Sunday, December 20, 2009

Just People Watching

Just People Watching
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
Ever since buying the 7D ive been so caught up in mastering the new photo advancements in the camera. Its amazing how far camera tech has come since I bought my previous camera, the Canon 30D, just 3 years earlier. While the principals of photography remain the same... shutter, aperture and ISO, the advancements on what you can do with them have come a long way in the 7D.

The one feature I had been ignoring was the camera's ability to shoot full HD video. I started out as a video guy. Coming out of college my degree is in Broadcast Journalism. I spent hundreds of hours in the editing bay and with the video equipment. I enjoyed photography at the time, but dreaded film developing or the expense of it all. Digital photography just wasn't affordable like it is now. Anyhow, i enjoyed working with video and figured thats where id stay. Funny how a decade can turn that around. So I found myself with some free time last night and decided it was time to give the 7D's video a good test run.

I headed down to the main square in Denton, knowing it would be buzzing with activity. There's always people out shopping, hanging out, going to the coffee shops, playing music or just people watching. Like me. A perfect scenario for a little street videoagraphy. Using a variety of lenses ranging from the 70-200 f/2.8 to the 50mm f/1.4 I walked around the square capturing people, un-noticed. After a couple of hours of gathering footage I came home, unloaded everything into Sony Vegas 9 and started piecing it all together. The music I used was called "Vale of Plenty" from the soundtrack of Blackhawk Down. I felt it gave the scene a relaxing mood, yet put a slight tension in it, showing the scene is alive and could change at any moment. If that makes any sense? haha

So here it is, my very first video made with the Canon 7D. I think its a good start. I'll probably do a few more just for the fun of it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December Racing

December Racing
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
One of my favorite events to photograph has to be moto-cross or enduro off-road racing. Recently my friend JB asked if Id like to come out and take some photos of his upcoming race. Being that it was early December, it was cold, rainy and very muddy that week. Of course i wanted to come out!! I knew the weather would make for some excellent photographs. Its these tough conditions which bring out the drama of the day, the emotions of the riders and look awesome when frozen in the right moment.

There were several places on the track where I could tell would be perfect for what I was looking for. After a bit of a hike along the track, I came across this large flooded area in a field. The course took riders directly through it, no way to avoid it! I setup where I could shoot riders as they approached me and went past. As they began to notice me, some would hit the water with extra throttle to show off a bit for the camera. This kid was one of them. But as he nailed the throttle, he almost lost control and bit it. haha He did recover and rode out of the mud. But when i saw this shot on my camera LCD I knew i had a good one. This is probably one of my favorite shots of the day.

Stand By For Lift Off

Stand By For Lift Off
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
Finally, getting a chance to add some posts to the blog. I'll start with this November shoot I had for my friend Paul. He recently bought a 2010 Chevy Camaro and approached me about getting some photos done of it. Id always wanted to do add some automotive photography to my portfolio, so this was the perfect chance to shoot a sharp looking car.

I had him wash it good and show up at a local rail yard in town. I felt this made the perfect backdrop for this car. I think it seemed to work well, adding a gritty, tough feeling to the images. The car looked great and was fun to shoot and later edit. I learned a few things and realized a few things I wish id done differently during the shoot. But overall im happy with the results. And so was Paul, which is what counts since it is his car. haha It wasn't difficult to make this car look mean and lean. And the photos really showed its color and body shape off well.

Friday, October 30, 2009

New Gear!

Pavilion -Side
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
For those who know me, they know photography is a huge part of my daily life. Most of my college buddies remember me as the guy who had some type of camera always with me, taking pictures, (some incriminating) of our daily lives. It's ingrained in me.

Well for the past 3 years I had used a very reliable Canon 30D. As time wore on I began to outgrow it. Not to mention camera technology began to really make it look dated. It was time to upgrade. For the past 6 months id been watching rumors of a new line of camera from Canon. Then it was announced, the Canon 7D was real! I pre-ordered mine as soon as I could.

Well finally after almost two months of waiting, it arrived! What a beast. Thats the best way of putting it. I kind of feel like someone who had been taken from the 1970's and dropped down in 2009.... in terms of camera tech. haha I know, that's a bit of an exaggeration. But people who had been shooting with more recent models, like the Canon 50D, might just think "ok the 7D is cool and all". But to me, its a massive jump in every aspect of photography. Everything I had wished the 30D could do, the 7D does. It man is it fast. For example, a long exposure shot of say... 30 seconds, would sit processing in my 30D for at least another 30 seconds. So i would sit and look at the little dark screen, watching the red buffer light flicker. With the 7D, the shutter of the 30 second exposure closes and in roughly 1 second the image appears! Thats the dual DIGIC IV processors doing their job. Sweet!!

Its body feels very similar to the Canon 5DMKII. Those who have one will feel like their holding their 5D when holding the 7D. Even the controls are similar. Its very comfortable to grip, feels solid, but not too heavy. Ive got the BG-E7 battery grip on mine, which does increase the weight a bit, but I'm so used to shooting with a grip I don't think I could go back to not using one. Its really nice.

One of the first things I noticed when taking the 7D out for some night shooting is its sensitivity to light. Its SO much better than my 30D was. I was shocked. I can shoot at a slightly lower ISO than I could with my 30D to get the same result. This is good because it means less "noise" from a long exposure. Im also in love with the large view finder. I didn't realize how much the 30D was cutting off from the eyes view. I look through the 7D's view finder and I feel like im suddenly looking through a full frame camera's view. I know im not, but I can see that much more! Its really.... eye opening. hah Another feature new to me is Live View. My neck likes this feature. As now I can take low to the ground shots without having to either lay flat on my stomach or painfully bend my neck to see through the view finder. Its real easy to look at the bright 3 inch screen and compose my shot.

Anyhow there are so many bells and whistles on this camera its mind boggling. I could go on and on about it, but I'll just close by saying I have zero buyers remorse over this baby. Its an investment in my photography and has met all of my expectations. If you're on the fence about getting one and you don't mind shooting with a 1.6x cropped sensor, get this camera... NOW. Oh and dont worry about digital noise. Its even beating the Nikon D300s in noise tests! Really kicking it in the nuts at ISO3200 and higher. I love it!

As you can see, im happy with this camera. :-)

Gouls, Goblins and Cross Dressers!

Friendly Skull Dude
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
There are few places I could go which would fit that title. In this case it was the Oak Lawn Halloween Block Party! If you're into people watching, this was THE place to be. I would have to guess there were at least 10,000 people packed into a 6 city block radius. In the epicenter of this mass of humanity was the center attraction... the runway. On the Runway, participants line up and take turns having their character introduced to the jam packed crowd on each side of the barriers as they make the walk down the path. The crowd in this area is crushing to say the least. It wasn't easy to move even a few feet and trying to do it while wearing camera gear was that much more difficult!

While at the block party I think I saw every type of costume there possibly could be. And even some of the most creative ones id never thought of. It was my first time this event. Id been invited a few times in the past but never made it. I'll definitely have to go again next year. Big thanks to Craig and Bex for the invite. It was a blast.

So, until next Halloween Oak Lawn... I'll be back!

It's a Parade!

It's a Parade!
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
On Saturday October 17th I headed up to Whiteboro Texas to catch the annual Peanut Festival. This small North Texas town has held this even for something like 70 years (from what im told). It had been about 10 years since I had been and I had a free Saturday, so I packed up the camera gear and drove north.

