The Lincoln Park Zoo is a free zoo in the middle of Chicago near the lake. It’s one of those really old (1868) zoos that is mildly depressing to walk around. The cages are tiny in most cases and the animals just look… depressed. I personally have a love/hate relationship with the entire idea of zoos. On one side animals really should have more room. On the other side it’s good for kids to learn about animals and their habitats. Not to mention how much zoologists can learn from them and of course I can take pictures of monkeys without leaving the city.
Anyways… a bit over a week ago the Chicagoland Digital Photography Meetup Group descended on the zoo for an afternoon of fun. We started out with lunch – the place only had hot dogs which made me feel ill for days – and then we went on our way. This time around I barely talked with anyone.
Due to the weather being still a bit on the cold side, most of the animals were inside and behind glass. Add in all the people and it was a bit difficult to photograph.
With out a doubt, the Meerkats were the most fun to photograph. The little hams actually seemed like they were posing for all the cameras. I talked with one guy later who said that one sat there long enough to get his exposure settings right.
Camera: Pentax K10D – Programs Used: Photoshop
I seem to always have this backlog of photos to deal with. A couple of weeks ago I went on two photography meetup events. Processing them was quick, but posting them was not.
The first one was a nighttime wander down the river that cuts through the Chicago Loop. This one was actually quite a bit of fun as we had dinner and a few drinks and then set out. Which means I actually talked to a few people. The only real annoying bit was google maps took me to the wrong part of Dearborne St and I had to walk quite a bit to get there. In rather uncomfortable shoes (my fault) on a bit too warm of a day.
As with any mix of levels of “artists” there were some snobby people and some rather nice ones. Granted after seeing the uploaded photos, I can see why some of them were a bit far on the snobby side, even if they were post-possessed a bit further than my tastes. Anyways, I did have quite a bit of fun. I even got to help some people with focus and colour correction which of course made my night.
Camera: Pentax K10D. Bracketing: 5 shots at 1 stop difference. Programs Used: Photomatix & Photoshop
As with the last night shoot I did, I set up for HDR. Upped the saturation of the highlights and lowered in the shadows. I then played with my new favourite slider: Vibrance. It does what I always wished saturation to do: up the saturation of the exact colours I want while leaving the others alone. It’s not like I can tell to pick certain colours but that’s pretty much what it does.
Vibrance: Adjusts the saturation so that clipping is minimized as colors approach full saturation. This setting changes the saturation of all lower-saturated colors with less effect on the higher-saturated colors. Vibrance also prevents skin tones from becoming oversaturated.
What the documentation doesn’t tell you is that if you are doing a night shoot on white/gray stone buildings, they will have an orange tint. And they don’t naturally look like that. So if you lower the vibrance, it’ll tone that down while leaving the cool looking blue lights. Epic win.
More retro photos for you. These are the first pictures I took of my nephew after he was born.
Camera: Pentax K1000 – Film: Black and White – Scanner: Epson Stylus
The warmer weather means cycling is not just to get from point a to point b, it means taking a few hours when I can to ride down the lakefront trail.
Having a mobile phone that takes some pretty decent pictures, even if it’s only 3 mega pixels, is sort of a double edged sword. The cyclist in me wants to go full speed ahead while the shutterbug in me wants to stop constantly. So what I’ve been doing is cycle as long as I can and use my break in the middle to snap some shots. That means I cycle a bit further each time I go out and find new places to photograph.
Pictured here are Belmont and Diversey Harbors.
I’m not entirely certain why London is thought to be a city covered in fog. I remember prior to moving there that people said I would get tired of the constant fog, which is made even more hilarious since I was living in San Francisco at the time.
Now London is in what I’d like to call a constant state of either raining or just about to rain. That almost constant melancholy gray, which I suppose that’s what they were really talking about. Yeah there was fog some mornings, but nothing even remotely like watching it roll in almost every day in SF or even here in Chicago.
About a month ago, I walked to work in this amazingly thick fog coming off the lake. The only downside was I had to wait until lunchtime to pop over to the lake and only had my mobile phone with me. The pictures came out ok though. These are untouched camera originals.
Before the sky had gone fully dark.
