A Faire End but a Fairer Goodbye

Regardless of whether we attend once or every weekend, the end of the Scarborough season always leaves me wanting more.  I suppose because I find it to be a place that allows me to easily leave the real world behind.  An immersion of myself into a land of enchantment, entertainment and bliss.  A time when life was simpler, slower and  personal encounters don’t feel so rushed.  And all of this could be why it has taken me nearly a month to put these thoughts into writing.

Our family was blessed this season with the fortune of having not only the funds to have Friends of Faire passes, but more importantly the time to use them.  For the past few years we have always had to seriously weigh out the cost versus the number of days we were available due to our children’s extracurricular events and life events.  And by Faire’s end I can honestly say I think going every weekend of this season was a very enriching experience for my children, each taking something positive away from the fest.

This season however left me wanting more for a bit of a different reason.  By this faire’s end the news of a very special Queen’s decision to retire had swept the kingdom.  A Queen who has been a staple part of this enchanted world that I have been in attendance of for 22 years.  A beautiful lady who graciously welcomed the patrons every weekend for the last 25 years decided it was time to open new doors for herself.  Although she will be severely missed I doubt she will ever be forgotten.

Brady with Queen Anne Boleyn

Brady with Queen Anne Boleyn

Equipment: Nikon D700Nikon 24-70
Post Processing: Lightroom,  Nik Color Efex Pro 4Photoshop
Shot Info: 1/200 sec at f 4.5, ISO 1600

Thankfully on the last day of Faire we were able to catch up with her for just a moment and Brady was able to present her with a bouquet of flowers and well wishes.

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Ballooby Slapped with Don Juan & Miguel

Don Juan and Miguel have have been performing at Scarborough Renaissance Festival for longer than I have been a patron and are still a must see for me each and every year.

I first caught their show in the early 90’s and have enjoyed watching them perform it many times over.  Their show entertains with story, sword fights, whips, improvisation and balloobies.  And seriously, what is a show without seeing someone hit in the face with a ballooby.

Don Juan & Miguel - Scarborough Renaissance Festival

Don Juan & Miguel – Scarborough Renaissance Festival

Equipment: Nikon D700Nikon 70-300
Post Processing: Lightroom,  Nik Color Efex Pro 4Photoshop
Shot Info: 1/250 sec at f 5.6, ISO 720

Over the years the show has moved stages, the jokes have evolved to stay fresh and pertinent to the time, but the the free spirited enjoyment of these two has remained unaltered.  Both on and off the stage I have never not enjoyed my time spent with either one of them.  Some of the nicest and most entertaining people to bless renaissance festivals.

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An Undead Faerie Invades Scarborough Renaissance Festival

This past weekend at Scarborough Renaissance Festival was absolutely fantastic.  The weather was perfect for wandering around this festive arena of shops and shows and we did just that.  We putzed through the land most of Saturday just looking at garb trying to decide what we needed for the season.  My wife and I both ended up finding items we wanted but decided to have them held and see how they would end up pairing with what we already own.  Turns out that was smart shopping as neither of us ended up purchasing what we originally thought we wanted.

This year I have decided to go a different route and just accessorize what I already own and maybe actually purchase a pair of period correct footwear that is long overdue.  To start me off my beautiful wife bought me a gorgeous wooden mug from Wondrous Works In Wood as an early birthday present.  It’s made from hickory and is sure to improve my look whilst drinking a cold ale on a hot day.  We ended up spending probably close to a half hour perusing all the fantastic pieces of wooden art and talking with Sherrie who is just a fantastic friendly lady before finally parting way, but I’m sure we will be back soon so our daughter can partake with us… drinking in style.

Amongst all the people we hadn’t seen in almost a year, we also ran into a few from just a few weeks prior at Sherwood Forest Faire.  Necretia, an undead faerie, was one of those.  In fact, if I hadn’t seen pictures of parts of her outfit prior to the faire, I wouldn’t have known it was her at all.  She did an absolutely fantastic job and made sure you wouldn’t miss seeing her.  Not your typical Scarby faerie, but one I wouldn’t want to miss.

