moon

2015: A Look Back – My Year in Photos

Well, it’s the end of the year. Which of course means here are my favorite images I shot during 2015. Some were easy to pick, some were not. Some may not be technically perfect, some may not be well composed, some may have crappy lighting, but here are some of my faves of 2015. For more images, visit my gallery 2015: My Year in Photos.

It is hard to pick my favorite photos of 2015, and making it harder is that I like to shoot sports, weddings, portraits, news, and landscapes with equal vigor. When I shoot, I put in all my skill and more effort than required. For me, having my name attached to it means I put my all into it. This is not just a hobby of mine, but a passion. Prints of these or any of my photos are available for purchase. Click on the photo so it can take you to the gallery where you can buy a print of your favorite image.

Grueling Take Down

Squalicum defenders wrap up Bellingham wide receiver Cole Allain (3) as he attempts a kick return during the first quarter of the season opener at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Friday evening Sept. 4, 2015. (© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald)

Squalicum defenders wrap up Bellingham wide receiver Cole Allain (3) as he attempts a kick return during the first quarter of the season opener at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Friday evening Sept. 4, 2015. (© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald)

I like this photos because it shows the moment of impact when the three opposing players tackled the ball carrier. The strength is shown in their arms, the struggle to move the ball up in his face, and the power of the tacklers. It has a face, a moment, framing, and the ball.

Click Here to View More Of My Favorites!!!

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Solar Eclipse and the Apocalypse in the Pacific Northwest

Yesterday, Thursday October 23, 2014, was apocalyptic. The weather we had here in the Seattle area was remarkable and unprecedented.

We had thunder and lightning, heavy rain, high wind, flooding, and a tornado. Yes, a tornado. The second one in a month. First was a waterspout in south Puget Sound. The second was in Longview, Wash.:  Tornado on KIRO TV

And during all this, a Solar Eclipse.

 Just Peeking:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The horns of a solar eclipse peek over the flag flying at the intersection of Northwest and Birchwood Avenues in Bellingham, Wash., during the partial solar eclipse on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The horns of a solar eclipse peek over the flag flying at the intersection of Northwest and Birchwood Avenues in Bellingham, Wash., during the partial solar eclipse on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

Yep, A Solar Eclipse.

I didn’t expect to see it. The clouds and rains continued throughout the morning. I thought my plans to shoot it were thwarted so I opted to get caught up on house chores.

While doing laundry, I kept an eye out for the clouds to part. Oddly enough, the rain stopped and the sky cleared just as I put in the last load into the dryer. Sweet.

Must put my plans back into action. To save time, I preset my D300s with my 80-200 f/2.8

First Attempt at the Cross:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The partial solar eclipse and the cross at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Walnut Street in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The partial solar eclipse and the cross at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. While shooting this, I realized a thin veil of cloud would help bring the foreground object and eclipse into the dynamic range of the camera.

Lacking the phone and my computer as they were in the house, I grabbed my B+W ND3 neutral density filter to look at the sun. The eclipse hadn’t started yet.

As I didn’t know the weather would cooperate, I hurriedly finished the laundry (ie threw it on the bed. LOL) and headed out to check on a few spots I planned out.

So, I headed out to my first place: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at the intersection of Walnut and Eldridge Avenues.

While driving there, I saw how the wind was whipping a large U.S. flag on a tall pole as I passed it. So I turned around to photograph the progressing eclipse.

But, after shooting a few frames, I looked at the photos and saw how over exposed the images were.  With that, I chose to use my ND2 neutral density filter with its 6 stop loss of light. This allowed me to shoot at a high shutter speed while maintaining a wide aperture..

In It’s Glory:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A seagull lands on the flag pole at the intersection of Northwest and Birchwood Avenues in Bellingham, Wash., during the partial solar eclipse on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – A seagull lands on the flag pole at the intersection of Northwest and Birchwood Avenues in Bellingham, Wash., during the partial solar eclipse on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

Plus it cut the light to protect the interior of the lens and lessen the intensity of the light hitting the sensor. With a few better exposed frames, I left then headed to my original place.

Upon arriving, I found a parking spot that gave me great flexibility to move, but I couldn’t align the cross with the eclipse. The positioning required me to shoot through a tree. But I was able to frame the duo with the branches of the tree.

However, I couldn’t get a decent exposure. Either the eclipse was blown out, or the foreground was black. Very difficult to expose for it well.

