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United States Navy Chief’s Team

Ride Across Maryland (RAM) 10th Anniversary

Results Not Excuses

Retired Chief Petty Officer Kirk Towner is Team Captain of a RAM team of active and retired Chief Petty Officers, 25 plus have agreed to participate with a goal of 125 plus.

Request the CPOA consider a donation to this great cause in honor of one of our own Chief Petty Officer Dabet Valez. Fort Meade CPOA and Patuxent River CPOA have each donated $500.00 to the team. Suitland CPOA will donate $25.00 for every member that participates in the ride.

Team membership is open to family, friends, and the public for those interested in supporting the team for this great cause. You can ride with on the ride or in your heart by joining the team virtually.

To join the team you do not need to ride, you can drive and meet us in Ocean City or be a member virtually and at heart. If you are able to make a donation or join the team, it would be much appreciated. Every little bit helps in the end for the donation that is provided to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Details of the ride and lodging information can be found on the website. Francis Scott Key is the host and is a great place to stay.

Type Kirk Towner in the link below to be taken to my page with the team link.

http://rideacrossmd.kintera.org/faf/search/searchParticipants.asp?ievent=318513&lis=0&kntae318513=31BD65AC683246909DB78DB3CA63B381

Thanks you for your support!

Cheers, Kirk (krtowner@comcast.net 410-693-8184)

United States Navy Chief’s Team

Ride Across Maryland (RAM) 10th Anniversary

5-7 June 2010

Results Not Excuses

Retired Chief Petty Officer Kirk Towner is Team Captain of a RAM team of active and retired Chief Petty Officers, 25 plus have agreed to participate with a goal of 125 plus.

Request the CPOA consider a donation to this great cause in honor of one of our own Chief Petty Officer Dabet Valez. Fort Meade CPOA and Patuxent River CPOA have each donated $500.00 to the team. Suitland CPOA will donate $25.00 for every member that participates in the ride.

Team membership is open to family, friends, and the public for those interested in supporting the team for this great cause. You can ride with on the ride or in your heart by joining the team virtually.

To join the team you do not need to ride, you can drive and meet us in Ocean City or be a member virtually and at heart. If you are able to make a donation or join the team, it would be much appreciated. Every little bit helps in the end for the donation that is provided to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Details of the ride and lodging information can be found on the website. Francis Scott Key is the host and is a great place to stay.

Type Kirk Towner in the link below to be taken to my page with the team link.

http://rideacrossmd.kintera.org/faf/search/searchParticipants.asp?ievent=318513&lis=0&kntae318513=31BD65AC683246909DB78DB3CA63B381

Thanks you for your support!

Cheers, Kirk

Smoker’s Hands


I won first place for this photo last night at the Arundel Camera Club. The judge really seemed to like the photo. I actually took this photo several years ago but it didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. I have entered it into contest before but not placed.

For an upcoming contest with the theme of “old” I dug this photo out and reprocessed it.

To transform the original into the final version, I used Photoshop CS 4 to sharpen the image. Then I sharpened it again and lowered the opacity to taste. So this is very over sharpened. But it worked to give me the effect I wanted. This really brought out the wrinkles in his hands and detail in his shit.I also cloned out the writing on his zipper tab. I found it distracting.

Here is the original

Smoker's Hands

Merry Christmas

Christmas Balls (Helicon Focus)

Ok every since I saw my first hummingbird show up this year I have been dying to take a good photo of one. My first photo is not great and is a male sitting on a branch. But I wanted one in flight.

Ruby Throated male Hummingbird

So I looked around on Flickr and got a few tips. My next try was ass backwards. I set up six flashes triggered by Nikon wireless CLS around a feeder and blasted the poor hummingbird on full power while my Nikon D300 was set to a shutter speed of 1/8000.

Hummingbird Setup

This resulted in these photos. Note there is still motion blur in the wings.

Humming Bird

Humming Bird

Turns out I made a few mistakes. First FP Sync has issues. Again more tips and help from the Flickr community.

