Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Marine Iguana - 1D4, 70-200 II @ 150mm, f/5, 1/250s, ISO 400
I guess some mind find this little guy to be scary looking so it seems vaguely appropriate for a Halloween image.  Yes I realize that Halloween has passed for much of North America already but I've had an extremely long day so I'm cutting myself some slack. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Friends - 1D4, 70-200 II @ 168mm, f/5.6, 1/250s, ISO 100
I made this image about two thirds of the way into my Tanzania trip earlier this year.  We drove from our camp in the Southern Serengeti to the luxury lodge Belila and the on the way ran into several large groups of Zebra.  Unfortunately, I made this image mid day so it took some work to minimize the shadows and really highlight the wonderful contrast of the Zebra's stripes.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Snow Goose Landing

Snow Goose Landing - 1D4, 800, f/5.6, 1/320s, ISO 800
Continuing the avian theme from the last post, here's an image I made at Bosque last year.  Looking through the Bosque images, I'm getting an itch to return there this year.  If I do head there this year, I'll have to settle for using the 500 since my 800 was sold a while ago.  If you're interested in going to Bosque, make sure you check out this exchange that Artie Morris had with a refuge biologist.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Yellow-headed Black Bird

Yellow-headed Black Bird - 1D4, 800, f/9, 1/100s, ISO 400, flash fired.
Time to take a little break from the landscape images for an avian image.  I made this image of a Yellow-headed Black Bird on my trip to Lac le Jeune last summer.  The front porch to the hotel has many perches set up which are visited by lots of birds (especially woodpeckers).  If you're a birder, I highly recommend checking out Lac le Jeune in the June/July time frame.  Check with them first though to avoid the various photography groups going through there as it gets pretty busy then.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Convict Lake Sunrise

Convict Lake Sunrise - 5D2, 24 TS-E II, f/11, 3 panel stitch
I was at Convict Lake two weeks ago to catch a sunrise.  Unfortunately there wasn't much in terms of fall color activity there at that time but the hope was to get a pretty sunrise.  With no clouds in the sky, there wasn't a dramatic sunrise, so I had to settle for the image above.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Leica M9, 50 f/0.95 Noctilux, ~f/4, 1/180s, ISO 160, 5 panel stitch.
I am amazed each time I return to Alberta by the weather and in particular the cloud formations.  This image was taken in the backyard of my parents' house mid morning.  The swirls of the clouds were so pronounced that it immediately looked like flames to me.  I ran inside and grabbed my camera and captured this 5 panel stitch.  What was amazing was just how much of the sky was taken up by these interesting clouds.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Clearing Storm over the California Coast

Clearing Storm over the California Coast - Leica M9, 28 Elmarit ASPH, ~f/8, ISO 160
I am excited about this image for a few reasons.  Its my first official landscape release made with the M9.  Like all my officially released images, I have hand made a very large print to verify quality and this one is exceptional.  The lack of anti-aliasing filter on the M9 combined with the very high image quality of the 28mm Elmarit ASPH makes for a richly detailed image.

I am also excited because when compared to my previous image from this location, it shows just how different the light can be on the California coast.  There are many things I like about my prior attempt but I think this one edges it out slightly (only ever so slightly mind you).

Finally, I'm excited because this image was the result of 3 different exposures which have been fused together.  I've often said that I don't like the over the top HDR look, opting instead to use HDR to get around the dynamic range limitations of current digital cameras to produce a more natural looking image.

I made this image on a quick day trip to the coast almost two weeks ago.  My sister-in-law was in town and wanted to do some coast photography so I played guide, showing her some of my favorite spots near the Big Sur area.  We had to decide between this sea arch and McWay Falls for the sunset shot and she chose the arch.

Photographer at Work - Leica M9, 28 Elmarit ASPH, ~f/8, ISO 160
I set her up in what I think is an optimal spot for this place (except for taking the little foot path to shoot the arch from the other side which looked almost completely worn away from the recent storms) and set myself up in a different location to get a different point of view.

I very much intend to return to this area again in the future, hopefully when we have similar ocean and sky conditions to photograph the arch from the other side (assuming the little foot path is in better condition).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Reach for the Stars

Reach for the Stars - 5D2, 15 Fisheye, f/5.6, 12m x 3, ISO 100
Ever since I saw the first photographs of the Bristlecone Pine forests in the White Mountains I knew that I wanted to make an image at night with the stars.  The trip from this past weekend was another attempt and I got closer to getting the image I wanted, but still not quite there. 