Necreshia - Scarborough Renaissance Festival

Necreshia – Scarborough Renaissance Festival

Equipment: Nikon D700Nikon 70-300
Post Processing: Lightroom, OnOne Perfect Photo Suite,  Nik Color Efex Pro 4Photoshop
Shot Info: 1/250 sec at f 5.6, ISO 900
Posted in Performing Arts, Photography, Portrait, Renaissance Festival, Texas, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scarborough Renaissance Festival – Free Ticket Giveaway

Prepare Thyself for Merriment

As a personal thank you for being a fan of my Facebook page and on occasion reading my blog I am going to give away my guest passes to Scarborough Renaissance Festival to one of you.  I have two passes available that are good for one day this upcoming weekend of April 13th or April 14th.  Each pass is good for one day of admission for a person of any age.  Feel free to take someone or go both days.

In order to be eligible to win you must “Like” my Facebook page, share this post on your facebook page and leave a comment on this post.  A person will be chosen at random on Friday at noon (CST)  and the tickets will be emailed to the email address you provide in the comments.

Scarborough Renaissance Festival

Scarborough Renaissance Festival

Equipment: Nikon D700Nikon 70-300
Post Processing: LightroomNik Color Efex Pro 4Photoshop
Shot Info: 1/250 sec at f 5.6, ISO 220

Scarborough Only runs for two months in spring and is one of the most photo rich places you can go.  The shows are fantastic and always entertaining, the shops  are amazing and the performing artists are so much fun to interact with.  Hopefully I will run into whoever wins.

Best of luck

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A Nun on the Run

I’m still amazed at how many times I can go to Scarborough Faire and year after year end up meeting more “regulars” whose paths I hadn’t crossed in the past.  This last weekend I had the pleasure of running into this very lovely nun just beyond the Mermaid Lagoon.  As I was chatting up a few familiar faces I proclaimed that I didn’t believe I had previously had the pleasure of taking her portrait.  To this she replied she was very good at hiding.

I captured the shot below of her which I really like.  The lighting was very pleasant and I love how she wasn’t looking at the camera.  The emotion you can see in her eyes is splendid as well is the expression of her mouth.

Scarborough Renaissance Festival - Nun

Scarborough Renaissance Festival – Nun

Equipment: Nikon D700Nikon 70-300
Post Processing: Lightroom, OnOne Perfect PortraitNik Color Efex Pro 4, Nik Viveza, Nik Sharpener ProPhotoshop
Shot Info: 1/250 sec at f 5.6, ISO 500

I sincerely hope I do run into her again this season.  One of my faults is I will converse with people as though I already know them without ever introducing myself or asking for their name.  It isn’t until later that I end up realizing this and wishing I had.

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Mermaids Descend Upon the Scarborough Renaissance Festival in 2013

Huzzah!  In less than one week it will once again be time to hear that magical phrase “Throw Wide the Gates” as the 2013 season of Scarborough Fair commences, allowing me to be transported back into a 16th century paradise.  A world where I am not concerned with the hustle and bustle of every day life.  A few days a week in which my only concern is relaxing, spending time with my family and taking photos to share with you.

Bestowed upon us this season, from a land of enchantment, come mythical sea creatures.  Mermaid Lagoon will showcase these beautiful sirens singing and playing in their forest sanctuary.   You will find them hidden in Fern Gully just beyond Noobler The Tinker Gnome’s house in what was already a very entertaining area of Pecan Grove.

Scarborough Fair Mermaid Lagoon

Scarborough Fair Mermaid Lagoon

Equipment: Nikon D700Nikon 70-300
Post Processing: LightroomNik Color Efex Pro 4Photoshop
Shot Info: 1/800 sec at f 5.6, ISO 200

I was fortunate to be granted a sneak peak of these magnificent creatures from afar and can’t wait to return to the Mermaid Lagoon to hear their beautiful songs again.   Children will especially enjoy interacting with them and if polite and well behaved receive tokens of friendship from the mermaids.

