Blue Suede Cruise in Tupelo

In all the excitement around last weekend’s supermoon, I almost forgot about the other huge event taking place in Tupelo last weekend — the Blue Suede Cruise.  This annual event features classic cars from all around the area, gathered together for a weekend of “cruising” all the historic areas of Tupelo, especially those related to the King.

The central gathering place for the Cruise was at the BancorpSouth Arena, but we saw these classic cars being driven all over town over the three-day weekend.  The rules stated that the cars had to be at least 25 years old, but exceptions were made for certain models like Corvettes, Thunderbirds, Prowlers, etc.

I took my Nikon D5000 with my 18-55mm lens (for a little wide-angle viewing) to the festivities on Saturday morning.  We spent about an hour admiring the many different vehicles on display, listening to the music, and soaking up the atmosphere.  I took quite a few shots, all single-exposures.  When I started processing them, they just called out to be processed in black-and-white, so that’s what I did.

Here are a few of my favorites that I’ve processed so far…I still have more to work on, but gotta save some for those days when I need something to do! 🙂

20120505_058_BlueSuedeCruise_bw

20120505_057_BlueSuedeCruise_bw

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And then there’s this shot….I have no idea why the guy behind the car has his belly on display!

20120505_039_BlueSuedeCruise_bw

These were all processed in Paintshop Photo Pro X4, using Topaz Black & White Effects (which i dearly love!).  I’ll share more later as the mood strikes me.

Since moving to Tupelo last September, we’ve come to love the many festivals and events that bring out all the colorful characters and the best of the South.  Take a look back at some shots that I took at the recent “Don’t Be Cruel BBQ Duel“. (Starting to feel that “Elvis” vibe?)

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Supermoon 2012

So, who DIDN’T go out last night to shoot the supermoon?

Since we don’t have any really high hills or mountains where I live, I decided to go for some moon-on-water reflection shots.  So I dragged the hubby along and we went to Lake Mohawk where my parents live, to grab not only some shots of the moon rising, but also of the sunset that would precede the big event.

The sky was mostly overcast with high, thin clouds all afternoon, but we decided to try for it anyway in hopes that the clouds would begin to break up in the late afternoon.  I decided to set up on a fishing pier about halfway between the east and west ends of the lake so that I could get water reflections from both the sunset in the west and the moonrise in the east.

We got there about 5:15 I think, which was way too early, so we wound up just hanging out for almost two hours before the sky got interesting, but it was pretty relaxing and gave us a chance to unwind a little bit from the week.  Just before sunset, I called my parents to let them know where we were, and they came down to the pier to join us for the festivities.

The clouds didn’t break up quite as much as I would have liked, and we were probably too close to the tree line to get the best angle on the rising moon.  But still I think I managed to come away with a few images that pleased me.

For the sunset shots, I used the Nikon D700 and shot brackets of five exposures for HDR processing.  I started off with the 14-24 wide angle lens, and finished up with the 28-300 telephoto zoom.  I’ve processed these as HDR’s using Photomatix v4, Paintshop Photo Pro X4, and Topaz DeNoise.  On a side note, since I used both lenses for the same basic shots, I’ve finally figured out that the spots that keep appearing in the photos in the upper left quadrant of the sky must be dust on my sensor.  Ugh.  I used the Object Remove tool in Paintshop Pro to get rid of as many as possible, but I may have to take the camera to have it cleaned.

Sunset Before SuperMoon 01

Sunset Before Supermoon 02

When the moon started rising, I used the zoom to try and get some of the detail.  Later I widened my zoom to capture the reflection of the moon on the water, which to me was a much more interesting composition than just the moon in the sky (which EVERYONE was shooting).  These are all single images processed in Paintshop Photo Pro X4 with Topaz DeNoise:

Supermoon Rising

Supermoon at Lake Mohawk 01

Supermoon at Lake Mohawk 02
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Meet Ti and JJ

Meet Ti and JJ.  These two goofballs are the grandsons of our next door neighbor, and they visit just about every weekend.  They are typical boys–always into mischief, full of energy, bound-and-determined to participate in whatever you might be doing in the yard.  One weekend Ti, the youngest, helped me wash my car (if you can call squirting the water hose in every imaginable direction “helping”).  JJ, the oldest, is always into something he shouldn’t be into….one day we watched him climb the fence in the backyard and then burst into tears when he realized he was too scared to get down.

