Bridle Bit Bull: The Story Behind the Photo

By Darren Wiedman

Bridle Bit Bull photo by Darren Wiedman

Bridle Bit Bull photo by Darren Wiedman

This was shot a few miles west of Throckmorton, Texas, which is just down the road from the middle of nowhere. I originally chose this location because I wanted to capture the Milky Way and darksitefinder.com indicated this was one of the darkest locations in the country (and the closest to me). While cyber-scoping the area via Google maps to find an interesting barn or pumpjack to put in the foreground, I was delighted to discover this 22-foot bull statue near the side of Hwy. 380. I realized I would be facing the wrong direction to have the Milky Way in the background, but I thought the bull was too good to pass up.

Unfortunately, the dark spot I found was still surrounded by distant cities, and there were even lights on the horizon. I thought about walking into the field to shoot toward the darker south, but I’m not a fan of rattlesnakes and real bulls, either of which could’ve been out there in the black.

I tried to light-paint the statue with little success. Fortunately, on my last attempt, an 18-wheeler was coming up the road and provided very dramatic lighting with its headlights.

For future night shoots, I’ll find a darker spot, bring a stronger flashlight, and shoot at a higher ISO (and remove grain in post).

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Building a Winning Photograph: The Story Behind the Photo

There’s often more to creating a successful photograph than pressing a button. Here’s the story behind our holiday party print competition winner. (See 2nd place here.)

By Lana Macko

It was a beautiful fall day at my friend’s house at Possum Kingdom Lake. When I went into the guest room that I had been assigned for my girls’ weekend, I was immediately drawn to the open windows and the filmy curtains blowing in the breeze. Naturally, I started taking photos.

Photo by Lana Macko

Before photo by Lana Macko

When I got home I knew I wanted a large print but not something quite so “country” feeling. So using TAPC-member Jim Hamel’s amazing suggestions, I went to town with cloning. It was a cloning extravaganza to remove the bed and pictures and then replace part of the curtain, let me tell you. And then it looked too empty, so I added my Boston Terrier, Beanie. The finishing touch was a texture from Topaz Texture Effects.

Photo by Lana Macko

After photo by Lana Macko

On Guard: The Story Behind the Photo

Our holiday party print contest winner was Lana Macko (see post here), but the 2nd-place photo deserves a spot as well. So here’s the story behind this incredible shot.

On Guard photo of mama grizzy and baby on Katmai Peninsula, AK, by Norma Schafer

On Guard by Norma Schafer

By Norma Schafer

This picture was taken on the Katmai Peninsula south of Anchorage, Alaska, as part of a Grizzly Bear Viewing Photography tour. Our group included eight photographers plus a guide.

To reach our photography location, we waded across a creek wearing chest waders. On the first day in Geographic Harbor, we counted more than 20 bears feeding on the salmon within 100 yards of our location. We had several bears come as close as five or six feet from our group. But I was never afraid because the tour guide was extremely competent and made it clear what we needed to do to be safe.

This little cub caught my attention because she looked so sweet and dependent on her mom, who was obviously very protective. We shot the photos from a camera mounted on a tripod using a Nikon D7200 with an 80-400mm Nikon zoom lens.

After the Sprinkler: The Story Behind the Photo

By Janet Cunningham

After the Sprinkler, photograph by Janet Cunningham

After the Sprinkler by Janet Cunningham

After the sprinkler went off one morning, I noticed beautiful water droplets on my neighbor’s Gerber daisies. I wanted an unusual perspective, so I got down even with one of the flowers so I could capture the droplets sitting on top of the petals. Surprise…there was a flower behind the one I was photographing, and it was being reflected in the droplets!

I used a Sigma 105mm macro lens on a Canon 70D. Macro lenses have a shallow depth of field, so I took nine images focusing on nine different droplets, then combined the images in Photoshop.

To shoot these images I used a tripod, a cable release, and manual focus on the lens.

There are many tutorials on how to combine the images using the focus-stacking procedure. I found a Phlearn video helpful: “How To Do Focus Stacking in Photoshop.”

Closed: The Story Behind the Photo

By Darren Wiedman

Photo of Closed business sign in neon red

Closed by Darren Wiedman

For my 50th year of life, I attempted to take one photo every week and post it on a photo blog. The challenge proved too daunting to do every week, but I was determined to shoot
and post 50 images before my next birthday. By the end of the year, I was a bit behind.

This shot was taken the night before my 51st birthday. I had run out of daylight and still didn’t have that last image (or a tripod). Fortunately, the neon lights near my apartment
were bright enough to register on my DSLR. Since the signs themselves were a little boring, I tried playing with the zoom feature of my lens while the shutter was open. I even had to change the ISO and aperture to give myself more time to create the zoom effect.

I doubt this would win any awards, but I think it does make a statement about the frantic pace of the American work week. It’s a shot I never would’ve tried if my “Fifty Pics” goal had not been set.

Sometimes forcing yourself to shoot can lead to surprising results.

Camera Settings: f/22, 3 seconds, 100 ISO, 55-200mm lens

Starry, Starry Night: The Story Behind the Photo

By Lana Macko

Photo of the Milky Way above a lake in Michigan

Starry, Starry Night by Lana Macko

For years I have wanted to shoot the Milky Way. But there are so many factors that have to line up in order to get that shot.

First of all, you have to be in a “dark sky” area. For us in Dallas/Fort Worth, that means driving at least a couple of hours.

Of course, the weather has to be good with a clear sky and no moon. So I was very excited while in Michigan to have all those things line up for me. An official dark sky area, no moon, and clear skies.

I contacted fellow TAPC member Bill Webb for advice, and I watched several videos. And naturally a couple of new apps needed to be purchased.

The only thing that made the conditions less than perfect was the fact that it was the same day as meteor showers, and other photographers and astronomers, and in fact, entire families were at the same spot.

For that reason, I waited until 1 a.m. to head to the park and walk through the dark with my red flashlight. Even then there was a crowd. So I got my shot, although I wish there had been better foreground interest. The fun really began back home as I started post processing.

That involved more videos, and I am still playing with my shots. Are we ever entirely satisfied with our shots? I know I’m not. And the interesting thing is that even though I can cross this off my bucket list, rather than quenching my desire for this type of photography, it actually awakened it. I can’t wait until I have the chance to try it again.

Camera settings: f/4, 25 seconds, 3200 ISO, 11-24mm lens

Maroon Bells at Sunrise: The Story Behind the Photo

By Jay Gosdin

Photo of Maroon Bells near Aspen, CO., at sunrise by Jay Gosdin

Maroon Bells by Jay Gosdin

The Maroon Bells outside of Aspen, Colorado, is an iconic shot that I wanted to add to my portfolio. Many years ago, we visited with our young daughter, and I got a shot of her with the flowers and lake in the background. There were few people there.

In 2017, I wanted to visit this spot again during my favorite time of the year in Colorado.

My wife and I got up at 4 a.m. and thought we would beat the crowd. With my headlamp on, we walked the short way to the lake through the dark. To my surprise there were at least 75 to 100 photographers around the lake with their tripods and cameras ready for the magic shot! I squeezed in and protected my spot for the duration of the sunrise show. Using a two-stop graduated filter, I carefully made many shots of the perfect morning sunrise.

This was a one-time event for me since I don’t like crowds. I got the shot I wanted and won a ribbon in the club. And I will be displaying at the Bedford Library with my first metal print!