In the Face of the Sun

Copyright © 2012 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.
“To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.”
~ Langston Hughes-Dream Variations Sunrise over Lick Observatory San Jose California
Last week on the 21st of March several friends and I rose before dawn to meet to photograph the Crescent Moon rising over Mt. Hamilton, and James Lick Observatory in San Jose, CA.

We also knew that shortly after the Moon rose the sun would also rise over
Mt. Hamilton, and the observatory, but we needed to change our location
to get the angle right. Arriving at our chosen place; a wide open field that once was a neighborhood, long torn down;

the only reminders were the scars of streets, foundations, and the trees, shrubs, and grass which dripped with morning dew.

We walked carefully through it avoiding the holes that housed the Gophers who reside there now until we found just the angle that faced the Rising Sun.

We set up our tripods, camera gear, and we donned special armor this day; a filter to protect and shield our sensors, and eyes.

Then we waited and watched the brightening sky for the first little glimmer of the golden halo that announces the rising morning star!
Blended double processed frame + 1
Nikon D700 & D300s| Nikkor 80-200mm + Tamron 1.4x Extender
How I made it
When I took the photograph I used a Solar filter which protected my camera’s sensor, and my eyes.
This is what it looks like RAW from my camera. I really like all the foliage in silhouette, but I knew in order to recover the color
of the sun I would lose all that detail.
I wanted a finished photograph that included the silhouetted foliage, and color in the sun.
To do that I would have to blend or combine at least 2 frames. I made a copy of the negative above then uploaded that into my photo editing software Lightroom 4.
Then I removed all the color and silhouetted foliage in order to recover the sun’s color.
Once that was done I had this frame. I made another copy of my original negative then uploaded both it,
and the edited negative above into Photoshop CS5 where using layer masks I blended the two frames together.
It was pretty, but I thought it lacked something to make the composition balanced, and a bit more interesting so I added a Golden Eagle.
A photo I had taken back in January of this year. I cloned out the sun flare spot, and added my copyright signature et Voila! Fini!
My companions that morning have published their photos from the morning which
you can see by following the links here, here, here,and here,

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Copyright © 2012 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

What do you do on a rainy day and you’ve got an urge to break out the camera and shoot something? Try something new! About a month ago artist/photographer Linda Clower whose creativity, and talent I’ve long admired began experimenting with Smoke Photography. Her results are stunning, and I’ve wanted to try it myself since seeing hers.

I set my Nikon D700 mounted with a 35mm f2 lens on a tripod with the on board flash set to fire, and used a lamp on camera right. Using a couple of yards of Ultra Suede purchased for a DIY back-drop which I taped with painters tape to wall  then draped the excess over my sideboard to use as a base to set my incense dish. Setting the incense about a foot from the back of the backdrop I lit the incense, dimmed the lights and took a few shots. Below is my first attempt.

It’s rather soft. Not at all the crisp photo I had hoped to create, but I do like the surreal, and arty feel to this finished work.  However I wanted to be able to get the crisp shot I was hoping to capture.

I think the room was too bright. I decided to try it again on another day.

I woke up early motivated to try Smoke Photography again, but with changes. I decided to use my Nikon SB600 Speedlight instead of a lamp or clamp light, but I needed a Snoot to direct the light on the smoke. I’d seen DIY Snoots before and knew I had just about everything at home to make one so, I rooted around the kitchen cupboards looking for a box to make the Snoot. I found the perfect box in the refrigerator; a large rectangular tea box.  I cut it to fit around my Speedlight then covered both sides with Gaffers tape. Not having any velcro in the house to seal it closed around the Speedlight, and be able to re-use it in the future I used painters tape to close it. Soon I’ll purchase some velcro for it.

Here’s my DIY 7.5in Snoot

Now it was just a matter of waiting for evening when the light would be dimmer. The light got really dim outside due to rain clouds so I closed the blinds and set this up then started shooting before the sun came out again.I changed my set up this go round. Here’s the set up I used this afternoon D700 mounted w/35mm f2 lens, hand-held. I moved the lamp(camera right) closer, and I tried to keep the light from spilling onto the back with the shade. I wanted the light from the lamp to light up the smoke so I could focus on it and get the crisper shot. The Snoot was camera left.  My settings were: ISO 800, f11, 0.3 seconds, Manual mode, and manual focus.

I’m much happier with this result.

Nikon D700, D300s, 35mm f2, and 50mm f1.8

Here are some tutorials that  I used to  help me create this shot and  get some help with post editing.!

Just be there… is up!

Just Be There….

with Penny J. Wills

In this edition of “Just Be There” Pet Photographer Penny Wills shares with us an emotional story of how she captured this gorgeous portrait of Abby.

Photography by: Penny Wills

CR. Tell us about this location.

Penny: This was taken in my home office, on a dark brown leather chair.

CR. How difficult was this to capture?

Penny: It’s interesting that you should ask me to talk about this particular photo. This is one of those emotional photos that I love taking. Unfortunately, this time, it’s my emotional photo.

