Sunday, May 15, 2011

Early Photography Wet-Plate Process

Tues will be a full moon and, as luck will have it, rain and overcast sky are predicted.  Weather is by far the biggest reason for my unfulfilled desire to photograph the full moon.  Broken clouds might provide some opportunity to capture dramatic images of stormy atmosphere.  Again patients is a virtue.  Waiting is a must.

When I think of capturing a photographic image I think of what it must have been like for the early photographers.  The photographer packing his mule with large plate camera and a darkroom tent, traveling miles into the wilderness for days just to capture wild landscapes that most of the American public would never see first hand.  Just think about the effort it took to capture these images.

Here from the Eastman House is a list of equipment needed to photograph in the wilderness:


Once on location the glass plates would first need to be processed into light sensitive negatives.  Here is how that is done-  The Wet Plate Collodion Process

At that point the exposures needed to be completed before the collodion dried, rush back to the tent and develop the images.  Once your trip was complete the plates then needed to be transported back to civilization without damage.

Not only was patients needed but a strong work ethic and a burning desire.

Do you have the burning desire and the work ethic needed?

If you do, it will show in the images you create.

Using a Mac since 1994

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Moon Calendar, Phases, Times of Rising

As you can see from the phase of the moon widget I have here on the top of the page to the right, today the moon is lit 62%.  Below are links to several pages that will help you find when the moon will be full or cresent or anything in between and at what times.


In the US
Moon Calendar May 2011
Moon Calendar Year 2011
Moon Rise Times
Full Moons 2011 US
When Will Moon Rise Today


Monday, May 9, 2011

Listen to this playlist: Singer Songwriter

Somewhere between the progressive rock and the Irish traditional music singer songwriters (folk) lived in my head.  They shared a part of it anyway.  Listen and enjoy.

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Listen to this playlist: British Isles/Celtic/Irish Music

After the underground music scene seemed to move to no talent noise creators(1974), I moved into traditional Irish music through folk rock bands like Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span.  Here are a few musicians and tunes I like.

(If you play Foggy Dew in you car really loud with the bass at the max, it is really spooky.)

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Perigee Full Moon Adventure

19 March 2011- I drove into Philadelphia, a 37 mile trip from my NW suburban home.  I found a parking space near University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field walked to Penn Tower Hotel, my preselected perch.  I entered at street level and did not see a registration desk only a guard/info podium.  I walked past two guards, without them even greeting me, straight back to where I thought the elevators would be.  I ended in a tight hall with rest rooms on the left and locked doors ahead and on the right.  I used the facilities, not wanting to interrupt  my photo session and walked back towards the entrance.  As I closed in on the remaining guard, I saw elevators ahead and to the left.  I read the instructions and climbed the stairs to another level where different elevators traveled to the hotel desk on the 17th floor.  Once in the elevators I saw there were buttons to the 21st floor where there were Drs' offices.  I figured all the floors would be locked out only allowing passengers to exit at the hotel levels but hit the 21st flr button and hoped for the best.  On approaching the tower had I noticed a vertical column of glass that suggested stairs or maybe a common lobby on each floor each with viewing access to the center city skyline and I hoped I would get access to one of those areas.  As the elevator passed the 17th then 18th floors on which was housed the hotel, I figured I wasn't locked out of the 21st flr.  When the elevator doors opened before me was my wished for location.

The lobby was about 10' wide by 20' deep.  Windows from wall to wall on the narrow end with locked doors opposite.  Three elevator doors flanking each side of the depth.  The view was good but the windows were spotted. I used my bandana to wipe the inside of the windows.  The spots were made by raindrops that attracted dust and dried on the outside of the windows.   I realized I would have to shoot through the spots.  For some reason Franklin Field, just below the cityscape, was open with people running laps on the track.  The runners may have been practicing for the high school and college track event, Penn Relays.  At that point in time, I thought the top of the stadium might be a better place from which to photograph.  Even though it was much lower and windier that my perch indoors on the 21st floor.  I didn't have time to move and stayed where I was.

There were lights in the lobby and I feared they would create unwanted reflections in the glass but at the time, they didn't bother me as much as the spots on the glass.  So there I was an hour before the moon rise with no place to sit unless I pushed the leaves of a potted plant to the side to use the top of the pot as a seat.  I decided to stand the whole time shifting my weight from one foot to the other adding both feet equally sharing my load.
Click on this images to see water spots on window 19:00

I began to photograph the skyline as the sun set with the fairly new Cira office building near 30th St Station being included on the left of the frame with all of the tall center city buildings clear through to the right of the frame in camera.  The lighted moving marquee atop the PECO building silently announced the time and temp every minute as the countdown to moon rise continued.  I took pictures of almost every display of the time on the PECO building, as the minutes seemed to crawl.  I looked for changes of color and reflection in the buildings as the sun set.  Not much materialized.  As it grew darker the lights in Franklin Field became much more dominant.  Something for which I hadn't planned.