I was surprised to see how much the festival had grown since my last visit. Back when I last attended, the booths' filled Main Street and that was really about it. Fast forward 10 years and the festival now fills Main Street and extends 2 street deep on each side. Not to mention the crowd, it seems, has about tripled! But this was a good thing for me as a photographer. With the parade, the old west gun fighters show and plenty of people to observer and take pictures of, I knew it would be a good time.

I started out the morning by taking my spot on the parade route on Main Street. I had to really jostle for position with a bunch of cub scouts, but I found a spot! As the parade vehicles rolled by, I was able to get a number of really fun shots. The photo in this post was one I really felt captured the day. An old war vet riding in the back of a pick-up truck waving to the crowd. The Peanut Festival and Whitesboro are really classic Americana and this parade showed it. I think if anyone from another country was to be visiting here and attend this parade they would be thinking "this is what I picture when I think of small town USA".

After the parade I walked up the street a bit and found my seat again for the Old West Gun Fight. It was really entertaining to watch the 6 actors dressed in the old west theme act out a dispute, settled with riffles and revolvers. Ah.. America!! ;-) Watching the reaction of the people in the crowd as the guns went off was almost as interesting as the gun fight itself.

I continued to walk the street after the fun fight and found myself infront of Eye of the Storm Photography. It had been so long since Id last been to Whitesboro, I didn't even realize someone had opened a photo studio right on Main street! That someone turned out to be a friendly fellow photog named Mike (I can't remember his last name!). We immediately started talking shop as he showed me around his studio. It was a real treat that I didn't expect to find up in "the boro". Mike's a super nice guy and a great photog, so if you're ever up in the Whitesboro Texas area, stop in and say hi.

I left the festival around 2pm with a memory card full of photos. I had a pretty good time, better than I thought Id have. I may just have to venture up there for no real reason at all. There's some great photo opportunities!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Summers Last Gasp

Summers Last Gasp
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
As I pulled into the garage last night while coming home from work, thunderstorms were really building up and rains were coming down heavy. But it was odd because the sun was still shining through the north end of the clouds where the storm had not reached yet. I looked out over the back yard with the sun shining towards the house, I got the idea for an interesting shot. Even though it was fall season, it felt like a warm summer shower. I grabbed my camera and laid down on the kitchen floor with the back door open. This allowed me to shoot slightly into the sun and the falling rain, using some un-mowed weeds around the back porch as a subject. I really thought the glow of the sun through the cat tails with streams of rain coming down really captured the feel of the moment. It was nice.

The Night Shift

The Night Shift
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
This past Tuesday night, with nothing going on after work, fellow photog buddy Rocky and myself decided to head North out of Denton and into more rural parts. Our original plan was to experiment with some light painting techniques and see what kind of interesting photos we could come up with. After about an hour of trial and error, neither of us were getting anything we thought worthy of keeping. We began to wander around in the dark shooting anything that captured our interest. Across a crop field and the distant high way was what appeared to be a cement mixing station for some local construction. With a full moon over head and the glow of big Dallas on the southern horizon, I had the idea for this shot. A 15 second exposure to fully capture the feel of the night. I liked the tilted horizon, as the telephone wires lead the eye across the scene. Anyhow, it was a perfect night for shooting. Cool fall temps, barely a breeze blowing and great weather. I'll be doing more of this for sure. And maybe I'll even get a light painting shot im happy with.

Last One Out...

Last One Out...
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
Sometimes the weather here in Texas just doesn't cooperate. Or sometimes im really busy. Or... sometimes im just not in the mood to load up my gear and go out shooting. So, I dig through my archives for favorite photos that I never made public at the time I took them. This would be one of those photos. I liked this one the moment I took it. But for some reason or another, it got shelved for other shots from the day. This old shack sat on the back side of the abandoned farmhouse property. The summers sun was dropping in the background casting long shadows across the grown up weeds. This was a fun location to shoot. It was remote, silent and interesting location. My buddy Rocky was shooting with me at this location as well. He and I both enjoy finding these forgotten, rural locations and capturing the feeling of abandonment they leave behind. I called this photo "Last One Out", because my eye was drawn to the front door of this shed. Laying in the grass in the same place it had fallen when its old rusty hinges gave out, it made me think of the phrase "last one out, close the door". Well, it was easy to say the last person out left that property at least 30 years ago. No one is returning to close that door.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Looming Storm

A Looming Storm
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
This is a photo from the archives. Lately I've been quite busy and the weather hasn't been the greatest. So I started going through older shots that didn't make the cut the first time around. I had completely forgotten about this photo. Which is one I did like after returning from this road trip to the Wichita Mountains in Southwest Oklahoma. I had been wanting to work on landscape photography and knew this wildlife refuge would be the perfect place. After returning from the trip, I chose a series of other photos and filed this one into the archives. Im glad I got the chance to go back into them. With a little work in Lightroom and Photoshop to get the exact black & white tones I wanted, I was pretty happy with this. It seemed to give it an almost surreal feel to the scene. The crisply focused boulder in the foreground, the soft mountains in the background, with menacing gray and black skies over head. It was a really fun day of shooting. I really need to go back soon!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Another Year...

Another Year...
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
I swear i just had a birthday last week! I tell ya, these things go by too quickly. This past year literally flew by. Its been full of highs and lows. It has taken me on travels and opened my eyes in many ways. Through these past months I have discovered a lot about myself... about my past... current life and future to come. But overall it was a good year, so I can't complain too much.

And so it goes. Today, September 12th, 2009... I turned 38. Thats odd. I don't feel 38. I don't think I look 38. But, I am. I guess I have to accept that and move on. As a very good friend has told me many times in the past, "Dont worry about age... age is just a number". I have to agree with that. I often joke with my friends that while I may be 38, I have the mind of a 17 year old. Ha! Id rather spend time laughing, playing practical jokes and hanging out with friends than worrying about real serious matters. Life is too short to be stressed all the time. You've gotta have fun!

So... what will the next 12 months bring me? At this point in time, its very hard to say. But being the eternal optimist I am... I can only say the glass is half full and this time next year I'll sit here making a post on flickr... with a smile on my face. Im sure I'll travel somewhere, meet new people, take some incredible pictures and do my best to enjoy life. (knock on wood!)

A big thanks to everyone who visited my flickr stream to wish me a Happy Birthday. Its really great to see my real and online friends stop by and take the time to leave a comment. I smile and laugh at every single one of them! I consider you all, my friends. Thanks!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Senior Portraits!

Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
As August rolls to a close, school looms just around the corner. And with it High School senior portrait season. This past Saturday morning I had a great photo shoot with Jessica. I met up with her and her mother at the Old Alton Bridge, which is now a local historical landmark and no longer in use by traffic. We took about an hour taking a few hundred shots, making use of that great morning light. We got so many good photos, this shot being one of my many favorites. Jessica was a great model and her photos came out really nice.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

People in My Life - Portrait #11

Another day in NYC and another chance to meet a long-time Flickr buddy! This is
Justin. His 365 day project self-portraits have always inspired me to be more creative with my own. Not to mention they've always been very entertaining. Justin and I even got the chance to trade prints of each others favorite photos. He's a great guy and i was really pumped to get the chance to meet him in person on this trip to NYC.

