Oh yeah, we’re going back to what has to be the staff’s favorite location, Bozeman, MT. It just has it all and in MT Big Sky fashion. Want to learn more? Head here or simply beat the crowd and register now. And if you want to read a review of DLWS, check out Terry White’s DLWS Wrap UP, which might give you even more reason to join us for the fun and learning.
Lakes of The Woods is this simply spectacular little preserved stretch of MI forest that is THE place to shoot. It is out in the middle of nowhere but the locals know about it, they are the ones preserving it and sharing it with the rest of us. What makes the place so special? The trees, leaves, Barred Owls calling off in the distance, it’s seclusion, all of this and a whole lot more, more than likely. I’m just glad we were able to share it with the gang.
I kept working on my fall color B&W at first. What attracted me to this was the three different trees have totally different barks, each with its own unique texture. Continuing on my retro minimum DOF look at my work, I shot wide open at f/2.8 and tilted the 24mm just a tad to make the one trunk as out of focus as the other.
Still working with the same minimum DOF, I switched to the 200f2 and shot this at f/2. I knew I was on to something when my bud Joe wanted to plug onto the tripod and make the same shot. There’s hope for me yet.
Photos captured by D3x, 24PC-E / 200f2 on Lexar UDMA digital film
Yep, this one leaf that so caught my eye just wouldn’t let me make the image I was seeing come to life in the viewfinder. Seriously! As you can see, its red is pretty intense and it just was hanging out there screaming to be photographed before it fell to the forest floor and lost to the winter snow.
I went to the 200f2 at first and then added the 1.7x. That didn’t help. Narrowing down the angle of view I think was the start down the path of no success.
Moved closer but as I did, the background changed because I started to shoot up more. That didn’t help. Joe being curious what I was seeing came over and looked through the lens. After looking through the viewfinder he looked at me and I made a funny face and said, “too busy.”
So then I moved closer, didn’t help. I was getting frustrated because the original image that I saw is now getting further away and not closer to coming to life in the viewfinder.
Moved closer again, still no help. I never got the photo I first saw and wanted. Back engineering my woes, I think I should have stayed where I first spied the leaf and then gone up higher and to the 200-400. I neither had a ladder or the lens so that’s that and it’s how it goes sometimes when you’re out shooting. Lesson to learn, and a memory to cherish.
Photos captured by D3x, 200f2 on Lexar UDMA digital film
After the Solon School house, we headed to a really cool barn on Hwy72. This is just a great structure. The one problem with the morning shoot was: great subject but suckie, suckie, suckie light. This means that while detail shots are possible and can be really cool, the overall landscape shots required some digital darkroom horsepower.
Yeap, this is it, straight shot. You might not even stop if you saw this kinda light but as you can tell, we did. This was in part because I knew that the detail shots without direct light would really be cool. I also stopped because of the cool clouds over the barn. How to make it all happen?
The finished photograph was done entirely in NX2. First, W/B Point was done to remove the color cast. Then a Color Point was dropped in the sky to bring it down which brought out the blue. Lastly, a Color Point was dropped on the barn to bring out the contrast and color. It took less than a minute in post to finish. When you get everything done in camera that you can to make a finished image, finishing in post should be real simple and fast.
Photo captured by D3x, 24PC-E on Lexar UDMA digital film
You might recognize this structure, it’s not the first time it’s been on the blog. Maybe because I first shot this with one of the 1st D3s around, it’s in the middle of nowhere or it’s just cool, whatever it is I really enjoy photographing this part of history.
We arrived well before dawn to the locale leaving most of the gang in the dark why we were out in the middle of nowhere. While standing in the dark, a school bus came and lit up one side of the school house casting some really cool shadows. Once it was gone, McNally took one of the vans and tried to imitate the bus light but it wasn’t as bright. Something to remember and come back to redo.
This photo was taken in really, really, dark, flat light but that didn’t phase me. To finish this photograph, I went into NX2 and did W/B Point and removed the color cast from just the school house. I then went into PS and used Nix Silver Efex Pro to convert to B&W. The final image turned out pretty cool. I was planning on making a video lesson of this today for you but realized my recording mic wasn’t with me so, I owe you one.
Photo captured by D3x, 24PC-E on Lexar UDMA digital film
Been on the road since the 15th Sept and I have no bloody clue what day it is and barely know we’re in MI, it’s a blur! The photography just keeps on smoking though; never had this kind of back log of images to process ever before. DLWS is great, a really killer group of really nice folks making this so much fun for me and the staff. I will post more and tell more later, even a new lesson to share. For now, enjoy this simple barn image shot yesterday morning.
