Monthly Archives: July 2013

Perseid Meteor Shower

Every August, the night sky gets bombarded by the Perseid meteor shower, which is perfect for photographing. But, before you point your camera upward, let’s talk a little bit to make sure you get the most out of your night of shooting.




The meteor photograph above was made using a tripod, Canon 7D DSLR and a Tamron 10-24mm lens. The exposure time was 10 seconds. ISO 1600, F4.5. Normally I would want a much lower ISO and a longer exposure time, about 30 seconds. However, I was in my backyard with LOTS of light pollution, mostly from a street light out front. I made several dozen 10-20 second exposures that night and was just lucky to have caught a meteor in one.

Meteor photography can be accomplished with most SLR cameras, including 35MM film and digital SLR cameras. I read somewhere that on an average night, at least 1 meteor per-hour can be seen when skies are dark enough.

Meteor is the proper term for those objects causing streaks of light in the sky. A meteorite is the term for meteors which end up on planets or moons, after impact. Most meteors are small and burn up completely before ever reaching earth.

Be aware, I’m not a meteor photography expert. In fact, the meteor photo above is the only decent metor photo I’ve made. But, I have not spent much time trying, maybe 2 or 3 hours total.

Here are a few simple tips to make sure you get the most out of your night of shooting.

Find the darkest spot available

If you dwell in a big, bright city with a lot of lights, your chances of catching a worthwhile meteor image are going to be slim. You’re going to be dealing with long-exposures and wide-open apertures, which means any environmental light will creep into the frame and overpower the image. If possible, get out into the country where streetlights and neon signs are few and far between. Just be sure to pack a flashlight for navigating your gear in the dark.

Stock up on coffee (or just sneak in a nap)
The best viewing time starts around midnight, but things will start getting more exciting as the night goes on. Shooters who can stay out until the early morning hours before sunrise will be rewarded with a more active show.

Bring a cable release
Everybody knows that a tripod is an absolute must for long exposures, but the value of a good cable release is often underestimated. Keeping your finger off of the camera’s shutter button will help prevent blurred images, especially if your tripod’s head isn’t the sturdiest one around. If you don’t want to buy a cable release, you can also use your camera’s self-timer to keep your shutter finger from blurring your image.

Consider putting something in the foreground
If you fill the viewfinder with only sky, you’re going to end up with a bunch of light streaks on the frame and not much else. Experiment with putting other things in the frame, even if they’re dark (like mountains) and only create silhouettes. It will up the difficulty level, but will also probably result in more satisfying overall images. RAW capture will also help since it allows you to tweak your white balance later.

Use a wide, fast lens
Those bright little wonders won’t be in front of the lens very long, so in order to make the most of each one, it’s best to keep your aperture open wide. And because they’ll appear so sporadically, having a wider lens will greatly increase the chance that you’ll actually capture one (or more) over the course of the night.

Choose the proper ISO
Here in the day of digital, this is a simple task that can be achieved through trial and error. Each camera model react differently during low-light long exposures, so start at ISO 800 and adjust accordingly. You’re going to get some noise, but it’s best to try and avoid the obnoxious, brightly-colored pixel noise often associated with digital cameras and extremely long exposures. To help, you can try the dark frame technique described here by astronomical photographer, Jerry Lodriguss.

Determine your exposure time
Most digital cameras can easily a handle a 30-second exposure before noise starts getting out of hand. That’s a great place to start. That’s also short enough to keep stars from becoming light streaks due to the rotation of the earth.

Charge your batteries in-full before heading out
Even if your camera isn’t begging for more battery power, it’s worth topping off before heading out for a night of long exposures. With shutter times that long, you’ll find that you’ll get many fewer frames out of a single charge than you would in a normal shooting situation. Luckily, however, it’s summer so there’s no freezing temperatures to further terrorize your poor power cells.

Know where to point your camera
When you’re looking to the sky, the meteors will appear to be originating from the constellation, Perseus, in the northeast sky. Watch for a few minutes without the viewfinder in front of your eyes to get a feel for where they’re coming from and where they’re going.

