I’ve found a photo home!

We are a military family, constantly on the move from one town to the next. We’re currently in the Leavenworth, KS area, for the third time, and we LOVE it here!

While I’ve photographed for the news in the recent past, and have been hosting photography clubs, I’m finally stepping up and ramping up my photography business full-time. I feel very, VERY fortunate to be able to do this through First City Photo and Frames in Leavenworth, Kansas. Debra Bates-Lamborn has owned the studio for over 20 years. It’s an honor to work at her studio, and to learn from her in the process, too.

Here’s a quick slide show of my new “home away from home,” a few quick scenes I shot at the studio yesterday:

I’ll be spending a bit of time revamping my social media and…this website. Please excuse any glitches you may find on the site as I navigate the world of WordPress.

Debra is an amazing photographer! In my opinion she’s also quite the curator of Leavenworth, KS history, too! She owns glass negatives of photographs that were taken in Leavenworth during the late 1800’s. She also has many additional prints, books, newspapers, quite a bit of history, much of which can be seen at the studio. Seriously, this is one really neat studio!

While at the studio I’ve thought about the history of photography, the changes it’s gone through over the years. I’ve been thinking about how we all frequently snap, snap, snap away with our digital devices, share pics and…forget them. There is no replacement for well photographed and printed photos. NO. REPLACEMENT.

We aren’t just creating photographs, we’re preserving memories of our relationships and experiences. Good, quality photos + great printing and framing = well-preserved memories. There are so many digital images floating around our phones, cameras, computers, the big world-wide “interwebs,” I believe many of our special moments aren’t being preserved the way they should be. I’m still, and always will be, a strong believer in photos hanging up on walls, on a frame on desks at work, preserved in a well-printed album.

There’s a piece of photographic history which has been well-preserved, printed, and watching over my shoulder when I’m working at the storefront counter. This historic person is no other than…Abraham Lincoln! The image was photographed in the late 1880’s, captured on a glass negative, when Honest Abe gave his first political speech right here in Leavenworth, Kansas. This print was created from the original glass negative.

Print of Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln, as photographed in Leavenworth, KS when he gave his first political speech here in the late 1880s. This print was created from the original glass negative, and is now on display at First City Photo and Frame, Leavenworth, KS.

WOW! There’s no way this historic image could possibly be fully appreciated if the glass negative was hidden away somewhere in a file cabinet or on a shelf shelf. It might be preserved, but it’s much better appreciated printed and displayed for the whole world to see. Seriously,  if you’re ever in Leavenworth, KS, come on in the studio and meet this larger-than-life image of our former president! Personally, this is one of my favorite photos at the studio. Don’t tell my husband, but I’m now calling Honest Abe my “boyfriend at work.”

Ahhhh… Life on the frontier! I’m so glad to be living back here in Kansas! And even more thrilled to be working harder on my photography, building a good, strong business, too. 🙂

 

Exploring Weston, Missouri

Exploring Weston, Missouri

Before my son went back to college, he and I spent an afternoon exploring Weston, Missouri. It was a very chilly Monday afternoon, and many of the stores weren’t open, but there was still so much to see in this cute, little town! Everyone we met in the stores and restaurants that were open greeted us openly, sharing tidbits about the town and surrounding area. I’m excited to visit Weston again, and soon!

 

Autumn Scenes at the Overland Park Arboretum

I recently purchased a new (used) Nikon D4. On my first day out with the new camera, I visited the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens in Overland Park, Kansas. Autumn has fully set in at the park. What beautiful colors!

You can view the slideshow of my photos below, especially nice with accompanying music opened and playing in another tab on your browser. I recommend Brandon Fiechter’s Beautiful Autumn Music – November.

Click here to view a full album of these photos on Flickr.

Enjoy!