My friend Greg and I went up and hung out by this striking pine well before sunset.  Though we wanted to do some nighttime shooting, we still ended up making a lot of frames while the sun was setting (those images coming soon).  My goal was to make an image with the milky way in full view and so I hauled my Astrotrac.  Unfortunately, due to the exceptionally bright moon and recent fresh snow fall the ambient light level was too high for a galaxy image and my Astrotrac flaking out was the final nail in that coffin, so I had to settle for some star trails. 

This image took quite a while to process mainly because I had some small registration errors in the 3 separate captures.  In addition, I wanted something that would print very cleanly even at large sizes and so ended up having to do a lot of chromatic aberration cleanup by hand.  In all the post processing took about 6 hours to do (including some tonal work to get rid of hot spots).  However, looking at the 24x36 print that now hangs in my office, it was worth the effort.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

South Tufa Sunset

South Tufa Sunset - Canon 5D2, Zeiss 35 f/2, f/10, 2s, ISO 100.  7 frame stitch, 4 stop grad ND
I returned on Saturday from a weekend in the Eastern Sierras.  A lot of the fall color wasn't quite popping yet, but the trip was still productive.  The first shoot of the trip was on Friday evening up at Schulman Grove which was very cool but a bit cold (more on that in a future post).  The last shoot of the trip was at Mono Lake.

That afternoon, my friend Greg and I scouted the area for the evening.  We wanted to go somewhere a bit different from where all the other photographers would be lined up (Mono Lake in the fall on a weekend gets very very busy).  When I first saw this scene, I knew immediately what I wanted to do.  Its been my experience from previous trips that its difficult to do an expansive landscape at the South Tufa area, but on this spot, if there weren't too many other photographers and the skies co-operated, it would be possible.  When we returned shortly before sunset, to our relief there was only a couple of other photographers at this location and there were clouds in the sky (improving the odds of dramatic sky color).  Sure enough, everything came together and I was able to capture the kind of image I had in my mind.

Since I was doing a panoramic with many frames, I wanted to capture all the information for one panel in a single shot.  I used a Singh-Ray 4 stop soft grad ND which was perfect to get the foreground and background illumination balanced.

I often get asked how much post processing I do on my images.  Its very rare that I adjust saturation in post (unless its to desaturate) and most of my work tends to be tone curve work, usually done locally.   I had to adjust some tones locally to account for some blending errors in the stitching algorithm.  A lot of the work was in getting the illumination more even across the frame (the left side was a bit brighter).

Here is the full set of adjustment layer work I did on this image.  As you can see a lot of curves layers and a lot of them masked with a very soft brush.

I have a 24"x46" print of this image hanging in my office and its pretty spectacular.  If you use the Zoomify version above you can see how much detail gets captured.  I don't know why the Zoomify colors are wacky, but the colors on the top of this post are the correct ones.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Moonset over Minarets

Moonset over Minarets - 5D2, 70-200 II @ 150mm, f/5.6, 20s, ISO 200, multiple grads and reverse grad.
That time after the sun has set and the sky takes on all kinds of beautiful warm colors is one of my favorites for landscapes.  I made this image from the viewpoint near Mammoth Lakes on such an evening and was fortunate enough to have the moon at the right place so that I could include it in the composition. 

I'm excited that I get to go shooting again this weekend, its been a couple of months since I've been able to get out for some dedicated landscape photography.  Now I just hope that the storm going through the sierras right now doesn't blow all the colorful leaves off the trees!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Toloumne Meadows Panorama

I made this multi-frame panorama early morning as I was heading back from Bishop this summer.  Toloumne Meadows was lush and green with many pools of water.  Zoom in above and you should be able to spot deer as well as a photographer working in the distance.

