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Saturday, December 31, 2005

 

Squeeze in a Few More for 2005...

Trying to squeeze in just a few more photos on the last day of 2005. My new camera is still enroute - tantalizingly shown on the UPS webstite as having made the trip all the way from California, arriving at the UPS hub in Laurel, only a few miles from here, early this morning - I guess I'll have to wait until Tuesday after all.
Art Things Paintbrush Display
City Dock Xmas
Ego Alley

Thursday, December 29, 2005

 

Mais Que Nada

Sunset at 30,000 feet A Brazilian Jet!?

Hey, they samba pretty good down there, but they build commercial jets?

Yup - on our recent trip to visit the In-Laws in Toronto, we flew 3 out of the 4 legs on Embraer ERJ145 regional jets.

All in all, it was a welcome change from the Fairchild F.27 puddlejumpers that we had become used to on these trips.

And I hear that on Wednesdays, they server feijoada.
Embraer ERJ145 Wing

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

 

Walkaround Camera

Since I've been downtown, there have been any number of photo-opportunities I've passed up because I was walking around camera-less.

Well, you know, sometimes, I just don't want to schlep my Canon Digital Rebel. So I've been thinking for some time about buying a small "walkaround" camera to keep with me pretty much at all times.

Last night, after much research, I took the plunge and ordered a Canon A620. You can read all about it in this review at Digital Camera Resource Page, where the photo below comes from. Other good sources are here, here, and here.
I also considered an SD400, like the one we bought our daughter Leah for graduation earlier this year. But I finally settled on this larger form factor - it's about the same size as my first digital camera, a Canon A40. The A40 still serves well - Sandy uses it all the time for her kindergarten class, and I even take it along sometimes.

At 2MP, the A40 can yield surprisingly good 8x10 prints - but that's about the absolute limit. I wanted a camera that could give me great 11x14 and 13x19 prints. With a 7MP sensor, the A620 might fit that bill - it's hard to say until I try it (keep in mind that pixels aren't all the same - the 7MP of the A620 are each much smaller than the 6MP of my Digital Rebel - and that translates to noise.)

I ordered the camera and a 1GB SD card from Newegg.com, an outfit that I've used many times before for both computer and photo equipment. They tend to be very fast in terms of shipping, so maybe by New Years' Day, I'll have something to tell you about my new Walkaround Camera.

Friday, December 23, 2005

 

Moonrise Over Legg-Mason

Prototype for the Legg-Mason Building
Moonrise Over Legg-Mason, Baltimore It pays to keep looking up! Heading back to work from my excursion to photograph 300 E. Lombard Wednesday, I happened to see this waning moon hanging in the sky near the Legg-Mason building.

Now, by the way, the two building in this photo are not among the few handsome ones that Baltimore has to offer. Oh, they look OK here, but you should see them full-face.

The Legg-Mason Building (background,) finished in 1973, was designed by graduates of the Louvered Cupboard School of Architecture. To add insult to injury, the 529-foot building is the tallest in Baltimore, and indeed, the tallest building on the Eastern seaboard from here to Charlotte.

The foreground edifice, The Gallery, well... it's just too awful to include in the same post - it'll have to wait for another time. Like an aging actress, The Gallery actually has a good side, or maybe even two good sides, but the front - the facade facing Harborplace, is a Frankenstein-like assemblage of mismatched pieces.

That horror story, however, is for another time.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

 

Skywalker

Skywalker

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

 

300 E. Lombard

300 E. Lombard wavy facade
The Baltimore skyline, in my humble opinion, suffers from a dearth of decent architecture.

As I've said before, my admitedly untutored view of what makes for good architecture is strikingly similar to Justice Potter Stewart's famous take on pornography - "I know it when I see it."

And in strolling around downtown Baltimore over the past few months, I ain't seen it.

At least not much.

Most of the structures built during the '60s, '70's and early '80s are unimaginative glass-and-steel or masonry-and-glass variations on the International Style. That is, one building looks pretty much like the box that the neighboring building came in.

Harborplace, the early-1980's development of Baltimore's Inner Harbor, is an exception to the Baltimore Bad Architecture rule. The original buildings, two low-rise retail pavillions set at right angles along a nicely-bricked waterfront, was innovative for its time. It still looks pretty nice.

300 E. Lombard - approaching from the east along Lombard St.Yesterday, I was meeting a collegue for lunch a few blocks from where I work, and I happened to walk by 300 E. Lombard Street, brick office tower with a distictive wavy facade. I'd walked by this one many times before, but must have had my head down. For Baltimore, this is a pretty nice building!

I walked right up to the curve in the facade and looked straight up - cool! Definitely a photographer's target. Also, approaching the buliding from the east along Lombard street, you're treated to a nice brick-and-dark-window banding effect - clevely offset-doubled because of the wavy front side of the structured.

