Thursday, December 24, 2009

Almost Christmas Lights

Today's email brought the latest email update from the New York Institute of Photography.  This latest monthly newletter has a great article on taking photos of Christmas lights.  They could have sent this a few weeks earlier, but it's great info and the lights will be around for a while longer.

Here's a shot of some Christmas lights.  No, actually it's a shot of the reflection of some Christmas lights.  There aren't actually any trees in this lobby.

Almost Christmas Lights

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ellipsis Photo Shoot: People and Places

After weeks of procrastination and other obstacles, I'm finally participating in another Ellipsis Photo Shoot. This week Carly wants to see crowds...

Let's have a little fun this week, by getting lost in a crowd! Grab your cameras and show me PEOPLE AND PLACES! Anywhere you see a people will do. Parks. Malls. Church. Concerts. Art Galleries. Museums. You get the idea. Photographing a crowd is be good, but it can be a crowd of as few as 2. And yes, archived photos are fine, but, as always, I would enjoy seeing something brand new as well! Also, please tell us a little about the place you found the people for your photographs.
I haven't been in very many crowds lately so I'm turning to the archives.  Maybe these pictures from last June will warm you up a little bit.  Anytime during the summer months you can find a crowd at Coolidge Park in downtown Chattanooga at the north end of the Walnut Street Bridge.  The biggest crowd is always around the fountain.  Just walk right up and water shoots out all around you; it's a great way to stay cool...

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

First Snow

First Snow

The first snow of the winter of 2009-10
Taken December 5, 2009
Rossville, Georgia

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Photo Manipulation

I receive a monthly email newsletter from the New York Institute of Photography.  This month's issue, along with tips on taking Halloween and fall photos, has an interesting article on the acceptability of digital photo manipulation.  Within that article is a link to an article by a professor at Cambridge University on photo tampering throughout history, in which we discover that the practice of altering photographs has been with us almost as long as photography itself.

Three of the photos date from the Civil War.  One is an iconic photo of Abraham Lincoln -- with Lincoln's head pasted on the body of John C. Calhoun.   Another photo is supposed to show Ulysses S. Grant in front of his troops, but was actually made from three photos -- Grant's head on Alexander McCook's body using a background shot of Confederate prisoners of war.  The third, a photo by Matthew Brady showing William T. Sherman with his subordinates, has a general that was added to the photo later.

There's a lot of interesting stuff here, including some dictators who had subordinates airbrushed out of existence, some political shenanigans, and plenty of minor manipulations that were done for editorial or artistic purposes.  One of those is the famous photo from Kent State that shows Mary Ann Vecchio screaming over the body of Jeremy Miller.  That photo was altered to remove a fence post in the background that appeared to be growing out of Ms. Vecchio's head.  The webpage even includes the latest kerfuffle, the Ralph Lauren ad that has been manipulated to the point where the model's head is bigger than her waist.

I consider myself more of a photographer than a photo editor, but I'm not a snob about it.  I usually give my photos a little touch up with a simple editing program, usually Picasa.  For example, the latest photo I posted, "Looking West," was touched up a little.  I took the photo at the Lookout Mountain Flight Park.  After an hour or two of taking shots of hang gliders, I was heading back to the car, camera in hand, when I saw the man on the launch ramp.  I raised the camera, made a quick adjustment, took a quick shot and continued walking.  I posted it to flickr, then used flickr's editing program, Picnic, to straighten the horizon a bit and play around with the color.

I've never owned or used Photoshop, but I love some of the artistic things you can do with it.  It's more of a monetary issue with me; that's a damned expensive program.  I downloaded Gimp and played around with it a bit, but couldn't figure out how to do too much with it.  If there was some sort of step-by-step guide around, I might play around with it a little more.  At this point though, I think I'd be better served to spend more time learning how to use my camera than learning how to edit.  I would welcome other view on the matter though.

So where's the line?  I'm sure there's a line there somewhere.  I believe that any manipulation, except correcting for exposure and color, is unacceptable in the field of photo journalism.  Even if your subject has a fence post growing out of her head.  Manipulation seems quite acceptable in most other photo fields.  It just drives me crazy when they get too carried away with it.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ellipsis Photo Shoot: One Subject, Four Perspectives

Carly's photo shoot at Ellipsis this week is to take four shots at capturing the same subject...
EMPS #59: 1 Subject 4 Perspectives.
Just as the above photograph illustrates, choose 1 SUBJECT out in the world, any subject, and show me 4 DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES. Use lighting, or time of day, or color, or anything you can think of to help us see your subject in 4 distinctly different ways. Archived photos are fine for this one, but brand new is even better!
Here's a collage of four shots of my favorite subject, my grandson Isaiah.  The photos (going clockwise) include the very first shot I took with my new camera back in January, a jaunt up to Point Park, a photo with my wife, and dressed as the Cat in the Hat.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ellipsis Photo Shoot: Bridges

