Listen to the Peanut Gallery

January 26th, 2014 by Brian Cooney

Hawk in Tree

Beautiful Hawk in the tree nearest my apartment

Sometimes, you get a clue from an unexpected place, and it pays to learn to listen.  Smaller birds tend not like Hawks.  This morning, Our parrot was freaking about something, and My wife noticed that this hawk was the source of his drama.  You will also notice that birds outside will either avoid an area where there is a large bird of pray, throw up a huge fuss warning each other of its presence, or try to chase it away. Learn to watch for these signs, and you will have a much better chance of getting some wonderful pictures of these larger birds.  I took this picture through my sliding glass door, with my Canon 100-400L zoomed all the way.  I wish I had time to play around more with settings, but I scared MR Hawk away when I moved a chair so I could sit and watch longer.  My Camera is now set up on a tripod, ready to go if he decides to come back…. I really hope he does :)

Keeping your Eyes Open

February 15th, 2012 by Brian Cooney

Sometimes just keeping your eyes open will bring you something beautiful and unexpected. I was at the Carrolton Public library this week, hanging out with a bunch of my Ham Radio friends and building Antennas. I had my camera with me so I could take pictures of the Antenna build, and I happened to look out the window at the Library and see all these Seagulls flying and sitting around a dock down by a little pond. Camera in hand, out the door I went. I only had my 24-104mm lens… not exactly the best for wildlife shooting, so I wasn’t expecting much… but I kept getting closer and closer, and this is the last shot I got before the closest bird got nervous and flew off. I was probably only about 10 feet away from him when I took this picture, and I am very happy with the results!

First Blooms

March 7th, 2011 by Brian Cooney

African Viloet1

African Violet 180mm Macro f/32 ISO 800

Today was nice outside… probally in the 60s, so My wife and I decided to spend some time out on the porch. With a little digging, I ended up being able to find everything she needed to re-pot some of her African Violets. This was the first one I have seen bloom in awhile, so I took our new dedicated macro lens for a spin on an appropriate subject for the first time. I took a ton of pictures, but the ones I liked the best where all the ones with the highest depth of field, provided by setting the apeture on the macro lens all the way up to f/32. I had to bump the ISO to 800 and keep the camera on a tripod with a macro rail to focus, but I am quite happy with the results.

Stone Wall

June 25th, 2010 by Brian Cooney

Stone Wall in Lebanon PA.  Taken with Point and Shoot camera.

Stone wall in Lebanon PA

While digging through my iphoto library, I found this picture of a stone wall I saw in a park in Lebanon PA a few years ago.  This was taken long before I had ever even thought of owning a Digital SLR camera,  with a Kodak point and shoot.  I remember taking a long walk through the park, and just thinking this wall was beautiful.  At that point in time, I didn’t take many pictures, but I always had my point and shoot in my pocket, and when I saw something that really struck my eye a frame would be made.

I carry my SLR with me just about everywhere too, but it is usually in a backpack, not a pocket, so it is far less accessible.  Sometimes, I wonder how many images like this one I miss because its so much more work to get the SLR ready to create an image than that old Kodak.  If the Kodak didn’t have a broken screen, maybe I would just carry both.  Do you carry a point and shoot when you don’t have your SLR?  Or do you just carry a Point and shoot all the time like I did back then?  Do you ever miss a shot because you just cant get the camera out of a backpack fast enough, and its just not convenient enough to always have it in your hand or in super easy reach?  And if you do miss those shots, does it bother you, or do you just shrug it off?

Internet Upgrades…. Faster site!

June 23rd, 2010 by Brian Cooney

Just a quick note that I have upgraded’s internet connection… the site should load much faster now.

To all of those who I have been torturing with my slow upstream, sorry!

EDIT:   As a further thought…. in order to speed page load times, I am going to start trying to keep the images even smaller….. and limit to two images per post on the front page. This doesn’t mean Ill never post more than two images…. it just means you will need to click “More” to get to the rest of the article if it would contain more than that.

