Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ashland: The Henry Clay Estate

Historic house tours have become one of my favorite things to do. I like to imagine my life in the 1800s living rich and famous in a large mansion with servants around me I would own acres of land, elegant dresses and furniture, and attend high class social events. Pretty nice life, eh?

I visited Ashland, Henry Clay's Estate in Lexington and I loved it. Not only the informative tour but also the original furniture and documents left by the Clay family. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed in the mansion. The surrounding area of the mansion is well-preserved as a park today with a gorgeous English garden and several small functional houses (stable, ice houses, and carriage house) near-by.

f/3.5, 1/2500, ISO 400

The front door of Ashland.
f/22, 1/30, ISO 400

f/5, 1/1000, ISO 400

Beautiful details around the mansion.
f/4.5, 1/1250, ISO 400

The secret English garden.
f/5, 1/500, ISO 400

A beautiful and perfectly manicured garden.
This is why I want to live in the 1800s.
f/20, 1/50, ISO 400

f/4.2, 1/250, ISO 400

f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO 400

f/14, 1/200, ISO 400

f/3.5, 1/2500, ISO 400

I would always think whenever I am touring one of these historic houses, how did they go to the bathroom? How did Henry Clay's daughter inherit the mansion and not Henry Clay the third? What did they do before freezer? Would they had to finish all ice cream in one-sitting? And you think the tour guide would know the answers to my questions?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Just Flash A Little, Part II

In Kentucky Horse Park, I learned something else about flash. It was something I thought of randomly, so please mind the poor angle. I don't even remember what this was...I think a poster of a horse race in Louisville, but it was not the Derby.

There were these spot lights on the posters that when I took a picture there was a glare on the posters.

Then I added flash which reduced the glare. Somewhat better, even though the pictures were random snap shots. But still, I learned something.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kentucky Horse Park

This weekend I had some visitors from Wisconsin for the weekend. I love having guests because I got to eat at new restaurants and visit new places. We started the weekend with a trip to the Kentucky Horse Park. Although the weather was not cooperating (a chilling 30 degrees), we did get our eyes full of horse. You can learn everything and anything you want to know about horses. I finally understood the difference between a thoroughbred (race horses, think Secretariat) and a saddlebred (show horse). Then among those two I mentioned, there are numerous of breeds. Almost all horses foaled (born, that is in horse terminology) can be traced back to another horse 100+ years ago. I know, the horse biz is very complicated. Just as complicated as my camera, half of the pictures I took in the Kentucky Horse Park were blurry. I am not sure how I could screw that up.

The Hall of Champions parade was my favorite. The horses were beautiful and magnificent. These horses made an average of $2.5 million from races alone, then their "seeds" were also sold for more $$$$.

Da Hoss and his caretaker.
f/5.3, 1/500, ISO 900

f/5.6, 1/500, ISO 1250

f/5.3, 1/320, ISO 400

f/5.3, 1/400, ISO 400

Then the rest of my pictures turned out like these:
f/4.5, 1/25, ISO 1600, +0.3EV

f/4.5, 1/5, ISO 1600, +0.3EV

f/5.3, 1/30, ISO 3200

f/22, 1/60, ISO 400

Dark faces and blurry....what am I doing wrong here? The museum had sufficient light source but I did not set my camera accordingly. It's a constant dilemma for me. It is hard being a photographer. There is so many detail to consider to produce a good picture.

Maybe this trolley horse had something to say. Is it harder being a photographer or a horse?
f/7.1, 1/50, ISO 400

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Just Flash A Little

I have never been a big fan of flash, mostly because I want to learn how to adjust the camera setting to fit the light source I am given. Also, I feel that flash "kills" the scene like deer in the headlight.

