Friday Foto – Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico

Here’s another image I shot this week on the dry lake bed at Elephant Butte Lake State Park near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. The exposed gray branches, lit by the midday sun, contrast nicely with the dark brown sand and work really well for black and white processing.

ElephantButteSP_20181024_030 bw

Click on the photo to view larger on my Flickr site.

Feels good to be exploring the world with my Nikon 700 again. This was minimally processed in Paint Shop Pro X9.

I’m planning to post here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for as long as I’m inspired to do so. You can also see my earlier stuff on my Flickr page.

 

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Big Changes, New Content – Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico

Wow, how long has it been since I’ve posted anything that I’ve shot with my Nikon?

Way, way too long!

But that’s about to change. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve retired from work, and the hubby and I recently sold our house and almost everything we owned and we’re now living full-time in our 24′ Class C RV, traveling the country. We left our home in Tupelo, Mississippi on August 31, 2018, and we’re currently in New Mexico, making our way westward for the winter.

We’ve finally started to get into somewhat of a groove or a routine, and so I *finally* got my Nikon 700 out of my camera bag today and did some shooting. This was primarily a day for getting reacquainted with my camera, trying to remember the very basics of aperture, shutter speed and ISO. I used my 28-300mm zoom lens since we were exploring and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

We’re currently staying at Elephant Butte Lake State Park near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. The lake is actually a reservoir, but due to the ongoing drought it is currently at about 4% of its capacity. Therefore there is almost a Mad Max desolate feeling about the beach, although there is a lot of wildlife and the park is very popular with RVers and campers.

We were hiking and shooting in the early afternoon when the sunlight was most severe, so after I looked at the results I decided to convert the shots to black and white. I have a real preference for B&W photography, especially for high-contrast images when there is no real interesting color in the shot anyway.

ElephantButteSP_20181024_037 bw

This is one of my favorite shots from today. The ripples in the stone remind us that these rocks are supposed to be under water, but as long as the drought continues, they will be exposed to wind and rain instead.

I’m looking forward to having much, much more time to spend on my photography, now that I am retired and living on the road. I love the Southwest USA, and look forward to capturing much of it through the lenses of my Nikon.

I do still shoot a lot with my iPhone8+, and I post a curated series of those shots to Instagram at Instagram.com/zen_of_zann. I also post iPhone shots related to our RV travels to Instagram.com/JustCallUsNomads. Feel free to follow both those feeds if you’re interested!

Weekly One Word Challenge – OPEN

I’m starting to get a little more caught up on my weekly photo challenge work. I’ve just now completed processing the images that I shot for the February 23 challenge around the theme “Open”. As I mentioned, I was a week late shooting these images because of the bad weather that we had, but better late than never!

I decided to process all of these in black & white this week. I’m also using Lightroom and Photoshop for the very first time (after years of using Paintshop Pro in every version up through the current X7). I have to say that I really like Lightroom for its simple slider adjustments, although I’m not yet a fan of all the Collections, Catalogs and other nonsense. I like a simpler method of organizing.

Photoshop is another beast that I’ll need to get better acquainted with, although Paintshop Pro has many of the same features and has already given me a headstart on learning to use levels and masking.

My images for this week were all shot around downtown Tupelo on a sunny Saturday morning just after our most recent ice storm. Each of these has some interpretation of the word or concept “open”, at least in my own mind.

Enjoy!

1word_open_041_2015-02-23_LR_desat

1word_open_001_2015-02-23_TpzBW

1word_open_005_2015-02-23_tpzBW

1word_open_005_2015-02-23_tpzDetail

1word_open_025_2015-02-23_LR_desat

1word_open_031_2015-02-23_LR_desat

The next challenge I’ll be presenting is the word “Wet”. Stay tuned!

2015-photo-challenge-zannonewordphotochallenge

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Texting God?

I love candid shots, and I love black-and-white photography.  And when I can combine the two, it makes my day!

While I was in the process of shooting brackets for HDR processing at St. Luke’s Methodist Church in Houston, I noticed this guy sitting on the steps in front of the huge wooden doors.  I’m not sure if he noticed me as I pointed the camera toward him, but if he did, he didn’t really care.  He was much more interested in his smartphone. 🙂

Texting God?

I processed this in Paintshop Photo Pro X5, using the Topaz Black & White plug-in. It’s one of my favorite shots from the trip.

Cool Chair

Continuing my series of images from the abandoned Black Canyon Greyhound Park in Black Canyon City, Arizona:

Decided to go with a black-and-white image for this evening’s post.  I was a little torn, because this chair is actually pink, but it’s pretty faded.  I decided that the monochrome gave a better “feel” of the shot:

Cool Chair
HDR created from five bracketed photos processed in Photomatix v4. Post-processing in Paintshop Photo Pro X3, using Topaz Adjust / DeNoise.

This shot was taken where the old restaurant used to be.  I like the little details like the sink drain sitting in the windowsill, right next to that wicked shard of glass.  If you’re interested in seeing more shots from this location, check out my posts from the past four days!

If you like my work, please subscribe to this blog and feel free to offer comments. You can also find me on:

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My Official Website at http://zannwalker.com

Gallery Space

Continuing my series of images from our recent visit to Jerome, Arizona:

Many, if not most, of the structures in Jerome have been abandoned at one time or another, but they have been reoccupied by artists and gallery owners, as well as restaurant owners, bed-and-breakfast operators and souvenir hawkers.

