Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wildlife Shoot....  Well, not too wild.

Today after work, I went over to Duck Creek Pond in Richardson off of Beltline Rd and Jupiter Rd.  There are a lot of ducks and geese there.  My plan was to sit my camera on the ground and shoot from ground level with my shutter release.  I learned a few things.  1) Geese are not afraid of people.  2) Geese have teeth and claws.  3) Geese hiss very loudly.  I've now added geese to my list of scary animals.  lol  But, I digress.

I was able to get a few decent shots using this method.  There are two problems with this.  Not being able to see the screen to focus is like pulling the handle on a slot machine and not being able to adjust the depth of field, I ended up with in focus grass and slightly out of focus ducks and geese.  In light of this, I decided to scrap that method and go hand held.  This made things a little easier, but throwing bread and then trying to get a shot is difficult also.  Next time, I'll bring someone with me to throw.

Working with animals, you give up some control in that the animals are going to do what they want.  Here are some of my best shots.

As you can see from the upper left picture, the camera on the ground angle was not bad, but not perfect.

Tracking a bird in flight is pretty tough, but it's something I look forward to practicing some more.

 I was determined to get a nice picture of a duck in flight.  This one is a bit out of focus, but was the best of the bunch.  I think I will do better the next time.

So, lessons learned from this photo shoot.  1) I need more practice tracking a moving target.  2) When shooting without being able to look at the LCD screen, increase the F-Stop to increase depth of field and the chances of filling the screen with in focus objects.

Before I go, please be sure to check out my Facebook page:

Marcus Davis Photography

I'll be loading up my best shots on there, so you can see where I am and where I am headed.

Until next time...

Monday, February 27, 2012

New Media Outlet

Hello, everyone.  This will just be a quick update.

I wanted to let you know that I started a Facebook page for Marcus Davis Photography.  There, you can check out more of my pictures and keep up with my progression as a photographer.

Thanks again for checking out my work.

Until next time...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunrise Photo Shoot

Good morning, everyone.  So I got about two and a half hours of sleep this morning and headed out with Jill and her sister-in-law Becky.  We went to K Ave and 15th St., in downtown Plano.  I chose this spot, because my best guess was that the sun would rise straight down the street.  

Three things derailed this sunrise for me.  
1) The sun came up about 30 minutes earlier than I anticipated, so we missed out on the early morning haze.  2) The sun did not come up straight down the street like I had hoped, so the buildings didn't do me any favors.  3) Even that early in the morning, there were two cars parked on the street.  Oh well, if everything was perfect, there would be no challenge in life.

So today, with the sunrise blown, I saw this as a great opportunity to experiment with some shots.  Most people shoot at eye level, myself included, so in an effort to expand my photographic range, I shot a lot of these shots from down low.  For some of them, I laid down in the street and on some rail road tracks.  (Don't tell my Mom.  She would be quite upset)

This is Downtown Plano, TX.  You can see the two cars that decided to plant themselves in my shot.  A friend told me not to give up on the black and white HDR.  I have to admit that this picture came out pretty well.  I think I'll give it a few some more time.

I think this picture is what HDR is all about.  I love the way it brings out the colors in the front building and in the clock.  The can even see a little bit of the sun coming up WAY down the street.

.8 Sec. Exp., F/20, 80mm, ISO 100
This my best shot laying in the road.  I like the low angle perspective and the way the road bumps vanish into the distance.  I also like the brick road that the city laid out in this area.  They also fade into the distance in this picture.

1/8 Sec. Exp., F/16, 170mm, ISO 100
This is me laying out on the railroad tracks.  I set my F-Stop very high to get the focus to go out further into the picture.  I converted this to black and white with Adobe Photoshop Elements.  I also like the way the track seems to disappear and reappear the further out into the picture you go.

1/30 Sec. Exp., F/10, 17mm, ISO 100
This is the local DART train passing through my shot.  I had to be very patient to get this shot.  The trains do not run very often this time of the morning.  I was set up on a tripod and with the train moving to give the train motion blur.  I plan to re-create this shot some time in the future and let the shutter stay open longer to make the train blur some more.

So that's it for today.  I have a few ideas that I want to try this week.  I got some tricks to try from a new friend.  Until next time...
Great Day!

