DIY OTA DTV: TDM TLA*

DIY OTA DTV: TDM TLA

* That’s “Do-It-Yourself Over-The-Air Digital Television: Too Damn Many Three-Letter Acronyms,” if you’re keeping score at home.

Today’s post reaches back into the archives for an unusual image: a homemade TV antenna.

After the digital TV cutover in 2009, I plodded along for a while with a store-bought antenna that brought in only 2 channels, and even those had issues from time to time. While looking for something better I came across information on the Gray-Hoverman antenna, an update of an old design specifically for the UHF television band. The full antenna uses reflectors as well as aerials, but I’m lazy and didn’t want to put in the effort to properly cut and space the reflectors; thus, my antenna uses the aerials only.

Even without reflectors, it’s the best antenna I’ve ever used, easily bringing in the local stations with almost no hiccups. I thought it deserved a picture, and I hit on the idea of a little shaft of hard light from the right, modulated a bit by on-axis soft fill. Even better, by masking in a second frame I got Sheldon Cooper to keep the TV screen from being a huge expanse of nothingness.

Comeback

*tap* *tap* Is this thing on?

The family obligations I mentioned in my last post are now completed: my wife has earned the degree of Master of Music in Organ Performance. (We’ve seen her at the console before.) I’m still working my way back into some pictures, so let me reach into the archive for a shot from Black Friday 2011:

Black Friday

The idea of a long exposure to capture the essence of the first day of the Christmas Shopping Season suggested itself to me easily, but finding the right location was more difficult. In order not to cut off the top of the building I had to tilt the camera, which required perspective correction in post. Further, in order to be ready when the sunset was properly blending with the street and interior lights, I had to get there and get set up in advance. I do not remember just how long it took to find both the right light and the right mix of traffic passing, but it felt like more than an hour.

In retrospect, a neutral density filter might have been useful for this shot, to allow a slower shutter speed and more/longer light trails.

While I was shooting I attracted the attention of a writer for Shutterbug magazine, whose name I no longer remember. We had a nice chat about this and that, although I was glad when he left so I could focus more attention on photography. 🙂 This remains the only time I can remember that someone has come up to talk to me while I was photographing.

There; my toes are wet again. Let’s see if I can restart and post on a regular basis.

Flying the Tin Goose

Retroblogged and expanded from my LiveJournal post for 13 June 2011.

In the summer of 2008, just before my older son was born, the Experimental Aircraft Association of Oshkosh, WI brought one of the few surviving airworthy B-17s to Champaign. The B-17 is not the only old aircraft they maintain in flying condition; they also maintain a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor, and on June 12 it was at Frasca Field in Urbana. They were giving rides as well, so my father-in-law and I grabbed a couple of seats, and were soon barnstorming above Shampoo-Banana. It was noisy and much bumpier than a big commercial airliner, but lots of fun.

The Belly of a Tin Goose

Despite the cliché, I couldn’t resist doing the full old-timey shtick on this image in post: monochrome and vignette. (Sepia would have been so far over the top that even I couldn’t stomach it.) I printed a copy for my father-in-law on Canson Infinity Arches Aquarelle Rag, a matte paper that beautifully suited the subject.

Come Fly With Me

This is my favorite image from the day. It reduces the aircraft to form and line, with the wide lens exaggerating the dramatic forward thrust of the fuselage.

Curia

Retroblogged from my LiveJournal post for 25 May 2011.

The great photographer Ansel Adams is one of my heroes/inspirations/teachers, as he has been (and no doubt will continue to be) to many others. I often find myself taking pictures with the intention of making monochrome versions of them, adapting for digital the tools and techniques Ansel presents in The Negative. Thus it was that I found myself in downtown Urbana with a good view of the courthouse, and realized that the situation was amenable to such treatment.

Curia

The early afternoon light here is harsh but tempered a bit by haze. The courthouse is a terra-cotta color, so if we emphasize the red channel, we can both tame the shadows a bit and separate the courthouse from the sky; the equivalent operation on film would be using a red filter with a panchromatic emulsion. Ansel used this effect more dramatically in his famous 1927 photograph Monolith, The Face of Half Dome. Emphasizing the red channel had the undesirable side effect of blanking the traffic lights; since the lights were green for E-W traffic on Main Street, I made a second version with green emphasized, used layers in the GIMP and masked in the bottom traffic light in the three fixtures for eastbound traffic.

This is not a literal rendering of the relative values of the scene; it is an interpretation of them reflecting what the scene made me feel at the time.

Aedes Musicae

Retroblogged from my LiveJournal post for 9 June 2011.

Aedes Musicae

A friend of ours was playing an organ recital on June 6, and we decided that I’d go while my wife got the boys to bed. As those of you with kids know, it didn’t work as smoothly as we had hoped 😉 but our friend played well, we got to cheer him on, and I got a picture in the bargain. My dad bought me a book about architectural photography and I was using a suggestion therefrom while shooting. With my 35mm lens I was not able to cover the whole facade, nor did I have my tripod and level to manage convergence, but I could frame a detail such that the converging vertical lines contributed to the composition.

Photography is the art of finding order in chaos. I say “finding” rather than “creating,” because outside of the studio (I include staged location shots in “studio”), we can’t command things to present themselves the way we like. Instead, we look for the fleeting moments where the camera will freeze shifting forms into order before they disorganize again.