Justin is just as much a great guy in person as he is in the online world. Friendly, personable and enthusiastic about photography. And I don't even hold it against him that he shoots with a Nikon. :D Anyhow, I definitely know if I was someone living in the NYC area, Justin would be one of my photog buddies. I'll surely be calling on him again if I ever get to re-visit the Big Apple in the future!

People In My Life - Portrait #10

This fellow photographer is my good Flickr friend
Oliver. Over a year ago it was his 365 self-portrait project that helped convince me to start my own 52 week project. He's always been a great Flickr contact, commenting on my shots, replying to my comments to his photos and answering any questions I had. I also blame him for the final push i needed to drop big $$$ on my 70-200mm f/2.8. And Oliver, you were right... I don't regret it for a second! hah Getting to meet Oliver in person, in real life was a lot of fun. Its always great to get to finally meet a Flickr friend in person. Hopefully I'll meet many more as time goes by.

In this meet-up, Oliver took me down to the Queensborough bridge where we were given an amazing view of the river and bridge. it was a small park, accessible via a small sidewalk. Its this kind of place that only a local would know how to get to. Another reason its great to have a photo buddy in any city im going to visit.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Head East Young Man!

Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
With Emily having a work related conference in Philadelphia, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to photograph some of the great sights on the East coast! So we made plans to spend a couple days in Philly, then take the train up to New York City.

While in Philly we climbed the "Rocky steps", walked through Edgar Allen Poe's home and found our way to the haunted Eastern State Penitentiary. I was able to get some great shots and I was like a photographer in a candy store. Well, visually speaking. :-)

From there we caught a 1.5 hour train ride north and arrived in the Penn Station in NYC! The city is overwhelming at first. So much to do and see... so many people to watch. With only 3 days there, I could tell this was a place I could spend a couple weeks in, exploring and photographing. Definitely worthy of a future trip back. We spend the days exploring the streets, seeing the sites and taking it all in. I was able to meet up with a few of my best Flickr photo buddies and do some shooting with them. Oliver, Justin and Jenn... great to finally meet you in person! We packed so much into just this one week trip, it felt like i was there a couple weeks.

I'll definitely be returning to the Big Apple in the future. As a photographer.... how could I not?!

Friday, July 31, 2009

People In My Life - Portrait #9

Meet Warren. As the owner of a local flower shop and the Oxide Art Gallery, Warren was the first gallery owner to give me the opportunity to show and sell my work. Since my first showing at Oxide, he has taught my a lot about the business side of art (pricing!!), framing, representing/promoting myself and working with a galleries needs. Warren is a great benefit to the local Denton art scene and a real nice guy. Warren agreed to let me take this portrait, if I sent him a copy for him to use on gallery literature. Deal!!

These photo's are a part of a new Portrait Series I am working on in 2009 in efforts to improve my portrait shooting and editing skills. Its also a great way to include the people around me in daily life in on my photography.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Let's Paint!

580EXII Product Shot
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
The technique of light painting has always intrigued me. For those not in the know about what I'm talking about; light painting is when you set the camera for a long exposure, then use a flashlight to literally "paint" your subject with light. You can really get creative and produce some very interesting results.

Most people go outside and light paint shapes of people, or hearts, or write their name. While on Flickr looking at all the uses for this technique, my first thought was to attempt to use it as a way of lighting a product. I needed a techie gadget that would work well for this. So, I grabbed my 580EXii Speedlight flash and set it up as my subject.

I setup my Canon 30D on the tripod with the 24-105 f/4L lens zoomed in fully. I then setup my wireless remote so I could fire off my shots without touching the camera. The camera was set to f/8, 10 seconds at ISO100. And the lens was set to manual focus, because the cameras IR would hunt for what to focus on once the lights were out in the room. The 580exii was set on a black laptop with a black shirt draped over some things behind it to give it more of a totally black studio look.

I then sat in a chair next to the flash gun, wireless remote in my left hand, LED pen light in my right. I pressed the shutter release button on the remote and began counting slowly to 10 as I used the pen light to paint smoothly around and over the Canon flash. I did this several times, painting more from different angles or spending longer lighting one area of the shot. I was finally happy with this exposure. It seemed to have the best "studio" look and feel to it.

Once I was done shooting, I unloaded all the RAW images into Lightroom 2 and narrowed my choices down to this image. I adjusted the exposure and fill light slightly, then increased clarity and reduced digital noise slightly. Then exported to CS3.

Once in Photoshop, I did notice there was still a bit of digital noise, caused by the long exposure. It wasn't bad, but for a product shot you want zero if possible because people will try to study the object closely, looking at the details. I then applied Smart Sharpen at 5.5% Then using my pen and tablet, I carefully created a selection around the flash and chose Selection--> Inverse. Which caused my selection to now select everything around the flash. I chose Filter ---> Blur --> Gaussian Blur. And set it to 4.5 pixels. This gave it a softer look in the lighting and really hid some of the noise. Once I had the noise pretty much gone, I used the healing tool to remove some obvious dust particles that were sitting on the flash and the laptop surface. Finally, one pass through Noise Ninja to remove any remaining noise and I was happy with the final product shot.

I guess if I ever need/want to sell my Canon 580EX II, I have a nice photo of it to post. heh

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shooting in the Dark

Oso Closo
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
I got the call to photograph a local musical event here in Denton. A night of three bands ranging in styles and sounds, but surely to be a fun time. It's always a bonus when I get to see live music and also photograph it at the same time. Its always exciting, always technically challenging and always fun stuff.

This photo was the lead singer of local band Oso Closo. A true rock band that really had their act together. And it showed, as the crowd really got into the show. It was also the most crowded act of the night as I had to really fight for space to shoot from. It was all good though! Everyone was having fun and rockin out. And I came away with a bunch of nice shots for the evening.

This particular shoot was for the Denton music scene website . They promote the local music and review bands playing in the city. A great resource for all the local talent coming out of Denton Texas. Be sure to check them out!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

It Had Been Too Long

The Rest Stop
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
Yeah, its been waaaaay too long since I uploaded any new photos. I believe my last upload was just before the 4th of July. It had been a combo of not really having any shoots lined up and not having anything I felt was quality enough to post. Im pretty picky and critical of what i choose to upload. What people see online is probably 3-5% of what I shoot in total.

Anyhow, I decided to make myself shoot last night. I grabbed the camera bag and headed out on a photo drive. Wandering back roads and highways, just looking for whatever looked.... interesting. As the sun started setting I came across this highway rest stop. It was kind of in the middle of nowhere, but when i saw those Texas flags on the picnic table area's, I knew there had to be a decent shot in there somewhere.

I shot for a while at different angles using various lenses. Then the idea hit me to incorporate this little pavilion, the flag colors and the setting sun all in one shot. Doing so of course is a very challenging exposure to nail with the camera. So I bracketed my shots and created this HDR image of what I saw. I feel the end result gives it a look.... and feel that really grabs the eyes attention. And that's whats important to me, being able to "feel" a photo when viewing it!

I took somewhere around 200 photo's during my evening drive. But only 3 made it to my flickr stream. Probably only this one will make it to my website (

See... im picky. :-)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Driving North

Fireworks Stand
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
It's late June in Texas and that means the heat is suffocating, nights are muggy and fireworks stands are popping up everywhere. This combination of season and events gave me the urge to get in the car and drive North out of the city and into the rural areas of North Texas. A quick call over to my fellow photog buddy Rocky and i was off to pick him up to ride along. The plan was to drive straight north on Hwy 377, stopping at each little town along the way up and back to take photos. With about 2 hours of day light left and then lots of interesting stuff in the night to shoot, we knew this would be a fun drive.

