Category Archives: Meetups!

Two Nights In Prison

Recently we concluded hosting 2 nights of Light Painting at Eastern State Penitentiary. This was an afterhours event where our participants pretty much had the run of the prison to take their creativity to new limits. I must admit that I was quite impressed with a lot of the work our participants shared on our Facebook Group page.

The shot above is of the iconic barber’s chair located in one of the cells. This particular cell is off limits to entry and we always respect such restrictions. While we like most other photographers would love to get the best spot, etc., we also have a healthy respect for limits, whether in this case imposed by Eastern State or usually the National Park Service. All too often photographers disregard such limits and restrictions and end up trespassing or creating damage to natural resources in their quest to “get the shot”. We believe in the quote, “Leave no trace”.

Back to the barber’s chair. I would have loved to be in close and paint the light on each part of the chair and the cell walls. It would have rendered a much better feel to the image than painting from behind the camera. So in order to work around this obstacle, I first used the light to cast a strong shadow on the back wall. Then I used the light to paint each wall, floor and chair in separate frames. I combined the various images in Photoshop using layers and masks to give it more of a painted feel. I then did a little dodging and burning to add to the effect.

If you want to spend an evening behind bars, we are already making plans to do this again next year. Be sure to join our Meetup group if you would like to attend!


Our Latest Meetup



This past weekend we held a Meetup at the Patuxent Air Expo 2016. Originally the Blue Angels were scheduled to be the main attraction, but their appearance was canceled due to recent changes involving how many weeks they can perform without a break. I was obviously disappointed and suspect many others were as well. As they say the show must go on, and Patuxent River Naval Air Station put on an excellent show!

The star attraction was the F-22 Raptor. I love airplanes of all types, but to quote a friend of mine who is a pilot, “that plane does things an aircraft should not be able to do”. In the shot above the Raptor is participating in the Heritage Flight.

In regard to the shot above, I always shoot propeller driven aircraft at shutter speeds low enough to capture the movement of the props. This is usually around 1/125 of a second. Doing this means that a lot of my shots are going to be blurred and otherwise unusable. It just depends on how accurate my panning is compared to the speed of the aircraft, often times not as accurate as I wish. I have suggested to other photographers in the past that their prop shots should not show frozen propellers. This suggestion is often not welcome. However, when I look at the work of top notch airplane photographers the props are not frozen.

If you notice the shot above is not the correct aspect ratio for a DSLR. It looks like a panorama crop. It’s not a crop. The shot showed the planes too close to the left side of the frame, so I added 5 inches to the canvas size on the left side of the image. Then I used the selection tool to select the blank part of the new canvas and then used the content aware fill to extend the sky.

The Old Truck Graveyard

Above is one of the few old cars at a favorite location we call the Old Truck Graveyard.

I have shot at this location for the past few years and have shared this awesome location with our Meetup Group almost as long. This last trip we were treated with nice overcast skies which provided nice soft light. During all of my previous trips we had nice bright sunny days and the resulting harsh light that goes with what non photographers call a beautiful day.

I always like to visit locations more than once. Each time you go back you see things you might have missed on earlier trips. This trip was no exception.

The image above was shot with my Nikon D200 converted to Super Color IR by Lifepixel. Then I used Macphun Intensify and finished with Nik Color Effects and Flypaper Presets. Check out our discounts page for details!  

Along the Way

Often when heading out on a photo expedition, it is so easy to be only focused on the destination. The desire to get there and get started is so compelling we often forget to enjoy the journey.

Today I am sharing an image that was captured on the journey. I was headed to Weston, WV… taking a round about way there through Davis, WV to get a burrito… for all you Hellbenders fans. This route takes me by one of my favorite industry locations… the Mt. Storm power plant.

I have hundreds, maybe thousands of images of Mt. Storm, but I never hesitate to stop, because each day brings a new opportunity for creativity. Some stops are more fruitful than others; this was one of those times. The sky was modeled with thunderheads, with just enough wind to create motion. This time, however, I did not want to capture long streaming clouds. This time I wanted to create stop-action motion.



This image was created by setting up the intervalometer on my camera (Fuji XT-1 has this built in) to shoot images consecutively, with a one second pause in between. I was using a Samyang 12mm lens, at f5.6, with a Singh Ray 10-stop Mor-Slo filter. The shutter speeds varied between 3 and 10 secs. The images is composed of 35 individual images and some post-processing in Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw.

When on the move, try to allow enough time to explore. Here is another example of what can be found along the way to somewhere else.



If you are always rushing to get somewhere, you just may be missing the fun stuff. Allow some extra time for opportunity to present itself.

Happy Shooting!



This past weekend, RRPT led 3 tours photography tours at Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (TALA). The first tour was a night tour, where the focus was on light painting. The images featured here are from that particular event. We also led two day-light tours, morning and late afternoon. TALA is an amazing place. When you enter, you are transported to the past. The owners are working hard to keep the facility alive and open to the public with photography tours, historical tours, ghost tours, and more. To learn more about TALA, click here.

We are hoping to schedule another night photography session later this year. For more information, join our mailing list by signing up (see the side bar) or by following us on Facebook.

