The entire gang from our Yosemite Adventure wanted the shot of the tree over the rock. I said Olmstead Point was the place to go. Once there, they said, “Where’s the tree?” so i turned and pointed up, up the mountain. And before you could say Half Dome (which we shot at sunrise), up the hill we went. Two folks unknown to me until we got down, had sever fear of heights. But when it comes to getting the photo, even that didn’t stop them from climbing to the top as well. I went up with minimal gear, D4, 18-35AFS & 16Fish knowing two things, I wanted the big vista and was shooting B&W (also, I was going up so less was more!). In the background is Clouds Rest & Half Dome, so this is the lang of big vistas and B&W! The dome behind Olmstead Point itself is a picture rich area so we shot all the way up and all the way down. With the sun just coming over the horizon, it offered us many great opportunities, this is just one of them.
This dome is polished smooth from the same glacier creating Yosemite Valley. The pines that find a crack to germinate and grow all have great character. This is one of the larger ones so the combination of it and granite, well make for a photo. So with the 18-35AFS attached shooting at 18mm, I bent down and took the shot. It’s truly one of those, “I was here shots” at best. Boring! I knew that there was a photo here, had to get it out. What was it lacking? First was the sun, it wasn’t helping. Close the lens down to f/22 and then move so it was just peaking through the tree, we’d get the starburst. OK, with that I can change position and use the shadow as a line for the eye to move through the frame. To do that, I need to go wider so the 16Fish replaced the 18-35. OK, making some improvement but we can do better. OK, gotta nice boulder, small but it works. Lay on the granite face, get close to the boulder in the left corner (knowing I was going to light it in post) and move so the sun was peaking through the tree and wham, a photo was born. There are those times when you know there is a photo but the first click just doesn’t work. Those are the times when you gotta dig down and ask yourself what’s not working and do the dance. Because your heart knows a photo exists, you’re in there somewhere.
K&M Adventures is taking on the the elements with a winter Oregon Coast Adv, 19-23 March, 2014! This magnificent region is one Kevin & I have journeyed to and photographed many, many times. The coast in the winter is a spectacular photographic playground as Mother Nature chisels away at the rock! As you might notice, I think it’s a great place for B&W and is the same region featured in my Kelby Training Black and White Landscape Class. You’ll wanna fly into Portland on the afternoon of the 19th (by noon) and fly out on the 24th (after 2pm). We’ll pick you up from the airport and escort your around until we take you back to the airport. That, along with instruction are all included for the price of $2195 (limited to 7). We spend from breakfast until last up together shooting, eating, shooting, digital darkroom, laughing and other things you just can’t imagine! Which means you might find yourself in front of a subject you never imagined. (Unlike our other Adventures, there will be a lodging change half way through the trip. Lodging not included in the price). And after those long days, you want to kick your shoes off and relax. Give the office a call 760.924.8632 and we’ll get you all signed up!
We’ve had a number of calls asking about our K&M Adventures for 2014. Well, we’ve had a bunch of past participants that had so much fun together (and you know who your are buds!) that they had K&M create custom Adventures just for them. With only so many days available in a year to offer them, that’s why you don’t see the many listed. So, here’s your opportunity to join us.
Yeap, the Nat’l Parks are closed but they are still OUR lands to enjoy and love, even if behind closed gates. That’s what we did today and the Tetons put on one helluva show for us! Yeap, we have clouds and you all know how I love them. Sunrise was a fin shoot and really with what was provided for us, darn simple. This is a simple click, D4 / 18-35 pointing up to have just a mere slice of foreground and letting the clouds suck you in, down and around. Post processing was no more than ACR and Perfect Suite 7 B&W. Even if the park were open, I would have ended up at the same locale because the Tetons and the clouds with a whole bunch of passion determined where we shut, not a shutdown.
The desert is such a magical place especially when you look, I mean really look. When the monsoons are blowing through, they take on a kaleidoscope of colors as the miracle of water brings new life as summer takes its last bite at heat. Photoshop World is held in Las Vegas in September which is a drive from our home due east and then when coming home, directly due west. The route covers some amazing desert and desert ranges and it never fails to produce memorable images. Of course, they are memorable to us because we love the desert and the drive. The trick, to make the photo to help you fall in love with it.
There are a couple of critical elements needs to make this happen. The first are brakes, that means not that they are working on your vehicle (which is required no matter what) but that you have the time to use them. When traveling, stopping to take a photo takes time and that fact often stops folks from stopping. Next, you need to have your camera in your lap, or really close, so you can shoot out your window fast if need be. On this day, I shot with the D4, 18-35AFS & 80-400VR3, having all three right next to me. Then for me personally, I’m looking at the shadows, the blacks which define the shape, texture and visual depth. Those three elements are what I like to use to get you to fall in love with the desert. When it comes to finishing, I did my usual playbook, CC ACR and than Perfect B&W. With time being the key, the rest is simple, at least I hope it’s simpler with this because, I can’t help you with the time.
