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Friday, December 26, 2008

Through A B & W Lens

What do you photograph when there is nothing to photograph? Well, one thing I like to do is to start looking around with my B & W lens. Yeah, you are right. There really isn't a so called black and white lens, but if I imagine that there really is such a thing then I can force my eyes - brain(?) - to see in B & W and forsee what could be.

These photos were taken on Christmas Eve while I was waiting for my wife to come out of P.T. Sitting in my jeep on a rainy winters day looking out through wet windows, there really isn't much color to see. This is when looking through my B & W lens becomes easier. The trick is to frame, focus and shoot between the wiper scraping across the windshield or roll down the window and shoot before to much rain or sleet comes in. It really helps if you pre-visualize, first, what the final image is going to be.

Did you know that if you would look at a negative of an Ansel Adams photograph you would not recognize it from the finished product? Ansel would first visualize what the finished image should be. Then he would expose for the look he was going for and in his darkroom he would use different chemicals, paper and dodging and burning techniques until the image would come out of the bath looking like he first saw it in his mind when he took the original shot.

With digital imaging we can do, basically, the same. Try it some time. Pre-visualize what the finished image should be and set your exposure accordingly, frame, focus and shoot. Then in your favorite digital darkroom software work on the digital negative until you get it to come out of the "bath" looking like it was when you first visualized it in your mind. This can go a long way in training your mind to see what others may not, and what you know is there. And, most important, shoot for your own enjoyment and not to please others.

Unless you are photographing for money what should it care if others don't like your work as long as you are satisfied with what you are doing? This took me a long time to figure this out and when I did photography became fun again. And isn't that why most of us do photography in the first place; for the enjoyment of it?

Hey, enough preaching from the pulpit. The photos are, from top to bottom:

Window Point
Pipe & Windows
Flags & Windows
217 Scratch
Icy One Way
Wrong Way







As usual, if you click on any photo you will see it in a larger version. All of these were taken with a DSLR and an 18 - 105 lens. And they were taken in normal priority mode. When I shoot for a black and white finish I try to do so with the look of something from the past, if I can. Even in B & W this is still my world.

Actually I grew up in a black and white world. By that I mean that the first TV's where in B & W, and boy was it great to watch; two channels and you waited between programs with a test chart on the screen. I still remember the Friday night fights, my Dad and his friends and Pabst. Once in awhile I even got a sip :-)

Anyway, this is my world, and even in Black and White I still love it, and you are welcome to it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Eve Morn & Ice

Christmas Eve Morning came with freezing rain and ice. So, what else would you expect a photographer to do but to go out and photograph it.

I went downtown and found the foot mall a sheet of ice, which is what you would expect when it is below freezing and it is raining with sleet thrown in. There was some traffic moving but in the first pic, where you see the grey to black area on the foot mall, you see nothing but a sheet of ice. Naturally I have to get a closer look.

In photos two and three, which were taken from the town square, you can see the sleek & smooth ice. It was in photograph number three where I did the next wild, or stupid, thing depending on how you look at it with my age in consideration. Where it looks like it is just wet on the bricks was actually smooth clear ice. I was over on the left side next to the Gateway Center when I first noticed how slick was the ice.

I started to go across and at first I slide by accident. Then I tried on purpose to slide and when I realized how easy it was, my past came a calling. I looked around to see if anyone else was about and not seeing anyone, I did it. Just right before the brite red bricks meet the darker red ones I took about two quick steps and then one longer one and let it go and I slide almost all the way across the dark red bricks. What a rush. With a big grin on my face and heart beating fast I did it.

For the first time in about 40 years I slide on the ice. And I'm going to be 62 next month. Well, I always did say I will never grow up. No matter how old the body - my thoughts, my mind, what I feel is who I am. And I felt like being a kid again. And what better time for doing so than on Christmas Eve Morn.

I remembered the psychiatrist from MASH, Sidney Freedman I think, when he told the overworked hospital crew "Ladies and Gentlemen, take my advice, pull down your pants and slide on the ice". Well, it did release some pent up stress from work, but I did keep the pants up. I can just see an older man lying flat on his back with his pants down around his ankles. Now there is a picture :-)

Photo number four is just a shot that I wanted to record. The lights and color in what seemed like an otherwise dull scene just stood out and needed to be captured; and I did. Of course, in weather like this you really have to be careful of the other driver when out in you car, and pic number five shows just what you never thought you would see behind the wheel of the other car. Of course the fur coat looked really great.







As for the technical info on these they were taken with a DSLR and an 18 - 105 lens. In between shots I would keep the camera in my jacket and when I was ready to shoot I would take it out, frame and fire, and then put it back away. It didn't get wet to much but it did start me to thinking about getting a good raincoat for my camera. If anyone out there uses one and could recommend a good one I would greatly appreciate it.

