Avoid My Mistake

Poppy captured by D6 / 70-200f4

It’s spring, the international celebration of new life. You can see it everywhere in the simple, elegant and beautiful form of a flower. These natural gems appear each year bringing color to a vast array of landscapes and at times just one and two blossoms and others, carpets that stretch to the horizon. I’ve been very fortunate to see some amazing displays over the years but normally like most, I would enjoy but not immortalize them with my camera. Posezies are just not my thing which is something I’ve never tried to get past. There are many reasons for this, none of them valid yet, there are a mere handful of those photos in my files. I’m trying to do better this spring but anything is better than none, right? Spring is a gorgeous time to get out and shoot so do so. Avoid my mistake!

Spring Means Many Things

California Poppy captured by D2x / 70-180 macro

I’m truly enjoying the many great images being shared from talented photographers of the wildflowers of spring. I wish at times I were one of those photographers, but I am not. What you see here is what I call my “even a blind squirrel can find a nut once” macro flower photo. I say that cause this is the last spring posey photo that I really tried to make that worked and it was taken back in 2005! Have I tried to do macro since this capture? Yeah, kinda, sorta, by accident, sure!

Spring for me is more about baby birds and mammals, a subject much more in my wheelhouse. I was talking with a friend yesterday and spring for him is all about baseball. Talking with our son Jake, spring is all about fishing for him. And I could go on and on and that’s simply the cool thing about this time of year. We all have something that spring represents and they get us out with our camera to experience and express that feeling of the season. Get out even if it’s just in your own sphere and explore your spring thing with the camera. Share that photo with the rest of us and remember to make every click your story!

Bald Sky Bryce … Spectacular!

Bryce Canyon captured by Z 6II / Z14-24f2.8

It’s rare when out to photograph specifically landscapes that bald skies doesn’t shoot down my mood. This morning on the rim gazing down and through the hoodoos of Bryce, the bald skies didn’t even come into play. Until the sun popped over the horizon, I shot down into the amphitheaters with the Z70-200f2.8. I even played with the Graphite PC in the Z 6II on the suggestion of the talented Ms Carol. Then once the sun came up, the Z14-24f2.8 came out even though we had nothing but bald skies. Closing the lens down to f/22 (so the sun would flare), I pointed the lens down to eliminate as much of the sky as possible but keep that star burst. It was fun and darn good to be back in Bryce, even with its bald skies!

It Seems Like Yesterday …

Bryce Canyon captured by D1 / 17-35f2.8 in 2000

… that brand new 64MB compact flash card arrived just as we were packing the truck with xc skies heading to Bryce Nat’l Park. It was Feb., 2000 and the D1 was going to get its first abuse in cold temps and jarring environments skiing the rim. It all seems like yesterday!

Why does this matter other than fond memories? I’ll be heading back to Bryce in a little over a week and while the landscape has not changed in those twenty years, one important thing has. Yes, this time I’ll have with me the mirrorless Z 6II (loaded with 1TB ProGrade CFexpress) and lenses, that’s not the big change. Nope, the biggest difference in this scenario is me!

There is no doubt that the Z 6II and mirrorless lenses will influence some of what I shoot, but it’s all I’ve learned and experienced since that February 2000 trip that will have the greatest impacts. That’s why prior to returning to any location where I’ve shot previously, I take time to go though my prior images. I go to refresh my memory of what I did right, what I did wrong, what I want to shoot again and perhaps come up with some ideas of how to tell the story just a little bit better. Our photographs are great helping us relieve memories, they are even better at teaching us how to improve our photography. Even if, it seems like yesterday!

Less … is More?

West Thumb Hot Spring, Yellowstone captured by Z 6II / Z70-200f2.8

We are so incredibly fortunate to have vast landscapes to get loss in, mentally take a long journey through and if all syncs up, put a camera to our eye and record that moment. Depending where you are standing, it can be visual highway of excitement or a void of space. Those busy places are a bit easier to arrange in the viewfinder I find, giving the viewer an overload to soak up. It’s those spaces void of recognizable elements that challenge me probably why I seek them but rarely come home with any.

West Thumb Hot Spring, Yellowstone captured by Z 6II / Z70-200f2.8

My journey through Yellowstone last month was special for many reasons, one was the quiet at West Thumb. There was basically no one in the park and with that, nature was able to blanket the region with snow that only the wind and critters explored. On the edge of Yellowstone Lake where it meets the heat of West Thumb, hot and cold meet and this past winter, the cold made a little headway into the heat creating these small windows into the lake. The light was pretty flat so the snow on the surface had no real texture. At the same time it permitted “seeing” into waters at the life below (there are fish there). These provided me these patterns that intrigued me so and as you walked about them, their shape would change. I do love snow and in this case, it left me with a photo opportunity where less … is more?

Finishing The Wave

Cape Disappointment captured by Z 6II / Z70-200f2.8

I received a bunch of emails asking about the wave images I posted on my IG account a few weeks back. The common thread was, “How’d you finish them?” The answer is really simple when you think about it, you finish them in post beginning with the light captured by the camera and then carrying that through to the print. Let me explain.

The Raw image from above

There needs to be some light, even the smallest amount coming through the wave. I selected this image to dramatically make my point as you can see the light on the horizon on the right. That light bleeds through the wave in the smallest amounts. That’s all you need as long as you finish for it.

The finishing for me starts and mostly ends in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw). It starts in the Basic Panel where the Raw file is loaded and my Preset is automatically applied. My Preset is simply the Standard Picture Control from the Z 6II. With that applied, I set the White & Black Point (Shift > double click on the White & Black slider).

Then the Contrast is added to separate the lights and darks of the wave. At the same time, the Clarity is moved forward. I work the two sliders in concert, one at a time until I get the look I want bringing a glow to the water. A tad of Dehaze is added and then the Highlights brought up by the above process are brought down a tad. Since I’m finishing for the light, it takes a matter of seconds. Then the image is opened in Photoshop.

This is where I do the last thing to finish the image. I run my Wave Recipe I created in Nik (here are all my Nik Recipes). And that’s it, that fast and that simple. The secret, shoot for the light, finish for the light. Hope the helps.

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