Being alive in this world makes me feel thankful. I'm thankful for a God-given joy of being able to show people, through my eyes and limited skill set, a universe that both surprises and rewards me. I hope I can inspire others to look at the world with a new perspective, and find the love, the humor, and beauty of both God's and Man's creations.

This blog is about my passion for light-drawing. That is what the word photography literally means from its Greek parts, drawing with light.  Like all other things in life, I am still learning and experimenting. Sometimes, I fail, and sometimes, I surprise myself.

In any case, I hope these stories amuse, entertain, and inspire you to just get out and draw with the light you have.

Got Color?

March 23, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Back in the late 1960s, I worked for American Broadcasting Company in Hollywood, California, as a page.  We were a part of the Guest Relations Department, and were responsible for managing studio audiences, TV show ticketing, backstage security, and so on. I worked on many classic TV shows, including The Hollywood Palace, American Bandstand, The Lawrence Welk Show, General Hospital, The Dating Game, and The Newlywed Game. However, I was assigned to one show more than the others, and that was The Joey Bishop Show, ABC's late night attempt to compete against Johnny Carson.  I can truly say it was the one job on which I had the most fun, ever, and I have many fond memories from it.

At the time, I owned a couple of Polaroid cameras. One was a big, rather ungainly camera that had the capability of using color film. The other was a smaller, more portable, black and white only camera, called the Swinger.  Needless to say, management frowned on us carrying cameras while on the job, so my photo opportunities, while numerous, were not easily taken advantage of.

Consequently, I have only one photograph of myself in my page uniform. It's a small black and white shot of me standing in front of the studio where the Joey Bishop Show was taped. I have always wished I had a color shot. The black and white photo didn't do our uniforms justice. The uniform we were required to wear included a red blazer with black lapels, an ABC logo patch on each shoulder, and black pants with a red stripe running the length of each pant leg on the outside seam.  All of us pages hated it, and wished we had uniforms like the NBC pages with their classy navy blue blazers and gray slacks.

In comes colorize-it.com, an easy way to transform black and white photos into color. It, of course, isn't perfect, but if you have some simple photo editing software, it gives you a head start and saves a lot of time.  Below is the picture of me in my page uniform, taken in April 1968.  On the left is a scan from the original b&w Polaroid print, and on the right is the output from colorize-it.com. I then spent about 10 minutes of additional editing work in Adobe Lightroom.

 

The original black and white photo of the left, and the colorized photo on the right.Before and AfterThe original black and white photo of the left, and the colorized photo on the right.

As I said, it isn't perfect. The program has to make lots of assumptions about colors. In my case, it assumed the color of my coat correctly as red. Unfortunately, it misjudged the ABC logo in the background. The logo was actually blue.  But if I didn't tell you, would you have known? Of course not, so it's not so bad. Having a colorized picture of a precious memory that is 95% correct is much better than nothing.

I recommend giving it a try. You have nothing to lose. Just upload your test photo to the web site using its "Upload" button and see how well it does. There is a purple bar that is displayed on your photo that you can slide back and forth, allowing you to see the "before" and "after" images. And then you can download the result back to your computer. What's more, it won't cost you a penny.

 


2016 Highlights

January 27, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

We're a couple weeks late on this. A new grandchild.  Unexpected health issues. Customer demands.  Life happens.  In any case, here's our attempt at looking back on some favorite shots and favorite moments that took place in 2016.  We hope you enjoy them.

We also wish you all a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2017.

If you'd like to see our previous year-end videos, please click here to jump to 45th Parallel's YouTube Channel.

 


Stunning eye-candy timelapse of Los Angeles

October 25, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Maybe I'm nostalgic. Maybe I'm just biased because it's my birth city. I don't know, but this video timelapse of Los Angeles is the best I've seen so far. It's simply magnificent.

Have a look, full-screen, full HD. 

PANO | LA from SCIENTIFANTASTIC on Vimeo.


Lightning and the Panasonic GX8

June 04, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I've played with shooting lightning in the past. Usually, a tripod is required, and an aperture open for 20 to 30 seconds. The exposure is treated as a flash shot with the light source being the lightning itself. 

