Thursday, June 29, 2017

Hamilton in the Park

I recently had the pleasure of working with J-Doll Cosplay and Nightengale Cosplay on a Hamilton inspired photo shoot.  They had period specific outfits so we needed a period specific location; however, there are very few if any revolutionary war forts still standing in northern Virginia.  My next best option was Fort Ward, which is a Civil War era fort, located in Alexandria, VA.  The fort still has the earthen work structures and replica cannons thus worked well for this shoot.
For this shoot I used my standard set up of Canon 70D, 18-200mm lens, two 430EX-IIIRT speed lights (one acted as a trigger), and one light stand. I did not use an umbrella since I had to compete with the sun, even though it was a cloudy overcast day.  I also had my trusty assistant, i.e. my husband, who helped with getting the light into position and spraying the instant atmosphere for the smoke effect in some of the photos.  

To get this shot, I had the cosplayers stand in front of the cannon emplacements, with my assistant holding the light slightly to side and above them, while I was on walkway below shooting up at them.  The photo was shot at ISO 200, a focal length of 187mm, a shutter speed of 1/200s, and an aperture of F5.6.  I edited the photo by cropping to get rid of some excess sky ad grass, and then adjusted the basics elements such as contrast, exposure, sharpness, and luminosity.  After I had those elements adjusted, I converted the photo to black and white with a sepia duo tone, and then added a bit of grain to the photo to give it an aged look.


 This next photo I was up at the cannon emplacements, shooting down at the cosplayers as they charged the bridge.  To add more light to the scene my assistant took the light down to the bridge and placed it in front of them slightly off camera, to give them a bit of pop and separate them from the background. I really appreciate radio triggers.  The photo was shot at ISO 200, a focal length of 70mm, a shutter speed of 1/100s, and an aperture of F5.  I edited the photo by cropping utilizing the rule of thirds, and then adjusted the basics elements such as contrast, exposure, sharpness, and luminosity.  I also added a bit of vignetting to bring the focus towards the cosplayers.



 This final photo is one of my favorites and used the instant atmosphere to create the smoke so I did not have to add it in post-production. To get this shot, I had the cosplayers stand in front of the cannon emplacements, with the light slightly to side and in front of them, while I was on walkway below shooting up at them. My assistant was actually below the cannon hidden by the grass wall spraying the instant atmosphere up around the cannon opening. This is what give it the cannon the just fired look.  The photo was shot at ISO 200, a focal length of 200mm, a shutter speed of 1/160s, and an aperture of F5.6.  I edited the photo by cropping to get rid of some excess sky ad grass, and then adjusted the basics elements such as contrast, exposure, sharpness, and luminosity. I also added a bit of vignetting to bring the focus towards the cosplayers.

While these are only a few of my favorite shots from this shoot, several of the photos came out very well and captured the theme.  You can see the complete set here.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Scotland Wrap-Up

Photo Stop Map
I have been back from Scotland for two weeks now and have finally finished editing all my photos from the trip.  (You can see all the photos here.) Overall, I took 1,748 photos spread across our two week trip, which included 35 photo stops spread amongst the seven towns we stayed in. (see map). Of those 1,748 photos, I edited 736 photos, which is approximately 42 percent.  Now that number could be slightly higher if I did not take/delete duplicates and if I did not take photos to stich into a panorama photo.  Of the 736 photos, I edited my ISO ranged between 100 – 800 ISO with 40 percent taken at 200 ISO.  My aperture varied between F3.5 and F20 with 36 percent of the photos taken at F9.  My shutter speed varied between 1/6 seconds and 1/2000 at the extremes with 12 percent of the photos taken at 1/320 seconds.  However, my shutter speed stayed mostly between 1/100 seconds to 1/800 seconds. Finally, my focal length varied between 18mm and 200mm with 51 percent of the photos taken at 18mm.