According to John Groseclose. Checkout his photos. They are great.

“If you’re trying to “freeze” motion, FP Sync isn’t the way to go. Since it turns the flash into a constant light source for the 1/300 or so it takes for the complete transit of the shutter slit across the sensor, you will still end up with blur.If you’d used an ND filter to knock down the ambient to black instead of using the high shutter speed to do it, you’d be using the flash duration of 1/1000ish at full power instead of the 1/300ish of the FP Sync. And since FP Sync loses a lot of power anyway, you might even be able to drop the flash power to 1/16 or so, and get a flash duration of 1/10000 or shorter (see page 122 of your SB-800 manual for the power/duration listings).

See webs.lanset.com/rcochran/flash/hss.html for details.

“You’ll want to get to a point where the ambient light is *zero*. If you shoot without flash, the scene should be *black*.

Then add flashes until you have enough to see the bird at a good exposure. That’ll freeze it.

At 1/250, f/8, ISO 400, you’re almost shooting for direct sunlight (f/16, ISO 100, 1/125 is “Sunny 16″.) Turn your ISO to 100, shutter to 1/250, and hit f/16. Don’t be afraid to crank your power up – the Metz 48 shouldn’t exceed 1/1000 at full power, and 1/2000 at half power.”


According to Michael Roy a.k.a. digitaldirectphotos.com. Checkout his photos and setups. They are awesome. Maybe buy his calendar.

” the ghosting appear because too much light hit the sensor. if you disconnect the flashes, everything should be almost black… if not ghosting appear. 1/16 should be ok for the flashes…, i would increase the f stop to f14 to f20 lower the iso to 250… the flashes have to be close to subject… use a patio umbrella or shoot when it is not in full sun… just like in studio.”

I really needed to reduce my shutter speed to 1/250 (i.e., no FP sync). Second I needed to decrease the power of the strobes down to say 1/16 power. The lower power settings actually allow the strobe to fire faster. This is where I am learning that when the strobes are the primary light source their speed is actually the important factor in the exposure. In stead of six flashes I am now using three on stands set around the feeder. Finally some of the blur was from my wide open F stop. I closed down that F-stop to the point that without flash, the photos were black. The next photos show this. Note that I have much better motion stop less blur.

Hummingbird

Hummingbird

Also note the black background. I wanted a beautiful background. So again more tips from Flickr community. I put a piece of black foam core behind the feeder. I took an out of focus shot of my day lillies, printed that on a piece of plain paper and taped that to the foam core behind the feeder. Finally I took one more strobe and used it to light the background. This resulted in the following photos. I learned this trick from digitaldirectphotos.com as well.

Here are the backgrounds I have used so far.

Yellow Day Lilly Background

Pink Cone Flower Background

With these background I got the following photos.

Hummingbird

Hummingbird

So I haven’t seen the male come back since my first photo and I sit around for hours and I am lucky if the female comes around once or twice. Today there were two females and they came around much more frequently and did not seem affraid of the flashes. One just about flew up the camera lens and into the house. My understanding is that by mid August the offspring will be leaving the nest. Cross your fingers. But this is sure a lot of fun. Now the next challenge will be changing up the backgrounds to see what I can get.

Yea I finally had a male show up. It happened so fast I didn’t even realize it until post.

Hummingbird on Gold

Train Photography

Night Train (HDR) Western Maryland Scenic Railroad (HDR)

Who doesn’t like trains? They are a massive symbol of a great industrial age. Their importance to America’s Manifest Destiny is undeniable only surpassed by the age of flight. If you like photographing trains there are many wonderful opportunities nearby in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Here in Maryland we have the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum and the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. In Pennsylvania you can find the the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania and the Strasburg Railroad.

The B&O Railroad Museum makes for a great day out and is conveniently located in Baltimore. It has 40 acres showcasing a number of historic railroad buildings including the historic Roundhouse and a huge collection of locomotives and rolling stock. The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is a two hour drive to Strasburg Pennsylvania near Lancaster. It hosts five acres of locomotives and rolling stock from 18 different Pennsylvania railroads.