Today we had the lawn sprinkler running in the front yard, and since the temperatures were in the 80’s, it was just too much for the boys to resist.  They spent a joyful half hour playing in the water, and were more than happy to pose for photos:

Ti and JJ 01

Ti and JJ 04

Ti and JJ 03

Ti and JJ 02

Ti and JJ 05

All images were shot with my Nikon D700 and the 28-300mm Nikkor zoom lens.  Processed in Paintshop Photo Pro X4, using Topaz Black & White Effects.

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Back in the Saddle

For the past few weeks I’ve been totally obsessed with my iPhone, playing with all the apps that are available for editing those photos that I’ve taken on the fly.  It’s a lot of fun, it’s quick and it’s easy.  But it’s not the same as the satisfaction I get from taking out the full-frame Nikon 700 with a 50mm prime lens to capture image in a way that the iPhone never will.

This evening I took my camera with me to the Women’s Hospital in hopes of getting some photos of my brand new great-niece, but there was a sign on the door that they weren’t taking visitors right then, so we just left them a note at the visitors’ desk and left.  On the way home, however, I decided to make a quick stop at Veterans Park as the sun was just slipping behind the trees.  I figured, I had the camera with me, might as well shoot a few frames.

I wasn’t sure what I would come away with since the golden hour was already past, but I upped the ISO to 500 and opened up the aperture and took a few shots of the welcoming committees of geese that came to greet us.  I processed a few of these when I got home, and was pretty pleased with the results.  I like the shallow depth of field that resulted from the wide open aperture, it seems to make the geese “pop” from the background.

Let me know what you think!  Better than Instagram? 🙂

Pretty Ducks All In A Row

Grungy Geese

Must Not Be Biting

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Don’t Be Cruel BBQ Duel

This past Saturday was St. Paddy’s Day, that’s true, but here in Tupelo, it was also the weekend for the “Don’t Be Cruel BBQ Duel”. The two-day event featured almost 100 BBQ cook-off teams from around the country who came to Tupelo to battle it out for bragging rights and a pretty decent cash prize. And to up the ante, the crew from the TV show “Pitmasters” was on site to film an episode from here in the heart of BBQ country.

We spent a couple of hours checking out the grills and the grill-masters. I took my smaller Nikon D5000 with the 18-55mm lens mounted. I also got to use my new Lowes Passport Sling camera bag which I dearly love.  I’ve processed a few of the shots in black and white, and love how they came out.  I used Paintshop Photo Pro X4, with Topaz Black & White Effects.  Easy-peasy!

Don't Be Cruel BBQ Duel 01

Don't Be Cruel BBQ Duel 02

Don't Be Cruel BBQ Duel 03

Don't Be Cruel BBQ Duel 04

Don't Be Cruel BBQ Duel 05

Don't Be Cruel BBQ Duel 06

Don't Be Cruel BBQ Duel 07

Don't Be Cruel BBQ Duel 08

Don't Be Cruel BBQ Duel 09

That last one is probably my favorite! 🙂

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Tupelo Station

I pulled out the Nikon D700 and did a little shooting in the grungier part of downtown Tupelo this morning.  It was overcast and cool, with some good dark clouds for HDR processing.  Most of my shooting was done in 7-bracket sets, but there are some times when you just can’t shoot brackets because things are moving too fast.

This shot is just such an example.  I wanted to get a shot of the little Tupelo train station, so I drove over the tracks and parked at the farmers’ market pavilion next to the station.  I was just getting my camera and tripod out of the car when I heard the blast of the train horn (can’t really call them “whistles”), and saw that there was a train headed my way.

I made some quick adjustments to the camera settings, turning off the bracketing settings and changing the F/stop to get a wider depth of field,  I got the camera mounted on the tripod just as the camera came around the curve and headed for the station, and then I just started clicking.  I hadn’t even thought about how close to the tracks I was until the train was right beside me.  IT WAS LOUD!!  I could actually feel the ground shaking as the engines went by.  It was AWESOME!!

I processed one of the shots using Topaz Black & White Effects, with some vignetting added.  Since the sky was pretty much gray, I think this processing choice worked pretty well as far as conveying the atmosphere:

Tupelo Station

But then I decided to try some of the extreme settings in Topaz Adjust, just to see what they had to offer. I really liked this Solarization setting….it almost has a nighttime feel to it, but still keeps the bright colors of the train:

Tupelo Station Solarized

That’s one of the things I love about photography, and especially about digital processing–if you’re not working for a paying customer, there is really no right or wrong way to process an image.  And there are so many different ways to interpret your photos, you could spend hours or days just trying different effects.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and try something outrageous–if you like what you do, who’s to say it’s not perfect?

