Smithsonian’s National Zoo

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It’s been too long since I’ve posted anything! I have been busy with work and other boring things. Recently, my mother, sister, and brother-in-law came to visit me. During their visit, we enjoyed a day at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, and I had the opportunity to really try out my new Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens. Sadly, I bought it for myself last Christmas but wasn’t able to get out and use it until now!

Well, here are some of the photographs from that fun day:

Orangutan

Red Panda

Catch that fish!

From Russia with Love

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The 1963 James Bond film From Russia with Love is a classic. This Friday the latest Bond film, Skyfall, will be released in the United States. For Bond aficionados like myself, the adventure, gadgets, and Bond girls get our testosterone flowing!

I have been busy with charity work, so my blog has been neglected. Of course, Sandy’s visit didn’t help either. Well I am back to share a few photographs of a beautiful friend of mine which I took a few weekends ago.

Prior to this shoot, my friend Chulpana was showing us pictures she had “professionally” taken. She said they were very expensive but wanted more because she was considering modelling. I didn’t say anything about my photography hobby.

A few days later my friend Zak told her I was a photographer, and she checked out my work. She was excited about me photographing her, and asked why I didn’t say anything. I just responded, “Well, I didn’t want you to think I was just a dirty old man.” Too late, I think she already knows that!

At a car and bike show to support the Friends of the Wounded Veterans, I was talking to two friends which own beautiful cars: Ford GT Heritage Edition and a Dodge Viper. One of the guys had some photographs taken with a model and his GT. I told him I knew a beautiful Russian girl who is much “hotter” than the model he had before.

I called my friend and she arrived 45 minutes later. Despite being rushed, not knowing the shooting environment, and fighting D.C. traffic, I am really pleased with her pictures. I wanted classy not trashy — after all, these are beautiful cars and she is a beautiful girl. I think my “style” comes through in the photographs. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, I’d love to know what do you think?

Her and I currently arranging another session…. stay tuned.

That Heffner Performance Twin Turbo (GT1000TT) in this Ford GT Heritage is beautiful.

Silver Halide: AgX

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I love photography! I love my digital Canon and my amazing lenses, but like most photographers I still dream of better equipment. The convenience of digital storage and image quality is amazing. My first camera was a Nikon FM2 35mm film camera, so I’ve witnessed some amazing technological advancements. Yet, I long for that organic feeling, and the pride of producing something very unique — something not everyone can produce with a simple shutter click followed by some mouse clicks.

A silver halide is one of the compounds formed between silver and one of the halogens — silver bromide (AgBr), chloride (AgCl), iodide (AgI), and three forms of silver fluorides. As a group, they are often referred to as the silver halides, and are often given the pseudo-chemical notation AgX.

Silver halides are used in photographic film and photographic paper, including graphic art film and paper, where silver halide crystals in gelatin are coated on to a film base, glass or paper substrate.

Wikipedia

These days it seems anybody with a digital camera calls themselves a photographer. I love the end result of a beautiful photograph however, personally I want to experience the whole process — visualizing the image, composing it, metering it, clicking the shutter, and post-processing (dodging/burning/color correction). Something that is missing today is choosing the right paper to use in printing, and choosing the best way (mat and frame) to display the image. I truly enjoy the entire process.

Earlier this summer, a wonderful photographer shared some of her and her father’s black and white images. It was inspirational to me to see Photo By Holly sharing these amazing photographs which bridged a generation.

This inspired me to get back to my photographic roots, so I purchased an inexpensive Pentax ME Super with a basic 50mm lens. After shooting a few rolls through it, I have that “loving feeling” again. I paid about $100 for this Pentax gem, $7 for a roll of Kodak BW400CN Professional 35mm film (ISO 400), and $4 to get the film developed and a CD burned at the corner CVS pharmacy. Sure it isn’t cost-effective compared to my digital camera but boy it was fun!

I chose the BW400CN film because it is processed via C-41, which is widely available. I was a bit disappointed when I examined the digital images because they had a yellowish tone to them. I examined the negatives with a loupe and they were fine. I had to edit the digital images and desaturate them to make them true black and white images. I expected the “lab” to recognize that it was a black and white roll of film, and scan the image accordingly. I suppose that’s what you get when you pay only $4! Next time, I will send them to a professional lab.

This winter, I am seriously considering purchasing a used Hasselblad 5xx series medium-format (120mm) camera with an 80mm Zeiss lens. However, to be a bit more cost-effective I’d like to develop my film at home.

Here are some photographs I captured with this “old” camera last Saturday at a local beer festival with my sister, new brother-in-law, and some friends.

My sister and new husband. Real men wear Cookie Monster t-shirts.

My sister and her close friend Amy.

Kelli’s dark hair always looks great in black and white photographs.

Hold fast to dreams

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On this beautiful Thursday morning, I want to share a poem by one of my favorite poets: Langston Hughes. This poem, titled Dreams, reminds me to hold my head high, smile, and to keep my dreams alive. I hope you are inspired to do the same.

Dreams

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

— Langston Hughes

Interior of the Thomas Jefferson Building (Library of Congress).

U.S. Election Year – WWTJD?

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In the United States, 2012 is a presidential election year. As American citizens we are privileged to take part in the democratic process. However, for many of us the campaign messages bombarding us from television, social media, and countless other mediums is exhausting.

The closer we get to election day, the more the campaign messages seem to be something negative about the other candidate. Our friends want to have heated discussions about issues near to their heart. Yes, I am passionate about my beliefs, and I have my own political opinions, but I look forward to post-election America — yes, there will be some people very upset their candidate didn’t win, but they can get over it.

Living in our nation’s capital, I am fortunate to have so many great things to photograph. Last weekend, some out-of-town guests visited me again. They were here in the spring, but this time they returned with their husbands. It was quite funny to watch these “fellow” photographers turn their husbands into pack mules as we walked for miles photographing most everything we saw.

One of the ladies was my high school English teacher. On the last trip, she was a bit disappointed we didn’t have time to visit the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post about an earlier visit to it, and she was determined to see it for herself.

I am a big fan of Thomas Jefferson for many reasons. Yes, he was our third president, but he did so many other things. So, this election year I thought, “What would Thomas Jefferson Do (WWTJD)?” I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes and some photographs.

  • “I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
  • “I cannot live without books.”
  • “The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.”
  • “The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.”
  • “Information is the currency of democracy.”
  • “The purpose of government is to enable the people of a nation to live in safety and happiness. Government exists for the interests of the governed, not for the governors.”
  • “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people…they are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
  • “A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have.”
  • “If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as a sorry state as the souls who live under tyranny.”
  • “That government is best which governs least, because its people discipline themselves. If we are directed from Washington (heads of an organization) when to sow and when to reap, we will soon want for bread.”
  • “The most truthful part of a newspaper is the advertisements.”
  • “A room without books is like a life without meaning.”

NOTE: Please don’t steal my work — see my copyright notice below. If you’re a charitable organization or an educational institution, and you’d like to use any of my images, send me a message. But please, ask me first. Thank you. If you do decide to purchase a print, all purchases will benefit the Friends of the Wounded Veterans.

Interior of the Thomas Jefferson Building (Library of Congress). The picture is a composite of three frames: EV-1, EV 0, and EV+1. The frames were merged using a high dynamic range (HDR) technique in post-processing.

Taken with my trusty f/2L 135mm Canon lens.

Interior of the Thomas Jefferson Building (Library of Congress). The picture is a composite of three frames: EV-1, EV 0, and EV+1. The frames were merged using a high dynamic range (HDR) technique in post-processing.

The main entrance.

 

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