At Ellipsis, Carly wants to see photos of bridges and walkways...
EMPS #58: Bridges and Walkways.
Let's go for a walk... shall we? Ok photographers, you know what to do, go out and find me some BRIDGES and WALKWAYS. Autumn, for most of us, is in full swing, so show me something like that, or feel free to dip into your archives and wow me with something you haven't displayed before. Lets cross the BRIDGE together... shall we?
On a little walk through Coolidge Park in Chattanooga back during the heat of the summer, I snapped a few pictures of a couple of the bridges that span the Tennessee River.  Here's a sample...

The Walnut Street Bridge

This is a view of the Walnut Street Bridge. It was built in 1890 and closed in 1978. After sitting idle for more than a decade, it was refurbished and opened as a pedestrian bridge/walkway.

Under the Bridge

The bridge comes off of a high bluff on the south side of the Tennessee River.  To reach land at a comparable elevation on the north side, the bridge has to pass over a bit of flat land.  This is a view from underneath.

The John Ross Bridge

This is another Chattanooga bridge.  Everyone calls it the Market Street Bridge, but its official name is the John Ross Bridge.  It is a bascule bridge, meaning that it has a section that opens up to allow river traffic to pass underneath.  Those are big counterweights on either side of the section that opens.  The Tennessee Aquarium can be seen across the river.  The Walnut Street Bridge can be seen in the background, underneath the bridge.
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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Round Robin Photo Challenge: In Motion

This is my first Round Robin Photo Challenge in quite a while.  The topic this time around is motion...
Let's capture objects in motion, whether it means moving the camera to keep up, or capturing the blur of movement against a static background.
This wasn't too hard.  Just go out by a nearby highway and practice panning until you get the shot(s).  I set the shutter speed fairly low (about 1/30 of a second) and got these two shots.  Because it was getting late in the evening, I had to do some basic fixes to the photos, mainly adding a little more fill light...

A Motorcycle in Motion

F-150 in Motion

A complete linking list for all the participants is at the Round Robin Photo Challenge blog. Check out the other entrants and play along, if you'd like.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009


The South has been getting drenched for the last week or so.  Today was particularly bad.  My hometown, Rossville, Georgia, has gotten 4 1/2 inches of rain today, about equal to the average rainfall for the entire month of September.  When that happens, the Chattanooga Creek tends to jump out of its banks.  Here are a few pics from the neighborhood...


Wading Down the Road

Flooded Park

Playground Flood

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ellipsis Photo Shoot: Bugs

The topic of the latest Ellipsis Photo Shoot is Bugs...
Ants, Cockroaches, Beetles, Sow Bugs, Earwigs, Pincher Bugs, Bees, Wasps, Fire Flies, Snails, Slugs, Banana Slugs, Spiders, Scorpions... no matter who you are, one of these things probably BUGS you. So, grab your cameras this week, and photograph the BUG and share it with us!
This week's photo shoot comes at an inopportune time.  I had just removed a wasp nest from the old homeplace and stupidly didn't think to take any shots of it before the removal.  And while bugs are always around, I didn't really find any interesting bugs to work with this week.  So as much as I hate to do it, it's back to the old archives for these pictures of butterflies.  Interestingly (or maybe not), these pictures come from the same trip to the Tennessee Aquarium as the last Ellipsis Photo Shoot .  Yes, they do have a Butterfly Garden there.


Butterflies and Fruit

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Ellipsis Photo Shoot: Archived Photos

At Ellipsis Carly wants to see archived photos...
EMPS #54: Archived Photos.
I have a super easy assignment for you this week... ARCHIVED PHOTOS. Here's what I want you to do. Climb into your ARCHIVES and choose a photo which you haven't displayed before and share it with us. Any subject will do, as long as it is family friendly. The only condition is that it has to be older then a month, and has not been displayed.

Extra Credit: Tell us about the photo. Where did you take it? Why did you take it? Was there something difficult about the experience?

Here's a trio of photos taken at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga back in April...


This picture of a shark swimming amongst a school of little fish seems a little odd. I don't know why it turned out like it did, but it's got sort of a cool quality to it.

Weird Fish

I think this guy is a weedy seadragon, a close relative of the seahorse. (At least I remember them being displayed together in the same area.) Yes, this is actually a fish. He makes good use of camouflage to avoid being eaten. Let's just hope he doesn't run into a vegetarian-type fish because he looks like a floating salad.


