Tag Archives: photography

Accidental Special Effects

The disc golf course is on Little Egypt Road.

The disc golf course and park are on Little Egypt Road.

Last Saturday the Mister and I drove to Huntsville to visit our baby boy. We wanted to see the new apartment that he, RJ, and two other pals plan to move into this fall (a pause, please, when we consider four boys living together and the subsequent chaos and mess, plenty of which will come from our own cutie), as well as sign the necessary paperwork.

Because it was such a nice day (spring has finally sprung in south Texas!), the guys naturally wanted to play disc golf. C.J. specifically was interested in trying out a course called Little Egypt in Conroe, which is close to Huntsville. So off we went!

Woods, woods, and more woods

The woods proved challenging.

There was only enough daylight to complete 13 of the 18 holes, but the guys got a good taste of the layout. Which was not yummy at all! Trees as far as you could see impeded plenty of drives and upshots, adding to the frustration of rusty putting.

I had opted to bring my lightweight Nikon V1 to document the event. Fortunately, being able to up the ISO to 800 and 1600 meant that I could snap decent, in-focus pics as day turned to dusk.

The disc looks stretchy on C.J.’s putt.

The disc looks stretchy on C.J.’s putt.

Well, except for the disc. When shooting under low-light conditions, which leaves you with a slooow shutter speed (these were mostly around 1/50th of a second), you’ve got to pick your poison: Either the person will be in focus or the disc.

The Mister lasers in a putt.

The Mister lasers in a putt.

Naturally, I prefer crisp-looking people. But I was intrigued when I checked out my photos in Photoshop: The out-of-focus discs looked so elongated! Almost like spaceships.

That really IS a disc heading from C.J. to the basket.

That really IS a disc heading from C.J. to the basket.

These formerly round, odd-looking aliens added a new dimension to my disc golf photos. I guess that just like with life, disc golf can be a blur!

Lovely Scenery . . . for Photos, Not Disc Golf

The Mister sends his upshot away from the lake.

The Mister sends his upshot away from the lake.

My father always would remind me to watch my backgrounds. It’s a basic photography rule of thumb to make sure that you don’t have branches going in and out of ears or posts growing out of heads. (Back when he was tutoring me in my youth, Photoshop didn’t exist. Heck, personal computers were a faraway fantasy!)

Billy hopes his putt goes in.

Billy hopes his putt goes in.

Looking at some of the pics I snapped last Saturday at the First Colony Aquatic Center Disc Golf Course Grand Re-Opening Mini (man, is that a mouthful!), one thing really stood out: The background. As in the scenic, 23-acre lake that edges the course.

Michael was glad his upshot stopped short of the lake.

Michael was glad his upshot stopped short of the watery grave.

Disc golfers, of course, hate the water. And this particular lake is home to a multitude of plastic, including plenty deposited by and never to be returned to the Mister and our younger son. It seems like its appetite is never appeased, unfortunately.

Chuck butterflies in his disc.

Chuck butterflies in his disc.

But as a photographer, I love the setting that all that grayish-blue provides. It can really make the discs and the players stand out. I was shooting with my Nikon 1 V1 for a change, and the little, mirrorless camera did a great job documenting the action.

Ryan looks more like a ballet dancer than a disc golfer.

Ryan looks more like a ballet dancer than a disc golfer.

I just made sure that I stayed away from anyone whose disc was sailing into that lovely liquid!

The Photographer’s Psyche

What in the world?!?

What in the world?!?

It’s nice finally being a popular gal in high school . . . even if it is 42 years late. And even if it is a different school.

Of course, I realize that my likability status rises only when I’m toting Nikon equipment. But, hey, I’ll take what I can get!

When I sat down on the hard, wooden bleachers in my sons’ former high school gym last Friday night to shoot volleyball, I saw smiles on friends’ faces and cameras being put down. Then I started snapping away and chimping to check my results.