So my day started off with a walk around downtown Dallas with my wife.  I woke up earlier than I would have for a Saturday I'm not working, so I took a nap when I got home.  That explains why I am posting this blog at 1:59 am.  However, I digress.

So, my wife is into hiking and I am into photography, so we went on an urban hike today.  It was a bright sunny day with no clouds, so that meant I would be walking in and out of shadows all day.  That is pretty tough to keep adjusting the camera settings, but it is a great photographic challenge.

I have lived in Dallas for the past 9 years and I have to admit that I have never taken the time to see all that this city has to offer in terms of statues, buildings, etc.  Here is what I found.

1/500 Sec. Exp., F/5.6, 120mm, ISO 100
1/200 Sec. Exp., F/5.6, 17mm, ISO 100
This is the flag flying at Dealey Plaza where President Kennedy was shot.

The Kennedy Memorial in Downtown Dallas.

1.6 Sec. Exp., F/16, 26mm, ISO 100
This is at Fountain Place.  A very nice glass building with fountains all over the place.  This is another place I will visit again in the spring when they have all the fountains turned on and the trees are in bloom.  I propped the camera up on a column so I could slow the shutter down without shaking the camera.  It helps to be creative.
1/125 Sec. Exp., F/5.6, 90mm, ISO 100
1/125 Sec. Exp., F/5.6, 90mm, ISO 100

I liked these two pictures because the building I was photographing had many mirrored glass panels that made anything reflecting in it look like a mosaic.  I thought that was a pretty cool looking effect.
1/250 Sec. Exp., F/3.5, 17mm, ISO 100
1/400 Sec. Exp., F/3.5, 17mm, ISO 100
 This is the Fallen Police Officer's Memorial.  It is designed with the fallen officers' badge numbers cut in a "mirror reverse" so that when the sun hits the top, the badge numbers are illuminated on the ground as shown.  Very creative and a very fitting tribute to those who have died protecting our city.

1/250 Sec. Exp, F/5, 55mm, ISO 100
1/250 Sec. Exp, F/4, 17mm, ISO 100
 This is a very large multi-statue tribute to Dallas' cattle driving past.  The path of these bronze cattle follow part of the path of the historic Chisholm trail.

The picture on the left I thought was a nice composition of a shadow and a reflection.  I think it also is a show of Texas' ranching / wild west past with its big city, technological present.

The picture on the right is the trail end of this cattle drive.  I got down low to get this shot.  All in all, I would estimate that there are about 3 dozen cattle and three mounted cowboys in this cattle drive.

So that is all for now.  I'll be going out soon to take my weekly sunrise picture.  Until next time...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hello Again, Everyone!

So it's been a few days since I've been able to put up a new post.  Since then, I have received a wide angle lens.  I'm very happy about that.  It's a Tokina AT-X 16.5 ~ 135mm F/3.5 ~ 5.6 DX.  (Try saying that three times fast!)

So, first impressions.  This is a SOLID lens.  The weight is listed at 1.34 pounds.  This lens seems like it could take about anything you could throw at it.  I usually manually focus when I shoot, but when I tried out the automatic focus, it locked in very quickly.  One little complaint that my friend Jill pointed out to me is that there are no focus points when you look through the view finder.  I think that is more a matter of preference.  Personally, I don't really use them when I shoot.

One thing that I think I am really going to like about this lens is the zoom length.  I currently have an 18-55 and 75-300 lens.  That means, I have a gap between 55 and 75mm.  That's problem number one.  Problem number two is that I constantly found myself not being able to shoot as close as I wanted to with the zoom lens, or as long as I wanted to with the smaller lens.  At a range of 16.5-135, this lens fills that gap nicely.  That means I can shoot close and wide, but also be able to zoom in a decent distance.  This will come in quite handy when I shoot my cousin's wedding this summer.

Ok, so enough of the boring stuff.  I went out today after work to test the new lens out.  In the city of Richardson, TX, there is a rec center at Huffines Park.  This is a great looking place.  I stopped in a few weeks ago to submit some pictures for a photography contest.  The center itself has a number of rooms for yoga, meetings, basketball, volleyball, etc, etc.  Outside, there around around 4 or 5 baseball fields, a duck pond, and a nice scenic bridge, which is what I focused on with my shots tonight.  I know that the complex is fairly new.  I would guess around 1 - 1.5 years old.  Kudos to the City of Richardson.

