Memory Lane On Hold; Broken Bones The Reason

Hospital-1
Prior to surgery this past Saturday.

There is an opening for Bill Fortney and Jim Begley’s His Light workshop at Memory Lane in Rogersville, TN this week. My spot is available, most unfortunately. My lovely wife took a tumble last week, breaking her wrist as she reached out to catch herself. Any broken bone is a bad break (pun intended) in my book, but this one was in the really-not-so-good class. Our hand surgeon described the repair operation as ‘tricky’. Sue’s wrist went in a pretty pink cast when we first were seen at the hospital, prepping her for surgery this past Saturday. She currently is in a more substantial cast and an arm sling, with a set of strict guidelines for things-not-to-do. The recuperation promises to be a bit tricky, also.

This coming week we will have our first appointment to begin some rehab, and possibly to replace this current cast with something designed to assist in the healing process. We will know more later on this week. In any event, trying to take care of all the chores we take for granted in our daily lives with one hand (unfortunately, it was Sue’s dominate hand that was injured) is a struggle. We have been a team for a long time; we are learning even more about teamwork in just the past couple of days. There is quite a bit of discomfort (to put it mildly) involved in this procedure; I will be needed here at home this week.

The good news is that we have received an outpouring of concern and well wishes and prayers from a wonderful family of friends. That has been most heart-warming. The other good news is that my loss (missing Memory Lane is more than a disappointment for shooting; it also is a chance to spend time with great friends) can be your gain. Call my dear friend Bill Fortney right now at (606) 344-0455 and tell him you want to take my slot. I promise you, absolutely guarantee you, a wonderful experience shooting at a location that otherwise is rarely open to the public. And the friendships you will make and the fellowship you will experience is beyond the marvelous shooting you can expect. For a small idea of what will be in store for you click here to visit Bill’s website and scroll down to Memory Lane. You won’t be disappointed.

Hospital-2
On the road to recovery with good wishes like these tulips from dear friend Clay Humphreys.

Thank you for all the warm wishes for Sue’s recovery. With all that support and your prayers for her, a return to shooting form is just around the corner.

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RSW: A Photoshop Workflow For Detailed Images With A Glow From The NIK Collection

Crystal
This glowing cave image still packs an incredible amount of detail.

I have extolled the photographic talents of my good friend Richard Small for years. He is a true master, especially when it comes to vehicles of any kind. He has the touch, I like to say. Richard also knows how to process his photos to get a special look, a look that draws in and holds the eye. It is a style that is his, but one that is uncomplicated and easy-to-understand. And Richard is as generous as he is talented, willing to share his techniques with the rest of us.

First off today, click here to see the images Richard brought home recently from Nelson Ghost Town in Nevada (on an outing with jack Graham and Bill Fortney). They are beautiful! Spend some time examining his compositions, his eye for line and form. Then look a bit closer and see how that sort of beautiful glow surrounds detail upon detail. It really is a different, exceptional look. It is a special one, but one you can apply to your own photos … compliments of Richard Small.

I’m going to share what Richard has passed on to so many of us (I told you he was most generous). It is easy-to-follow, step-by-step. So, here goes:

First, take your raw image into whatever initial processor you prefer. Do the foundation corrections – straighten, crop, take out unwanted objects, etc. Make the photo look good, as you usually would.

Next, take your image into Photoshop (if you are not already there). Go into your NIK collection (if you don’t have this outstanding collection of plugins for Photoshop, go get it. Now. It’s that good). Open Dfine2 and run it at its default settings. Your images may not have much noise, or any noise at all. No matter; running Dfine2 won’t hurt; it only can help. Click enter.

Open Detail Extractor in Color Efex Pro 4 and run the strength slider up to 50-60. Leave it there, whether you think it looks good or not. Click on the Add Filter tab at the bottom of that panel.

Open Duplex. Increase the strength to 40. Now on a PC there is a default color attached to this panel. I click on the color swatch and choose something much lighter or even different. Find something that complements your image (or go to an off white color that gets rid of any cast). Next move the Diffusion slider up (I go to 70 or even higher to begin). Get a diffused look that gives a real glow to your photo. Then go back to the strength slider and move it up and down. Find a look that gives you a pleasing image, something that catches your eye (you even can go back to the color swatches if you like). Click OK.

Now go to NIK and Viveza 2. Go to the right side and adjust the global contrast with that slider. Move it up and find a spot you like (Richard starts out between 40-50; that is a bit high for my taste). Next adjust the global brightness with that slider, finding the spot that suits you. Click OK.

