Monday, August 15, 2011

The Wedding

Lauren and I decided to not hire a photographer for our wedding. (We didn't have the money in our budget.)Inplace of having a photographer for the ceremony, we took a little different approach. We had everyone bring their cameras to the wedding and up load the pictures they took to as a big group community pool. I liked this idea because it gave so many different perspectives, the only problem is the keeper rate was quite low.

The pictures we shot after the wedding in the church came out less than desirable. The chapel was very poorly lit, and we could not use flash. (Oh how I wish I would have owned a fast prime for that day). So needless to say none of the formal pictures of the family really came out that great. Not to mention I also shot on the wrong white balance in JPEG instead of RAW. So I don't think any of those formal shots in the church will amount to much.

Lucky for us, my wife and I had time in between the wedding and the reception to take a few photos. These photos turned out to be some of my favorite photos of all time. The picture at the top of this post was taken just outside of the country club. I composed the shot with my wife in the frame, pressed the self timer and ran to get in the picture. We did this several times in the blistering Dallas heat. I think it was 102 degrees that day, and I was very lucky my wife was patient enough for us to get this shot. If nothing else, I had one good photo to show for my efforts, to remind myself of that magical day. I love the back drop and the leading lines like the cart path that runs through the picture. I'm really glad we changed the venue. The lighting and composition were far better lit than the church and way more photogenic. I just wish it would have been more hospitable that day. I would have liked a couple more shots, but I guess I'll just have to be content with what I got.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Ride of a Lifetime

A couple weeks before I got married, I drove to Chama, NM, with my father and my brother, to ride the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. I had ridden the train before when I was about 10 years old, but that memory was too long ago for me to really remember how beautiful the scenery was. So, I convinced my brother and father we had to go ride the train again.

We drove up to Chama, on the friday before Memorial Day Weekend. The sun had just set, as we pulled into the hotel parking lot, and I was ecstatic to see the dark silhouettes of the steam engines smoking against the horizon, across the street from our hotel. After we checked into the hotel, I went for a walk along the road to see what I could see in the rail yard, but unfortunately it was getting pretty dark. I would have to wait the night before I would get to see everything.

The hotel we stayed in that night felt like a hotel that one might of stayed in a hundred years ago, if you had ridden the train into town. The room was just large enough to hold a single bed and a double bed. Everything about the hotel just seem to give me a nostalgic feeling about the place. I was so excited and I just couldn't wait until tomorrow morning. My brother and I were forced to sleep in a double bed that, needless to say, was not wide enough for each of us to lay on our backs. So we tossed and turned most of the night trying to sleep.

When the first light of morning came. I darted out the door with my camera. I was absolutely determined to get some good pictures of the iron work horses (steam engines) at work. I ran across the street and down the small hill to the station and I enjoyed watching the steam engine assemble the train for our expedition. I sat there for a good part of a half hour just watching it pull cars out of the rail yard and add them to the train sitting in front of the station. I would have sat there all day if my father and brother didn't come get me for breakfast.

We walked a few store fronts down from the hotel, we were staying in, and walked into a local dinner and sat down. The place had funny slogans posted all over the walls and was decorated in a pseudo western style. You could really smellthe eggs and green chile from the breakfast burritos cooking in the back. (Which made me very hungry!) While we were waiting for our food to come out, a young man in his twenties walked into the dinner and asked if he could sit next to us at the table. When he sat down, I saw he sat a very similar camera, to the camera I was using, on the table. (Which is probably why he chose to sit next to me.) He asked me if I was riding the train today, and I excitedly told him I was. Then he proceeded to tell me how he had driven all the way from Socorro to take pictures of thetrain. I thought for sure, this meant he was going to ride the train too.

