M.Rathmann Photography and Design: Blog http://www.mrathmann.com/blog en-us All fine art images found throughout this site are copyright (C) Michael Rathmann. All Rights Reserved. (M.Rathmann Photography and Design) Mon, 14 Apr 2014 14:46:00 GMT Mon, 14 Apr 2014 14:46:00 GMT http://www.mrathmann.com/img/s/v-5/u817729386-o967419751-50.jpg M.Rathmann Photography and Design: Blog http://www.mrathmann.com/blog 120 120 A Thin Line of Wild (2014) http://www.mrathmann.com/blog/2014/4/a-thin-line-of-wild-2014 Wildflowers are all abloom in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Families are sure to be seen at every bluebonnet spot taking photos of their little ones—and I am no exception. This past Friday and Saturday involved capturing that annual moment with me and my girls. Although that was the primary objective, I also managed to capture the beauty absent of people (or pets.)

Location and date taken: Ennis, TX USA on 12-April-2014.

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(M.Rathmann Photography and Design) http://www.mrathmann.com/blog/2014/4/a-thin-line-of-wild-2014 Mon, 14 Apr 2014 14:45:27 GMT
Dallas Arboretum in Bloom (2013) http://www.mrathmann.com/blog/2014/4/dallas-arboretum-in-bloom In a Bed of Tulips

Spring is certainly having a hard time sticking this year with all of the cold fronts continuing to sweep in. Not sure I should complain too much since is a better alternative to the high temps summer brings to Texas. As long as it reaches the upper 60s and stays under 90, outdoors is welcoming to me.

The first teaser of the spring season came the second full week of March and made for the ideal visit to the Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden to see it in full bloom with all the tulips and what-not. My initial attentions were to try my hand and some long-exposure images with their water displays. I took a few, but shortly moved to having some fun with the fisheye lens.

This image in particular was captured while laying down sideways on the ground. Not one afraid to shoot in the sun (especially with this lens) with a steady hand-held grip to bracket 5 exposures, a full range of detail was later achieved with Photoshop CS6′s ‘Merge to HDR Pro’ automation. Lens flare, spots, and some edge distractions were removed in Photoshop as well. Nik plug-in software (now Nik Collection by Google) and Lightroom polished off the image, along with the use of onOne Software’s Perfect Photo Suite to add a hint of cloud and push the processing a little further with their multitude of effects.

The before view above shows the +2 exposure (out of the 5 bracketed), which was the primary layer Photoshop aligned to when merging.

Location and date taken: Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden — Dallas, TX USA on 12-Mar-2013.

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(M.Rathmann Photography and Design) http://www.mrathmann.com/blog/2014/4/dallas-arboretum-in-bloom Thu, 11 Apr 2013 19:30:00 GMT
Comerica Park — Detroit, MI (2002) http://www.mrathmann.com/blog/2014/4/comerica-park In a Bed of Tulips

Baseball season is quickly approaching now that spring looks to finally be here. It was touch and go for a bit with a week of warmer weather before the “official start” to the season, and then a week of winter’s final kiss with an untimely cold front that swept most of the nation.

Although the sport is not the reason for this post of an almost 11 year old image of Comerica Park in Detroit, spring cleaning and finally getting all of my digitized photo archive under the same roof (a.k.a. single external hard drive or Drobo) is what brought me back to it. It is one I never stitched together—from 3 horizontally captured frames using a Kodak point-and-shoot—and fully processed. Likely I just did not get around to doing so. And, if I did, it might have been one of those that I would immediately wish to do over. Software back then would never allow me to produce such a satisfactory result. Photoshop’s alignment tool did a near perfect job, and its puppet warp tool allowed me to replace the field with that of an entirely separate image that was unobstructed and more lively. Nik plug-in software (now Nik Collection by Google) and Lightroom polished off the image, along with the use of onOne Software’s Perfect Photo Suite to mask out and replace the sky.

This may never be one to sell, but it is one that I will proudly share online and print out in a Blurb book that collects all the photos from that year. Much more to come as I work through my entire archive.