Finally, back to your NIK collection. Open Sharpener Pro 3 (output). In the Output Sharpening panel click on the tab that defaults to Display. Change that in the dropdown menu to Continuous Tone. Change the printer resolution to 300 dpi. Click OK. Now, back in Photoshop, view your photo at 100%. Adjust the opacity up and down a bit, making sure you don’t oversharpen (see haloes or crunchiness). Merge your image.

At the end I always look my image over carefully, seeing if there is anything else I think it needs as a localized tweak (just one portion). Most of the time Richard’s technique is complete in and of itself. Sometimes I add a little texture or change of color or some other tweak. It is your photo; make it look the way you want it to.

Now, not every image looks its best with this workflow. I like it on texture-laden photos, landscapes, Americana, etc. Portraits? Maybe not quite as much. Just give this new workflow a chance; experiment a bit to get it down pat. It really does give your images a most pleasing look. And if you ever forget that, go back to Richard’s website and re-examine his Nelson photos. That will be all you need to get started all over again.

I’ll wish you good luck … but with Richard’s workflow you won’t need it. Thank you, Richard Small!

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Fuji Firmware Updates: Body And Lens. And Today Is April 2nd.

X-T1

Many of you dear friends and loyal readers now are Fuji shooters (Bill Fortney has cast a wide net, scooping up Nikon and Canon fans, alike). Just in case you haven’t seen it elsewhere, Fuji has just released firmware updates for the X-T1 and for a series of X lenses (the 10-24, the 18-55, the 18-135, and the 55-200). My very good friend Raymond Jabola can’t bring himself to break away from Nikon (yet), but he told me last night how much he admires Fuji because they listen to their customers and consistently provide what we ask for. These latest updates to existing products are most appreciated, designed to make the Fuji experience even more rewarding. We always should update our equipment with the latest in firmware, even when the perceived benefits aren’t that great; this one is no exception. Click here for the Fujifilm website, which has all the details (including step-by-step instructions for upgrading). Thank you, Fuji!

And … thank you to my friends who called and emailed to share their concern about my announcement yesterday to give up photography (at least temporarily). Your friendships have been (and are) one of the true highlights of my life. Thank you. And to anyone who tried to contact me using the email at the end of that post, jhaverst@aprilfirst.com? No, it didn’t go through. They all ended up in the April Fool’s basket, wherever that my be maintained. But thank you for you kind interest.

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Camera Gear For Sale: Nikon D810, Fuji X-T1

X-T1

My dear friend and mentor Bill Fortney arrived home yesterday from an extended (almost three weeks) photo and workshop trip. We had a chance to talk for a long time, catching up on what we have been doing and thinking. Bill is someone I can share any thought, any feeling with. He is one of my very best friends, a man who doesn’t hesitate to give me honest, thoughtful advice (even when it sometimes is not what I want to hear). Yesterday was one of those times.

I have been thinking for some number of months now that as much as I have enjoyed photography perhaps it has not been the best thing for me (or my family). I started off as a really bad photographer; I then got a bit better (much of that due to Bill Fortney and Jim Begley). Then I felt I had progressed to a certain level of proficiency, one at which I had some decent photos. There’s where the problem began: I started to obsess about those images, about being the best. I kept comparing myself to other photographers and either feeling dejected because I wasn’t as good as they are or being secretly prideful because I thought I was better than they are. Not healthy; not productive; not the kind of person I want to be.

I also spent a great deal of time, way too much time, in the pursuit of that photographic fame and fortune. It took time and attention away from my family and my church. As I wondered these past few months about priorities I knew in my heart that I was drifting (sometimes running) away from what I should be devoted to … and it wasn’t Nikon or Fuji.

I spoke at length with Bill yesterday about those feelings and what was really important in this world (and to the next). He was honest with me, as always. He encouraged me to listen to my heart and to take the necessary steps to make sure I was being true to those around me. Thank you, Bill!

I am selling my camera gear and taking a needed break from photography (and where it was leading me). I may come back to it in the future, albeit in a simpler, less obsessive way. I need to do this to be the person I want to be, the person I should be. And the good news is that this could be your lucky day! I have a Nikon D810 in excellent condition, along with a batch of excellent lenses (a 24-120, 70-200, 16-35, 105 f/2.8, and an 80-400). Also going is my Fuji X-T1 in excellent condition. Those Fuji lenses include the 10-24, the 18-55, and the 55-200, all in great condition. I am offering this gear at reduced prices, prices designed to be fair to both you and me. It’s simply time.

