Wednesday, April 24, 2019

HDR Photography : The Frankenstein Way

This over saturated image above is what happens when a person is bored to death and goes the Frankenstein way using HDR. What can I say, once in a while it's fun to experiment, it doesn't hurt to try different things.

I was reading Trey Ratcliff's blog the first time I heard the term HDR. Can't remember how I landed in his blog. Immediately fell in love with the technique; when done correctly, the images come to life with dramatic contrast, incredible detail and vivid color. At the time I don't think I even had my first DLSR yet.

As someone with natural artistic talent, I was fascinated with the vibrant colors and making my images pop the way I wanted. To me is all about getting better color rendition in my photography.

Even though HDR photography has a lot of critics, I don't think is any different than processing and manipulating images in the darkroom. The difference, to me, is that now we don't have to deal with exposure to fumes and toxic chemicals. And is not messy.

There are lots of Frankenstein images out there. People take multiple exposures to create an HDR blend, then Frankenstein them together with over saturation and contrasting, just like I did with the above picture.

If there's one thing I've learned since I first began using HDR, is that adding this technique to certain images has given me more options. In my opinion, my photography is improving, and that is always a good thing.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Behind The Scenes Photography

Just to quench my photography thirst, yesterday evening after having diner at my favorite joint, I took the train to downtown Philadelphia to take a couple of pictures.

Philadelphia has been photographed ad nauseam, in fact I am running out of places to shoot in the city. It was still early, so I wandered around aimlessly and finally decided to visit Lenfest Plaza, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

If you are not familiar with this location, it is famous for a naval plane sculpture called "Grumman Greenhouse" that it's displayed in Lenfest Plaza. It was donated by Philadelphia artist Jordan Griska.

A while back I tried photographing this plane sculpture next to my motorcycle using a light painting technique. Maybe it was the wrong composition, bad lighting or I was rushing to finish it, but I wasn't happy with the final result. Click on this link to see the plane sculpture next to my bike.

Lately, I've been doing something different. This is an idea that occurred to me after finding this picture that I took 4 years ago.

I figured why not include myself in the photograph? It gives the viewer a different perspective and composition of the entire picture. In my opinion, adding a person to your images can also give a sense of scale and add interest to your photography. Now I can go back and recreate some of my older favorite images by putting a personal spin using this idea.

Do you include yourself in your photography?

Click on this link to see a bigger version of the image above....

Behind The Shot : Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1

My first digital camera was a Nikon D100, designed for professionals and advanced enthusiasts. It was my first serious camera. Despite being a camera made in 2002, it's a well built camera and still takes beautiful photos.

The testing ground for my first DSLR images was one of the most iconic New York City locations, Brooklyn Bridge Park. Despite anticipated crowds over the 4th of July long weekend, the location wasn't very crowded when I arrived. It was a bright, beautiful, sunny day.

Something quite interesting took place, the first arrivals was a group of people older than me. Among them was a group of what could be considered grandmothers. It's funny because sometimes I forget that at my young age of 63, and having white hair, identifies me as a senior citizen. Our patronizing euphemism for the dreaded words “old man". At my age, young people call me "Pop", but I digress.

They were prepared with digital cameras and tripods of various brands; they even brought their own food. While we waited for the sun to go down in the horizon, they shared their food among themselves. It felt like being at a picnic.

Tried to engage them in conversation to find out what motivated them to get involved in photography, unfortunately no one from the group spoke English.

I hope that when I reach their age, I am able to continue learning, improving, and above all, still enjoying the art of photography.

The pictures below were taken that day. Click on this link to see a bigger version.....

Sunday, April 14, 2019

How Do You Overcome the Fear of Getting Your Motorcycle Stolen?

With upwards of 46,000 motorcycles stolen each year in the US, I know the odds are stacked against me.

Just read about a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R owner who got his bike stolen last night, stolen out of the hotel parking lot. He rode from Michigan to Austin, Texas to attend MotoGP, Grand Prix of the Americas.

One of my greatest fears is exactly what happened to the owner of the ZX-14R. I am afraid of getting my motorcycle stolen from the hotel parking lot when I travel. I doubt I would ever overcome this fear.

Sure, I’ve got insurance, but I would never be able to recover the time and energy, blood, sweat and tears that I have invested in my ride. Not to mention the hassle, and the feeling of violation that accompanies a theft. I just don’t need it.

Fear of theft causes me a lot of angst, I am sure I am not alone. This is the reason why I refuse to watch YouTube videos on motorcycle theft. It only takes a few seconds to lift your entire bike and throw it in the back of a van.

Several years ago I bought a disc lock; the lock gives me some peace of mind. But even with the best security, there’s still a chance that my bike might get stolen.

My first real trip after purchasing my Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14, I attended the Summer Nationals motorcycle dragrace at Maryland International Raceway. Even though I parked my bike in clear view of the hotel front entry, and I asked the front desk clerk to keep an eye on my bike, I could not sleep. It was a long sleepless weekend.

I feel terrible for the owner of the ZX-14R, I don't know him but I can empathize with his plight. It is something I wouldn't wish to happen on my worst enemy.

The picture above was taken several years ago, while refueling at a gas station on my way home after the races were over at Maryland International Raceway.

Un Pueblo Que Elige A Corruptos, No Es Victima, Es Complice

Dicen que la frase "cada nacion tiene el gobierno que se merece", es una frase que responsabiliza al pueblo por las acciones que realizan los lideres politicos elegidos.  Esta frase se puede aplicar a la ignorancia de los votantes sobre quien los desea gobernar.

Es lamentable, pero muchas personas votan sin saber cual es la plataforma del candidato y el partido politico al cual se le da el voto. Muchas personas votan a ciegas, no saben que ideas o soluciones el candidato ofrece para tratar de resolver los problemas que nos aquejan como pueblo.