All through the hour as the time passed the elevators periodically moved up and down.  Each time I expected to be challenged by a guard as to my presence.  I ran excuses through my head so that I would be prepared with a plausible explanation.  An explanation that a compassionate human being would honor.  Knowing that many people in a guard uniform have no compassion, I needed several options.

The sky was near black about 19:20 when the elevator nearest me at my back opened and out poured 5 or 6 Asian student tourists.  Damn!  They tried to open the office doors,  Locked, as I expected.  Then they came to the windows.  MY windows and began to take snapshots of the skyline, flashes and all.  Intruders fouling my perch.  Getting in the way of my picture taking that I knew was going to me monumental.  They conversed in what to me sounded like Japanese.  Then one of them, a women, asked me in English, what I was doing there.  Was I waiting for sunset?  I told her the sun had already set, thinking that would appease them and they would leave, but no they also waited for the lights to power up.  I thought they would get tired of waiting but, she asked me how long I thought it would be before the city would light.  I told her I didn't have any idea if any more lights would be turned on and that this was probably all the lights that would be turned on.  They waited, still.

Now the time was after 19:30 and the moon rise was imminent.  I figured that the moon would rise just north of CC and that is why I sought a perch just south of Market St. that runs just north of east/west.  I figured that the moon would be just to the left of the skyline in my camera frame.  As I scanned the sky I spied it.  There it was, a small orange/red disk to the right of the skyline.  Damn!  Just about Washington Ave.  This supermoon was much smaller than I expected.

Here is the situation at perigee full moon rise 2011.  The sky was near black and the lights of Franklin Field were lighting the spots on the outside of the windows.  The interior lobby lights were casting reflections on the glass, fogging the image in the lens taking away contrast.  I had to create a tunnel using my left arm and hand over my head to block out as much reflection as possible with the spots out of focus but deteriorating the image.  I captured several images of the small orange/red orb as it rose above the horizon.  I had changed the settings on the camera several times as time wore on and now the ISO setting was 400 and the aperture was wide as the stock lens would allow and the speed was at a slow 1/30 sec with a few at 1/20 sec.  Slow for hand held.  After I had a few exposures on the compact flash card I pointed out the moon to the Japanese student/tourist, which I confirmed they were through some earlier conversation.  They also took some snapshots of the moon, flashes and all.  I then told them I would be off to the park to capture some images from a distance.   She wanted me to pinpoint that on a map she held out for me.  I was heading to Belmont Plateau which was not on her small map of center city Philadelphia.  She expressed disappointment because they hadn't a vehicle in which to travel.  I shouted in my head that I was free of them.  I pointed to the PECO building and told her the intersection of Market and 30th Sts. might be a good spot to see the moon rise over the skyline at the street level.  I wished them a good trip and was off to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to catch the moon from there.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is the iconic location where Rocky, in the movie of the same name, danced around with his hands held high and the Philadelphia skyline was the backdrop.  Once at the top of the art museum steps the moon was too far to the left of the skyline to include in a good image.  I conversed with a few photographer there before I headed to City Hall hoping I would capture some good images there.

I started this whole adventure just after 17:00 arriving downtown near 18:00.  The traffic is never good on a Fri or Sat night drive into CC.  I left Penn Tower near 19:30 arriving at the art museum soon after.  My first image at City Hall was at 20:35.  The moon was just becoming visible over City Hall at 21:10 and my last image was captured at 21:16.  I then left for Fairmount Park's Belmont Plateau in West Philadelphia.  I captured my first image there at 21:35 and my last at 21:37.

As I started home, I feared I didn't have any good images to show for my over four hours spent on my adventure.  Thinking back at my adventure, I decided if I want to capture good images of the city at night, I need to get access to rooftops (no glass between the camera and the moon), bring a tripod(for slow shutter speeds) and buy a lens with a longer focal length.  Hopefully I won't be interrupted by tourists.