Technical: Leica M9, 50 Summilux ASPH, ~f/6.7, 1/500s, ISO 160.  6 frame panorama.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule - Canon 1D4, 70-200 II + 1.4x TC @ 280mm, f/5.6, 1/50s, ISO 200
Wow, its been a long time since I posted an Avian image, and an even longer time since I went out to photograph them. I photographed this Purple Gallinule in the Everglades in Florida back in February of this year.  I just love the beautiful colors of this bird and this little guy was very skittish, staying still for only a moment before taking off again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fall Color

Bower Ponds Fall Color - Leica M9, 35 'lux II, ~f/8, 1/180s, ISO 160
I had the chance (a very small one) to do some fall color shooting last week.  Unfortunately, timing wise, I was probably still about a week or two early but still, the colors were nice.

Bower Ponds Fall Color - Leica M9, 35 'lux II, f/8, (varying shutter speeds), ISO 160

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tioga Lake

Tioga Lake Thaw - Canon 5D2, 24 TS-E II, f/8, 1/160s, ISO 100
I took this image this past 4th of July weekend.  Due to the heavy snowfall from last winter, it look a little longer for Tioga Lake to fully thaw and this was taken as it was in the last stages of the thaw.  Whats amazing is that when we drove past the area again in a couple of days, the lake had fully thawed.

Stuck - Leica M9, 50 Summicron, ~f/2.8, 1/4000s, ISO 160
A couple of kayakers decided to risk getting stuck and we out on the lake.  One of them got stuck and it took him a few minutes to break free.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

White Ginger Dreams

White Ginger Dreams - Leica M9, 50 f/0.95 Noctilux, f/0.95, 1/1000s, ISO 160.
I don't do a lot of floral photography but I find that when I do these days I prefer to have an abstract feel to them, so I usually use a very large aperture.  I am also finding B&W florals to be a lot of fun as converting to B&W gives me a lot of tonal control.  In this image, but going to B&W I could really make the ginger flower stand out even though this was taken around 5:30 pm in the shade with just natural light.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The River Rushes

The River Rushes - Leica M9, 28 Elmarit ASPH, ~f/22, 1.5s, ISO 160
Well actually its more a stream, but "river rushes" sounds better.  I made this image earlier this summer when rushing water all over the Sierras was an easy sight to catch (due to the record snowfall this past winter).
The River Rushes (B&W) - Canon 5D2, 24 TS-E II, f/11, 2s, ISO 100
I ended up processing two different versions of this image, made with two different cameras.  I really liked the colors in the color one at the top (especially the color in the foliage) but I liked the vertical composition and tones of the B&W one above as well.  If you recall I posted an early version of this image back this summer when talking about using the Leica M9.  I chose to make the Canon image B&W because I just couldn't the colors to look right.

Its interesting, the sRGB JPG version doesn't do the colors justice, its much nicer in print as it is when viewing the original ProPhotoRGB file on my wide gamut display.

So which do you prefer the vertical B&W or the horizontal color image?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hidden Leopard

Hidden Leopard - 1Ds3, 500, f/6.3, 1/500s, ISO 320

For some reason, at this very moment I know several people in Africa.  Some are there because they are running workshops (you guys know who you are and yes I'm very jealous) and others just in vacation.  So hearing of people adventures, I thought back to my trip earlier this year and wanted to work on an image from that trip.  I remember being very excited at every Leopard encounter we had, even the ones where the Leopard didn't come down from the tree.  This was one of those encounters.  I think we were forced to eventually give up because of the time of day and crowds.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bison Grazing Under the Tetons

Bison Grazing Under the Tetons - Canon 1D4, 70-200 @ 70mm, f/5.6, 1/640s, ISO 100, 6 frame stitch
The Grand Tetons National Park is such  beautiful place that its difficult to make a bad image.  One of my favorite things about the park is seeing the wildlife graze in the plains below the rapidly rising Teton range.

Above is the full panorama shown with Zoomify so you can zoom right in on the Bison.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Two is Better Than One

Two is Better Than One - Canon 1Ds3, 70-200 f/2.8 IS II @ 70mm, f/5, 1/60s, ISO 100
What could be better than having a beautiful rainbow pop up after an afternoon of dreary overcast clouds and rain?  Two rainbows!  I made this image on the first day of my trip to the Grand Tetons this past June.  As I crossed into Wyoming from Idaho the weather got progressively gloomier and things were looking like a bust for the evening.  Fortunately for a few moments that evening, we did get some rainbow and interesting light.  The lesson to be learned is to go out and shoot even if things look gloomy, because sometimes it can change, even if its for a moment.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Bosque Sunrise