I called out the directions and Kevin being Kevin, just followed them. I kept telling the group we were going to see Ms. Piggy. Now if in Hollywood, such an adventure wouldn’t be thought of as odd. Up in the tundra of Churchill, Canada, odd is putting it mildly! We’re there in May to photograph birds, not some Muppet character. We make the turn and leave the main road (which is dirt) and take another dirt road. We “run” through the snow patch on the road, get past the junkyard dog, we bumped down the rock strewn road and barely make the left that brings us up to a semi “parking” area. They look around and then I point up the boulder ridge and there is a gasp in the car. That’s because one wouldn’t think a C-46 Commando could “blend” in the tundra. Ms Piggy as it’s been called as long as I’ve been heading up to Churchill is an old cargo plane that landed a tad short of the runway.
There are many things that are very cool about Ms Piggy, one being is you can see it from the road and at quite some distance. But someone has to point it out the first time otherwise, this big “bird” does just blend in. Another thing is when you walk the wreckage, it appears like the plane was just “dropped” in place and didn’t “crash land.” Here’s the story of the crash:
This is a crashed C-46 aircraft that was operated by Lamb Air. She is found on the scenic route road along Hudson Bay shortly before it ends, close to the Institute of Arctic Ecophysiology. She is called Miss Piggy because she was able to hold so much freight and once did have pigs on board. On Nov 13, 1979 she was flying a cargo of 1 ski-doo and many cases of pop for the Arctic Co-op from Churchill to Chesterfield inlet. She lost oil pressure in her left engine shortly after departing Churchill. The crew of 3 tried to return the aircraft to the Churchill airport. They clipped hydro poles with one wing just before the IAEP lab and crash landed on the rocks there. 2 of the 3 crew were seriously injured. Investigation of the failed engine only revealed small metal chips through out. Her original paint of white and red with the Lamb Air markings has been painted over with gray for a movie
I really don’t know how many hundreds of photos I have of Ms Piggy, but I have more now. The clouds were perfect when I first said, “Let’s go photograph Ms Piggy” (wish I had a picture of the faces in the van when I said that) but once we arrived, well, you see them. But I was thinking B&W the entire time which is also partly why I picked the time of day. Shooting was really straight forward, D4 / 18-35AFS. The metering was straight forward as well since the D4 does so well in these situations. Then in the DD, it was ACR and Perfect B&W using the InFrared moving the Blue and Yellow sliders to modify the default. And in case your were wondering, yes, I was dying to do some stupid post about this was the plane we took, rough landing and the like but hey…
I’m up in Bandon, OR with my good friend Bob looking for shorebirds. It’s that time of year when the nesting shorebirds of the tundra head south and if you hit it just right, there’s not enough room in a photo to squeeze in a matchbook. The trick is, you’ve gotta see them! After putting in 12hrs, we had a break in the fog only to find a couple of Black-bellied Plovers and a Dowitcher before they were swallowed up again in the mist. This is a highly ify proposition, going after that one moment in nature to make the shot. But if you don’t try, you won’t get it. This is my first attempt at such a shot, going after one I saw back in the 80′s that I’ve always admired. And when you’re on the coast in pea soup, the logical thing to do is, find a lighthouse. Here’s the Cape Blanco Lighthouse where the volunteers said they hadn’t seen the sun, or the coast all day. A simple click, D4 / 18-35 processed in ACR and Perfect B&W. And tomorrow, we’ll start all over again with hopefully, less fog.
An over active imagination? Ya, I have one of those! My love affair with rocks is pretty well known and that’s due in part to my imagination. For example this one at Lake Tahoe, it looks like a fish monster rising its head from the depth to spit out some chewing tabaco on us dumb photographers getting up early on a bald sky morning to shoot rocks. Perhaps a little more nuts is not only seeing this but then shooting to bring it out. Getting down near water level with D800 (ya, even wanted extra detail in the head) with the spooky sharp 18-35 and then processing it in Perfect Suit 7 B&W. Of course, when I say out loud what I was seeing, I was perceived as nuts and that is probably very correct. But then getting up early on a bald sky morning, is nuts!