But what if you don't have a tripod handy and you're experiencing some spectacular electrical discharges? You can always try to react to the lightning as quickly as possible and fire off a shot. This is really hit and miss. Our reaction times are typically not fast enough, and in the excitement of it all, we'd have a tendency to shake the camera as we jam hard on the trigger. It would be better to shoot in a high-speed burst mode. You'll be more able to capture some secondary flashes, as in this shot.

This is where Panasonic's new GX8 camera can really help. I recently purchased one to explore the world of Micro-Four-Thirds photography. Panasonic has a shooting mode called 4KPhoto, which essentially allows you to select frames out of a 4K video file. Each frame is 8 mega-pixels, so it's large enough to make 8 x 10 prints. Normally, moving subjects in a video stream need a slight bit of motion blur to make the video smoother to our eye. But 4KPhoto frames retain all the settings of the camera that we would use for stills, so are as sharp as we want. We just need to review each frame and pick the one that captured the exact moment we want. Panasonic makes this a very easy process in-camera. Or, simply import the 4KPhoto video file into Photoshop or Lightroom, and analyze the frames there.

One feature of 4KPhoto is that it can actually get a picture before you press the shutter release. It's as if the camera is reading your mind for getting the shot you want. What it's really doing is very clever, although it does tend to slurp up a lot of battery juice. It's continuously recording one second, or 30 frames, of video into a FIFO buffer.  FIFO means First In, First Out. The buffer never stops filling, because just as the last frame is recorded the first frame is erased, so room in the buffer is always available. Then, when you press the shutter release, another one second of video is recorded and attached to the FIFO buffer. Both pieces, now one file, are saved to your memory card. You now have a 60-shot burst of 8 mega-pixel pictures to choose from, taken before and after you pressed the shutter release. No matter how slow your reaction time, the odds of you getting the shot is now much better. 

This is fantastic for capturing that one precise moment that is so difficult with fast moving subjects like children, wildlife, and in this case, lightning.

Now, back to me.  Once I figured out how to activate 4KPhoto mode in my GX8, and adjusted my desired settings, I went out into the night where the lightning bolts were flashing every 30 to 60 seconds, or so.  (Please don't do this right under the storm. Lightning is extremely dangerous. My storm was many miles away. It was so far away, you couldn't even hear any thunder.) Of course, some bolts were more spectacular than others. With my camera solidly steadied against a rail and post, every time I saw a bolt flash I pressed the shutter release, trying to do it as smoothly as possible. 

Click: 60 exposures. Click: another 60. And so on. After about 10 minutes I had accumulated what I thought were enough frames to have captured at least something

After importing all the 4K video files into Lightroom, I was able to quickly scan through each frame for something interesting, and save the frame for further processing. I threw away many frames that were totally black, and also many that just weren't what I was looking for, like the picture above with no bolt.

The four best shots are shown below. The first two show some blurring of the lightning bolt, and I think that was from my excitement and jabbing the shutter so hard early on. The other two came after I calmed down and got into a more deliberate and smoother execution.

 


The Kids are Healthy and Growing

May 10, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Back in late March of this year (2016), we heard of a location at Smith Rock State Park in Terrebonne, Oregon, in which bald eagles had built a nest and laid a couple of eggs.  Immediately, we made plans to visit the area. Happily, we were also committed to a three-day photoshoot in Fort Rock, Oregon, in early April.  We decided to visit Smith Rock on our way home from that shoot.

After a fortuitous encounter with a park ranger, we quickly found our way to a ledge overlooking the canyon and across from a tall tree. We were just about at eye-level with the eagles' nest, if not slightly higher. The chicks were only a few days old.


  
 
   

 

Fast-forward to May, four weeks later. We drove down to Klamath Falls for the specific purpose of photographing Western Grebes during their mating season. The birds perform a rather unique mating dance that culminates in the courting pair running across the surface of the water.  I just had to catch that.

On our return ride home on Mother's Day, we swung by Smith Rock again to check up on the chicks. I'm glad to say they appear to be healthy and are growing into a pair of fine, strapping eaglets.

A little Mother's Day peck on the cheek.