After several stops, we can across this fireworks stand outside a small town called Tioga. We figured it would be best to leave the cameras in the car at first, rather than get out snapping pics. So we walked up to talk to the folks working the stand and even bought a couple fireworks. We then asked if we could snap a few shots. They were more than happy to play along. After about 10 minutes of shooting, we said by and loaded up in the car for the ride home.

Overall a very fun and productive photo drive. Its nights like this one that remind me why I was attracted to photography in the first place. The excitement of shooting photos, capturing the local feel of my surroundings and sharing them with people thousands of miles away who've never experienced a hot summer night in Texas. I guess its like sharing a window into my world. So much fun!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday Action!

Keeping Pace
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
This Sunday it was off to the small town of Boyd Texas to shoot the TCCRA race event. Id heard this was a good track to take photo's at. I'll have to say, I was not let down! Tight turns, large jumps and berms all within walking distance made this photographers job easy stuff. Accompanied by my photog buddy Rocky, we spent the large part of this Sunday afternoon shooting thousands of action shots. Looking for just a few quality keepers. We quickly learned we were going to have plenty of great shots to take home.

I had two friends participating in the race, which always makes it more fun to photograph. My friend JB, who was racing in it, was sure to give me a card with all the plate numbers of his buddies also in the race who'd want some action shots. So our work was cut out for us.

The weather was classic Texas. Hovering near 100F by afternoon, some riders struggled to keep cool and stay on their bikes. I saw more than one rider pulled off the track, sitting on the ground, drinking water to re-hydrate. We saw many others drive by their fans and get dosed with water, in efforts to stay cool in the heat. What makes it worse is once the riders enter the woods, there is no breeze or wind. Just stagnate, oven-like heat.

Overall it was an awesome day of action photography. Im still working my way through all the images, but its well worth the time. Its days like this that remind me what makes photography so fun to me. Being there, in the moment, in the heat and dirt, capturing exciting images for others to enjoy.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Day At the Air Show!

A New Perspective
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
This Saturday was the long awaited Denton Air Show. Featuring many military and civilian aircraft. With an expected turnout of 10,000+ , there were more than a dozen aircraft on the tarmac for people to an up close look at . Followed later by aerobatics performed by prop planes, formation flying by WWII era fighters and later a real speed show by an F-16. The day was hot, but that didn't let that stop my fun! My friend Rocky joined me and we arrived early to get some good photos of all the aircraft on hand. We even ran into a few fellow local photographers out there, which is always cool. The show wrapped up around 4pm, with the F-16 giving everyone the final ear drum blowing performance of the day. I later found out a few aircraft canceled and backed out just before the day of the show. The massive cargo plane, the C130, an F-16 flight team and the A-10 Warthogs were unable to make it. Bummer, because those are all some of my favorite to see each year. Overall, a real fun Saturday.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer 'Ballin'

Summer 'Ballin'
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
With another warm evening here in North Texas and a lot on my mind, I decided to set out with the camera to do some shooting. Nothing particular, so I made a stop at Eureka Park on the South end of Denton. Its always fun to get out the 200mm lens and do some people watching. Since the weather was perfect the park was full of people out enjoying the evening. People playing volleyball, basketball, jogging, kicking the soccer ball around. Even some guys practicing Parkor on some nearby walls and benches. No shortage of interesting photos to be taken! Of all I took this evening, this one was my favorite. Showing some decent vertical and a nice hook shot, these basketball players made for some great pics. Sports being one of my favorite things to shoot, I think the park will provide a summers worth of nice photographs. I see many more evening trips out there.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ready For Launch

Ready For Launch
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
I was recently asked to shoot some fun themed photos from the Denton Water Park, for an upcoming marketing campaign. Id always wanted get in there with the sole purpose of shooting pics, so I grabbed my camera gear and moved out. It was close to 100F this past Sunday during the shoot. And lugging around camera gear and a pack made it feel like 150F! But after a couple of hours of snapping pics I was happy with what I had. It was a fun day with some really fun pics. I enjoyed the opportunity this gig provided.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A New Self Portrait!

My last self portrait was taken back in like February, when my 52 Week Project ended. At that point in time, I was SICK of seeing any photo's with my face. Well a few months have gone by. I kind of missed taking them now and then. So when I was home for lunch last week, the urge suddenly hit me to take a new selfie. Partially because my photo stream has been a bit slow the past couple weeks. No events going on and not much free time to get out and shoot. So, a photo of me it is! I was actually pretty happy with out this photo came out. I think I took the pic and processed it in Lr2 in about 15 minutes total. Which makes it the best kind of self portrait. The kind where little effort was put into it. Now... onward to shooting photo's of things besides me.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Spencer, Senior Portrait

Spencer, Senior Portrait
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
Occasionally I break away from photographing animals, landscapes and sports and take on some portrait work. This was such the case with graduating high school senior, Spencer. Before the session I was talking to his mom, asking if she thought he'd have a hard time relaxing infront of the camera. She laughed and said "No way, Spencer is a crack up!". She wasn't kidding. He did a great job and was really comfortable in front of the lens. Always laughing, cracking jokes and smiling.... made my job easy! In fact, a few times I had to make him be serious so I could get some shots without a huge smile plastered across his face. But it was great having a subject so at ease and wanting to have fun on the shoot. His laugh and smile are contagious and I think made me a more relaxed photographer as well.

Congrats Spencer!! Off to bigger and better things. You'll go far my friend.

The John Cowand Band

The John Cowand Band
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
Got to shoot another band last Friday night. This time, The John Cowand Band. Kind of a rock, bluegrass mix. This was another show that I really enjoyed shooting. Great music and atmosphere at their show. The small'ish crowd really seemed into it and I was actually surprised it wasn't a larger audience. Those who did show up did seem to be familiar with who he was and his music. A few times I caught myself watching and listening and not snapping the shutter on my camera. Then i'd snap out of it and focus on shooting again. That's a sign their a captivating group. Id like to see them again if they come through Denton in the future!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Enjoying the Dog Days of Summer

This past Saturday was the long awaited Dog Days of Summer festival in downtown Denton. Id missed the past 2 years of it because I always had something going on, on the exact day of it. But not this year! I was ready and waiting. Emily, Zita and I were to meet up with our friends Beau and Sarah with their Golden Retrievers and small dog at around 10am. Of course this event would provide a wealth of photo opportunities! I wanted to travel light since I knew I'd have Zita's leash in hand as well. So no big camera bag with multiple lenses this time. Bummer. No worries. I removed my battery grip from my 30D and selected my 28-70mm f/2.8 Sigma lens as my only lens for the day. I figured it would give me all the range I should need for doggie shots and the wide f/2.8 aperture would be perfect for portraits.

There were a couple times during the day when I wished I could have switched over to the 200mm. But, I made it work out alright. I managed to get several quality shots I was happy with. Although the one thing that annoys me about this lens is how it handles sunlight when its anywhere but directly at my back. For some reason this lens creates sun flares more easily than any lens I know. And it also seems to blow out images with lots of sun, easier than any of my canon lenses. Getting a decent shot in normal sunlight often requires really stopping down to f/6.3 or smaller. And thats when shooting even at ISO100 with a polarizing filter. Overall the lens is "alright". I can see myself selling it and putting the money into the upcoming Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 IS lens being released in a few months. I suppose this is the classic case of "you get what you pay for". This Sigma lens runs about $300. The Canon lens im waiting for will run around the $1200 range. Ouch... I know.

