I know I’ve been to the Museum of Flight a few times, and yes I know that I keep taking the same pictures.  But here’s the thing, I don’t care, I love the place :-)

Last weekend we went back again as we had family in town and as usually it was fantastic.  Of course many of the plains remain the same and some don’t change position but it’s always to try and get a different perspective or a new shot.

As usual I turned up with a tripod (much to the frustration of other photographers who didn’t bother) and got some great shots.  In total I took 400 pictures (or just over) and out of those ended up with 50 I really like.  I won’t bore you with all 50 here :-), so I just picked 10 to share.

We also went to a new “Space” exhibit and went inside a space shuttle – which is huge!  Unfortunately they don’t let you go in the cabin (which would have been fun) but it’s still pretty impressive just how massive the thing is.  We also went into Air Force One, or at least the version of Air Force One that Kennedy used.  I always think it’s fun to check out where Jacky O took a crap :-)

The cockpit image image is actually Air Force One and this came out well when you consider I shot this through a perspex screen.

They also have a great bridge that spans the major road by the Museum, that links some of the buildings together, and while on the bridge Abi did one of her cheer moves (called a Scorpion I think) so I shot that and like the image with the bridge disappearing behind her – so at least that’s a new pic.

There was also one pic where I lied on the floor looking straight up – people were walking past looking at me like I’m an idiot (which of course I am), but the image came out great – love that one too.

Another one I liked was a closeup of an Engine.  It’s a pretty old engine full of brass pipes and tubes but again came our really well.

Anyway a really nice few hours out, if you haven’t been I really recommend it.

Friday turned out to be a really beautiful day and as we had family (Regan) in town I decided to take a day off work and go out and enjoy the weather.  We all voted and picked Seattle as the location thinking the view from the Space Needle would fantastic.

So first we hit Pike Place Market.  The temperature was over 80 degrees and the tourists were out in force but we had a great time walking through the Market grabbing pics along the way.  I love the flowers, fruit and veg stalls and took a load of pics at each.  We found an interesting pasta stall and I got some great close up shots of pasta, I can see some of these making great wallpapers.

We walked past the gum wall which was recently cleaned and found that people had once again started to “decorate” the alley (much I’m sure to everyones delight – I don’t think anyone wanted Seattle to remove all the gum).

Then it was onto the Space Needle.  Now I’ve taken so many pictures of the Needle it’s difficult to come up with something new or interesting.  I got one shot I quite liked standing below the needle looking up and a couple of others getting the needles reflection in the “Experience Music Project” (EMP) building.

As expected the views from the top of the needle were amazing.  You could see for miles and even Mount Rainer was super clear.

To end the day, we finished up in Kirkland grabbing some Seattle Hot Dogs (you definitely need to try a Seattle dog if you never have) and then spent some time sitting by Lake Washington.

I took (as usual) a TON of pics, I’m just posting a few here today.

Really pleased I took the day off as I’m typing this on Saturday morning and it’s raining outside – you gotta love Seattle weather!

 

So here we are super close to the Holiday’s (that’s Christmas for those of you in England), and we needed some new pics to put on our cards.

In the past this has been a pretty painful experience for everyone. I wanted to create some nice pics for Lisa (so the pressure was one) and James and Abi were made to clean up and pose for pictures (which they hated).

However, over the last few years I’be got a lot faster at capturing these types of images and this year I wanted to be especially quick as we were planning on taking the pictures outside in the rain! Redmond town center has a nice Christmas tree and we thought it would be nice to shoot the kids in front of that. As you would expect the weather was crappy with a light rain coming down the whole time.

To make this super fast I grabbed my Fuji X100T camera which is a fixed focal length (35mm) camera so I couldn’t zoom in or out with he camera. This made me “zoom with my feet” and enabled me to quickly position the kids in front of the tree and grab the shot.

Obviously it was dark out (these shots were taken around 6pm), so I needed some light on their faces. Now I could have gone nuts and got out any number of lights and light modifiers but I again chose to go really simple. I grabbed a single Nissan i40 speed light that I triggered off camera using an infrared trigger. The camera, light and trigger all fitted in my coat pocket and were super easy to set up and use.

I just held the light at arms length off to my left pointing in the general direction of James and Abi and took the shot.

Each image took around 15 seconds and we captured the shots we wanted super fast. James’ girlfriend Bale was with us and he wanted a couple of shots with him and her and we captured those really quickly too!

Lisa was pleased with the images and James and Abi were happy as they didn’t have to stand in the rain for a long time (something that would have been the case a couple of years ago). I’ve clearly come a long way.

Anyway here are the three images that are going on the cards.

It’s funny how when you live really close to a place how frequently you visit. I guess you keep telling yourself “I’ll go another day!” I lived 30 miles from London in the UK for many years and I never went into the city!

Well Seattle is kinda the same. We live no distance at all (it takes about 20 minutes to drive in) and we hardly ever go.

However recently we had some family visitors and we planned a day in the city. The weather was going to be beautiful so I grabbed my camera and off we went.

