Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Parking Lot Predator

The Parking Lot Predator

Nikon D90, F: 105mm, S: 1/200, A: f/5.6, ISO 200

The day was September second, and I had started my day like any other. I woke up bright and early like I do every morning, got ready for work and made my morning drive to the office. I had just sat down at my desk with a fresh, piping hot cup of coffee when, all of a sudden, my phone rang! I'm not talking about my work phone, as that would have been somewhat normal other than the fact that it was 7:58 in the morning, but this was my cell phone ringing. The first thing I think when my cell phone rings at odd hours...something must be wrong! "My dog had been hit by a car", "my wife was in trouble and needed help" or "someone I know was in a car accident" were all thoughts that raced through my brain before I actually looked at my phone to find that it was one of my good office buds ringing me. So now the victim had been pinpointed. I thought for sure my dear office friend was on the side of the road somewhere in desperate need of assistance. I answered my phone preparing for sour news, but it actually turned out to be a great photo opportunity. The conversation went something like this:
Me: "Hello?!?"
Friend: "Do you have your camera with you today?"
Me: "Yes, I do. Where are you?" (note the concern)
Friend: "I'm in the parking lot and there's a praying mantis just waiting to have its picture taken!"
Me: (with a slight delay) "uhh, I'll be right down"

I was still a tad groggy as I hadn't even taken a sip of coffee yet, but I couldn't pass up a cool photo-op such as this! I grabbed my camera bag, hurried to the elevator and sprung onto the scene where the posing mantis was awaiting her photo shoot. It was a beautiful morning, and the sun was just beginning to peer over the downtown buildings providing a down home, rooster crowing sunrise. This light was a bit intense, and directly hitting the mantis, so a little jockeying of angles was in order. I danced around the insect snapping shots at different angles, and I was able to walk away with some cool images of the preying mantis in its very unnatural environment!

Nikon D90, F: 105mm, S: 1/160, A: f/18, ISO 200

Nikon D90, F: 75mm, S: 1/200, A: f/32, ISO 200

I have recently read some articles about black and white images, so I decided to convert one deserving image of the preying mantis to black and white to see if I could get the desired impact. The color and B&W images are below, so you be the judge!

Nikon D90, F: 105mm, S: 1/200, A: f/9, ISO 200

Black & White rendering of image above...which do you like better???

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Words to Live By

I found this photo on a blog I read (Garrett Grove's Blog), and it struck enough of a chord in me to share it here on my blog. I think it's an insightful phrase to live by and I'll try and use it whenever I get in one of my "I have to have it" moods. It's easy to forget how valuable the little things are and how simple it can be to make the best of nearly any situation. A recent example of this hit close to home, as my sis and brother-in-law had to make a double home move in less than 30 days. Kate and I were there for each move, and I'd say, all in all, everyone made the best of a somewhat shaky situation. While stresses did flare a few times, we were all laughs the majority of the time! Give me family, friends, a deck of cards and a beer or two, and I can make the best of any situation!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Transcending the Universe

Nikon D90, F: 98mm, S: 1/20, A: F/36, ISO: 200

Back in April, when spring was beginning to show its colors, our neighbor’s magnolia tree was in full bloom.  It seems every spring I can’t get enough of any blooming beauty, and this tree was no exception. This was a perfect day to grab some interesting shots, as the moon was in full view against the blue sky and the magnolia tree added great color to the scene.  As I lied on the ground to get some of these shots, I thought it was a cool blend of connecting the ground, air (within Earth's ozone layer) and outer-space…I guess this is my way of TRANSCENDING THE UNIVERSE (said in a bold, all knowing voice)!

Nikon D90, F: 105mm, S: 1/640, A: F/5.6, ISO: 200

Nikon D90, F: 105mm, S: 1/640, A: F/5.6, ISO 200

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Quack, Quack, Quack

It's been awhile since my last post, so I've decided to dip in to some of the photos I've taken between then and now.  Back in April, my wife, Kate, and I went for a stroll by the lovely White River.  We took the camera along for some outdoor, nature snaps.  It was a super sunny day, and most of the photos came out a tad bright and overexposed.  However, I did manage to get a few decent shots of a showy Canadian goose.

