Bay Bridge triptych

As I have stated several times on the blog here, I am a big fan of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, CA.  I have a lot of photos of this fine structure, and decided that I would take my current top three favorites and put them together into a single here you go!

Wooden bridge in Vail

I was walking around Vail, CO early on a Sunday morning.  I like that time of day because in tourist spots like Vail, most tourists are still asleep, so I get the dual benefits of nice morning light and no folks in my way.  It was my first time there, and I really had no idea what to expect, but I ended up spending the entire morning in Vail because I liked it so much.  It's a great little town and has that alpine village feel and since it was a couple of weeks before Christmas, everything was so...Christmasy.  Anyways, at one point I wandered upon this wooden bridge and knew it was something that I wanted to photograph.  Afterwards, I spent some time in the stream below taking a bunch of other shots, and then found a tea shop and warmed up with some English Breakfast tea (my fave!).  It was an awesome way to spend a morning!

Great night, awesome bridge

I like San Francisco quite a bit (then again, who doesn’t?) and when I am there my hotel is basically next to the Bay Bridge, so I end up with a lot of pictures of this fine structure.  But that is ok with me.  After all, I like shooting bridges and this one is hard to beat.  The evening that I took this shot was somewhat foggy, which is fun for me since it makes for some interesting photographic possibilities.  Plus, it was somewhat cool which is always nice to experience when you are coming from the Texas heat (this was back in August).  This was a 5 exposure HDR, and looking back at the original files it is hard to believe I got a decent picture out of them.  I mean the fog seemed to be everywhere and the images were pretty dark, but hey thanks to the fine folks that created Nik HDR Efex Pro, I was able to walk away with a keeper!

You can read my review and HDR tutorial for HDR Efex Pro here:

Bouncing bridge

Taking HDR shots of bridges is one of my favorite things to do.  I really enjoy photographing them.  I find them interesting and beautiful.  Mostly though, I find myself under them trying to get an interesting angle.  After shooting a bridge, I nearly always find myself under it, and nearly always enjoy those pictures better.  This is under the Lamar Street bridge in Austin, taken last December (you can see some Fall color in the trees).

6 exposure HDR, f/13, -4 to +1.  Merged into an HDR in Photomatix with some minor adjustments afterwards in PSE and Aperture.  By the way, I gave it the title Bouncing Bridge because it almost looks to me like the arches just barely touch the water and bounce up again...

A different sort of fishing

We used to put on waders and spend quite a bit of time in this river, wading and fishing - hoping for that elusive trout to decide he was hungry (though he usually wasn't!).  This time though, I got the waders out and went fishing for interesting pictures instead of trout.  I frequently try to look at things from a different perspective, raising and lowering the tripod, or shifting left and right, trying things out.  It's fun to me.  In this case, the interesting perspective came from being in the water, not next to it.  I stayed in the river and walked under the bridge.  I am a fan of taking pictures of bridges, and frequently try to get under them because I like how they look.  This was not some big fancy city bridge - just a simple wooden bridge with a quiet, cool river running underneath it. 

This was a 3 exposure HDR taken at f/22, with exposures of -2, 0 and +2.  I merged them into an HDR in Photomatix and made some adjustments in PSE around Contrast with a little final touch up in Aperture.

Graceful symmetry

Ok, back to an HDR shot.  I do like to experiment with photography and try new things.  My last two posts were a macro and a Black & White, but after a couple of days of not posting an HDR shot I start to get itchy.  I really do love HDR and find it fun and fascinating.  This is the Lamar Street bridge in downtown Austin.  I have taken many shots of this bridge, from many angles.  They always come out great in my opinion.  The bridge is very photogenic.  Most folks in Austin shoot the Pennybacker Bridge (aka Loop 360 Bridge) and it is certainly an iconic symbol of Austin, not to mention a great looking bridge.  But for some reason, I keep getting drawn to this bridge more often than the Loop 360 bridge.  This one is much smaller, and much simpler, and I guess I like that about it.  I really like the graceful symmetry and the consistent pattern of the arches.  On the morning that I took this shot, the weather was fabulous and the skies were mostly clear.  A bit earlier there were a bunch of clouds passing through, and you can see them in the distance, but they never materialized over the bridge - that would make an excellent shot.  

This is a 5 exposure HDR taken at f/13,with exposures from+2 to -2.  They were merged into an HDR in Photomatix and then I made additional adjustments in PSE (Curves, Contrast).  I made final adjustments in Aperture and there you have it!

