El Dave Photography

A photographer and his toys. Updated weekly.

Last weekend was unbelievably rainy here in Chicago, so we, thinking we were clever, decided to visit the Garfield Park Conservatory for a photo outing inside and away from the storms. As it turns out, greenhouse roofs, over the course of the century it has been standing, start to leak. Everywhere.

There were the usual gawkers and the occasional stink eye from people wondering what we were doing, but the rain inside made things more uncomfortable than having to explain why I had action figures out. The bright spot was this shot of a Cygnaran Ironclad. For those of you unfamiliar with it, and Warmachine in general, here is a synopsis from Warmachine: Prime:

The most recognized heavy 'jack in the Cygnaran arsenal, the Ironclad is a walking behemoth of metal nearly thrice the size of a man. Gigantic smokestacks blow sooty "breath" from its hearthfire furnace, and a bright orange glow emits from its face grill, lending a fiery and fearsome gaze.

Armed with a powerful quake hammer, the Ironclad smashes lesser combatants to shrapnel with its massive blows; sometimes just one strike from this hammer has toppled even another heavy 'jack. The Ironclad's durable armor - smelted from precious ores harvested from the roots of the tallest mountains - provides fantastic protection from all but the heaviest impacts, and because of these things, the Cygnaran Ironclad is renowned for leading most warjack charges.

Here is the original, straight out of the camera.
Ironclad (Original) (by ElDave)

I love how it looks, but I thought I could do it one better. Shift the colors around and make it more dramatic. Make it's furnace glow. Darken the edges. Add contrast. Cover up the little spots where the paint had chipped. Ok, not so much that last one.

The final edit:
Ironclad (Final) (by ElDave)

You know, I have so much fun shooting these miniatures. I wonder if there is a gaming manufacturer in the Chicago area that needs a photographer?

You. Will. EXIF:

Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi
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Compression: JPEG (old-style)

Be good,

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When was the last time you stayed up all night, just because you wanted to? I've never had much luck staying up late, much less all night. My brain actually turns off at the stroke of midnight. I lose the ability to speak, I can't smile, and I'm generally a miserable person overall. Last Thursday night we decided to get up early and go see the sunrise, but somehow the conversation came around to, "We should just stay awake. It'll be easier".

I don't drink coffee, so I was downing tea like a fish in water. When that stopped working I brought out the big gun: Yerba Mate. This stuff is a lifesaver! While I was drinking it, not only was I awake, but I was alert and functional.

We arrived at the beach just a few minutes before sunrise, grabbed all of the gear out of the car and started snapping away. I was out of Yerba Mate at this point, but thanks to Chicago's lake effect, it was... brisk, so I had no trouble staying awake.

Sunrise (by ElDave)

After the beach, we stopped in to the Lincoln Park Zoo to see the animals. Early mornings are usually the best time to go, since the animals seem more active and alert than during the rest of the day. Except the lion. And me. It was at this point that my ability to frame a shot completely deteriorated. At one point I was trying to line up a mosaic on the front of the Big Cat House, and I think I nodded off looking through the eyepiece.

What? I already had one eye closed!

Lion (by ElDave)
Lioness (by ElDave)

We debated going straight to the beach, since we were already out. Or at least I think we did. I may have dreamed that part. At any rate, we came home for a short 6 hour nap. Feeling refreshed, we loaded all our gear (ok, my action figures) into the car and spent the rest of the afternoon at the beach.

Abe Sapien (by ElDave)
Seashell (by ElDave)

All in all, it was a great day. It felt like we were teenagers again, except with naps!

What do you say, Wage? Did you have a good day?

Plastic 52 - Week  (by ElDave)

Be good,

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We interrupt your regular photoblog (0)

12:44 PM by , under

Hey everybody,

I just wanted to drop in here and let everyone know that the new store is live and ready to go!

El Dave on Etsy

There probably won't be many toy shots, due to me not wanting to bother with copyright issues, but my goal is to add high-quality prints of some of my best photos. There will be a widget in the sidebar soon, but in the meantime, check it out and let me know what you think!

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Weekend Review (2)

8:12 AM by , under , , ,

Wow. What. A. Weekend.

As I said last time, I was looking forward to getting out to see new things and hang out with other photographers, and man did I hit the jackpot on both. Saturday I went with the Chicago Science Field Trips Club to visit Yerkes Observatory up in Wisconsin. Not only had I never been there, I had never heard of such a place! With as many astronomical luminaries that have been there (along with it's association with the University of Chicago and the White City Exposition), I am ashamed of my negligence.

A quick refresher, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Yerkes Observatory, which calls itself "the birthplace of modern astrophysics,", is an astronomical observatory operated by the University of Chicago in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. It was created in 1897 by George Ellery Hale and financed by Charles T. Yerkes. The observatory represented a shift in the thinking of observatories, from mere housing for a telescope and observer, to the modern concept of observation equipment integrated with laboratory space for physics and chemistry. A 102 cm (40 inch) refracting telescope built by the master optician Alvan Clark is located inside. It is the largest refracting telescope used for scientific research (a larger demonstration refractor, the Great Paris Exhibition Telescope of 1900, was exhibited at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1900).

In addition to the Yerkes refractor, the observatory also houses 102 cm (40 inch, referred to as the "41 inch" to prevent confusion) and 61 cm (24 inch) reflecting telescopes. Several smaller telescopes are used for educational outreach purposes.

Current research includes the interstellar medium, globular cluster formation, infrared astronomy, and near-Earth objects. Additionally, the University of Chicago maintains a sizable engineering center in the observatory, dedicated to making and maintaining scientific instruments. As of May 2007, the engineers are working on the High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera (HAWC), which will be an integral part of Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).

Not only does it have the scientific chops, the building itself is beautiful. Don't believe me? See for yourself:

Yerkes Observatory (by ElDave)

And that's just the front door. I ended up with over 400 photos of this place, but I'll spare you having to sort through them all. I will be adding a few a day to my Flickr, if you are so interested.

Ok, so maybe one more.

Waiting for Dark (by ElDave)

On Sunday, April and I went to the Chicago Botanic Garden for the Nature Photographer's Meetup. We got up bright and early and got to the garden around 7:30 (we would've gotten there a little earlier, but you know, breakfast). The botanic garden is a great place to begin with, but when you throw in the great people we met, it was all the better.

While I did take over 300 shots (seriously, when did I start doing this? I'm usually a done in one kind of guy), I did manage to sneak in a few toy shots ever so slyly.

Regult (by ElDave)

Not only did I meet lots of great people, go to new and great places, and take a ton of pictures...

I jumped back into Plastic 52.

Plastic 52 (by ElDave)

Be good,

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