The House Of Red Neon

red neon joe grossinger advertising restaurant

I have been meaning to photograph this striking Chinese restaurant for months now. Every time I drive east on I-10 at night I see it just south of the freeway. This image is a 9-image HDR I created using a Nikon D90 camera with my favorite walk-around lens, the 18-200mm Nikkor ISO was 400. When photographing for HDR I like to be in aperture priority so that the depth of field does not change with the different exposures. I set the D90 to bracket 3 images at 2 f-stops apart. After those 3 images were taken I set the exposure compensation to -2 stops and then finally to plus 2 stops. That gave me a total of 9 images for a range of 18 f-stops. Using a steady tripod is an absolute must for this kind of photography. I use the Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro with the Manfrotto 804RC2 head. For general photography, not using extremely heavy lenses, this is an excellent combination in price/performance. I also use this combination with the Sony A350 and Tamron 200-500mm lens with total satisfaction.

I always photograh with the camera set to RAW file mode. I process the RAW files using DXO Labs Optics Pro 6. DXO, which  does the heavy grunt work with the images and saves them in JPG format. I generally only work with JPG files and save the RAW files as my negatives. This procedure saves me an enormous amount of time and effort.

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grossinger photography red neon

This is a single image photo taken around the same time using the same equipment with the aperture set on 7.1 and .62 second shutter speed.

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Which picture is “better” comes down to a matter of personal taste. Lila likes the single exposure because in her words “it’s cleaner”, while I like the HDR for the tonal range. Lila has a valid point because in the second image many of the distracting elements such as cars and handicapped parking signs are subdued and hidden.

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More Speedway Photography

Bringing out the racer photograph grossinger photographyWhen I spotted this car being brought out from the top of the trailer I knew I had a funny caption. Of course the Barnett Harley-Davidson team was very professional and did not drop off the deep end.

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I photographed this with the Nikon D5000 and my walk around lens, the Nikkor 18-200mm. ISO was 400 because this was late in the afternoon and with a lens aperture of f/9 I was able to shoot at 1/320th. The vibration reduction on the Nikkor comes in really handy for this kind of shooting.

dirt track racing photography grossingerClick on image for a better view

The races started around 7pm, so it was starting to get a bit dark. I took this picture with the Nikon D90 and set the ISO to 3200. I don’t worry much about high ISO settings with my Nikons because the noise even at ISO 3200 is very low. My advice is “don’t sweat the ISO – get the picture!” I was shooting with the 18-200mm vr Nikkor set on f/9 in aperture priority and that gave me a shutter speed of 1/500th. Some folks would choose shutter priority when shooting this kind of scene and that’s fine but I like to keep things simple and stay in aperture priority. If I want a faster shutter speed I simply go to a larger lens opening (smaller f/number). I could be perfectly happy if the only choice my camera gave me was aperture priority. The only other shooting mode I use is manual for my studio work.

grossinger photography dirt track racing Click on image for a better view

I was about 100ft or 30 meters from the action. See those mud balls on the cars? They were on me as well. It’s the price you pay. I was feeling a bit foolish about the mud balls but as I looked around there were about 10 other brave souls watching the race from this close distance and of course they were wearing mud balls as well but I was the only one taking pictures!

into the turn grossinger photography
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I snapped a lot of photos when groups of cars were in the turn, that seemed to give me the best action feeling.

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America’s first Thanksgiving – 23 years before the Pilgrims landed!

First Thanksgiving by illegal aliens no less!

Juan de Onate and his expedition of 500 on April 30, 1598 stumbled into the San Elizario, Texas area. They were out of food, water and at the end of their strength. When they arrived at the Rio Grande Don Juan de Onate held a Thanksgiving celebration.

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The San Elizario Chapel is not a mission as most people believe, rather it served as a chapel for the fort the Spaniards built. The organizers of this reenactment of America’s first Thanksgiving did a fantastic job decorating the area right in front of the chapel. I took this picture with the Nikon D90 and the Nikkor 10.5mm fisheye. I love this lens! It offers so many choices when taking a picture.
ISO 200, 10mm, f/5.6, 1/2000th.
I decided to concentrate on faces for the most part since it’s really difficult to photograph and display a story line.
click on image for a better view
This guy is a member of the San Elizario Desperados, a reenactment group. They did a fantastic job entertaining the audience as you can see from this image.

This kind of picture is exactly what I was looking for. Lot’s of character and fun. The picture grabs your eyeballs and forces you to look.
I arrived at San Elizario one hour before show time. That gave me plenty of opportunities to walk around the plaza, and talk with the actors. I took a lot of pictures before the show but tossed most of them because of bad background. I wanted to stay as pure as possible, shooting authentic looking characters with authentic backgrounds. Getting to know the actors before showtime helped  because they would look my way and play to my camera during the show.
I took this image with the Nikon D5000 and the Nikkor 18-200mm lens. ISO 200 f/8, 1/320th 42mm.
The Nikkor 18-200mm was the workhorse of the day. With the exception of the first image showing the chapel, I shot everything else using the 18-200mm. This is a great “walk around” lens.

