Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2016

This year’s fiesta had 550 balloon entries and included some special shapes not seen before.  With all the colors and activities it’s a photographer’s dream!  I was a little disappointed that at the time when I was able to visit I didn’t get to see the special shape balloons airborne due to windy conditions – they inflated, but had to remain tethered.  Nonetheless, I hope that you will enjoy and share these photos!

Please contact me if you would like to purchase prints – just tell me the file name and the desired print size and I’ll quote you a (very reasonable) price.

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life                      Email: d300dave@gmail.com

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Bandelier Elementary School Balloon Fiesta Kickoff

As a kickoff to the 2016 Albuquerque Balloon Festival, the school district made arrangements for balloonists to visit several schools early last Friday morning to demonstrate how the balloons are filled with hot air sufficient hot to lift their cargo.  Children, staff, and parents were able to watch the balloonists unpack the balloons, attach the heaters to the cargo basket, and fill the balloon with hot air using the propane heaters and fans.  It was a nice start to the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, this year entitled “Desert Kaleidoscope”, 1-9 October.

Be sure to take a camera if you are fortunate enough to be able to attend this colorful event.  Events are scheduled throughout the day – from balloon ascensions at dawn,  to late evening balloon glows, to nighttime fireworks.  Given these divergent lighting conditions, the ideal lens for the best quality photos is a “fast” (f/2.8 or better) fixed aperture zoom lens.  These photos, which were taken about 7 AM, were shot with my Nikon D7100 camera and a Nikon f/2.8 17-55mm zoom lens.

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life                              Email: d300dave@gmail.com

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My Two Fools Tavern Photo Selected for Exhibit

On July 31st I posted that I had entered a local photo contest sponsored by Make ART Smart, a Coalition to Improve Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART).  

I’m happy to announce that one of my 6 submissions for the competition titled Two Fools Tavern has been chosen for display in an upcoming show during the period October 15 – November 23, 2016.  The Show Opening will be held at 3pm on Saturday, October 15 at Flying Star Nob Hill in conjunction with the Route 66 Artful Saturday neighborhood event. Prizes will be awarded at that time.  Over a dozen images from over 80 submissions by 25 photographers were selected to hang in the Show.

The exhibit will be curated by local photographer Dan Shaffer.  I’m excited for this opportunity to get my name out to the local community, and I invite my Albuquerque area friends and neighbors to attend.

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life                                 Email: d300dave@gmail.com

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Nikon f/2.8 70-200 VRII Zoom Lens

I bought this lens for the specific purpose of enabling better quality photos of my grandson’s “under the lights” high school football games.  Yesterday afternoon I was using the lens with my Nikon D7100 camera shooting a late afternoon game.  As the game ended I noticed the cloud buildup over the nearby Sandia Mountains, so without changing my camera’s manual settings ( f/5.6, shutter 1/500, ISO 160), I simply aimed, cranked the focal length to the max 200 mm, hit the back button focus, and fired.  Not the “go to” lens for landscape photos, but I’m impressed with its capabilities!

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life                               Email: d300dave@gmail.com

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West Mesa, 9.7.16

The Sandia High School frosh football team was victorious in their game with West Mesa on September 7  with a final score of 40-22. – at Wilson Stadium

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life                       Email:  d300dave@gmail.com

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Highland High School Marching Band

I started the morning by going to my Grandson’s soccer practice to try out my newly acquired Nikon f/2.8 70-200 VR II lens.  After being there about 15 minutes I heard band music near the playground where the boys were practicing – so off I went to find it.  It turned out to be the Marching Band from our neighborhood District high school, Highland High School.  The band was marching through the district neighborhoods to raise money for the bands’ needs.

I wouldn’t have chosen this zoom lens (which I bought for night-time football) to capture a marching band parade – a wider angle zoom would have been a better choice.  So I cranked it down to its lowest focal length of 70 mm (equivalent to 105 mm on my Nikon D7100 crop sensor camera) and tried to get far enough away to capture a few frames.  After all, you don’t often get to see and hear a band marching through your neighborhood!

All photos (except the first two) were taken in manual mode with shutter speed of  1/125 second, aperture f/11, and ISO 200 with matrix metering,  I took the first two photos at f/7.1, but decided to decrease the aperture slightly with the last photos as the sun rose in the sky and became brighter.

Comments and questions are always welcome.

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life                                            d300dave@gmail.com

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Save Route 66 in Albuquerque

Make ART Smart, a Coalition to Improve Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART)  sponsored a photo contest entitled This Place Matters – Save Route 66 in Albuquerque.  Make ART Smart is an unfunded group of volunteer concerned citizens who are professional architects, planners, attorneys, and business/community leaders. Make ART Smart volunteers came together on the behalf of all citizens and stakeholders who care about and are effected by the impact of this huge project on Route 66/Central Ave in Albuquerque. Their mission is to make sure the design of Albuquerque’s proposed bus rapid transit system is aligned with preserving the charm and vibrancy of the most important historic segments remaining along Albuquerque’s historic Route 66. They support a well-designed bus rapid transit system provided that it supports and enhances the character and functionality of Albuquerque’s most valuable, historically sensitive areas.