La realidad es que una gran parte del problema en el cual esta sumergido Puerto Rico es culpa del mismo pueblo puertorriqueño. Nosotros somos expertos culpando a otros de nuestros problemas.

La triste realidad es que a la hora de votar en las elecciones, en vez de darle el voto a una persona capacitada en su puesto,  a una persona con buenas ideas para mejorar el estado economico del pais, generacion tras generacion preferimos darle el voto al mismo alicate incompetente de los dos partidos principales del pais. Siempre elegimos a un corrupto del Partido Popular Democratico o a otro corrupto del Partido Nuevo Progresista.

Le damos el voto al mismo soplapote que por generaciones se ha estado robando los chavos en la alcaldia o en el Senado. Acostumbramos a votar por el mismo charlatan, el que ofrezca mas mantengo y ayudas gratis, el mismo politico chanchullero por el cual voto nuestra abuela, nuestros padres, etc.

Pasamos las de Cain con Fortuño y el Partido Nuevo Progresista, y le damos el voto a el incompetente Alejandro Garcia Padilla del Partido Popular Democratico. Para colmo, sacamos a un incompetente y elegimos a Ricardo Rosello, un individuo sin ningun tipo de experiencia politica, hijo del gobernador mas corrupto en la historia de Puerto Rico. Sacamos a Guatemala y le damos el voto a Guatapeor. Nuestro pueblo es un pueblo masoquista, nos gusta que nos traten mal.

El Partido Popular Democratico y el Partido Nuevo Progresista son los que han llevado nuestra isla a la quiebra, y todavia nos estamos quejando como nos tratan y abusan de nosotros.

La culpa es de nosotros, el pueblo puertorriqueño, por continuar dandoles el voto. Un pueblo que elige politicos incompetentes y corruptos, no es victima, es complice de la incompetencia y la corrupcion.

Friday, April 12, 2019

La Casa Blanca y el Presidente Trump Considero Soltar Immigrantes en Ciudades Santuario

La administracion racista y xenofobica del presidente Trump ha sido agarrada con las manos en la masa, acusada de tratar de transportar en guaguas a immigrantes detenidos en la frontera de Mexico y soltarlos en las calles de ciudades santuario, como venganza para castigar a sus enemigos politicos.

Segun el reporte de prensa, el presidente Trump presiono a la secretaria de Seguridad Nacional, Kirstjen Nielsen, para que liberara a los immigrantes detenidos en la frontera sur de Mexico en las llamadas ciudades santuario, para tomar represalias contra el partido democrata en Estados Unidos.

No hace ni tres dias que el xenofobico racista presidente de los Estados Unidos visito la frontera de Mexico y dijo que su nacion esta demasiada llena de gente, (the U.S. is full) que ya no van a aceptar a nadie que entre por la frontera del sur de Mexico. Los republicanos asumen que toda persona que cruza la frontera son personas de tez oscura. Esa declaracion por el presidente suena igual a como se expresaban los alemanes en el tiempo de Hitler.

Cuando el presidente habla de (preserving our heritage)"preservar nuestro patrimonio", evoca los tiempos de Hitler cuando aquellos que no eran blancos puros (Aryan race) eran enviados a los campos de concentracion.

Trump no quiere en Estados Unidos a las personas de habla hispana, nos acusa de ser violadores y criminales. Ahora hay evidencia de los planes de este racista y xenofobico cruel gobierno de querer  transportar personas arrestadas en la frontera y soltarlas en ciudades santuario con el proposito de perpetuar el miedo y demonizar a los immigrantes.

El Partido Nuevo Progresista y el Partido Popular Democratico continuan con sus deseos de ser parte de una nacion con la cual no compartimos ni el idioma ni la cultura. Nuestros corruptos politicos rojos y azules prefieren ser parte de esta nacion racista, con tal de continuar recibiendo el mantengo y las ayudas federales.

"La dignidad del ser humano es inviolable".....asi comienza la Carta de Derechos de la Constitucion de Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico, una isla en quiebra, es el pais del mantengo. Para muchos puertorriqueños, en mi opinion, mas vale el mantengo y el ser anexos a un pais que promueve el racismo, que la dignidad del ser humano.

¡Coño despierta Boricua!

Monday, April 8, 2019

IRS Tax Refund : The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

This year I filed my taxes at the end of February. That's kind of late for me, I usually do my taxes as soon as I get my W-2's from my employer in mid January.

My tax preparer normal fee is $49.00 dollars. Unlike previous years, this time I decided to bite the bullet and pay a little extra to get them via direct deposit.

The income tax preparer promised a quick return, I would get them in 7 working days, she said. She's being preparing my taxes for the last 4 years, so I had no reason to doubt her.

Every year, submitting my tax return via snail mail, I usually receive my refund 5-6 weeks later. The refund check did not arrive in 7 working days like my tax preparer promised, it was not a direct deposit either. I went to the IRS website and read a notice that said they were unable to process my direct deposit; it also said they will be sending the check by mail.

One thing I noticed at the IRS website is that they stated that most e-filed tax returns will be processed within 21 days from the date the IRS receives your tax return, not 7 working days like my tax preparer promised.

The refund check arrived by mail, 5 weeks after my tax preparer filed my taxes and charged me extra for direct deposit. During lunch time went to the bank and deposited the refund check on my account.

Today, I came home from work and found a letter from the IRS with this message:
Like I said, my tax refund check is already deposited in my bank account. To be honest, I am not upset that my refund check arrived 5 weeks later after I paid extra to get it quicker. I figured, as long as I don't owe money to the IRS, I am a happy camper.