Charlie and the Photography Factory

December 11, 2009

This Alleyway…

Filed under: Jönköping, Sweden — charlieprator @ 9:50 PM

Has so many memories!

They call it Matchstick Alley because, believe it or not, Jönköping was the city that developed the matchstick! Cool, right?

Anyways, today it has many hangouts and clubs for students (as well has the Matchstick Museum, not pictured here).  It also houses the infamous “Akademien” the student pub for our university–so many good memories.  This picture is taken from the beginning of the area, and was taken on a walk with my good friend Amy, who came to visit me here last semester.  We had a great sunset, and I begged her to come with me to the lake to take advantage of it, but we ended up going to fika (Swedish coffee/pasty and catch up time). Either way, this wonderful photo resulted:


May 26, 2009

Jönköping’s Very Own Dark Knight and Robin

Fields of GoldThis picture was made last weekend on one of the best bike rides I have ever done in my life.  I went with Emil (The Dark Knight, his chosen nomenclature in our abode), his sidekick, Pernilla, (aka Robin cause she got sucked into it), and my CARPOOL friend Amy (who graciously came all the way to little ol’ Jönköping).   In this picture,  is a rolling hill of tall green grass sprinkled with the golden flowers you see here.  When our caravan crested over the highest point of the hill and zoomed down to the low point (seen here), we couldn’t help but enjoy the serenity and blue skies. So, we cracked open our bottle of Spanish Rosé.  It was such a great moment to finally embrace this beautiful part of Jönköping after accepting the fact that I would be soon calling it my new home (at least for awhile).  It was a moment of intense euphoria. It was here when Amy began singing The Sound of Music, which was proceeded with our ridiculous skipping.  

Among the best parts, was being with great company. I hadn’t seen Amy in 5 months, and, thus, missed many many Monday night home dinners.  And, of course, I got the chance to ride with the Dark Knight and Robin.  You see the Dark Knight is seldom seen out of his bat cave–the room adjacent to ours.  If you’re lucky you can find him there usually around 4 o’clock,  in 100% darkness, wrapped in his Dark Knight cocoon (his bed sheets), with bed-head, fatigued from a night full of crime-fighting, huddled over a small laptop, and scheming on how to save Jönkoping from the Jokers of the world (i.e. playing random flash games).  Be careful not to disturb him for he is deep in focus.  

His counterpart, also a friend of mine , goes by (when she’s not crime fighting) Pernilla. She recently got sucked into the world of super-hero “crime fighting” as well. You can find her in the bat-cave at 4PM too.  

But, in all seriousness these three are really great people, and I am glad to have met them.  And, Amy, thanks for coming up! (And, leaving your mark in Jönköping! Haha!) I had a killer time reminiscing about Texas and CARPOOL life!


May 13, 2009

Living in Jönköping

Filed under: Jönköping, Sweden — Tags: , , , , , , , — charlieprator @ 1:22 AM

Blue Skies

This house is located in my neighborhood, and on my walk home I noticed its beauty while seeing the sunset behind the hill.  I am very lucky to live where I live.  A five minute walk I can find an outdoor restaurant/pub, a soccer stadium (now showing games), a waterfall, and an animal farm!  As you’ve probably seen before, the view on the hill is quite splendid in the mornings, as I am able to see all of Jönköping. 

If you’re as lucky as Amy or Joseph to come see this place, you’ll always have a couch to crash on.

May 11, 2009

Once You Start HDR, You’re Raising the Bar


A long time ago, when I was still in highschool,  I had reached a plateau in my photography.  I had lost the interest in it, and the joy of finding those shots that can spur the rush of emotions it instigates in people.   For awhile, I had tried to figure out why my interest was waning in a hobby I used to love so much, and I had come to the conclusion that there was a lack of real world imitation that my photos had.  Time and time again, I would take shots of landscapes and people, only to find the shot never accurately portrayed what I saw.  The skys would be over-exposed losing all detail. Or, my subject was underexposed, thus not illuminating the correct colors of skin, eyes, clothing, flowers, etc.  I could never fully capture and show people the visually satiating image I had seen via the duller photographic representation I had taken.  It had become frustrating, and with time I stopped taking photos.

Then, years later along came HDR.  Although the process is many years old, it wasn’t until recently (I think) that HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography had come into professional acceptance and public demand.  I had stumbled on to Trey Ratcliff’s site and had my mind blown away.  For the first time, I saw correct representational photography of our world.   I read his “How To” on HDR, and found myself with a new project to embark on.  A week later I was in Kiruna, Sweden at the ICEHOTEL snapping away, learning about the process, and  enjoying the results 100%.  Finally, my joy of photography and post-shoot development had been rekindled.