A little research turned up the fact that the building was built in the early 1980's and originally a Rouse Company property, Rouse being the very same developer of Harborplace.

Nice job!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

 

USCGC Taney

USCGC Taney
More reflections taken in downtown Baltimore. This one includes the totally unreflected USCG Cutter Taney, a WWII-era ship that is now part of Baltimore's Maritime Museum.

As I started taking pictures here, a group of terns were flying in and out of my frame. I set my camera on rock-and-roll and kept the shutter button pressed whenever I saw them swooping across my viewfinder.

By the way, I didn't like the placement of the piling - it was at about the halfway point of the bottom of the image. So I cut-and-pasted it into the corner, and cloned over the "hole" it left with water and dock edge.USCGC Taney - original image


Here's the original scene in the small photo. For some reason, the piling location botherred me. With the piling in the corner, I think it serves as a "base" for the lower right corner of the frame.

What do you think?

Monday, December 19, 2005

 

More Playing with Reflections




 

BillG and Melinda - Persons of the Year!

I don't know much about that guy with the shades on the 2005 Time magazine Persons of the Year cover, but I do know quite a bit about the man and the woman flanking him.

There isn't much more that I can say about BillG that I haven't already said in this post, so let me just offer my congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Gates for the well-deserved honor of being chosen as Persons of the Year by Time.

Oh, yeah, and mazel tov to that guy in the middle. I hear that he's a real mentch as well.

Monday, December 12, 2005

 

Looking in the Abstract

Red White Shadow It must be hard for non-photographers, or non-artists, to walk with me. I'm constantly stopping to look at some bit of the mundane, something ordinary that everyone, including me 90% of the time, would just pass right by.

When I think about it, it must be a funny sight. I'll suddenly stop and stare at something, cocking my head this way and that, like a bird checking out a worm.

On this particular stroll through Annapolis, I stopped to photograph this waterfront warehouse, built around 1800. The whitewashed stone walls and the red doors always catch my eye. This time, though, it was something much more micro than macro - the shadow of the fence at the base of the building on the right.

I thought that isolating that part of the scene, including only a part of the red door, the brilliant white wall, and the shadow, would make a nice abstract.

And I think it worked. The image above makes nice use of shape - the triangles, texture, and "color/non-color." And all I had to do to get it was to mentally zoom in on a piece of the overall action to isolate something entirely different.

So there it was, hiding in plain sight. All I had to do was a little cropping and some levels adjustment and final sharpening in Photoshop. Well, actually, there was one more thing - for some reason, I liked the flow of the image much better after I mirrored it in Photoshop. It might be one of those cultural things - because I'm an English-reading human, I'm used to seeing things flow from left to right?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

 

Killer Leaf

Killer Leaf This month's project as Usefilm.com is "Patterns In Nature." I realized that I had some decent photos along that line, so I submitted a few... and two of them were picked as "Best in Project."

Again, I need to explain that there are many BIPs given out during the life of each project, probably several per day - but still, it's nice to be noticed among the hundreds that were submitted.

This image was from a stroll I took through a tropical plant "forest" adjacent to the Smithsonian "Castle" in Washington, DC last year. Being a complete dummy when it comes to plants, I got smart with this one and photographed a little sign that described this plant:"Solanum quitoense - spiney member of the tomato family - grown in Ecuador as fruit crop for drinks, known as "Naranjillo."

Saturday, December 10, 2005

 

Unexpected Fun

Sometimes what you get when you look through a long telephoto is a surprise. Take this case, for example - I was standing on the Eastport side of Spa Creek at near its mouth, where it empties into the Severn River. Pointing my 70-300mm zoom across the creek at the Naval Academy, I got this view when I zoomed all the way out (equivalent to about 470mm on my Canon Digital Rebel.)

The distortion of the large glass panels was something totally unexpected, and it made the shot worth taking. The fun-house mirror effect, randomly mixed with clear, undistored panels, is what lends interest to what would otherwise be a rather dull scene.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

 

Good Side, Bad Side

This high-rise tower, just across from Harborplace in Baltimore, looks pretty good from this angle. But you should see the other side!

What a mess - a real hodgepodge of facades and materials. I'll have to take some pictures of that part and post them some day, because it's hard to imagine how bad the architecture is. It's as if they ran out of the good stuff partway through and started to use two or three bargain-basement fa├žades.

That bad side is bad enough that capital punishment of the architect and developers would be a suitable - to make sure nothing like that would happen again.

Fortunately, the good side faces the place where I've been working recently, and this is what I see in the morning.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

 

Garage Photo-Op...

Columbus Center - BaltimoreYou've heard of garage bands... well, this is a garage photo.