Keep shooting
Like lightning, meteors are very unpredictable, which is part of what makes capturing them with a camera so satisfying. Don’t be afraid to shoot away, one frame after another. There’s nothing more frustrating than having the shutter snap shut just a few seconds before a choice streak shoots across the sky.

Bring a lawn chair and sit back to enjoy the show, and have fun!

Posted in Fun Stuff, Night photography, outdoor, photography

Make Abstract Photos From Milk and Food Coloring

Make Abstract Photos From Milk and Food Coloring

Strange as it may sound, you can make twisted tie-dye swirls and churning volcanos of color by simply mixing milk, soap, and a little food coloring. Plus, you don’t need any fancy gear and all it costs is lunch money.
Your fifth grade baking soda volcano may not have turned out so well, but take my word for it this experiment is an easy and fun way to make abstract art!

You never know what creations will come out of this churning rainbow wonderland and it’s 

good times for everyone from kids to Great Uncle Horrace.

And although it’s quick and easy to clean up, it won’t be short on the wow factor.

Whole or 2% milk
Dinner Plate
Food coloring (red, blue, green, yellow)
Dish-washing soap (Dawn seems to work well)




Set your dinner plate somewhere level and safe from getting knocked over, and then pour in a layer of milk.
A thin coat will do, you don’t need to go overboard.





Grab your droppers of food coloring and add a few drops of each color to the center of your plate of milk.
The food coloring will allow you to see the reaction that happens in the next step so feel free to experiment with the placement of your dye drops for different effects.





Apply a good dollop of dish soap to one end of a clean Q-tip.
Twirl the soap around a bit to make sure the whole cotton swab is coated.




Dab your soapy swab into your milk and dye mixture and watch the colorful explosion!
You can keep dipping your Q-tip and reapplying soap to create new shapes, colors, and textures.



Grab a phone, compact, or DSLR and start snapping.

I found that increasing the saturation, contrast, and sharpening, helps to get pictures that really pop.


Try using a macro lens with your phone or DSLR for super close ups.

Also, using a fast shutter speed will help prevent the moving colors from blurring.

You can experiment with new color combinations, try using a different type of milk, drop colors around at random, use two or three Q-tips at once, or anything else you can think of to spice up your pics.



Posted in abstract, Digital Art, Fun Stuff

Texture Overlays

I have blogged about Texture Overlays here before but created a new one that I thought you might enjoy.

This piece was sculpted by Walter Rotan and he titled it “Reclining Woman with Gazelle”. The image you see was created with TWO texture overlays. I used Kim Klausens “Minus 43” and her “Sunkissed” and varied the opacity on both.

Click image for larger view:


Posted in brookgreen, outdoor, photography, statue, texture

The Margaret Todd

The Schooner “Margaret Todd” is a ship which sails out of Bar Harbor, Maine.

The Margaret Todd is a four mast, red sailed, 151′ schooner that offers a two hour sail from the Bar Harbor Inn pier around the islands in Frenchman’s Bay. There are three windjammer cruises a day; morning, afternoon and sunset.

The Schooner Margaret Todd replaces her predecessor the Natalie Todd, which sailed from Bar Harbor, Maine for so many years. This unique schooner was conceived and designed by her owner, Captain Steven Pagels. Named after Capt. Pagels’ grandmother, the Margaret Todd was built over a two year period by the Schreiber Boatyard in St. Augustine, Florida, and was launched on April 11, 1998.

The hull and deck are made of steel. The wood topmasts, gaffs and booms are made of native Maine spruce by Elk Spars of Bar Harbor. Almost all the woodwork was custom made in Southwest Harbor, Maine. Her windlass, which is used to hoist the anchor, comes from a Delaware Bay oyster schooner, and the standing rigging was made by the Hamilton Seine Loft. The four masted schooner rig, steel hull construction, and double centerboard design make the Margaret Todd unique on the east coast.

Click on image for larger view:

The Margaret Todd

The Margaret Todd

Posted in art and entertainment, Camera phone, outdoor, photography

Topaz Simplify

The Topaz Simplify plug-in allows you to create stunning art from photos by transforming regular digital images into beautiful works-of-art. With Simplify, you can achieve a variety of creative art effects including: watercolors, textured oil paintings, cartoon-like images, abstracts, charcoal drawings, line art, and photorealistic paintings – giving your photography a true creative edge.