Overall, the trip was good, but there were a few things I would change, if I were to do it again.  I would not do Edinburgh again, I feel as though I have covered it.  I think I would just fly into Glasgow and focus on the west coast and the islands of Scotland.  Personally, I wanted to get rocky coast photos with crashing waves.  I would also spend possibly another day in Orkney so I could go over to some of the other islands.  While Skye is nice, it is definitely reach peak tourist capacity, so I would rather head out to the Hebrides, which are a bit wilder and have significantly fewer tourists.  Finally, the major thing I would change is the time of year; I either need to go in early April or late September or October.  The change in date is because in May sunrise is at 4:30 AM and sunset is at 10:30 PM, which do not fit my normal sleep patterns.  While the long days are great to get things done, midday sun does not usually lend itself to interesting skies for landscape photos. 

Below are a few of my favorite photos:
Old Man of Storre on Skye

Standing Stones of Stennis on Orkney

Castle in a loch on way to Skye

I edited a few shots in black in white to get that moody feel. 

Castle ruins in a lock on way to Skye

Old Man of Storre on Skye

Friday, June 2, 2017

Last Day Full Day

We left the B&B around 9:00 AM to make the hour and half drive to Edinburgh to check into our last hotel before our flight home tomorrow.  Since the drive was only an hour and half, we were able to stop at Stirling Castle and the Kelpie sculpture.  

The Kelpies (cell phone)
Stirling Castle was nice. It was fairly large castle and definitely less crowded than Edinburgh castle. I liked the wood carvings they had and the grounds were nice.  We did not stay for the noon gun firing (large artillery), which was kicking off a D-Day memorial.  From there we headed to one of the things I really wanted to see, the Kelpie sculpture.  The sculpture is of two horse heads coming out of the water.   The horse heads are several stories tall and made of formed silvered metal around an interior scaffolding.  It was easily visible from the M9.  I thought it was an impressive sculpture.  

From there it was on the hotel to drop off our bags, then over to the rental car place to drop off the car. This is the first time I’m glad I paid for the extra insurance on the car, since we did slightly nick the paint backing into a fence on the second day of driving it.  Once, we got back from the rental place we walked over to the TKMaxx (equivalent to TJMaxx) to pick up an extra piece of luggage.  I packed one extra bag with me but we ended up by a few bulky items like a wool blanket from the wool mill co-op and needed an extra carry on size bag to check.  Thankfully British Airways lets you check two bags per person for free.


While the trip was nice, I’m ready to go home tomorrow. I’m ready to sleep in my own bed and see my doggy.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Another Rainy Drive with Edited Photos

Sheep at Standing Stones of Stennis
Today started out rainy and continued to be rainy the rest of the day.  We got a late start out of the last B&B because breakfast wasn’t served till 8:30 AM.  It was the same basic breakfast we have had at all but two B&Bs, I’m getting really tired of the options of eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, tomatoes, toast, and porridge.  I would like some variety, like waffles or pancakes, even though I’m not a big fan of pancakes.  But the trip is almost over, so when I get home I’m having toaster strudel for breakfast.  

Originally the tour company wanted us to drive directly from Skye to Edinburgh which is about a six hour drive, we decided against this because the next day we would be spending eight hours on a plane.  So the drive was split up by adding a stop in Trossachs at a B&B along Loch Earn, which was only a 4 hour drive from where we were staying on Skye.  Since it was raining the whole drive there were no major photo stops along the route or in Glencoe because all you  would get is misty fog photos where you end up playing the game is that a hill, rock, or sheep.  However, we did make a few minor photo stops along the route at the Castle Maol overlook, the Loch Garry overlook, and the Well of Seven Heads. We also stopped at a restaurant and had pizza for lunch.  We made it to the hotel around 3:45 PM.

After checking into the hotel Jim, Bill, and Cristina went for a hike behind the hotel. I opted out of the hike because it was still raining. Instead, I used the time to review my photos from the trip and edited a few that caught my eye.   

Cliff Face on Orkney
Fairy Pools on Skye

Standing Stones of Stennis

Ardvreck Castle

Old Man of Storr

View from Old Man of Storr Trail

Tomorrow we will continue our drive to Edinburgh where we will pick up an extra piece of luggage, and drop off the car.

Super Heroes and Villains at the Waterfront

On June 25 th, I had a date with a bunch of super heroes and villains down by the Old Town Alexandria waterfront; it was DC Cosplay Photo ...