News and Views from Dave Wilson

Archive for July, 2009

Another Remarkable Week

by on Jul.31, 2009, under Photography

Tire Sculpture, Austin

Tire Sculpture, Austin, originally uploaded by David A G Wilson.

Today marks the end of a rather good week on many fronts:

  • The photo shown here won the Austin competition in the Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk 2009 and now moves on as a finalist in the global competition. I will have about 950 other photos to compete against so I’m not holding out a lot of hope but it feels great to be a winner at this level!
  • I was approached by a large Texas magazine publisher about licensing one of my Austin photos for full page use in a large circulation publication. Fingers crossed on this one.
  • The nice people at ImageKind listed me as an “amazing artist to follow” this week and featured one of my photos on their home page. ImageKind is a large site offering printing services to a huge number of artists so I feel very honoured to have been highlighted like this in a group of about 10 artists. You can find my site on ImageKind here.
  • Nikki had one of her essays listed as a finalist for publication in an upcoming anthology. They accept about 50 and the current shortlist is about 60 long so there’s a high probability that her story will be picked up. She’s had a lot of essays published locally but this is a national, book publication that would look rather good on her resume.
  • As if the previous good things were not enough, we also got a couple of inches of rain today!

So lots to be thankful for this week. Hopefully things are going well for you too.

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Shooting Skylines at Night.

by on Jul.29, 2009, under Photography

Austin Skyline at Dusk

Austin Skyline at Dusk, originally uploaded by David A G Wilson.

I took this shot a couple of weeks ago when Nikki was off in Cincinnati and I managed to squeeze 3 photo shoots into a single week. I was downtown with a couple of fellow photographers from work and we ended up at Auditorium Shores just after sunset. The colours on the water of Lady Bird Lake were superb and the sky was just right for great “night” shots.

Contrary to what you may guess, real night is generally a pretty bad time to try to get skyline photos. since you end up with a completely black sky. The period about 20-40 minutes after sunset is typically the best since the tone of the sky is such that you can get a nice deep blue with the same exposure necessary to expose for the lit windows in the buildings. Too early and the building lights don’t shine, too late and your sky goes black or your lights are blown out.

I did cheat a bit with this one. It’s a 3 shot HDR processed to look as natural as possible. The original middle exposure looked pretty good but by going the HDR route, I had more flexibility to balance the light and dark areas of the image and generate a photograph that I am very happy with.

I used exactly the same technique for the Toronto and Manhattan skyline images below.

Toronto by Night

View From The Top

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Garden Spider

by on Jul.25, 2009, under Photography

Garden Spider

Garden Spider, originally uploaded by David A G Wilson.

I was playing with my flashes and macro lens this morning and took this picture of a garden spider that has set up home under the eaves of our chicken coop. He’s a male so won’t get a lot bigger than his current inch or so in size but he’s the first I’ve seen near the house this year. In past years we have had huge (3 inch?) females living in the front garden but not this year.

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Photoblog Tutorials Section

by on Jul.25, 2009, under Photography

I’ve just opened a new section on the photoblog which contains various photography tutorials, hints and tips. To get the ball rolling, I’ve linked a couple of older posts in this blog that I find myself referring people to and have also added the first two parts of a 4 part HDR tutorial. Despite the fact that there are a bunch of great HDR tutorials on the net already (I link to some of them from the new tutorials page), I still find myself answering quite a few questions on how I do particular things so hopefully these posts will provide the answers people are looking for.

Take a look and please let me know what you think.

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Photo Walk Images

by on Jul.19, 2009, under Photography

Here are a smattering of my images from yesterday’s World Wide Photo Walk. I still have loads to process but these are some of my favourites so far. Click on each for a larger version.

Ballet Austin
Tire Sculpture, AustinBalconies, Austin
StamenCity Hall Geometry

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World Wide Photo Walk, Austin

by on Jul.18, 2009, under Photography

I’m just back from taking part in the World Wide Photo Walk in downtown Austin. This event, arranged by Scott Kelby and his group of Photoshop gurus, encouraged photographers to get together and walk a planned route around some area of their city, taking pictures and chatting along the way. After the event, anyone who took part can enter 2 photos to be judged with prizes for the best photo in each city and, ultimately, best photo from the day. Given the number of people involved (around 32,000 from over 900 cities last time I heard), the chances of winning anything are remote but it was great to meet so many other photographers and spend the morning involved in serious photogeekery. I came home with about 170 images and a stack of business cards and email addresses.Austin Photo Walkers (click for full sized version)

The walk started at City Hall at 8am (to try to beat the heat). From there, we wandered a couple of blocks west then turned north, ending up at Republic Square and the Farmers’s Market. After hanging around in the shade for a while, we proceeded back across 4th St and south again returning to City Hall and the Austin Java Company for an early lunch at 11am. By this time, it was pretty hot and the air conditioning, iced coffee and large glasses of water were greatly appreciated.

