Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wild Berries

I like the simplicity and soothing colors of this shot. It was one of the rare ones I’ve taken that I liked in camera right away as shot. It was shot at Hugo Point Park in Chambers County between Baytown and Anahuac, TX in February of ’07. I was using a Panasonic Lumix Superzoom shooting at a 35mm equivalent 72mm at f4.0 for 1/500 and ISO 80.

In post processing I didn’t do much, just used Topaz’ “Mid-Color Pop” preset to bring in more of the green that was there that day [at least in my mind anyway.]

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Just for Fun

Just thought I would have a little fun here with a multiple exposure technique Mark Johnson demonstrated [much better!] on the old “Radiant Vista” website. This photo is from the 2008 Livestock Show and Rodeo at the Reliant Center in Houston.

It’s based on a pseudo HDR generated from a single RAW image with Photomatix Pro 3.0. I selected the hammer and then rotated it using free-transform into different positions and using decreasing opacities on separate layers. I added color correction, sharpening, and a vignette to finish it off.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Tucker's Friend

This is my dog Tucker’s friend Chloe. Chloe is a 35 pound bundle of almond colored Standard Poodle puppy energy that has been staying with us for a week while her people were gone to Disney World on vacation. Between my wife and me we were able to get Chloe to sit still just long enough to shoot a few shots for this portrait.

For this shot Chloe was on a table in the shade of my backyard that I had set up with a black background [sheet]. To add a little fill light to the scene I used a 24” reflector with a silver and gold striped cover.

Tech: Oly E-3 w/12-60 Zuiko zoom, AP mode, ISO 100, f5, 1/80, 60mm Post Processing: Darkened blacks, increased clarity, and slightly saturated in Camera Raw, Opened in CS2 and cropped, sharpened using High Pass method, and added “mid-contrast pop” preset in Topaz.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Two Approaches

Today’s posts are of two different approaches to similar subjects. At least they are similar in as much as they are both photos of two men working high off the ground in industrial situations. In both photos I let the original conditions for the image capture point me in a direction for the post processing and ultimately to the final image. In the case of the sign hangers the post processing was only a crop and some basic color correction and sharpening. In the photo of the steel erectors the final image here is the result of twelve separate layers and quite a bit of photo manipulation. In both cases the images presented are an accurate representation of what I saw in the scenes that prompted me to capture the moments.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Canino's Farmers Market

Canino’s is one of the largest and oldest farmers markets in the city of Houston. This shot was taken on an overcast afternoon and was part of a series I shot for an “At the Farmer’s Market” assignment for the BAPC. I originally worked the shot up as a color image but I really like the way the B&W version draws my eye to the lighting, and the repetition of pattern created by the shopping carts out front.

Tech: Panosonic Lumix Super Zoom [10MP], f3.2, 1/100, ISO100, 20mm, aperture priority mode, RAW Post Processing: Cloning, Curves, High Pass Sharpening, B&W Adjustment Layer, Levels Adjustment to brighten mid-tones, Sepia Tone, Vignette.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Another Backyard Squirrel

I wanted to try out the combination of my 50-200 zoom and a new extension tube I had recently purchased, so I broke out the combo in the backyard. I took a series of photographs to test the close focusing ability of this combo and was mostly happy with the results. The combination did produce an extremely narrow depth of field and limited focal range that took some getting use to but once I did things worked out fine.

Tech: f3.5, 1/320, ISO800, 150mm, aperture priority mode Post Processing: High Pass Sharpening, Dup layer in Overlay mode, levels adjustment to brighten mid-tones, vignette.

Friday, November 21, 2008

King of the Jungle

I was surprised that I liked this shot at all. For one thing I generally don’t care for animal shots taken at the zoo. I guess its the whole idea of shooting a “wild” animal that is trapped in front of you. It kind of seems to me like paying a guide to take you on a hunt so that you can shoot a deer that’s tied off to a fence post!