I took it this evening from the hi-rise garage where I've been parking the last few days as I finish the project I'm working on for Constellation Energy in downtown Baltimore. Yes, sometimes it pays to be lazy...

I had been taking the Light Rail for the past two months and hoofing it the remaining three-quarters mile back and forth to CEG's office, but if I had continued to do that, I wouldn't have seen this spectacular view from the southeast corner of the garage.

I had been treated to this scene on each of the last few nights leaving the garage, getting a glimpse of the tent-like, sail-like roof on each floor as I spiraled towards the exit. Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer - today I brought the camera and tripod along for the trip.

At 4:45, sunset today in Baltimore, I left the office to head up to the 3rd floor of the garage, knowing that the best lighting would be arriving soon - the sky dark but not yet black, and the fabric roof lighted from the inside. I set up the tripod, framed my shot, and kept shooting every minute or so, bracketing along the way. This image, which I think was among the best of the lot, was from about one-half hour after sunset.

In the excitement and concentration of the moment, I had neglected to put on my gloves. The 30-degree weather did a job on my fingers, but I didn't really notice until I packed up my gear to head back to the office. Well, it was worth it.

By the way, what we're looking at here is the front of the Columbus Center, which is now the home of University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute. The huge tensioned-fabric roof is the most outstanding feature of the building.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

 

Los Gemelos

Very talented twins - Times Square subway station, August 2004.

The New York subway system is the venue of some of the best, and some of the worst, performers I've ever seen. These brothers were definitely among the former.

As for me, I've always harbored a dream to belt out a song or two in this underground aeolian hall. Unlike these fellows, I'd look for a more narrow passageway - the reverb off of the tiled walls would hide a number of vocal sins.

So next time I head up to New York City, I just might practice up on the lyrics of God Bless the Child and bring an old hat for for people to throw in their quarters. You just never know.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

 

More Atlanta Zoo...

Handsome Vulture Who would have ever thought that a vulture could be beautiful?

Check this guy out - a resident of one of the aviaries at Atlanta Zoo. Not that I would necessarily like to find him flying around inside my house one day, but he is rather striking.

Now, even though it may look like it, I wasn't in the cage with this bird. The front side of the cage was between me and the vulture, but shooting with a long lens, and focusing well behind the mesh in front of me, the wire virtually "disappeared" in the image.

Normally, the saying, "it's the photographer, not the camera, that's important" is absolutely true. But this is a case where the equipment really did make a difference.

Photo BoothFuzzy Visitor Not all the photo action at the Zoo that day involved the permanent residents. Even thought it was early February, it was a beautiful spring-like day in Atlanta, and there were plenty of human photo-ops that day.

 

Lost and Found

Miss Anne Returns Home A few months ago, I wanted to print a copy of a photo I took in August 2003. It was a nice image of sunset over Spa Creek in Annapolis, one that I had sold a few copies of over the past two years.

I put the CD I had burned with that month's files into the CD drive on my desktop computer, it spun a bit, and then... nothing.

I tried another CD, and it came up fine. I took the August 2003 CD to several other PCs in the house, and none could read it. I took it to work the next day, and ... nada!

I tried several recovery utilities, and none did any good. As far as any PC was concerned, the CD was now blank.

Phooey!

That CD had not only Spa Creek Sunset, but also 420 Racers, another Annapolis photo that had sold a few copies. Oh well.

Miss Anne II BowSo the other day, I moved 5 GB of image files from my 3-year-old laptop to my the second 80 GB drive that I had just installed in my desktop. I started to take a quick peek inside each of th transferred folders to recall what was there, and suddenly, there were my August 2003 photos!

Yes, it was just like finding the $10 bill in the proverbial pants pocket. Actually, it was better than that, because it gave me an opportunity to look at the images with a new eye, more than two years later.

One of the things that's different now is that I know a little more about how to "develop" a digital image. In the old days, in terms of brightness and contrast, all I knew about was... well, the Brightness and Contrast control. Since then, I've learned to use Levels, and mirabile dictu I now get much more out of my digital "negatives."

The images in today's post were ones that I saw as well-composed two years ago, but back then, I just wasn't able to "develop" them properly and get the look I wanted using only Brightness and Contrast.

There's just one downside to this good-news story: My friend Steve N. bought a print of Spa Creek Sunset last June, and after I "lost" the original file, I told him he now owned a much more valuable and rare work of art. Oh well.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

 

Thoughtful Orangutan 2

Thoughtful Orangutan 2
Another orangutan at Atlanta Zoo - this one is a male, I think.

On another topic, I actually got a commission a few weeks ago to take some photos. I should be delivering them in a day or two, and if I get permission from the "commissioner," I'll post some of them and tell you the story.

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