Photo captured by D3x, 105VR on Lexar UDMA digital film
I just love this state, in the fall that is (to be fair, I have never been here any other time). The little treasures that are tucked away in its countryside are simply so much fun to find. For example, we took the DLWS gang to Hartwick State Forest Park yesterday afternoon. Barely on maps, this great piece of wild heritage it really tucked in the middle of nowhere.
All the photos here were taken by walking no further than 100 yards from where we parked. Yeah, there is just that much potential because these are only 3 of the 19 set ups I did in this small stretch of the forest. I walked really slowly just looking side to side, up and down selecting those opportunities I wanted to capture.
I mentioned in an earlier blog I wanted to work my B&W fall color, kind of an oxymoron, I know but what can I say is, I was very pleased with my progress in that pursuit yesterday. Here’s my favorite from yesterday.
The skies were not the best for shooting straight up but were beautifully diffused for shooting in the forest, but I wanted to shoot up. I kept looking and looking, got a stiff neck and then finally after the sun had set I found a small window to shoot. I took a number of variations of this, dancing with the bit of blown out sky you see here in the lower left. Still not sure if I will leave it of close in some leaves to make the bright area smaller or not, but I’m happy with the image.
We were going until after 11PM and out again well before daylight. MTC
Photos captured by D3x, 24PC-E on Lexar UDMA digital film
DLWS was great but it has left me beat. I don’t know if it’s because we spent last week on the same grueling schedule shooting in Reno as DLWS or that I’m getting old. Whatever the case, my butt is dragging. Like I mentioned, the start of the week for me was pretty sad. I just couldn’t make the transition from high velocity race planes to rocks.
As the week progressed on, the mind and more importantly the heart got in the swing of things. There is this illusion that just because it’s believed that you can take cool images that it happens every time you go out or pick up a camera. McNally typically asks at least once during a workshop how often I get skunked, as in, I got out and came back with nothing. I’ve written about this on this blog many times and yet, the expectation seems to be, you go out you should be rewarded with images.
Well we drove down today from Ba haa ba to Freeport on a really spectacular day. Great light, great clouds and even with that mix, there wasn’t one place that seem to speak to me to shoot (but the L.L.Bean store spoke to my AmEx). But here’s the deal, if you don’t go out, you’ll never have any opportunity, not to get skunked or get the great shot. You gotta go out, you’ve gotta try to make things happen if nothing is happening at all. Last night after shooting cracks, the light didn’t want to come out to play and in my mind, I was back to Monday morning, trying to make something happen. Then Stephanie came along with her youthful energy and we brought out the flash and the jump. And the images started to fill the card.
I watched photographers pace back and forth, heard the snide comments about being at a stupid place at a stupid time. And there’s my all time favorite, “I’ve got that shot already.” This is what I always say every time I have a griz in my viewfinder, knowing I have 42k images sitting back in the files. And 0f course I saw folks sit down in boredom and disgust. And man, it was terrible having to sit on a romantic ,rocky, Maine coastline watching the waves roll in, listen to the bouy bell’s ring as Eiders floated by. Heck, I would much rather have been in an office, staring out a window! I always wonder if this attitude reflects in the images captured, the joy of just being fortunate enough to be out even if you are getting skunked compared to thinking you’re owed the experience and image and not getting it. I count my blessing every time I’m skunked with the camera in my hand, just being out is reward enough for me.
I often have the feeling the ship has sailed for many a photographer before they even set one foot out of the house. Letting the possibility of getting skunked in to the thought process and using that as a challenge might just improve their photography. It might just improve their photographic outlook and in the end, bring the reward they think the effort of just getting out owes them. For myself, if I knew that every time I went with a camera I was going to come back with the great shot, I probably would stop going out because there would be no expectations, no challenge. Like I reminded folks all week, head out with an open mind and open heart and no matter what the counter says, you are ahead of the game by the end of the day.
Photo captured by D3x, 45PC-E on Lexar UDMA digital film
Oh man, seriously, where do the days go? Here is it Wed night and we’re at the end of another DLWS. A week ago I was at the Reno Air Race, week from today well be the start of Photoshop World and the time in between, DLWS has flown. It all comes and goes much to quickly!