See the above photo? Those grins would’ve disappeared quickly if anyone else would’ve looked at my Nikon D700’s LCD. Yep, I did capture the ball, but where’s the action? What kind of pathetic excuse for a sports photographer am I?

Carly can dig it.

Carly can dig it.

At first I inwardly groaned and considered a quick exit. But then I remembered why I was at the gym that I had successfully avoided for two years (opting to only shoot the varsity at the better-lit Wheeler Fieldhouse): I wanted to capture good memories for Carly, who is a freshman.

Hannah-Grace spikes.

Hannah-Grace spikes.

As well as a couple other girls who I’ve watched grow up over the years.

Dani K slams the ball over the net.

Dani K slams the ball over the net.

Hard to believe that they’re in high school! Plus they’re so talented!!

The solution to my poor-shooting woes was obvious: I also needed to get my game face on and do a better job.

After the thrilling win, I put my camera down and just watched the junior varsity match, because I didn’t know any of the girls on the team.

Paige passes.

Paige passes.

But then it was time for the varsity to take center stage. I’ve been shooting our high school volleyball for about six years, and we’ve always had good teams.

Erica serves.

Erica serves.

We also have a great fan base that fills the gym and inspires the girls to aspire higher.

An in-your-face block by Erin, Madison, and Erica

Love this in-your-face block!

Which is a good message for action photographers with fragile psyches, too!

The Backlit Photo Challenge

This is a big place.

This is a big place.

When my younger son’s adult bestie Glen gave him a TopGolf gift certificate for his graduation, I knew two things: One, they’d have a blast together, and, two, I wanted to go along. Toting my Nikon D700, of course.

Last Sunday was their last chance to use the gift card for awhile, because Kelly was due to bless Little Glen with a baby brother the next day (welcome, baby Jonas Henry!). It was now or wait a looooong time.

The outside part of TopGolf

The outside part of TopGolf

TopGolf is a deluxe, three-story driving range . . . plus more. The golf bays are outside, with the golfers protected by an overhang. Food and drinks can be served at the bay or inside at the bar or in areas that feature pool, indoor shuffleboard, and big-screen TVs. And it’s fun for all ages.

You can see the available targets on the board.

You can see the available targets on the board.

Golfers can use the facility as a typical driving range or they can compete against friends and/or family in point-scoring games, like hitting targets (the balls are microchipped).

We watched the Canadian Open final round as well as the scoring monitor.

We watched the Canadian Open final round as well as the scoring monitor.

It came as absolutely no surprise that Glen and the kid were up for some friendly competition. Just like when they play disc golf. However, my son had an advantage over his pal: He competed in junior golf, and he still possesses a nice, natural swing. Glen, not so much. Good thing he’s so athletic.

Nice silhouette effect

Nice silhouette effect

When I got to the bay and looked at the 240-yard bright, green space, I knew I’d have a problem with strong backlighting. Sure enough, my first snap of my son with my Nikon 24-70mm lens (great for wide angle and telephoto photo ops) showed that capturing the TopGolf action was going to be a test of my skills.

That stronger light causes the camera’s sensor to expose for the background, severely underexposing the foreground. As in the golfers. Great if you like silhouettes, not so good if you like to see faces. Which I do.

Spot meter with -1 exposure compensation

Spot meter with +1 exposure compensation = meh

So I switched my meter to the spot setting and fiddled with the exposure compensation to add light to the foreground.

Glen with spot metering and +2 EC = still meh

Glen with spot metering and +2 EC = still meh

Fortunately, I had about an hour to try to get decent photos. And I needed just about every tick of the clock.

Honing in on the right setting: Spot meter plus flash and -.67 EC

Honing in on the right setting: Spot meter plus flash and -.67 EC

Finally, I figured out that I had to use the D700’s onboard flash to illuminate the kid and Glen. I rarely use it for action shots, but, then again, I rarely have this kind of a lighting problem. Fortunately, neither of them seemed bothered by the added light. I decreased the exposure compensation to try not to blow out the background so much.