When we finished breakfast, everyone in the dinner got up and went across the street for the opening ceremony. Memorial Day Weekend was the first run of the season for the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. So the whole town came and gathered round for a speech from the railroad president, and a twenty one gun solute to remember our armed forces. When the speech had finished they pulled the newly restored engine number 488 out of the engine shed and backed it up side by side with engine 487 (the engine that was pulling our train). When I saw engine number 488 pulling out of the engine house. I quickly ran up the tracks to get a picture of it as it backed into place. The young man who had eaten breakfast with us, had also followed me and was kneeling right beside me, also taking pictures. When the two engines were both visible in the frame, and I had my perfect shot lined up, I distinctly remember hearing the young man say "This is better than sex!" I snickered whenI heard this, and I felt like I had just taken one of my favorite pictures of all time.

Right after I took this shot, it was time to board the train. I was really excited to ride the train and I was determined to get some good pictures along the way. I boarded the train and to my surprise, the young man parted ways with us and jumped in his car. I thought what a waste to drive up here just to take a few pictures and then drive home. (Little did I realize he was going to follow the train.)

It was about fifteen minutes after the train had left the station when we came to the first trestle bridge. I saw it coming and I quickly got in position to take a picture as the locomotive approached the bridge. As the train approached the bridge I saw something that drew my attention. There laying in the grass next to the bridge was the young man laying in the grass. (He's laying in the grass to left in this picture.)

He was in a perfect position to get a picture of the train as it passed. (I can only image the pictures he got that day.) I waved to him as we crossed the bridge and he waved back. It was clear to me now what the young man was doing. He followed the train the whole day, and most of the time the train was going slow enough I could eve say hi to him in passing. I really enjoyed watching him work that day and I still dream of going back some day to chase the train in the same manner that young man did.

I had a lot of fun that day riding the train and taking pictures. I got several good pictures that day, but one of my favorites from the day was when my dad joined me outside for a couple minutes, in between the cars. The train had just rounded a corner and I got a nice picture of my dad, with the train in the back ground. This was definitely an awesome vacation.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

GIMP Projects

Over the next year, I spent more time editing pictures than taking pictures. I became obsessed with the GIMP. GIMP is the GNU's equivalent of Photo Shop, but unlike Photo Shop it is free to download, so I decided to try it since it was free. The first thing I learned to do with GIMP was how to use the cloning tool. I looked through my photos and came across a church I had photographed in Pennsylvania. It was a lovely church, the only problem was that an ugly stop light stood right in front of the church, so even though I had done my best to frame it out of the picture, there on the bottom right side stood the ugly stop light.

I cloned the bricks from other parts of the building to cover the part of the stop light on the church and later cloned the sky to cover the rest of the stop light. I was so happy with the results, now I could look at the church without any distractions. It was like the stop light wasn't even there :).

As the year went on, I used GIMP to create new photos out of the photos I had already taken. I sometimes spent a lot of time trying to get things just right. I even spent up to forty five minutes one morning trying to outline a lightning bolt, so it could be copied from one photo and pasted into the background of a city. When I had finished adding the lightning bolt, I also added the moon to the picture and I was pleased with the result.

My projects grew more and more elaborate, and I was always looking for pictures to combine. My biggest project took over 6 hours to complete. I started with two pictures I had taken in Pennsylvania, a tunnel and a train. The plan was to put the train in the tunnel, little did I know I would spend 6 hours, using the cloning tool, trying to take out all of the distraction from each picture and get everything looking right. Here are the two photos I started with and the finished product.

In the end it was a fun project, but this was to be one of my last creations, using the copying and paste method.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Trip

In July of 2008, I took a trip with my family to Pennsylvania. We flew into Pittsburg and drove to a small town in the middle of the state named Ebensburg. My mother grew up in Ebensburg, and most of my mother's side of the family still live in Pennsylvania today.

While in Ebensburg, we stayed with my aunt and took many day trips around the area. Near my aunt's house, there is an old railroad bed that has been converted into a walking trail. As we walked along the trail, I imagined an old coal train back in the day chugging along the tracks, as the path curved back and forth through the trees. The foliage off the side of the trail was so thick and dense, the light came through the tree top canopy in beautiful little golden rays. The atmosphere the forest created was peaceful and surreal.

The next day we visited the Johnstown Flood museum, and rode the Johnstown Inclined Plane.

We later took a drive just outside of Ebensburg and I took pictures of the architecture; because the buildings were different from what I see in New Mexico.

