Window In Time - View through the clock at the Musee d

Window In Time – View through the clock at the Musee d’Orsay, Paris.

View Through The Clock At The Musée d’Orsay

A window in time, literally. This is a view through the clock face at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. This is the clock face located on the fifth floor in the North-East corner of the museum. The space behind the clock face in the North-West corner is a restaurant and I don’t find the view through it as pleasing.

Opening as a train station in 1900, by 1939 the platforms had become too short for the trains of that age. Having served numerous other purposes it was saved from demolition and opened as an art museum in December 1986. It now houses the world’s largest collection of impressionist paintings and it has to be on your ‘must see’ list if you visit Paris. To me it’s far more interesting than the Louvre.

Part of the Louvre can be seen in the background on the right. That tower is part of the Musée Des Artes Décoratifs and is the North-West wing of the the Louvre building complex. The trees and Ferris Wheel are in the Jardin des Tuileries and the row of Haussmann buildings are the shops and apartments of the Rue de Rivoli.

Up on the hill on the left you can see the silhouette of the La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre. Sacré Coeur was completed in 1914 so has just had it’s centenary while it was consecrated in 1919 so perhaps it has another centenary in four years time?

Running through the bottom of the frame is the River Seine.

The HDR treatment I chose has rendered the buildings and sky in a nice, almost Wedgwood-style, blue and white; which adds a pleasant antique feeling to the image.

I did toy with the idea of trying to clone and heal the dirt on the clock window glass but besides being too lazy to spend the time doing a really good retouching job here, I think the dirty windows add character.

Below is a black and white rendering of this image.

Window In Time - View through the clock at the Musee d

Window In Time – View through the clock at the Musee d’Orsay, Paris.

Photo Recipe

If you want to take a similar photo yourself you just need to visit the museum and have patience as it’s a very popular spot for taking photos. If you want to also get yourself in the frame, I think selfie sticks are likely banned but the old fashioned way – asking a friend or even a stranger – to take your photo in front of the clock face remains an option.

Tripods are also banned, I believe. I’m sure you can apply for permission and pay a fee but it’s really not worth it. Although this is a three-frame HDR image, I shot it hand-held. I also employed my son and daughter as minders to help keep the scene somewhat people-free but the tight crop is because there were lots of people crowding around. Perhaps if you’re first in line and go straight there you might get a few minutes to compose a wider shot. I think I hung around for about ten minutes to get this shot.

To get the sharpness through the image I selected a tight f/16 aperture so I increased my ISO to 800 to be able to have a shutter speed high enough for reasonable sharpness when hand holding the camera. With my EOS 5D Mark III I usually steady the camera by resting the body on my left shoulder and using my left eye on the viewfinder, a hold I learned from Joe McNally.

Notice that to change the exposure I only varied the shutter speed. If you change the aperture instead then you lose sharpness in your final result.

Multiple layers processed through Lightroom CC, Photomatix for the HDR, and Photoshop CC
Black and White conversion through Topaz B&W Effects

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Sunrise at Badwater, Death Valley

Sunrise at Badwater, Death Valley

“There’s a bad moon on the rise”

“There’s a bad moon on the rise” rolls the lyric of the old Creedence Clearwater Revival song. No, I’m not that old but I’m not that far off either. As I write this post I’m listening to the track “Outside” by the Foo Fighters. If you saw the ‘Outside’ episode of the Sonic Highways series you’ll know the song was inspired by and recorded at Rancho de la Luna in the desert near Joshua Tree, California. Outside is my favorite track on that album and perhaps the lyric below captures part of why the desert fascinates me:

Oh, I found the space between the spaces
Standing in the nothing, and time will cling to
And as the wind will beat you down
And the wind the only sound
There’s something out there

My First Desert

The first desert I lived in was the Libyan Desert. I lived there on-and-off for almost five years. I like deserts. I certainly prefer them to jungles. And, after reading this article in The Guardian on the ongoing tragedy of the heatwave roiling India at the moment I have a much better idea of why. The absence of humidity in the Libyan Desert is what made working there tolerable even if it was hot in the summer.

Sunrise at Badwater in Death Valley

Death Valley in late February is not that hot. Waiting for the sun to rise I was wearing a ski-jacket shell over my sweater and I was wearing gloves, only partly to protect my hands from the sharp salt crystals of Badwater. A short time later I’d be down to just a t-shirt on top, the temperature swings that much during the day!

