Monday Image – Sunset Stroll

I took my big glass, my Nikkor 14-24mm wide angle lens, with my Nikon D700 down to the beach at sunset yesterday. Unfortunately there weren’t enough clouds to provide a lot of drama (darn those clear New Mexico skies! ūüôā ) but I had fun shooting anyway.

We weren’t the only ones on the beach. Caught this shot of a couple taking a stroll with their dog.

ElephantButteSP_20181028_053 tpz

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

Processed this one in Paint Shop Pro X9, using the Topaz Adjust plug-in.

Have a great week, everyone!


First Shoot With the 24-85mm Nikkor

I just finished going through all the photos that I shot yesterday at my nephew’s wedding in Flowood, Mississippi. And I have to say, I am in love with this new Nikkor 24-85mm lens!

Even though I still don’t have a real clue what I’m doing with the flash, the lens performed beautifully. I was able to get the group shots that I wanted, as well as close-up details of things like the flowers on the wedding cake. ¬†The depth-of-field on the macro shots is amazing, and so is the bokeh that I was able to achieve on some of the shots. ¬†I love that the lens did not add a lot of extra weight to my Nikon D700, which already feels like a tank, especially when it has the flash (Nikon SB-700) mounted on it.

Here are three examples of the shots I got yesterday that I uploaded to Flickr. I’m definitely looking forward to getting better acquainted with this little equipment set-up!




The Back Room

Continuing my series of images from the abandoned house that we discovered west of Tupelo, Mississippi…

After entering the door of the house and walking through the living room, you enter a back bedroom. ¬†But don’t go in there too quickly, or you could find yourself standing on the ground. ¬†The floorboards in the middle of the room have rotted to the point that there’s a huge, gaping hole, partially filled with the remains of carpet padding, where you can see the ground under the house.

I love the old windows with the triple panes at the top, through which the sunlight poured to illuminate the mess in front of us.  An open closet contained a few old coat hangers, one with the paper advertisement of the local dry cleaners still attached, telling us that this place must have been inhabited in the not-too-distant past.

We walked through here very gingerly, staying close to the walls to set up the tripod and camera to get this shot.  Enjoy!

Abandoned House - Back Room


Shot with my Nikon D700 and 14-24mm Nikkor glass.  Processed in Photomatix and Paint Shop Photo Pro, using Topaz Adjust filters.

Main Street Vintage Guitars

One thing that I’m learning to love about downtown Tupelo is the emphasis on restoring and re-using old historical buildings for shops, restaurants, bars, and offices.

Today’s image definitely has an urbex feel, but there’s a great story behind the surface. ¬†This is the Main Street Vintage Guitar shop, located at the corner of Main and Spring streets. ¬†This is actually the side of the building, facing Spring Street, but I just had to shoot this side because of the great Coca-Cola mural painted on the wall which has been preserved along with the building.

Main Street Vintage Guitars

I found their website that has a ton of information about the building, including pictures from its past as well as the restoration process that turned it into its modern-day incarnation as a vintage guitar shop. I found out that this building was originally the First National Bank, and it was constructed in 1890.  The store is visited by musicians from everywhere, most recently by Keith Urban when he was in Tupelo for a recent concert.  Be sure to check out for the full story.

This image is a single image taken with my Nikon D700 and 50mm 1.8 prime lens, hand-held.  This was about 3:45 PM, and the setting sun was casting some pretty good shadows on this side of the building.  I used Paintshop Photo Pro X4 and Topaz Adjust to process the image and bring out the detail in the brick and morter, as well as the mural on the wall.

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The Swinging Bridge

One of the most popular features of Tishomingo State Park is the swinging bridge, built in the 1930’s, that spans Bear Creek. ¬†It’s a favorite with kids and adults alike, and it offers the perfect platform for capturing both candid shots of people as well as images of the beautiful fall colors that are just starting to appear in the park.

I’m still experimenting with the new Topaz product, Black & White Effects, but I used the tried-and-true Topaz Adjust on those beautiful fall colors. ¬†Here are a few shots from the swinging bridge at Tishomingo State Park:

Tishomingo State Park Swinging Bridge 03

Tishomingo State Park Swinging Bridge 04

Tishomingo State Park Swinging Bridge 02

Tishomingo State Park Swinging Bridge 01

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Forest Zen

I love scenes like this–lots of natural texture and color, contrast of light and dark, a little water and a little stone…

This is another photo that I took in Tishomingo State Park yesterday. ¬†It’s a single exposure that I processed in PaintShop Photo Pro X3, although I didn’t do anything really radical to it beyond tweaking the color balance slightly and applying some sharpening. ¬†The shot was taken with the Nikon D700 and the 28-300mm Nikkor lens.

Tishomingo State Park 028

Such a calming, stress-relieving place…someday I’ll have to go back and just sit there for awhile without the camera.

Take Your Seat and Watch Your Step

I love using my 28-300mm zoom lens with my Nikon D700, but I sometimes forget to take advantage of the great depth-of-field opportunities it provides, especially when I’m concentrating on capturing brackets for HDR processing.