For our last evening, we headed down to Otter Point, truly a beautiful and romantic stretch of ME coast. For the life of me, I can’t remember what I was taught in a class about this rock other than it is really cool. Whenever I’m there, all I seem to do when there’s no giant waves is crack photography. That’s what you’re seeing here. The twist for me this time was using the 85PC-E and tilting so every edge of granite is tack sharp. I like this stuff!
Then there is my youthful assistant Stephanie. She has in her mind to do a series of leaping images from everywhere we go. She started in the morning with McNally at Jordan Pond and finished with me in the even leaping over a giant gorge. In fact, she made the leap 33 times. And man, can that girl leap! No, not leap, fly. You have the Karate Leap, Long Jump Leap and the Leap of Joy. Stephanie is a great kid, great assistant and friend. I don’t know of a better visual to say we have a kick ass time here in ME with our new DLWS friends!
Tech Note: Stephanie was shot at 1/4000 f4 at ISO400 using FP Flash. The raise in the ISO was to get the high shutter speed in the darkish light. FP was used to stop the action, a single SB-900 is the light source. Pretty simple stuff, at least when you go to the McNally school of Flash.
Photos captured by D3x, 85PC-E / 14-24AFS on Lexar UDMA digital film
Jordan Pond, I just love that place! I’ve approached it many ways over all the years I’ve been coming to its shores. The infamous Butt Crack Rock which I so apply named is sought by many a photographer. Why, I haven’t a clue other than, it’s just silly. This morning I approached the rock photography here a littler differently.
I started by just photographing the rocks and a little water. The rest of Jordan Pond was not included. The rocks are pretty cool, with this neat tan-pink aspect to them that really pops with a White Point / Black Point.
I then headed to the other side of the pond where one, there wasn’t anyone else and two, I had success in the past. I wanted to explore the shoreline with my 16 Fish and I’m glad I did. The tan strips in the rock really was key in how I composed the image, the stereo lines as you look back in the frame is why I liked the fish.
By venturing out into the pond I was able to make the one photo I really sought. It comes in that category of photos that have an emotional meaning to you but the rest of the world just smiles and says “nice” just to humor you. So for the rest, here’s the token fall color photo to start off the season.
I am Soooo tired that I can’t find the CF door on my camera. So I’m heading off for four hours of sleep.
Photos captured by D3x, 14-24AFS/16Fish/200VR on Lexar UDMA digital film
My first morning, not so good. That afternoon, started to get back into landscape shooting mode. Tuesday morning started off to be a challenge in the fog and then as time moved on, there were images to be found everywhere.
I posted this photo in haste just to make fun of my dear friend McNally but it wasn’t finished. If you look at it, you’ll see what I’m referring to. I wanted darker, cleaner water and wanted the blue in the left boat not competing with the boat on the right. I achieved the finished image by using Silver Efex Pro and painting out via a Layer Mask the effect on the boat on the right. I like this image much better finished.
Sticking with the nautical theme, I continued down the dock to there boats. This was a pretty image to do once I change my idea to crop out with lens selection the photographers on the right of the dock shooting. That dictated to me going B&W to still further remove visual elements bugging me.
This was the shot that really made my morning. The colors just knock my socks off! I shot with the 45 PC-E so the plane of focus runs through the bow of the boat to the rope while shooting at just f/4. I needed to do this to get a shutter speed fast enough to deal with wave action. Then finishing was all done in NX2.
Photos captured by D3x, 45 PC-E on Lexar UDMA digital film
Here’s the proof….Joe’s lying on smelly, fish gut covered dock with a 50f1.4AFS shooting the bow of a dingy to create a landscape image! No flash, no flash remote, reflectors not in sight. This is a true McNally landscape shooting sighting!
In all seriousness, Joe had a very cool find which he shared and soon, the small dock was covered with DLWS shooters. Joe shot at f1.4 to have a very narrow band of focus. I wanted the same thing so shot the same scene using the 24PC-E lens, tilting the lens to achieve the same basic effect. In my interpretation of the scene, I went high and limited my band of focus to the seats.
Photos captured by D3x, 200VR / 24 PC-E on Lexar UDMA digital film
Ah, we’re up in ME for our DLWS and man, is it hot. I’m not talking about the photography but the weather. In fact, it’s so hot it’s zapped our atmosphere so the first morning shoot was for me, a zero. Yeap, I got skunked but that happens. I knew the evening shoot would put me back on the score card.