Posted in A Page In My Life, Performing Arts, Photography, Portrait, Renaissance Festival, Texas | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Spring Sale – OnOne’s Perfect Photo Software is 40% Off

The trees are budding, the flowers are blooming and the weather is getting warmer, nicer and just all around more fun to be out and about shooting.  what could be better?  Oh maybe 40% off some software that helps you edit them?

For the next 3 days OnOne Software is offering up to 40% off their products.  I recently upgraded and have been using their Perfect Portrait 2 software.  This version offers great improvements over the first version, and I have just begun to start digging into its capabilities.

OnOne Perfect Portrait 2

OnOne Perfect Portrait 2

Equipment: Nikon D700Nikon 85mm
Post Processing: LightroomOnOne Perfect Portrait 2Photoshop
Shot Info: 1/250 sec at f 11, ISO 200

The above image was processed first with photoshop to remove large skin imperfections and then run through OnOne Perfect Portrait 2.  The software did a good job of softening skin without going to the plastic zone.  The eyes are a bit on the overly whitened side for me and I probably should have decreased that a bit or thrown a mask over them in photoshop and lowered the opacity.  The teeth whitening does a realistic job and the eye detail enhancement works far faster than it took me on average in photoshop.

Perfect Portrait is just one of the programs in the suite.  I have discussed Perfect Effects 4 in previous blogs and you can see an image in my “Nik Software + OneOne Software = One Suite Life” post.  The whole suite offers many benefits to opening up a photographers creative side in post.

OnOne Perfect Photo Suite Spring Sale

OnOne Perfect Photo Suite Spring Sale

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Nik Software – A New Bundle and Huge Price Drop

Yesterday I received notice from Nik Software, who was recently acquired Google, that they were now bundling all of their professional photography plug-ins and dropping the price to $150.  Shocked doesn’t even begin to explain the emotion that I felt.

Nik Software was the first set of photo plug-ins that I had the pleasure of using and have since been my favorite.  I would venture to guess that I put about 90% of my photos through at least one of Nik’s software programs.  I can’t compliment Nik enough for this change in their business’s pricing structure.   This allows so many more people to enjoy and benefit from great software at a very affordable price.  Nothing makes me happier than seeing the creative work of others and this allows many more people that opportunity.

Now, if your still on the fence about purchasing this even after the 70% price cut, you can pick up a 15 day fully functional trial to determine if this is something that will truly benefit your work-flow.

Nik Silver Efex Pro

Nik Silver Efex Pro – Film Noir

Equipment: Nikon D700Nikon 70-300
Post Processing: LightroomNik Silver Efex Pro 2Photoshop
Shot Info: 1/320 sec at f 5.6, ISO 1400

The above image was processed using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2.  I started with the Film Noir preset and adjusted settings until I was satisfied with the result.  It is really hard to say which plug-in is my favorite because each image speaks to me differently.  In previous posts you can see in the photo information sections what software I have used to process the image.

If you’re interested in HDR I have a small write up under my review section that covers Nik’s HDR Efex Pro.  Hopefully soon I will make the time to do full reviews of all of their software.

Ultimately, I feel this is an absolute great deal.  I hope at this price point they are still able to innovate and produce timely updates and improvements to their software.  But the fact is that at this price every photographer should add this collection to their toolbox for post processing.  And if this incredibly low price isn’t enough, you can still use the coupon code “bcox” to take another 15% off.

Nik Software

Posted in B&W, Nik Complete Collection, Nik Silver Efex Pro, Performing Arts, Photography, Software | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Story Behind the Music

When I first fell in love with photography I shot just about everything I could think of, except people.  I’m sure mostly because it’s a bit intimidating.  I know if someone who I don’t know raises a camera at me I’m immediately wondering why and what in the world are they going to do with that.  But over the years, the more I shoot the more I have enjoyed capturing portraits of people.  And of those I prefer people who are doing something or are telling a story with their actions.  I am sure this is why I always enjoyed photographing musicians and performers.  There is always a story to be told with the image.