Yesterday at the abandoned dog track, I actually remembered to play around with the focal length on the lens. ¬†I lowered the height of the tripod to about knee-level, and then aimed the camera down the front row of seats in the “yellow” section. ¬†I focused on one of the seats about a third of the way down the row, letting the other seats go slightly out of focus. ¬†I was using a focal length of 92mm, at F/10.

These seats were positioned right in front of what used to be the huge plate glass windows looking out on the dog track.  The glass has been shattered, and quite a bit of it was lying in pieces right in front of these seats.  The late afternoon sun was at the perfect angle to give the seats a nice glow.  And since I shot a five-bracket series, I was able to retain the detail of the interior as well as the exterior of the grandstand:

Take Your Seat and Watch Your Step

I find that HDR processing is complicated a bit by using these shallow depths of field, because the areas that are purposely left out of focus can actually turn out worse during the HDR process. For instance, in this shot, I wound up with some obvious chromatic aberration along the mountain tops in the background. Probably should have spent some time trying to fix it, but hey, I was tired.

I’m still going through the rest of the shots and trying to decide which one I want to work on next. So much to choose from!

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Otis Elevator at the Grand Hotel in Jerome

We just got back from our overnight trip to Jerome, Arizona, and I’ve transferred about 14GB of raw files to my computer from my three compact flash cards. ¬†Needless to say, I have a lot of images to sort through, tag, process and post. ¬†I’m going to try and be diligent about discarding images that are not worth processing, but you know how it is….

We stayed at the Grand Hotel in Jerome, a historic structure that at one time served as the hospital for the mining town. ¬†After the town was all but abandoned when copper prices bottomed out, the hospital sat empty for about 44 years before it was purchased and opened as a hotel. ¬†I won’t give you all the details of the hotel’s history, but it’s an interesting one. ¬†Just Google “Jerome Grand Hotel” to get the scoop.

One of the most unique features of the hotel is the Otis elevator that services the guests. ¬†The elevator “was installed in October 1926. It is fully operational and provides service to all five levels of the Hotel. Never having been modernized with automatic doors or any other upgrades available, this is the oldest original “self service” elevator in Arizona and possibly the United States. It has been out of order for a total of 4 hours and 15 minutes in the past 10 years, far exceeding the dependability of most modern elevators.” — From the hotel’s website

Each guest that checks in to the Hotel is provided with a key to the elevator along with a set of instructions for its operation. One of the most important things to remember is that you have open and close the doors yourself, they are not automatic. When you get off the elevator on your floor, you must shut the doors behind you, or the elevator will not respond to the call buttons on any other floor. When that happens, the front desk has to radio housekeeping and tell them to go shut the elevator doors. Yep, we saw it happen.

The elevator is still beautiful. This shot was taken with my 14-24mm wide angle zoom, tripod-mounted, in a five-bracket series which was processed as an HDR in Photomatix and Paintshop Photo Pro X3:

Otis Elevator at Grand Hotel - Jerome AZ

We had a great time on our quick road trip, and even though we had visited Jerome many times in the past, we made some new discoveries this time that I’ll be sharing on this blog in the days to come, so stay tuned!

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Scorpion Gulch – Room With a View

Tonight’s post wraps up my series from our last visit to South Mountain Park. This is another view of the interior of the old abandoned homesite called Scorpion Gulch, located just inside the entrance to the park.

Scorpion Gulch - Room With a View
Nikon D700, 14-24mm zoom. HDR created from seven bracketed photos processed in Photomatix v4. Post-processing in Topaz Adjust / DeNoise with Paintshop Photo Pro X3.

This weekend we’re taking a road trip up to Jerome where I’m hoping to get some more practice with the 14-24mm wide angle lens. If you’re not familiar with Jerome, it’s an old copper mining town in central Arizona. From Wikipedia:

Jerome became a notorious “wild west” town, a hotbed of prostitution, gambling, and vice. On 5 February 1903, the New York Sun proclaimed Jerome to be “the wickedest town in the West”.

When the copper played out, the town was all but abandoned. However, in the past twenty years or so, it’s been reborn as an artists’ colony. Many of the old houses and businesses have been turned into galleries and studios. The old hospital has been turned into the Grand Hotel, and that’s where we’ll be staying (the rumor is that it’s haunted!).

I’m hoping to get not only some great landscape photography from the vantage point high on the mountain, but I’m also hoping to get some HDR’s of the interior of the hotel. Maybe even shoot a ghost or two!

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Storm Clouds at Dobbins Lookout

It’s been too many days since I processed an HDR, so I couldn’t resist staying up late tonight to work on this one. ¬†It’s been sitting in my computer for several weeks now, and I finally brought it out to play.

This shot was taken in South Mountain Park in Phoenix, just after a winter storm blew through.  The clouds had started to break up, but then they started blowing in from the east again, creating these dark thunderheads over Dobbins Lookout.

Storm Clouds at Dobbins Lookout

This is a seven-exposure HDR shot with my Nikon D700 and the 28-300mm zoom. Processed in Photomatix, Paintshop Photo Pro X3, and Topaz DeNoise.

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And now at my official gallery at