out. I've never seen a rainbow appear without being precluded by rain.

The magenta sky this evening was magnificent. Florida has the most amazing clouds.

If you enjoy my work and would like to see more of it, visit my website here.