While strolling around Jerome we came across the studio of a glass-blower which occupies a once-abandoned building.  I used a set of three brackets to produce this black-and-white HDR image.  At the upper left you can see the windows of the glass-blower’s studio–he has a beautiful view of the Verde Valley below that must be such an inspiration for his work.  Just outside his windows you can see the crumbled, abandoned part of the building which gives it such character.

While I like the colors in the original, I wanted to go with black-and-white to emphasize the textures of the brick, plaster, concrete, tin, sheet metal, and the mountainside in the background.  I also think that the black-and-white just fits the time period of the original building:

Gallery Space

And just for grins, here’s what the original photo looked like. This JPG was converted from the original raw file with no processing applied. This is the normal exposure bracket:

What do you think? Would the color version be more effective?  Should I re-do the HDR as a color version?

If you like my work, please subscribe to this blog and feel free to offer comments. You can also find me on:
Facebook at ZannWalker Photography
Twitter @suzanne_hight
My Official Website at http://zannwalker.com

Take-out

Really late post tonight, but I wanted to get this one out there.

I took this shot a couple of weeks ago on our light rail photo crawl. It’s a candid that I took with my 28-300mm zoom lens at one of the train stops. I love the facial expressions, but I wasn’t all that excited about the background.

So tonight I ran it through my usual workflow…Topaz Adjust (popped the details), DeNoise, then back into Paintshop Photo Pro X3 for some adjustment layers (levels and saturation), until I got an image that I was almost satisfied with. Almost, but not quite. The more I looked at it, the more I decided that the color was actually distracting from the facial expressions. So I decided to desaturate it, and go with black and white.

Since I had already popped the details in Topaz and saturated the colors earlier, the black and white seemed to come out better than any that I’ve tried previously. Maybe a new wrinkle in the workflow?

Anyway, here’s “Take-out”:

Take-out
Shot with a Nikon D700, 28-300mm zoom @ 300mm, F/9, 1/320s, ISO 200

I went to the AZ Photographers Group happy hour and photo shoot at the Vintage Lounge in Tempe tonight. They had a small shooting area set up, and a couple of local models were available for us to photograph using a couple of strobe lights that were set up. I still don’t have a transceiver to trigger flashes and strobes remotely, so I was using my flash on-camera. I wasn’t real excited about any of the shots that I took, but it was fun and educational to see how it’s done and to compare notes on equipment.

BFF’s in B&W

One of the great things about telecommuting twice a week is that I get to go outside several times a day and just walk around the block to get some fresh air and exercise.  Today I made a point of carrying my camera with me each time I went outside.  My neighborhood is not at all photogenic, but you never know what you might come across.

On my last stroll of the day, I came across these kids playing in the street (it’s not a busy street, mind you).  And I heard:

“Hey, I’ve seen her before!”

“She’s got a camera!”

“She’s a photo-graffer.” (She said this as two separate words, “photo” and “graffer”.)

“Hey, you can take our picture!!”

So, I did.  Normally I hesitant about taking pictures of kids, because in today’s society one’s intentions can be completely misinterpreted.  But with the parents close by and no objections, I got the shot.  And it’s a rather good one, I think!

Friends 01

Tomorrow, it’s back to the HDR stuff…I promise!

Bike Night – Developing an Eye for Detail

Here are a few more shots from last Thursday night’s Bike Night at Westgate in Glendale, AZ. Although I enjoy taking those wide-angle shots to get the “big picture”, I’m finding that I enjoy even more getting close to a subject and looking for the little interesting details.

Here are some examples, two in black-and-white and one in color. Be sure to click on them to view large on black..

In this first shot, the detailed etching on the fender and the wheel of this bike caught my eye as I passed by. Yeah, I could have taken a shot of the entire bike, but then I would have had all kind of extemporaneous busyness in the frame that would have distracted from my real subject–the wheel:

Bike Night on Veterans Day 012

I processed this next image in color because I liked the way the red and blue lights reflected off the silver of this hood (fender?) ornament, especially since it was Veterans Day. Had a lot of fun playing with this one in Topaz DeNoise and Adjust.  I did have to crop a little off the top, but it was all empty space anyway:

Bike Night on Veterans Day 013

And finally, another black-and-white image. I was really torn on this one. The bike had blue lights under the gas tank that lit up the motor with an eerie neon glow, and I thought it would be really cool to process in color. However, what really caught my eye was the reflection of nearby bikes that showed up in the rear fender. I didn’t want the blue from the motor to detract from the reflection, so I chose to process this one in monochrome. Just an aesthetic preference on my part, I guess.  I also like the DOF on this one–having the rest of the bike a little blurry helped draw the eye to the reflection:

Bike Night on Veterans Day 014

Once again, all these were shot with a Nikon D5000 with the kit lens (18-55mm, f/3.5-5.6), handheld, ISO around 2000, and in aperture-priority mode with the aperture pretty much wide open.

I have several more shots from Bike Night that I may or may not get around to processing. A week from tonight I’ll be headed “home” to visit my family for Thanksgiving, and of course my camera bag and tripod will be traveling with me. I’ve got a lot to do between now and then–I do have a day job after all–so I’m not sure how much time I’ll get to spend in the digital darkroom.

Of course, if insomnia strikes……