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Macro water drop photography

Click for full size imageSince posting some "water drop" macro photos in the Samples Gallery, I've had a few of our members ask how it was done.

So, here's the setup (click on the photo to view at full size). The shots were taken with a 70-200mm lens on a Nikon D2x. A Canon 500D close-up filter on the lens allowed me to work at a "safe" distance (about 10 inches) while still getting in close.

Three strobes were used to light the water surface and freeze the droplets ... one on camera (master), one at top left to highlight the drops, and one below the water glass equipped with gels to add the color.

The tricky part was timing each shot to capture droplets just as they hit the water surface. I improvised with a tripod-mounted turkey baster to get a slow stream of drops (about 1 per second) and triggered the shutter with a remote release. Even with careful timing only about 1 in 5 shots captured the drops.

Visit my Water Drop gallery to see some of the water drop macros.

If you'd like to learn more about the technique, feel free to post your questions or comments in our forum.

Reno Balloon Races

Click for full size imageHere's the event I have waited for since moving to Nevada. This event started in 1984 with just 20 entries and over the years it's grown and this years entries have topped to over 100. People come from all over and the activities run from Thursday to Sunday. So Friday I packed up my gear the night before and was up and out the door for the Glow Show which started at 4:30...that's AM.LOL Parking was crazy and the walk through the park in the dark, in mud and dodging the sprinklers running and down small hill slopes was adventure but just beyond the trees you could see the glow and hear the spectators. What a crowd for so early in the morning, hundreds of people! I managed to get a few pictures of the Glow show but fumbling with settings in the dark this was my best save of the predawn balloon lighting. So many people with camera's and video recorders taking in the show. I loved seeing all the cell phones in the air trying to capture the main attraction.

If you are ever thinking of coming to Nevada in September this is one show you definitely want to see. It's spectacular!!!

Ode to a friend...

Click for full size imageI just wanted to post a tribute to my friend John Dittrich. Many of you know John under his nickname "Zertie." He used to post regularly until earlier this year. Unbenounced to me, he had a very aggressive form of Melanoma that spread to the rest of his system. He didn't tell any of his photography friends that he was sick. He was called back to God November 23rd, 2007.
He was a sweet, terribly funny, incredibly talented man...and there is a void out there in the world with him gone. I met him back in 2003 on another photography forum. I will always be grateful for his friendship, his humor, and his "outsider" insight into photography that I will miss so very much.
He had a funny line for everything... By posting this self portrait of his, I kinda feel like I'm pulling the curtain back on the wizard, but I believe he deserves true credit where its due. :)
Godspeed John.

Shooting the Southwest Sunsets

Click for full size imageSoon I'll be moving from southern California to Northern Neveda.Trading palm trees for pine trees,rain for snow storms.LOL Although I enjoy the southwest I'm happy to be getting back up to the mountains of the sierra's. I'll miss the beautiful sunsets and the mild winters here.
I enjoy going out with my camera just before the sun sets on a cloudy day and capturing storm clouds breaking. Here's one of my favorites from last week.I liked the deep blue sky in back of the ominous dark storm clouds coming in as the sun sets.

Digital Darkroom Nirvana

Click for full size imageYears ago, back in the "ancient" film days, I had a darkroom outfitted with blackout windows, a dichroic (color) enlarger, a huge sink for rinsing prints, and lots of very smelly chemicals.

Well, times have changed. Now that same room is no longer in darkness and all the chemical fumes have finally dissipated. In their place is the faint hum of hard drives and the glow of flat panel displays.

I've just recently upgraded the system, added more hard drive space, and can gaze into 525 square inches of flat panel color instead of peering at a faint projected image in near darkness. It's digital darkroom nirvana!

For the techies reading this, here's a brief rundown of the setup:

HP Tower PC with Intel Quad Core CPU and 4GB DDR2 memory, (3) SATA hard drives (RAID0, 1.5 Terabytes), Dual Samsung SyncMaster LCD displays (27" and 19", landscape + portrait), plus two HP servers on a LAN with another Terabyte of drive space.

Sure beats that old darkroom...

One of my first photos

Click for full size imageTaken the winter of '94. Cold cold cold! I had an assignment for a 2D design class, and needed some shots. My friend and I went out to the railroad yards one cold day and promptly got kicked out.
Luckily, my Dad's best friend worked for the railroad for many years and retired with them. He knew everybody. He escorted me back to the yard, where I got every picture I needed without a hassle. We kept on having to go back to the car and warm up, then come out and shoot again. I thought my shutter was going to freeze.
This was taken with my Canon AE-1.

Your earliest photo?

Set your time machine back to the tumultuous late 60's (yes, I'm dating myself). I was just entering high school and had saved enough money doing odd jobs around the neighborhood to afford my very first SLR, a Mamiya-Sekor 1000DTL.

The camera with a 50mm lens cost around $300 back then, and it was a big step up from the Kodak box camera I played with as a kid. Though not quite a Nikon, the Mamiya Sekor was nevertheless state-of-the-art at the time, with dual metering (spot and average), self-timer, and other advanced features.

I shot exclusively B&W film back then (usually Plus-X and Tri-X), developed the negatives myself, then printed with an ancient Beseler enlarger. To save money, I bought 100 ft. rolls of film and rolled my own cartridges (called bulk-film loading), getting several hundred shots for just a few bucks.

While not actually my first 35mm photo, here's a very early shot scanned from an over 35 year-old negative I found in a file box. I remember printing this at 8x10 and enjoying the "prickly" look of the cactus.

Hey fellow PixArtWeb members, why not share some of your earliest photos and give us a little history?

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