On our way to the family reunion, we stopped by the Portage Rail Road museum, just outside of the town of Portage. The Portage Rail Road was a set of stationary steam engines and pulleys used to pull canal boats up a series of inclines, over the Allegheny Mountains. Crossing the Allegheny Mountains was quite an achievement in 1860, and I was amazed at the ingenuity used for it's construction. Unfortunately it was close to closing time when got there, so I did not get to see everything, but from what I saw, I really want to go back some day.

From Portage, we drove into the mountains, where we met up with my relatives, at a hunting lodge. The lodge was the perfect get away for the reunion and my family enjoyed many fun activities, while staying at the lodge.
We enjoyed fishing in the near by ponds,Justify Full
playing guitar hero,

singing karaoke,

and sitting around the camper fire, having a good time.

I really enjoyed myself at the reunion, and it was nice to catch up with my relatives.

The last leg of our trip took us to Scranton Pennsylvania, in the north eastern part of the state. We visited Steam Town USA and took a ride on a full size steam train. I had ridden on a narrow gauge rail road before, but I had always dreamed of seeing a full size steam engine in operation. We took a tour around the round house at Steam Town USA and rode the old coal route to just outside of town. It was an amazing experience, and I was glad we got a chance to visit Steam Town USA and ride the train.

The trip was the perfect opportunity for me to put the camera to work, and I tried really hard to document the trip along the way. I took a lot of photos during this trip, probably more than I had ever taken in my life time. It just was such an amazing experience, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly through out the trip, and I'm glad I took all of those pictures along the way.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Camera

In May of 2008, I had just finished college, and my sister and her family came to town for my graduation. We spent a couple days together and enjoyed doing some hiking in the mountains, and doing some fun things around town. She had just purchased a Nikon D40 and she took pictures with it during her visit. I had seen digital SLR cameras before, but I never had the chance to see the results they could produce, until my sister showed me hers. She gave me a chance to play with it while we were on top of the Sandias, and I fell in love with the control it gave me over the exposure. I knew that with a digital SLR, I could take pictures of what ever I wanted and in any condition. I immediately wanted one, and got my brother on board to buy one :).

(here is one of the original photos from my sisters camera)

From the very first day, my brother bought the D40 it was in my hands and I took pictures of everything. My first subject I took pictures of was a Tesla Coil my brother and I built slightly before he bought the camera. It took a lot of playing with the shutter speed, but I finally snagged a picture I was proud of.

I played with the new camera all summer in preparation for our trip to Pennsylvania at the end of the summer. I took it everywhere with me from taking pictures of fireworks to the radio controlled car track. When I took my first pictures of radio controlled cars, I was amazed at how with a shutter speed of 1/4000th of a sec, I could freeze the action of the cars.

The new camera allowed me to photograph things that I had never dreamed of, and opened the doors to an endless amount of creativity. I had found a hobby with endless possibilities and would last me for much longer than any of my previous hobbies.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My first challenge

About 4 years ago, I started racing radio controlled cars. I loved nothing more than hanging out with my buddies at the track and racing cars, so I decided to take a couple photos to show the excitement of racing. If you've watched radio controlled car racing before you would know the radio controlled cars are not exactly the easiest subjects to photograph because how fast and small they are. I often had to press the shutter release a second or two before the car entered the frame and hoped I got the picture I wanted. It was quite a challenge with my brother's first camera, and often it was a hit or miss deal, but in the end I usually managed to come away with a couple shots I liked. Here are a few good examples of the early days.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Beginning

I had no clue six years ago, when my brother bought his first digital camera, that I would make photography a hobby. Sometime after my brother purchased the camera, my parents came to visit for the summer. My brother, father, and I went for a hike on Mt. Taylor and I decided to take the camera along. It was absolutely breath taking, and I enjoyed every moment of the hike. Little did I know I had a few good photos to show for it.

Then we took a trip to Canyon De Chelly in Arizona. I absolutely loved the scenery and I loved photographing it. This was the first time I really felt like a photographer, capturing the beauty of the landscape. Over all that was an amazing trip and here are a few pictures from the trip.