Bosque Sunrise - Canon 1Ds3, ZE 21, f/5.6, ISO 200, fusion of 5 exposures
I made this image almost as soon as we got to the "Flight Deck" on the third day of my trip to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge last winter.  I wasn't planning on going to Bosque this year but am now entertaining the thought.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Seattle Skyline 130mp Panorama

I made this 10 frame panorama of the Seattle Skyline last summer. I finished stitching it together but didn't do anything with it since the aspect ratio was so wide and one needs to see the full resolution version to appreciate it. It occurred to me today that I could use Zoomify to show it and so here we are. Be sure to zoom right in, there should be sufficient detail even though I set the JPEG compression fairly high to keep the size reasonable.

Technical: Canon 1Ds3, 70-200 f/2.8 IS II @ 200mm, f/5, 2s, ISO 100. 10 frame stitch in Photoshop CS5.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Dawn of a New Day

Dawn of a New Day over Emerald Bay - 5D2, 24 TS-E II, f/22, 2s, ISO 100
I really love it when a concept image I have in my mind ends up coming together.  I saw this pull out overlooking Emerald Bay when I was in the Tahoe area back in June when returning from my trip to the Grand Tetons.  I had spent that morning shooting Eagle Falls but afterwards when I drove past this pull out I knew exactly the kind of image I wanted to make in the few seconds just after the sun would rise. 

So with that in mind I set out early one morning in late July, getting to the spot around 5:30.  I quickly found the composition I wanted and knew that I would need heavy filtration to get what I was after.  In the end, the sun came up exactly where I was expecting to and ended up making the image I wanted. 

A natural question that comes up is whether the reds and purples in the sky are 'real' or whether they were achieved through digital manipulation.  The answer is no in both cases.  These colors are the result of me using a strong reverse grad filter stacked with a strong soft grad filter with the camera set to daylight white balance.  If I had shot film this is close to what I would have gotten.   I did add a tinted a virtual grad filter in Lightroom in post to balance out the lake however.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is probably one of the most visited sites on the Mayan Riviera. It was about a 2 hour drive from where we were staying and was very hot and humid.

After getting there, we got a very nice tour of the area along with some interesting bits of information about the Mayan culture of the era.

Human sacrifices and the end of the world in 2012 are probably two of the most commonly associated things with the Mayan civilization. However, the obsession with tracking time and the precision to which they built their structures is impressive.

Also interesting is the different ways in which the end of the Mayan calendar can be interpreted. One interpretation, the most popular is that it signifies the end of the world literally. However, a more plausible explanation is that it simply signifies the end of an era in the Mayan calendar system.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Bonsai Rock in Afterglow

Bonsai Rock in Afterglow - 5D2, Zeiss 50, f/5.6, 30s, ISO 100
This past weekend, I was in the Lake Tahoe area mostly on a family vacation.  However I had Saturday evening and Sunday morning available for doing some landscape photography.  Since I'd never seen Bonsai Rock, that was my subject for Saturday evening.  Getting down to the shore was a bit of a challenge since I didn't know there was a direct path leading right to the optimal spot to photograph this scene.

I worked just as the sun started to set but my favorite images are definitely from after the sun had set, with the long exposures smoothing out the water and the pinks and purples in the sky. 

The water level was quite high in Lake Tahoe, no doubt partially because of the record snowfall this past winter so a lot of the surrounding rocks were submerged.  I'll definitely have to return here and re-photograph this scene.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Go Wide

Just before leaving work yesterday I met up with a friend from work who is also a Leica shooter.  He wanted to try out my 21mm Summilux and I wanted to try out his Voigtlander 12mm lens so we wandered around the basketball court on the 6th floor of the Adobe buildings shooting random targets.

I've never been much of an ultra wide angle photographer but working with the 12mm was a lot of fun, especially when you get really close to your subjects.