On top of that, on this day the zoo was hot, crowded, and full of mosquitoes - so I was anything but inspired when I took the shot. Add to that the fact that I was shooting through at an inch of cloudy and scratched Plexiglas and I thought I certainly had the right prescription for an easily “deleteable” shot.

In this case though post processing made the difference. I started with the original shot, which was dull as a result of the cloudy plexi, and duplicated the background layer in overlay mode. This greatly improved the color saturation and gave me a much better starting point. From there I added a curves adjustment and high-pass sharpening for the final photo.

I had taken my Oly E-3 along for the shoot but unfortunately forgot to pack any batteries – what a pro! Luckily my old Panasonic Lumix Super-Zoom was in the car, with batteries, and I was able to use it for the day. Tech: Aperture Priority, 58mm, f3.6, 1/80, ISO 100, -1 exposure.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rural Mailbox Floral

My brother and I spotted this mailbox/shrub scene in Chambers County, Texas a week or so ago while out on a photo junket. It caught my attention because of its vibrant purple color. Even though we are blessed to live in a semi-tropical zone 9 here on the Texas Gulf Coast I wasn’t expecting to see this much color near mid-November. I also like the rustic mailbox which adds additional interest and helps to convey a sense of the scenes rural location.

Tech: Oly E-3 w/ 50-200 and 1.4 Tele-converter, f4.2, 1/2000, ISO 800, 90MM, aperture priority mode. Post Processing: square crop, dup layer, curves, levels, Topaz Adjust– Simplify preset, vignette.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Canadian in Baytown

This was a scene often duplicated in the post Hurricane Ike Gulf Coast area. Many trees were lost, 750 on one local golf course alone, in what was reported as for more damage than what was sustained from Hurricane Alicia 25 years earlier. And on top of the completely destroyed trees many more suffered some degree of less-than-fatal damage.

This worker was a Canadian lumberjack who had hired on with a company from Mississippi that had come to work in Baytown after Ike. This small crew worked there way down the coast working cleanup from hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike over the past few years. We ended up hiring them to take out some of our trees, including one that had fallen on my workshop. This shot was taken while they were removing a couple of big pines from my neighbor’s house across the street.
Tech: Oly e-3, 50-200 lens, f4.9@ 1/1000, ISO400 Post Processing: high pass sharpening and curves [I usually stick with the "linear contrast" preset] and Lens Correction Vignete.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bridge Cables

The Fred Hartman Bridge is a double-diamond cable suspended bridge that spans the Houston Ship Channel between the cities of Baytown and La Porte in Harris County Texas. It’s a very heavily traveled bridge so stopping to take a photograph on the bridge is not necessarily the best of ideas. Unfortunately neither is snapping a shot of the cables while you’re driving at 65 MPH but we do what we must for our craft, right?

I like the perspective in the photo, emphasized by the converging lines of the cables. I also like the way the bright yellow cables pop against the blue sky and the geometric pattern they create. To me it’s a simple straight forward shot, no story here – just a pleasing aesthetic.

I took the shot with my Panasonic Lumix Super Zoom in aperture priority mode at f3.6 and 1/1000th at ISO 200. The focal length was a 35mm equivalent 80mm.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Alamo HDR

In early September my wife and I took a trip to San Antonio with two other couples and stayed at a hotel on the River Walk. Along with the camaraderie and enjoyment inherent in the association with long-time friends there were also lots of photo ops. And certainly nothing says San Antonio like the Alamo, probably one of the most known and easily recognizable landmarks in the US. Unfortunately it’s also one of the most photographed! Well here is yet another Alamo shot, my attempt at capturing the much publicized mission in a slightly different light.

This shot is a handheld nighttime HDR made up of three exposures of -1, 0, and +1. After combining the photos in Photomatrix I opened the TIFF file in PS2, use high-pass sharpening and a curves adjustment layer to enhance it. I then merged the layers to create a flat image from the visible layer and used Virtual Photography’s “Copper” preset at layer opacity 50% to warm up the image. I like the way it turned out and hope you do as well.

