This simply has bigtime drama and THAT’S what I look for in a landscape image that stirs me. It shares the same basics they all have, exposure in the God beams and a good foreground. Where this one in my mind excels is first, the God beams themselves have some character. Some start and stop, some go right, down the middle and left, some get lighter and darker. They are not all the same and there is no doubt they are real and not PS made (yes, not all God beams are made the same). OK, we have a excellent background, the sky with the God beams. Moving to the foreground, it has some character to itself. It’s not a single line, a single ridge but has intertwining lines taking the eye back to meet the God beams. Then, and this is the really important part I think, the light in the foreground just rocks! The filtered light highlights the ridge lines and the seasonal pond and has just enough shadow to give roundness to the hills. It was captured and finished exactly the same as the other sunrise shots from this morning. Here though, all the elements came together corner to corner to produce the drama that for me, says it all about the morning. I live for these types of clicks!
Seriously, no windy, I have three or four thousands clicks on this group of trees on the ridge! I just love them, their symmetry and location for sunrises. So when I saw the God beams, this is where I wanted to run. When I got here, it did not disappoint.
The top click is the first one (actually 5) that I made. I stopped to do this because the clouds were moving quickly, quicker then I could so I wanted at least this shot in case I couldn’t improve it. I liked the bottom shot the best. I moved about 70 yards to the west to line up the God Beams better with the trees on the ridge. Luckily the God beams hung in there for me and I could make the shot I had provisioned 15min earlier a mile away. And while I like this bottom shot a lot, I didn’t know that two miles further west I would make the best shot of the morning. To see that shot, you’ll have to come back tomorrow. All of these shots were made the same way, 5 images HDR, AWB, -1 at f/4 with the 24-120VR lens handheld.
Laws Railroad Museum is just this ever growing playground for the camera! We’ve been going there for at least twenty years and the contents and light are never the same making it just a trick or treat adventure every time you visit. This time I was so pleased with myself because I not only remembered to pack the 105micro, I remembered that I packed it just to shoot at Laws. You have to understand, I’ve forgotten every time up till now and I am so glad I remembered! I treasure the smallest of mental victories.
The whole trick to Laws, or any location for that matter, is to go slow and have your eyes wide open. I walked into the second building and noticed that both large barn doors were open. This threw in big, soft light so all I had to do was find a subject for that gorgeous light. A couple of steps in on the right was this saddle. Its age and colors along with the light sucked me in and it didn’t let me go! I mean really, just look at that light!
When you have this kind of light, you gotta just keep working it and working it. I started “wide” and then worked on in to cover all I could of this one saddle. There was another one next to it that was in nicer light but was in sad shape so I stuck with this one. Most photographers do two mistakes I feel when they are at Laws, they us a tripod and blow off way too much. I spent probably twenty minutes at least working this saddle. I shot handheld so I could get the angle and framing exactly as I wanted while waiting for other visitors to come and go. I shot at ISO 100 (I’m always in the basement), 1/15 f/8, AWB, Vivid EV-2. Why was the 105micro so important? It gave the needed working distance, subject isolation and bloody sharp results that make detail macros succeed. I was so pleased that I remembered it and that I found for me, some cool subject. Keep in mind, macro is outside my comfort zone but as long as I find light, I can work through that discomfort.
Photos captured by D3x, 105VR on Lexar UDMA digital film
Yeah, looking to the west when you’re in the Hills at sunrise is a wise thing! This was a spectacular morning showing off the reward of hitting the road at 4AM to be in place at the right time. The other trick to this whole venture is being in the right place as well. The Hills are pretty long and vary greatly from locale to locale. You might recognize this since it was the backdrop for IronMan. Nearly all of the Hills have been used by Hollywood since the 1930s.
The trick this morning was to get high! If you were to stand down on the ground or be close to the rock formations, you would not have seen the narrow band of light squeezing in under the cloud cover lighting up the slope of the Sierra. I ran from locale to locale chasing the band of light as it moved ending up finally on the tallest rock formation I could reach. It was just a glorious sunrise in the west!