Location and date taken: Comerica Park — Detroit, MI USA on 29-Jun-2002.

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(M.Rathmann Photography and Design) http://www.mrathmann.com/blog/2014/4/comerica-park Wed, 27 Mar 2013 19:30:00 GMT
Fisheye for the Floral (2013) http://www.mrathmann.com/blog/2014/4/fisheye-for-the-floral In a Bed of Tulips

Spring made its debut here in Texas a week before the official day. Although, winter is dropping in (hopefully) one last time after this upcoming weekend. It was certainly a nice change to wear shorts outdoors and see fresh colors abloom.

The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is always a splendid place to visit at the beginning of the season when their tulips are all freshly planted. My original intention was to do some long exposure photography of their water displays, which did not last too long. Too much color to be had all around. And, I had an itch to use the fisheye a couple rounds. It’s a great lens for obtaining a single-click and extremely wide-angled capture with the subject up-close and personal. I found these to be far more exciting than the standard lens fair.

Location and date taken: Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden — Dallas, TX USA on 12-March-2013.

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(M.Rathmann Photography and Design) http://www.mrathmann.com/blog/2014/4/fisheye-for-the-floral Sun, 03 Mar 2013 20:15:00 GMT
Bouquet Study No.2 (2011) http://www.mrathmann.com/blog/2011/9/Bouquet-Study-No-2 Tidal Pedals

“Why No.2?” you might ask. The images accompanying this post are from the second bouquet photographic study I have completed to date, but the first for 2011. “No. 1″ was done a year ago from today for a special purpose — celebrating the 10th wedding anniversary with my wife, which I surprised her with a bouquet and a small print of it that would last much, much longer. And, it was the start of an ongoing interest to always photograph flowers every time we have them in a vase at the house.

For me, photographing a bouquet at home (or a studio if you have one) is an excellent and extremely comfortable way to get more accommodated with your macro (85mm f/3.5 Micro NIKKOR) lens. Setting the flowers up on a table top close to a window with a small light directly above made for ideal conditions — and no chance of wind blowing things all over the place. I can take my time finding a multitude of compositions with a subject that can be freely arranged. From an all encompassing capture to the tiniest details.

Left to right:

It has been a good while since we had flowers in the house, so it might be the right occasion this weekend to surprise the wife again and immortalize a special bouquet with more print worthy images. Happy anniversary, Luv!

Location and date taken: At home somewhere in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, TX USA on 18-Jan-2011.

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(M.Rathmann Photography and Design) http://www.mrathmann.com/blog/2011/9/Bouquet-Study-No-2 Fri, 02 Sep 2011 16:25:42 GMT
A Mix of Two Seasons (2011) http://www.mrathmann.com/blog/2011/8/A-Mix-of-Two-Seasons A Mix of Two Seasons no.1

During the blazing hot summer days here in Texas, just shy of tying the record for consecutive days of triple-digit heat (over 100ºF/38ºC) in the DFW area, I cannot help but yearn for cooler temps. That record of 42 days was set back in 1980. This year we capped off at 40 days straight due to thunderstorms from the Texas panhandle and Oklahoma that rolled in last week. Although breaking a record can be exciting, I openly welcomed the slight drop in temperature—and most-of-all the rain. Summer ain’t over yet, so plenty more days for triple-digit temps and keeping to my nicely air-conditioned house longing for the autumn season to come rolling in.

Such overly hot summers makes it hard to believe that we do get snow in northeast Texas. Usually it is for a single day in February and pretty much gone by late afternoon. Not so much the case these past couple of years. The “first” snow-day for 2011 was a few hours of constant snowfall from late morning to mid-afternoon to lightly coat the ground in early January. Practically disappeared by sundown, but there were still patches that kept overnight only to disappear the next day. And, this turned out to be only a teaser compared to the several days this past winter there was snow on the ground.

When snow is rare, it is a welcomed treat—the unexpected curve-ball that spices up life. At least there was enough excitement there to entice me personally into stepping outdoors—as soon as the downfall came to an end—and take some pictures in the front yard. Certainly no need to venture far.