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Whiskey Barrels and HDR Photography

I’m running a photography club at our current location, on an army post. When one of our members said she used to work at the J. Rieger & Co. distillery in Kansas City, Missouri, and suggested that as a field trip for our group, I immediately jumped in on the opportunity! Thank you, Laura (photographed below, far left)!

Photography Club tours J. Rieger & Co. Distillery in KC
Jay from J Rieger Distillery discusses the products created by the company with the Photography Club members.

Before, during and after the tour, our club members learning about how whiskey and gin were produced, while also photograph throughout the distillery. A small album of photos I took on the tour can be seen on my Flickr site linked here. Our club members have shared many of their field trip photos online, and it’s fascinating to see how each person uniquely viewed and captured the distillery!

While I found the distillation process (and products) fascinating, I also fell in love with the lines and tones of the whiskey barrels stacked along the walls. What beautiful barrels of libation! My favorite scene combined the round lines of the stamped barrels with the straight lines of the shelving, while balancing areas of light and dark wood and metal tones. Oh! I just had to catch that scene!

I photographed the scene with my Nikon 7100, using my Tokina AT-X 11-20mm F2.8 PRO DX lens. I wanted to see what I could do with this scene, recreating it with High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography. What is HDR photography? According to Trey Ratcliff’s Stuck in Customs website, “HDR is short for High Dynamic Range. It is a post-processing task of taking either one image or a series of images, combining them, and adjusting the contrast ratios to do things that are virtually impossible with a single aperture and shutter speed.” Yes! There you go, straight from the HDR master! I couldn’t have said it better myself.

My baseline photo had an exposure value (EV) of 0.0, shot at 16 mm, ISO 100, f-10, 10 seconds. I absolutely had the camera on a good, solid tripod for the long exposure, and set the timer to fire 2 seconds after I pressed the shutter release button. Before taking the photos, I also set up my camera to shoot a sequence of five photos, bracketed for different exposures: the primary exposure (EV 0.0), two over exposed (EV +2.0, EV +1.0) and two underexposed (EV -1.0, EV -2.0).

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When finally processing the photos at home later that night, I imported them into Adobe Lightroom CC and initially processed them using the Photomatix Pro plug-in.

Side note: I had initially fallen in love with HDR photography after being inspired by Brandon Kopp’s photography on Flickr, especially his HDR vertoramas. Lucky me, I bumped into Brandon as soon as we moved to the D.C. area, when on a Flickr meetup at the Library of Congress! I believe it might have been Brandon who initially pointed me toward Trey Ratcliff’s website to learn more about HDR photography, and another person to learn about panorama and vertorama photography (I need to find that resource!).

The picture below is the HDR image I initially processed using my five photographs of the barrels. With Photomatix Pro I could utilize different presets and adjust sliders to to bring out many different aspects of the image. For some reason, this picture just sang out to me as you see it below! Looking at it now, though, once it was brought back into Lightroom, I might have used the graduated filter adjustment to bring in some light and contrast from the left, and maybe brightened and warmed the overall image a bit more… I sometimes obsess about my images, work on them for hours, and go back to them later to work on them some more. Not in this case, though. I only spent a few minutes creating the HDR result you see here:

Whiskey Barrels HDR processed with Photomatix Pro
Whiskey barrels processed using Lightroom and Photomatix Pro to create a high dynamic range (HDR) image.

Did I really NEED to take five images, with different bracketed exposures, processed in Lightroom with the Photomatix plug-in? Hmmm… It seems like a lot of work. Right? Like I said, with my workflow in place, I hardly think about what I’m doing now and have an processed image in minutes from camera to export.

What if I just processed the RAW baseline EV 0.0 image in Lightroom, quickly adjusting the sliders to bring up the highlights half a stop, touch up the contrast just a little, drop down the highlights, lighten the shadows, boost the whites and drop the blacks a touch, maybe up clarity a little w/a smidgeon of vibrance? I asked myself that very same question, and came up with the image below in mere seconds. The result is closer to what I was imagining the HDR photo would look like after processing the full five images.