The camera part was easy. WB-Cloudy A6, Vivid, EV-1.7 with a 2stop Split Grad. The shooting might be a challenge. It’s easy to get sucked into the color and focus in on just that band (as I did some of the time). But telling the story of the Hills was my goal for the morning which meant having them in the foreground. There were in shadow of course so in post they were lightened up a tad with a simple curve and camera warming filter. The one aspect of the photos you cannot plan for is the “rain” which never reached the ground. But it acted as a prism giving some images a little purplish tint to them that I really liked. I still shot with two bodies going wide to long as fast as the light changed and dictated it. And just like my experience at Mono Lake, I want to invite you the viewer into the morning and the experience. Hope I’m successful!
Photos captured by D3x, 14-24AFS / 24-70AFS on Lexar UDMA digital film
Mono Lake is a favorite of mine, been visiting it since 1959. I have been incredibly fortunate to visit many lakes over the years and none are quite the same as Mono. There are many things contributing to this from location to character. Most think of Mono for the tufa formations at South Tufa and rightly so since this is the only destination for most who visit the lake. I’ve walked the entire circumference of Mono over the years and the one thing you see at South Tufa which is indicative of the lake are the curves on the shoreline. This last week on our latest walk down to the tufas I was watching the photographers and noticed the curves got no attention.
The tufas tower up and are very unique shapes but prior to dawn, they are just shapes. The challenge as I see it is how do you tell the story of Mono Lake, Tufas, dawn and the experience in one click? The camera part is easy, WB-Cloudy A5, Vivid, EV-2 f/5.6 1/10 with all finishing done in ACR. It’s the arranging of the elements that is tricky. The wind was nuts the day before, a blizzard that prevented us from even reaching Mono Lake. It left massive banks of foam which was cool so it outlined the curve of the shoreline. What is it with the curve in the shoreline you ask? If we straighten out that shoreline or not even include, how intimate is the scene? Seriously, you do either and you don’t invite the viewer into the scene but include it and it brings the viewer into your world you saw and felt that moment you went click. Such a simple thing it is easy to overlook, not even consider. Once you do take this into consideration then the only option left is, vertical or horizontal and that is totally your call, there is no right or wrong. Next time you’re at a lake, take note of the shoreline and do a little experiment and take a photo of a cover and or a long stretch and see which one feels more inviting to you, and more importantly, to the viewer of your image.
Photos captured by D3x, 14-24AFS (handheld) on Lexar UDMA digital film
We are having a GREAT time, so good, and don’t take this personally, I decided to play at the Brew with a Crew then blog. We went up to Waimea Canyon for a grand show of light. Being a canyon and being sunset, the sky was much brighter then the bottom of the canyon. We have a number of options to deal with this large, canyonious void of light, split grad and HDR were the two tracks I went for the evening. With RC here coming off finishing the writing of his new HDR book, I went HDR (since I could follow the steps in the highnoon class). Here’s the results, pretty cool. It’s a gorgeous place and as long as you have the light in place, you have the image.
Photo captured by D3x, 14-24AFS on Lexar UDMA digital film
Just how big are those cliffs? If you’ve not been there, you wouldn’t know. Without some object we can relate to in the photo, demonstrating the size of a subject can be a challenge. Typically, I have a dime in the photo when I need to show scale but as you might imagine, a dime wouldn’t even show up in the photo,
What happens when you put a 60′ boat in the photo? You really don’t know how big that boat is in real life but when you see it as a micro dot in the bottom of the frame in the lower photo, you get a sense that these are one big ass set of cliffs! And by waiting to click for when your scale, the boat is partially obscured by a wave, you can manipulate the scale to make it look even bigger.
Here’s something to chew on. These days with CS5′s Content Aware file, you can include scale all you want and remove it when you don’t want it in post. This makes it pretty simple to make those scale shots that when you need that extra drama, can really come in handy.
Photos captured by D3x, 70-200VR2 on Lexar UDMA digital film
As per tradition, the DLWS staff came in early and we did it up big! We added a new adventure to our fun, a six hour cruise to the Na Pali coast. Sharon booked us with the Kauai Sea Tours group and they simply rock! I was an amazing morning of fun, adventure, learning and of course, photography.