This guy here is just too cool. You have to be when you're pink and black.

Taking pictures of fish at an aquarium is not an easy task. You're in the dark, shooting through glass. It is very hard to avoid big flash spots in your photos -- a task I failed to accomplish in the first two photos.

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Monday, August 31, 2009


"Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst." – Henri Cartier-Bresson

The first couple of thousand you take with a new camera usually suck too. Case in point, the photo below. Nothing about it is particularly good, but it is a milestone. It's the first time in years I've been able to capture lightning...

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jumping Off a Mountain

I once spent the better part of an afternoon watching people jump off the side of a mountain...

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Photos taken at Lookout Mountain Flight Park

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Round Robin Photo Challenge: The Old Place

The latest Round Robin Photo Challenge is The Old Place.
Show us someplace that's been around a long time, preferably 50 years or more. It can be an interior or exterior or both. The spooky Victorian mansion on the corner is fair game, or the abandoned amusement park. Or go for someplace that's really been around a long time, such as Stonehenge, a canyon or a mountain range.
This is the John Ross House, located in my hometown, Rossville, Georgia.

The John Ross House

Although only one-eighth Cherokee, John Ross was the first elected chief of the Cherokees and fought vigorously against their removal on the Trail of Tears. The home was built along the Old Federal Road by his maternal grandfather John McDonald in 1797. In 1962 it was dismantled and rebuilt a couple of hundred yards away from its original location in this small park.

John Ross left with the Cherokees and the house became the property of a Reverend Scales. Thomas G. McFarland bought the house in 1835 and lived there with his family when the Civil War began. General Gordon Granger used the house as his headquarters before the Battle of Chickamauga. General George Thomas used it as his headquarters after the battle.

Update: In comments Carly wants to get a bit closer. Okay...

John Ross House

John Ross House

Once upon a time there was no fence, and you could walk all around the house as much as you wanted. They kept the house locked except for rare times when it was opened for tours, but you could walk through the middle and all around it. It's been a long time since I've seen it open. I'm going to have to find out who is responsible for that and when it's going to be open again.

One little tidbit about the house: It has what they call a spirit room, a room with no windows and doors. Also, while dismantling it to move it down the road, they discovered a passage that didn't seem to go anywhere. I have a theory that in those days, living on the frontier and never knowing when you might be threatened, that it might have been a good idea to have a room that no one but you knew how to get into. But it's just a theory.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ellipsis Photo Shoot: Black & White Photography

Over at Ellipsis, Carly has the weekly photo shoot. This week the topic is B&W...
Ok everybody, grab your camera, fire up your imagination, and show me some BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY. The subject matter is completely up to you. Do something a little Silly, Fascinating, Spooky, Gothic, or Artsy Noir... it's completely up to you! Just make it BLACK & WHITE.

Extra Credit: Write a little about what it was like to for you to take a BLACK & WHITE photo as opposed to color.

I had intended to do more. I especially wanted to take some photos using my camera's B&W setting, but a rainy, cool weekend kept me close to home, so I've cheated a bit and applied a B&W effect to an existing color photo.

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I didn't cheat much because the original photo didn't have much color, just a few hints of blue amongst the gray clouds.

This photo shows a weather change in the Chattanooga area. It's a beautiful, blue-skied, sunny day when suddenly a line of clouds comes pouring over Lookout Mountain and the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Bloggers Community Photo Challenge: Birdhouses

This is my first-ever entry in the Bloggers Community Photo Challenge. The current topic is "Birdhouses."

A local metro Chattanooga tourist attraction, Rock City, used to advertise almost exclusively by painting "See Rock City" and other slogans on barns throughout the South. Somewhere along the line, they introduced the Rock City birdhouse to spread the word.

The photo below was taken on Lookout Mountain near the upper station for the Incline Railroad, just a couple of miles or so from Rock City. The neighborhood of St. Elmo is seen in the background, down below in the valley.

Rock City Birdhouse

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Ellipsis Photo Shoot: Hit Me with Your Best Shot

Over at Ellipsis, Carly has the weekly photo shoot...
Ok, now it is your time to shine! We photographers might tackle a lot of subjects, but we all have one type of photography that is our very favorite. Landscapes, Still Life, Night photography, Portraits, Pet photography, Seascapes, Sunsets, Macro photography... it's all good. For this assignment you are welcome to look in your archives and post your best photo, or you can set the scene sometime within this week, and show off the type of photography you feel you excel at. If you do go with a shot from your archive, try to make it one you haven't posted before, I am really interested in seeing something new if possible. HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT!