Echoes of running water

I just love the sound of running water, don't you?  I assume everyone does.  It has a calming effect I guess, and in this hectic world everyone needs that.  In this case, I heard that peaceful sound as well as a slight echo as the sound waves bounced around the underside of this stone bridge.  It's pretty cool.  I came across this bridge while on a photowalk around the University of Texas campus, and being a bridge guy I immediately climbed down to the side of the stream and started finding my way across rocks that happened to be in all the right places.  They were a little slippery but at least this time I had on the right kind of shoes.  I took a bunch of shots here, from all sorts of angles, and was happy to spend quite a while there.  

This is a 6 exposure HDR, taken at f/22, with exposures from +2 to -3.  They were blended into an HDR in Photomatix, then adjusted in PSE (Curves, Contrast, Unsharp Mask) and a final touch in Topaz Adjust.  I am starting to use Topaz Adjust quite a bit, and really like the product.  It has all kinds of interesting settings that you can use to adjust your photos, though some are a bit over the top for me.  If you want to read more about it, you can see my review of it here.   

Curves of a bridge

This is a shot of a pedestrian bridge in downtown Austin.  I enjoy taking shots of bridges, and usually wind up underneath them trying to find cool views, in which I am usually successful.  I thought this one had nice lines to it.  From the top of this bridge you can get a nice view of our downtown skyline.  The arched bridge in the distance is a frequent subject of mine, since it has those wonderful arches in it.  In the old days, before this pedestrian bridge existed, you had to cross the distant one on a very narrow track.  Every time a car went by it felt like you would get blown off the bridge.  That pretty much stunk, but it's all better now!

This is a 6 exposure HDR shot at f/13, with the exposures ranging from -3 to +2.  The raw files were merged into an HDR in Photomatix, and then the HDR was adjusted in PSE for Curves, Contrast and UnSharp Mask.

Step carefully

This wonderful little stream and bridge sit behind the Alumni Center on the University of Texas campus in Austin.  I went on a photowalk with Pete Talke of Places2Explore and we found this place by accident, which is always the best way to find little gems like this.  We spent nearly an hour down in this little spot, snapping the waterfalls and the bridge from all sorts of angles.  We were fortunate that the water level was just about right - we could step on stones to get across and just barely get our shoes wet.  Any higher water levels and we would have been unable to get in all the right spots.  Sometimes it just works out!

This shot is a 7 exposure HDR shot at f/22.  It was post-processed for HDR in Photomatix, then adjusted in PSE for Curves and a light touch in Topaz Adjust.  Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

A time to reflect

With 2009 drawing to a close, we all look back upon what has transpired over the last 12 months.  Hopefully you have had a productive and exciting year, full of more of the things you want to do than the opposite.  Looking forward, I wish you a happy, healthy and productive 2010.

My 2009 was fun, interesting, productive, and exciting.  I officially launched this website, which has been great fun, and got serious about my photography.  I am focused on learning as much as I can, and experimenting with different things so as to stretch my range and myself.  The more I learn, the more I realize that I have much more to learn.  I guess it is always that way.  But then again, if you stop learning, you are basically dead anyways.  So, here's to learning more in 2010!

I have written several goals for my photography for the new year, most of which I will spare you having to read about.  But, here are a few of them:

* Quality, not quantity - since I started on Flickr earlier this year, and then launched this website, one of my initial goals was to post a new image every day.  I didn't exactly succeed, but that's ok since I am not getting graded (am I?).  This year though I want to focus on posting what I consider a quality image.  I felt like some of my posts in 2009 were not great shots, and I posted despite that fact because I was trying to get something posted.  In 2010 I intend to focus on producing high quality images and posting them when they are ready.  So, I envision about 4 posts a week, or something like that.

* Focus on the composition - as I mention above, learning about photography is important to me since I want to continue to improve, and composition is a basic element.  I feel like some of my comps are good, some are great, and some are just fair.  I intend to experiment and try things so as to focus (no pun intended) on getting good comps and interesting ones too.

* Slow down - sometimes I get in a hurry while setting up for a shot (doesn't everyone get a little excited now and then?) and either don't check all my camera settings, or miss an important element to the shot that I should have included.  Unless the situation prevents it, I plan to slow down, breathe, and plan my shots this year with the goal of getting it right the first time.

Well, that about covers it.  I hope your 2009 was a wonderful year, and that you experience much health, happiness and prosperity in 2010.

By the way, this was taken under the Lamar Street bridge in Austin (the same bridge from my last post), a few minutes before that last shot.  It is a 5 shot HDR (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2) taken at f/13.  It was combined in Photomatix, then adjusted in PSE (Curves, Contrast) and Topaz Adjust.  Thanks for visiting!