Requiem II:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The partial solar eclipse and the cross at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Walnut Street in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The partial solar eclipse and the cross at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Walnut Street in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

As much as I hated it, I needed clouds. Thin clouds would cut down the light and allow the eclipse to show. This would help balance the exposure.

After 10 minutes, I decided to drive to Assumption Catholic Church. This also allowed the eclipse to progress and the clouds to move in. When I got to the church, it was clear it wouldn’t work.

By this time, the clouds were moving in rather quick. I headed back to the parking lot by the Episcopal church. When I arrived, the eclipse was lower to the horizon and the clouds were cooperating. The tree was no longer a bother.

Requiem I:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The partial solar eclipse and the cross at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Walnut Street in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The partial solar eclipse and the cross at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Walnut Street in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

While shooting, I noticed how the cross would silhouette against a bright cloud that also dimmed the eclipse. The clouds were moving fast, so I needed to move fast. And what do you know?

A pickup truck was parked right where I need to be. So with me running around this truck in the parking lot working the eclipse before it disappeared, I’m sure it looked weird to anyone watching as I ran around the truck pointing my lens towards the heavens.

My favorite photo is the one titled “Requiem I.” It’s simple and clean

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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Paul is a Seattle-based photojournalist specializing in news, sports, feature, travel, and portraiture. He also photographs weddings and portraits in Bellingham, Whatcom County, and Skagit County.

He is available for assignments in the Pacific Northwest. Contact him at paulconradphotography@gmail.com or (206) 450-8632 for availability.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Shooting the alpenglow on Mt. Shucksan while waiting for the rise of the super perigee Moon on Saturday evening June 22, 2013. As I liked the reflection better, I turned the center post of the tripod upside down to get my camera closer. Unfortunately, I inadvertently hit the focus ring and knocked it out of focus.

Tape: A Small, Yet Useful Tool

Think about this: What minor tool do you use regulary, that if you forgot, it would impact your image taking?

It was a beautiful clear evening and the super perigee Moon was coming up on Saturday June 22, 2013. Checking a few of my favorite shooting spots, The Photographer’s Ephemeris said the Moon should be rising above Mt. Shuksan in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. So, I loaded up my gear into the car, kissed my wife on the forehead, and drove to Picture Lake at the Mount Baker Ski Area.

Setting Up:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Shooting the alpenglow on Mt. Shucksan while waiting for the rise of the super perigee Moon on Saturday evening June 22, 2013. As I liked the reflection better, I turned the center post of the tripod upside down to get my camera closer. Unfortunately, I inadvertently hit the focus ring and knocked it out of focus.

But the one simple tool I forgot: A small roll of gaffer’s tape. I usually keep a roll in my camera bag, but earlier I had taken it out to tape up a backdrop to some poles. It last forever. I bought my trio of black, white, and gray, from Glazer’s Camera for about $12

For some reason, I took it out of my camera bag the day before and forgot to put it back in. I did not realize I forgot it until I arrived at my destination and began setting up for the shoot.

What I usually do is simple. After setting my camera up, I focus the lens, turn off the autofocus, and tape the focus ring. However, without tape, this was a futile effort.

Taping the Lens:

A small piece of Gaffer's Tape would've prevented a costly mishap

As Picture Lake was still frozen from the winter, I set my camera up on my tripod nearest I could to a melted portion of the lake. After spending about 15 or 20 minutes shooting, I wanted to get my camera lower to the water to get more of Mt. Shuksan reflected in the melted portion of the lake.

So I took the tripod and flipped the center pole. Then I put the tripod back where it was and adjusted the composition. I used video mode to do this. However, I unknowingly bumped the focus ring and for the next 20 frames, the mountain was out and the freezing water was in focus.

Upside Down:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Shooting the alpenglow on Mt. Shuksan while waiting for the rise of the super perigee Moon on Saturday evening June 22, 2013. As I liked the reflection better, I turned the center post of the tripod upside down to get my camera closer. Unfortunately, I inadvertently hit the focus ring and knocked it out of focus.

After taking a few shots, I checked the images. They looked good and the composition was better as you can see more of the mountain in the water. However, I did not zoom in to check the focus. Always zoom in to check the focus of your photos. It never hurts.

As the Moon began to rise over the ridge on the right side of the mountain, I continued taking photographs.