It was simply gorgeous and the clouds came and went and the sun danced on the landscape. Being off shore with the ability to look back at the mountains made for some big time drama. The fourth image is my favorite, I just love the “lightning” feel the light has squeaking through the aperture in the clouds. Now being an air head, I left my card wallet in the van so I only had with me the two, 16GB cards loaded in the D3x. So to make room, I switched to 12bit from my normal 14bit. I regret that now and won’t do that again. Why? The clean, subtle gradation I so work in moody clouds photos just weren’t as clean and it’s bugging the hell out of me. I can’t wait until I get back in the office in a couple of weeks and make some prints. I wanna see if I did myself in or not. But it doesn’t take away from the magic of the morning. It was spectacular!
Photos captured by D3x, 70-200VR2 on Lexar UDMA digital film
The weather went from bad to horrible so we headed up to Upper Geyser Basin to see what was happening. What do I mean the weather went to crap? Look at the skies….BLUE! I hate bald skies but when you want to photograph steam, they do have some benefit to your photography.
Since it was up to 39 degrees, it was too warm for anything other then geysers. This is Castle Geyser and other then darkening the sky in ACR with the blue slider, it’s straight from the camera.
I have to be honest, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen and photographed Old Faithful so to make a new shot is a challenge. The one hard thing about the photo is the fact you just don’t know what the old girl will do until it blows. How high, the direction of the steam are highly variable. So what I decided to do was stand where I had the best foreground, go B&W in post and click. I was pretty happy with the eruption as the wind took the steam back and to the right leaving the actual eruption up front and white. Perfect for a B&W image.
Photo captured by D3x, 14-24AFS on Lexar UDMA digital film
At this point, I’ve gone through all my images from our first week in Yellowstone (which was great BTW) and picked out those I personally like the best and finished them in post. Of those 100+ images, narrowed it down to 15 the images that bring back the week and put a smile on my face. “Favorite” images I think should be those that put a smile in your heart. That doesn’t mean they are the greatest photographs, but simply those that bring back the memories of that moment. That’s what you have here. How were they finished” You have everything thing from straight out of the camera (yeah, that is permitted) to images finished with just ACR or with that with Nik Glamour Glow, Tonal Contrast or Silver Efex or a combination there off added to the mix. I never spent more then two minutes with finishing any given image. Enjoy and if I’m lucky, an image or two will put a smile in your heart!
It was -38 when we headed out today, I knew it was going to be a great day. And it was! Once again, after the day and dinner with the gang it’s late and I’m cramming to get it all done so I’ve picked a couple of my favorites of the day to tell the story.
We were at Gibbon Meadow before the sun hit. It was just glancing off the immense ground fog bank created by the super cold temps. I love this meadow, spent hundreds of hours here and this morning was just another special one. Here’s the key to the photograph. How do you want to express your feeling from standing out in -38 air as the hoar frost floats by and bites your nose? You could underexpose and bring out the coming light. You could expose with zero comp and just let mother nature do the work for you or you could dial in +1/2 exp comp and bring out the lightness of the morning. All are correct, all would work and all could tell the world how you felt at experiencing this moment. Personally, I went with zero, I let mother nature do the work. What a great start to the day!
Photo captured by D3x, 70-200VR2 on Lexar UDMA digital film
Walking back to the bridge, you get a very dramatic view of the upper Yosemite Falls. We’ve spent hours just watching and listening to this might body of water as it crashes on the rocks below. Some winters, the cone at its base soars way up into the falls.
At this time, the cone is basically gone. I wonder if it’s this fact that we got the most amazing rainbow I’ve ever seen. It stretched as you can see down the falls and up the next slope. Simply spectacular!
I keep going back and forth which I like better, the foreground slope in shadow or not. I think I’ll print them up 24×30 and stare at them for a while. It was a spectacular site and I am very grateful we had the opportunity to be there to see it.