My latest class on Kelby Training, Master B&W Landscape Photography is now posted and ready for you! Why am I telling you this again? A whole lot of you asked why it was called Outdoor and not Landscape. Well, you’ll now notice it’s back to the original Landscape. Some have asked why there is Nik B&W and not onOne in the finishing. That’s because when we filmed the class, onOne hadn’t made their B&W public yet. Thanks to ALL of you making this one of my most successful launched.
There are many reasons and uses for B&W photography just as there are for color. In understanding some of these, you can expand your use of this very romantic medium. One that I’ve not talked about (at least I couldn’t find it on the blog) that I use a lot is detailed texture. No, this is not some official photographic term, just the simple term I keep in the back of my mind when it comes to B&W photography. While in Yosemite a week ago, I was fortunate to have a number of opportunities to practice this concept. It starts with “flat light,” light where there is no real shadows. Why is that important? Because you can then use the contrast of B&W to bring out detailed textured rather then fighting shadows. Next, spring hadn’t spring so there were lots of bare trees and bare branches work great for this. After that, just had to let the magic of The Valley in and go click!
What I have here are two different foreground but the same basic everything else, trees. Now the one thing you might think is a requirement in capturing detailed texture is a D800E. Well lots of megapixels aren’t required! This was shot with the D4 with 18-35AFS. What is required is lots of DOF (shot at f/22 / f/29) and since shooting in a forest, a tripod. Then a personal thing, I underexposed a little more than normal so I have tons of highlights to pull out in post. Then it was simple a little ACR processing and then my favorite, onOne perfect 7 B&W shooting the Detail slider up to around 35. The one drawback to B&W detailed texture is that this image size you see here really doesn’t show off the detail. I’ve already made a 24×30 of the top image and at that size, there is oodles of texture and just sucks you in. Just thought I would pass along the thought.
John Muir called the Sierra, while in Yosemite Valley, “The Range of Light” and all it takes is to give it a moment, an open mind and heart and you can see exactly what he was talking about. With that simple phrase in mind (and he wasn’t thinking photography when he said that), B&W just seems to scream at me. This past week in Yosemite, the B&W possibilities were endless and I did my best to bring back those few that graced our path.
The top image was taken on the Merced below Mirror Lake on a gorgeous evening. Shooting with the D4 with 70-200VR2 with a polarizer attached, it was pretty much a simple click with the only real challenge was how much creek at the base to include or not. The next photo was taken from the sand bar in Lower Pool with D4 and my new favorite lens, the 18-35AFS with polarizer attached. And the bottom image was taken at sunrise from Superintendent Meadow with D4 with 70-200VR2.
The only real “trick” to getting these images is standing still and let the magic of The Valley work for you! When it comes to post, these were all finished in onOne’s Perfect 7 B&W which is all I’m using now. In every sense of the word, Muir had it right, it is the Range of Light and it does not disappoint!
As you might imagine, I get asked a few times, a minute, “What were you seeing when you took that photo?” This along with wondering what I was feeling are really great questions that might help one move their own photography forward. The one problem is, a lot of the time I’m not “seeing” and feeling on a level that honestly, isn’t like, screaming outloud in my head. I don’t want to say I’m going on auto pilot but I don’t want you to think I’m really thinking deeply either. So when folks as me this question, often my answer is a puzzled look on my face, like something else is about to come out. The other problem is, since I am constantly pushing my photography, the approach to going click is never the same. Hopefully, it’s getting better and more productive. So how to answer this question providing you with an answer that will help you? For the last few months, I keep bouncing this question around in my head.
One of my issues is, I don’t react the same way and approach each photographically opportunity the same way that can provide a meaningful answer. It wasn’t really that long ago, I shot like a madman, I mean astro blasting and I enjoyed it. Until I got back and had to deal with all the images, I didn’t enjoy that. That caused me to look at what I was doing in the field strictly mathematically in what I refer to “Calories in – calories out.” This basic animal instinct I applied to my photography. How much time and energy, camera clicks was I putting out to create those images that I really liked? Those images I wanted to take my precious time to finish and then share with others. With my huge push to shoot more, filing more just for the sake of filing lost its luster and doing the math, shooting like a madman wasn’t showing a huge increase in images that I finished and loved. If that was the case, was there a way to improve on the calories in – calories out results?