I’ve gone back and forth between the single processed image here and the HDR one above many times, and see different values in each of them. Working with one photo and using only Lightroom was much, much faster…and easier!

Whiskey Barrels processed with Lightroom
Whiskey barrels photographed at the normal exposure value (EV 0.0), processed only with Adobe Lightroom.

***UPDATE: Since I first published this post, I remembered that I have a set of Trey Ratcliff’s HDR-in-Lightroom presets! I made a virtual copy of my baseline photo, then tried out the different presets in the set. Below are three of the results. It’s amazing how many different results you can create from one RAW file:

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Ahhhhh… Why mess with my DSLR, processing, exporting and uploading the photos to share? Why not just click and quickly process and post the same image with my phone and Instagram app? Good question! I did just that while waiting for my long exposures to finish, and came up with the image below. I believe this image was shot, processed, and posted to my Instagram account between the time I clicked my DSLR shutter release and the fifth exposure had finished. Cell phone photography is great for SPEED when sharing images!

Whiskey Barrels, LG G4 photo
Whiskey barrels photographed with LG G4 cellphone, processed and posted via the Instagram app.

This is all very exciting, but… WHAT ABOUT THE WHISKEY? I mean, the point of our whole field trip was for our group members to focus (Ha! Ha! Get it? Focus?) on different photography skills. Right? We individually worked on exposure, depths of field, different compositions, you name it. We also saw and SMELLED the whiskey mash, and were very, very lucky to sample some amazing whiskey, gin, and vodka and amaro, all created at the J. Rieger & Company distillery. Oh, it was all so WONDERFUL!

After our lovely morning tour, we sat down and enjoyed lunch next door at The Local Pig (a VERY popular place!), and then scouted out graffiti sites in the area. What a fun-filled day with our group of photography-minded folks! I feel fortunate to be a part of such a great photography club, and look forward to more learning and adventures with them throughout the year! 📷

Half Mound Schoolhouse

Half Mound Schoolhouse
Half Mound Schoolhouse, Kansas

As I work on some photos, the presidential debate is playing on the TV in the background. I’m looking at this old building that I photographed yesterday, wondering who lived, worked or studied in it so many, many years ago. How many presidents have lead our country since this structure was built? Trains used to pass through the area, near the spot I stood on when taking this photo. How many people flew past this building and land, traveling by rail from other corners of our country? This building is still standing. It appears empty now, but with walls that could probably tell many stories. Somehow generations of people have lived on this very land, under the leadership of many different governors, congressmen, senators and presidents. I have no fear about whom we elect, our country will continue to struggle, change, and grow. More fields of crops will be sowed and reaped. We will live through more history. We will be okay.

 

Sunflowers in Kansas!

Sunflower Sunrise at Grinter's Farm
KLMarkert at Grinter's Farm
Self portrait shot somewhere in a sunflower field at Grinter’s Farm, September 4, 2016.

 

Good morning! It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog. Where have I been? Let’s see… We’ve moved to Kansas! Yeah! In the spirit of our new state, my first blog post here will be of the gorgeous sunflowers we’ve seen out at Grinter’s Farm in Reno, KS, off Hwy 24-40, between Tonganoxie & Lawrence. I made a few trips out there in early September, to photograph the flowers at sunrise, and to bring a small group from my photography club.

Before bringing a group out to the farm, I scouted it out for myself early one Sunday morning. Wow, was that an exercise in patience and persistence! Waiting for the sun to rise wasn’t so bad, really. After dragging all my gear (camera bag, drone back pack, rolling bag with crystal balls and other goodies, and step-ladder) into the middle of the front field, sitting among the quiet, graceful flowers was actually quite peaceful. I even made two new photographer friends as we waited, ladies who were also out before dawn to capture a few sunrise photos!

Sunflower Sunrise at Grinter's Farm
Sunflowers at sunrise, Grinter’s Farm, Lawrence, KS, September 4, 2016.