Since I was short on time before the sun completely went down, I chose to shoot only HDR shots.  Here is what I came back with.

I'm not sure how I feel about the black and white HDR.  I liked all the shadows and tone differences in this picture, so I included it.  I will need to tweak it a bit to see whether or not I will continue to use black and white HDR

This is the bridge.  It looks like it has been aged to look rusted.  The colors in the sky were great tonight.

I like this shot, because I feel it's a great encompassing view of the park.  The rec center to the left, the bridge to the right and the duck pond down below.  I think this picture "just works"

So that's it for now.  I don't know if I'll be able to get out and shoot again before the weekend.  Luckily, the weather looks like it will be pretty nice, so I should be able to get some nice pictures Saturday and Sunday.

Until next time...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hello, everyone.

At the beginning of the year, I decided to take a picture of the sun rising every Sunday morning of 2012.  So far I've gotten some good sunrises and some bad sunrises.  This morning, I got a great sunrise.  I went out to Breckenridge Park in Richardson, TX.  It is a huge park with soccer fields, a lake and lots of trails for jogging.

Yesterday, the weather forecast for Sunday was for clear skies, but all day Saturday, we had rain.  When I woke up Sunday, I had a feeling it was going to be a great shoot.  The night sky was very clear.  I headed out and set up.  There was a fog over the lake and there were lots of ducks and geese around.  I even heard a woodpecker.  It was a peaceful morning.

I moved around to different parts of the lake and got some great shots, but I really started getting some great shots when I turned my camera towards the trees.  Here are my pictures from the shoot.  The first few are untouched, the last few are HDR conversions.

1/2 Sec. Exp, F/5.6, 18mm, ISO 100
1/4 Sec. Exp., F/18, 18mm, ISO 100

1/30 Sec. Exp., F/18, 80mm, ISO 100

Here are the HDR composites.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.  I'll be heading out again Sunday morning.

Until next time...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Two things on my mind today.  First, my friend Jill started her own photography blog.  You can check it out at http://capturingmemorieswithjill.blogspot.com/

Second, I wanted to do a quick review of a camera bag I just received.  It is the Tamrac Velocity 7x.  You can find it at: http://www.wolfcamera.com then search Tamrac Velocity.  It will bring up the different sizes.

I got it because when I was in NY in November, I did not want to carry around my bulky Canon camera bag.  That left me with a camera around my neck and an extra lens in my wife's purse.  Neither of which was a good option.

When I saw this bag, I liked that it was an over the shoulder bag that could be swung in front of you for easy access to your gear.  What makes this even better is that the flap opens away from you, keeping it away from you as you access your gear.  When I first received it a few days ago, I was worried that it would be a little small, but I am pleasantly surprised by how much I can fit in there.  I can fit my Canon t2i with lens attached, my second lens, speedlight, and charger inside the main body of the bag.  There is even room for a third lens if I had one.  Inside the front pocket, I was able to fit 5 memory cards, an extra camera battery, 4 AA batteries and my shutter release, with plenty of room to spare.

I have been out shooting with this bag a couple of times and I really like it.  It is much smaller and less bulky.  I have access to my camera quicker and with less fumbling around.  I would recommend you check it out.  I got mine from Wolf Camera's website, but they do carry it in their stores for you to check out in person.

Until next time...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Night Shots

So last night, my friend Jill and I went down around the downtown Dallas area to take some shots.  We first went to Lemmon Ave and US HWY 75 to take pictures of the traffic on 75.  The darkness and the motion of the cars made for some great pictures.

3 Sec. Exp., F/6.3, 34mm, ISO 100

This is a nice view of the outskirts of downtown Dallas.  The longer exposure allowed the camera to capture the light from the head lights and tail lights while making the cars disappear.  It's a pretty cool effect.  All you need is a shutter release plugged into your camera.

This next shot, I wanted to try something creative that I had seen before.  This was achieved by rotating the zoom lens while the shot was being taken.  The part I haven't been able to figure out is how at the end of the light streaks there is an "S".  However it happened, it's pretty cool.

