Monthly Archives: August 2013

Demolition Derby

A couple of weeks ago we held a Demolition Derby Meetup at the Prince William County Fair. We were treated to an awesome event. More than 30 cars competed (4, 6, and 8 cylinders). Explosive impact, smoke, dust, fire, revving engines, and overall a lot of whoop and hollering. If you have never been to a derby, it is well worth the trip.

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The Bull and the Rodeo Clown



Recently our Road Runner Photography Meetup attended a Bull Riding event at the Prince William County Fair.    Besides getting rained out before the end of the event, we had a really great time!  The rain offered a nice little photographic opportunity, but I will blog about that soon over on my Photo Blog.    The big action involving those brave or perhaps crazy guys that ride bulls did not start until after dusk.  Sitting at the top of the bleachers offered me a fairly nice view, but in the evening light I needed some help.  That is where the Better Beamer came in handy.   The Better Beamer is an attachment popular with wildlife photographers that enables your flash to reach longer  distances.  I got mine from Hunt’s.  


The Beamer simply Velcros to the flash and holds a magnifying lens about 8 inches forward of your flash.  Considering that I was easily 50 yards away, notice the light in the bull’s eye.    I also made a decision before the start of shooting to try and go for a more artistic look, thus the blurry images.   I was playing with different shutter speeds but for the most part was shooting around 1/10 or 1/20 of a second.


Overall I’m pretty happy with the results.   When shooting motion blurs you have a lot of images that don’t make the cut.  But in my viewpoint I only really need one!

The Potential…

Do you get home from a shoot and wonder…

  • Why doesn’t it look like what I saw?
  • I took that?
  • What can I do with that nasty pic?
  • I missed it! I can’t believe I missed it and now I am home.
  • I should delete the RAW image, because I can’t fix it.

I think we all have had this moment… probably more than once.   This blog is about that moment and demonstrates that you can fix just about anything.

Here is the starting RAW image. This was shot with Sony NEX 5R, converted (by Life Pixel) to digital infrared. (The techniques discussed below can be done to full color images as well.)

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My initial thoughts:

  • The image exposed improperly (foreground is much too dark).
  • There are a number of dust spots.
  • The horizon is not straight (shot handheld, must have been standing on a slant 😉 )
  • The clouds look blown out.
  • The truck is a bit to centered.
  • The image is faux color as a result of my Super Color infrared conversion.

There may even be more, but these are a good start.

Here is the final image. See below for a discussion of the fixes and how I made them.

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I work in Photoshop CS 6 and each of these adjustments were incorporated using layers and masks.

  • To fix the exposure I used Topaz Adjust 5. Topaz Adjust has proven to the most effective tool for making this correction. The settings will vary depending on your image, but here are the ones I use.  Screen Shot 2013-08-10 at 4.29.29 PM The key is that Adaptive Exposure is to the “right” of Regions, which is to the “right” of Contrast. These are the only adjustments in I made to correct my overall exposure. Just hit “ok”.
  • To fix the dust spots, I used the Spot Healing tool in Photoshop. This tool is brilliant for dust! Screen Shot 2013-08-10 at 4.33.00 PM. Just move your cursor over the spot and left click.
  • To fix the horizon… well, this can be done in Aperture, Lightroom, Camera Raw or Photoshop. I did it in Photoshop. To find the tool, select the crop tool and then in the Options bar look for this image: Screen Shot 2013-08-10 at 4.34.36 PM  Starting from the left side of the horizon, left click and drag a line along the horizon (the area that is supposed to be straight), then unclick and hit enter. You might need to crop some after the image is straight, if it hasn’t already cropped for you.
  • To fix the highlights in the clouds, I used NIK Color Efex Pro 4, Graduated Neutral Density Filter. This filter is invaluable, as it allows you to adjust the upper exposure, the lower exposure, the blend of the two, and the vertical shift of the exposure correction. Screen Shot 2013-08-10 at 4.38.00 PM  Depending on the image, you can also rotate the correction from a horizontal line to vertical (left or right) by using the rotation slider. This comes in handy when you have a subject (say a barn) filling one side of the frame and sky filling the other.
  • To fix the position of the truck, I used Photoshop CS6, content aware. First I increased the Canvas size (Image, Canvas Size) Screen Shot 2013-08-10 at 4.42.07 PMand then Filled with Content Aware (Edit, Fill, Content Aware). Screen Shot 2013-08-10 at 4.43.22 PM
  • To fix the faux color, I used NIK Silver Efex Pro 2 to make the image black and white, and then changed the opacity of the layer from 100% to 96% to get a toning effect.
  • In addition to these changes, I also enhanced the image by adding contrast, detail, and selective highlights. Most of these adjustments were either done with Photoshop adjustments, NIK Color Efex Pro 4 or Viveza 2.

Imagery is subjective, but to me, the resulting image is superior to the original. To some extent, I think it may be hard to believe they were once the same image, but in fact they were.

As I have said many times, do not delete images that may have potential. Although you may not know how to fix it today, with practice you will learn the necessary skills.

If you are interested in improving your photo processing skills, I teach both individual and group workshops. These workshops can be specifically tailored to your needs and skill level.



Landyacht is a term often associated the with large, American-made sedans built between the 1950s through the 1990s. However, when I look at the featured image… I think this is the ultimate definition of landyacht!


I can just imagine how beautiful this schooner was back in the day. Today it is home to many plants and no doubt a number of small creatures.

Many thanks to Charles R. for sharing this treasure with us!

This image was shot with Sony NEX 5R, converted to infrared, Super Color, by Life Pixel. Camera setting: 18-55mm at 27mm, f/6.3, ISO 400, hand-held

If you are interested in infrared photography and have an older camera lying around the house, send it off and enter the amazing world of non-visable light! Click here to learn more about Life Pixel and the various ways to convert your camera!

Corcoran Gallery of Art Meetup

We are pleased to announce that we have scheduled a private tour of the War/Photography Exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in DC. This Meetup will be held on Saturday 9/14/13 at 3:30PM.

For more information on the War/Photography Exhibit, click here.

After our tour, we will be doing a photo walk around The Mall to practice evening/low light and night photography.

For more details, click here to for the Meetup.


Seeing Differently




Like many other photographers I enjoy visiting favorite locations multiple times.  But sometimes when you look around all you see are the same things you have seen and photographed before.  When that happens I find the best thing to do is grab a lens that I might not frequently use and see what happens.

In the case of the picture above, I used a 10.5mm fisheye and used a small window opening to frame the staircase.  Considering that I have shot this building many times, this change allowed me to see something new.