Anyhow, back on topic. The Dog Days festival was a blast. Our little Heeler, Zita, had a ton O fun and was exhausted when we got her home. Went to sleep on the floor ASAP. Another great thing about this festival is the free stuff. Frisbees, chew toys, snack and doggie bandana's are handed out to all. You can bet we'll be looking forward to next years as well!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Me and the Cub

Landing Approach
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
This past Sunday I had the unique opportunity to attend a local private "Fly-In" event. One of Emily's friends, who is an airline pilot, invited us out to their neighborhood for this little get together and the chance to photograph all the great aircraft. You didn't have to ask me twice! We arrived at the airfield at about 4pm and were quickly introduced to many others who had aircraft at the event. This is an interesting neighborhood, made up of pilots. So practically every house has a small airplane. And rather than having a neighborhood swimming pool, they have a 3000 foot grass airstrip. How cool is that!?

I immediately set out, shooting various angles and features on the planes. So many bright colors. So much to see. I was in photographers heaven! Then Emily's friends husband asked if I would like to go up in his Piper Cub. Sure!! Was all I could say! We squeezed into the small aircraft and taxied down the runway. I was very interested to experience this flight in this aircraft because Id recently been doing a basic pilot training in Microsoft Flight Sim and I wanted to see how it compared to the real deal! (I know, you're laughing)

Well, we reached the end of the runway, turned facing upwind and went full throttle. Just like the flight sim, 40 mph and we were lifting off the ground and headed upward! What a cool feeling! We began circling the surrounding farmland where he pointed out various landmarks and points of interest. We flew around for about 30 minutes while I snapped pics constantly. It was surprisingly like the flight sim, with the exception I was just a passenger..... and it was a real aircraft. :-) With both side windows down, the cool evening spring air poured in, but I was having too much fun to care. Also having the windows down made it easy for me to move my camera around for the best shot.

Finally it was time to land. He circled around to the end of the runway to what seemed like too high of an angle compared to the end of the runway, to me at least. Then again, im not the pilot with 20+ years of flight experience, like the guy sitting just in front of me! But without hesitation, we dropped down quickly, flared up a bit and drifted smoothly onto the runway. The Piper Cub is such a small maneuverable air craft, it doesn't need much runway to take off and land. Nothing to it.

We taxied back to the hanger and headed in for one more bite to eat before driving home. Really a fun day and a first for me! An afternoon I'll never forget.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Family Fun!

Mom & The Kids
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
Finally getting around to making this blog update! A couple weeks ago I was contacted by some of my old college friends who were now married with 2 kids. They wanted some fun family portraits and for me to take them! Id done a photo session with them in the past so their two children, Molly and Fiona were comfortable around me. So I knew we'd have a good session. This time they wanted to include their dog, Scout. Whoa... 2 kids and a dog? This could be a challenge!

They arrived at on location about 15 late and everyone piled out of the car. Parents, bags, kids and the dog. I spent a few minutes petting Scout and letting him smell my hands and get comfortable with my voice and playing with me. I quickly learned this is one smart pup! Very obedient. Actually more so than the children! haha Wherever we setup to shoot, Scout quickly listened, sat... layed down. Whatever we needed. It was great. The challenge was getting the kids to both look at the camera and working quickly enough so that they didn't get too tired and bored.

After about 45 minutes we had a good assortment of photos. Just in time as the 2 little ones were starting to get impatient. This was one of my favorite shots of the day. It wasn't actually even a planned moment. We stopped between locations and Amy was trying to liven up the tired kids. She began playing with them, getting them to laugh and i just started shooting. A great moment captured!

Its always fun to see Amy, Jason, Fiona and little Molly!

Where The Wild Things Are

Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
This past Saturday morning (after shooting bands till 1am), fellow photog Rocky Phillips and myself got up and hit the road at 8am headed North. Leaving Texas, crossing the Red River and into Oklahoma we went. Destination: Wichita Mountains! We'd been really excited about this photography road trip for some time. The chance to shoot interesting landscapes and a wide variety of wildlife would put a smile on any photographers face.

After the 3 hour drive we arrived hungry and headed straight for Meers Restaurant. Meers is pretty much a 100+ year old building, one of the last standing in this one time miner town, which now serves some of the best Long Horn burgers Ive ever had. Then again, I don't know where else Id find a Long Horn burger. I like them because the meat is much leaner than normal beef. Very tasty as well. Especially when you've been hiking in the local mountains and are starving! So Rocky and I chowed down and headed out to shoot.

First stop was Sunset Trail at the base of Elk Mountain. This zig-zag mile long trail winds its way up to one of the best views in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge. The trail isn't overly challenging, as long as your not severely over weight or have bad knees. Really a fun hike. We reached the top in about 40 minutes and commenced shooting photos. We hung out up there for close to an hour, until we both felt we had a decent amount of good shots. Then began our hike down.

Something funny happened on our decent. We ran into a boy scout troupe headed up. We stopped and chatted briefly and the scout leader asked how much further. We told them about 10 more minutes to go. Then he asks me, "So, did you guys hike up here?" Thinking to myself I cannot imaging any other way i could have arrived in my current location I replied, "Well, I don't recall being dropped off by a helicopter". He just gave me an odd look and we moved on hiking down. Rocky found that little exchange pretty funny. We're still wondering what exactly he meant. lol

Once down we stopped at a large field where a heard of Bison (pictured) were grazing and playing. This was a joy to watch and photograph. We had to use caution though. Unlike normal cattle Buffalo are known to randomly charge if they feel you're too close. Thank goodness for zoom lenses and our car! hah Our shutters snapped away as these massive animals butted heads, jumped, rolled and pushed each other around playing. The weather has been getting warmer and as you can see in the photo, their winter coats are beginning to peel off. They are very powerful animals that move surprisingly quick. What a blast to shoot!

A few hours later, tired and running out of daylight, we hit the road for our three hour return drive. It was a full day, but it was fun and a Saturday well spent!

Backside Pick

After shooting the Tennessee Three over at Boiler Room, I threw my camera gear back over my shoulder, sprinted up the stairs and ran one block over to Haileys Bar. Performing at their CD release party there was Backside Pick. I got in the front door and through the line of people and ran immediately into lead singer Rocky Ottely (pictured). I guess he knew i was there shooting for and introduced himself. Not only was he a very talented singer but a genuinely nice guy. He didn't even complain when it took me what seemed like 30 minutes to dig my buried biz card out of my camera bag. haha Rocky took the stage with the band a short time later and immediately got the crowd fired up and moved in close to the stage. Backside Picks music was kind of a rock/funk/jazz type mix. Well, thats coming from me... someone who's no music expert. But, it was really good stuff and a fun atmosphere to be in. Similar to the previous band, they were also a fun shoot and the mostly college aged crowed seemed to know the songs and was really into it.

Id definitely go to see them play again if they returned to Denton. Sometimes its hard to really get into the music when im focused on shooting photo's. So it would be nice to have a second listen to them.

