News and Views from Dave Wilson

Archive for August, 2010

Austin Chromasia Workshop?

by on Aug.28, 2010, under Photography

I’ve been a fan of David Nightingale’s work and his inspirational Chromasia photoblog for years so am very excited at the possibility of having him come to Austin to give a workshop on advanced post-processing techniques some time in early 2011. This would likely be a a couple of classes – a 1 day intro to HDR on a Friday followed by a 2 day class on advanced post processing. The class would be limited to 16-20 photographers. The numbers suggest we can do this for somewhere in the region of $350 per person for the 2 day class and $180 or so for the one day workshop.

Although nothing is finalised yet,I’m keen to gauge the level of interest to get an idea of how feasible this is. Would you be interested and do you feel this price is reasonable? I’m not asking for a commitment just now, merely an idea of how popular such a workshop would be.

If you’ve not seen David’s work, I strongly encourage you to take a look at his blog and portfolio. His post-processing techniques are the stuff of legend in the digital photography community and his use of HDR is superb. He is the author of “Practical HDR” and winner of many international awards.

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Speaking at Austin Shutterbugs Tonight

by on Aug.26, 2010, under Photography

If you happen to have an evening free, are in the Austin area and are interested in hearing me talk about HDR photography and show my pictures, I’ll be speaking at the Austin Shutterbugs at 7pm. The meeting takes place in the LCRA building on Red Bud Trail and Lake Austin Blvd. Visitors are welcome.

I was invited to speak by Pete Holland who is the club’s Vice President and, as it happens, one of only two photographers from whom I’ve ever bought an HDR print. Pete is a very accomplished HDR photographer and I feel rather honoured for him to have invited me to speak.

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Shooting a New Sport

by on Aug.22, 2010, under Photography


Determination, originally uploaded by DaveWilsonPhotography.

I had a fascinating morning yesterday at the Texas Hill Country Barrel Racing Association competition in Dripping Springs. Neighbour, friend and fellow HDR enthusiast Don Schulte joined me and we spent 3 or 4 hours standing in the sun shooting lots of high-speed sequences of riders and horses tearing around a 3 barrel course, trying not to knock any of the barrels over.

I had never seen a Barrel Race live before but reckoned it would make for some great action shots and I wasn’t disappointed. These folks ride really fast and the horses can whip round the barrels very quickly giving some really dramatic image opportunities.

We set up close to the start line and this offered us three main shooting targets – rounding the barrel opposite us, rounding the second barrel close to us and finally the gallop back to the finish line. The third barrel was further away and offered a background containing the timing and judging stand so didn’t provide an appealing target.

The shots I am most happy with so far were those of the competitors rounding the barrel closest to us. I was shooting with the D700 and 70-200mm close to wide open (typically f/4 or f/3.3) to blur the background. Couple this with a nice, fresh set of NiMH batteries in the battery grip and this let me catch about 4 frames of each rider making the turn (at 8fps). I kept the crop close to the barrel since the best riders stay as close as possible so this meant that I frequently lost at least one hoof (as in this case). I would rather have the whole horse in the image but I loved the overall feel of this shot so decided to post it regardless of the minor amputation.

By the end of our stay, both of us had more than 500 images in the can (about 13 images per rider, in case you are wondering with each rider completing the course in between 17 and 19 seconds). I still have lots of editing to do but I’ll post several more later once I’ve narrowed the field down a bit.

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Shooting Sky

by on Aug.15, 2010, under Photography

I’ve been really keen to try shooting the night sky for several years. Unfortunately, even though we are several miles outside Austin, our sky is pretty polluted by the orange glow of the city and a few surrounding towns so we seldom get a wonderfully clear night and a good view of the Milky Way. I was lucky, therefore, to get a reasonable view a couple of nights ago so thought I would give it a quick try. I only shot a dozen frames and none are fabulous but I’ve definitely learned enough to know where to start next time.

The biggest surprise to me was to see that even with a 50 second exposure and a very wide angle lens, star motion is still very apparent (hence my only posting a low resolution version of this image). I was shooting at 14mm f/2.8 400ISO but next time, I think I’ll try 1600ISO and reduce the shutter speed to 12 seconds or so to try to minimise the effect of the Earth’s rotation. The D700 should handle this fine without the noise being too much of a problem.

In the meantime, here’s the Milky Way from our front yard. I had hoped that the image would be crossed by a few Perseid meteors but we only saw 4 or 5 in the 30 minutes we were outside and none of those appeared while the shutter was open. I tried to increase the foreground interest a bit by painting the cedar trees with a flashlight.

The splash of the Milky Way seen from just outside Austin, Texas

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World Wide Photo Walk, Austin (again)

by on Aug.09, 2010, under Photography

Sorry – time for another personal trumpet-blowing post…

After posting my news about the Honorable Mention in the Unified Color HDR competition, I woke up on Saturday morning to discover that I had also had my entry selected as the winner of this year’s Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk for Austin’s Palmer Event Center/Lady Bird Lake walk (there were 3 in the city this year). That was a big surprise since I definitely felt that my images from this year’s walk were significantly less inspiring than last year’s entry which ended up in my recent exhibition set.

Unlike many other walks where the winner is chosen by the walk leader, Simi, our leader, opened the competition to votes from the attendees so thanks to everyone who voted for my picture of the First Street Bridge!

I’ve already blogged the winning image so here’s another one I took during the walk showing the jukebox in Threadgill’s Restaurant where we all met to have lunch afterwards.

Having won this event two years running, I think it’s time for me to choose a different walk next year or perhaps even sign up to lead one. We’ll see what happens when the 2011 sign-up starts in May or thereabouts next year.

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Family Picture at White Sands

by on Aug.07, 2010, under Family, Photography


White_Sands-101, originally uploaded by wilsonloftin.

It’s been ages since I posted any family pictures on the blog so here’s one from our recent trip that I’m pretty happy with. This was taken on our first evening at White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo in New Mexico. The weather was breathtaking that night – thunderstorms all around, rain on the distant mountains and sun rays shining through it while we remained dry in a pocket of dunes in the centre.

The picture was taken with a self timer (obviously) and, since it was getting dark, I popped an on-camera flash to brighten us up a bit while darkening the background somewhat. Amazingly, the exposure is good (I never get more than 2 attempts at this kind of thing before one of the kids runs off) and everyone looks happy and has their eyes open!

Although I post a lot of pictures to Flickr on my “DaveWilsonPhotography” account, I also keep a second account which contains only pictures of the things we’ve been up to as a family. Click through this image to see some others if you are interested.

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Honorable Mention

by on Aug.06, 2010, under Photography

I found out this evening that my Chevron Tower image was awarded an honorable mention in the second Unified Color HDR Photography competition. The version of the image entered was reprocessed from the original exposures using Unified Color’s HDR Photo Studio 2 software since that was what the competition required. I stuck to the rules and did no retouching afterwards so I’m not particularly happy with the final image (compare it to this one which was processed in Photomatix with retouch in Photoshop and Lightroom to see what I mean). That said, it was obviously good enough for the judges!

This was one of my top 10 images of 2009 and I am looking forward to going back down to Houston to shoot some more architecture some time in the next couple of months. I’ll probably reshoot this image with the new camera and ultra-wide lens since I was never 100% happy with the sharpness of the image taken using the Sigma 10-20mm. Watch this space near the end of the year for an update.

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