Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

HDR Panoramic Stitch of the Canal   Leave a comment

Canal HDR Panorama

The Canal in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana is a beautiful feature of my hometown.  I spent an afternoon with my Canon DSLR trying to capture the spirit of the canal.  This shot was constructed from nine original images.  It combines the photography techniques of panoramic digital stitching and HDR (High Dynamic Range) processing.  Below is the grid of the original images.  Hope you enjoy the shot!

2010-04-20 Canal Walk 0012010-04-20 Canal Walk 0042010-04-20 Canal Walk 007
2010-04-20 Canal Walk 0022010-04-20 Canal Walk 0052010-04-20 Canal Walk 008   
2010-04-20 Canal Walk 0032010-04-20 Canal Walk 0062010-04-20 Canal Walk 009

Self Portrait HDR Metal Reflection (HDR Self Portrait) I was extra scruffy that day

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Posted May 4, 2011 by chrislux in Photography

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High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography   17 comments

I had a fantastic experience using my new Canon Digital SLR in Kenya.  I did a lot of homework to get ready for owning an SLR camera, but there was still a bit of a learning curve.  While reading about features of my camera, I came across an advanced technique called High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography.  The basics of HDR is that a camera can only collect a limited range of light intensities compared to what the human eye can see.  One way around this is to take multiple pictures of the same subject at different exposure settings.  The first image is in the middle, the second is darker than normal and the third is lighter than normal.  You can then process the images in Photoshop to produce a single image that contains the best of each image.  You can then toy with the colors to make the images look a bit surreal and often really engaging.  I’m not writing a full tutorial here (unless there is demand for one) but just wanted to show you a few examples of what I’ve worked on.

Original Pictures (Normal, Low, High)

  

Combined Image

Original Pictures (Normal, Low, High)

Combined Image

Original Pictures (Normal, Low, High)

Combined Image

Original Pictures (Normal, Low, High)

Combined Image

Posted November 15, 2009 by chrislux in Photography

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Newport Aquarium   2 comments

A couple of weeks ago, my girlfriend Liz and I met up with my friends John and Karen Hudek at the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky.  Newport is right across from Cincinnati on the opposite bank of the Ohio River.  They have a huge shopping center and aquarium.  This was our first time visiting the new exhibit.  The Newport Aquarium has a wide variety of tanks including a jellyfish exhibit, alligators, a room with exotic birds, shark petting and penguins.  There are several clear tunnels that run through the tanks so you can walk among the fish.  I’ll admit, that made me a bit dizzy since the tubes somewhat distort the image.  The $20 ticket is a bit steep, but it’s well worth the price.  Check out pictures below to see a few of the sights.  (A camera does not do the aquarium justice).

2009-06-14 Newport Aquarium 003 Click to see album

Posted July 1, 2009 by chrislux in Photography, Travel

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The Masai Mara   1 comment

May 8-10, 2009

Mara left

Travel to Fig Tree Camp

The Masai Mara is a large wildlife sanctuary at the southern border of Kenya.  Inhabited by the Masai people, the mara is the northern aspect of the massive Serengeti that extends deep into Tanzania.  Joining me on this trip were Chelsea, Marcie, Justina, Ester, Mandy.  Our drivers were named Erick and Victor.  The drive to the Masai Mara is a brutal 7 hour trek over some of the worst roads in Kenya.  We eventually reached the Fig Tree Camp which turned out to be well worth the trip.  Fig Tree is a beautiful compound in the heart of the mara.  The rooms are a mixture of a cabin and a canvas tent with western bathrooms and covered porches.  The canopied beds were hung with mosquito nets and looked out over the river where we could see crocodiles and hippos.  Small monkeys played around the tents and pool and watched to see if we would drop anything for them.  Meals were served in a large open dining room by our wonderful waiter Paul.  A troop of Masai would enter the hall nightly to demonstrate their guttural chanting song and display their jumping prowess which is used to determine the quality of wives they will be granted.  Nights at Fig Tree were peaceful and quiet apart from the grunting of a hippopotamus, the bark of a hyena, and the occasional anti-malarial induced psychotic nightmare (Marcie had a rough night).  Before sunrise each morning, we were awoken by a guard rapping on our tent door so we could explore the mara at first light.