The autumn season was still lingering and the trees were still dumping leaves by the masses. Clearly my lawn was a bit overdue of being raked. My excuse—it was only a week after returning from winter holidays spent elsewhere, and I was waiting for that last leaf to drop before putting in the effort. In a way, I am glad I didn’t. It was this mix of seasons that compelled me to click the shutter button while finding compositions of what others may see as a complete mess. Two leaves of different color sticking up so was what grabbed my attention.

With the 85mm f/3.5 Micro NIKKOR lens, naturally I started up close and recomposed while stepping backward. ISO was set a little high at 400 to accommodate for low light and being hand-held. Even relatively quick shutter speeds with a macro lens can easily be ruined by camera shake, so the faster the better while not introducing too much noise. In hindsight, use of a flash unit and tripod would be ideal. Perhaps something I will force myself to do this next year to improve results—because there is no doubt I will have the lawn completely raked before the first snowfall of 2012.

Location and date taken: At home somewhere in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, TX USA on 9-Jan-2011.

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(M.Rathmann Photography and Design) http://www.mrathmann.com/blog/2011/8/A-Mix-of-Two-Seasons Mon, 15 Aug 2011 09:46:24 GMT
Planet Cadillac Ranch (2011) http://www.mrathmann.com/blog/2011/8/Planet-Cadillac-Ranch Planet Cadillac Carhenge

Watch your step, y’all—cow patties and empty spray cans litter the ground around this Amarillo, TX attraction. Found alongside I-40 west of the city, Cadillac Ranch is a row of ten long-finned luxury cars buried nose down in a cow ranch field devoid of any exciting surroundings. Nothin’ but the big, clear Texas sky and the sun radiating down as you find yourself thankful for visiting during one of the cooler months of the year—not just because of the heat, but the smell that potentially could go with it.

Still, it is one of those things worth seeing for yourself. And, fun for all ages, since you can freely take a can of spray paint to it without any hindrance from the local law enforcement. The location made for an easy enough pit stop in between leaving the hotel and hitting the road for the second leg of our drive home from the previous week of ski holiday in Colorado.

Certainly a Texas attraction often photographed by others, so I made the attempt for a unique take with a 360º capture. Only a little tricky due to the intense sun beaming directly over and the other groups of people visiting—simply waited patiently for them to be absent from each frame. I almost kept the rotation to the monument itself, but even more glad now that I went the full 360º so this final result would still be possible.

A couple of test renderings were completed back in April and shared with friends for some initial input—both left the entire barren half of the planet out of the picture. It was not until this past weekend that I pursued a more robust and finished work that included it in its entirety. Per usual, minor adjustments were made to the 30 RAW images in Adobe Lightroom to reduce chromatic aberrations and then exported to 16-bit TIFFs—nothing of that step changed from before. Next, all of these TIFFs were brought into PTGui stitching software to render out a 30″x30″ Exposure Fusion blended starting point. From that, a few steps of trial-and-error with the applied Photoshop magic: (1) 3D sphere used twice with adjustments to help shape the lighting to the orb; (2) canvas extended to 40″x40″ filled with a starry universe to blend in with the original rendering; and (3) orbital rings created with flat circles in which their perspective was altered and then blended with the scene. The final result came with additional tonal and color adjustments applied in Lightroom with the use of Nik software plug-ins.

Creation Progression (left to right): Individual frames from Lightroom prep, original stitch rendering, and final image.

Image Details: (NIKON D300 w/10.5 mm f/2.8 fisheye lens)

  • Full-size print of 40″x40″ at 240ppi.
  • Comprised of 30 RAW images — 6 framed instances with 4 additional bracketed exposure levels (-2.0 … +2.0EV) each.
  • Initial exposure level set for 1/100 sec at f/11, 10.5mm Focal Length, and 100 ISO Speed.
  • Captured in portrait orientation on tripod w/Really Right Stuff Ultimate-Pro Omni-Pivot package.
  • 360º stereographic stitching and Exposure Fusion blending done with PTGui stitching software.
  • Post-processed using Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5 w/Nik software plug-ins.