The camera settings the photos were all shot in programmed customized mode, adding just a little in camera saturation. In photoshop elements I did Levels adjustment and then added a little sharpening and some vignetting; just trying to keep it simple.

Even though I now live outside of Cumberland it still is my city. Yeah, this is my world. It's great living and working here and I wouldn't move away unless I really had to. Actually I've been away from here at least twice and both times I came back; and glad I did.

As usual, if you click on any photo you will get a larger view and then you can hit your back button to return to the blog.

My world is great, it's colorful and you are more than welcome to it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Camera Doesn't Matter

Too many people are caught up in the "better equipment means better photos" syndrome. I've had people at youth sporting events tell me that if they had a camera like I have they could take photos as good as I. When they do get a better and more expensive camera they find out that their photos are no better than when they had the little "point & shoot" model and they cannot understand why. If I try to explain to them that the camera doesn't matter I usually get the response of "well look how good your camera takes photos"; and they can't understand that the camera is just a tool that the photographer uses.

Andreas Feininger the famous French photography once made the following statement:

"Photographers are idiots of which there are so many - say, "Oh, if only I had a Nikon or a Leica, I could make great photographs." That's the dumbest thing I ever heard in my life. It's nothing but a matter of seeing, thinking, and interest. That's what makes a good photograph. And then rejecting anything that would be bad for the picture. The wrong light, the wrong background, time and so on. Just don't do it, no matter how beautiful the subject is."

Yes, having a good camera can help in the process but it's the person behind the camea that takes the photograph. Just to give an example of this I've included this photo. It was taken on a back country road in Garrett County Maryland with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC33 a 3.2 MP point & shoot camera through the front windshield of a moving vehicle. It was a scene that caught my eye and it looked like I was riding in a black&white photo, except for the little Red sign. So Many people have asked me how I got the Red sign in a black&white photo and they can't believe that this is a color photograph.

Camera manufacturers and retailers want you to believe that a more expensive and better camera is going to give you better photographs. However, if you can't take good photographs now a more expensive camea isn't going to help. You need to learn to use what you have now and then move up as you get better in creating your photographs. The camera really doesn't matter. What does matter is what you do, how you see, and having the ability to capture that moment in time.

If you would like some examples of what good photography looks like, check out the sites under "My Photo Links" and you will see some excellent examples of what great photography is when the photographer doesn't worry about his camera(s).
I do love my world, even the cold winters, and so will you. Yeah, this is my world and you are welcome to it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Getting ready to head off to my brothers house for Thanksgiving dinner and I just wanted to share this photo. It's similar to my blog photo to the right but with a different result. My brother, Gene, is a Pastor, and today we are going to have dinner with his wife's family and us in the Church dining area. This way we will have a lot more room with good seating for everyone instead of winding up all over his house; but that's kind of fun as well. Either way we're expecting a great meal as Barb, his wife, is a great cook herself, and always prepares a sumptuous feast. I expect to put on a few pounds.

I have many things for which I am grateful as God has blessed me and my family in many ways. I hope that you too will have a great and thankful Thanksgiving day and may you be blessed well in the coming Christmas Season.

This photo was taken with an 18-105 lens late in the evening after sunset. It was shot, handheld, at 1/30 sec at f/5.6 at 105mm. Vibration reduction really works well. I enjoy this lens and find myself using it most of the time.

Anyway, as ususal, this is my world and you are welcome to it. Happy Thanksgiving y'all.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Natures Painting

Sometimes a gem of a photo jumps right out at you, and for me this is one of them. I wasn't even sure of what I had when I took this. Here's the story.

I had taken my wife, at lunch time, to a place of business with which our company does business. She needed to pick up some items. While she was inside I took out my camera and was looking around for something to photograph. I looked over towards the woods and I saw this. These were the only leaves left hanging anywhere. So I aimed, framed and fired. About this time my wife came back out and I put my camera down and went back to work.

Later that evening I was looking through the photos that I had downloaded to my PC and this one caught my eye. I couldn't get away from it. I just kept looking at it and couldn't stop. To me this looks more like a painting than a photograph, hence "Natures Painting". I really love this photo and I just had to put it up here for others to see. I hope you enjoy looking at this as much as I do. This one is destined to become a hard copy, matted and framed.


This photo was taken about mid afternoon on a cloudy dull day with snow flurries in the air. My exposure was 2/3 of an f/stop lower than indicated. Other than that the light was a soft even layer. My camera was a Nikon D40 with a Nikkor 18-105 lens. I resized for web viewing in Photoshop Elements 6 and that was it. I didn't use Levels, Contrast or Saturation or anything like that. Now I did add a little vignetting and a small amount of sharpening because of the loss from resizing, but that was it.