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I photographed this beautiful young lady before the show and was lucky enough to catch her with a nice background. Of course I was flirting with her, that explains the beautiful smile. Shmoozing with the actors was really important because I wanted good pictures.
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This handsome young man was actually sitting on a small pony. Shooting the boy with the pony in any kind of pose or background was impossible. I think every kid in San Elizario was crowded around him and his pony. I opted for shooting this image, which I thought cute.
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Another member of the San Elizario Desperados. This image was also shot before the show began.
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This beautiful Native Amrican woman was with the organizing officials. She took part in the opening ceremonies. To get a shot like this requires a bit of patience and staying focused on the subject until she is in the clear and has a nice bright smile. I did let her know that I was photographing her, so she could give me a quick pose.
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The most difficult problem with this kind of shoot is location. YOUR location. In order to get this shot I had to get in front of the crowd and just sit in the street. I moved around quite a bit trying for different angles and perspectives. I never stay in one location too long because the pictures then tend to become stale and static.
I had a great time and hope you enjoyed the pictures.
I am not a professional, I take pictures for the fun of it and let my cameras take me to beautiful places and interesting events.
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Valentine Texas – The Prada Art Display

Photographing Valentine Texas and the Prada Art Display

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Valentine’s name refers to the date of its founding in 1882 by a Southern Pacific Railroad construction crew: February 14. Valentine is a town that once was. Now it has a population of around 180 souls, at least one horse, some chickens and not much else. EXCEPT for the really odd work of art erected a bit outside of town. It’s the Prada art display.

The New York times, being the liberal rag it is, got the description all wrong by calling it a store. In fact, it’s called a store all over the internet, but IT IS NOT A STORE! Its a work of art.

Hell, I don’t know why, I don’t know art. The entire building with its contents is a work of art and not a store. There are no clerks, there is no way to get into the building because it’s kept locked. There are no prices, no descriptions of the products on display. Yeah, it’s weird! There is a sign right next to the building that describes it as a work of art.

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This picture was taken with the Nikon D90 and I had the Nikkor 18-200mm lens attached. Aperture priority, ISO 200, f/4, 1/1600. There were a couple of men working on the building, so I got really lucky and got to shoot into the building with the door open. They would not let me cross the threshold, and that was OK because the shelves were right inside the door. this is a very small building.

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The shelves with shoes ran the entire width of the building. Only one shoe of each line was on display and as you can see, no prices, no decriptions. I had to google “Prada” to get an idea of the kinds of prices these things sold for. The average price for a Prada shoe is about $800.00 and the purses sell for about $1,200.00. That’s enough to make my nose bleed. I guess the rich really are different.

click the shoe for a better image.

This “work of art” kind of reminded me of the kitch that was so prevalent on Route 66.

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Excellent Car Show

Photographing car shows is fun

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The El Paso Corvette Club put on an excellent car show at Mission Chevrolet.
I was pleasantly surprised by the number and variety of cars on display. For the first image I chose a highly modified and absolutely gorgeous Corvette.

Click the image
The crop tool in Photoshop is the most important tool for me. I love to bore into the most essential part of an image.
I love car shows because of the many opportunities to just go wild with crops, color, composition and lens. I generally only use two lenses for this kind of photography. My main gun is the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8. This lens will not autofocus with the Nikon D5000 and other small Nikons but that has never slowed me down or stopped me. Focusing an ultrawide lens is a breeze. The D5000 really shines at car shows because of the articulated LCD screen. Its incredible how easy it is to compose pictures under very difficult conditions.

Color is a critical factor in car shows and many other kinds of photography. I am never shy on how much I enhance color. Car shows beg for color! I photographed this car at 13mm, f/8, 1/1000 with ISO 200 and aperture priority.


Car shows means engines. Don’t be afraid to bore into the hood and show that engine. Use fill flash for this kind of shooting and bracket.
This engine had everything. Color galore, chrome, and excellent form. Engines are so cool! I shot this at 13mm. f/8 1/60th at ISO 200.
Tons of chrome! I love tons of chrome!
This was shot at 11mm, f/11 1/25th aperture priority with ISO 200
Don’t forget the small but beautiful details.
I photographed this beautiful Corvette logo at 16mm, f/9, 1/2000th ISO 200 aperture priority
In my view they should still be using this gorgeous logo.

Don’t forget to photograph the entire car! This is another job the Tokina does so well. As you know, cars are parked close together making it difficult to shoot the entire car.

I photographed this beauty at 13mm, f/4, 1/4000th at ISO 200.

I hope you enjoyed this post.
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The finest DSLR available today

The best camera

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Undoubtedly the finest DSLR for beginner to advanced Amateurs and most pros is the Nikon D5000.

The D5000 has identical if not superior image quality as the Nikon D300.

I have both the D90 and the D5000 but find I use the D5000 much more than the D90.

The reasons are:

Much cheaper at about $600 for the body compared to $850 for the D90 and a whopping $2,400 for the D300. The new D700 will set you back about $2,700 and won’t get you a better picture. This means you can take the D5000 where others fear to tread.

Much lighter

The D5000 is much easier to learn and use than any DSLR on the market.

The LCD on the D5000 is totally protected since it swivels so that you can turn the glass part of the LCD against the camera.

The swivel feature along with live view makes the D5000 an incredible picture taking machine.

If you have ever photographed a small dog, toddler, or tried to compose on a flower or any subject low to the ground you will instantly love the D5000 with the articulated LCD. You won’t have to crawl around the floor like some demented worm. Just flip out the LCD, go to live view, lower the camera down to the subject and take the picture! Let the photographers with their $3000 ego trip crawl around the floor and look stupid. You will look professional and your images will be far superior because you can compose with ease. Shooting this way is very similar to shooting with those old-time 2 1/4 X 2 1/4 cameras that got photographers super images in days past.

Yes, of course there are disadvantages to the D5000. The biggest and for me the only disadvantage is that it lacks a focusing motor, meaning it can only autofocus with lenses designated AF-S.
I have the really excellent Tokina 11-16mm ultra wide that will not auto focus with the D5000 but I get fabulously sharp images anyway because with ultra wide lenses focus is not nearly as critical nor are you ever in a big hurry shooting with an ultra wide lens. The same goes for the Nikon 10.5 mm fisheye.

In my mind, the D5000 is absolutely the finest DSLR available on the market today.
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