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.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Boarded Up

Boarded Up - Leica M9, 50 Summicron, f/8, 1/180s, ISO 160.
I made this image back in July of this year on a visit to Bodie State Park.  I usually decide if an image is going to be converted to black and white at the time I make the capture.  In this case, I was unsure.  I really like the various colors but also knew that I could use the color to manipulate the tonal relationships in the image. 

Boarded Up - Leica M9, 50 Summicron, f/8, 1/180s, ISO 160.
Once I created the black and white image above, I had the tones where I wanted them but I missed the pop of color in the original image. 

Boarded Up - Leica M9, 50 Summicron, f/8, 1/180s, ISO 160.
I then thought, why not combine the two.  Use the black and white image as luminance but maintain the colors from the original.  There are a couple of ways to do this in Photoshop.  You can just put the black and white image on top of your color image and set the blend mode to "luminosity".  Or you can convert the image to LAB and replace the L channel with the black and white image.  The two don't produce the same output though (the underlying math is different) and I preferred the output of the LAB method. 

So what do you think?  Which do you like better?  The original color, B&W or the "colorized B&W"?

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.