Just found out from the Bad Astronomer that astronomers have now discovered more than 500 exoplanets. I can remember when they found the first one and it seemed impossible they would ever find more. Now it is hard to keep track of them all – it has always been a side hobby of mine to try though. Here is a link for the best information on any of the exoplanets and the stars they circle – The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia. This site has been in place from the very beginning. I find it to have the most accurate information and is updated frequently to include new information on already discovered exoplanets.
This brings me to an area of art that I also find fascinating – the people who draw artistic images of what these planets may look like. Several years ago I bought a book called The Grand Tour – A Traveler’s Guide to the Solar System by Ron Miller and William K. Hartmann. There are several images showing what the terrain might look like from the planet, especially one I like showing what the rings could look like from Saturn itself. A more appropriate book for this blog today is a book called Infinite Worlds – An Illustrated Voyage to Planets Beyond Our Sun by Ray Villard and Lynette R. Cook, which has many images of what worlds may be like around some of the exoplanets that have been discovered. This is another book I have always liked. If you are a painter or want to learn about space landscape perspective, there is a book that gets very high ratings when trying to create these type of pictures. It is called Space Art: How to Draw and Paint Planets, Moons, and Landscapes of Alien Worlds by Michael Carroll. There are also several 3D programs like e-On’s Vue software which appears to be for the serious creator or Bryce 7 or Terragen Classic can both be downloaded for free. I played around with Terragen several years ago and had forgotten how much fun it is to be in charge of your own world. Here is an image I just created in the latest free version of Terragen. I was trying to get the effect of a water planet circling a sunlike star.
I also tried my hand at creating a two moons as seen from a marslike planet. In this case I followed a tutorial done by Al Ward on the NAPP Website called “Postcards from Venus.” I used an image I had taken of Nuuana Pali Lookout on Oahu in Hawaii and used the Flaming Pear plug in called Lunar Cell to create the two moons. It turned out to be a lot of fun to create.
So as you can see, it is not that hard in this day and age to create what you think another world might look like and have fun doing it. I love the way Astronomy and Photography can be integrated with a little imagination!…..Digital Lady Syd
Today I was checking out the Flickr blog I follow on the Internet and came across a really nice slideshow of tall buildings which also included a lot of skylines – actually it is the longest slide show I have ever seen but so many of the images were absolutely fascinating! Several of these pictures are of the HDR (high dynamic range)type. I decided to post a couple of my images that fit the criteria even though I they are not in the linked slide show and are not HDR images.
The image below shows New York, New York in Las Vegas from a year ago. What a great place to take images of buildings!
Here is an image of Edinburgh’s skyline from Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. This is not an HDR image, but I was able to get that effect using Camera Raw in Lightroom. It is surprising how close you can get to an HDR look with a well exposed image.
And finally I have added a picture I took from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Jacksonville, Florida this year. I added Nik’s Silver Effex Pro and modified the antique plate II and added an Ash Texture with a Soft Light Blend Mode to get this effect.
As a final note, try shooting tall buildings – they make for an interesting subject matter…..Digital Lady Syd
Today I was sitting around chatting with some good friends about a place Glenn and I visited in 2003 – the Natural Bridge. I started thinking about what a popular place it has been for a couple hundred years so I decided to post a few pictures here from my earlier trip. The link to Wikipedia does a pretty good job of giving the basic history involving George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Calvin Coolidge, not to mention King George the III and Thomas Fairfax. I started looking at some of the images other people have made of the Natural Bridge and I came up with some interesting information. The image on the left below (click in image to enlarge) was done by Frederic Edwin Church and looks quite realistic and very much like the image I posted. He was an American landscape artist and painted this in 1852. He has painted more famous images but I really like this rendition which is at the University of Virginia. I personally like his art and want to see the several paintings listed in the galleries in Washington, DC with my son, Chris, who is also a great art fan and photographer. Follow this link to a couple old postcards of The Natural Bridge where they show no water flowing under it. I find that interesting as the creek seemed to be quite robust in 2003. I bought a print of the image on the right (click in image to enlarge) at the gift shop called “The Natural Bridge, Virginia – drawn by W. P. Snyder” which indicated it was published in Harper’s Weekly newspaper on September 8, 1888 where it was titled “Natural Bridge Virginia Food Wine Picnic 1888.” The people are sitting right in the middle of where the creek now flows. I could not find out much information on the artist although there seem to be various drawings for sale at different art sites. I believe many of his drawings were in this weekly newspaper. Water coloring was added to the image I bought at a later date by an unknown artist. It is still a very charming print.
There seem to be many old and original prints for sale on eBay for reasonable prices. I took a lot of images while visiting – in May there were all kinds of flowers blooming, especially roses, and the weather is nice enough to stroll around the grounds in the early evening. It is a wonderful place to relax for a weekend and get some terrific shots, history, and outdoor relaxation. Definitely worth the trip if you are in the area!…..Digital Lady Syd
The image below (click in image to see larger size) was in a blog called British Photographic History on November 2. It says that Hugh Lee Pattinson made the first picture of Niagara Falls using the Daguerreotype technique. They said , “It took him more than twenty minutes to fix the scene on the silver-coated copper plate inside this camera.” The original images were lost at the University of Newcastle in England for a long time and were not found until 1997.
I found an interesting site that discusses daguerreotype images called The Daguerreian Society. They answer a lot of questions on this process. Why are daguerreotypes backwards? I had not realized that they are typically reversed images. “The only way to get a correct orientation was to copy the image with a second daguerreotype, or to make the original daguerreotype using a reversing prism or mirror. Besides the complexity, a problem with a reversing mirror was, if taken outdoors, it may be subject to movement by a breeze causing a blurred image. So typically people just lived with a reversed image.” This process was popular from 1840 through 1855; after that ambrotypes and tintypes were used.
I attempted to do a daguerreotype following some of the steps in Photoshop Fine Arts Effects Cookbook by John Beardsworth. Not sure I did that well but it was a lot of fun. This is a picture I took at Stonehenge a couple years ago.
I am posting just a couple pictures I took with my first digital camera, a Casio QV-2900UX, a 2.1 Megapixel camera with a 8X zoom in March 2002. I wanted the camera to take astrophotography images with my little Celestron telescope. I never did do that, but I took a lot of other pictures. I did very little processing on these pictures. They are from a visit I took to Kitt Peak in Arizona to do imaging at one of their large telescopes. It was absolutely freezing outside and the wind was blowing like crazy – I think that is why the pictures are so clear. If you want a really nice current view, check out their Live Cam Shots.
The first image was taken from a very steep road of the Indian Reservation Kitt Peak is on. The other images are of several of the large telescopes at the top……Digital Lady Syd
I decided to post a couple images I took while doing just a little PhotoWalk in my own neighborhood. Jay Maisel says you have to take pictures all the time to get good ones. So here was an attempt at that.
I included the hawk since he landed on the enclosure while I was having lunch on the porch today. For some reason the hawks like to stand up there and look at the little lake – for some reason I like to sit out there and do the same thing. Hum!
…..Digital Lady Syd
Just learning my way around here. I am posting a picture I finished yesterday from my front yard. It was done in Photoshop CS5 using the Mixer Brush with textures by Karen Sperling and Textures by Ash (these textures are no longer available but see my more recent blog “Adding a Texture for Flair!” for other texture sites).