Monday, July 29, 2013

Garrapata Beach Fixtures

Garrapata Beach Fixtures - Alpa STC, IQ180, 32 HR, ~f/22, 20s, ISO 35
I hadn't made too many long exposure images until fairly recently.  But inspired by some of the work I've seen by +Josh Haftel and his minimalist long exposures, I decided to give it a try at the coast this spring.  At just 20 seconds, this isn't that long an exposure but its enough to smooth out the water a bit.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Attitude - 5D3, 400 f/2.8 IS II, f/10, 1/500s, ISO 500
Following up with more wildlife with attitude, there's few that can match the Rock Hopper Penguin.  The combination of the punk rocker "hair" and the yellow brow that pops out is just awesome.  I spent hours with a couple of colonies of Rock Hoppers on Sea Lion Island in the Falklands.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


#1 - 5D3, 17 TS-E, f/13, 1/40s, ISO 100
Look at these two characters, especially the little one which has attitude.  I generally wouldn't recommend getting this close to cows.  In my case, it was about 7:30 AM and I was returning to my car after doing some photography at Garrapata Beach and there was a gate to presumably ranch land with some cows in the distance.  I generally ignored it and started packing away my gear, but then a few of them started approaching the gate.  Not to waste an opportunity I quickly attached the widest lens I had with me, crossed the road, held the camera as low I could with the lens sticking through a space in the gate and fired off a few shots.  The cows were backlit so I knew I'd end up blowing out the sky but it wouldn't matter.  I experimented a bit, I had initially wanted the sun in the frame with a sunburst but any images with the sun the frame had so much flare it was a total loss.  This is what ended up working out and even though there is still some flare, it isn't that bad.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Canola and Clouds

Canola and Clouds - Fuji XE-1, 18-55 @ 18mm, f/7.1, 1/340s, ISO 400
You just don't get to make images like this in the bay area.  A field of canola flowering with a storm off in the distance slowly closing, love it.  I printed this one this evening making a 16x24 and I'm pleasantly surprised at how well the details in the canola came out.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Nuzzle - 1D4, 500mm, f/7.1, 1/1600s, ISO 400
Looks like this was the summer for a lot of friends to head to Africa including +Vic Gundotra+Chandrashekar Raghavan+AJ Asver and +Jon Emerson to name a few.  I've seen them post their images and it motivated me to go back and find something from my 2011 trip to process and post.  This is what I found and again I'm amazed I didn't work on this image sooner.  I am starting to run out of Africa material, I think its time to return to the continent to get more images :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Horsetail Falls under Cloud

Horsetail Falls under Cloud - Sony RX-1, f/8, 1/320s, ISO 100
This was the result of some drive-by photography.  I rarely do this, choosing usually to work a scene slowly and methodically.  I find that I usually need some time at a scene to perfect my composition and experiment to really get an image I'd be happy with.  Usually its images near the end of a shoot (when I go back and process) that I prefer.  This was a different case.  I had been up at Tunnel View to make some black & white images of the Yosemite Valley with all these clouds following a late night storm.  After wrapping up there I noticed that clouds were rising up very quickly from the base of El Capitan and so went back to the car and wanted to make my way there because there was a specific image I had in mind I wanted to make there.  When I entered the valley, on the way, I saw this scene in front of me.  The light was diffuse, there were layers and I just couldn't resist.  I didn't want to fully stop, and do an actual shoot because I really didn't want to miss what I'd noticed at El Cap.  So I pulled the car over, lowered my window and took a quick snap.

The reason I chose to not work here was because I felt like this area was a one shot kind of place.  There was only one place to set up your tripod and really only one shot to make (well two if you wanted to do something tight with the falls).  I knew that with the open meadows under El Cap, I would have the freedom to move close and pull back and be able to experiment more.  When I scout locations to shoot, this ability to experiment is something I tend to look for and prefer over places that are canned one shot places.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sail Boats

Sail Boats - Fuji XE-1, 18-55 @ 55mm, f/9, 1/800s, ISO 200
On a ferry ride, I saw these three boats slowly coming up to the starboard side and with the great clouds in the sky I knew I wanted to pull in as much of it as I could.  I'm not sure exactly why, but the "rule of odd" says that for a natural and pleasing composition you should choose to have odd number of main subjects.  In this case thats 3.  Its not a rule I follow that closely; I've made interesting images with just 2 main subjects and sometimes 4.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Food Trucking Under the Trees

Food Trucking Under the Trees - Fuji XE-1, 14mm, f/3.6, 1/210s, ISO 200
We stopped off in Portland for lunch yesterday as we make our way home.  On a recommendation from +Brian Matiash we parked near Alder and 10th and checked out what must have been over a hundred food trucks.  The variety was incredible with all kinds of cuisines represented, many multiple times.  Some more interesting ones I remember seeing was an El Salvadorian truck, one from Georgia (the country not the state), Philippines,  one serving good old Poutine, as well as a truck dedicated to grilled cheese sandwiches.  It was great grabbing some food and walking over to adjacent O'Bryant Square to enjoy our lunch as many others were doing.  Will definitely have to return to Oregon, in addition to some great landscape photography, now I have a reason to visit the downtown.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Wires to Protect