Got it!

Got it!

I also changed my photographic approach. I stopped looking at this as an action assignment, because it was almost impossible to get the club on the ball or follow the ball in the air due to the lighting. Instead, I chose to shoot portraits of the two, which cut out the too-light sky.

The kid got very sweaty.

The kid got very sweaty.

So our TopGolf adventure turned out to be a win-win experience. Glen and the kid had a great time trying to best each other, while I learned to be a more-flexible photographer.

I’d definitely need to clean the windshield.

I’d definitely need to clean the windshield.

Still, I’d much rather shoot facing the players. Maybe next time I can ride in the ball picker-upper!

Peekaboo Putting

Marcus hopes for a par.

Marcus hopes for a par.

Timing is everything in life . . . and photography.

Take disc golf, for example. Mistime when you snap your shutter, and you can distract the player or entirely miss having the disc in the photo, making for either a miffed person or an uninteresting picture.

I’ve been taking disc golf pix for almost six years, so usually my timing is pretty good. I usually end up with a calm player and a decent action photo.

Usually.

Yes, that IS Patrick sending his disc towards the basket.

Yes, that IS Patrick sending his disc towards the basket.

For some reason—heat, humidity, slow reflexes, weak talent—when I was shooting our weekly Southwest Handicap Mini last Tuesday, I caught several players with their throwing hands obscuring their faces. I could understand this happening if any of these guys were shy or avoided photo ops.

Sidebar: When I posted the above photo on Facebook, the mini’s fearless leader, Eric, commented that Patrick was showing off the rarely used Riverdance putt. Makes me laugh every time I look at the picture.

Casey’s disc heads for the chains.

Casey’s disc heads for the chains.

But even Casey finally has accepted my presence on the course, even complaining that because I wasn’t at a certain basket, he missed a putt (could the Nikon D700 have magical powers?). So I have to chalk it up to the dreaded “oops, I blew it” excuse. After all, everyone would rather see faces than hands.

Adam putts it in.

Adam told me to shoot from this angle; glad he didn’t miss!

Even when those handsome faces are somewhat obscured by chains!

iPhone Photo Friday

This unusual sign appeared new the entrance to our community.

This unusual sign appeared near the entrance to our master-planned community.

Thanks for the warning, but we didn’t see any.

Sidebar: I know I should be outraged that bored kids decided to tamper with the “REDUCED SPEED AHEAD” sign, but I have to admit that it makes me laugh every time I go past it.

Metal Basket Mania

This close putt is easy for Mike.

This putt is easy for Mike.

Usually when it comes to action photography, I believe that close is best.

Randall hopes to make a par.

Randall hopes to make a par.

But last Tuesday’s Southwest Handicap Mini was at a “new” course, the First Colony Aquatic Center. The quote marks are necessary, because the disc golfers used to play tournaments there until the city decided to add some amenities for its residents. That addition meant a subtraction of certain baskets and a wait of several years until the course was slightly redesigned, including the installation of some new metal.

My younger son zips in a birdie putt.

My younger son zips in a birdie putt.

Now the Aquatic Center is back in the weekly rotation. I hadn’t shot there for a couple years, but I did remember that the baskets tend to be close to one another. So I opted for my beloved Nikon 70-200mm lens, which is equally adapt at delivering those close pics as well as ones that tell more of the disc golf story.

Nick sinks this.

Nick sinks this.

As much as the sport is about the drive and the upshot, a lot of the drama (and, unfortunately, often the trauma) is all about the chains. My Nikon 105mm lens usually is better at focusing on just the player, which is why it stayed home.

Daniel and his shadow putt.

Daniel and his shadow putt.

But this time my photography was all about the baskets.

Can you see the basket way off in the distance? Watch out for the lake!

Can you see the basket off in the distance on the left? Watch out for the lake!

Even the ones that were far away!