Performing Classics

Performing Classics
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
If you're a fan of Johnny Cash you NEED to catch a show by the group Tennessee Three. I had the pleasure of shooting some live show shots last Friday night over at the Boiler Room in Denton Texas. They were in town for one show and had a pretty good turn out in the small club. The Johnny Cash songs they performed sounded as if it was the man himself. Not to mention the lead singer, who I believe was actually a part of Johnny Cash's original band, looked the part of Cash himself. It was a fun event to shoot. The crowd was really into it and the band appeared to really enjoy performing. I hope they come back to Denton again some time.

Again it was the wonderful 70mm-200mm f/2.8 lens which shined for shooting in this dark stage lighting. I can't say enough about this lens and how it continues to impress me. Expensive? Yes. Worth every penny? Indeed!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Head West Young Man!

Palo Duro Deadwood
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
Actually North-West. This past weekend myself, Emily and friends Craig and Bex packed our bags and boarded a 1 hour Southwest Airlines flight for Amarillo Texas. The city itself wasn't our goal. Just south of Amarillo sits the Palo Duro Canyon! Which, by the way, is also a 26,000 acre National State Park. With miles of trails and endless vista's, this was a rugged wilderness Id been wanting to photograph for some time. My chance was finally here!

We arrived in Amarillo's airport at 8am, got our rental car and headed out. It was a chilly 46F and drizzling rain. Not optimal conditions for hiking and photography, but we forged on not letting it dampen our spirits. We decided to first make a stop at a local Walmart for some snacks and so I could buy a sweatshirt hoodie to stay warm. My long sleeve pull-over I brought with me wasn't enough! From there it was off to find a place to grab breakfast. We found a little mom & pop dinner in town, where we enjoyed pancakes and french toast. Which I am glad we ate a high carb breakfast considering what lay ahead.

By the time breakfast was finished, the rain had stopped and the skies looked a bit better. It had also warmed up a few degree's, so it was time to get to the Canyon. A short 20 minute drive and we were at the parks main entrance. The lady working the gate gave us a map of the park and off we drove. We found a nice overlook section to park and start getting some photos. There was a visitors center near by with some exhibits and literature, which was very interesting.

We took a "quick" 2 mile round trip hike along a trail that followed the canyon rim. This was a great opportunity for many landscape and general scenery shots. The photo included in this blog post is from this portion of the hike. What you'll see here is a nice view over the canyon, with a striped red dirt area in the upper right of the photo, famously known as the "Spanish Skirt" because of the way it fans out with bands of color. Very nice view.

From here we drove to our next trail head known as the Lighthouse Trail. This of course referred to the Lighthouse rock structure, one of Palo Duro's most famous landmarks. (And which can be seen in my flickr stream!) This was a bigger challenge than we originally thought it would be. Three miles each way, 6 miles round trip... through hilly terrain. Although the trail itself was rather smooth, not requiring a high skill level of hiking. After about an hour and a half we reached the Lighthouse Rock. It really felt like an accomplishment and yielded some great photos. The last climb actually up to the Lighthouse was the most challenging. A real leg muscle burner! But we made it up and spent a good 30 minutes at the top enjoying the view and the breeze. Then, gathered our stuff up and began the 1+ hour hike back. We actually made it back in quicker time and we were exhausted! But we did it.

We all headed back to the hotel to relax, shower up and get ready for dinner. So where does a visitor to Amarillo go when they're only in town for one night? The Big Texan of course!! This restaurant is made famous for its "Free 72oz Steak Dinner" offer. The catch being, you have to eat this nearly 4 pounds of beef, along with the appetizer, salad, dinner roll and large iced tea in 1 hours time. Or its NOT free. In fact, its $100. There is a board on the wall signed by all those who have beat the challenge, accompanied by humorous quotes such as "Best and worst day of my life", or "Whats for desert?" haha It was an entertaining dinner in this authentic Texas steak house and we're glad we got to experience it.

Our flight Sunday was at 2pm, but we had one more destination to hit while in this Texas Panhandle town. Just west of Amarillo on the old Route 66 the Cadillac Ranch can be found. This is like an automotive version of Stone Henge, complete with old Cadillacs sticking up from the ground. Front ends all buried in the dirt, tail lights pointed to the sky. Lined up across the bleak, flat West Texas landscape. Its definitely an "art exhibit" worth stopping by.

After that, we were pretty much done with Amarillo. To the airport and time to get on home.


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Art & Jazz Fest

Last weekend (April 24, 25 & 26) was the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival. I'd been looking forward to it for some time. Its always a really fun weekend of sitting in the park on a blanket, listening to bands play, eating good food and people watching. That last one is more of a highlight if I have my camera handy, just as I did with this ride operator. This character begged to have his picture taken by me. Well, he didn't literally beg me. But by looking interesting, he was asking for a shot to be taken. He was operating the bungee ride for the kids and I knew he'd draw interest if i got a good shot of him.

Another fun thing about hitting up the A&J Fest is all the artists booths. For me, particularly the Photographers booths. Its always interesting to see what type of shots they're selling, what they're prices are and if they're drawing much interest from passer-by's. I was surprised by the wide range of photographers skill levels who were selling their work. Some where clearly more polished than others. Sometimes makes me think I should have a go at the A&J Fest one year. See how id do. Hhhmmm... haha

Anyhow, this was one of a few interesting people shots I got that day. The fun thing about it is its so crowded, no one really notices nor cares that Im taking pictures. And its events like this, that the 70-200mm just shines! Everywhere I look there's a great shot in range. And since its really a fast lens with its f2.8 aperture and Images Stabilization, I can shoot well into the night. Love that lens, can't say it enough.

So, another Arts & Jazz Festival is in the books for this year. I probably had more fun at this one than any in the past. The weather was awesome and i had lots of friends come out to hang with. Emily and I really enjoyed the weekend.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

People In My Life - Portrait #8

Just when folks started to think I had forgotten about my People in my Life project, I throw one in there! So, as the text under the photo says... this my buddy Rocky. Rocky came across one of my motocross action shots on flickr and wrote me saying he was interested in shooting some race shots in the future as well. I checked out his flickr stream and profile and could see he was also a serious photographer. So I wrote him back inviting him out on to the next race. He replied back a few days later and then joined my Denton Area Photographers Flickr group. It wasn't long before we were talking about techniques and our photography experiences and trading ideas. I even let him borrow one of my lenses for a big shoot he had lined up. I had only known him for a couple weeks, but I could tell he was a good guy and would take care of my equipment just as I would.

This past Wednesday has asked me what I had going on after work. Well I wasn't going to my usual soccer scrim because of my sore knee, so I told him I had no plans. He said he had nothing going on as well. That's when the idea to go on one of my photo drives came to mind. I normally go on them alone, getting lost on dirt back roads, walking through fields and stopping at ever run down building i can find. But hey why not take a buddy? So I asked him and he was all for it. I picked him up and we headed North out of Denton. It wasn't long before we found some interesting fields and later returned to an old abandoned farmstead I had found a few weeks back. I had forgotten how much fun it was to go shoot with someone else. As we roamed around the abandoned buildings, we exchanged shot ideas, setting information and shooting angles. This opened many new creative windows that I might have passed up before.

So while out on this recent photo drive it hit me that Rocky was worthy of my #8 Portrait. I snapped this one with my 10mm wide angle as he was shooting an old work shed. The device mounted on top of his Canon 1D MkIII is called a Pocket Wizard. Its used to trigger a remote flash, which he had setup inside the shed. As soon as I saw the shot i had taken, i knew that was the photo to use as his portrait.