6 Sec. Exp, F/11, 18mm, ISO 100

This last picture is from downtown Dallas, by the Omni Hotel and convention center.  Reunion tower is also visible in the picture.  The Omni Hotel and convention center was a controversial decision for the city as to whether or not to build it.  Having seen it for the first time, it is a very nice looking hotel.  Whether or not it will bring in conventions is yet to be seen.

6 Sec. Exp, F/11, 18mm, ISO 100

Lastly, a quick update on the blog itself.  I'm still figuring things out.  I figured out how to allow people to subscribe to the blog.  I'm still trying to figure out how to set up photo galleries.  Please bear with me if a link doesn't work.

Until next time....

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Half Day / Sunny Day

Good morning, everyone.  I have to work this Saturday, so I had a half day yesterday.  The morning was pretty gray, rainy and gloomy, but by the time I got home, the sky cleared up nicely.  I figured since I had some sun, I would go out and take some pictures.

I chose to go out the the Lake Highlands Greenbelt in Dallas off of Skillman St and Walnut Hill Ln.  Ironically, this area is where my last apartment used to be.  It has since been bulldozed and this nice area built in its place.  I really liked it.  There was tons of parking and it was easily accessible from both Skillman and Walnut Hill.  Lots of benches around to sit on, trees, grass for picnics, etc.  I would recommend checking it out now that we are starting to get some nicer weather.

So on to the pictures.  With the sun out, it was quite bright.  There were two types of shots I was going for.  I was looking for some nice landscape pictures, which wouldn't be too much trouble with the sky being so bright.  The second type of shot I was going for was a nice blurred motion on some flowing water features throughout the park.  The sun was going to make that tricky.

 This picture was taken with my Canon t2i with 18-55mm lens.
It is at f/22 to increase my depth of field, 1/10 sec. exposure, ISO 100.

Some things about this picture. I liked the line of the fence and the curve that it made.  I set the "F Stop" of aperture high, so that the camera would focus deeper into the picture.  When you set the F Stop this high, the camera closes off the lens, shutting light out.  The easy way to counteract this is to slow down your shutter speed.  That will allow more light to come in as the picture is being taken.

These next couple of pictures I used a technique called HDR (High Dynamic Range).  This is a technique that merges multiple pictures into one.  Usually 3 pictures, but up to 9, the technique uses a combination of overexposed and underexposed images combined with a correctly exposed image.  The benefit of this technique is that with the combination of exposures, you get the best of the highlights and shadows that you can't capture in just one image.  Here are my HDR images below.

 1/25 Sec Exp., 18mm, F/8, ISO 100

1/3 Sec. Exp., 55mm, F32, ISO 100

This last picture is the one that like because of the flowing water.  I had to slow the shutter speed down to allow the flowing water to blur.  With the slower shutter speed, too much light came in, so I had to close off my aperture to allow less light in.

Ok.  So that's enough for now.  I'm going out with my friend Jill tonight as her "muscle" for her Downtown Dallas photo shoot tonight.  Of course, I'll be taking my camera, so we'll see what I come back with.

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hello, everyone.  I want to thank everyone who has taken a look at my blog so far.  I really appreciate it.

In Dallas, we finally saw the sun for the first time in a few days, so I took advantage of it.  I went out to Crowley Park in Richardson, TX off of George Bush and Lookout Dr.  My wife and I like to walk our dogs around this park.

Photographically, I like the pond.  During the warmer weather, there are a lot of ducks roaming around.  It has a very nice western view, which is where I took this picture.  

 I took this, using my Canon t2i & EFS 18-55mm lens.  
This was at f/13, ISO 100, 25mm, with an 8 second exposure.

I liked the way the trees and the fading light reflect in the pond.  I am really enjoying taking nature / landscaping photography.  A great color in the sky makes for great shots.

Until next time...

Sunday, February 12, 2012


This is the start of my blog.  I've never done this before, so it will be a learn as I go experience.

What I want to get out of this is a platform to show my photographs and to get constructive criticism 
to grow as a photographer.

I plan to talk about the thought processes behind my photo shoots, review different products that I try, review different photography books that I read and give some tips to other amateur photographers out there.

So that's it for the first entry.  Let me know what you think and I look forward to my next post.