In this case, Lola in the headlight.
f/5, 1/60, ISO 1600

However, flash can be great when the lighting is poor and your subject is in the move. I learned to adjust the amount of light that emits in the flash. On my Nikon, there is a lightning bolt button left and I press that down along with a plus and minus button on the right side. Meanwhile I adjust the dial on the right side. Lots of fancy finger works.
Picture from

Here's one with reduced flash light. Not my ideal picture, but it will do for now.
f/5, 1/60, ISO 1600

During my visit to Nashville, I experimented with flash on a cloudy day.

f/22, 1/40, ISO 200

With flash and I kind of like this better. The building outlines and color seem to be more defined.
f/22, 1/60, ISO 200

f/6.3, 1/1000, ISO 200

With flash...yikes!
f/6.3, 1/200, ISO 200, with flash

It's still a work in progress for me. Sometimes, I should just try flashing a little...I mean with my camera.

Monday, March 21, 2011


I ended my spring break with a weekend trip to Nashville. Yes! Nashville! Where I almost got 3 pairs of cowboy boots. Well, it was buy one pair of boots and get two pairs for free, who could ever pass on that deal? In Nashville, I could sing out loud my favorite country songs along with a bar-filled of cowboys/cowgirls.

We first visited the Parthenon in Centennial Park.
f/5.6, 1/400, ISO 200

f/5.6, 1/800, ISO 200

Then I drooled over hundreds of pairs of cowboy boots.
f/5, 1/15, ISO 1600, +0.3EV

Followed by some line-dancing in Betty Boots
f/20, 1/80, ISO 400, +0.7EV

It was when I saw a country-star to-be...
f/20, 1/20, ISO 400, +0.7EV

...and a lonely Elvis...
f/5, 1/2000, ISO 1600

...and a rockin' biker dog.
f/5.3, 1/125, ISO 200

So I hit the bars,
f/22, 1/50, ISO 400

in this city of music.
f/22, 1/60, ISO 200

In my imaginary cowboy boots.
f/5, 1/20, ISO 1600, +0.7EV

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

One Sunny Day...

On one sunny day we visited the Lexington Cemetery on the north west side of the city. Began its burial services in 1849, this independent, non-profit organization has over 68,000 interments. We found many famous Kentuckians in the beautiful grounds of Lexington Cemetery, like Henry Clay (1777-1852), a Congressman and Senator from Kentucky and served four years as Secretary of State and John C. Breckinbridge (1821-1875), once a Vice President of the United States and Secretary of War of the Confederate States of America. It was even more interesting to search a family burial grounds and put together the family tree that began 250 years ago.

f/5, 1/640, ISO 200

f/6.3, 1/100, ISO 200

f/4.5, 1/125, ISO 200

On sunny days, I set my aperture to lower numbers and change the ISO setting to 100 or 200. Large aperture (low number) allows a faster shutter speed than small aperture does.

f/5, 1/640, ISO 200

f/18, 1/50, ISO 200

You see, at large aperture there is less amount of light that will enter the lens (faster shutter speed) which will not make the picture look so bright so flashed out. The first "baby" picture was taken with a large aperture which made the details more defined than the latter one.

Another example with the Morgan Family's tombstone:

Can you tell the difference?

The second one was taken at f/5 while the one before was taken at f/25

Guess whose tombstone this is?
f/4.5, 1/320, ISO 200

f/4.5, 1/80, ISO 200

Saturday, March 12, 2011

This Past Week...

This past week I accomplished the following: studied like there's no tomorrow, took two mid-term exams, and finished two papers.

I also made a cookie jar full of peanut butter cookies.
f/5, 1/10, ISO 1600, +0.3EV

Then I wished that I was a little goat living in a carefree and no exam/paper world.
f/14, 1/400, ISO 100

This past week, I waited patiently for spring to come.
f/5.6, 1/160, ISO 400

Then I wondered how Lola became so loyal and loving.
f/18, 1/160, ISO 400

And I am still waiting for spring...
f/5.3, 1/100, ISO 200

This past week I realized that I am half-way done with my first semester as a graduate student and I still have so much to learn, kind of like my photography. The pictures I put up with every posting are only a small fraction of the total pictures I took. I am still slowly but learning.

All I can do now is follow the horseshoe, one at a time.
f/13, 1/125, ISO 100
Pin It