Welcome to the project Rocky!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wedding Bells!

Wedding Bells!
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
On the rare occasion I do take on a wedding photo shoot, I try to look for some type of creative scene or angle. Well this past Saturday evening I helped my sister shoot a wedding she had signed on for a few months back. It was my first time operating as the "2nd shooter" as its called. But I did enjoy it, as it let me roam around getting the other shots of interest while she worked on taking all the groups portraits. Which is actually the real meat of a wedding event.

The scene captured here was at the end of the night. All the guests lined the outside hallway leading to the parking lot, holding sparklers and the bride and groom ran through them together. I knew this would be a perfect opportunity for a wide angle shot. There was just so much going on in the scene i wanted to capture. The only problem would be I had pretty much one shot at this, no redo's!

I managed to get off 3 or 4 shots. Only 2 of which came out satisfactory for use. Not too bad. But this one was my favorite. So much happening in this one scene. I caught all the guests laughing and waving and cheering, the groom running out of the scene quickly and the boy and his father on the far right playing with their sparkler. To me, all things which make for an interesting shot of the night!

I think the bride and groom will be happy with the shots my sister Macey and I captured. Overall we got some really nice photo's of the evening and really captured their 'big day'.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Art Gallery Showing

Art Gallery Showing
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
For those that could not make it up to Oxide Gallery on April 7th for the shows opening, here's a little recap. In early January I took three of my framed pieces to an artist open call at the gallery. About a month later I was notified the judges enjoyed my work and wanted to include me in the March-April-May show. This was great news! Id never done anything like that, so it would be cool to be involved.

So, I attended the gallery show opening on March 7th, showing my 3 pieces along with about 25 other local artists. We had a big turn out and it was a blast. It was shortly after that, the owner of the gallery contacted me to say he had a new offer he wanted to know if i would be interested in. I called him back and we met at the gallery one evening to discuss what he wanted to tell me. He said there had been a lot of attention on my 3 pieces and he wanted to know if I would like to be the featured artist for the month of April. Wow.. thats was pretty cool. Then he told me I would need to have 20 to 25 pieces framed and printed. Ouch. That could get expensive! On the 3 I already had in the current show, I had spend between $140 to $170 getting framed and matted with really nice frames. Warren then gave me a crash course on framing on the cheap. And once i talked to the custom framers, I realized I was able to cut my framing costs literally in half (or more) by just going with a basic off white matte and brushed metal frame. And they still looked great. Granted, framing 20 pieces of various size still ended up costing a chunk of $dough$. But I saw this as an investment. What doesn't sell in this show can be used anywhere use in the future. And believe me, Im already brewing some future ideas. So, its considered "inventory" I guess.

Ok so April 7th rolls around and I was the "Featured Artist" of the evening. It was a really cool feeling. All the artists had name tags on so visitors could ask questions and hear from each artist personally about their work. This worked out well, as many people who were interested in my work were able to hear a bit about how I created what was hanging up in the show. Although I didn't want to give away too many secrets. haha This face to face PR must have helped. To the date of this posting I've sold 4 pieces from the show. Very exciting for me!

All of my work remains up for the full month of April. Then, a new featured artist will get the center display area for the May show. And my 3 pieces return to a place on the outside gallery walls. So the pictures in this post are for my memories of all my work hanging in the main show.

Be sure to check out to see info on their latest show, or to sign up for gallery updates.... or to be notified of the next Open Artist Call!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Shooting Babies

Little Ashley
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
With my camera.... of course! haha So yeah I don't normally do a lot of baby photo shoots. But my sister called me up to tell me her good friend Kim from Michigan was in town and she had her baby along with her. So me, Macey (my sister), Steve (her husband), Kim (friend) and their two babies Isla and Ashley met up at a local blue bonnet field for some shots. Now, Ashley is Kim's baby and is 8 months old, while Macey's baby, Isla, is barely 2 months old. So I knew this could be a challenge.

We started out with Ashley. This photo is of her at the start of the shoot. We placed her in the flowers and everyone got behind me to call her name and get her attention. She was amused and gave us a little smile before going back to playing with the flowers. I thought, "wow, this is easy". Then it was little Isla's turn. Being so young, she can barely hold her own head up yet. So they had to help her. Plus she seemed a little scared to be away from mommy and daddy. So I had to shoot fast. I got some great pics of her too, but she started becoming irritable more quickly.

Overall the shoot was a success. Both mommies were very happy with the pics I gave them. And I felt like I got some good practice out of it. So it was fun. It also gave me the excuse to use my favorite lens, the Canon 70-200mm f2.8L, for the shoot. Holy moly I love this lens. Portraits, wildlife, sports.... it does it all. Any of you who are reading this and wondering if its worth the price...... YES.

Fire In The Sky

Fire In The Sky
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
I walked out of work yesterday evening and thought our city was on fire! There was a haze of smoke in the skies and the smell of smoke. Yet I didn't hear any sirens. As I drove home, the smoke and smell was still there. It was odd because the fire seemed to be everywhere, but no where. What was going on??

Well I get home and turn on the news. Top story of the evening is large wildfires on the far west counties of Ft. Worth, burning out of control. This was a good 40 miles west of Denton. So the smoke must have been thick to darken the skies over here! It was even covering the skies down in Dallas. News choppers and weather cams were showing the darkened skies.

Later that evening I went out in the backyard to play with Zita. I looked up at the setting sun and couldn't believe the view I had. I ran back in, grabbed my camera and ran back outside. I started snapping away as the sun seemed to set rapidly. I finally got a shot that accurately looked like what I was seeing. Which is this one. This seemed to be where the sun was passing low through the thickest part of the smoke and ash to the west. The skies lit up a bright orange. You could look directly at the sun without any discomfort. (Still not a good idea im sure) But, it was pretty cool. Later that evening while I was still outside, I noticed small bits falling from the sky. When i looked closer and caught one... it was ash! Blowing East, miles from the fires.

Very interesting evening.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Nobody Home

Nobody Home
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
And there probably hasn't been anyone home for a good 40+ years! Last night I headed out about 6pm on one of my evening photo-drives as I like to call them. I basically pack up my photo gear, pick a rural area i want to wander around in... and drive. I take highways, then hop off on to side roads, then turn off on to gravel roads. I basically try to get lost. Its usually when im lost that I find interesting places, such as this old farmstead. I plan on going back to this location. There were 3 buildings, including this one, still standing. Id like to examine it a bit close to see if i can tell what time period its from. Inside the house, there's not much left. Walls are gone, no trace of anything which looked like it was a house. Totally gutted. Only the worn down, weathered wooden exterior remained. Perfect for photography!

So a bit about this shot. This is an HDR image. It worked perfectly for this scene. Using multiple exposures really brought out the detail and texture of the wood and the bits of red, green and blue in the image. You can even make out detail inside the entrance on the left of the image. I took 3 exposures at -2, 0, +2 while I was on-site. Once I got home and had imported them into Lightroom 2, I took the -2 and +2 exposures and created 2 more shots each direction. Giving me -4 and +4 exposures to work with. I then exported all 5 TIFF files into Photomatix and worked on it from there. After that, I moved over to Photoshop CS3 and did some sharpening work. I was happy with this final image. Has a nice feel to it and looks very close to how it did as i stood there on that warm spring evening. I look forward to what shots I'll get there when i return.

