Thursday, August 26, 2010

Spoon Splash...

Here is a riddle for you: What do you get when you mix a photographer, a spoon full of milk, and insomnia? Hint: you can scroll down to the photos see the answer.

The answer? A mess!

Last night I was not able to fall asleep. I tried counting sheep, counting backwards from 500--nothing. An image kept playing through my mind. The image was of a droplet of milk hitting a spoon and exploding in a crown shape. Since I couldn't fall asleep I got out my notebook and drew the layout to my envisioned image. After I completed I thought to myself "Hmm...This looks very possible. And after all, I don't have to work tomorrow. I could do this!" So at 4:13 am I got up set up for my shot and started making a mess. For this series I used two Nikon SB 600 flashes. The first was placed to the camera's left and pointed down at the spoon. The second was used to illuminate the background. For this I wanted a small angle of light. So I rolled up a paper plate and made a snoot. Both flashes were set at 1/16th power with an exposure of 1/30th, f/11, ISO: 200. It was a fun series to do and got my creative juices going. Here's to more insomnia!


A paper plate, a pair of scissors, and some rubber bands. Voila impromptu snoot for the flash.

My main light set at the 1/16th power.

Now at 1/30th, f/11, ISO:200 my cameras meter was indicating a -4 stops underexposure (see above image). And you may be thinking to yourself, "1/30th of a second isn't fast enough to stop a milk drop." Well, you're right. That's why we use the flash as our shutter speed. At full power (1/1) the flash will last about 1/1000th of a second. This is still a little too slow for splashing milk, but at 1/16th power its more like 1/10000th of a second! Now we're talking! However, 1/16th power does decrease the flash output so you have to compensate, in this case I moved the flash closer.

OK, so now were at 1/10000th of a second as a shutter speed, now its time to get the timing down. In this case its too soon.

A little better, but the timing was too late.

That's more like it! Its all in the timing.

I love this one. The timing and action is excellent!


I was doing pretty well for a while, but I was curious to see what would happen if I dropped the milk from a greater height?

A bigger splash!

If I get the milk to hit just right this is what happens. This was my personal favorite of the series.

It was a great series and fun to experiment with. There was a substantial mess to clean up, however. After I got the shot I was looking for I went back to my room downloaded the images, crawled back into bed and went right to sleep, without the help of narcotics, countdowns or leaping livestock.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

08/15/10:Mediocre Chase and Texas Wildfire...

SPC Day 1 Outlook for 8/15/10. A "See Text" indicates a 5% probability of severe weather.

SPC Hail Graphic

SPC Wind Graphic.

Around 2:00 the SPC issues a mesoscale discussion for the forecast area. "Severe potential watch, unlikely." However, they do point out a possibility for strong downbursts.

I honestly had no intention of chasing on this day. Very weak upper level dynamics, low directional shear, and moderate CINH was something I didn't want to be a part of. A stationary front was to drift south through southern OK and into northern TX. Lift along and north of the front would generate unorganized scattered thunderstorms. With the main threat being locally damaging wind gusts. I probably should have payed a little more attention to the residual outflow ahead of the stationary front. This actually gave some of the storms a brief supercellular appearance (see radar image below). That was enough for me to get interested. I packed up my gear and headed west on US 287.

A severe thunderstorm forms along the outflow boundary from earlier convection. It was supposedly dropping quarter sized hail at this time. It actually looks like there is an inflow notch and it has a little organization to it.

The velocity scans reveal some rotation to the storm. For a moment, it almost looked supercellular.

Well, so much for the supercell. The storm quickly goes outflow dominant and dies out.

Radar shows the storm dying, but a cell to the west has formed along the outflow boundary as well.

While driving past Electra, TX, I look out to my south and see this photogenic display of mammatus clouds. My camera was attached to a window mount and I did not have time to stop and pull over. So I shot this while driving about 65mph.

I eventually reach Vernon and notice something--no storms! The radar shows another outflow boundary moving south with thunderstorms forming along the boundary. I decide to keep heading west and once I reach Quanah, TX (roughly 30miles away) I will shift to the northeast and target El Dorado, OK.

Just as I predicted thunderstorms form along the outflow. With these "pulse" storms you have to right there when they develop if you want a chance of chasing them.