We went to Bass Harbor and Bernard which just never lets you down photographically or for dinner. Our good friend Gary Stanley brought us here a lone time ago so it’s still a special place to us. We had no weather so needed to wait for the sun to go down for the magic to begin.
As you can tell, I went to the PC-E lens for awhile. I had a great time producing a couple of “miniatures” that I really like. I always wonder if you can see the effect in these small posters but its easy to see on the notebook monitor.
Then once the sun went down the water turned that really cool blue so then it was back to the 200f2 and letting the magic in. But of that is dialing in minus 2 exp comp. That’s what helps make the white and blue do the dance in the light. We’ve got a great group of folks here which is important to me this week. I am dragging coming right from the Reno Air Races to here. Their energy is keeping me going. Who needs sleep anyways!
Photos captured by D3x, 85PC-E, 200VR on Lexar UDMA digital film
Our Outer Banks DLWS is now a memory residing on our hard drives and hearts. Ah, then enters the video camera to bring it all back to life. I had fun making the video this time, taking it a little bit further than our Yellowstone Wrap up. I need to warn you, it’s a 16:38 clip with fun and education wrapped up in the warped sense of humor that is the hallmark of the DLWS staff. You have appearances by Scott Kelby, Jeff Snyder, Laurie Excell, Kevin Dobler and of course our star (and good sport) Joe McNally. Enjoy!
Photo captured by D3, 45PC-E on Lexar UDMA digital film
Moose Cam captured by Canon HF10 on Lexar digital film
We finally got back home after 25hrs (we never flew on the 3 flights we were originally ticketed for). I had plenty of time to reflect on some of the beautiful images we were treated to just the night before at the DLWS participant slideshow. I went back to my files to see if I had a couple that I was moved by in the show. There was a really cool image of this cabin in the show, much better than what I got. I was too tight and missed some important little details that really make the image better.
Then there were the photos from this wreck. There were some really killer, tighter images of this hull then I captured in the slideshow. While I’m a little jealous I don’t have those images, I am happy that the folks at DLWS really liked the locale and came back with images that inspired me. That’s the whole point of DLWS, always satisfying to see its goals come through. Thanks to all who joined us!
Photos captured by D3, 24-70AFS/105VR on Lexar UDMA digital film
The week is over already. Man, does time just fly. The blurry eyed folks have seen the participant show, drank their wine and said good bye. All the gear is packed and the staff is all heading off to their next job. We’re incredibly fortunate to be able to come together to share this thing called photography!
Our last shoot was at the Bodie Island Lighthouse. It was a great evening of literally just watching the light set. Whoever built the lighthouse was a real stickler for details as the building and lighthouse are all perfectly lined up in every aspect. It makes it possible to get this photo. Once the camera was set up. I just kep hitting the shutter to make an informal time laspe. It was the perfect finish to a great week. Thanks staff, friends and particpants for making it so great!
Photos captured by D3, 45PC-E on Lexar UDMA digital film
The alarm went off mighty early this AM with a 04:30 departure time. We had a long drive down to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, but it was more than worth it. The morning sun couldn’t find an aperture through the clouds to provide with glorious color, but that’s OK. This is a straight shot of the lighthouse. I just did a little mental counting and a couple seconds prior to the beam coming around, I let the motordrive rip and using its speed to catch the light as if pointed right to me. Exposure comp was -2 to make sure it looked stormy, which it wasn’t.
We then booked it over to the other side of the lighthouse to catch the morning light. It was OK but it was just after 08:00 when the light and clouds played together nicely making the lighthouse come to life. I walked around to the west facing edge so catch the shading on the side which I think is so important to convey in the photo the cyclindical aspect of the lighthouse. I used the 24PC-E to clean up the lines the best I could but if you look at the walkway at the top, you’ll see it’s not accurate. But waiting for the mixture of clouds and light was essential to bring the image to life
Photos captured by D3, 200f2 / 24PC-E on Lexar UDMA digital film
These afternoon thunderstorms are kicking our butts. Tonight we headed to the beach with skies promising to perform. Ha! There is probably nothing more frustrating then to watch great clouds just fade away to zip.
I was sucking dirty pond water trying to make something happen. I ended up using HDR again trying to pull some character out of the clouds as they flattened out. You win some, you loose some.
Photos captured by D3, 14-24AFS on Lexar UDMA digital film