Extra Credit: Write a little about your personal style as a photographer. Why do you like a particular subject? What is the most challenging aspect of photography for you?

Hmmm! After being without a camera for so long, I don't think I qualify as a "photographer" yet. And I'm far from having a "style." But I like to take photos of the natural beauty around Chattanooga. So put me down for "landscapes."

Carly wants our best shot, but something we've never posted before. A couple of weeks ago, I took a jaunt to the top of Lookout Mountain to Point Park. It was a hot, hazy day -- more appropriate for late spring or early summer than February -- leaving this photo looking washed out. But there's something about it I like...

A View from Point Park

I probably could have "fixed" it with Photoshop, but I prefer not to mess with it. I like to leave photos "as is" as much as possible. I've taken better photos with my new camera, but I've posted them before -- a sunset and Napoleons. The latter was taken during this same jaunt to Point Park.

Working with a new DSLR, the most challenging aspect is trying to figure out all the different settings to use to make the photo look right -- ISO, exposure, shutter speed, aperture, white balance, flash mode, etc., etc., etc. I'm still trying to sort it all out. I can usually take a better picture by just using a point-and-shoot mode than I can by trying to adjust everything. Hopefully that will change as time goes by.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chattanooga Public Art

This is "Pathos Sweet Lost and Found" by J. Aaron Alderman of Brevard, North Carolina. It's located in downtown Chattanooga near the Market Street Bridge.

"Pathos Sweet Lost and Found"

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Round Robin Photo Challenge: Light Moves

Oops! I was excited about finally being able to participate in a Round Robin Photo Challenge again. And it was an easy subject: Light Moves -- Take a picture that shows the quality of the light. By that I mean the hues of a sunset, water reflected on water, refracted light, something interesting with light. What could be easier? After all, photography is just using aperture and shutter speed to harness, control or manipulate light. Any interesting photo should have something to say about the quality of light.

But I digest. I was excited, but you're supposed to post your photo(s) for the Round Robin Photo Challenge on a certain day. I was thinking it was Sunday, but no, it was supposed to be posted before Sunday. Sorry, but in the spirit that it's still Saturday somewhere, here's my entry. Don't laugh, it's the first time in many, many years that I've had a camera that was capable of some night photography...

Light Streaks

Light Streaks 2

This is a couple of shots taken from Missionary Ridge. You can see I-24 to the left as it curves up through the gap in the ridge. Chattanooga comprises most of the other lights you see. Lookout Mountain can be detected in the background.

This is a more realistic shot -- maybe a little darker than how it really looked...

Passing Through Chattanooga at Night

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lookout Mountain -- A Picasa Web Album

A new Picasa Web Album, Lookout Mountain...

Lookout Mountain

Also added a couple of new photos to my Chickamauga Battlefield album.

Ellipsis Photo Shoot: RED

Now that I've finally got a new camera and am a photographer again, I'm able to participate in Carly's weekly photo shoots at Ellipsis again. This week's topic is red. I've mulled it over and this advertisement for Coca-Cola is all I've got for now, but I'll think about it some more...

Bottles and Cans

This is the red part of my beverage bottle and can collection. This is about a third of the complete collection. It started out as a Coke collection, but has grown into a collection of assorted beverages. It's nothing fancy, mostly just items I've picked up at the local convenience store. I look for "special" items and put them up instead of just drinking them like most people.

Coca-Cola has the market on red in the beverage industry. On the back row are bottles and cans from the Beijing Olympics. There are five cans and nine bottles each featuring a different country. In the front row on both sides are assorted Coke Christmas bottles and cans. In the middle is a set of Coke Olympics nesting "cans" and a couple of Olympics pins.

Also up there somewhere are some NASCAR tie-ins, two Coke mugs and pill boxes, two Budweiser items (a bottle and a can) and a Mountain Dew. Oh, and a tomahawk. It's a homemade (in someone else's home) Braves tomahawk. I put it up there because it had a red A on the ax part, then absent-mindedly covered that part of it up. All you can see is the curved brown handle.

The oldest item is a Coke TVA 50th anniversary bottle from 1983. The only empty item is a Mexican Coke bottle. I occasionally buy a Mexican Coke from the local bodega, but haven't saved a full bottle yet. They're made with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup and taste quite different from an American Coke.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Yesterday's Sunset

Here in the Chattanooga area, we don't have sunsets as much as we have the Sun disappearing behind mountains. The photos below, taken in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, show the Sun setting behind a section of Lookout Mountain known as Flat Top...

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