Man's Best Freind

Dog's - you gotta love em', right? Photographers can no more resist a shot of an engaging dog than they can an old truck in a field or a shorebird! There's not that much in common between these two shots other than they are both dogs.

The "mom and pups" shot was taken last weekend while my brother and I were out shooting at Hugo Point Park in Chambers County. She appeared to be at worst abondoned or at best a "community" dog. Although this photo shows only two pups she actually had five, and mom and pups all looked healthy.

The Great Dane was in his yard at the fenceline calmly watching the traffic go by. He was a big fellow and made his companion, a full-grown Mastive, look small. I took the shot from the drivers side of my car when my wife and I spotted him as we drove by. I like the look of complacency on the dogs face and the way the fence adds a sence of scale to the shot.

Hope you enjoy them.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Balinese Room

For many people the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Galveston, Texas is the Strand, the seawall, the old villa's and so on, but for me it has always been the business piers along the seawall. Unfortunately these have all been destroyed by Hurricane Ike as of September 12, 2008. Of the old piers one of the oldest and most interesting was The Balinese Room pier at 21st Street and the seawall.

The Balinese started its storied history in 1923 as the Chop Suey and became The Balinese in the early 1940's. It was quite the place then, THE place to be for big name entertainers in the pre-Vegas days. Hope, Benny, Sinatra, and ZZ Top all played there. You can read more about the Balinese's history at

This panorama was stitched together from 17 shots taken with my Oly E-3 and 12-60 lens. They were stitched together, straightened using distortion correction, and color corrected in PS2. I'm sure it was one of the last pano's made of the pier before it untimely destruction by Ike.
Panoramics of this size don't exactly lend themselves to display on most screens so you'll have to click the image to look at the larger version.

Hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Opening Post

Welcome to my blog. My name is Larry Armer and what you see here is an effort to create a vehicle to display some of my favorite photographs and say a thing or two. I just decided to set up a blog this evening after giving it some thought for a month or two. I'm really not that good of a writer or that good of a photographer but I've been watching my brother build his blog and it seems like a potentially good way to impove both. Also other club members have started doing the same and I couldn't resist the peer pressure.

Like any undertaking the hardest part is making the first step and for me the first step meant picking the right photograph to start off with. I couldn't decide whether I wanted to use my "best" shot, my "favorite" shot, or my "fill in the blank" shot. So I got hung up right from the start trying to decide if I could even pick a place to start.

So what got me off "high-center?" Usually if you wait long enough an answer will become obvious an this was certainly true for me tonight. The answer was the back story behind this picture.

Last June my wife and I took a vacation to a resort a longtime freind of hers works for in Lajitas Texas located between the National and State Parks of Big Bend in West Texas. We had scheduled several outtings for the trip including a horseback ride in the foothills around the resort. The picture you see here is of our tour guide for the ride. Scheduled for sunrise only her, my wife and I were to be on the ride. We rode with her in the lead for a couple of hours, talked, took a few pictures and really enjoyed ourselves and her company. The ride ended and we went on with our other activities.

Five months later our photography club was having our monthly Honors Night program and this month members where invited to enter pictures under the assignment "Environmental Portraits" and I immediately thought of this one. I didn't end up using it, because of some technical flaws, even though I really like the photo. Since I had spent the time in post processing trying to improve the shot for the program my wife thought that it would be a good idea to e-mail it to the quide for her enjoyment and to keep it from going to waste.

That brings us back to this evening and the motivation to build this blog. When my wife contacted her friend at the resort to get an e-mail addess for the young lady her freind informed her that she had been killed in a car accident two weeks ago! Her and some other workers at the resort had been commuting back to work when tragedy struck and ended her short life. Instead of sending the photo for a possible smile from the subject, I sent the photo tonight to my wife's friend to show at a business meeting tommorrow in her memory.

It was crystal clear to me now that I had my opening photo picked for me, and I would like to dedicate this opening blog entry to this pretty young girl. Although neither my wife or I can remember her name I know we will remember her spirit for a long time to come.