Although the museums are great, I really prefer the challenge of photographing living breathing moving locomotives under full steam. Two and a half hours away In Cumberland Maryland they run steam locomotive rides during the day. You can ride the train but you will get the best photos watching it come and go. If you choose to ride the train there is a car that has openings where they store bikes that you can lean out of the train and get some shots. There is even a curve in the track where you can shoot the front of the train from the back of the train. Just watch out or you will get a mouth full of coal ashes.

I got my best photos when the train arrived for boarding and departed for its run to Frostburg 32 miles away. Then I drove to Frostburg to photograph the train arriving from Cumberland. The highlight in Frostburg is watching the locomotive being turned on the turntable. You need a wide angle lens to get the whole train in the frame. I used a 17mm. While the train is lying over in Frostburg there are great opportunities to walk to the front of the train and photograph it on the tracks before it heads back to Cumberland. This was a great opportunity to shoot some HDR shots of the train. In fact it is almost a necessity. If you expose for the train the sky is white. If you expose for the sky the train is black. HDR to the rescue.

As a bonus I stayed and photographed the mystery dinner theater train leaving and returning from Cumberland that night. This is not a steam train but a diesel train. Where else can you stand on a train track in the middle of the night and get a long exposure of a train up close headlight beaming into the night. Make sure and bring a tripod.

Across the street from the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is the Strasburg Railroad. You can ride this train as well but the ride is 20 minutes in one direction, they turn the train, and 20 minutes back. I did not like photographing the train on departure because the locomotive is hooked to the cars backwards. I got my best shots by driving two mile down the road and finding a crossroad that intersected with the train track. I waited for the train to return and photographed it going through the Amish countryside. As soon as the train passed I drove back to the station and just barely got back in time to photograph the train returning to the station. The last train of the day will pull up to the water tower providing a great opportunity for photography before they tuck it away for the evening.

Published in the Bowie-Crofton Camera Club newsletter
"THE VIEWFINDER" May 2009

My wife and I spent the weekend in Lancaster Pennsylvania Easter Weekend. The highlight of the weekend was our visit to the Strasburg Railroad.

I took this between the rain clearing and the sun coming out. Basically an ugly white sky. That is why I converted it to monochrome. I didn’t like the trees when I was framing the shot. I was waiting for the train to clear the trees. But in hind sight I like the smoke billowing through the leafless trees.

You can ride the train. It leaves about once an hour. The ride is only 45 minutes round trip. The engine pulls the train backwards on the outbound. But the engine is facing forwards as show in this photo on the return trip. I guess they don’t have a round table to turb the engine around.

I only liked photographing the train on the return trip. We drove down a couple of miles to a cross road and I waited for it to return. After it passed I drove down to the train station and photographed its return.

The railroad museum is across the street but we didn’t go in. I much prefer the moving train under full steam than the exhibits at the museum.

You can find more of my train photos at my flickr site.

Screech Owl

DSC_1242

If you want a great opportunity to photograph raptors, and you live near Baltimore, this is your chance. The Carrie Murray Nature Center in Baltimore is hosting its annual spring photo shoot. Animals featured will be their resident birds of prey and set them in natural settings outside. In the past they have had a barn owl, a red tailed hawks, a great horned owl, a raven, a kite, screech owls, and a vulture.

For more photos check out the Carrie Murray Nature Center Raptor Shoots

Saturday April 11, 2009
From 10 am- 3 pm
Cost is $20 for adults and $8 for children( 12 and under)

Dress for the weather! The photo shoot will take place rain or shine. No pet Please.

Please Pre-register by calling:

Lloyd Tydings
phone: (410) 396-0808
fax: (410) 265-1085
Email:Lloyd.tydings@baltimorecity.gov

Horizon Workshops


Donna (Hi-Key)

Originally uploaded by bmthomas

I took a Beauty and Glamour workshop from Horizon Workshops up in Chesapeake City, Maryland. Steve Gottlieb is the driving force behind Horizon Workshops. The workshop was taught by Joe Edelman.