The image below was taken at Sherwood Forest Faire and I’m not even sure if the gentleman knew that I had taken his picture.  I find this type of candid portraiture to be both fulfilling and mysterious.  The fulfilling portion comes from being able to capture a moment in it’s truest sense.  There is no posing, no setup, nothing forced.  You just see the image in your mind and you capture the natural essence of the person without hindering the scene.  The mysterious part is that you don’t have any knowledge of what the story truly is.  The emotion was caught and there was no conversation or interaction involved, thus leaving you only guessing what the thoughts where behind the eyes.

I much prefer the alternate method of interacting with people prior to, during, or immediately after capturing their portrait.  I like to spend those few moments sharing a bit of myself and getting to know just a fraction of them.  I probably should have with this guy, but he just seemed so into his own thoughts I just couldn’t bring myself to interrupt.

The Story Behind the Music

The Story Behind the Music

Equipment: Nikon D700Nikon 70-300
Post Processing: LightroomNik Color Efex ProPhotoshop
Shot Info: 1/250 sec at f 5.6, ISO 280 
Posted in McDade, Performing Arts, Photography, Portrait, Renaissance Festival, Texas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Day with Super Heroes – All-Con 2013

What sounds more fun than spending a day with cosplayers?  Exactly, not much.  And with a Con like All-Con there was no shortage in variety.  From the moment we arrived we were surrounded by Dr. Who, Storm Troopers, Derby Girls, zombies and no shortage of Steampunk.

We had a great time, but I never thought walking the halls of a conference could be so exhausting.  We ran into some old friends who we hadn’t seen in a long time and a few that we had.  We attended a couple of the panels and the costume contest was amazing.   Some of these costumes makers went all out.  Next year we will definitely get the weekend pass instead of only attending one day. Overall I only had two complaints that I can think of.

First off, this needs to be held in a much larger venue.  Utilizing a hotel where vendors have to set up in hallways is just a bad plan.  Now if this was a jewelry convention, or an art show it might have worked.  But in an environment where you can expect larger than life costumes, maneuverability becomes quickly compromised.  I saw more than a couple of people in wheelchairs who appeared to have a difficult time maneuvering in the tight quarters and those of us with strollers had to be patient occasionally and wait for the crowd to thin before heading to our next destination.  If asked I would highly suggest utilizing a convention center in the future.

My second complaint is for the most part just personal.  It was hard to find clean backgrounds when taking pictures.  If it wasn’t overly busy at the moment it wasn’t too much trouble to walk 20 or 30 feet to find some empty wall, but the littered hallways covered in fliers did at times make it a bit difficult.

Three major themes seemed to dominate the con with Star Wars being most prominent.  Everywhere you looked Storm Troopers were patrolling the halls, Sith lurking around the corners, there was no escaping the Dark Side.  One of the most amazing costumes I saw was Queen Amidala.

Equipment: Nikon D700Nikon 24-70
Post Processing: LightroomNik Color Efex Pro, Nik Viveza, OnOne Perfect Portrait 2Photoshop
Shot Info: 1/80 sec at f 4, ISO 400 

The second and third most popular costumes were Dr. Who and Steampunk.  I think at one time I saw 8 different doctors togethers all working to save us from the Silence and Weeping Angels.  Steampunk was very popular both by the players and vendors.  I think this will soon be a theme for an upcoming photo shoot.

Equipment: Nikon D700Nikon 70-300
Post Processing: LightroomNik Color Efex ProPhotoshop
Shot Info: 1/125 sec at f 5.6, ISO 6400 

We are looking forward to Comic Con later this year.  Can’t wait to see what costumes people wear.

Posted in A Page In My Life, Cosplay, Event, Performing Arts, Photography, Portrait, Texas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment