August 1, 2008

Small Town Canada


Drumheller, Alberta, Canada. Canon 24-105 f/4L at 35mm, f/11, 1/400, iso 200.

Posted by claire-obscure at 12:07 AM | Comments (1)

December 6, 2007

Prague Cityscape


Prague's Vltava River and cityscape during the last few moments of golden hour. Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS lens.

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December 2, 2007

Dawn on the Charles Bridge


An unusually peaceful moment on the Charles Bridge in Prague. During most of the day, this place is crowded with tourists and vendors. Canon 24-105 f/4L lens at f/14, 10 sec, iso 100.

Posted by claire-obscure at 6:03 PM | Comments (3)

November 27, 2007

Mala Strana


A rainy evening in the Mala Strana quarter of Prague. Canon 24-105mm f/4L lens at 64mm, .6 sec, f/4 .

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November 21, 2007

Prague Buildings


Looking up at the colorful building facades in Prague. Canon 24-105 f/4L at 24mm, f/8, 1/320 sec, iso 200.

Posted by claire-obscure at 12:50 PM | Comments (4)

November 13, 2007

Tower Bridge

tower bridge

From last month's trip to Europe, here's a view of the Tower Bridge in London. Canon 24-105mm f/4L lS lens at 24mm, f/16, iso 100, 13 sec.

Posted by claire-obscure at 6:06 PM | Comments (2)

August 16, 2007


Saint Augustine

Canon 70-200mm f/4 lens at 131mm, f/10, 1/160. Towers of Saint Augustine Cathedral, Tucson, Arizona.

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February 26, 2007



Tamron 28-75mm lens at 37mm, f/13, 10 sec. Just returned from a short trip to Atlanta.

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February 20, 2007

The Campanille


Canon 24mm f/3.5L TSE at f/4, 1/200, iso 200. Venice, Italy. Something a little different for today. This was one of my first experiments with tilt and shift.

Posted by claire-obscure at 12:01 PM | Comments (8)

February 18, 2007

Venice Lamp Revisited

Venice Lamp Canon 70-200mm f/4 lens at 200mm, f/4.

Venice Lamp.jpg Canon 24mm-f/3.5 TSE at f/9.

I decided to mine my Venice archives again, and found various angles on the lamps in the Piazza San Marco. This first composition was my favorite, but here are two other perspectives.

Posted by claire-obscure at 7:09 PM | Comments (1)

January 21, 2007



Canon 70-200 f/4 at 200mm, f/4.5. La Placita Village, Tucson, Arizona. I wish I had brought my tripod with me for this shot. The two-dimensional effect I was going for would have been more dramatic with a smaller aperture.

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January 19, 2007



Canon 70-200mm f/4 at 163mm, f/4.5. La Placita Village, Tucson, Arizona.

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October 25, 2006

U.S. Capitol

US capitol

Canon 17-40mm-f/4 lens at 17mm, f/9. Don't forget to vote on November 7. Maryland Elections Website.

Posted by claire-obscure at 11:53 PM | Comments (2)

October 23, 2006

Suburban Landscape

suburban landscape

It was a quiet and dignified neighborhood until the wild invasion of the punk rock trees. Canon 70-200mm-f/4 lens + polarizer at 135mm, f/6.3.

Posted by claire-obscure at 8:55 AM | Comments (10)

September 15, 2006

Luminous Altar

Notre Dame

Tamron 28-75mm-f/2.8 lens at 54mm. The Notre Dame Basilica, with it's colorful interior, is one of the most beautiful churches I've ever seen. It's definitely worth a peek inside if you are ever in Montreal.

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September 13, 2006


Canon 24mm-f/3.5 TSE at f/3.5.

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September 8, 2006

Montreal Skyline


Montreal at dusk as seen from Ile Ste-Helene.

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September 6, 2006

Palais des Congres

Palais des Congres

Canon 17-40mm-f/4L at 19mm, f/8, 1/200 sec. As usual, a new entry on this blog means that I'm back from a trip. Here is downtown Montreal as seen through the colorful glass panels of the Palais des Congres.

Posted by claire-obscure at 6:05 PM | Comments (1)

August 22, 2006

Doge's Palace

Doge's Palace

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens at 48mm, f/6.3. In the courtyard of the Doge's Palace. Venice, Italy.

Posted by claire-obscure at 11:49 PM | Comments (3)

July 6, 2006


Tamron 28-75mm lens at 28mm, f/2.8. A lamp at the Piazza San Marco. Looking back at my favorite photos from Venice, I'm struck by how often I used my Tamron 28-75 lens. I also had with me a canon 17-40 f/4, a canon 24mm f/3.5 TSE, and a canon 70-200mm f/4 with me, but the Tamron 28-75 turned out to be the most useful as a walk-about lens because of its light weight and its useful range. It was on my camera more than any other lens, which is why I was devastated when its auto focus motor broke early in the trip. I'm going to send it back to Tamron, and I hope they'll make good on the warranty.

Posted by claire-obscure at 10:53 PM | Comments (7)

July 4, 2006

Buildings and Bridges

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens at 50mm, f/11. A friend commented that my photos make it look as though we had Venice to ourselves. However, much of the time the city was very crowded. June is definitely in the peak tourist season. But at certain times of day, and in certain parts of the city, it was quite peaceful. If I remember right, today's scene was enjoyed at around 6 in the morning, so I did feel like I had the place to myself.

Posted by claire-obscure at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2006

Houses of Burano


Canon 70-200mm f/4 lens at 200mm, f/8. One of our favorite photographic trips was to Burano, an island in the Venetian Lagoon well known for its vibrantly colored houses. It was a very pleasant place to wander with a camera.

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June 22, 2006

Venice at Night

Venice at Night

Canon 70-200mm f/4 lens at 100mm, f/4, 2.5 sec.. Another quiet Venetian scene. The canals are especially calm at night without all the motorboats and gondole.

Posted by claire-obscure at 7:58 AM | Comments (1)

June 21, 2006

La Serenissima

venice canal

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens at 75mm f/2.8. Away from the frenzy of the tourist areas, La Serenissima remains true to her name.

Posted by claire-obscure at 7:16 AM | Comments (2)

June 20, 2006


Venice Cafe

Canon 70-200mm f/4 lens at 94mm, f/4. One of the many outdoor cafes in San Marco on a strangely uncrowded afternoon.

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June 19, 2006



Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 at 75mm, f/2.8. Gondole and a street lamp. I had a wonderful time photographing Venice. For this trip, I tried to take more photos that encorporate entire scenes (instead of patterned close-ups) and give a sense of place, because I believe this is one of the weaker aspects of my photography.

This photo of gondole and a street lamp was taken near the Piazza San Marco with San Giorgio Maggiore in the background. Mike and I never took a gondola ride because they going at the price of 80 euro per half hour. But still, it was fun to watch the gondole go by, and the gondoliers seem rather nice and tolerant of photographers (photo).

Posted by claire-obscure at 7:51 AM | Comments (2)

April 2, 2006

Cherry Blossom Festival

Jefferson Memorial

Washington D.C. cherry blossoms

The Yoshino cherry trees in D.C. are in full bloom right now, in perfect timing with the National Cherry Blossom Festival. I recommend seeing the tidal basin area half an hour before sunset. The sight of all the cherry blossoms glowing in the golden light is spectacular.

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February 4, 2006



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January 30, 2006

Radio City Music Hall


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November 27, 2005

Inside the Kimmel Center


Canon 5D, Tamon 28-75mm lens. If you find yourself in Philadelphia, a visit to the Kimmel Center is definitely worth it. I just wandered in, but if you're shy about this kind of thing, they do offer tours of this magnificent building to the public daily at 1PM.

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October 20, 2005


national gallery

The National Gallery East Wing in D.C.

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October 16, 2005


kimmel center

The glass roof of the Kimmel Center. Philadelphia, PA.

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October 15, 2005

Liberty Place

liberty place

Detail from the Liberty Place building in Philadelphia.

Posted by claire-obscure at 7:38 PM | Comments (4)

September 6, 2005



A tourist shop alley in Philipsburg, St. Maarten. Tamron 28-75mm lens, f/8, 1/50 sec, iso 100. It's been a very eventful couple of weeks. I got married (we eloped) and then went on a cruise to the southern Caribbean to celebrate.

Posted by claire-obscure at 11:14 PM | Comments (13)

July 19, 2005

Union Station

Union Station

Last week, I went to D.C. to meet up with a friend from high school who was visiting the area. Even though I was a little late getting to our meeting, I couldn't help but to stop and fire off a few shots at Union Station as I was passing through. As I was taking this photo, I heard some guy passing me exclaim, "What the $#% are you taking a picture of?" A year ago, such a comment would've really embarassed me, but at this point I've gotten so used to taking photos in odd places that I no longer mind. I have the feeling that many better compositions can be made of the pretty, patterned ceiling than my centered approach. Maybe next time.