If you are interested in any of this gear (and I have all the usual accessories that go with this type of camera equipment), just email me for a price list (or to make an offer). Everything goes to the first person who makes contact and shakes an internet hand. I have bittersweet feelings about this decision, but I don’t think there is any looking backward at this point. It’s been a lot of fun with a lot of wonderful friends (new and old), but family and faith come first.

If you are interested contact me at jhaverst@aprilfirst.com. I would love to hear from you.

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Visit Marengo Cave: In Photos From 2015

Cave
Click on the Marengo Cave formation to see more photos.

I posted last week after our visit to historic Marengo Cave that I am no cave photographer. That decision on my part hasn’t changed; I plan on keeping my camera above ground from here on out. But I did find a few images that show a landscape that is incredibly different from the one in which we usually live. It’s not for me … but it does have a haunting look (if not beauty) that can catch and hold the eye. And if you are a cave person, I hope these photos encourage you to plan your own visit to this fascinating environment.

Click on the shot at the top of this post to see more photos. Or just click here.

It’s Monday, a week leading up to the glorious encouragement and message of Easter. Spend some time reflecting on the miracle of that day.

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Clay County Road Trip: More Photos

Oil cans
Click on the Standard Oil cans to see more Clay County photos.

Today is a chance to share time with Stu and John Moore of Clay County, two generous and friendly men that we were privileged to spend time with last Saturday. While checking out an old car Curt knew about we were directed just down the road to meet Stu and his son John. They are Standard Oil men, through and through. They have a few beautiful old vehicles that they have fixed up, real beauties. And they were most generous with their time, giving up the lunch they were about to enjoy to give us a tour. It was a really good couple of hours.

John even was kind enough to pose for a portrait, something most people just won’t do anymore. He showed me a pristine Standard Oil globe, the ones that sat on top of the old gas pumps. This one was green, a real rarity. Stu explained that it was designed to sit atop the diesel pumps (the red globes went on the gas pumps). This one was just beautiful, and when I spotted an old rocker nearby … well, all three subjects went together perfectly. John, thank you!

We all shot photos of the cars and the various old items scattered about. It was a most fun afternoon, made better by new friends. It won’t be all that long before we head back to Clay County to drop off some images for the Moores and to check out the old schoolhouse again. I look forward to it.

Click on the Standard Oil cans to see a few more images. Or you always can just click here.

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BPC Road Trip: Marengo Cave Photo

Cave steps
Click on the cave steps to see closer into historic Marengo Cave.

Yesterday members of the Bloomington Photography Club made the journey down to Marengo in Crawford County to shoot historic Marengo Cave. We hadn’t been there in five years, and it was time for a return trip. We had a very nice turnout of 22 members, great considering we had to leave Bloomington in the early afternoon to arrive at 5 PM. It was a day filled with friends … and very challenging shooting conditions.

I had forgotten what it was like to shoot in an environment that was exceedingly difficult to expose properly (think lots of pitch dark with bright, bright artificial light of varying sources and intensities). There wasn’t a lot of color to work with except for a few spots. Composing was difficult given the lack of light in most places, and even though we had two hours with the cave all to ourselves, we had to keep moving. I was reminded quite early on how bad I am at cave photography.

We arrived home late, and I had time to download my card and process exactly one image. It is the one at the top of this post. Click on it to see it larger, or just click here. I’m trying to enjoy it as a good memory; it may end up being my only keeper from the entire shoot. Cave shooting is joining large events and weddings on my list of Things-I-Don’t-Enjoy-Shooting.

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Clay City Roads: Photos From Indiana

Tower
Click on the school tower to see more Clay County photos.

I processed a few photos from Saturday’s road trip over to Clay County with good friends from our photo club. Curt did his usual exceptional job of finding things to shoot, and we worked around the sunny conditions to bring home a bit of Indiana that is fast disappearing. I have more to show, including a couple of incredibly friendly and gracious men we met, Stu and John Moore. But they will have to wait a bit as Tuesday’s chores take precedence.

Saturday was a really good day, spent with good friends. Click on the school at the top of the post to see more images. Or you can just click here. And, I added these images to a gallery of road shots already in progress. I think I will limit that gallery to a total of 20 images. As soon as that many are uploaded, the next one chosen will bump an existing one. My hope is that by the end of the year the process will produce a gallery of shots worth seeing. And visiting here in Indiana.

