It’s that time of year again, when Lisa asks me to get some shots of the kids for a Christmas Card.  Usually this is horribly painful – ask any photography what it’s like when they have to shoot their own kids – it’s a nightmare!  Anyone else is fine, but your own kids just don’t want to play – at all.

But this year things were different – don’t know why, but Abi was great, she got dressed when I asked her and ran out into the garden with a big smile on her face.  The night before we had some snow come down so it gave us the perfect backdrop for some nice portraits.  I shot Abi Saturday morning and everything went great, but James was still in bed – in fact he stayed in bed until 3pm and by the time he had got up and had breakfast the sun was no longer visible and everything was in shade.

Initially I thought it was going to be another terrible year.  But then Sunday morning comes along and James comes down stairs at 10am all dressed and said “I’m ready, let’s take the pictures”.  He stood where I asked, posed how I asked and smiled on queue.  NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.

I can honestly say it was a pleasure taking the shots.

I took a few images of both James and Abi and gave them all to Lisa and she picked a couple of go on our card that she has ordered already.  I’ve picked four images below that I really liked.  I should say that the third one down (of James) I really thought was great.  I told him not to smile but to kind of look serious. It came out really well.

One day I’ll get a nice picture of James without his beanie but until then I’ll settle for the pictures below.

If you ever come to Seattle there are LOADS of places to visit and things to do, but one of my favorites is Boeing’s Museum of Flight.  In case you didn’t know Boeing – those are the people who make the big jumbo jets, are based in Seattle and most of their big planes are made or assembled here.  Anyway they happen to have their own museum that has a load of both old second world war planes along with some more modern military and commercial planes.

So Sunday morning I just felt like going out and grabbing some pictures so headed off to Boeing Field to visit the museum.

I got there around 11am and it was pretty quiet, which was odd as it was suck a beautiful day, I thought loads of people would have turned up!  But I used the lack of visitors to my advantage and got some great shots.

This museum is a great place to practice my HDR photography.  This is a technique where I take multiple shots of the same subject each with different “exposures”. (This means some are dark and some are bright).  Then when I get home use special software to blend the images together to create one picture.

HDR images don’t have any super bright blown out highlights or really dark shadows, you can bring out details in the entire scene.  One of the best examples is if you are shooting a subject that’s back lit.  For example something inside with a window behind.  With HDR both the indoors subject looks great AND the outside is clear (you can see examples of this down below).

A big challenge of HDR is that you really need to put your camera on a tripod, this allows you to have longer exposures (that would have been blurry due to hand shake if you hand held) and also means that the multiple images don’t need to be aligned in post processing.  Now in most museums you can’t use a tripod (they actually get really angry if you try), but luckily the Museum of Flight is ok with them.  So all my images below were shot on a tripod.

I got a lot of shots and had a blast processing them when I got home to produce the images below.  I actually have a load more but these are my favorites.

OK I know what you’re thinking, what happened to the Image a week?  Well work has been pretty busy (got a new job) and I’ve got a lot on at the moment and unfortunately getting out with the camera took a back seat.

But this week I got the opportunity to visit Northwest Trek which was a fantastic trip.

I went with some of the guys from work (Eric, Chris and Adam), all of use aspiring photographers .  Northwest Trek is basically a safari park at the base of Mount Rainier that contains animals that are indigenous to the Pacific North West, so loads of Elk, Moose, Bison and Bear’s (I’m sure you get the idea).

Now some of the animals are herbivores so pose no danger to us, so those are all running free in a huge park area.  Other animals (black and brown bears, coyote’s and cougars etc., obviously can be pretty dangerous so they are in enclosures.

To see the safe ones, we had to be at the park by 9am and we are driven around on a large bus with no windows that stops for you to take pictures.  The driver of the bus was excellent, she took us all over the park and would pull over when ever we asked and turn off the engine so there was not vibration.  We would all then hang out of the windows to take pictures and then we’d move off again.  This part of the tour lasted nearly 3 hours.

Then we got to walk around the park looking at the carnivores in their enclosures.  The park is really beautiful and the enclosures are pretty large and naturally look like the normal habitat of the animals (that said it’s still a cage so is a little sad).

Anyway, I got LOADs of pictures and am posting some of my favorites here.

While viewing the park I also shot a couple of landscape shots so you can see what the park looks like.

Ironically my favorite thing to shoot was a squirrel that was just sitting in a tree (it wasn’t an exhibit at all).  But he had no fear and just sat there posing, so I got him too.

Hope you like the images.