For now, I will keep its location secret. Later I may geo-tag it for others to find. hehe

Thursday, April 02, 2009

April Gallery Night

April Gallery Night
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
Mark your calenders! Tuesday, April 7th from 6pm to 8pm is my big show at Oxide Gallery in Denton. In March's show I had only 3 pieces on display. But this show will have about 24 photo's on display. Its been a lot of hard work getting everything printed and framed on time. So I'm very excited to see it all up and hanging. Last months show opening had a great turn out. There were probably 75+ people. I expect just as many, if not more this time. I really enjoy these gallery nights because its so cool to see other artists work as well. It really shows how much local artistic talent is in the area. Besides photography, there are paintings, ceramic sculptures, jewelry and metal sculptures. All the artists present will be wearing name tags so the visitors can ask questions and make comments. And of course the food from Carino's is great. Its not the full sit down meal you'd normally get in the restaurant. But its some of the best snacks and finger foods you could get and apparently my friends thought the wine was pretty good too. Ha! Ok, so I hope to see everyone down there. Be sure to come up and say hi. I will most likely be the only Thorpe in the building. Easy to find. :-D

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


So yeah I finally got around to building myself a real photographers website. For quite some time I had just used a quick page I created from scratch. I'll admit, it looked like something a 12 year old put together. It was bad. For the past almost year, Id used Smugmug to sell prints and display my work. But I never really utilized its customization ability which comes with the Pro account I had. Well I finally rolled up my sleeves, dug into their forums and help topics and made enough sense of CSS code and html to put together a good starting point of a website. Turns out Smugmug allows Pro account holders to change just about everything on their web space, totally removing the normal Smugmug look. Which is great. They also have really good support and helpful people in their forums. For example, i was stumped as to why some text wasn't formatting as I wanted it to. I posted the problem in their forums and someone replied with what was wrong with my code, within 15 minutes! Very cool. So now I've got to get my galleries populated, all prices standardized and begin making full use of its ability. Im just relieved its finally put together. And surprised at myself for figuring it all out!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Flickr Photo Meet Up and Walk

Bikers Ride
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
This past Saturday, the Denton Area Photoraphy group from Flickr met up on the Denton square for a meet-up and shoot. We had 5 from the group show up on the cool, over cast day. Not too bad. Once everyone met and chatted it up, we started walking the back streets and alley's of downtown Denton. It was a lot of fun just shooting whatever caught our eye and talking about photography. It's really cool to put a face to the people you talk to and comment on the pics of online. Of all the photos I took, this shot of the motorcyle is the one I'm most happy with. It was parked near a parking garage and I knew a low view of it with the wide angle lens would give it a memorable look. A little post processing magic and I was all smiles. We plan to have another meet up hopefully soon as the weather warms. We just need a better location to go to this time. Its time to start scouting!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Street Shooting

Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
I went back through the archives of a Dallas street shoot I did a few weeks back and came across this shot. It was actually one of about 8 shots snapped at this scene. My friend Michael and I had just walked by the nightclub Plush and I wanted to get a shot which really showed the feel and vibe of the night. There were a lot of people outside in line to get into this trendy club. But I didn't want a bunch of people starring at me as I took the picture. So we kept walking by the club. About 30 feet past the door we stopped to survey the scene. We noticed a young woman dressed for clubbing and walking quickly our direction to get in line. I knew this might make a good shot. I quickly set my camera ISO to a higher setting, set it to all its focal points and to multi shot mode. As she walked by I held the camera at my waist and pressed the shutter, firing off about 8 shots. When I returned home and looked through the shots, I really wasn't happy with any of them. They were all rejected for other shots of the night.

Well a couple weeks went by and I went back to this shot. It was slightly blurry because of the movement while trying to shoot it, but I still wanted to use it... somehow. I liked the feel of it. Then an idea hit me. What a perfect chance to add a little radial/zoom blur in Photoshop! I placed the focal point on the nightclubs sign, which luckily was fairly sharp to start with. I then set the zoom level to 12%, giving the view the slight feeling of movement. And then converted it to B&W using a Lightroom 2 preset called PH Perfect B&W, which is one of my favorites because of the tones it uses. All said and done, I was really happy with the result and I was able to salvage a good shot I had previously dumped.

Dinner, Wine and Thorpeland!

I recently found myself fortunate enough to have some of my work placed in a local consignment art gallery. After attending an artist Open-Call, three of my pieces were selected (along with about 25 other artists) to be put on display and sale for a 3 month span. But I was then approached by the gallery owner to be the featured artist for this dinner event held at the local Carinos Italian restaurant! This was a big surprise to me. Now, the only catch was I needed to come up with more prints to fill the walls of the room the dinner will be held in. So as you can imagine, this week has been spent in Photoshop, uploading and ordering prints... frantically. The above picture is the flier that went out. I will have 21 pieces on display and sale for the evening. If you live in the Denton Texas area and think you might want to come out to this event, feel free to contact the restaurant to RSVP! Guests will be treated to food not available on Carinos' normal menu and variety of wines. And of course an introduction to the artist/photographer of the evening. ME! :-D

If you cannot make this event but would still like to have a look at the gallery, be sure to check out Oxide Gallery in Denton. Its located on south bound Carrol and Hickory and there's currently a lot of good stuff on display by many talented artists!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Its Time

Its Official
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
Walked out in the backyard this past warm Friday afternoon to see my tree's with little buds on the branches. This is great news as its proof spring is finally here. I am so sick of grey skies, cold weather (even by Texas standards) and bare branches. Im ready for spring and even more ready for summer and long days. Which by the way, don't forget.... "Spring Forward" at 2am this Sunday morning (March 8th). We gain an hour of daylight back!! Sweet! Nothing is more depressing to me than coming out of work at 5pm to a sun that's setting on the horizon. So... here's a quick shot welcoming the return of Spring and warm Texas weather. Bring it on!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Man on the Street
Man on the Street
Man on the Street
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
This particular man on the street was my accomplice for the evening, Michael. We were walking around downtown Dallas looking for more things to shoot when we stopped at this light waiting to cross. I still had the 10mm wide angle on and knew this perspective would make an interesting shot. I toyed with this shot giving it various white balance settings and hue's. But in the end true Black & White just looked great. It gave it that real street feeling in a photo I love. I put no description on the bottom of this photo in the Flickr post. I felt the mystery of, "who is this man standing on an empty city street?" worked well to increase the interest of the shot.
Headed to Dallas
Headed To Dallas
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland
This past Saturday was Emily's Bday, so we arranged an evening out with a group of our good friends. We all met up for dinner down at the Village Burger Bar for a great meal. But after that all the girls had plans to go to a dance club. This left myself and Michael with about 3 hours to kill. I already had my camera gear, so we dropped them off at the club and headed out around Dallas to do some shooting. As soon as I told Michael I wanted a cityscape shot of downtown and would like to get a long exposure shot of traffic, he knew exactly where to go. He took me to this small overpass on the West side of Dallas, crossing I-30. It was freezing that night with temps hovering in the low 30's and with the wind gusting. So we worked quick to setup the tripod and camera and start shooting. After about eight shots I got this one and was pretty happy with it. I believe the golden settings were f14, 15sec at 70mm. This was just the first of a few good shots that night as we drove around town. We repeated the same routine of jumping out of the car, freezing while shooting then jumping back in to warm up, all night. But I was having a blast. Big thanks to Michael for knowing some great locations.