Late Night Train

Late Night at the Chicago Ogilvie Train Station

I took this photo in of the Metra Rail in Chicago when it was late at night and I needed to get home. My train was leaving at 12:30 and the station was full of late night revelers playing it safe with public transportation. But they were also bringing the party to the station. I escaped to this quiet track that was done for the night. I actually feel lucky that I wasn’t greeted by a security guard, wondering why I’m taking a photo of the train.


Late Night Train

Sunrise on the Firehole River, Yellowstone National Park.

This was another photo from the first morning I had in Yellowstone National Park this year. The fog in this photo is really steam from the hot springs that feed the Firehole River. There is a wolf in the distance catching it’s breakfast, too.

This proved to be perhaps the best morning of the whole trip. The clouds were great, it wasn’t raining when I woke up, and the wild life was really participating in the show, without having to run into a bear. Take advantage of what you get, because you never know when the show will come to an end!

Sunrise on the firehole river

Arlington Heights “Irish Fest”

The Mike and Joe Band

In Arlington Heights, IL, we have an Irish Fest every year. It’s a festival to help the local history museum. All the usual suspects come out for such a thing to sell stuff, art, food and beer all with heavy Irish leanings, or course. But I’d never taken photos of a band before and this was a good time to do that.

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I have to say I’ve been a little pre-occupied lately. My art has been getting a lot to think through, improve, and hopefully change for the better. I’ve recently become an “apprentice” with The Arcanum. This isn’t an apprenticeship like you hear about. I’m not doing some other photographer’s crap work.

I’m a student. I study under a master who has 19 other students. The students form a cohort. Together we have an opportunity to discus each other’s work, learn from others, and grow in our art of photography. We get assignments from our master. These five photos I’m sharing was “Never Done Before”.  They aren’t the best band photos in the world, but they aren’t terrible in my humble opinion, either.

I don’t think I would have tried it without the nudge from the master. It’s sort of on the edge of what my camera and lens can do. I used my fastest lens and kept the exposure 1 stop under to keep the shutter fast without cranking up the noise to unacceptable levels.

The band sounded great, though. They weren’t ‘noise’. 🙂

The morning of the burned and other news…

Today’s photo was from my first morning in Yellowstone this year.  I was on my way to Fairy Falls which is about a 2.7 mile hike from the parking lot that is not far from the Grand Prismatic Spring. If you’ve never gone for a hike at 5 AM, I highly recommend it in the summer. You get to see the pre-sunrise all the way through. There are so many colors in the sky!

But today’s photo wasn’t of the sky, but the reflection of the sky in the hot springs feeding the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park. The park’s fire history is also reflected here and some of the actual fire history is laying down in the river, too. By the way, the logs did have a blue cast on them. This was in part because of the dark settings, but also because of the mold that grows on them.

Burnt lodgepole pine  in the hot springs feeding the firehole river close to the grand prismatic spring in Yellowstone National Park.
Burnt lodgepole pine in the hot springs feeding the firehole river close to the grand prismatic spring in Yellowstone National Park. Clicking the photo will bring you to

Here’s the other news, I was recently enrolled into The Arcanum. This is a photography and arts education establishment run by Trey Ratcliff (and of course several others!).  I’m actually surprised to be included. It’s run as an apprentice/master style of education. I’ll be learning along 19 other apprentices in my cohort.

I am learning so much from The Arcanum. It’s only been little more than a week and I feel that my approach to photography and the art of image making has been changed for the better. I don’t think I’ll have much to report on this learning process until I’ve gone through my first major critique.

I am seriously honored to be included with this group. The photographers in my cohort have all been doing this craft far longer than I have. While I’m sure that my ‘master’ will impart a fair bit of knowledge, I’m sure I’ll learn just as much from my co-apprentices.

The education style is in many ways like taking a masters level classes at a university. But then, my Bachelors degree is a Bachelor of Arts (History). So, maybe it’s different in the sciences in upper education?

I hope you’ll get to see some significant improvement in my photography in the coming months!

The Skylight of the Double Arch in Color

The Double Arch in Arches National Park attracts many visitors. Aside from it’s iconic status, I think that one of the biggest reasons for this is the double arches cast a nice shadow that is very cool when the sunlight is really hot!

Colorful Double Arch Skylight

I sat myself in the shadow, relieved, and looked up to take a shot. When I got it back into my computer, it was a lot easier to see the patterns that were showing in the rock layers. This color version was my best attempt to bring out those differences in color.

Monochrome Double Arch

Today is a black and white version of what normally people see in many shades of red. My eye isn’t as struck by those colors as it is by the patterns in the rock. So I converted this to black and white and really amped up the luminous difference in the colors that were there. I think I’ll post the color version tomorrow.

Monochrome Third window of the Double Arch

The Grand Tetons Revealed

With landscape photos, you sometimes have to deal with what you are dealt with. On this day, it started with fog and lots of clouds. As the day wore on, the clouds were slowly breaking up and you had a trickle of moments like this where the Tetons said, “Hello!” before hiding behind another cloud.

But when they come out and say hi it is amazing and a treat!

Grand Tetons revealed

Like many of my photos, I was prepared to process this in HDR, but a single still did the trick image. Not too much processing. Just enhancing what was already there.  If you click on the photo, you’ll go to my page where you can view up to the full size of the photo.

Arches National Park- North Window Sunrise

Sunrise through the North Window Arch

This was at Arches National Park on July 1, 2014. I was pretty thrilled to be there. This was the last day of my vacation that also took me to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons National Park.

Side note: I would have visited this park last year if someone hadn’t thrown a lit cigar but with it’s wooden cigar ring at my car window  as I was entering the Grand Canyon National Park last year.  That cracked my windshield. I still saw the sunrise at the Grand Canyon, but after that I traveled as fast as I reasonably could to Grand Junction, CO to get the windshield replaced.

There is another arch that is part of this general formation called the South Window Arch. But this one was a little easier to set up at. It’s amazing how when the sun rises, so does the wind! The wind just funnels through these arches, picking up all sorts of sand and what not! It made changing lenses impossible. But it was also making life difficult for my tripod. It’s a heavy and sturdy tripod, too. I wish I had more time for this park, but maybe I’ll get to it again in the future?

North Window Arch in Arches National Park at sunrise on July 1, 2014.
North Window Arch in Arches National Park at sunrise on July 1, 2014.

I am back, Happy 4th! My Yellowstone trip.

I am back from visiting the 3 national parks. I went to Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and Arches National Parks. So, for the next several days I’ll be posting photos from there.

Anyways, today’s photo is from Yellowstone. One of the ideas I was wrestling with was the idea of how do you know that the photo is from Yellowstone, or any other place for that matter? I need to add context to the photo. Often time, that context is something in the foreground. When I saw this bison and the mountains and sky, I knew I had that element.

There were actually two bison here, but I decided to wait for the other one to wander out of the frame. He was a little too active and making the image unbalanced.

Bison Landscape in Yellowstone

To process the image, I did HDR processing. A little layering, to make the bison more defined. A little playing with the saturations, sharpening, and so on.

I hope you enjoy!