Posted by claire-obscure at 10:04 PM | Comments (12)

July 2, 2005


Weisman Art Museum

The Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. What I like best about Frank Gehry's creations is how they reflect the color of their surroundings.

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June 30, 2005


Gehry Abstract

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June 14, 2005



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June 1, 2005

Gilman Stairs

JHU Gilman Stairs

This is another photo from the January archives, again taken from the basement of a building on campus. If you're wondering about the green tint, this was caused by the fluorescent lighting in the building, and I think I had my camera's white balance setting on "tungsten." In the original image, the green color was more subtle, but it became much more vibrant when I made a semi-transparent duplicate layer and used the overlay blend mode. This effect also boosted the contrast quite a bit. (If you'd like to learn more about overlay blending, check out this article.) Obviously, this is image is nothing like the original which was definitely very bland. I've seen many ultra-manipulated images from others that I really like. But my normal style definitely leans towards more naturalistic photography, and so I'm not really all that sure about this photo. I thought I'd post it for feedback. Does it look too processed for your taste? What do you think of this particular manipulation?

Posted by claire-obscure at 10:05 PM | Comments (8)

May 31, 2005

Red Chairs

red chairs

My latest excuse for not having updated this blog in ages is that I've been sick for the past week. Visual Field caught it from me after I became ill but somehow he managed to bounce back from it after two days, whereas I still haven't completely recovered. LuminousLens suggested that stress may be making things worse for me. She may be right, but I can't imagine what might be stressing me out right now...except, say, the fact that I'm supposed to be finishing up my Ph.D. in the next few months. Oh yeah, that might be it.

So, for a number of different reasons, I haven't had my mind on photography much lately, but in the interest of keeping the blog going, I'll dig into the old stuff for a while until I get back on my feet. I took this photo in the basement of Levering Hall at JHU back in January.

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May 23, 2005

Art Deco Transom

New York art deco

This is one I dug up from last month's trip to NYC.

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May 12, 2005

Sarasota Colors

Sarasota Courthouse Centre

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April 26, 2005



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April 23, 2005


DC Metro

Yesterday I took the train into D.C. for dinner with Visual Field at Ten Penh (photo). Whenever I find myself in D.C. with a camera, I can't resist taking subway shots, because I love the hive-like structure of the underground tunnels. I haven't decided whether I prefer the horizontal framing in the picture above, or the vertical framing in this alternate shot. Do you have a preference?

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April 17, 2005



At the MoMA.

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April 15, 2005



Another picture from my NYC trip. This was taken in my hotel elevator.

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April 14, 2005



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April 13, 2005



This was taken from my hotel room during a recent visit to NYC for a neuroscience conference. I took advantage of the beautiful spring weather to get out and do some photography, so my next series of posts will be from this trip. While I was there, I also managed to pick up a new 70-200mm f/4 L lens from B&H, which happens to be an excellent place to lose one's money.

Posted by claire-obscure at 9:43 PM | Comments (10)

March 31, 2005



Downtown Jacksonville, FL.

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March 16, 2005

Trinity Church


Here is another image from my brief visit to Boston this past weekend. This is the altar at Trinity Church in Copley Square. I'd be curious to know whether you like this version or the one in black and white better.

Posted by claire-obscure at 9:27 PM | Comments (12)

March 14, 2005



I really like the interior architecture of the Sackler Museum at Harvard. Visual Field is also posting a picture of pillars from the Harvard Campus today, but his are of a very different style.

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March 11, 2005

The Funhouse


The Stata Center at MIT, designed by architect Frank Gehry.

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March 3, 2005

Curves in Sepia


Canon Powershot A70

Yes, in case you're wondering, this blog is still alive. I've been feeling the crunch with dissertation-related work these past two weeks, and so I just haven't had any time for photography. But I've really been missing it, and I can't stay away from the camera any longer. VF and I are going on a short road trip this weekend--not to anyplace exciting, but maybe I'll have some rural photos to post from the road when we get back.

This evening, I've been working at my photoshop skills. I've posted this old image before, but I thought I'd have another try at converting it to monochrome now that I have Noise Ninja and know a little more about photoshop. The two versions look extremely different from one another on my monitor, but I just checked them out on VF's monitor, and surprisingly, they look very similar except for the sepia hue. Oh well.

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February 26, 2005

Blue Benches


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February 23, 2005



From the archives, this was taken in the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney.