Keep an eye on my Flickr account and photoblog over the next couple of weeks since I’ll be posting some of the shots I took. Most of these are architecture HDRs but there are also several showing the other participants and a couple of macros thrown in for good measure. In the meantime, here’s a picture from my iPhone showing the group just about to depart. This as taken by the group leader. Click the image to see the full sized version. I’m the smudge in the middle wearing the orange cap.

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First Photo Lesson for Cameron

by on Jul.15, 2009, under Photography

Wildflower Center, Austin

Wildflower Center, Austin, originally uploaded by David A G Wilson.

Cameron and I had a lovely time last Saturday morning (yes, I know, this blog entry is rather late). He had been wanting to spend some time taking photos so we headed down to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to see what we could do. He was armed with my old Coolpix 4600 and we both had a great time, spending most of it by one of the ponds (not this one, as it happens) taking pictures of water lillies and dragonflies.

We concentrated on holding the camera steady and squeezing rather than punching the shutter release and after a few test shots, he was soon getting sharp images. By the end of our 2 hours, he had started using the rather nifty macro mode on the camera and got some nice flower shots and even a couple of the dragonflies.

For part of the time, I was also taking dragonflies but I’ll save those pictures for later since I’m working on a post about macro photography and will use them in that. If you follow me on Flickr, you’ve probably seen one of them already, though.

Hopefully this will be the first of many father/son photo outings. Given that I’m pretty useless and uninterested when it comes to sports, this should give us a rather more active joint activity than “Super Mario Galaxy” on the Wii (though, knowing how Cameron plays that game, it wouldn’t surprise me if that burns more calories than wandering around in 100 degrees of Texas summer heat with a heavy camera backpack on).

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Newly reopened for business on ImageKind

by on Jul.10, 2009, under Photography

ImageKind, one of the two online companies I use to provide printing services for my web sites, has just undergone a major reorganisation. One of the interesting changes is that they now allow account holders to brand their ImageKind site so I’ve spent a little time this week moving the “Dave Wilson Photography” brand over there too. You can see the new site at

I’ve been trying to decide whether I need to continue using ImageKind now that I’ve signed up with Fotomoto. With the number of sales I make, the Fotomoto model is a lot better for me – you only have to produce print-ready high resolution, tagged images once a sale has been made so I can offer a large number of images for sale without a lot of up-front work – but ImageKind does offer one great advantage over Fotomoto and that is that they also offer framing services. As a result, I think I’ll keep my existing strategy of using Fotomoto for sales via the photoblog and put all my portfolio images on ImageKind where buyers have a wider selection of printing and framing choices.

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The Whole Gang

by on Jul.06, 2009, under Family, Photography

The Whole Gang

Originally uploaded by wilsonloftin

For the first time in several years, my whole family were together while we spent a week in the English Lake District so we took advantage of the fact and I shot a group containing Dad, all three brothers, their wives and all our kids (plus both the UK dogs). This was taken in the garden of Routen House, the rather excellent and extremely secluded house we were staying in for the week.

This shot also gave me another excuse to play with fill flash. I used a single SB600 on the hotshoe to open up the shadows a bit and add some foreground light and it seems to have worked reasonably well even though it was rather far away and probably somewhat underpowered given the ambient light.

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Rob Calder, Bagpipe Busker

by on Jul.04, 2009, under Photography

Rob Calder, Bagpipe Busker

Rob Calder, Bagpipe Busker, originally uploaded by David A G Wilson.

While we were back in the UK recently, I read a newspaper article about a guy traveling across the US, busking in aid of an Edinburgh charity. I made a mental note to watch out for him, not really thinking he would likely end up in Austin but, when we got back, I found a message from Lanark friend Andy Mitchell telling me that one if his friends was busking his way across the States and could I drop him a line and offer help when he reached Texas. Putting two and two together, it became pretty apparent that this friend, Rob Calder, was the same person I had read about in the newspaper a couple of weeks earlier.

A couple of weeks and a few emails later, Rob arrived in Austin yesterday and we got together outside the Capitol for a few photographs at about 8:30 in the evening. This was about 30 minutes too late to get the really nice light but it was good enough to get a few decent, if not spectacular, images that he can use on his blog. He played for a while then we did a few tourist things (a quick trip around the inside of the Capitol, a wander through the Driskill Hotel, up and down Sixth Street) before ending up at Fado, an Irish pub on 4th Street where I heard lots of Brits hang out. I had not been there before but it was great – very friendly and excellent atmosphere. Rob played for a while inside the pub and spent the next couple of hours chatting with the customers before we headed back to our home where he was spending the night.

Rob’s busking is benefiting ECAS, an Edinburgh charity which helps the physically disabled. If you want to help him out, he is accepting online donations here. His trip has also received quite a bit of media attention, including an appearance on the Today Show which you can watch via a link on his main website. To round out the online presence, you can also follow his exploits via his blog or on Twitter. I’m sure he would be delighted to hear from anyone else with Scottish connections on his route. He leaves Austin tomorrow morning for Dallas then heads to Denver after that before visiting Boulder, Las Vegas, Flagstaff and several other cities on his way to San Francisco. The journey ends on July 25th but look for a return appearance on the Today Show on either the 24th or 25th.

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