Photos captured by D3x, 200-400VR2 on Lexar UDMA digital film
We’re here in Yosemite having one helluva a great time. This is in part because we’re in Yosemite, and in Yosemite with this crazy Mexican who has never been here before.
RC is like a kid in a candy store and he just keeps on sampling. Well, just because the sun is gone doesn’t mean you can’t keep shooting. Na, you can slip and slide on the ice and photograph Yosemite Falls. So, off we went!
This is a real simple shot. The D3s is set to ISO 1600, M 8sec f/2.8 with AWB. You look at the upper photo and compare it to the lower photo you’ll notice the lower photo, the rock face is “warmer.” That’s because the AWB is A6 (there it is again). And all the light on the trees? The majority of it is the moon. The tree trunk on the right that is all lit is from headlights. I just wish I had a video for you because RC and his antics had us laughing the entire time. Photography should be fun and that is all we’re having!
Photos captured by D3s, 24-70AFS on Lexar UDMA digital film
Horsetail Falls is a late February occurrence, that is the magical shot. This is because of two factors, water and light. (Update: the falls did not look nearly as nice the next day to the point we didn’t go to the falls.)
With our recent storms in the Sierra, we have the water so the falls are flowing. This is special because they don’t always flow each year. So with the water, I wondered if we’d have the light.
After the sun set, you could see the red glow grow. What I find really cool is that even though we didn’t have that magical light of Feb, you look, you can see that red band of light that does occur off to the left of the falls. I just find it fascinating to know the sun / earth will move enough in three weeks so that red shaft of light will hit the falls.
After the sun had set, we kept on shooting. The glow from way out in the Pacific still worked it’s magic. This is the face of El Cap and that granite acts like a great reflector forever bouncing around the last beam of light. That little bit of “alpine glow” was brought out by using AWB A6. Don’t know what that means? Grab your instruction book, it’s worth learning about!
Photos captured by D3x, 70-200VR2 w/TC-17e on Lexar UDMA digital film
OK, I’ll admit it was a great macro opportunity. The best part, I didn’t have to get down on the ground and stick my ass up in the air to take it. So I decide to get in the swing of things and work the subject a little better. So here’s my first click.
The 1st thing I did was improve the background. In the last blog the dark background didn’t work for the conditions, snow. So I moved so I had a white background. Next, from the 1st to 2nd photo here, I titled the camera from plum to the earth to plumming the subject to the frame.
Yeap, still shoot in HSC mode with AWB A6 to warm up the leaves. I’m only shooting at f/8 to maximize sharpness on the hoar frost while not pulling in the background.
And lastly, I went vertical with the camera still plummed to the subject and not the earth. And for Moose, it’s not a half bad macro shot.
They have all these “retro” early 1900s postcards for sale featuring that kind of garish color look of the era. I think they are kind of cool so I decided to see if I could create the same feel photographically you see in those old cards. Here’s my first attempt.
I think I have a ways to go but I like the thought process behind it. It might lead to new discoveries.
Photos captured by D3x, 24f1.4AFS on Lexar UDMA digital film
With 12′ in the front meadow, a new storm rolls into the area. After chores are done prior to the 24hrs blow we headed out with the camera to take in the front. Weather as moves through the light always plays on the Sierra and the B&W photos are just about everywhere you turn.
You can actually see the front’s leading edge here, pretty dramatic. They are predicting 2-3 feet in 24hrs from this storm and then minus zero temps. Just the way I like it.
What you can’t see are the winds which at this point are mild and just signal a storm coming in. They’re forecasting gusts up to 100mph and that’s not so good. That makes all this gorgeous snow into a rel hazard for those who don’t stay inside where it’s safe. It will be a crazy day, can’t wait!
Photos captured by D3x, 24-120VR2 on Lexar UDMA digital film
These kinds of moments come and go and the only way catch them is to be out there shooting. Or in this case, be out on our deck. The morning sun coming through the blowing snow is to die for, or freeze for depending on you.
Seriously, we’re that fortunate to live with this kind of view. But the secret of the photos won’t be revealed until the next post.
Photos captured by D3x, 24-120VR2 on Lexar UDMA digital film