Last week, I went on a field trip to Old Fort Niagara. What it is as stated on the official Old Fort Niagara website, “The fort played an important role in the struggles of France, Great Britain, and the United States to control the Great Lakes region of North America, and also helped shape the destinies of the Iroquois (Six Nations) peoples and the nation of Canada.” It has a long-standing tradition in American warfare with the U.S. Coast Guard being the military presence today. “Fort Niagara was a barracks and training station for American soldiers throughout both World Wars, but army soldiers were withdrawn back in 1963.”
Today, the fort is also a tourist attraction and a great place to bring the family for a day of fun. It is not far from where I live to drive.
It was a day to relax and take photographs. I became a ‘member’ of a local photographer’s group. I did not really get to know any of the photographers because most hung around in small groups. I did talk with some though before we went out to shoot.
I did not want to feel a little like, well, a ….. third wheel, so I did not intrude while they were out shooting. A friend of mine suggested I join and I am glad I did. I will get to know more of the group next place we meet, which is the botanical gardens. Hey, I am in my element there. I doubt many of them take as many photos of flowers as I do (my friend excluded though). I will at least not feel so much like an amateur. The program is Night Lights in the Garden. It should be fun and ‘enlightening’.
I did try to stay on point and shoot the fort itself, but you guys know me, I am easily distracted by some really ordinary stuff.
I could have no problem living in these structures. They are beautiful inside and out after about 300 years of military service and great battles. The fort is restored and I am sure very well maintained.
I wish I could show you the group’s work, but the site is for members only. It looks like a lot of HDR & Photoshopping. Some very surreal imaging. I stayed a little more traditional because I am trying to improve my camera skills.
Just to get an idea of what I am talking about, here is a Photoshop HDR Toning image in comparison to a shot straight from the camera without any editing. I did not use a tripod or I would have shot a HDR image since most of you will have no clue what that means. Simply, it is shooting multiple exposures of the same scene then combining them post processing into one image with essentially proper exposure for the area of the image over all individual images.
For instance, in one image you may expose for the sky to get that in the final composite. But also notice how in the stone and brick work, you can see each individual masonry unit. Unbelievable clarity and detail, and I stress the unbelievable part. I could make the HDR image better if I did more editing, but I just wanted to show you how a simple one button click in Photoshop brings out all this detail and tone.
See how it brightened the foreground too. I was telling a friend who uses Photoshop about HDR Toning and she did not know this function. So in case anyone wants to know how…. go to Images>Adjustments>HDR Toning and change the settings in the resulting window to suit your image. I just used the default settings in this illustration. It is fun to play around with and now when you see these beyond belief images, you will know how to get them yourselves.
We got a demonstration from a soldier in the firing of a musket. I think only one other photographer captured this shot. The musket was fired twice, and I got the firing both times. Too bad no bullet can be seen. That would be some pretty fast shutter action. I snapped the shutter rather than using the continuous burst mode. The soldier counted down, but there usually is a lapse from the time a command is heard to the reaction it creates. I think shooting birds has really made me more aware of timing and anticipation.
Late in the day I captured a photographer from the group shooting out over the lake. I think almost all of the group were shooting using a tripod since we were there until dusk. I had one in my Jeep, but I am so used to hand holding the camera, but probably would have had some images a little sharper if I used it. I left about 4:15, a little before sunset. I have many more photos to show you, but we will save those for later.
On another note, I was nominated for The Versatile Blogger award by Nitty Gritty Dirt Man, and I wanted to pass on my thanks to Kevin for this honor. Please visit his blog and see all the blogs he has selected.