Out of Focus

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The super perigee Moon rises over Mt. Shuksan in Whatcom County East of Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday evening June 22, 2013.This out of focus shot could have been prevented with a 10 cent piece of tape.

After the Moon was fully over the ridge, I pulled the rig out of the water and began checking the images. It was not until then that I noticed the images were not in focus. Not a lot I can do but continue to shoot.

But, I was able to salvage one frame from this: The alpenglow on Mount Shuksan before the super perigee Moon rose over the ridge.

The One Salvaged Image:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography -  Mount Shuksan is reflected in a thawing Picture Lake as it is lit by the setting Sun on Saturday June, 22, 2013, while the super perigee Moon begins its ascent into the sky.

After getting home, I downloaded and was hoping the images were not as bad as I thought. The were.

One simple piece of tape most likely would’ve prevented the mishap. But, I got one good shot at least.

So back to the original question: What one little thing do you use on a regular basis that if you forgot, it would impact your photography?

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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Fixing a Photo to Make it Better

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” – Salvador Dali.

Even though perfection is not attainable, by attempting to reach it, you become a better person and a better photographer.

It’s one of my favorite shots so far this year. Definitely in the top 12. But to me, it had an annoying flaw.

On Monday I chased the rising full Moon. The race started in Whatcom County north of Bellingham, Wash., and ended in downtown. Here’s the earlier post showing Mount Baker in alpenglow and the Moon rising over a ridge: A Quick Update, and a Few Photos

Supermoon over Whatcom Museum and Art Gallery- Final Image

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The full super perigee Moon rises over the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., on Monday evening July 22, 2012.

Earlier in the day I used The Photographer’s Ephemeris to plan my shoot for evening rising of the full Moon. I wanted a nice shot of the Moon as it rose over Mt. Baker, but to get a clear shot I’d have to drive into Canada. That was clearly out of the question. Not that there’s anything wrong with Canadians, I just didn’t want to drive that far.

So I set my sights on local landmarks. With the TPE on my phone, I drove to a spot to see where I could get a clear shot of the Moon over the courthouse, the tallest steeple in Whatcom County, and a few other places.

Although the TPE is a valuable tool, it only shows where on the HORIZON the Sun or Moon will rise. It does not give the approximate trajectory as the object arcs its way across the sky.With that I use the Sun Surveyor app on my phone. I just point it in the direction I want to shoot and it shows the trajectory of the Sun or Moon across the sky. It’s pretty cool. And fairly accurate. However, you MUST calibrate your phone each time you turn on the app. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow my advice and calibrate the app. The trajectory was way off and I cancelled shooting the Whatcom County Courthouse and Museum.

So instead I headed north and shot the alpenglow on Mount Baker and the Moon rising over a ridgeline. After that, I decided to take a chance and drive to the Courthouse and try to get it. I really love the old building. It’s classic late 1800s architecture and well maintained.

The Moon wasn’t high enough to be visible yet. As the Courthouse become visible, you could see the glow of the Moon to the LEFT of it and not the RIGHT which the uncalibrated app showed. So I had time to find a spot.

I stopped about 1/4 mile from it and within minutes found a clean unobstructed shot. The courthouse is surrounded by power lines and poles for some strange. But I got lucky and walked down an alley and found a spot with a clear view of the courthouse.

First “completed image:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - You can notice the cyan haze around the Moon in the original version. After getting rid of the black ring, I worked on reducing the cyan glow. The end result is a much better looking photograph. The full Moon rises over the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash., on Monday evening July 22, 2012.

Now using the Surveyor and properly calibrating it, I could tell if I moved about 10 yards to the left, I’ll get the Moon between two spires. When I did, and the Moon finally came out from behind the courthouse and it was a beautiful sight. The yellowish Moon between a perfectly lit red brick with white trim Victorian era building.

But UGH!!! Can’t get the exposure to work for me. Either the moon is perfectly exposed and the building underexposed, or the moon’s blown out and the building perfect. And I’m a “Get it in Camera” kinda guy.

The Black Ring:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - I could not see the dark ring around the edge of moon unless the image was blown up to 100% or more. But knowing it was there, I needed to fix it.

When I got home, I actually chose a frame with the moon slightly overexposed and plenty of detail in the building but it was dark. Importing the NEF file into Adobe Camera Raw, I adjusted it for color balance favoring the tungsten lights on the building over the sunlit moon, added 100% to the “highlight recovery,” 100% to the “fill light,” and left the rest alone.