Whats even more amazing is the optical performance of this lens especially given its small size (compared to DSLR lenses) and cost (compared to most Leica lenses).  I just may have to get one for myself.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sandhill Cranes at Twilight

Sandhill Cranes at Twilight - 1Ds3, Zeiss 21, f/5.6, 25s, ISO 200
I made this this after an evening shooting at the "crane ponds" in the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge last December.  Once the sun had set all the other photographers left and it was just our group, but before packing up I wanted to create a long exposure image with the cranes and the fading sunset light.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

One Way Conversation

One Way Conversation - M9, 50 Summilux, ~f/4, 1/500s, ISO 160

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Family Afternoon Nap

Family Afternoon Nap - Canon 5D2, 24 f/1.4 II, f/9, 1/125s, ISO 100
We found this pride of lions in the morning and spent a lot of time with them including what looked like was going to be an epic battle between them a group of hyenas (but didn't end up happening).  That afternoon, we returned to the area we knew they would be and found them all resting under the shade of an Acacia tree.  We spent about an hour with them here but none were too inclined to do anything interesting.

Looking back on my Tanzania images these last couple of days, I sure do miss it.  Can't wait to return, but sadly it will be some time before that happens.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Eternal Embrace

Eternal Embrace - Canon 5D2, 24 TS-E II, f/8, 1/60s, ISO 200
Over many centuries these two Bristlecone Pine trees have come together and are now locked in embrace which will likely outlast all of our lifetimes.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Marine Iguana on Isla Seymour Norte

Canon 1D4, 70-200 II @ 200mm, f/11, 1/400s, ISO 400
I wanted to take a break from working on landscape images so I went back to look for an image from the Galapagos I hadn't yet work on and found this one.  I just don't get tired of Marine Iguana images, in fact I think they're my favorite subject from the Galapagos. 

I made this image on North Seymour Island which is a small island just off the north shore of Baltra Island.  Though the bulk of the time at North Seymour was spent with the Blue Footed Booby, we did run into a bunch of Marine Iguanas near the end of the hike.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Evening Storm over Grand Teton

Canon 5D2, Zeiss 21, f/14, 0.4s, ISO 100
I made this image on the last evening at the Grand Tetons about a month ago.  Cloud cover meant we wouldn't get the pretty sunset we were hoping for but the clouds were layered just enough to still give a little bit of drama.

Ed returned to this area on a subsequent morning and made a panorama which I like very much.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lambert Dome Through the Trees

Canon 5D2, 24 TS-E II, f/14, 1/50s, ISO 100.  Fusion of 3 exposures.

On my drive through Yosemite last Thursday I made several stops looking for images I could use with water.  This image is probably my favorite from the day through the Tuolumne Meadows area.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Its Flowin' in Yosemite

Unnamed Waterfall - Tioga Pass - Canon 5D2, 24 TS-E II, f/10, 0.4s, ISO 100

I returned to Yosemite and the Bristle cone pines the last couple of days.  Unsurprisingly the water was flowing quite heavily all along Tioga.  I stopped at a few places to make some images and this unnamed (at least I couldn't figure it out) waterfall was one of the most spectacular right along the Tioga Pass highway. 

Sadly, I didn't have very much luck with weather so my plans for the images I wanted to make with the Bristle cone pines didn't happen.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Half Dome & El Capitan

I am heading out on a trip through Yosemite and to the White Mountains today, so it seemed like an appropriate day to release a new image of Half Dome & El Capitan. This trip will mostly be a scouting trip for future dedicated photographic trips, though I'm bringing some new gear which I'm excited to try out.

The above image was made during my trip to Yosemite in February this year. The warm evening light bathed both Half Dome and El Capitan with just a hint of purple starting to show in the sky.

Technical: Canon 70-200 @ 70mm, f/5.6, 1/5s, ISO 100. Grad ND filters were used.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


I hiked up to Berry Creek Falls yesterday which is in Big Basin Redwoods State Park (7.6 miles round trip). Its been over a year since I've hiked, but I managed do it in 3 hours and 45 minutes (including a couple of photographic stops).

It seems there has been a controlled burn in areas of the forest as I saw many burnt and blackened trees.

Fires in a forest are a part of the cycle of growth and controlled burns are usually done to avoid more devastating wild fires. I could see it working with lots of signs of new growth all over the place.

Unlike previous years, this time I left the DSLR at home taking only the small Fuji X100 with me. All the images in this post were made with this camera hand held. Its not a perfect camera, but I didn't have a 20lb pack on my back and the quality of the images are great, so I'm pleased with its performance.

One of my favorite spots along the hike is a relatively flat area about 2/3 of the way to the falls. The ground was carpeted with clovers.

I also saw my first Pacific Banana Slug, very colorful.