Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Revisiting an Old Image

The above image is a re-processing of one I took nearly four years ago. It was taken at Sunwapta Falls in Jasper National Park. If I made this image today I would have definitely treated it as a monochrome, the original version doesn't have a lot of natural color. It was an overcast day (the best kind for shooting waterfalls, in my opinion) so I got lucky there.

Here is the image as I originally had processed it back in 2007 with Lightroom 1.0

I like the composition of the image, its not perfect but it works. What I didn't like was the bit of geometric distortion and I thought the water didn't have enough texture and was too hot. The geometric distortion gets easily knocked out with the profiles built into Lightroom 3 and getting the right texture in the water was using a local adjustment brush increasing clarity and contrast and lowering brightness. There were also some dust bunnies to clear up and unfortunately the original image was captured at 1s without a tripod (I held the camera firmly against a railing) which meant careful sharpening in Photoshop. A total of about 15 minutes of work later:

Of course I prefer my new version. What do you think? Also, its clear to me now that this is a weak color image since color isn't really dominant visual element and the texture in the rock really comes through better in monochrome.

Technical: 1D3, 17-40 @ 19mm, f/22, 1s, ISO 100.

Monday, May 30, 2011


There has been quite the epic thread on the Fred Miranda board for the last week discussing the image quality of the Canon 100 f/2.8L IS lenses versus the Zeiss 100 f/2 Makro Planar. Since I own both lenses, I've tried to present data in an objective manner. I've starting putting some of it together on my 'Reviews' page.

This morning, we had some soft light due to clouds so I grabbed a couple of images of Chrysanthemums growing in the front yard. I then figured I should do some real photography. The above image was made from a burst of 9 shots, taken at f/2, hand held, manually focused. The images were focus stacked in Photoshop CS 5.1. I used a Zacuto Z-Finder attached to the back of the 5D2 and I have to say that I'm really liking it for hand held manual focus photography.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Structured Chaos

As I walked along the trail at Point Lobos State Reserve and came across this tree with all the moss and lichen growing on it, I knew this was the image I wanted to make. The trick was to find a framing I liked. This was on the first images I made, none of the other compositions ended up working.

Technical: Canon 5D2, Zeiss 100 Makro Planar, f/18, 0.8s, ISO 100.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Two Marine Iguanas

Another image that was left unprocessed from my trip to the Galapagos last year.

Technical: Canon 1Ds3, 500 f/4 IS, f/10, i/800s, ISO 400.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Muscovy Duck

I took Maya to the Palo Alto Baylands duck pond yesterday afternoon for a little stroll. I recognized this Muscovy Duck from last year and it seemed very tame so I approached it carefully and managed to fill the frame with the duck (on a X100 which has the field of view of a 35mm lens). It was partially cloudy yesterday too, leading to some really soft filtered light.

It is said the best camera is the one you take with you and that was true for me here. In spite of whatever shortcomings the X100 may have, it fit in my jacket pocket, so it came with me. If I didn't have the X100, I wouldn't have brought anything.

Technical: Fuji X100, f/4, 1/640s, ISO 200.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Zebra Stampede

Watching Zebras drink is a blast. They'll rush into the water, drink for a little bit and then all rush out. If you camp out for a while you can watch them do this over and over again.

Technical: Canon 1D4, 70-200 f/2.8 IS II @ 200mm, f/16, 1/25s, ISO 100.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Snow Goose Approach

I am definitely de-emphasizing avians in my photography; my last avian trip was in January and I have no Avian trips planned for the year. I made this image last December at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge and figured I would finish working on it to something different than landscapes.

Technical: Canon 1D4, 800, f/5.6, 1/500s, ISO 800.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Black Elm under Half Dome

I scouted Cook's Meadow the evening before I made this image and knew when I saw the black elm and where the sun would come up that I wanted to do something with the elm back lit. Unfortunately, the sky was completely uninteresting and there was no fog but still I managed to get what I had in mind. Flare was definitely a problem and part of the reason this is in black & white.

Technical: Canon 5D2, Zeiss 50 MP, f/22, 1/13s, ISO 100.

Sunday, May 08, 2011


You didn't think I'd finished with all my Tanzania images did you :)

I made this image on the afternoon game drive during our second day in the southern Serengeti. We had spotted this pride of lions that morning and after spending a couple of hours with them in the morning, we returned to see if there would be any activity in the late afternoon.

For the most part, they weren't very active, though the entire pride got very interested when they spotted a couple of Giraffe walking by in the distance.

Technical: Canon 1Ds3, 500, f/10, 1/320, ISO 1600.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Waves - Garrapata State Beach

I made this image a few weeks ago at Garrapata State Beach. There was unfortunately a cloud layer low on the horizon which kept the sunset from being spectacular but we still had some really nice colors. As you can probably guess I had to stand in the water to make this image, unfortunately I wasn't wise enough to realize that I should have removed my boots first.

Edward got a couple of images of me while I was working (note the heavy use of filters , I love filters for landscape photography).  Also check out the workshop recap.

 When the waves started getting larger or my feet started to freeze, I had to bolt.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Swarm

Hundreds of red-winged black birds and Orioles take off and land in unison in this corn field at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico.

Technical: Canon 1D4, 70-200 IS II @ 70mm, f/6.3, 1/200s, ISO 100.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Golden River

I mentioned in my last post that the sunsets and sunrises at Yosemite this past weekend weren't that great. So in the afternoon, I focused on producing images with the river rushing by and reflecting the golden light on the mountains behind. I played around with several different exposure times to find one with just the right amount of kind of movement.  I didn't like the totally abstract compositions, and found a clump of grass and tried to incorporate it into the composition.

Technical: Canon 5D2, Zeiss 100 Makro Planar, f/20, 5s, ISO 100.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Circles over Upper Yosemite Falls

I love it when a plan comes together. If you don't know where that catch-phrase is from, you're probably too young to have experienced the A-Team in the 80s. I watched an episode recently and was struck by just how terrible it was. Alas, I was only about 6 then and there's no accounting for taste for a 6 year old.

My trip to Yosemite this weekend was probably the least productive of my photo trips. All the sunsets and sunrises were duds, I suspect due to the fact that there was not a single cloud over much of California.

However, I noted before leaving that the moon would be up during the day, leaving night time moonless. Since the sky was clear of clouds, I figured I'd at least try to do some star trail photography. Based on where Highway 140 was relative to Upper Yosemite Falls, I figured it would be the right subject. So during the day on Saturday while walking around the area with the family, I used the compass on my phone to figure out exactly where I wanted to be and which direction to face.

That evening I drove out to exactly the right spot, set up my tripod pointing in the right direction and was shooting in less in 5 minutes. I also knew I wanted the star trails to play a dramatic role in the image, so I knew I wanted to use my 24mm tilt/shift lens and shift up. The biggest challenge was acquiring focus, which I did just by trial and error.

One thing I wasn't sure about is how well the waterfall would be illuminated. I got lucky there with the light from the camps below providing just enough illumination to balance things out.

I took 10 minute subs, each at ISO 1600 and f/8 (to account for the error in focusing). I only had time to make 5 sub-images (for a total exposure time of 50 minutes) before the fatigue of having gotten up at 4:30 that day got to me. I'd love to go back another moonless night to make 3 hour exposure.