Sunrise at Badwater, Death Valley

Sunrise at Badwater, Death Valley

Photo Recipe

The goal was to capture the starburst as the sun crested the Amargosa Range. There’s a brief window of time as the sun crests (at sunrise) or descends (at sunset). To capture the starburst you need a small aperture and you can’t avoid some degree of flare. The small aperture results in very noticeable spots from any dirt on your sensor which is impossible to avoid if you change lenses in a desert. You can minimize the opportunity by ensuring you turn the camera off before changing lenses, but you can’t totally avoid getting dust in the chamber. The ‘Visualize Spots’ feature in Lightroom comes in really handy to address those that do manifest in the image.

To get this perspective I used a wide angle lens placed very low to the ground – about six inches off the ground in this case. The Gitzo tripod I have allows me to reverse the column and suspend the camera, upside-down, below the tripod head. To frame the shot I used the ‘live view mode’. I also used the electronic level of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III to level the camera.

Multiple layers processed through Lightroom CC, Photomatix, and Photoshop CC
Black and White conversion through Topaz B&W Effects

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Here Come The Lads

Here Come The Lads

It’s May Madness!

While people across the US are familiar with March Madness, as a parent in Texas we also get to enjoy May Madness! It’s that month when everything around the school year comes to a head. There are tests, tests, and more tests. There are performances, there are ceremonies. For me, outside of school there are dance recitals for my daughter and rock’n’roll recitals for my son. For others there are sports leagues drawing to a close with championships and bragging rights on the line. There are the highs that come with the end of the school year and then the concern at how to keep the kids occupied through the 11-weeks of summer vacation.

The weekends become a blur of activity. Routines in place since the preceding September come to an end and chaos ensues trying to get everyone to the right place at the right time with all the necessary costumes and accoutrements. There are cheers and scowls, smiles and frowns. And then, one week into June it is all behind us and peace and normality return once again. Just five more days. Am I counting?

These boys are about to graduate 8th grade. Where we live that means the end of Junior High and the start of a new adventure as Freshmen at High School. To celebrate the graduation the Junior High held a party – a promlet perhaps? We took the photos before the boys went off to dinner with their mothers and then went on to the party at their school.

Photo Recipe

After taking individual portraits of the boys and dual portraits with their mothers I wanted to get a fun shot of this fab five. I wanted something to convey the transition they are all embarking on. To achieve this I thought it might be fun to have them run towards the camera in a line, though I will admit I was partly inspired by a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

I took the photo hand-held, one of a burst sequence with the camera set on Manual to ensure a constant exposure through the burst.

Single layer processed through Lightroom CC.

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US Flag on the Port Bolivar Ferry

US Flag on the Port Bolivar Ferry

What is Memorial Day?

Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor all members of the US military that have died in service.

Not hailing from the US, I have to say I was initially confused about the meaning of Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. In England, where I grew up, we recognized (celebrated is the wrong word) Armistice/Remembrance Day, long since relegated from November 11th to the closest Sunday.

In the US, Memorial Day has been recognized since 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War. The last Monday in May was only officially set as an holiday in 1971.

Memorial Day also serves to mark the unofficial first day of summer and the start of grilling or barbecue season. About 18,000 people get injured and about 5 die each year from grilling related injuries. If you’re firing up your grill today, please be careful. Never light a gas grill with a match and be careful with the lighter fluid if you’re using charcoal. And, though it may be obvious, never use gasoline or diesel to jump start a charcoal grill!

So what is Veteran’s Day then?

Veteran’s Day was co-opted from Armistice Day on November 11th as a day to honor all who have served in the military. As the last of the ‘dough boys’ generation has passed on there are still plenty of veterans who have served both in times of conflict and peace to preserve our freedoms. Unlike Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day is not an official holiday in the US.

The US Flag photo

I took this photo on my birthday a few years back while riding the Bolivar Ferry ‘Robert C. Lanier’ from Port Bolivar to Galveston. Bob Lanier, former three-term Mayor of Houston was himself a veteran having served as an officer in the United States Navy.

Photo Recipe

I took the photo hand-held, one of a burst sequence as I tried to capture the flag billowing in the breeze. In the original crop I had the staff vertical but I rotated the image to make the stripes of the flag horizontal as I thought that improved the composition.

Single layer processed through Lightroom CC, Photomatix 4.2, and Photoshop CC

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