Monthly Archives: May 2014

W.A. Young & Sons



A few weeks ago we made our second visit to W.A. Young and Sons Machine Shop and Foundry. The shop is located on the bank of the Monongahela River in Rices Landing, PA. The shop first opened in 1900 and closed its doors 66 years later. The shop has an elaborate belt system that drives 25 pieces of machinery. This system still works today!

The shop is an amazing place to visit and photograph. The amount of detail is only limited by your imagination. We plan to return sometime on 2015, so if this sounds like a place you would like to spend a couple hours photographing, be sure to join our meetup.

I used a Lensbaby Composer to obtain the selective focus.

A Sense of Place




Do you ever find yourself saying that you have already shot a particular location, so you see no need in returning?   I know that I do, but I also try to fight that urge.

The shot above is a door in the medical center at the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.  I lead tours here twice a year and suspect I have shot here at least a dozen or more times.  But every time I go I always find something that was overlooked in the past.  Now the quantity of photos I shoot these days is much smaller than on my earlier visits,  but I hope the quality of those few photographs more than makes up for the lack of quantity.

We are scheduled to do another of our very popular Light Painting Workshops on May 2nd 2015.  Check the Asylum Website for details.



A Different Type of Landscape



The picture above is a landscape in Palouse, but it’s really not about the landscape so much. For me it’s about the color, pattern and texture.

Today so much effort is geared toward having sharp images, tripods, shutter release cables, vibration reduction lenses, and high ISO cameras. All of these features can assist in getting the sharpest possible shot, but sometimes I find more meaning in something soft. The image was captured using a horizontal panning technique at 1/8 of a second. It was also shot at 400mm to visually compress the rolling hills. I shoot lots of abstracts and most will never be seen by others. The keeper ratio is likely 10 percent, but I find this to be a worthwhile pursuit.

Returning to Ricketts

RickettsPano This weekend we are going back to a favorite springtime location, Ricketts Glen State Park. This park has one of the best displays of waterfalls in the Mid-Atlantic region and, as Pennsylvania emerges from a long cold winter, the streams are full and the leaves are freshly green.

As Luck Would Have It…

Sometimes we head out thinking our day will take us to one place and then it takes us to another.

Well that is precisely what happened on Saturday. We were headed out for our evening Meetup at Carrie Furnace (see below), with the plan of doing some scouting for future Meetups. We had a destination in mind, but along the way… we found the Mother Load for antique cars! At first we hemmed and hawed about whether to stop, time was of the essence and there were No Trespass signs were clearly posted. Also, there were no signs to identify the business or owner, just a lot with cars on it. Well, being the diligent folks we are, we decided to do some sleuthing to try to find the owner and seek permission to explore this amazing collection! We tried a local bar, the local fishing hole, and then the white pages. It took a significant amount of time, but in the end, our efforts reaped rewards.

The owner kindly came out to meet us and was willing to share these treasures. These images are just a small sampling of the collection. This by far has been the most representative collection of American Classics I have seen. Although these vehicles are in total disrepair, they were clearly loved. Hood ornaments intact. Row after row. We were like kids in a candy store!

There is always an element of luck in photography and I would say that on Saturday, luck was with us.

Our hope is to set up an event at this location. Stay tuned to our Meetup page for future updates.

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And our luck continued… but not until after a few stress filled moments. We arrived at Carrie Furnace just before 4:30pm… in torrential rain. Everyone in the Meetup braved the rain for our introductory tour… the where you can go and where you can’t go update, as well as a history of the facility. As our tour came to an end, so did the rain… that’s when the real action started. The rain had settled the dust and added rich texture to the pipes and structures. Puddles lent themselves to reflection. Really the conditions were ideal to photograph such as wonderful location. As night fell, the sky cleared, and the light show began. RRPT owes a special thanks to Jeff J. for spinning wool. I think the flying sparks harken back to the days when the plant was active and the molten steel flowed.

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Next up for RRPT – Ricketts Glen, May 23-24th – This is a great opportunity to try your hand at long exposure waterfall and river images.


Then RRPT heads to The Palouse – June 8 – 13th. The primary grain-growing region of the U.S. The Palouse is amazing in early summer, as the wheat, lentils, and canola turn the rolling hills varying shades of green and yellow.


To register for either of these tours, click here: Photo Tours!

See you soon!

Camera Raw Processing

RRPT has just returned from a wonderful photo tour of the Great Smoky Mountains. We had a great group of folks who were game for early mornings, long days, and late evenings! This was my 3rd trip to this area and by far, it was the best. We were gifted with some of the best weather conditions I have ever seen in this area.

During our trip, we discussed a lot about image processing, from which software products we use to which techniques we use to create our final images. So I decided to create some tutorials to demonstrate my approach… starting with my thought process and approach to my images, through the use of Camera Raw to enhance images and Photoshop layers and masks to modify specific areas of the images, to final touches!

These tutorials are chock full of tips and tricks on how to navigate and use Camera Raw and Photoshop. I focused on these products because I wanted to demonstrate that you can achieve beautiful images through basic tools, as not everyone has Photoshop plugins (NIK, TopazLabs, onOne, etc). So for these tutorials, I used what I consider to be the basic software tools need. For full disclosure, I work in Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite (Photoshop CC) and use and describe Photoshop’s version of Camera Raw, but if you have older versions of Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, you should be able to use processes described in these tutorials to enhance your images!

These tutorials are somewhat sequential… starting with Columbine, then Rivers, then Foggy Tree. I mentioned this, because Columbine is the longest tutorial and includes a significant amount of Camera Raw explanation. The other two tutorials, although still descriptive, are not as in-depth on Camera Raw functionality, but get straight to the enhancements. Although the tutorials demonstrate the use of Camera Raw and Photoshop on specific subjects, all of the techniques demonstrated can be used to enhance any image, any subject.

My goal was to create instructional videos that help photographers learn how to use the image processing tools available to them. Hope you enjoy! If you find these tutorials helpful, please subscribe to RRPT’s YouTube Channel, as we add videos and tutorials regularly!

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis):



In this tutorial, I show you the various features of Camera Raw and describe how I use the Basic adjustments, as well as the Adjustment Brush, features. Then I demonstrate how to bring the image back into Photoshop to enhance the blur/soft background (2 techniques for this!) and how to sharpen our main subject. I describe how to use layers and masks to selectively apply our adjustments, including what white/black masks do, and some tips and tricks for manipulating masks. I also describe how to select the brush tool and how to change its characteristics, including size and opacity. Lastly, this tutorial also describes Free Transform and how to use the transform tools, along with layers and masks to clone parts of your image.

To view this tutorial, click here.





In this tutorial, I demonstrate how to enhance a forest river scene. We cover how to clone unnecessary features from your image, add dimension to long-exposure water, straighten the image through the crop tool, and how to enhance the mossy rocks to give the image that added pop! These tutorial focuses primarily on the Adjustment Brush tool in Camera Raw and shows that you can take an image to nearly its final stage with this one invaluable piece of software.

To view this tutorial, click here.







Foggy Tree:
_XT19932-EditIn the final tutorial in the set, I discuss how to enhance an image taken in deep fog. Most of us LOVE foggy days and foggy scenes, but can be stumped when we get home and see this flat monochromatic image. Where do we start? Well, this tutorial demonstrates that in a few easy steps, you can take a bright, flat, foggy scene and create a moody scene with dimension fit for a zombie movie!

To view this tutorial, click here.