At City Hall

 ©Damyon T. Verbo all rights reserved

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Gardening, Cooking, Nature and Photography

I was in the produce area in my nearby supermarket the other day.  I was purchasing salad components, leafy greens, bell peppers, sweet onions, mushrooms, carrots and moving down the aisle when I arrived at packaged herbs.  There were several "fresh" herbs in small plastic clam shell like containers.  I had no idea how old these fresh herbs were in the clear plastic but I kind of thought they were expensive.

Now that the last frost date is approaching, I have been shopping for flowers in home centers and garden supply stores.  I noticed that small herb plants are in abundant supply, at a reasonable price.  A price less than the containerized fresh herbs in the supermarket.  I probably wouldn't use all of the packaged herbs at one time.  I might even waste some of them.  In my mind, it makes more sense to buy the plants and place them directly into the garden.  Then use what you need from the living plant (can't get much fresher than that) allow the plant  to grow and replenish itself to use throughout the next four months.

Ok, you might not have a garden plot in which to place the herb.  You can place the plant into a larger pot and find an area to create an herb garden in containers.  Think of the butterflies and bees the herbs will attract that will entertain you with their natural splendor.  What a potential for photography.  All you need at that point in time is a macro lens and patients.

                                  Bee on Thai Basil in August

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hesperides :Greek Goddesses of Sunset

The Hesperides were the Greek Goddesses of evening and the golden light of sunset.  They tended the tree of golden apples that bestowed immortality.

Sunsets are just as fascinating as the full moon and sunrises.  There are probably many more sunsets in personal photo albums than sunrises. The reason being there is little need to change your normal daily waking schedule.  The same planning is needed to find good sunset locations.  Scout locations near sunset very close to the date you expect to photograph.  The track of the sun is different from season to season.  The images below were taken in January near 40ยบ N Lat.  The sun will not be in the same place in June.  It will be hidden by the trees from that same vantage point.  You need to do your research and plan in advance.  Weather has the final say.  Clouds, they can make or break a sunset.

Below are three images captured within seconds of each other all at 1/20 sec, hand held.  I use shutter speeds slower than 1/30 sec because red light travels at a slower speed and that longer shutter opening allows more red light on the sensor or film.  

There were aperture differences and post production changes in color temp, exposure and tint.

I wanted to have this greeting card have the look of a painting.  Like the one that hung over my parents sofa all the days I lived with them.  In Photoshop, I used the an artistic filter to change the look to pastels on canvas.  Below is the result.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Eos' Rosy Fingers

As much as the moon draws me, so too the dawn.  Eos was the Greek goddess of dawn whose rosy fingers opened the gates of heaven to allow her brother Helios to drive his chariot across the sky.

I was vacationing on Cape Cod and felt the deep desire to arise early and capture the sunrise.  I had already done some preliminary scouting for the best vantage point and headed in that direction.  Once there I needed to find a location where I could create a nice composition.  The sun seemed to take a painfully long time to even light the sky before showing itself.  A cloud bank formed just above the horizon.  There were insects that seemed to enjoy inflicting small doses of pain on my bare skin.  The cool sand under my bare feet was wonderful.  I had enticed my teenaged daughter and her high school friend to come along.  At this time I suggest you not bring someone along unless they are there to be part of the photography experience.  I captured several images that morning.  Several have been turned into greeting cards in my store, .  My daughter and her friend captured some of their own images that morning and I am fairly certain they won't soon forget the experience.

Lyrics: How Can I Keep From Singing

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth's lamentation,
I hear the sweet, tho' far-off hymn
That hails a new creation;
Thro' all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul--
How can I keep from singing?
What tho' my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Saviour liveth;
What tho' the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?
I lift my eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smooths,
Since first I learned to love it;
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing;
All things are mine since I am his--
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile,
Our thoughts to them go winging;
When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Monday, May 2, 2011

Captured by the Moon

I am drawn to photograph the full moon, as are the oceans drawn to the moon.  A full moon appears every 29.5305882 days, one lunar cycle or lunation.  Even though this happens like clockwork, many obstacles get in the way of my capturing full moon images.  The most common obstacle is the weather, with clouds often blotting out the light.  Of course, not having a camera in my hands runs a close second with not being available a decent third.  None the less, I am drawn.

The moon has powerful effects on the earth

Gravity effects the fluids on earth as manifested in tides.   

Human female reproductive cycles are often related to the effects of gravity, much like tides.  The human female reproductive cycle mimics lunation and in many cultures the moon is a female deity.

Shape-shifting is induced by the effects of a full moon bringing werewolves out of seemingly normal people.

The indigenous people of North America named each full moon throughout the year.