First of all this was a Beauty and Glamour workshop not a nude workshop. There is a difference.

The workshop started Friday night with a slide show and lecture and the opportunity to meet the other students. On Saturday we were supposed to have two models, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Unfortunately one didn’t show up in the afternoon. Luckily Donna agreed to stay all day.

We did a number of sets and outfits. We started with Donna wearing jeans and a sweater, then a yellow bikini, a white bikini, and finally lingerie. We did hi-key and low-key. We tried out one, two, and three light setups. We did portraits and three quarter body shots.

Saturday night we all went out for a late dinner and some socializing. We were joined by another class.

Sunday we had another model, Sarah. We did some natural light shorts of Sarah both by a window indoors and in the shade outdoors. We also did studio lighting shots of Sarah.

Donna and Sarah were very different models. Donna was curvaceous, blond, and tan. Sarah was not tan or curvaceous. She was very tall and lean and gorgeous long flowing hair.

Joe finished off Sunday by showing us the post processing he does to images. He was a wiz at Photoshop. He used liquify to make many small changes to thighs, waste, etc., smoothed skin, highlighted eyes, teeth, and lips, and he even straightened Donna’s belly button piercing.

Joe was a lot of fun. His attention to detail bordered on fanatic. He was also a little hyper. Combine the two and we had a lot of fun. Although very good at Photoshop, he very much pushed us to get the shot in camera. His business is model portfolios with model business counseling.

Chesapeake City is only a one and a half hour drive north. There are a few B&B’s in Chesapeake City and hotels nearby in Elkton.

All in all the workshop was a lot of fun and I would definitely take another one.

Published in the Bowie-Crofton Camera Club newsletter
"THE VIEWFINDER" May 2009

Bobcat Artic Wolf

I discovered the Lakota Wolf preserve in 2007. It was featured in the Tamron Newsletter. The Lakota Wolf Preserve is in New Jersey near the Delaware Water Gap and is only a four hour drive away. You can find details at their web site www.lakotawolf.com. I went there in January 2007. It was bitter cold and had snowed the night before and was worth every second and dollar.

The compound consists of four large fenced in areas. In one area there were three Artic wolves. The Artic wolves were beautiful white wolves but they were very shy. The photographer that escorted us throughout the shoot used dog biscuits to lure the wolves closer. The other enclosures had packs of Timber and Tundra wolves. There was one additional much smaller enclosure that had bobcats and foxes.

For photographers they allow you inside the outer fence. They have hinged portals cut in the fence that allows photographers to photograph the wolves without having to focus through the fence. The enclosures were large enough to easily keep the fence out of the photos. Another nice thing is that you do not need a 600mm lens. I used a 200mm when I went.

They welcome photography clubs. I just looked on their site and a two hour session is $300. As I recall they had half day and all day sessions available but they are not currently listed on their web site. This is the time of year to go while the wolves have their full winter coats and if you time it right you can get a nice snowy background.

Originally Published in the Bowie-Crofton Camera Club newsletter “THE VIEWFINDER” March 2009

Fox

Gels

For an upcoming photo contest at the Arundel Camera Club with the theme of Still Life, I created my own rendition of the traditional wine and cheese still life.

_DSC0232 _DSC0227
_DSC0229 _DSC0225

I used a Metz48 behind and under the table to light the wine bottle and glasses by aiming it at a black background with white boarders on each end. I used a SB800 to light the cheese and grapes with a gobo to keep from lighting the wine bottle and glasses. Since I used Nikon CLS to remotely trigger the Metz and SB800 I also used another gobo to keep the on camera flash from lighting the wine bottle and glasses. Then I used colored gels to change the background color and thus the color of the wine bottle and glasses. I don’t like the red. The blue has an interesting effect of making the wine bottle nearly black.