Yes, I’ve started a photography club! My Coffee and Cameras group is a sub-club of the Fort Leavenworth Spouses’ Club. Since I’ve just moved up here, the outing to see the sunflowers was the first meeting I’d had with our group members. The sunflowers simply wouldn’t wait for me to finish unpacking and get organized first (uh… Me, organized?). We met up, drove out, and had a FUN time! Once again I dragged out all my bags, and we took the standard photos, crystal ball photos, even played a little with some maternity shots (thank you to our guest model!), and everyone had a hand at flying the drone, too!

Collage from Field Trip to Grinter’s Farm, Sept. 7, 2016.


There are still sunflowers blooming at Grinter’s Farm, and at Schwinn Produce Farm in Leavenworth, KS. I’m not heading back out this year, though, as I still have more unpacking to do, painting of walls, doctor appointments to make, and much more fun already filling my calendar. Until next year, I’ll just keep playing around with the photos I’ve already taken, cleaning some up, and prep some pieces for canvases to be hung in our new home.

Sunflowers in Crystal Ball, before and after in Lightroom
Sunflowers in Crystal Ball, before and after in Lightroom. I’ve touched up the photo a bit, taking out some of the sun and dust spots, minimizing the stand (after flipping the photo upside down).
Sunflower Shimmer
Sunflower Shimmer. Image from my sunflower sunrise photos, shot Sept. 6, 2016. I first did some basic editing with Lightroom, then used a shimmer action in Photoshop.

Ahhh… From Texas bluebonnets to the sunflowers in Kansas, flowers have definitely made our moves much more fun. Below is my first ever short GoPro video, shot from my 3DR Solo drone. Enjoy! 🙂

360 Photo: Tomb of Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery

This is a test post, using an older Ricoh Theta 360 photo (1st generation Theta camera). I am testing the capability of embedding the code into my WordPress site. Hopefully it works! I will test it on different browsers, and on my Android mobile. I don’t have iOS products. If someone could try it out on their iPhone and tell me if it works, I would be most appreciative. 😉
I’m excited about the soon-to-be-released Ricoh Theta S camera, with improved 360 photo and 360 VIDEOS! Photography FUN!

Arlington National Cemetery, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Earthquake in Nepal: Before and After

I am personally heartbroken by what has happened in Nepal. Anyone who’s followed my photography for a while knows I’ve traveled there a few times, and have fallen in love with the country and people of Nepal.

I’ve been going through my photos, remembering the people I’ve met and the places I’ve seen in the Kathmandu Valley. Fortunately, I’ve heard from my friends in country, and they are all okay. Unfortunately, the disaster is widespread, with many lives lost and people injured.

Here is a photo of Kathmandu Durbar Square, created on my second trip in March, 2013:

Kathmandu Durbar Square, March 2013
Kathmandu Durbar Square, March 2013

***To see the same scene after the April 25, 2015 earthquake in Nepal, click to see this post on the Vos Iz Neias website: Nepal – Devastating Earthquake Kills 1,800, Toll Expected To Rise, Triggers Deadly Everest Avalanch***

The loss of lives and destruction of the Nepali infrastructure is absolutely astounding. Please consider helping support the people of Nepal by contributing funds to organizations which are providing resources such as water, food, shelter, medical care and other supplies to the Nepalis. Here are a few links with more information on how you can help:

Please keep the people in Nepal in your thoughts and prayers as they struggle to recover from this horrific earthquake.

Baltimore Magazine

KLMarkert Photo in Baltimore Magazine
KLMarkert Photo in Baltimore Magazine

I am honored that my Key Bridge photo was published on page 106 of the Baltimore Magazine’s May 2015 issue. How exciting! I’m a huge fan of this magazine, the layout and content. This is the oldest city magazine in the United States, which I believe has been in publication since 1907. Very cool!

The bluebonnets are blooming in Texas!