S: 1/400th, A: F/5.6, ISO: 200, Focal Lenght: 105mm

There is never a shortage of Canadian geese by the river during the warmer months, and typically they're mean, territorial and totally unsocial!  We found this goose prancing around alone, and it didn't seem to mind posing for a few shots...I guess some aren't so bad.  I wasn't sure how I felt about the composition of the original image (above), so I cropped it to give a different look (below).

cropped image for alternate compositional layout

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sippin' Suds

About a week ago, Kate and I decided to try some beers together and write a little diddy to share our thoughts on the crafty libations.  The following beers came from our local Marsh, which I believe is now called the Marketplace, in their newly installed 6 pack, mix-n-match section...enjoy!

Nikon D90, Shutter Speed: 1/200, Aperture: F4.2, Focal Length: 34mm, ISO 200,
external flash used

Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale
A wonderful ale for all ale lovers!!! This beer is light and blond with a pleasantly strong kick...this is a smooth ale great for springtime sipping.  Also interesting is the note on the bottle which reads, "tempered over burning witches."
Zach: Punchy meets smooth…would definitely buy again
Kate: Tasty yet a tad overwhelming…would buy again

Nikon D90, Shutter Speed: 1/200, Aperture: F4.2, Focal Length: 34mm, ISO 200, external flash used

Buffalo Bill’s Brewery Oatmeal Stout, Blueberry
This was a nice surprise for a fruit labeled beer. Being much darker than I had originally expected, it tasted like a firm stout with a mild hint of, you guessed it, blueberry! A nice touch for a hot, summer day.
Zach: Fruity, tootie and a nice surprise…probably would not buy again
Kate: Very tasty! A nice blend of dark and fruity…definitely buy again, but not all the time

Nikon D90, Shutter Speed: 1/200, Aperture: F4.2, Focal Length: 34mm, ISO 200, external flash used

BBC's Nut Brown Ale
This is a classic, heavy, dark ale. It has a surprising punch of an almost toffee like flavor, but this is not overdone. Nut Brown Ale, an interesting name to say the least, is a very enjoyable sipping ale and quite well rounded. This would go great with a medium-rare porter house steak with a side of potatoes.
Zach: Heavy, somewhat bold and interestingly delicious…would buy again
Kate: A little too "woodsy"…would not buy again

who's thirsty?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Showers Bring...Flooding

So about two weeks ago or so, the Muncie area, and the state of Indiana for that matter, got nailed with some serious thunderstorms, thus some serious flooding! I decided to take my camera out to snap some before and after pics to show nature’s attitude. In the first two pictures below, notice the trees in the distance and the small hill/bank off to the right to gauge the water level.

The river in these photos is the White River, and typically in the Muncie area the water leve is below the small bank seen in the after pictures. You can notice the significant amount of lawn, and even a walkway, which were completely covered.

Nikon D90, Shutter Speed: 1/125, Aperture: F16, Focal Length: 105mm, ISO 200

Nikon D90, Shutter Speed: 1/250, Aperture: F11, Focal Length: 105mm, ISO 200

Nikon D90, Shutter Speed: 1/125, Aperture: F18, Focal Length: 18mm, ISO 200

Nikon D90, Shutter Speed: 1/250, Aperture: F11, Focal Length: 18mm, ISO 200

Nikon D90, Shutter Speed: 1/125, Aperture: F18, Focal Length: 21mm, ISO 200

Nikon D90, Shutter Speed: 1/250, Aperture: F11, Focal Lenght: 31mm, ISO 200

Monday, March 7, 2011

To Spark or Detonate

Nikon D90, Shutter: 1/60, Aperture: F6.3, Focal Length: 105mm, ISO 2000

So recently my 2006 Ford Escape began making a fuss, and my initial thought was that one of my cylinder ignition coils had gone bad...turns out I was wrong.  After spending $55.00 for a Ford mechanic to tell me my ignition coil on cylinder 4 was bad, $70.00 to replace the ignition coil on cylinder 4, another $70.00 to replace the coil on cylinder 2, for a total of $195.00, and a few check engine light resets and recurrences...I finally figured out that my standard ole spark plugs were the culprit the whole time!  Two of the four spark plug electrodes had completely dissolved to nothing, in effect reducing my 4 cylinder to a haphazard 2 cylinder.  I did recoup my money for the two ignition coils, and also found out that Autolite spark plugs have a bad history of performance issues...I've since switched to Denso's!  I ran the Autolite's for about 6 months before they failed or, literally, detonated!

Nikon D90, Shutter: 1/60, Aperture: F9, Focal Length: 105mm, ISO 2000

In regards to photographic theory, I inappropriately had the ISO set at 2000 for the pictures above.  I was still very new at tweaking settings on the D90 when I was taking these photos, and I didn't even realize I was shooting at a relatively high ISO setting...thus these pictures may seem a bit noisy...