The ladies in this images, Macy and Danielle, were great awesome models! We can’t thank them enough for helping out!! _XT11233-Edit _XT11275-Edit-2_XT11294-Edit_XT11405-Edit_XT11218-Edit


It’s Almost That Time of Year Again! Cherry Blossoms!!

That’s right, it is nearly that time of year… Cherry Blossoms! You would think that Spring lasts for weeks, but really, in a Cherry Blossom’s life cycle, this period of time is brief and in fact, very elusive. Weather is the biggest factor, with varying degrees of impact. For example, last year:

  • The weather pattern resulted in blooms being nearly 3 weeks late.
  • Windy mornings near the water make it impossible to get a crisp shot.
  • Rain, very common during early spring in DC, knocks all the blooms off.
  • Late-March and early-April is generally frigid, making the experience less than pleasant.

But who’s listing! Capturing the elusive cherry blossom is what we, photographers, are all about. Suffering for that one stunning image! So get ready, because it coming… RRPT will hold a Meetup, so keep an eye on the Meetup page (click here), as the Meetup will be announced as the timing predictions get more accurate.

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Star Trails and More – Meetup

Star trails and more… RRPT is holding a Meetup at Spruce Knob Lake! June 12 – 14

It is a camping adventure. For more information, click here.

Last year the weather did not cooperate for star trails, but it did deliver some amazing skies and there are lots of other opportunities to shoot!

Images by Geff Bourke.

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Moonrise Over DC

In a very perfect photographer’s world, the photographer would be the only one to capture an image, to witness a scene, or experience a setting, thereby allowing that photographer to share that one of a kind shot… well, we all know that as photographers we live in a far from perfect photographer’s world! Even if in the moment we stand alone, we tend to trend the same hallowed ground as our friends and compadres. Therefore, to truly “own” an image, especially of iconic places, we have to try to find a way to “see” it differently.

Last year, I had the privilege of shooting the moonrise over Washington, DC with many close friends and at least a hundred acquaintances ;-)… We all saw the same stunning, crystal clear, huge orange moonrise over some of the most iconic monuments in the country, if not in the world. Within hours, many people had posted their images and at first I felt there was no need to add mine to the bunch… but I had finally gotten to see this seldom scene alignment of moon and man, and I wanted to work on my images and share them… so I spent some quiet time contemplating… how I can do this differently… then it dawned on me… the color of the moon it what took my breath away… so that would be my focus. The resulting images can be seen below.

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It took me time to “see” these images in this way, but I like the result and I appreciated the challenge. Even though I fantasize about the perfect photographer’s world, I will always choose to go out shooting with friends, as the companionship, encouragement, and down right ribbing is a gift; and the challenge of creating images that are competitive with their talent and art keeps me trying!

To see the rest of the set from the moonrise, please via my Flickr set by clicking here.

This opportunity is presenting itself on March 5, 2015. The full moon will rise over the monuments at 6:18pm. The alignment shown here is from the Netherlands Carillon in Rosslyn, VA. RRPT will be holding a Meetup at this location that evening. Click here to learn more about this and other Meetups we have schedule. 


Sharing the Experience

Shared experience, unique perspective.

Some people feel that going out to shoot with friends means that everyone will have the same image, so they avoid it. What I have found is that exactly the opposite happens. RRPT has been going strong for just over a year and thousands of shutter clicks later after dozens of Meetups and photo tours, I am still amazed and impressed at how differently we all see the world.

Each of us see the world differently. We focus on different things, different nuances of the same scene. We perceive what is around us differently and therefore, we capture different images, even when we are standing right next to each other. Geff’s creativity and unique vision challenge me, as mine do him. We are competitive, yet encouraging. We razz each other when the other gets the shot and one of doesn’t. We talk about camera settings to ensure that each of us has the best opportunity to make images. We make sure the other doesn’t miss out as well. Lastly, we process our images differently as well. We each experienced a different emotion and demonstrating that emotion in our process adds to differentiation in our work.

To demonstrate, here are some examples of images captured side by side.










To see full sets, for Geff click here and for mine set click here.

Moral to this story, shoot with friends. They help you, support you, encourage you, protect you (safety in numbers), and challenge you to do your very best work. If you are interested in shooting with us and others, click here and check out our Meetup Group.

Shooting with Friends

I have heard people saying that they don’t like to shoot with other people… that everyone ends up with the same images or that folks photo bomb or… whatever.

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Actually, I find that shooting with friends is more often than not a great experience (photo bombing and all). We laugh, we compare, we encourage, we share, we assist, we teach … each other. The featured image is a great example of how we do not get the same image… taken by a great friend Jon J., this image is just one example of what we do naturally… look around, look behind, look for our own perspective.

Not only do these simple strategies ensure different images, but so does:

  • Our height
  • Our lens choice
  • Our camera body
  • Our chosen filters
  • Our chosen mm length and f/stop
  • Our shutter speed
  • Our post process visualization

Each of these things allows us to create our own unique images and art work.

RRPT is all about shooting with friends (old time friends and the new ones we make during each outing). RRPT offers tours and Meetups to meet the varying needs of folks. For more information on Tours, click here. For more information on our Meetups, click here.

Come out and experience the fun and camaraderie of shooting with folks with the same photographic passion! See how it will enhance not only your experience, but your work!