Bluebonnets near Stillhouse Hollow Lake. ©2015KarinMarkert
Bluebonnets near Stillhouse Hollow Lake. ©2015KarinMarkert

My friend and I visited Luling and Poteet last week. We saw MANY great bluebonnet (and other wildflower) blooms–simply GORGEOUS! Here’s the full set of photos from that trip: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk64SoFa

This week we took a quick trip from Nolanville and around Stillhouse Hollow Lake. We found a number of patches that still have a little bit to go before they reach their prime. Here is as set of photos from that trip: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk9UwzaR

My friend is plotting our next trip toward Fredericksburg. I can’t wait! 🙂

Crystal Ball Bluebonnets, near Stillhouse Hollow Lake. ©2015KarinMarkert
Crystal Ball Bluebonnets, near Stillhouse Hollow Lake. ©2015KarinMarkert

Question: Where have I been?????

Answer: WORKING! Thankfully.

Shortly after I started this website I was hired by the Killeen Daily Herald as a freelance photographer. I very much enjoy working for KDH, and have met some great staff and other freelancers there. To see a range of my photography work for the paper, CLICK HERE.

Several of my favorite articles, with my photos:

Boots pay tribute to soldiers lost since 9/11

Two female 3rd Brigade soldiers ready to accept Ranger challenge

More from West Africa return to Fort Hood

Blount, Lady Dawgs get by Shoemaker in double OT

Birds of prey

Couples flock to 10th annual bridal expo

Belton rodeo benefits youth

While I like photographing for the daily and weekly newspapers, I’m also thankful to be contributing to the monthly publication Tex Appeal. To see the latest issue, including my photo on the cover and several stories inside, CLICK HEREor as embedded here:

 I hope to continue working for the newspaper, but am looking at some new photography projects now, too.

 

While I’ve been busy the last few months, I’ve re-committed my time to this website and will post here more regularly in the future. Stay tuned for more wonderful KLMarkert Photography! 🙂

I’m still here! Photos from Nepal…

Sarangkot Mountain Sunrise
Mountain sunrise overlooking Pokhara and on the Annapurna Mountain Range, from Sarangkot, Dec. 2014.

I’m sorry for not posting in a while! There wasn’t much time in Nepal to create posts (we were having too much fun!). When I returned, jet lag hit me HARD. Then between my children and starting work back up, I haven’t made time to sit down and write out a post. My plan is to fully process my Nepal photos, then write posts based on some wonderful experiences we had over there. Woo hoo!

In the meantime, here are slide shows of the Nepal photos I’ve processed so far. I have five more days of photos to process, and hope to finish them as soon as possible. Enjoy! 🙂

On the Way to Nepal

Day 1: Kathmandu-Durbar Square, Kumari, Garden of Dreams and Gorkha Palace Restaurant

Day 2: Bhaktapur, Changu Narayan, Pashupati

Day 3: Swayambunath, Patan and Kathmandu Durbar Squares

Day 4: Mount Everest Flight and Boudhanath

Day 5: From Kathmandu to Pokhara, Lake Fewa

Day 6 (a.m.): Mountain sunrise overlooking Pokhara and on the Annapurna Mountain Range, from Sarangkot

In Chengdu!

This has been a most interesting rest stop! I stick out here. Not sure if it’s because I’m the only blondie, or the Santa hat. Tough call. Finally found someone who could not only speak English, but helped me get online! Yeah! I can’t get on Facebook, gmail, or many other sites, but somehow pulled this one up. Found duck here, but, uh… opted out of eating it. Had some goose noodle soup instead. Again, interesting. 😉 I’ll see if any pics can be added to this post.

Next flight leaves in a bit. I’ll head to the gate after posting this. I had a window seat out of Kathmandu, and absolutely stunning views of the mountain ranges! Just magical. We hung a left after Mount Everest, then on into China. And yes, I really did high five Santa on the way out, too. 😉

Merry Christmas, everyone!