Wires to Protect - Fuji XE-1, 18-55 @ 37.5mm, f/9, 1/105s, ISO 200
We made our way to Seattle today on a very pleasant ferry ride to Anacortes from Sidney.  The weather was beautiful, cool, scattered clouds and a little breezy.  Having a little bit of time on our hands, we walked around Ballard Locks (they are actually Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, which confused me greatly but locals call them Ballard Locks as that is the name of the neighborhood).  As we walked up to the area I was curious why these wires were placed here, they didn't seem to serve any purpose.  I then discovered that they were there to protect the young Salmon who get spit out disoriented and in that state are easy pickings for a quick meal by a bird.  The wires keep the birds at bay giving the Salmon a chance to reorient themselves making things a bit more fair.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Butterfly on a Leaf

Butterfly on a Leaf - Fuji XE-1, 60 macro, f/2.4, 1/280s, ISO 200
Yesterday was our day to hang out in Victoria.  We started the day off at the Victoria Butterfly Gardens, which we enjoyed as much as the kids.  I find butterflies challenging to photograph.  You need to get close to them because they are small and the close focus distance makes the depth of field really narrow.  For this image, I pulled backa bit because I found the shape of the end of the leaf to be interesting.  That increased working distance gave me enough depth of field to have more of the butterfly in focus.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Chocolate Cosmos

Chocolate Cosmos, D800e, 70-200 f/4 VR @ 200mm, f/7.1, 1/50s, ISO 1600
Victoria is the next stop in our trip and after taking the ferry from the Vancouver area to the island, we visited Butchart Gardens, one of the iconic places to visit on the island.  The gardens are very impressive and the attention to detail that they pay is nothing short of incredible.  If you visit Vancouver Island, this place is worth it even if you aren't a garden fan.

My wife absconded with my XE-1, so I grabbed the D800e with the 70-200 to make a few images.  My wrist was starting to ache at the end of the evening carrying that combo around, but the files really are amazing.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

BC Place and Skyline at Sunrise

BC Place and Skyline at Sunrise - D800e, Zeiss 15, f/8, 4s, ISO 100, 3 panel stich.
I got up at 4 AM yesterday morning (don't ask) and ended up near downtown Vancouver.  Since its rare that I'd be up at that hour I took the opportunity to try and do some sunrise photography.  Doing some research with Google, I settled on trying to photograph parts of the Vancouver skyline from across False creek.  I wandered around the area and eventually found this scene with BC Place and the sun in the frame.  Even with a 15mm lens, the scene was so wide that I had to stitch together 3 frames.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Brandywine Falls

Brandywine Falls - D800e, Zeiss 15, f/5.6, 4s, ISO 100
Brandywine Falls provincial park is on the way between Whistler and Vancouver.  We arrived at the park around 10 AM and it took about 10 minutes to walk out to this spot.  I'm not a big fan of photographing landscape subjects in full sunlight.  If I can't photograph a subject during the "prime" hours (around surnise and around sunset), then I look for subjects in the shade.  When we arrived exactly half the falls was directly sunlit and the other half in shade, so I chose to keep walking to the end of the trail to see what else was there.  When we came back to this spot 30 minutes later, it was a bit better with more of the waterfall in the sun but still not ideal.  However, without the time to wait, I had to make do with what I had and try to compensate for the difference in tones between shadow and highlight as much as possible in post.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Sometimes a Plan Doesn't Come Together

- Fuji XE-1, 18-55 @ 18mm, f/5, 1/20s, ISO 200
Whistler, the famous ski village was the next stop on our trip yesterday. We got into town just in time to have dinner and there with an hour to do before sunset, I figured I could find an interesting composition incorporating mountains, a lake and a pretty sunset. I did my homework, using The Photographer's Ephemeris to look at where the sun would be setting and finding candidate spots. I drove out and the first one wasn't readily accessible and the next one had a series of private driveways also with no easy access. Finally, I managed to find a way to get to Rainbow Park and a quick scout revealed a nice dock where I could capture the image I wanted. The sun was going to set in 15 minutes so I set up my gear, got the wide angle set up, my composition prepared, all ready for color. Alas, the drama I wanted never appeared. For a brief moment, the pillar of cloud pictured of above was lit up red.  Its position ruled out the super wide angle ruled out, I just got out my XE-1 and grabbed a quick hand held shot. Oh well, can't win 'em all.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Takakkaw Falls and Yoho River

Takakkaw Falls and Yoho River - D800e, Zeiss 15, f/11, 8s, ISO 100
After nearly a week of rest, relaxation and enjoying mom's home cooking, we set out on the road again.      We stopped in Banff for lunch, visited Lake Louise, but it was Moraine Lake that I was more impressed with from a photographic standpoint.  There were lots of opportunities to make interesting images incorporating leading lines or a rushing river.  However, once again I didn't bring my big boy camera and worked just hand held with the Fuji XE-1 (we'll see how those images turn out).