Now that the weather is turning for the better, I’ll hopefully be taking more pictures. While it hadn’t fully gotten to as warm as it is now, it was still decent enough to stand outside for a couple of hours taking pictures during this event.
For quite a while I’ve been meaning to go on one of the Chicagoland Digital Photography Meetup Group’s events, but most of them start off a bit too early on a Saturday for me. With travel time most of them I’d have to be up at 7am, which isn’t all that easy for me to do. The others would be outside in the cold/rain/snow/wind or at a place I just couldn’t get to via public transport.
It was nice in the fact that they picked a really awesome spot to photograph the skyline and seeing that many photographers doing the same thing, but I didn’t actually speak to a single person. And as far as I could tell, that was the same for most. Granted if I had a question I’m certain people would have been more than happy to help, but I did my research on nighttime skyline photography before I left. And my camera is pretty easy to set and test white balance. So… meh… I think I’ll just continue to use it the way that I do: finding good locations to go shoot.
March 27th was a global event called Earth Hour, that is organized by the World Wildlife Fund. For 1 hour non-essential lights are turned off to raise awareness of the need to take action on climate change.
Now, I hadn’t taken skyline pictures before. Mostly because I finally just got a tripod. (remember I just got back into photography so no shaming me tyvm). So that was a challenge. The next challenge was taking skyline photos when a decent amount of the building were to be in the dark.
What I opted for was to set up for HDR and hope for the best really. All that means is turning on auto bracketing. Pretty simple and it saved my ass on most of the pictures, especially as more buildings turned off the lights. All of these didn’t end up being processed as HDR (or at least saved that way) but it did give me more to play with in the end.
I ran across the photo a few weeks ago and decided to put my scanner to use, finally. I have boxes of old pictures to go through, so maybe I’ll find more.
During the first months I was in San Francisco, a few of us hired a car and spent the day in Napa Valley. It was wonderfully warm and yet sometime between Thanksgiving and X-mas. Sitting here in the cold that is Chicago, I’m really missing that weather.
Anyways… it was such a lovely day. Walking around various vineyards, tasting wine, and having fun. The picture was taken in the car on the way back to the city.
Tonight I almost went out to photograph the fireworks over the Michigan Ave Bridge, but it’s just too bloody cold. I really can’t wait for spring… soon right?
Last weekend a friend and I took 2 trains in the middle of a bloody cold day to the Garfield Park Conservatory. Saying it was awesome seems to be a bit of an understatement.
First of all, it’s free. You can spend the entire day wandering around in absolute warmth surrounded by pretty things and the only then you have to worry about is the train rides there.
The only downside for me was the amount of people, especially the kids. If my nieces and nephew weren’t so creepily well mannered I’d still like them, but I’m just not a fan of children. Which is sort of odd because I did used to photograph them for my job. They are an exercise in patience, which I have little of. There is just nothing more frustrating when they bump into you or the flower you painstakingly set the shot up for. Well.. except when adults do it.
Anyways… I haven’t had the time to process all 200+ pictures, but here’s a few that I have done.
What’s next? Hopefully the Chinese New Year Parade next Sunday.
Say what you will about the boredom of Nebraska, but it certainly can be pretty at times.
This shot was taken at sunrise while on I-80 going to the Omaha airport.
The above picture was pretty much untouched, which is what I generally like. I try and get the end result to look as close to what I remember seeing from the viewfinder. Sometimes though I do like to have a bit of a play in Photoshop plus you’ve already seen some of my geeking out with HDR. Honestly I don’t know PS as well as I probably should. But meh.
The 2nd version is what CS4 did to the dng when I allowed it to auto white balance. I’m usually pretty good about setting the white balance correctly, but it’s saved me a couple of times when moving from sunlight to shade (or when the sun + clouds do it for me). This time it wasn’t saving my ass, but doing something a bit odd to the picture. Still pretty though.
Braving the cold and rain/sleet/snow/whatever it was to take pictures seems rather silly now. Especially since most of the shots I took were out of focus from the wind and my shivering. They were of ice on trees and plants which is difficult to focus on anyways, but the blizzard conditions kept knocking things out of focus.