A Barn in a Brewing Storm

A Barn

I was driving down the road in rural Indiana when I saw this faded red barn. I actually drove right past it and decided to turn around (this actually took longer than I expected as there were very limited places to pull over). It has been raining most of the day with really dull grey skies. When I got back to the barn, the sky in the distance opened up and a bit more light came into the scene. It was as thought the skies opened up to shed some light just for my photograph. Right after I finished taking the photo it started to pour once again. I quickly gathered my camera gear and headed back to the rental car. It’s interesting how photos happen sometimes if you just look.

There Must Be More Than This Provincial Life

Disney Dork

Ok…I freely admit, I have a soft spot for the Disney movies of my younger years (and not so younger years). The Hamlet, located on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles was built for Marie Antoinette’s strange desire to experience the common life of a peasant. This distinctly reminded me of a particular Disney song…can you guess which one? I kept milling about taking photos of the great little village singing like the proverbial idiot. Good things we were there early and it was just us. The baker wasn’t even up yet, with his tray (like always).

Strange Surroundings

This is one of the odd homes built in the Hamlet. The village consists of a working farm, vineyard and several buildings representing a small French Provincial village. The proportions are, however, very wrong. If you happen to glance inside, the rooms are built more for entertaining than real living. Another example of the fabled…”Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” (let them eat cake) attitude of the French aristocracy. As a side note, there is actually not real evidence that Marie Antoinette ever uttered those words.

A Path to the Palace

The Path

While at Versailles we did quite a bit of walking. You can’t really help it…well you can rent a golf cart, but that didn’t see very regal or fitting. One of the many paths to the various palaces can be seen below.

Hugging Trees

I love the simplicity of the trees at Versailles. They are placed simply, but with great purpose and intent. Control of nature is one of the many reoccurring themes of Versailles. You can see it all around. The monarchy was in control of all things (until that whole revolution thing happened).

Twilight in the Woods

The Long Good Sunset

I attended a going away celebration this weekend for a work colleague who was leaving our team for greener pastures. The party was held outside of town in what I might well call the woods. I was told before-hand to bring my camera as the location was atop a small hill that gave a good vista of the surrounding countryside. I arrived about a half an hour after sunset and I thought all might be lost as I prefer the overly dramatic nature of just before sunset. The positive was the low light pollution gave me some great starry night sky. This is my first attempt at catching stars with my 16-35 f2.8 and I am afraid I caught a bit too much of the Earth’s rotation, but it came out an interesting shot none the less. It was amazing how long the color stayed around on the horizon.

A Rant on Gear

As happens when I get around people with my camera in hand, I get asked lots of camera questions. Someone inevitably wants to purchase the awesome power of the DSLR and I am always a bit hesitant with the advice. Most people will see a shot like this and believe (thanks marketing) it was the camera. WOW! If I only had that $4000 setup like you, I could take pictures like that too! Well, not quite. Full disclosure, I spent 3 hours post processing this image.

My workflow went a bit like this:

  1. Lightroom – Import and initial color correction.
  2. Photomatix – HDR bracket combination and pre-work processing. This images was re-imported to Lightroom.
  3. Photoshop – I removed unwanted elements, blended the HDR and normal exposures with layer masks, reduced the impact of some green colored lights, etc.
  4. Nik Define – Noise Reduction (this step was probably unneeded).
  5. OneOne Perfect Effects – Autumn and Golden Hour Enhancer – Color enhancement and mild glow.
  6. Photoshop – Blending of the OnOne layers (I prefer layers in PS sorry OnOne).
  7. Nic Sharpener Pro – Sharpening for screen display.
  8. This was all re-imported to Lightroom for some final cropping and distribution to online sources.

All of this takes quite a bit of work. For YEARS, I would take pictures, import them onto my computer and be immediately discouraged. They were dull in color, not sharp, boring, poorly composed or cropped. This would lead to me putting my camera away for months at a time. In 2009 I literally took 44 photos. 44! What the hell! I LOVE photography…why did I take only 44 photos?

I had often heard from other photographers that gear doesn’t matter. Get out there and use the camera you have! I understand this truth now. The extension of this, that I missed for years…the thing that kept me for really pursuing photography is a simple realization that I would like to share with you now. Great works start with the click of the shutter. They don’t end there. The click is the first step in a huge process…great images come for blood, sweat and computer time. Today’s image isn’t an illustration of greatness, but its good and I learned ten new things I will take with me to the next image. I will grow…I will get better.

The same goes for you! If you want better images, start learning the techniques that help you create the images you see in your mind. Practice, learn, absorb, try new things. Perhaps someday you will want to spend $4,000 on a camera. Great! Welcome to the club! Know though, that an expensive camera doesn’t create good images. Only you can do that.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Munchkins in the Fields of Indiana

On a business trip to Indiana, I was driving around the rural landscape and happened on this field that reminded me of the Yellow Brick Roads of Oz. In truth it was a soybean fields, but something in the lay of the land caused this bean farmer to have a wonderful flow to his planting patterns.

Happy Christmas

I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year! In the next year I will be getting Battered Luggage’s design up and running and will be continuing to post new pictures of my travels. I hope to see you back in 2012!