St. Olaf Stars: The Story Behind the Photo

By Bill Webb

Circular star trails behind St. Olaf Church; photo by Bill Webb

St. Olaf Stars by Bill Webb

This star trails image is a composite of 125 images taken using an intervalometer to trigger the camera every 16 seconds. The individual image exposures were 15 seconds long at f/2.8, ISO 1600, using a 14mm ultra-wide-angle lens. I positioned my camera to place the polar (North) star above the steeple.

Capturing the photos took about 30 minutes. In Photoshop I stacked the images to create the trails.

The light on the cemetery markers is caused by another photographer who turned on his car lights (a REAL no-no) while I was doing this. I have another version of this image that eliminated the lights (they were on for just two frames), but I kinda liked this one.

The location is St. Olaf Kirke (The Old Rock Church) in Cranfills Gap, Texas. Gates into the property are locked so you can’t just drive in.

Giving Back with Photography

During the past few years, I have tried to use my passion for photography to help promote causes I feel strongly about.  Whether for your church or other charitable and civic organizations, photography can tell a story that hopefully makes people sit back, take notice, and want to participate themselves.

On the last Saturday in January, I had the opportunity to tell a story with photos showing those fighting blood cancers, some literally in their own lives and some through donation of their time and money to help those fighting these cancers.

The event was the Big D Climb that benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  I am a member of the North Texas Chapter board of trustees for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, so this is a cause close to my heart.  Participants in this event climb 52 floors in the Fountain Place building in downtown Dallas raising money to fund patient services and research.  Some participate for the athletic aspect of the event, others trying to promote teamwork in their organization and some because of a dear friend or family member that is dealing with leukemia or lymphoma in their lives.  But all, regardless of their reason, help to raise money for a great cause.

It is hard to photograph an event that spans 52 floors of a large building, especially on the bottom floor where everything begins and on the 52nd floor where thankfully (for most people) it ends.  Had I thought about it ahead of time, I would have recruited one or two other members of the photo club to help provide better coverage.  Groups and individuals are milling around on the bottom floor waiting for their time to start, from first responders climbing the stairs in all of their heavy gear to those wearing the lightest of running outfits.

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Lainey’s family and friends

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First responders from the Greenville TX FD

One of the key objectives, in photographing an event like this is, capturing images that show the stories of those that are in the fight against blood cancer.  Included in that group was our honored hero for the event, Lainey Thomas, a beautiful 2-year-old girl who is currently in the middle of her treatments for leukemia, Dallas Police Department Senior Cpl. Curtis Steger, the father of Zach Steger, who is fighting lymphoma and “Julia’s Team”, the second grade classmates of Julia Brown, who is currently fighting her battle with leukemia.  Last, but not least was Loan Huynh, a fellow member of the board of trustees and two-time survivor of leukemia, who had over 150 of her colleagues from Ivie, Inc. participating to support her.  These are just  a few of the people living with blood cancer that are being supported, but they and others like them are the reason over 1,300 people push themselves to complete the difficult climb.

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Lainey and her big sister Avery

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Zach’s dad

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Julia’s classmates and teacher

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Loan

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The Ivie Inc. Stair Force One

I took over 700 photos, in 6 hours, to capture some of the moments and individuals that made the day special.  The better ones are shared on the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Big D Climb Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bigdclimb so participants can show their friends and family what the event is about and how they were able to support a great cause by taking on and beating the challenge of climbing 52 floors, all the while helping those fighting blood cancers to have a better chance of beating the disease.

So, my challenge for you is, look for opportunities wherever you are to use your photographic skills to promote an event or organization.  You will find it a very fulfilling challenge.

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Firefighter from Mabank TX FD

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Clowns from Mabank FD with Lainey and her mom.

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The Zach Pack

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Lainey’s dad as he passes her sign at the 52nd floor finish

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Julia’s classmates sending photo from the top of the climb

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Dallas PD Chiefs Brown and Reyes

(NOTE: I could not determine how to make photos show side by side on the page so the flow is not as smooth as I would have liked)

Mark

 

Fort Worth Stock Show Outing

On Saturday, January 18, the Trinity Arts Photo Club held its first field trip of 2014 at the Fort Worth Stock Show to take in the sights and capture a few images while doing so.  If you like anything that is Western, this is the place to be in January in Fort Worth.  The weather was fabulous too.