The unique size-based technology in Topaz Simplify processes your photo in the same way a true artist would: it eliminates detail-clutter and leaves behind only the essence and natural structure of the photo. By selectively removing unnecessary image clutter, Simplify helps you create a bold and powerful piece of art in just a few clicks.

Here are some examples. Click on each image for larger view.


Freeport-Water-Lily-web Belin-UMC-FP-web Brookgreen-Creek2-FauxPainting2-web Brookgreen-Creek2-FauxPainting-web Freeport-Water-LilyFP-web ParkBenchWC-web

Posted in art and entertainment, Digital Art, Fun Stuff, photography

Castle of the Holy Angel

The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as Castel Sant’Angelo (Castle of the Holy Angel), is a towering cylindrical building in Parco Adriano, Rome, Italy. It was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. The building was later used by the popes as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum. The Castel was once the tallest building in Rome.

The tomb of the Roman emperor Hadrian was erected on the right bank of the Tiber, between 130 AD and 139 AD. Originally the mausoleum was a decorated cylinder, with a garden top and golden quadriga. Hadrian’s ashes were placed here a year after his death in Baiae in 138 AD, together with those of his wife Sabina, and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, who also died in 138 AD. Following this, the remains of succeeding emperors were also placed here, the last recorded deposition being Caracalla in 217 AD. The urns containing these ashes were probably placed in what is now known as the Treasury room deep within the building. Hadrian also built the Pons Aelius facing straight onto the mausoleum – it still provides a scenic approach from the center of Rome and the right bank of the Tiber, and is renowned for the Baroque additions of statues of angels holding aloft elements of the Passion of Christ.

The popes converted the structure into a castle, beginning in the 14th century; Pope Nicholas III connected the castle to St Peter’s Basilica by a covered fortified corridor called the Passetto di Borgo. The fortress was the refuge of Pope Clement VII from the siege of Charles V’s Landsknechte during the Sack of Rome (1527), in which Benvenuto Cellini describes strolling the ramparts and shooting enemy soldiers.
Leo X built a chapel with a Madonna by Raffaello da Montelupo. In 1536 Montelupo also created a marble statue of Saint Michael holding his sword after the 590 plague (as described above) to surmount the Castel. Later Paul III built a rich apartment, to ensure that in any future siege the Pope had an appropriate place to stay.
Montelupo’s statue was replaced by a bronze statue of the same subject, executed by the Flemish sculptor Peter Anton von Verschaffelt, in 1753. Verschaffelt’s is still in place and Montelupo’s can be seen in an open court in the interior of the Castle.
The Papal state also used Sant’Angelo as a prison; Giordano Bruno, for example, was imprisoned there for six years. Another prisoner was the sculptor and goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini. Executions were performed in the small inner courtyard. As a prison, it was also the setting for the third act of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca; the eponymous heroine of the opera leaps to her death from the Castel’s ramparts.

The image below was taken by my daughter Jackie. Hope you enjoy!

Click image for larger view.

Castle of the Holy Angel-web

Posted in art and entertainment, Black and White, photography

More Black and White

Lately I have been working a bit with black & white. Most of you have seen my work either here on the blog, or in the galleries, or perhaps on my Facebook page.  I really like the look of good black & white and it is a look that is beginning to came back in favor.

Last night I was looking through some images my daughter Jackie had taken when she was recently in Italy. I think that several of them will be good candidates for Black and White conversion, however one in particular jumped out at me. I have presented it for you below and hope you enjoy it. If you like it, please leave a comment below and let Jackie know how much you enjoyed it!


click on image for larger view:


Posted in art and entertainment, Black and White, photography

Rainy Day

Rainy days can be good for re-visiting older images and re-working them. This image is one that most of you have seen before, but this time I applied a texture overlay which I think serves to isolate the ram and call more attention to him.

I hope you enjoy this. Click on the image for a larger view.


Posted in art and entertainment, photography, texture, textures