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February 17, 2005

Crossing the Dames Point Bridge


Another image from my trip to Jacksonville, FL.

I have a bit of news to share, which is that I've just signed on as a photographer with the stock agency Acclaim Images. This move will shape the direction of my photography somewhat, as I'm now exploring what kind of images will sell. I obviously have a lot to learn, and I'm finding this all really exciting!

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February 14, 2005



I just returned from warm and sunny Jacksonville, Florida, where Visual Field and I were visiting his parents. This photo shows a detail from the ceiling at Jacksonville International Airport.

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January 29, 2005

Glass Construction

Glass Construction

If you're with another photographer much of the time, it's inevitable that you'll occasionally end up taking pictures of the same thing.

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January 21, 2005

Midwestern Shapes and Lines


My cousin's house in Kansas. Konica Minolta Dimage A200.

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January 9, 2005

Building Abstract


This reflection image comes from Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Visual Field also took a reflection shot of the bulding on the left, which he spotted in a puddle of water. I have to admit, I'm feeling some picture envy right now, because I like his result better.

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January 1, 2005



A tunnel at Chicago O'hare Airport. I also have an alternative version here
which shows the ceiling in greater detail.

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December 7, 2004



This scene also comes from the Hampden Village neighborhood in Baltimore. And yes, it was purely luck that this sleek, silver, retro-yet-modern beetle parked itself squarely in front of a vintage store called "Galvanize." This sure makes up for all those times I wanted to take a picture of a building and found some ugly car in my way.

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December 6, 2004

Colorful Hampden II


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December 5, 2004

Colorful Hampden

Fence and House

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December 3, 2004

Red, White, Blue


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November 30, 2004

The Senator


Like most people, I take the majority of my architecture and cityscape pictures when I'm on vacation. But lately I've been thinking that I really should take more pictures of Baltimore, which has some funky, photogenic areas that I often take for granted. The Senator Theatre, for instance, is a fabulous looking old building, especially when it's lit up in all its neon glory at night. Yesterday, we had a late dinner at the Vietnamese restaurant across the street from there, which gave me a chance to snap this shot.

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November 27, 2004

Sydney Seagull

An old favorite; A seagull stands guard outside the Sydney Opera House.


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November 22, 2004

Window on the City

Taken from the skyway downtown, this image sums up my impressions of Minneapolis--a nice city, but one best enjoyed from indoors.

Posted by claire-obscure at 11:10 PM | Comments (3)

Goodbye, Minneapolis

It was cold, windy, and wet for most of the conference, which really didn't bother me, because I didn't have time to explore much of it anyway. One rainy afternoon, I spent an hour wandering around in the skyway, a network of indoor walkways that spans the downtown area. (I took the photo above during this expedition.) It relieved me to see that the natives had the sense to build these weather-protective tunnels. I guess they're not all masochists, after all. Though I didn't get to see much else of the city, I was very impressed by a number of good restaurants, like Dakota, Sawatdee, and New Delhi. To me, food is definitely the most important measure of any area. So Minneapolis, you get a thumbs up from me in spite of your lousy climate!

On the last day of the conference, the weather finally cleared up. So in my final hours in Minneapolis, I saw downtown from the outside and made a trek to see the famous "Spoonbridge and Cherry" sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.


Spoonbridge and Cherry
Spoonbridge and Cherry

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October 28, 2004

The world in black and white

chi·a·ro·scu·ro: (1) The technique of using light and shade in pictorial representation. (2) The arrangement of light and dark elements in a pictorial work of art.

As the name of the blog suggests, I love black and white photography. But you may have noticed that I haven't posted any black and white so far, and I probably won't post much of it in the near future. The reason is that I haven't gotten the hang of it. I haven't learned to see the world in black and white, and I also haven't mastered the art of converting to black and white in photoshop. (I only shoot digitally). I'm looking for good references on how to do these things, so if you know of any please drop me a note.

But since the blog is named what it is, I feel I should post at least a few tries at chiaroscuro, and I'll try to post new ones as much as I can in the future. These were all taken this summer with a Canon Powershot A70.

A staircase at the Walters. I nearly sprained my neck trying to shoot this.


On road somewhere. I was trying to entertain myself on a long ride.


The D.C. metro. After 9/11, I had heard stories about people getting their cameras confiscated by police while trying to take artsy photos of public transportation. So I took this photo as quickly and quietly as possible. This is probably the longest exposure I've ever hand-held a camera for (1 sec).


Posted by claire-obscure at 1:53 AM | Comments (10)