The photo contest invited the submission of up to 6 photos depicting a specified section of Route 66/Central Avenue in Albuquerque including the area of Nob Hill – the neighborhood where I live. Only photos taken during the last 2 weeks of July 2016 were permitted in the contest – the idea was to document the charm and vibrancy of the area as it currently exists while fostering public awareness of deficiencies seen in the project’s planned implementation.  Sadly, on July 29th a federal judge declined to delay the project’s immediate start.  Nonetheless, I’m hoping that my photo submissions may yet play some small part in creating changes to the project that will Make ART Smart.

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Fireworks and Sunset Composite

In my previous post I said that we arrived early at a good location to view the fireworks display in order to set up my tripod and camera, and that a rainstorm that had passed through the area left some cloud cover that provided a stunning sunset.  I recall thinking that it would have been nice if the show could have started about 30 minutes early – just before the sun fully set and the sky went black.  But alas, the show started on time – just as the sky was going dark,

So I created this composite photo of “what might have been”.  Enjoy!

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life                              Email: d300dave@gmail.com

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Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Park Fireworks Display

Every July 4th, Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta Park provides a fireworks display to celebrate Independence Day for the United States.  My wife and I secured a location on the 3rd floor of a nearby parking garage where I could get an unobstructed view of the show and set up my tripod and camera.

A rainstorm had passed through parts of the city about 2 hours before the show began, so we had some concerns about cloud cover obstructing our view.  But the heavy clouds were gone prior to show time and, in fact, provided some beautiful sunset views (a coming post perhaps!).

These photos were captured with my Nikon D7100 camera fitted with a Nikon f.3.5-6.3 18-300 mm zoom lens.  I mounted my camera on a tripod and (using manual focus) while there was still sufficient daylight, pre-focused the lens to the area of the expected display.  I also turned the lens vibration reduction (VR) function off and used a remote shutter release.  Ironically, keeping the VR function on while shooting from a tripod can be counter productive because the VR function in the lens actually adds a small amount of vibration – it does its job and works well when the camera is hand=held, but is not designed for use on a tripod.

Using manual mode, I set the aperture to f/11 (the sweet spot of the lens for sharpness and to provide sufficient depth of field), the ISO at 100 (the lowest setting on my camera) in order to minimize “noise” or grain like artifacts that can appear in dark areas of the image, and the shutter speed at 4 to 5 seconds (sufficient time to adequately expose multiple and sequential fireworks explosions).

Finally, I set my camera to record the digital images in camera raw mode, as opposed to relying solely on the jpeg file format.  Raw files capture a wider range of colors than the jpeg format, thus providing greater flexibility in post processing, or editing, the final image.  I used Adobe Photoshop CC  for Photographers to process my raw files into the final jpeg images presented here.  Specifically, while in Adobe Camera Raw CC, I set the white balance to fluorescent, closed down the highlights and opened up the shadows, adjusted the white and black settings to taste, increased clarity to about 15. adjusted tonal settings (highlights, light, dark, and shadows) to taste, set noise reduction luminance to 15,  color luminance to 8, and sharpening to zero. After opening the image in Photoshop CC, I cropped the images, used the curve adjustment tool to tweak the highlights, mid-range shadow tones, and the spot healing tool to remove distracting artifacts from the image. Then as the last step before saving the file I set the print size and used the Photoshop filter/sharpen/unsharp mask function to add appropriate sharpening relative to the print size.

I hope you enjoy the results, and as always I welcome comments and questions.

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life                                  Email: d300dave@gmail.com

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British Soccer Camp

With encouragement from out Team Mexico U10 coaches, we signed our grandson Billy up for a one week/half day Challenger Sports British Soccer Summer Camp – and we’re so happy that we did.  About 20 kids signed up for the session held here in Albuquerque, NM the week of 20 June.  Three awesome coaches did a wonderful job of keeping the kids undivided attention and teaching them skills – all the while having fun and emphasizing sportsmanship, leadership, and respect.  Billy had a great week, and I highly recommend this camp.

In appreciation to Challenger Sports, the coaches, and parents I’m sharing these photos which may be shared, downloaded, copied or printed for personal use.  For camera buffs, they were taken with my Nikon D7100 camera using a Nikon 18-300 mm f/3.5-6.3  zoom lens with aperture set to f/11, shutter speed set to 1/500th second, and ISO set to auto.  Post processing was done in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CC.

Comments and questions are always welcome.

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life                                  Email: d300dave@gmail.com

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