Sitting outside the El Dorado city limits.

Under the elevated updraft base in El Dorado at the Highway 6 Highway 5 junction.

It appears these storms are starting to form into a multicell mess.

That is what happened. But I still manage to find something to shoot.

Here is a shot taken while driving. You can see the core of the newly develop cell on the left with a nice rainfoot and the older downdraft on the right. I believe there was an embedded microburst here.

I've got to move south or I am going to get cored. Around this time an incredible CG barrage explodes under the updraft. One strike was less than 50 yards away.

While still driving through the heavy rain I notice something. It looked like a smoke trail. I get out of the rain for a closer look.

Remember that CG barrage I just mentioned? Apparently, it sparked off some wildfires. I head west on FM 1166 to investigate.

My storm has almost completely died out. So now I am chasing the wildfire.

About 3 miles inside on FM 1166 and I come across this.

There were a few vehicles that had to postpone their drive. The fire was reaching dangerously close to the farm market road.

Here you can actually see a little bit of the fire (right hand side).

I drive up a little closer and pull out a telephoto lens. I really like this shot because the heat waves were captured very well here.

Probably my favorite shot from the wildfire. I love the tree in the background engulfed in the smoke and distorted by the heat waves. And the juxtaposition of the background and foreground trees has a very "impending doom" atmosphere to it.

A closer view of the fire.

I like this capture as well, the approaching inferno forces a Purple Martin to flee from its roost. I was fortunate enough to capture it when I took this shot.

Members of the Volunteer Fire Department of Quanah and Chillicothe battle to extinguish the blaze. The man driving the vehicle doesn't seem to affected by the close proximity of the fire.

This spectator watched as the Volunteer fire department combated the wildfire. You can see how close he is to the smoke line (in the background). I tired a black and white conversion for this one.

One last capture. I did the same conversion to this photo.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Its August, the Heat is Here...

NWS Graphicast of forecast high temperatures this week.

Well here we are. Our first week of August and we've already reached the triple digits. When this change of season comes I always shift my photography subjects. Usually summer means one thing--wildlife photography. The clear morning/evening skies are perfect for that incredible "golden hour" light.

American Avocet foraging for a meal in beautiful "golden hour" light. This photo was taken last year during the summer months.

It is not good for landscape photography, however. I enjoy clouds and colors in the sky when I shoot a landscape. This is usually better for the autumn and winter months.

"Winter Sunset, Middle Lake" was taken in December of last year.

And of course, the summer months mean a dynamic change in the jet stream, as high pressure builds over the US. This usually ends the severe weather weather season. Wildlife is the focus this time of year. This year I will not be able to shoot as much wildlife as I like. My wildlife lens (Sigma 500mm f/4.5) needs repair. Almost $400 to fix it and I don't have that kind of money to spend. I will still try for some wildlife captures, but this is actually an opportunity to help me grow as a photographer. Instead of doing the usual nature photography I am going to explore lighting and studio work. It is way outside of my comfort zone and I believe it will help me become more creative. This is also an excellent time for me to try to get more images published. So this summer I am going to focus on two things:

1) Sending in photos to magazines for publication

2) Working on studio lighting (including: portraits, still life, product, ect..)

I think I am really going to like shooting indoors and staying out of the summer time heat. Now, does this mean that I am going to ignore an off season chase opportunity or miss a gorgeous sunset shoot? No. This just means lighting will be my focus. I encourage all you other photographers to step out of your comfort zone and try something new, challenging, and creative. I have already started. Here are a few examples of some of my newest lighting work.

Thanks for the support.


Strawberries in Soda...

Oranges in Soda...

Lime in Soda...

On the Rocks...

This is the reflector of an old Nikon flash. I used three flashes for lighting in this. One coming down from the top (for the detail). One on the left with a red gel bouncing off a wall. And one on the right with a blue gel bouncing off a wall.

About Me

My photo
I am 25 years old and I have been a photographer for 11 years now. I love nothing more than taking my camera out on a photo shoot with me. I mainly focus on nature photography.That is where my passion is. I love looking at all of God's wonderful creations and capturing them in the photographic medium. I have won awards and have received special recognition for my photography. It is my calling and my passion!