Abby was sick. Intermittently she was throwing up foamy yellow bile. Not any food in it, just the foamy yellow stuff. Not all the time, and not just after eating, or playing and not every day. Sometimes she would go days without throwing up, and then she would throw up every couple of hours a day. After 2 weeks of this, I took her to the vet. He was thinking she got into something she should not have, and it irritated her stomach. She was admitted to the hospital and put on an IV and no food, just fluids, and a special medicine that coats the stomach, like for an ulcer.  After 3 days of her behaving, he was about to call and say, she’s better, when she promptly threw up. We decided to do an X-Ray just to be sure and about an hour later, the vet called back. He said, “You have to come in and take a look at her X-Rays.” That is never a good sign, but I have been going to this vet for years, and with all my pets, you never know what they can pick up and eat. We have had a good laugh over another dog’s X-Rays, so I did not put too much gloom into his words.

My first hint that things were not good was the front office staff. They were quite somber instead of the joking that I am normally greeted with. I meet the Dr., and he pulls out her X-Ray. There is a large mass showing in her stomach. It’s not metal or wood (like some others I won’t mention!) because it does not have a distinct outline, it’s fuzzy. He gives me the bad news, “there’s not much I can do, I believe it’s a tumor, and that large, it can’t be good.” We discuss options, such as an ultrasound, and an exploratory. I settle on exploratory surgery, and we schedule it for the next morning first thing.

He looks at me, and says, “There’s no reason that she can’t go home tonight, so why don’t you take her?”  What he didn’t say, but was understood, that if he found a tumor that large, her prognosis was not good. Dan & I had decided that if the vet did find something, and he didn’t think it was treatable, we would have her euthanized then. So, I brought her home for her last night, or so I thought. I took her out in the back yard to play with the other dogs and darned if I could not get a good photo of her. I had to give up when I lost the light.

CR. How did you expose for this shot?

Penny: The next morning, as I was setting one of our cats up for my photography class in front of the window, I noticed just how lovely the light was. Bells went off in my head, “Put Abby on the brown leather chair and take her photo there!” Eureka! So I popped her on the chair, swiveled the chair until I got the lighting just right, and took the shot. Fortunately, the neighbor was walking their dog down the road, so Abby’s attention was fixed on that dog.

Hand-held, I metered off her face, allowing the rest of the photo to be naturally dark. The camera settings were: 52mm, ISO 200, f/8, 1/20s,

There was absolutely no processing done on this photo, with the exception of adding my logo.

CR. What camera and lens did you use for this shot?

Penny:  Nikon D700, Nikon 24-70mm f2.8

CR. What lighting equipment do you use?

Penny: Natural light out of a north window, 6:18 a.m. just as the sun was rising.

I loved the soft light and the color of the light as the sun was rising. The color was just perfect, you cannot tell by the photo that her face is almost completely gray; the sun hid the gray behind the almost too saturated color.

On a happy note, after the surgery, the vet called. He found out what the problem was. Was it a tumor the size of his fist? Well it ended up being a stuffed mouse cat toy. How she managed to swallow it whole is beyond us. It was too large to pass into her stomach, so it just floated around in her stomach. Her throwing up was from the occasions that the toy blocked food and water from passing the stomach and into her intestines. So, after surgery, I brought her home and for about 12 hours she was fine. Then she started throwing up again. NOW WHAT? She was confined to her crate except for the trip from work to the car. Once again I call the vet and ask him to do a quick X-Ray, she is throwing up again. I wait in the waiting room and a couple of minutes later he comes out with the X-Ray. We look at it, look at each other and say, “What in the world?” There, big as life, is a piece of razor blade! UGH! This dog is going to give me a heart attack. So, for the 2nd time in less than 24 hours she heads to surgery. Thankfully, he removed it without any complications.

I think I got at least 1/2 a head of gray hair from her that week. Silly girl! She is now almost 12 and still going strong.

To see more of Penny’s work go here:

New Photos Added to the Bistro Gallery!

The Bistro 4 gallery has been updated with more great photographs by members of The Bistro. A Nikon users group in the flickr community.

Like this marvelous photograph titled “Eyes of a Predator” by Jesse Cox

Photograph by Jesse Cox. ( Used with Permission)

To view all the 2011 Bistro Galleries go here:   At the front page just scroll down the page to see the Galleries.   I’m curating through July 10th. Come back again!

Copyright © Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

Bistro Gallery Updated w/New Photos!

Visit The Bistro Gallery to see more photographs from the talented members of the Bistro.

Like this fabulous photo titled “Our National Symbol” by Steve Abatzidis.

Photograph by Steve Abatzidis ( Used with Permission)

To see all the 2011 Bistro Galleries go here then scroll down to the Galleries.


Happy 4th of July!

The Bistro Gallery – New Photos Added!

I’m Curating the Bistro Gallery through July 3rd! It’s a place to highlight the work of some of the many talented photographers in this unique flickr group.

Like this photo by Bruce Tracy

Photograph by Bruce Tracy

All 2011 Bistro Galleries are here.   Scroll down the page to the Bistro Gallery.You can’t miss it.

Photograph by Bruce Tracy. Used with permission for this  blog.

Copyright © 2011 Deborah M. Zajac.  All Rights Reserved.

The Bistro Gallery- New Photos Added!

Check out the Bistro Gallery. I’ve added new photos. This gallery is place I’m highlighting the work  of some of the very talented photographers who are members of the Bistro a Nikon users group.

Like this photograph by Anna, aka  Mystica_10v3

Photograph by Anna- aka: Mystica_10v3

All the 2011 Galleries are here. Scroll down the page you can’t miss them.

Photograph used with permission for this blog.

Copyright © Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.