We spent a lot more time at Takakkaw Falls and this time I brought my bag of big cameras and had a great time exploring various compositions incorporating the Yoho River (like above), or trees or just the falls by itself.  This was in the late afternoon (which doesn't help much with the light because the sun sets at 9:45), but it was a partially cloudy sky with clouds occasionally obscuring the sun.  All you had to do was wait for the ideal light.  I used a Heliopan 10 stop neutral density filter to blur out both the river and the falls with an 8s shutter speed.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Prairie Storm

Prairie Storm - Fuji XE-1, 18-55 @ 18mm, f/7.1, 1/200s, ISO 400
How far along are we with the mirrorless revolution?  Is it upon us?  Started already and fizzled (check  out the CIPA report for mirrorless growth vs. SLRs last year)?  It seems that not a day goes by that there isn't another blog or social media post about something related to mirrorless cameras.  Dave Hobby and Zack Arias have very loudly proclaimed their love for the Fuji mirrorless systems (interchangeable and the X100 series).  Yesterday, +Trey Ratcliff posted a piece on the story behind him saying goodbye to Nikon for the Sony NEX system.  This is something I hear about often, though its usually well known photographers adding a mirrorless system to complement their existing setups.

Its +Brian Matiash's thoughts on Trey's posts yesterday that vaguely ties all of this to the image of the prairie summer storm I made yesterday.  Brian got a Sony NEX-6 several weeks ago but ended up returning it, for the reason (as he says) of FOMO, fear of missing out.  I've been familiar with mirrorless cameras since one of the very first mainstream ones the Olympus Pen EP-1 and have used ones from all the major manufacturers on and off since then.  Similar to Brian, I too have FOMO and also haven't found the perfect system yet.  I'd like an APS-C sensor manufactured by Sony, Olympus sensor based image stabilization and focus speed, Fuji lenses and ergonomics.  I just can't seem to win.

Now I'm about half way through my road trip through western Canada with my wife and kids and because of my FOMO, in addition to a compact Fuji X kit, I also brought my medium format system and an SLR system.  I'm happy to say that I've used them all so far (another one of those weird obsessions of mine where I get irritated if I've brought something along I don't use).  Yesterday afternoon, as my wife were heading out for a quick bit of shopping, I saw a storm approach and in the last minute just grabbed my small Billingham bag containing my Fuji kit.  We drove out about 30 kilometers from Red Deer along a rural road looking for some interesting compositions and I found a couple including the image above.  I didn't use a tripod or filters or cable release, I just framed and fired off a few shots, bracketed so that if the dynamic range was too high I could try and HDR.

I'm pleased with this result, I like the composition, I like the drama of the storm clouds, the color of the grass in the foreground and using Irident Developer for RAW conversion and working carefully in Photoshop, I'm pretty sure I could get an A3 print out of this I'd be happy with.  However, as I was driving down that road, I kept kicking myself, why oh why had I not grabbed that large Bataflae bag with the big boys in it.  That angst eventually passed and in the end I was glad that I had at least had the Fuji kit with me; if I didn't I would have to make do with the camera on my phone.

So what is the point of all this?  I like mirrorless systems, they are small and compact.  I've used my Fuji  XE-1 for a lot stuff so far on this trip, especially family pictures.  However there is no way I'm giving up either my medium format rig or my 35mm DSLR systems (anytime soon that is).  FOMO is a part of it, but so is the experience of making photographs (especially with the technical camera).

Thursday, July 04, 2013

River and Sky

River and Sky - D800e, Zeiss 15, f/8, 4s, ISO 100
You are driving through Glacier National Park, its about 11 AM, the sun is blasting everything in sight and being on a road trip with family you are desperate to make any kind of image, so what to do?  Slap on a 10 stop neutral density filter, slow that water down and try to make some layers which is what I tried to do here.  The places to position my tripod were limited (there was a warning telling people to not go beyond the railing which I obeyed) and I wanted to have a layer of moving water, rocks, trees and finally sky with cool clouds.  I wish the branches in the top left weren't there, but I could find no way to position my camera to eliminate them.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Last Light

Last Light - Alpa STC, 32 HR, IQ 180, ~f/11, 1s, ISO 35.
These are the last rays of direct sunlight illuminating the mountains in the far distance as well as a touch on the hills in the lower left.  This was the location where I was hoping for some dramatic sunset color near Waterton National Park.  It became clear fairly quickly that I wouldn't get the kind of color I was looking for but the big boy (my medium format camera) was all ready to go so I tried to do the best I could.  While processing this image, I really liked how it was turning out and didn't mind the fact that there isn't drama in the sky.  The combination of blue and green with just that hint of orange/red warmth really works for me.  Then there's the incredible detail (click through to view this in the G+ lightbox with zoom and pan), picking out abandoned barns in the distance and wildflowers in the foreground.

In contrast to the previous image I posted, this one has no HDR, this is a single exposure.  I used a 3 stop reverse graduated neutral density filter to keep the tonality even over the frame.  I used Capture One for the RAW conversion, my converter of choice for Phase One images.  Just a touch of Pro Contrast with Color Efex Pro and a little bit of sharpening and this was ready to go.