After collecting ourselves, we started in the livestock exhibition buildings, wandering among sheep, cows, steer, horses and pigeons.   Yes, pigeons.  We had opportunities to photograph the owners grooming and cleaning their animals as well as putting some of them (generally horses) through their paces.  I never knew that the animal fashionistas used industrial sized hair dryers to groom their beasts at an event like this, but they do.  Since the livestock are in buildings, some with windows and some without, we were presented with various lighting challenges, depending on which building we were in.

After taking images from every imaginable angle of occupants in the livestock buildings, we made our way out to the Midway, where children of all ages were riding rides, playing carnival games and eating food that rots your teeth.  But no…even on such a beautiful day, the crowd on the midway was sparse, making is tougher to photograph the various rides in motion…since they were often not in motion.  But we gave it the old college try, and made the best of it under the circumstances, getting some nice images in the process as you see below.  Tripods were an absolute necessity for sharp shots, especially after the sun went down.  They also allowed for long exposure images of the spinning rides creating blurs and bringing the lights to life in the process.

Overall, it was a great first event for all that attended and we hope to see many more club members at future events.

MRL

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Raptors

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On the last Saturday in May, I had the opportunity to take photos at the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center Photo Day.  The Blackland Prairie Raptor Center is dedicated to environmental preservation through public education and the conservation of birds of prey and wildlife in their natural habitat.  Blackland Prairie Raptor Center’s birds of prey have many years of experience introducing children and adults to the world of raptors.  These hawks, owls and falcons are well trained, and with the assistance of BPRC education specialists, show people what makes them an important part of our environment. Unfortunately, these birds cannot go back into the wild due to previous injury, human imprinting or both.  You can see more about the center at http://www.bpraptorcenter.org/.

The Photo Day was held at Brockdale Park in Lucas Texas where the center is currently building a new facility.  The park is northeast of Dallas on Lake Lavon.  Other than a few chiggers and other biting insects that were in the park that day, it was an enjoyable experience.   The center had most of its birds available to show at the event and we (the group of photographers at the event) learned many things about each bird as they were brought out for photographs.  I want to thank the center staff and volunteers that gave up their morning and helped out during the event.

The center showed its birds in three areas of the park so that photographers could take images of different birds in different locations with different backgrounds.    The birds were beautiful and majestic, regardless of their size.  We were able to get relatively close to the birds in order to get portrait type photos and also were able to take photos of them in more natural habitat.  It was a challenge to get the eyes sharp and the details in the feathers along with a pleasant background.  Unfortunately, it was a gray sky morning, so the images of the birds when held aloft had an uninteresting background.  But I tried to make the best of it by adding some texture, including feathers of the birds themselves to make the background a little more interesting.

On a Mission

This past weekend, I met a fellow photographer from New York in San Antonio, where he was for a busness trip.  It was time to get back behind the camera after several months of  work getting in the way of my photography habit.  Since we only had a day and a half before he returned to New York, we concentrated on the local missions in San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.  There are five missions, including the Alamo in downtown San Antonio.  The others are all south of the city.  All of the missions were built in the 1700’s.  See http://www.nps.gov/saan/index.htm for more information.

Initially, we were to arrive one day before the recent cold front arrived and have a nice day of weather for shooting.  However, when we woke up on Friday morning, we were greeted with thick cloudcover and cold temperatures.  It made for a change of plans, focusing on shooting tighter shots and not “landscape” shots which would include the gray sky.  The old mission churches and other buildings have many interesting details when you take a closer look.  The doors and windows are quite interesting to shoot, as are some of the archways at a couple of the locations.

By the end of the day when we made it to Mission Concepcion, our last stop on the Mission Trail, the sky was a little more interesting, although still cloudy, and made for an interesting HDR shot just before sunset.  The next morning we were at the Alamo by 7:00 am when the sky was just beginning to lighten up resulting in another interesting sky shot.  I have included some examples below, including two panorama shots with several photos stitched together like we heard about in the George Lepp session.  Whether you have great weather and can shoot landscape shots or have bad weather and need to focus on the details, I would recommend going on a mission trip to San Antonio.