I had recently brought a new 18-135 lens for our upcoming Orlando vacation and decided to take the lens and check it out. Now it’s not that fast (f/3.5 when shooting at 18mm and drops down to f/5.6 as you zoom in) but the image quality seemed pretty good and as an all weather lens, it seemed a great choice for a family vacation.

As I’m a sucker for ultra wide lenses, I also took along my 14mm f/2.8 so I had some nice wide glass if I needed it.

I won’t bore you with all the family pictures (you will get enough of those when I go to Florida) so I just picked some nice pictures of the city.

I have to say I was REALLY pleased with the new lens. Sure yes it’s not as sharp as some of the primes I have, but being able to just point and shoot without having to keep changing lenses was great.

Lisa is not the most “patient” wife when I’m out with a lot of gear, so I’m adapting and trying to have to photographer persona’s.

There’s the version of me that takes loads of gear and spends lots of time taking the same image from different points of view with different glass, and there’s the husband who grabs the shot with one lens and moves on.

It was a lovely day and I got some nice shots of the city.

Looking forward to really putting the new lens through its paces when we go on our vacation.

Very interesting day yesterday. Abi had a Gym Meet in Bellevue so we all went to that (I say all, I obviously mean Abi, Lisa and I – James stayed at home on his computer). Anyway Abi walked on at 4:30 in the afternoon and the competition finished at 8:30pm.

She did amazingly well and came first in Beam, Bar and Vault and second in Floor, and first overall with a total score of 37.1 a whole point above her nearest competitor. I suspect she was slightly disadvantaged on floor as she was the first person to compete, so the judges base other scores off her! Bottom line it’s always really better to go somewhere in the middle of the pack – that said she was amazing. (Very proud Dad)

What made the day especially interesting was the weather. I should call out that when I left home to go to the meet (around 4pm) it was dry outside. The day had been cold but clear, even with some lovely blue skies. Anyway while at the meet it started to snow.

When we left the gym the snow was sticking and the roads were just terrible. People where sliding all over the place, hitting curbs and cars and it was pretty dangerous.

Lisa and I were in different cars and I got out of their first and headed home. I got on the 520 freeway and the traffic came to a halt around 2 miles from the end of the road. We just weren’t moving at all so in frustration I followed some other cars who exited the freeway by traveling the wrong way off the 520 by driving up the on ramp.

I then cut through back streets (witnessing multiple accidents) and got to the bottom of Novelty hill (we live up a big hill separating Redmond from Duvall.)

Needless to say I was keeping Lisa up to date on my progress over the phone, telling her the state of the roads, so she got to the bottom of Novelty around the same time as me. We tried to get up the hill but it just wasn’t happening, cars that were further up the hill from us had given up, turned round and came down. People told us the road was un-passable and there were too many abandoned cars from failed attempts.

Eventually (after not going anywhere for a while) we gave up too and turned round and tried another hill to get home. This also proved to be impossible and once again we had to turn around and head back to Redmond.

By now it was 10pm and we were hungry and tired. Lisa called the Redmond Marriott and got us a room and we headed there for the night. When she called they were at 40% capacity, when we got there they were nearly full. I called James and told him what was going on and he was fine, said he’d see us in the morning.

At 9am I got Lisa and Abi up, we grabbed some breakfast and headed home (again). We made it up Novelty Hill this time but had to pass around 60 abandoned cars that had been left on the hill. In some places the road was down to a single lane there were just so many cars!

Eventually I made it home and pulled up outside our house that was covered in snow and looked great, so I grabbed a picture of that!

I walked in the house and found James still on his computer in the same clothes.  Apparently with neither Lisa or I there he decided to stay up all night and play games – oh to be 16 again :-(

So today I’m posting two pictures. Abi on the 1st position podium and our house in the snow.

Like I said, an interesting day. :-)

Those that check out my pictures know that I like HDR images.  I know that this isn’t to everyone’s taste but I just love the way they look.  Anyway much to my frustration Lisa doesn’t like HDR photography at all and tells me the images look fake.

I definitely agree that HDR doesn’t work in all situations and you can easily overdo the processing (something I’m guilty of too sometimes).  When I got home I shot the house and bracketed 6 exposures – all one stop apart.

I then threw them all into Photomatix to see what it would produce.  The result was just horrible.  Sure the image had better dynamic range but just looked terrible.

When processing HDR the tone mapping tool (I like Photomatix) is just the beginning, you then need to stack the original images with the tone mapped version in layers in photoshop.  Then the work begins.  You manually blend layers together to produce the desired end result.

Then you denoise the image, add any filter effects (Topaz, NIK or OnOne provide great tools for this) and finally sharpen.

The image above took a while as snow and HDR don’t like each other :-)  This image was a combination of the six original pictures, the Photomatix tone mapped image, an HDR Topaz Adjust image and several NIK color effects filters.

I tried to keep the end result as subtle as possible – hopefully Lisa will like this one.

This picture however, I know she will like :-)  Abi once again in fist place – like I said above, very proud Dad.