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County Roads: More Miles, More Photos

Brummetts silo
Click on the old silo see more photos from our recent Brown County trip.

Saturday we joined friends from the Bloomington Photo Club for a day trip to nearby Clay County, part of the 2015 County Roads Tour. Our good friend Curt has an uncanny knack for ferreting out old structures in interesting, out-of-the-way places. We had a great time, and we came home with a few fine images. I am working on those shots, even while finishing the photos from last week’s trip to Brown County.

Todays images are those from last week, from our search for the rumored Field-of-Cars. We stopped whenever something caught our eyes; we tried to capture a feeling for some of the parts of our region that are fast disappearing. I hope you enjoy a few more of these images as much as we enjoyed finding them.

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County Roads Take Me Home … Counties Near Monroe

Brummetts barn
Part of our 2015 Country Roads Tour.

Spring break and spring weather beckoned to us again today. We packed up the cameras and headed out to see what we could see. The sky was cloudy all day … a large softbox with little sun or contrast. But that meant we could shoot all day without worrying about harsh shadows and blown-out colors. We were looking for a rumored stash of old cars over in neighboring Brown County (one we never found). But we drove roads we had traveled before and roads we were unfamiliar with. And we found a few locations that made the day a good one. Our next His Light Workshop with Bill Fortney now has a few new spots for the road show.

I didn’t have time to do much processing yesterday, but I did get to a couple. There is something about those old barns and homes that draws the eye and touches the heart. I have more to do, but here are two to get you started. And to remind me that those backroads hold a lot of shots and a lot of memories.

Click on the old barn at the top of the post to see more. And enjoy the coming weekend, camera in hand.

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Backyard Hoops: One More Road Photo

Hoops
Click on the basketball goal to see more.

One more photo from Tuesday’s trip through down some of Monroe County’s backroads. As the sun began to set the light changed, giving a glow to the deepening shadows on the great old barn we found. It became time for an Indiana youngster to put up his basketball for the night. Tomorrow’s light will mean another game, another chance at glory.

Click on the barn at the top of the post to join in on the Indiana experience.

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Monroe County Roads 2015

Calf
Click on the lunch time scene above to see more photos from our backroads drive.

Yesterday my lovely wife and I set out to drive some of our county’s backroads for a while, feeling the urge to get out with our cameras. It wasn’t as warm or sunny as the day before (it felt as if summer had arrived that day when the temperature hit 74), but it still was a far cry from winter’s blasts. We played hide-and-seek with the sun and clouds as we looked for old barns and other structures that caught the eye. And we enjoyed being together … any keeper images being icing on the cake. It was a good day.

I came home with a few photos that I liked. They are a bit different, a bit eye-catching. They are the little surprises that pop up around a curve or a bend in the road, locations that call out to your camera. I am going to add to this new gallery as the year goes along and we continue casual drives throughout Monroe County. Come along for the ride and get a feel for what some of our more rural places have to offer.

Click on the Ketchum Road residents above to see a few more images. Or you always can just click here.

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Day To Night: Chasing The Light With Jessica Drossin Actions

Drossin effect-2
Bill arriving in Bloomington on a clear and bright day.

Last week I mentioned some fairly low cost actions from Jessica Drossin, ones I used in part to make the spooky insect images featured in that post (click here if you missed that one). I also used them to turn day into night with a simple Brown County photo (here is a link to that one). The Drossin actions and overlays make the task much easier … and more fun. I recommend her products; they work. If you haven’t taken a look at her site yet, use this link to do so today.

Drossin effect-1
And how quickly the weather turned dark and rainy!

Last week I was honored with a visit from my dear friend Bill Fortney. He came through Bloomington on a clear, bright day. The sun was shining and there were some pretty harsh shadows all around. I took a shot of Bill in his car as he drove into town from Brown County, just sort of a snapshot. And I found some time later top lay around a bit, seeing if I could change the look and the mood of the image. That effort was made much easier by using the Jessica Drossin actions from the insect photos.

Drossin effect-3
Grandfather Mountain on a clear day at elevation.

And then I ran across an older image from last year, one made at a His Light workshop on Grandfather Mountain. I liked the photo and how it showed what the wind and weather conditions do to the small trees high up on the mountain. The weather can change rapidly at elevation, and I wondered what this poor little tree might look like in other than sunny conditions. I played around a bit, and voila! A completely different feel and look!