Fail: Sundays and Silhouettes

June 17th, 2010 by Brian Cooney

Church Silhouette

Church Silhouette 24mm f9 @ 1/250 ISO 400

Sometimes you fail to achieve what you were looking for, but come up with something else you love.  This past Sunday,  the sky was doing awesome ray of light stuff through the clouds. I have had my eye on this little church, hoping to make a cool frame for a while, so I decided to drive over and see if the sky would do something nice for me behind it.  The pretty rays of light were nowhere near where they needed to be to get the image I was hoping for, so I set up on a tripod  with the Sun directly behind the church, and started bracketing exposures, thinking maybe I would use them for my first crack at HDR.  When I got home…..  and started playing with the image,  I realized that the underexposed images were actually really neat, so I started playing with them.  I came up with this with a bit of a crop, and shifting the color temperature to gold a bit.  The final image was totally not what I was looking for, but I am defiantly happy with the result.  There is absolutely zero detail, but you just know exactly what you are looking at.  The lessons here are twofold:  first off,  even if you cant get the image you want, you might still make something that works.  Secondly,  bad weather might mean good photos.  It had been rainy and nasty, and these left over clouds when it got sunny totally make the picture.

Jenny’s Graduation

June 13th, 2010 by Brian Cooney

Jenny Graduation f6.3 1/500

Jenny Graduation f6.3 1/500

What a whirlwind my life has been lately!  I have been our of town more weekends that I have been home latley, and there is a ton of stuff going on at work because My company, Dialysis Corporation, just got bought by USRenalcare, a Texas Dialysis company.  There is stress, panic, talk of moving to Texas, drama, excitement, and a ton of work to be done.  I spent the last two weeks working with and getting to know the US Renal IT staff, and they are a great bunch of guys.  My stress level is much lower than it was a few weeks ago….  and hopefully any shooting I do from Texas will be just as a visitor.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of driving down to Roanoke VA with my Beautiful wife, to see her friend Jenny graduate from college.  This is really a big deal for Jenny, as she has been in college for seven years now.  Of course I had my camera, and got some great pictures.

When arriving at the Graduation, the first thing I did was try to figure out which way the ladies (all female school) would be comming from.  Once I had that figured out, the next order of business was to get as close as humanly possible to the area where they would be giving out the Diplomas.  It was actually quite amusing in a way…. there were about 30 people with cameras to the Left of the Podium… me right out in front, waiting for people to come from the right.  We started out about 50 feet away from the action, and as a group, kept sneaking closer and closer until we were about 10 feet away from the tent.  Of course I was being careful to be the closest person, but not enough closer to get yelled at by security.

Once in position,  I started figuring out the light.   Being aware of the light was, and always is critical.  It was extremely sunny out, and the podium was under a tent.  The result was that if you trust your camera, things are going to look like crap because there is way too much bright light in the background,  but your subject is in shade.  My solution to this was to play with a manual exposure, practicing on the people that came through before her and checking the results.  The histogram said the image was blown out… and it was right… the highlights are totally white in the background… but I don’t care because my subject, Jenny, is in the Shade.  Since you can’t have your cake and eat it too, I choose to ignore what my camera tells me is right, and expose for the ladies in the shade.  I probally played with spot metering on something that was in the shade to get close to what I wanted.  An Incident light meter under the tent would have been a huge help here, but I don’t own one (sadly) and wouldn’t have been able to get under there with it anyway without getting more attention from security than I wanted or disrupting the ceremony.

Jenny with Diploma, f6.3  1/400

Jenny with Diploma, f6.3 1/400

There were some other photographers there who were obviously the staff photographers.  Im not sure if they were media folk from the paper, or just students who were there to create the yearbook, but everybody was posing for them either way, so I used them.  I watched the people comming through before Jenny, to get an idea of where and when the girls were stopping for the pros…. and used it as an opportunity to get a different angle on it.  The Staff photographers were using Flash….  I am guessing that they were doing Fill flash to try to achieve a proper exposure.  I think my overexposed images (exposed correctly for subject) looked great… I would love to see the images they were capturing with their flashes to compare the two.  If I was a betting man, I would bet that mine look better due to the better quality of light off of the 50 foot diffusion panels that were effectively my light source (the tent,) but I would love to know for sure.

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