       

The Cats of the Masai Mara

Soon after entering the park on the first day, we came upon a cheetah and her cubs feasting on a freshly killed impala.  While we did not see the kill, we were told that the parents will often wound the animal and slow it down enough to allow the young to practice their hunting skills.  The animals took turns eating pieces of their prey while the others stood guard on the perimeter.  They, like many animals in the park, were accustomed to large trucks and were not frightened despite our close approach.  The young cheetahs had a mane of fluffy fur making them look harmless, but their bloody snouts suggested otherwise.

 

On several occasions, we visited a pride of lions that had taken down a Cape (water) buffalo.  There were several males (brothers of the alpha male), females and cubs gathered around the carcass.  In the matter of two days, the buffalo was reduced to bones and the lions rested lazily in the shade digesting their enormous meal.  The lions were extremely watchful and often had scouts hidden in the bush many meters from their gathering place.  At one point, we turned a corner in the road and passed within 2 meters of a female that none of us had seen until we were right on top of her.  Without the protection of our vehicle, we would have been an easy kill.  100 meters from the group of cats, we found several Masai men crouched in the grass cutting bundles of straw for their roofs.  We warned them of the nearby lions, but they were not in the least bit worried and continued on with their work.  The Masai and the lion share a balance of power on the mara and both seem to have a healthy respect for each other.  Recent poisonings of the lions by the Masai have been harshly condemned and the practice has been largely abandoned.

  

  

 

The most elusive cats in the Masai Mara are leopards.  Many groups travel through the park for a week without seeing one of these secretive animals.  On our last night in the park, Justina spotted a dark shadow in the trees far in the distance that she thought she saw move.  We drove slowly into the wooded grove and saw the female leopard high in a tree protecting a warthog that she had killed.  She seemed skittish and we soon learned why.  A large male leopard bolted up the tree and with teeth bared and claws exposed, challenging the female for her meal.  Before we could take any pictures, our driver slammed the vehicle in reverse and ordered us to close the roof.  “Battling leopards are VERY unpredictable and we can’t be near them when they’re fighting!”  The roar of the engine scared off the large male who slunk into the trees and out of site.  We occasionally saw movement in the distance, but for the time being, he had left the female to her prey.  We cautiously moved back towards the tree and tried to catch another glimpse of the cat.  We briefly opened the roof and by leaning out on the roof of the car, I was able to see her through a break in the leaves.  We counted ourselves fortunate to have seen a leopard and left the grove to explore other parts of the park.

  

The African Elephants

Elephants in the mara travel in troops led by the eldest female.  The Masai Mara was once home to thousands of these massive animals, but their numbers have dwindled to the point where it is a rare site to see more than 10 of them at a time.  After crossing a small river and barely making it up the bank in our vehicle, we came across a small troop of six elephants including a small baby lazily grazing on dried grass.  We stood admiring the peaceful animals for a good while.  The matriarch would frequently blow trunk-fulls of dust onto her back to cool off and brush away flies.  The baby stayed close to its mother occasionally taking drinks of milk to wash down the dry grass.  When our driver changed positions and moved too close for their comfort, the elephants reacted quickly forming a tight ring around the baby.  The largest male moved forward and began to grunt loudly.  The agitated male appeared to be ready to charge and we urged our driver to leave before things got out of hand.  We left the elephants to enjoy their grass lunch in peace.

     

Mara Wildlife

While the cats and elephants are certainly the highlight of a trip to the Masai Mara, there are many other fantastic things to see.  Giraffes are in abundance and were often seen far in the distance walking in a line on the horizon.  Flocks of impalas are composed of a harem of females led by a single male who, according to our guide Victor, “has to take care of all that.”  Hippos seem clumsy and harmless wading in the rivers or lumbering across the plains, but kill more humans than any other animal in the mara.  Several varieties of vultures sit in dead tree branches waiting for the cats to leave them scraps of meat.   Hot air balloons leave at sunrise every morning taking tourists who can afford the trip on a quiet flight over the mara.  Zebras and exotic birds cover the plains watching for predators.  Throughout the territory, the Masai men and boys walk their territory draped in red or orange cloth.  Sadly, these proud warriors are often reduced to begging for money or rushing towards cars to sell trinkets.  The poor Kenyan economy does not spare even the Masai people.
  

  

 

On our last drive out of the park, we drove through a herd of Cape buffalo lazily grazing in the open fields.  They kept a watchful eye for predators and many of them eyed us intently as we drove through their ranks.  Small birds referred to as ‘buffalo peckers’ jumped from animal to animal cleaning off small insects.  Cape buffalo can also be extremely dangerous to a person walking on the mara and must be approached with caution.

