Joseph Heil

2017 52 Week Photo Challenge


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Week 11, #6 Back Lit

Man with Dog at Sunrise, Vinoy ParkMan Walking Dog at Sunset 20170728_D60_4563 crop3

I’ve always been an early riser (the older I get, the earlier gets 😜). Morning is my favorite part of the day and it’s when I’m most productive. I pop out of bed bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, eager to tackle the day.

This particular morning I decided to take Danny down to Vinoy Park to see the sunrise and to do some photography.

This sunrise was particularly beautiful!

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Week 10, #A4 Texture

Textures of FallFall Textures 190537 without corn husk on gourd cropped

I lived in the northern half of the country for almost 50 years (Maryland, D.C., Cleveland and St. Louis) and fall was never one of  my favorite times of year. While I appreciated the burst of fall colors and textures, cool weather foods and the change of clothing,  I always felt a little sad.  The promise of summer was over and the harshness of winter was coming.

In Florida, the beginning of fall doesn’t bring fall foliage,  the serving of hot stews, much of a change in wardrobe (except my beloved hoodies) or sadness . However, it does bring temperatures dropping to tolerable levels and a resumption of outdoor activities.  By October the temperature cools down to an average high of 84 (yippie!!)

As if on cue, the weather started to cool down October 1. Unfortunately, there’s no accompanying fall textures to see…so I photographed one of Danny’s creations.


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Week 8, #44 Still Life, Strawberries

Strawberries with its bright red color, aroma, juicy texture and sweetness make it the quintessential summer fruit.

2017-09-24 20-48-32 (B,Radius8,Smoothing4)

Strawberry fun facts (culled from various sources)

The ancient Romans used strawberries to treat everything from depression to fainting to fever, kidney stones, bad breath and sore throats.

The French believe strawberries to be an aphrodisiac

Strawberries aren’t true berries. Technically, a berry has its seeds on the inside. Strawberries are the only fruit that wear their seeds on the outside.

Americans eat an average of five pounds of strawberries each per year. Either fresh or in prepared foods such as cereals, preserves, juice, pies, yogurts, ice creams, milkshakes, and chocolates.

The combination of strawberries and cream was created by the court of King Henry VIII.

One serving (3.5 oz) of strawberries contains approximately 33 calories and are high in vitamins C, B6, K, fiber, folic acid, potassium and amino acids.

Strawberries are believed to help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

Strawberries contain high levels of nitrate. This has been shown to increase blood and oxygen flow to the muscles. Research suggests that people who load up on strawberries before exercising have greater endurance and burn more calories.

For strawberry allergy sufferers, the white-fruited strawberry (which lacks the Fra a1 allergen) may be an option.

Artificial strawberry flavorings and aromas are also widely used in many products like lip gloss, candy, hand sanitizers, perfume, and many others.


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52 Week Photo Challenge, Week 7, #35 Rows of …Glass Fire Beads

Glass Fire Beads. 21 stacked images. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens.

I have really taken a liking to macro photography (extreme close-ups, usually of small objects) and focus stacking (combining multiple photos taken at different focus distances). I started out doing manual focusing steps and using Photoshop to merge the resulting images but each has its own challenges. Manual focusing is hard to control the exact steps and cleaning up the merged images in Photoshop is extremely tedious. I quickly graduated to using software to control the focusing steps and Zerene Stacker to merge the images.

Along the way, I’ve also learned about stacking worms, splodges, transparent hairs, focus breathing and focus banding. The Extreme Macro site is an excellent technical resource http://extreme-macro.co.uk/focus-stacking/.

I am continually amazed by how things can look so different when photographed close up. These beads are about 1″ in size. Note how you can see the imperfections in the glass, especially on the first and second beads and how the slight variation in light caused the last two beads to be slightly darker.


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52 Week Photo Challenge, Week 6 #36 Inclement Weather…Hurricane Irma

A 150 foot tree felled by Hurricane Irma, near the Main Library in St. Petersburg.

20170913_Hurricane Irma_0430 color wrapped bw

Hurricane Irma, I am hoping that was a once in a lifetime event.   This event consisted of not only the hurricane but the buildup of watching the hurricane slowly creep through the Caribbean and towards Florida and dealing with the aftermath.

It seemed everybody was already on alert, as five days prior we witnessed the devastation Hurricane Harvey wrought on Texas. On August 30th, the news began reporting on Hurricane Irma, which at that time was a category 5, making its way through the Caribbean and on a path that most likely included Florida.

Governor Scott, rightly so, began sounding the alarm. We all learned about the “cone of uncertainty”. Many mistake this for how big the hurricane will be at landfall. In actuality, it’s the projected path of the center of the hurricane. The further away (in hours) the hurricane, the bigger the “cone of uncertainty”. We also began to see the “spaghetti models”, which attempt to predict the storm’s exact path.

Fast forward a few days, it’s the week of September 3, and Irma looks to be an East Coast storm. Gulf Coast residents (West Coast of Florida) breathe a sigh of relief. Of course, there is still the “cone”. Just in case, I trek to Sam’s: I fill up the gas tank and stock up on food and water.

I believe it was on Wednesday the storm prediction shifted slightly towards the middle of Florida. On Thursday, it shifted to the the middle. The “cone” was narrowing. Another trek to Sam’s. By Friday, it was a Gulf Coast storm.

Crap, things to do …. board up house, stow everything from the yard in the garage, pack bags, cameras and electronics.

I had plywood for 10 windows but I needed more. I checked at Home Depot, 700 sheets of 5/8 plywood available. Perfect. I only needed 10. Arrived an hour later, all plywood was gone and the place was rocking (think Christmas week at a mall 15 years ago). They’re selling 8×6 fence panels. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Danny and I boarded up the house Friday night.

When I renovated my house, I hurricane proofed it as much as I could, tying down the roof and walls. But I really did not want to test it out during a category 4 or 5 storm, so we made plans to stay at a friend’s new concrete condo.

We went to the condo on Sunday and watched the storm.

Things got suspiciously unclear after Irma hit Naples and Fort Myers. Irma seemed to be stuck. I talked to friends in Venice and Sarasota. Lots of wind and rain. Finally, later that evening it was reported that wind shear had weakened the storm and the center was going to head north towards Lakeland (west of Tampa).

Passed out at 11. Woke up at 4. Peaked outside of the concrete bunker and it didn’t look like a disaster area. Went home that afternoon. No power but, mercifully, it had cooled down.

Took down the boards, lugged everything back into the house and reset the yard.

Tuesday and Wednesday fled back to condo due to the heat. Power was not restored until Thursday afternoon (while I was in the ER due to an allergic reaction that had developed to the antibiotics I have been taking for spinal infection).

I am glad that’s over. Thankfully we were spared a direct hit.  My heart goes out to those that weren’t so fortunate.