If you’ve been around me within the last 3 months you’ve heard enough about my new hobby.  Understandingly, everyone pokes fun at the process by mocking me, “Okay, guys now I need you to stand really still.  There’s gonna be 3 photos…”  But, when they see the results they understand the difference.  So, here’s another chance to understand.  Above, is the final product of a total of 30 minutes of relaxed photo development.  The process, which uses an application called Photomatix, takes 3 differently exposed images, perfectly exposed, over-exposed, and under-exposed, and stacks them together.  Below, I have taken the three images (right half of picture) and bled them through for you to see the differences. 

Each photo explains some of my earlier frustrations.  The  first stripe is over-exposed, and has lost the details in the sky.  The middle stripe is perfectly exposed, but has lost a slight degree of color. Finally, the last stripe is under-exposed revealing the details in the clouds, but has lost all color in the trash-can.  In short, each photo brings it’s respective cards the table, and is then stacked together via Photomatix to get the above image–the closest representation of Råslätt that day.  We see the colors on the building. The grass is a vibrant green.  The clouds in the sky are seen. It is as vivid as I had seen it.  True photographic representation. The bar has been raised, has it not? Do you see the difference? 

Group1 Example

May 9, 2009

Finally, the Sun is Out. That Means BBQ Season!

Filed under: Jönköping, Sweden — charlieprator @ 10:33 PM


May, usually brings warm sun, BBQ grills, meat marinade and charcoal smells intoxicating the air, beer, music, and volleyball, right?  Well,  in Sweden thats partly true.  Unfortunately for us, this week has been rainy weather, and cold winds. Hopefully, it will change soon. I am itching to be on a beach with hot sun.

But! 3 weeks ago it was perfect weather. We all celebrated in style.  All the JIBS students got the grills runnin’, brought out the soccer balls, and drank booze on our perfect little piece of land close by Lake Vättern. 

As you can tell from the picture, it’s a really great view.  Vättern is Sweden’s second biggest lake, and at sunsets is perfect for photoshoots.  This wonderful model, Leesa Lynch, willingly accepted to put up with my nagging photography experiments.  I had heard from Trey Ratcliff (the master of HDR) that he personally doesn’t like to do portraiture HDR because of the intense detail the process brings in people’s faces.    So, I decided to test that hypothesis.  However, this an HDR, and I think it turned out beatifully!  Who says HDRs should be reserved for landscapes?! 

Although, this might be due to my model.  She gracefully turned this photo from a boring landscape to something even better.  From this picture, I’m beginning to think differently. 

What do you guys think? 

Oh yea, and the crazy thing, Leesa is a women’s boxing coach for Penn State!  Raised in a family of boxers, you would’ve never guessed she had experience in the ring.

April 27, 2009

Sunrise in Jönköping

Filed under: Jönköping, Sweden — Tags: , , , , , — charlieprator @ 2:59 AM


To fully enjoy this picture in larger sizes click the image for the Flickr host.


Welcome to Charlie Prator’s first post.  Thank you for visiting! 

I plan to post 1 photo a day, and will try my best to keep up with that requirement.    Although, I am not much of a routine-guy. We will see.  Please post comments, critiques, points of improvement, anything! 

As for this first photo, it should’ve been posted last Friday.  However, in my post-zero-sleep state at 6:00AM I found I couldn’t write more coherent than ex-President Bush could speak his speeches. So, I decided to wait.  But, this photo has a little specialty about it for two reasons.  One, I can freely see this view almost anytime because it happens to be on the cliff literally 50 feet behind our house.  And, it was the first sunrise I had ever seen in Sweden.   

Incidentally, when trying to write this post last Friday morning I was almost forced to post the picture. Let me paint a picture.

It’s 4:00AM in Jönköping.  I, laying in my bed for the last 2 hours, have been trying to get shut eye with zero success. And, wonderful Scandanavia, being located so far North, has the sun rise at 4:00AM nowadays (yea, and it’s only going to get worse).  So, what begins at sunrise? Birds chirping! Loudly, outside my window.  At this point, I felt it was a sign to just quit and get some work done. Cue my sleep-deprived blog post. And, as I am writing it the sun, 93 million miles away, is shining gloriously through the balcony window to the right of me. It slowly warms my right side. Drenching  my desk and face with light and warmth, and I think to my deslusional self, “How crazy that this star being so far away is, still, toasting the skin of my arm?”   To cherry the top, I am jamming to “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” (Shout-out to Kristin!) by Otis Redding, which begins “Sitting in the morning sun…”

At this point, I knew I had to post this as my first picture.  Fits the situation just right, huh?

This photo is an HDR.  And, if you’ve talked to me recently you’ve heard me ramble on about it.  Hope you enjoy it, and, again, thanks for visiting.


P.S. To see more awesome HDR photos, and follow one of my idols in photography (also, a native Texan): – Trey Ratcliff

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