 

All in all, the trip to the Masai Mara was the trip of a lifetime.  The land is beautiful, seeming to stretch forever in all directions.  Despite being almost flat, there are rolling hills that offer the animals plenty of places to hide and hunt.  This place is home to some of the most fascinating animals in the world.  Hopefully the Kenyan and Tanzanian people will continue to keep it safe for generations to come.

Posted May 15, 2009 by chrislux in Photography, Travel

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Kakamenga Rainforest   1 comment

Saturday, May 3, 2007
Kakamenga Rainforest, Kenya

Friday was labor day in Kenya giving us a nice long weekend to recover our energy and set out on another quick adventure.  It was agreed that a group of us would take the relatively short journey to the Kakamenga Rainforest for an afternoon hike in the old growth forest.  We were accompanied by our favorite driver, Taxi Max.  After a fairly short drive, we arrived at the gates of the forest, hired a park guide, and set out on our hike.

Kakamenga Rainforest is a small remnant of what was once a mighty expanse of trees ranging as far as the Atlantic Ocean and covering hundreds of thousands of square kilometers.  Now, the remaining forest is a mere 240 sq km.  Unfenced, it is under constant assault from local cattle farmers and villagers in search of free firewood.  Still, what remains is a beautiful example of the diverse life that exists in an old growth rainforest.

Quickly after entering the park, an alarm was sounded by red tailed monkeys alerting the forest of our intrusion.  Blue monkeys seemed less disturbed, but let out loud hooting grunts to mark their territory.

  

Continuing into the forest, we followed signs that lead us to the muddy waters of the Isiukhu Falls.  Legend has it that visitors of the falls hear a woman crying upstream and none that have searched have found her.  We didn’t hear any crying on our visit.  We did find a small opening in the forest where a pool of water fed by the brown rapids of the falls was churning in circles before continuing into the forest.  The rapids served as the fishing grounds for a small crane called a hammercock that searched for a meal in a small eddy current.  Anita and Kalpana clambered out to a rock in the middle of the pool to enjoy the sun while Angeli and I searched the shores for good subjects to photograph.

 

Many of us were surprised to learn that within rainforests exist natural grassy clearings that are home to a variety of animals, birds and insects.  The final category, insects, was by far the best represented on our walk.  Butterflies and moths danced around the grassy fields and through the tree branches of the forest.  Angeli and I stumbled upon a nest of ants that produced a loud rattling sound by vibrating in unison as we stood watching them.  Justina had the unfortunate experience of stepping in a nest of fighting ants wearing her ill-chosen sandals.  She was able to brush them off quickly with no real harm done.  Giant termite mounds the size of many Kenyan houses could be found throughout the forest.  Silk worms hung precariously from a thin strand gleaming in the sun.  Dragon flies landed on any warm rock surface especially those near water.

  

Deep in the forest, we came across an enormous fichus tree.  Kalpana could not resist practicing her climbing skills on the tangled structure and quickly made her way high into twisted branches.  The acrobatics did not stop there as we shortly came upon a massive labyrinth of vines that had long outlived their host trees and served as a perfect natural jungle gym for our group.

  
            
The final portion of our hike again presented us with a new surprising terrain.  Rather than the dense broad leaved trees and vines we had become accustomed to, we were now climbing across bare rock and gravel covered slopes studded with tall cedar trees.  The rock slope was split with gaping chasms and scattered boulders.  The thin trees offered little protection from the afternoon sun.  Thankfully, we had all been living in Kenya long enough that the altitude and heat had little effect on our stamina.  Our guide commented later that we didn’t seem to tire out like typical mizungus.  A final climb put us back in the edge of the forest where we found a winding staircase leading to a watch tower.  We climbed the tower and found it offered a wonderful view across the entire rainforest to the hills on the opposite side which concealed the town of Eldoret to which we would soon return.  While we saw few birds or animals, we all left satisfied with a day spent hiking through the Kakamenga Rainforest.

Posted May 11, 2009 by chrislux in Photography, Travel

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Evening of the Arts 2009   Leave a comment

Students from IU School of Medicine do a yearly talent show to raise money for local free clinics called the Evening of the Arts or EOTA.  The show has been held at Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School for the past few years.  I have performed or helped out since I started going to med school and this was my 7th year.  While I didn’t perform, I did submit some artwork, took pictures during the show preparation and helped with the art auction.  As usual, it was a fun time and we raised a good deal of money for the charities. Check out some pictures below.

Posted March 24, 2009 by chrislux in Photography