This just goes to show that a good photo can be anywhere and sometimes even the best ones show up when you least expect them. But you have to have a camera with you at all times and always be on the look out for something to shoot. I know I don't want to be in the position of saying "man, I wish I had a camera" :-)

You might miss something like this and I know you would not like that. Remember, if you are not looking you will never see.

As usual, this is my world. I love it and you are welcome to it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fall Color On A Dull Day

Sometimes the color of fall can jump right out at you. I recently found some of the best fall colors on a dull day at a lake.

On Tuesday I had to go to Rocky Gap Lodge for an install of a couple of MFP's. As I drove up to the lodge I could see that the trees on Evitts Mountain, across Lake Habeeb from the Lodge, were of magnificent colors; even though the day was cold and overcast with snow flakes blowing around.

I just happened to have my camera with me (I always do) but I went into the Lodge first and did my work. You know, once work is done you can take a few moments to take in the view and then head back to the office. An hour and a half later I was finished - the work in the Lodge - and I knew that it would be late afternoon, and I was hoping that the sun had not popped out from behind the clouds; I wanted to keep the soft light, as the combination of it and the moisture seemed to be making the fall colors glow.

The first four photos were taken from the amphitheater area looking across the Lake and the last two were taken from the lower level of the guest parking lot on the far side of the Lodge.







All of these photographs were taken with a DSLR and an 18-105 lens. They were cropped, optimized and resized for web viewing in Photoshop Elements 6. As I mentioned before, these were all taken in the vicinity of Rocky Gap Lodge next to Rocky Gap State Park just a few miles outside of Cumberland in Western Maryland.

The view of the fall colors is across Lake Habeeb on Evitts Mountain. This is a beautiful area all year round. Besides the Lodge there is also a camp ground and a few chalet's within the park itself. When you come to Western Maryland you will want to stop for a visit or maybe even spend a few days here. As you do - enjoy.

Yeah, this too is part of my world. You are invited to visit it and you are welcome to it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Looking Out My Back Door

Sometimes the most interesting sights can be found where you least expect them. I live just a couple of miles outside of Cumberland in the suburbs. We're just a few minutes from town in an area that's like living in the country and it's great where I live.

So, lets take a little detour from the views of Cumberland and take a look at what I see in and from my own backyard; looking out my back door.

Just a few steps up the hill from my back door and I can see this most beautiful scene. The season are changing and the trees are starting to come out in all of their fall glory.


If that isn't enough, just looking out my back door, or from the swing in the backyard, and I can watch these little critters. This one here I'm not sure if he knows how to take me. I talk to him and he will just look; must wonder what the heck I'm doing. It's like he's trying to figure out whether or not I'm friendly, crazy or both.


He likes to startle me by jumping from one tree to another - over my head - especially when I don't know he's there. I swear he will look at me afterwards, chatter like crazy and do it with a grin on its little face. Now I know that's not possible but it's fun to think it is.


Now these three photos were taken with a DSLR and an 18-105 lens. The lens has image stabilization built in and allows me to take sharper photos at slower shutter speeds. Helps a lot as well with other shots; hands become a little less steady the older you get :-)

Anyway, these are different views of my world; like living in the country. I'm not wealthy but we do OK; bills get paid, gas prices are coming down and we can eat again. Just kidding. We go to work in Cumberland everyday, and then we can come home to this. And I can share all of this with the most wonderful wife of my youth. What more can I ask for? Well a pay raise couldn't hurt, but that's another story :-)

Yeah, this is my world and you are welcome to it.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

City Of Steeples

No matter which way you look, when you are in Cumberland, odds are very good you will see one or more Steeples. Cumberland has always been a city of strong faith and, for the most part, it still is. But even a building of non-faith like the County Court House can dominate the skyline.

I don't have any pictures to show, but at night all of these spirels are lit and they make quite a site as you drive through on the freeway.

Anyway, when you come to town, whether you see them at night or during the day you will enjoy seeing these "points" of interest, and they speak volumes of the history of Cumberland.

As usual, to see any of these photos larger just click on them and then hit your back button to return to these pages.










The first photo, looking up the Potomac River towards Cumberland and the last photo of Heaven opening were taken with a Point & Shoot camera, the rest were taken with a DSLR and a 28-200mm lens.

As an aside note, the bottom photo was taken from my place at work through a second story window. As I saw this starting to happen I only had time to run to grab my camera and get off one shot as the clouds overcame the sun. This was just a one time occasion.

Yes, these are views of my world. I love it and you are welcome to it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

When You Come To Visit Cumberland

Some day, when you come to visit Cumberland, and you will come to visit, here are some scenes you might get to enjoy. And what better way to start than seeing what Baltimore Street looks like at Christmas time with snow.

Actually this photo just doesn't do it justice, but it is the only one that I have in my collection, believe it or not, that shows the street with snow at Christmas. But you really have to be hear to experience it for yourself, it is almost like stepping back in time.