Drossin effect-4
And on a day when I would rather be safely down at the bottom of the mountain.

We sometimes need or just want a certain look for our images. And it’s not always possible to get exactly what we want out in the field … unfortunately. In those instances, it’s Photoshop to the rescue (in my case aided by my Drossin actions). Photoshop is an incredible program, but there is much to be said for not re-inventing the wheel each time we want to do something. I keep an eye out for software that will help me get the look and feel I want from an image, the vision we have when we click that shutter. Let me again recommend the Drossin actions to make that special job a bit easier. She may have just what you have been looking for.

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Two Free Copies Of Lexar Image Rescue 5: A Giveaway From Me

Lexar IR
Send me an email for a chance to win a copy of Lexar Image Rescue 5.

I have two copies of Lexar Image Rescue 5 (recovery software for your memory cards) to give away this week. They are brand new, legitimate codes that each are worth $40 retail. I will award them to two readers who email me between now and Thursday, March 19, at midnight (EST). I will announce the winners this Friday and send out the codes via email the same day.

The back story is that I purchased two new Lexar cards last week (there was a really nice sale from Adorama, and I wanted a couple of bigger cards for shooting on vacation this year). The cards came complete with a free offer of Image Rescue 5 (Lexar’s latest version) for each. Since I already have that particular piece of software downloaded on my computer, these two were going to be wasted. Now, I own them; I have every right to transfer ownership to another photographer. And you have every right to be the recipient of this giveaway (no cheating going on). The software is one you hope you never will need – but will be very happy to own if you ever do. It retails for $39.99 on the Lexar site, but the offer is free with the purchase of any professional card. All you do is go to the Lexar site, download the free trial software, and then enter your personal code whenever asked. A link to the download site is here.

To enter, just send me an email at jhaverst@comcast.net prior to this Thursday at midnight (EST). Tell me why you would like to have a copy of the software for yourself. Friday I will choose two entries and send out the codes to the winners. It’s just a small way to say thank you being a loyal reader and to make good use of a nice gift from Lexar.

This promises to be a fine week. IU is on spring break, and Bloomington will be quieter and less crowded. The weather is warmer, and the outdoors beckons. Spend it with your camera in hand.

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Bill Fortney And Hinkle’s Hamburgers … It Was A Very Good Day

Hinkles-2

It was a great burger … made even better by a great friend.

My dear friend and mentor Bill Fortney is off on an epic road trip (you need to follow his blog the next three weeks for daily updates). His car is loaded up, and he is headed across legendary Route 66 to capture images that are all-to-rapidly disappearing from our American scene. It was my pleasure and great fortune that he was able to stop for a short visit yesterday in Bloomington, one that included lunch at Hinkle’s Hamburgers. Hinkle’s is a local treasure, a Mom and Pop hamburger joint that has been around since 1930 (and I don’t say Mom and Pop in any sort of disparaging manner). I don’t get to Hinkle’s often, but every trip there is a most satisfying one (I can only eat so many double cheeseburgers, fries and vanilla shakes anymore. And then there are the deep-fried pickle spears ….). It was a reminder that I gotta get back there more often.

I have to admit, lunch was made even better by sharing it with Bill. I have a short list of people I admire most. And almost all of them are relationships from our church and His Light (the two go together perfectly). Bill is a very special man; he is incredibly talented, yet humble and gracious-to-a-fault. He is generous and thoughtful, always putting others ahead of his own desires. He is a model to emulate and a man to follow. It has been my extreme pleasure to be able to call him friend.

Hinkles-1
Pardon the missing bites, please. Hinkle’s is that good.

And I was tickled that Hinkle’s is going on the list of Bill’s Best Cheeseburgers, an honor many vie for but few obtain. It helped, I know, that the steel grill the burgers are cooked on probably hasn’t been scrubbed since about 1960 or so. All the meat is hand-ground fresh at the store each day; the shakes are hand-dipped. And the breaded pickles aren’t chips; they are spears. I came home smelling like a burger joint (not an unpleasant smell by any means), and I came home most satisfied. If you ever come for a visit you have to look me up. It will give me another excuse to go to Hinkle’s again, and it will give you another restaurant to put in your book of places-that-must-be-seen.

Thank you, Bill, for making a Thursday a great day. And thank you, Hinkle’s, for allowing me to show off a little bit of Bloomington to a dear friend.

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