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After-Christmas Sale

I’m trying out another new plug-in from Topaz Labs–this one is called “Star Effects”, and its purpose is to give that little extra glow to points of light in your photos.

I pulled out this shot that I took in downtown Tupelo on a foggy night back in early February.  I found this window display that looked like it was left over from Christmas, but it was still beautifully lit.  I was using the tripod with my Nikon D700 and the 50mm lens, so I took three different exposures, not knowing how the glare of the lights on the window might affect the outcome of the shot.

So since I had the three different brackets, I decided that I would combine them into an HDR image using Photomatix, and then try the new Topaz Star Effects plug-in on the little points of light.  I downloaded the trial version of the software from Topaz Labs (regular price $29.99) and, as usual, installed it with no problem.

After using Photomatix to product the HDR, I then ran the combined image through Topaz Star Effects, trying each of the different presets to see what it did to the light points.  Most of the effects were far too extreme (this image already had some star points on the lights as a result of the HDR processing).  So I selected a very mild effect and then tweaked it a little bit using the sliders in the plug-in.  Afterwards I used Topaz DeNoise to clean up some of the artifacts in the darker areas of the image, and then I used Paintshop Pro to do just a bit of sharpening.

And that’s it..here’s the result:

After-Christmas Sale

 

I’ll need to play around with Star Effects a little more on some other types of images, some with less obvious “points of light”.  But, as with all the other Topaz products, I really like the design of the user interface, the ease of installation, the variety of presets, and the affordable price.  And, no, I’m not affiliated with Topaz and I don’t get paid to test or recommend their products.

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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Oktibbeha County Courthouse

I’m still having a love affair with black-and-white processing…..

Oktibbeha County Courthouse

This is the Oktibbeha County Courthouse located in downtown Starkville, Mississippi.

After World War II the Colonial Revival in Mississippi evolved into a style that emulated the great Greek Revival houses of the antebellum period.  The revival was so widespread that some pundits have referred to it as “Greek Survival.”  Most of Mississippi’s welcome centers and interstate rest stops are constructed in this style, as are many courthouses; for example, the courthouses in Noxubee and Oktibbeha counties, built in 1952 and 1963 respectively.

Architecture in Mississippi During the 20th Century

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Foggy Saturday Night in Tupelo

It rained all day today, which gave me a perfect excuse to stay indoors and work on our income taxes.  But by the end of the day I had a good dose of cabin fever and was ready to go outside, rain or not.  By about 6:00PM the rain had stopped and a light fog had settled in for the evening.  I decided it might be a good time to do a little night shooting in downtown Tupelo.

I was hoping to get some interesting photos of the lights glowing through the fog, but it wasn’t quite dense enough to provide the effect I was looking for.  In addition, there was more traffic downtown than I had expected due to a theatre production by the Tupelo Community Theatre that was going on at the Lyric.

Still, I did get quite a few images that I really liked.  I used the D700 and my 50mm prime lens, mounted on the tripod so I wouldn’t be at the mercy of the dim light.  Andy went with me and we walked around for about an hour before the fog turned to a light sprinkle and we headed back to the car to protect the equipment.

I processed sixteen of the images when we got home, and decided to do them all in black and white–it just seemed to fit the mood.  I used Paintshop Photo Pro X4 with Topaz Black & White Effects, and I’m pretty pleased with the results.  Let me know what you think!


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White Goose in Late Afternoon

We stopped by Veterans Park in Tupelo on Sunday afternoon just about an hour before sundown.  We wanted to see if there were any geese on the lake, and we were fortunate enough to get there just when (1) the light was right and (2) a family was tossing pieces of bread into the water to attract the geese, ducks and other waterfowl.

I tried to practice something that I read recently about photographing birds and other wildlife–try to focus on the eyes.  It’s harder than it looks, as animals don’t exactly look into the camera and pose for you.  But just thinking about that little rule made me pay more attention to what I was shooting, and I did manage to capture a few shots where the eyes look pretty darn sharp!

White Goose in Late Afternoon

I used my Nikon D5000 with the 55-200mm lens for this shot, set at about 190mm. I used a fairly large aperture of F/6.3 to get a faster shutter speed and also to blur the background a little bit. I processed the raw file in Paintshop Photo Pro X4, using Topaz Adjust 5, as well as Topaz DeNoise to clean up the very slight bit of noise in the dark areas of the water.

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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