What you see here is a photographic answer to this question for myself. I realized that to tell someone else visually that where I had been, what I experienced and what I felt about a location really only took one photo, the photo. Ya, I would love a helluva lot more, I’m not insane but on the flip side, to feel successful for that outing, I only need that one. The problem is, getting to that one! During our Death Valley Adventure, we ventured out one afternoon to Stovepipe Wells Dunes. This gorgeous location is explored by many, you know by all the footprints in the sands. That was my first thought of what I wanted in my photograph, all the footprints to show the joy so many had exploring the tunes. But then I turned to an old theme I always love to explore, the sands of time. I love the patterns the winds creates in the sand, it seems to always suck me in. With the D4 / 24-70 I narrowed down my vision and looked for those lines and texture to make for me, at that moment, the photo. I only shot about 50 images the whole evening, but I came back with a high percentage of ones I finished (using onOne P7 B&W) and like. Now does any of this help you? I don’t know, I really don’t. It’s where my time behind the camera has brought me and who knows, it might be where yours takes you, if you know that’s a destination for going. Getting down to the photo.
K&M Adventures is down in the Grand Canyon where this morning is was a bright, crisp 0 with the wind! Didn’t stop the hot shooting. This image from last night is a simple D4 / 24-70AFS click. What is “special” is that the B&W was done in the new onOne Software Perfect B&W! And I’m here to tell you, I ~really~ like it! Those who have followed me know I’ve been a SilverEfex Pro guy from the get go. Well, Perfect BW has some features not found in SilverEfex including color targeted mods. You might be wondering about a “Structure” slider that is so big to me with SilverEfex? Well, try the Detail Slider…I like!!! I’m in my first week of playing with 7 and so far, really loving what I’m seeing!
PS…Thank Eric for letting me use his hot spot…first time online for days!
You’d think for a guy who’s been on the road for three months, he might just stay home after just getting home. What can I say, moss doesn’t grow under my %)&.With a presentation in Los Angeles and a “big” snow storm coming in, Sharon & I threw the dogs in the truck and headed south to the warm home of our marvelous friends. I’ve written many times and shared many an image from the Eastern Sierra when a storm rolls in. The skies, the light, the texture, the mood is just something else. Not every storm is the same, each has its own character and this one was no different. This one had wicked winds and at two different altitudes which created some amazing skies. The big problem was, I would be driving and see some amazing photo but by the time I found a place to pullover, the winds had scrambled everything. I would stop, scene changed so I went then stopped again, get out and shoot, jump back in and repeat. I did that for nearly three hours. I loved it!
Shooting with the D800 & 24-70AFS mostly, and what you see here is a 24mm shot (top) and a 70mm shot (bottom) but both taken knowing I was shooting B&W. Why one focal length vs another? It has to do with the light and bright ratio to the clouds with dark character. I love to play those two against each other so I’m always looking at that ratio in the viewfinder. At the same time, I’m looking at the lines those clashing tones create to lead the eye around the frame. It’s all of that in combination which for me, determines the focal length.
And this photo? This is what it looked like behind me. That peak which is just short of 12,000 feet has disappeared all but its base in the snow storm that chased us out of town. We did finally make it down to a very warm home with great friends and food with a whole lot of images on the flash card and little gas left in the tank. A perfect road trip!
A few years back, Sharon & I started a new tradition of spending Veteran’s Day down in Mesa, AZ. With snow knocking at the front door, we got in the truck and headed down the road. It was a gorgeous day to drive through the desert! With D800 / 24-70f2.8 AFS in my lap, we dumped the dogs off with the sitters and off we went!
Now when I say, “Shootin down the road,” I mean just that. The window goes down, the camera gets stuck out and the motordrive goes clickin away. I started doing this long ago because there never seems to be a place to pullover when I see the shot. And if there is, it’s never where I want to stop or, I go by it so fast, it’s too late when I see it. So, I go shooting down the road!
I’ve gotten real good at sighting over the lens barrel, guessing pretty closely to the framing and then laying on the shutter release to take a whole bunch of frames. Leveling I have down because of how I rest the camera on my left arm, old habit. Finishing was real simple, Silver Efex Pro 2. mtc…
This past weekend was simply great! We held our last Mono Lake Workshop for the year with simply a really great group of photographers! Lots of great shooting, laughs, teaching and of course, gorgeous Eastern Sierra weather. I’m always intrigued how each workshop seems to have its own tone, theme and techniques that want to be learned. They are never the same and this weekend had its own. In that process, I get in a couple of clicks here and there. We had two very different mornings with one being pretty typical of no clouds and another with some high, scattered clouds.
A number of folks asked about me and clouds. They’d noticed I shoot a lot of them and on occasion, they turn out pretty good. So they asked what was my secret. There is really only one, and that’s selecting the clouds and matching them with the subject. Clouds tend to have a pattern to them, a pattern that “points” to something. So the trick is having an interesting something. Once you recognize that, you then just have to decide how you want to wrap the bow on it. In this case, D4, 18AF with Silver Efex Pro is how I decided to wrap a bow on it. Oh ya, I started with a 5 image handheld HDR assembled using Nik HDR Pro. mtc