"Knock. Three. Times."

I respect and admire the fire fighting and police professions very much. In my mind, they should get the pay that athletes and movie stars make, or at least something that’s relative to the danger they put themselves in.

However, the firefighters get the cooler digs. :) I drive by this station every day on my way to and from work and love the red doors. I never seem to time it where they have bay door open so I can get a shot of a truck inside. I guess it’s because most of the time when the door is open, it means they’re heading to a call.

The also have a very cool number “7” in the circle of bricks above the doors, but I couldn’t get it all in the picture very well.

Details, Details

Lilburn, Georgia....go figure.

(Please visit my SmugMug site for better quality photos.)

All I can say is “Wow!”

Well, actually, I have more to say than that, but wow was my first impression when I started taking photos at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (aka Hindu Temple). This particular temple was finished in 2007. I’ve driven past it several times and always wanted to stop and look more closely at it, but the timing was never right. Today, I had nothing keeping me from stopping AND I had my camera with me.

I stopped and the very nice man at the gate told me that I could walk the grounds, but not go inside. There were only four cars in the parking lot, and I saw only three other people besides one staff person, so I was lucky that there weren’t people in hardly any of my shots. There were also signs (some of which you see) saying that you could not take photos above a certain level.

The wind was gusting pretty badly, so I was fortunate also that it was such a sunny day. That allowed the shutter speed to be so high as to almost negate how much my camera was moving from the wind gusts. I’ll definitely go back with a tripod some day.

Some of the shots I took are very touristy, (like the one here) but that’s okay. The place is awe-inspiring, and I wanted to try to convey that with a wide-angle shot. In some other photos, I wanted to show the amazing details. I’ve put all of the photos I wanted to show on my SmugMug site. (If you like my photos, I strongly encourage you to visit this site, because the images are not compressed and muddied like they become on this blog. And if you visit this site, don’t forget that you can view the photos much larger and see more detail. Let your mouse hover over the larger photo on the right, and a menu will pop out that lets you choose a larger size to view. Some are very large photos and might take a few seconds to load.)

Here’s a bit of information from Wikipedia I found interesting.

The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Atlanta is the sixth BAPS traditional Hindu stone temple built outside of India. It is also the largest Hindu temple of its kind outside of India. It is currently open to the public. The 32,000-square-foot (3,000 m2) temple, officially called the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, sits on 30 acres (120,000 m2).

With hand-carved stone spires that tower 75 feet (23 m), it is the tallest building in Lilburn, Georgia, dominating the intersection of Rockbridge Road and Lawrenceville Highway. More than 1,300 craftsmen and 900 volunteers dedicated their time in putting this 34,450-piece stone marvel together. More than 4,500 tons of Italian Carrara marble, 4,300 tons of Turkish limestone, and 3,500 tons of Indian pink sandstone was quarried and shipped to the craftsmen in India. Then, all of the nearly 35,000 pieces were shipped to the United States.

It serves members of the Swaminarayan branch of Hinduism, which originated in India more than 200 years ago. The traditional design features custom-carved stonework, a wraparound veranda and five prominent pinnacles reminiscent of the Himalayan hills.


"Cream" of the Crop

This is a photo of  one of the two guitars on display in Sandee’s house. She has two Fender Stratocasters signed by 1) Bruce Springsteen, and 2) Eric Clapton. She bought them in a charity auction a few years ago, and for a long time, they stayed protected in a box. Finally, she decided to put them on display as a piece of wall art. This one is Eric’s in case you can’t read the autograph. Very cool. :)

Oh, and I kept trying to figure out what the pink reflection was coming from. It’s my sweatshirt color. :) There are some bad shadows on this, but that’s okay. It’s just a filler shot until I get to the nice weather this weekend. :)

Back on Track

Rail against the dying of the light*

It’s been a few days since I’ve been able to take or work on a photo, and frankly, I don’t like it! It’s amazing to me how quickly I start to miss taking photos every day. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, just haven’t had (or made) time. I’m going to do my best to get some good ones this forecasted-to-be-beautiful weekend.

Tonight I was thinking I was perhaps going to catch a beautiful sunset, but I was too early. I would have hung around to see what I could get, but I had frozen items in my car, and on such an unexpectedly hot day, I wasn’t going to loiter.

This train track that parallels most of my route home starts to curve away around this point. I like the way the tracks seem to disappear, making me wonder what’s around the corner.

