Daily Zen 2018-04-09

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The Photographer In The Window

I seem to have a thing for windows and doors.  There’s something about the geometry, the right angles, the textures….not exactly sure, but windows and doors are one of my favorite subjects for photography.

Today’s image is a case in point.  These are the windows in the front of Monti’s La Casa Vieja restaurant in Tempe, Arizona.  Monti’s has the distinction of being the “oldest continuously occupied structure in the Phoenix metropolitan area“.  The architecture and character of these old buildings just lend themselves to making great photographs, and especially to HDR work.

Monti’s is located right across from the old Hayden Flour Mill (check out this shot), another historic structure in Tempe. On our recent photowalk, the three of us stopped in front of Monti’s to shoot the flour mill which was lit up by the reflections of the morning sun bouncing off a large office building across the street. It was only by chance that I turned around and saw the wall behind me with these two beautiful windows. The window on the left shows the reflection of the flour mill, and the one on the right has a reflection of one of my fellow photographers.

The Photographer In the Window
HDR created from three bracketed photos (-2.0/0.0/+2.0) processed in Photomatix v4. Post-processing in Topaz Adjust / DeNoise with Paintshop Photo Pro X3.

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.

Mill Avenue Bridge in Pastel

This is another shot from our photowalk last Saturday morning.  Just after the blue hour faded away, the pastel colors bloomed.  I love the quiet, peaceful Zen of this shot.  Fortunately the lights on the bridge were still on, so I got some nice reflections in the water.

Mill Avenue Bridge in Pastel

This is an HDR from three bracketed images.  I cropped a little off the bottom to balance the composition a little better.  I used Topaz Adjust to add just a little bit of detail to the bridge, and I used Topaz DeNoise at the max setting to smooth everything out to look a little closer to what I saw that morning.  I’ll admit I did juice up the saturation a little…okay, a lot…but the colors had to have been there in order to be juiced up, right??

I wonder just how many ways there are to shoot pictures of the Mill Avenue Bridge??

I have a new Facebook page, ZannWalker Photography, that I hope you’ll visit and “Like”.  I’ll be using that page to post links and tidbits of all kinds of photography-related stuff that I personally find interesting.  Hopefully you will to.  So come on over and see me on Facebook!

Mill Avenue Bridge at the Blue Hour

To me, the “blue hour” is the most beautiful part of the day for shooting architectural features with lights, especially if they’re reflecting off the water.  The blue hour is that period of twilight each day between full darkness and sunlight, when you can still see stars but there’s just a hint of light in the atmosphere.  Many amateur photographers (myself included until I learned better) will take hundreds of shots of sunrises or sunsets, but never extend their shooting time into that magic hour when the sky turns a deep indigo.

Last Saturday on our photowalk in Tempe, we were fortunate enough to be at Tempe Town Lake before the blue hour started, so we had plenty of time to find our best angles for shooting.  Here’s one of my favorites from the morning’s walk….the east Mill Avenue Bridge.  There are two parallel bridges that carry vehicular traffic over the lake, one running inbound and one running outbound.  For this shot, I was between the two bridges, facing east.

Mill Avenue Bridge East

I actually took three bracketed shots here, but I chose to only process one of the images, the one that was slightly under-exposed. I used Topaz Detail to get a little more texture in the bridge, and then used Topaz DeNoise to clean up the artifacts. A little tweaking with the Curves took and a little final sharpening was all it took.

Compare this shot to the one that I took a few minutes later after I walked further east and then turned around shot both bridges.  The blue hour doesn’t last long, so be prepared to capture it before it fades away!

The Payoff for Getting Up Early

Several of my photographer buddies from work decided to do an early morning photowalk in Tempe, Arizona this past Saturday morning.  The plan was to meet at the Starbucks on Mill Avenue between 6:00 and 6:15 AM.  Since it’s a 35 minute drive for me to get there, I had to get up at an ungodly hour (for a Saturday).  It was so tempting to just bail on the guys, but I thought it would be a great chance to compare notes with other non-professionals, plus get some good sunrise shots on Tempe Town Lake.

There were four of us (not too many, not too few), and we had a great time exploring the area on the south side of the Lake from before dawn until after the sun rose.  I’ll be posting more shots from our photowalk, but I’ll start with this one:

Tempe Town Lake Just Before Dawn

To the right is the Mill Avenue bridge which carries vehicle traffic. To the left you can see the light trails created from the passing of the light rail train as it traveled over the Lake. The boats are just waiting for the sun to come up to start taking passengers.

You can see more shots from our photowalk in the set that I’ve posted on Flickr, called Tempe Photowalk 2011.01.15. I’ve just started processing, so more images will be added to the set soon. I’ll be posting a few more on this blog as well.

This was my first photowalk, and I’d like to thank Ed Brice for organizing things for us, and Adam Schmid and Kurt Neurauter for lots of great tips and good humor. I had a blast and look forward to more of these excursions!

Bike Night in Color

I processed a few more of the images from Thursday night’s Bike Night photo shoot today, only this time I worked with the raw files and processed them in color.  (My last post showed some of the black-and-white shots SOOC.)

Because I was shooting at such a high ISO and wide open aperture, the raw files had quite a bit of noise, so I used Topaz DeNoise to clean them up a bit.  Then I used Topaz Adjust to sharpen and add contrast, and boost saturation where needed.  I did some final tweaking in Paintshop Pro X3 using Curves and Sharpen.  In some cases, I tried to keep the shot as close to  how we saw it as possible, but on some of these I played with the presets in Topaz Adjust to give them a little spice…almost an HDR effect.

It was definitely trickier working with the color images than the black-and-whites. The plaza where these shots were taken is surrounded by huge jumbotron billboards that are constantly shifting colors and light intensity. Additionally, the walls of the buildings on one side are a pistachio shade of green, which gave everything a greenish cast. Having all these different colors and lights reflecting off all that chrome made for some interesting processing challenges.

Hope you like the results!

Bike Night on Veterans Day 004

Bike Night on Veterans Day 005

Bike Night on Veterans Day 006

Bike Night on Veterans Day 008

Bike Night on Veterans Day 007