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Archive for January, 2011

Photos I Like But….


For some reason I remembered  this particular image the other day, and thought I might make a post every now and then of a photo that I always liked, but never got any positive feedback on from my usual audience (family).   Not a postcard scenic, or particularly revealing as a record shot, I suppose this is one just appealed to the photographer in me.   These bright red streetlights are outside the Princess Wilderness Lodge just outside the entrance to Denali National Park in Alaska.   I just liked the pattern they made against the mountain I guess, it probably helps that they were bright red.  Man vs. Nature?   A study in repeating shapes?  Nonsense?  I just like it, that’s all.

(Although I doubt if he will believe me, I would like to assure Ken that I was going to post this today before I saw he made a post about red.   Just another eerie coincidence.)


Smoke Abstract~Bonus Day

Angry Ghost-Smoking

To cap off the weeks festivities I offer the above, which in keeping with my esoteric yet subtle  titling schemes,   I like to call “Angry Ghost-Smoking”.   And so ends a week of smoke.

Smoke Abstract~Day Five


Yet another variation using the same raw material as Day 3.   I think this blue gradient on the black background  might be my favorite of the bunch.

Smoke Abstract~Day Four

This one uses day two’s original as a starting point.  There are so many possibilities with these abstracts,  it’s difficult to know what works and what doesn’t.  If I shoot more smoke I will have a little more light to work with so I can see what the smoke is doing and perhaps attain slightly more control.

Smoke Abstract~Day Three


This is a slightly different take than the last two days, with an inverted background changed to white.   I could try and debate the artistic merits (or lack thereof) , but to tell you the truth I just thought it looked kind of cool, which is probably the only reason I ever post anything.


Smoke Abstract~Day Two

For the purists, this image has had very little work done in post processing.   It was cropped, levels tweaked, and a little saturation added.   To tell you the truth I’m not 100% sure where the little coloration you can see came from….the blue I suspect because the camera was still set to auto white balance and was giving me bluish smoke, but as for the gold color…..not sure.   I think I’ll just consider it a bit of mysterious good luck for now.

Smoke Abstract~Day One


It’s Smoke Art week at the Warped Prism.   I’m not claiming it’s art, but that’s what they call this on the internet so it must be true right?  This is something I’ve wanted to try for some time.  This one looks to me like a person walking, leaning forward with a strong wind blowing their scarf from behind.  But that’s just me.  The original image was tipped on it’s side in Photoshop Elements, and then a color gradient layer added.   Read on if you want a little more background on how to shoot the smoke to obtain your raw images.  Stop reading if you are easily bored.

You’re really supposed to have an off camera flash connected to your camera for this technique, which I don’t have, so I had to improvise.   I do have a late 1970’s vintage Vivitar flash unit that cannot be connected to my modern camera, however it does have a ‘test’ button which will trigger the flash even when not connected to anything.   (Many years ago my nephew used this feature to run around outside my parents house at night, making them think there was a lightning-rich thunderstorm approaching, but that is a story for another day I guess – on second thought you probably had to be there.)

What is required is a darkened room, a black backdrop, a source of smoke (jumbo incense stick in my case), a bright, directed light source, and camera of course, best on a tripod.   I set the camera on manual, and manually focused on a solid object temporarily placed where the smoke would be.  I used an aperture of  f/16 for most of these.   My problem was the light source.  Lacking an off camera dedicated flash, or studio flash, I figured the following might work, and it did.  I used “B” setting on the camera, with my remote release in my left hand.   I would trip the shutter with the left hand, then point my old Vivitar flash at the smoke and trigger it with my right hand, then allow the shutter to close.   The flash duration was short enough that the smoke was frozen pretty well.   You have to keep your light source from hitting the black backdrop, but also keep it from causing lens flares, flashing the smoke from the side is thus the best approach.   I shot a gazillion, OK, a couple of hundred frames, and found quite a few with interesting shapes.

One thing I might do a little different next time is have a little more ambient light in the room….my room was so dark I couldn’t actually see what the smoke was doing, I was just firing blindly.  I also might try and have a slightly larger backdrop, the black foam board I was using was just barely big enough. You’ve got to have some separation distance between the smoke and backdrop – in my case it was probably about 2 or 3 feet.

I’m planning on posting one of these a day this week, but without the long winded commentary.  If you want to pursue this, just type “smoke art” into your search engine of choice, there is a lot of information out there.

Duck Magic

I went out to search for winter scenes at mid-day, and happened upon some ducks on a lake, swimming through brilliant twinkling sun reflections.  My confession about this one is that I decided not to wade through the huge pile of snow necessary to change to a longer lens.  This is quite the extreme crop, I’ll leave it at that.   I believe the little sunburst patterns you see are a result of the small aperture used here…f/16.   No filters were used on camera or in post processing.   Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Snow Branch

We got our expected snow.  I went out briefly to shoot in the yard this morning in case I don’t get the chance to venture further, later.   It’s a little hard for me to separate something interesting from all the tree branch clutter around here – this morning I was thinking close-ups and possibly abstract patterns.  It’s a problem getting snow to show up against a bright gray sky, but I went that route anyway.

Pink Dawn

In the ‘ I’m too lazy to move 10 feet from my back door’  department, I now offer a dawn from this morning which was much more on the red/pink side than the orange I posted last time.

Snow is in the forecast for Sunday and Monday,  I’m hoping to get inspired by that and get some wintery images.