As we go down through the photos here is what else you may see as you experience Cumberland.

  • Baltimore Street in the Summer
  • The Bell Tower (Chamber of Commerce Building) in the Spring
  • City Hall in the Fall
  • Looking up the Potomac River towards the hill where Fort Cumberland once stood
  • Baltimore Street Square on a late Summers rainy day
  • A view from the Western Maryland train station
  • The Steam Locomotive at the Station that you might like to ride when you visit
  • On the side of the Times-News Newspaper building is a huge mural; next to the Station
  • The view in late Summer to early Fall, looking up the Potomac River towards Cumberland

If you want to see any of these photos in a larger size just click on it and then hit your back button to return to the site. I do hope you enjoy viewing RiffsPics, and while you're here check out my other post for more interesting photos.

Photography is my hobby and I love sharing them with all of you, and thank you for dropping by.










These are just a few of the many scenes you can experience for yourself. Many of us who live here get to see these and more on a daily basis. In fact, some of us even take it for granted that we live in such a great area. Then again, maybe you might just want to stay away. You don't need to visit. We want to keep all this to ourselves :-)

All of these photos were taken either with a Canon A95 or with a Nikon D50 and an 18-70mm or a 28-200mm lens. All were handheld shots and the settings were optimized for landscape photography. Some work was done in Photoshop Elements 4 or 6; basically color correction, where needed, and some sharpening. If you have any further questions or any comments please don't hesitate to contact me. Thanks again for stopping by and viewing RiffsPics.

In case you don't know it - this is my world and you are quite welcome to it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

People On The Square

I went down to the Town Square Saturday, in Cumberland, and shot a few people. I guess I shouldn't use that term - shot - someone might get the wrong impression. I went with the purpose of photographing the people that I would see there.

As I look at them I like to try and figure out what they might be thinking, where they are going or what they are doing, and I give the photos names that reflect that. Below are nine of the photos that I took and hopefully you might find one or two interesting.

As usual, if you want to see the photos larger just click on them and then hit your back button to return to the main page.

For me, street photography is a way of getting away from my own world for awhile and I try to view life from another perspective. These people have their own lives and I try to capture, if possible, a small part of that life so that if they were to see these pictures they would say "I remember that". And hopefully it would put a smile on their face.

Doing street photography is sort of like being a peeping Tom. You are imposing your camera on someone else. Sometimes they might be looking right at you and at other times they are completely oblivious to what you are doing. Either way you are stepping out of that comfort zone of your own life into the unknown of anothers life.

However, it is a good documentation of what is going on Downtown; the people, what's happening and life itself that you see on a daily basis. The only thing difference is that you are stopping time and capturing a moment that may never happen again. These are the people on the Square on the Mall in Downtown Cumberland.

In order of appearance, here are the names I gave the photos:

  1. Relaxing
  2. In The Spotlight
  3. Love In Unison
  4. Having A Great Time
  5. The Ref
  6. You Make Me Happy
  7. On A Mission
  8. Look Away
  9. The Vet












All of the photos were taken with a Nikon D50 and an Nikkor 28-200mm Lens. Basically I was sitting on a bench, around 10:00 AM, not trying to hide my camera, and only two were taken without putting the camera up to the eye; didn't think that I would have time for the shot that I saw and just pointed the camera and pressed the shutter.

I wanted to be open about this and anyone who saw me would know what I was doing. I did a little post processing in Photoshop Elements 6 and that was it.

If you have any questions or comments please let me know.

Yeah, this is my world and you are welcome to it. :-)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Western Maryland Station In Cumberland

In 1906 the railroad finally reached Cumberland, MD and in 1913 the Western Maryland Railroad Station was built. The following photos shows what it is like today as well as a little view of the area around it. This is the same station where the annual Train Pull is held. Hope you can come by sometime and visit.

Today, the Station houses the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, the Canal Place Preservation Society and is part of the Canal Place Heritage Area. There is also a gift shop, a Deli with really great food and the lower portion houses the C&O Canal National Historic Park Visitors Center. There are displays of Canal life and life aboard a canal boat; quite an interesting place to visit.

Close by are the Shops at Canal place as well as other interesting Canal Place attractions including a fully restored Canal Boat. But for now, here are the photos of the Western Maryland Station.














These photographs were taken mostly with a Nikon D50 and an 18-70mm lens or a Canon A95 P&S Camera. Also, as I've grown in creating this blog I've learned how to upload my photos so that if you would like to see any of these photos in a larger size, just click on them to view them larger and then click on your back button to return to this window.

Now I enjoy writing, and documentary style photography I love even more, putting them together - what could be more fun than that. :-)


This is my world. I really enjoy it and I hope you realize that you are welcome to it.