When it imported to Photoshop, I did some pre-burning of the moon to add a little contrast. With relatively simple curve adjustment brought out the color and texture of the courthouse without overexposing the moon. Then I added a warming layer at 25% to add just a touch of warmth to the photo and knock out some of the blue in the sky as I thought it looked fake.

It looked super nice. However, upon closer inspection of the moon, I noticed a black ring just inside the edge and a cyan halo around it. Ugh. What would cause it? Investigating the cause led nowhere. Until I took the NEF back into ACR and played with the adjustments.

The “fill light” setting was a touch too high. So I dropped it a bit, but it was still there, barely. Then using clone and heal, removed it as best I could. The used the “Replace Color” tool found under “Image > Adjustments,” I selected only the cyan channel and a very narrow band, and changed the color slightly (by a +5 or so) and dropped the saturation to a -5. This fixed it for me.

Before / After:

Minor adjustments was all it was. Just a simple matter of paying attention to your settings both in camera and while you’re post-processing.

Have you ever had an image you weren’t happy with? What did you do to correct it?

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The super full Moon rises over a ridge in Whatcom County north of Bellingham, Wash., on Monday July 22, 2013.

A Quick Update and a Few Photos: Mount Baker in Alpenglow

With my photography biz picking up, I’ve been rather busy and have neglected to post new entries.

I’ve got more work from Getty Images, a few local companies have hired me to shoot portraits of their staff and products, getting wedding and engagement inquiries, and have been out shooting my personal stuff. And I’ve kept a day job working in a retail store.

With that being said, you now know why I picked the one photo as the lead photo for this blog. So, I’m going to get the ball rolling and kick this adventure into high gear.

With that being said, here are a few photos from just this past week. On Monday, I chased the super perigee Moon, or “SuperMoon,” while it rose over Whatcom County and Bellingham, Wash.

“Rolling Ball”

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A super perigee Moon appears to roll down a hill while rising in the southeaston Monday evening July 22, 2013, in Whatcom County north of Bellingham, Wash.

I was on Ferndale Road watching the light on Mount Baker. The beautiful alpenglow was palpably delicious. I saw a field of potatoes ready for harvest. Their flowered tops flowing in the breeze.

As the Sun set in the northwest, I had my lens focused on Mount Baker to the east. I turned around to see the setting Sun through the wheat grass. I quickly removed my camera from the tripod and shot a few frames. With a wide aperture to capture only the grasses in focus, the Sun appeared as a small orb in the lower left. I also underexposed a few stops to keep the grasses in silhouette.

“Amber Waves of Grain”

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The setting Sun silhuoettes wheat grass growing along Ferndale Road in Whatcom County north of Bellingham, Wash., on Monday evening July 22, 2013.

Just moments after the Sun dipped below the horizon, the remain light bathed Mount Baker in a beautiful purple alpenglow. I had to quickly shoot some frames before it disappeared. Just after that, the full Moon began rising above a ridge south of Mount Baker. I could just see the glow of the Moon.

“Purple Mountains Majesty”

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The setting Sun alights Mount Baker in alpenglow on Monday evening July 22, 2013.

I repositioned my camera with my telephoto to shoot it. It reminded me of a photo shot by the great photographer Peter Turner called “Rolling Ball.” Photographer Eric Meola wrote about this iconic piece on his blog titled “Finding Pete Turner’s Rolling Ball.”

After shooting that photo, I chased down another opportunity I scoped out earlier in the day: The rising Moon above the old Whatcom County Courthouse. That adventure is for an upcoming post. Nothing like seeing a beautiful, awe-inspiring scene to have it ruined because of the limitations of digital cameras. I’ll update with a link to the blog. But for now, here’s a link to the photograph: Full Moon over the Whatcom Museum.

Here’s a quick view of some future blogs:

•    Before/After: Fixing a Photo
•    Critiquing photos: 3 easy steps to help you learn photography
•    Spray and Pray: Don’t hope you get the shot, plan to get the shot
•    Photo Updates: (Victoria’s Secret, Daily shoots, etc.)
•    What I learned working retail ( I worked at Home Depot for a while).

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on various Social Networks:
Pablo Conrad Photography

“Like” my Page on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Follow me on Pinterest

Follow Me on Google+

My Page on 500px