Location and date taken: Cadillac Ranch — Amarillo, TX USA on 20-Mar-2011.

This image is not for sale due to the trade marks and copyrights held by their respective owners, nor has its creation been endorsed by these parties. It is strictly presented for personal pleasure and educational purposes. Cadillac, the Cadillac Emblem, Seville, STS, Coupe de Ville and De Ville are registered trade marks of General Motors Corporation. Cadillac Ranch is copyright © 1974 ANT FARM (Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez, Doug Michels).

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(M.Rathmann Photography and Design) http://www.mrathmann.com/blog/2011/8/Planet-Cadillac-Ranch Fri, 05 Aug 2011 10:00:48 GMT
Travel, Photography and What-not http://www.mrathmann.com/blog/2011/7/Travel-Photography-and-What-not Mid-Atlantic Fly Over

Photography started off for me as a means to record my experiences to share with family and friends. It stemmed from my love of travel, which has only developed since around the turn of the century. Neither played a role during my childhood — it wasn’t really until my university days that I first flew on an airplane or even picked up a “real” camera that used film and required processing in an old-school darkroom. Even then, photography and travel weren’t something I would have considered as things to be passionate about — not even a daydream. I would have never imagined that life would bring me to all of the places that I have been and would have brought me all of the experiences that came with it.

My university studies in Studio Art and the Internet boom are what led me to my main profession today as an Internet Consultant/Designer/Programmer; however, it was my life after University that led me to an interest in travel. My first experience came in the latter half of 1999 when my wife (girlfriend at the time) was studying abroad in Europe as part of her MBA program. I was left behind in the states, but I took the opportunity to visit her before she returned. We traveled from Brussels (where she was living at the time) to Paris, London, and Rome. I felt like a gopher from over-usage of the public transportation system, never getting a sense of where anything was — one location could easily have been a few blocks away from the other. Luckily, fate brought me back to all of these cities allowing me to become familiar enough to know how far point “A” would actually be from point “B”.

Left to right: Scaffolding and Tram Lines (Brussels); A Gothic Masterpiece (Paris); Guys and Dolls on Oxford Street (London); and The Trevi Fountain (Rome) (Selected images of Brussels, Paris, London and Rome)

Shortly after getting married in 2000, my wife’s career moved us to Europe — first to Berlin for a couple of months and then to England for six months. It brought us back to the states to live in Michigan and Texas for a few years before returning to Berlin in 2006, where we spent nearly four years. At the beginning of 2010, we found ourselves living in Texas once again and for who knows how long. And yes, I’m quite fortunate that my own career affords me a great deal of flexibility, allowing me to be so geographically mobile when my wife’s career path changes.

Throughout these last 10+ years, we have traveled to many places and experienced many things. And, I found having a camera at hand more and more essential. The images I capture are mainly “in the moment” and rarely ever planned. No time for retakes — my wife, who is my primary travel companion, is often not-so-patiently waiting. The location may be a once-in-a-lifetime visit, somewhere to return to later in life (perhaps again and again), or somewhere within exploring distance of my current residence. It’s the now, and then it’s in the past.

It was not until my second time in Berlin that my desire to explore my immediate surroundings began to develop, which I didn’t take advantage of  before at the many stops along the way. Now that I am once again living in the states, I have felt there is much for me to discover locally —  and nationally. And, of course, Europe has us coming back for more on a yearly basis. My photography continues to grow as I branch out and experiment with new equipment and new experiences, while I continue with my main profession.

This all leads me now to the purpose of this website, in which I hope to share all of these personal experiences and promote my ever growing library of fine art photography. Much to share, so I gladly welcome you to tag along. Enjoy!

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(M.Rathmann Photography and Design) http://www.mrathmann.com/blog/2011/7/Travel-Photography-and-What-not Sun, 24 Jul 2011 22:00:00 GMT