(*Yes, I know it’s actually “rage” against the dying of the light, but I needed something to do with trains and a sunset, okay?! :)

Jawja Red Clay

So tired

For several days, I’d noticed an area that was near a main road, but was rather grown up around the perimeter. I could see hills of red clay where erosion was creating some interesting rivulets.

Friday, I decided to check it out on my lunch break, so I walked into the area. What I couldn’t see from the road is that it has also turned into somewhat of a tire (and other assorted crap) dumping ground. As I wandered across the flat part to get to the base of the hill, I kept hoping I wouldn’t stumble across a dead body!

I put my camera low to the base of the hill and shot up toward the top, trying to make the line of sight follow the general lines of erosion.

While this photo is nothing special, it creates a neat illusion when the sky is cropped out because it then appears as if I’m looking down into a gully with a tire below me. In actuality, the tire was well above my head  and relatively far away on the hillside.

Unedited photo below:

Little House on the Suburb

Big Sky

The clouds in the sky were awesome this afternoon! I was heading home a different way after running an errand and decided to whip into McDaniel Farm Park where I’ve been many times. There wasn’t a whole lot of light left, so I didn’t go far into the park.

I learned a lesson today. I’ve been taking some of my older cameras and lenses out with me, honestly, because I didn’t want them to think that I have discarded them. Yes, I know it’s stupid, but I grow attached to things that have served me well and that I have enjoyed. I’ve even cried when trading in vehicles, for heaven’s sake!

However, today would have been a great day to have my best camera and best lens, and I didn’t. This isn’t a bad image, it’s just not what it could have been, both in detail and in lack of distortion.

Photo tip: How to avoid silhouetted objects

Be aware that when you shoot toward the sun, and you don’t make any compensating adjustments, the objects in the foreground are going to be in silhouette. (See original, unedited photo at bottom of post.)

Assume that if you can actually see the sun in your peripheral vision, your camera lens can also “see” it, and it affects how much light gets to your sensor. This is what happens with automatic metering. Metering is when the sensor takes in all the light information that’s in its frame and tries to strike a happy average. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work well when there is a lot of light. What the sensor is doing is going “Oh, there’s more than enough light for this picture, I’m going to darken the objects to average out the scene.” Your eyes do the same thing. When you’re looking toward the sun, you squint to minimize the effect of that much light hitting the “sensors” at the back of your eyes.

There are a few ways to minimize the chance of images that are in silhouette (unless that’s the look you’re going for).

One is to try to position yourself where the sun is at your back over one of your shoulders, not straight behind if possible, but off to one side. Right behind you will cast no interesting shadows on the object in front of you (and might actually cast YOUR shadow into the frame). If the sun is slightly off to one side or the other, the light will come in at angles that cast good shadows. Shadows help to define depth and create good darks to balance the highlights. Of course, it’s not always possible to be in this relation to the sun and your object of interest, but at least consider it if it’s possible.

Another possibility is if your camera has an exposure lock (AE-L button on many cameras), you can “meter” on an object that doesn’t have any excess light in frame, then reframe your shot, and shoot. This is really a lesson in itself. Perhaps I’ll cover at at different time.

If your camera allows you to raise and lower your exposure settings (called EV steps) for the object you’re shooting, this can help too. If you want to lighten the dark object, raising your EV +1 or +2 will result in a lighter image, however it will also run the risk of “blowing out” the details in the bright areas. Conversely, lowering the EV to -1 or -2 will result in darker darks, but your light areas will have more detail. Use this technique when you are willing to gain detail and clarity in the main object and lose detail and clarity in the others.

If you have a point-and-shoot with no settings that allow you anything other than position, you can try taking your flash off automatic and make it flash as fill light into the dark spaces. Depending on your distance and the brightness of the scene, it might not make that much difference. My only other advice is to move into your subject as close as you can and still get the shot you want. As long as you can fill up the frame with something that blocks out extra light, you’re less likely to have a silhouette as a result.

Since I know what I can do with my files after I’ve shot, I don’t worry too much about shooting toward the sun. I try NOT to, but when the scene presents itself so that it’s my only option, I do it. This is the advantage of shooting RAW files and having software that helps pull out the details that would be lost otherwise. In this case, I was more interested in capturing the beauty of the skies, knowing I could adjust the house later. Had my focus been the house, I would have metered for it instead.

(Oh, I actually laid down on my stomach for this shot so I would get as much sky as I could. First time I’ve done that in a public place. The smell of wild onions and the coolness of the grass was wonderful and made me want Spring to hurry up!!)

See unedited image below.