Red River Rocks!

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When Drew from Red River Paper asked me if I would give some of their papers a try I jumped at the generous offer. I already use their Aurora Fine Art card stock for my greeting card collection so I was familiar with the quality of Red River paper. When the delivery truck pulled up with a big box of papers of various sizes and types I simply downloaded the appropriate profiles from the Red River website and set to printing. I found the stock profiles to be right on the money for color and brightness making the job a smooth process. I even found that images matched when I switched between Aurora Fine Art and Polar Mat and from one size paper to the next. Red River Paper gets my vote for quality and value.

Then & Now, My Evolution As A Photographer

I’ve been going through my files as I work on lessons for upcoming workshops this fall and I found an image of Bass Harbor Head Light from DLWS Maine 2005 where the exposure range was beyond what the camera (D2X) could handle so I photographed it twice, one exposure for the foreground as metered and one for the sky with exposure compensation dialed to minus three.

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As metered

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Minus three exposure compensation

I knew that I could take the images into Photoshop and blend them to expand the range of exposure into a single image. I hate to admit how long it took me to painstakingly blend the two images together manually using the Brush tool. If you look close you will see that I missed several spots where the sky meets the trees and the darkest shadows still don’t hold any detail. However, blend the two images I did and then finished it off with a couple of Adjustment Layers fine tuning a couple areas. This was like serious magic…digital photography was opening doors to techniques that allowed us to extend our shooting hours and to capture images that held more detail than we would preciously have hoped for. I was pretty darn proud of myself for producing the image below…

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Fast forward two years to DLWS Maine 2007 and we found ourselves back at Bass Harbor Head Light. Once again the exposure range was beyond what the camera could handle. Only this time, instead of taking two images at varying exposures, I knew that I would need more information to get the most out of the scene so I set up my tripod, composed the image (slightly different from two years before) and captured four exposures, beginning as metered and dialing in minus one stop of exposure with each progressive capture using exposure compensation to darken each image more that the last. While I had an inkling that I could do better than my previous attempt, I didn’t know exactyl how to go about it so, the images were filed away and actually forgotten.

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As metered

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Minus one exposure compensation

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Minus two exposure compensation

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Minus three exposure compensation

Fast forward two more years and here I am going through my files when I come across the images once again. Knowing what I know now about blending images using dedicated software to do the heavy lifting, I opened the files and went to work. After a few minutes of chugging away, the blended image appeared on my screen. Moving a few sliders and making an adjustment here and there, I ended up with the following image.

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Not only have I learned to blend images together using new technology, I have some additional finishing touches up me sleeve these days. Using a couple of my favorite NIK Color Efex Pro 3 filters, I ended up with the final image.

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Is this the best I can do? I don’t think so. I am really looking forward to revisiting Bass Harbor Head Light as once again DLWS heads to Maine next month. I have a better process for capturing the various exposures that I will need to blend an image together and I learned new finishing techniques. This is one of the many reasons that I love being a photographer in the digital age. My learning process has grown expotentially with the instant feedback, software and knowledge I have at my fingertips.

Where do I learn my techniques? I get out and shoot as often as I can, I attend Photoshop World (I also teach there now), I teach at DLWS where I am constantly learning from my fellow instructors as well as the students and I play…yes, play (what else can you call what I do) both in the field and in the digital darkroom. It’s so incredibly rewarding to live the life I do…traveling to wonderful locations, capturing the beauty of the world, taking those images back to the digital darkroom to finish them and seeing the final result of my vision as the paper feeds through my printer.

Images captured with Nikon D2X, AF-S 12-24mm on Lexar digital media.

Childhood Haunts

I made a quick trip to Salt Lake to visit family and while there we went for a few rides to locations I had not visited since I was a kid. Talk about flahsbacks! The memories came flooding back as we turned corners and familiar scenes popped into view. We packed a picnic and headed up to Midway to enjoy the Quakies (my favorite trees) one afternoon…

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We had a special treat when a cow Moose wandered into view and paused to look at us before moving on.

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One of our favorite weekend camping adventures when I was growing up was the Uintas (a quick couple of hours from SLC). I hadn’t been back in decades so, we decided to take a drive. Of course, there were more Quakies to photograph along the way…

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A stop at Provo River Falls brought back many memories…

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With camera in hand, it was fun to capture images from locations of my youth. Now when I want to take a quick trip down memory lane I have the photos to take me there.

Images captured with Nikon D3X, AF-S 70-300mm (midway images), AF 16mm fisheye (quakies), AF-S 14-24mm (Provo River), on Lexar digital media.

Dahlia Daze Too

Every time I go to the Dahlia Farm, I pass this very cool old tractor advertising tomatoes…today the conditions were right so I had to stop and photograph it. I knew in advance that I was going to make this one abstract. I captured the image with a Nikon AF 16mm fisheye lens using five frame bracket in one stop increments, handheld. Next I ran the five images through Photomatix Pro to blend the exposures. I used Photoshop plug-ins NIK Color Efex Pro 3.0 to finish the image giving it that surreal look. Finally, I took the image into OnOne PhotoFrame 4 to add a custom frame and the final result….

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Once I arrived at the Dahlia Farm, I took my fisheye into the fields trying to capture a different look…

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This morning was overcast which was a nice contrast from a couple of days before. I love overcast days for photographing Dahlias. The large softbox in the sky provides a very nice, diffused light. I simply exposed for the flower, added a flash dialed way back to minus to remove the color cast and the results…

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Having photographed dahlias so many times, I was looking for a different approach…so, I added all three Kenko extension tubes to my Nikon AF 200mm micro to get even closer so I could photograph the small world reflected in a water drop…

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Dahlias are so brightly colored that you normally don’t think of B&W but, their graphic patterns make for great B&W subjects. I photographed the flower in color and using NIK Silver Efex Pro 3.0, I converted this image to B&W…

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There’s nothing like a great morning shoot followed by a creative session in the digital darkroom to get my engines revved up! Summer time is flower time so, what are you waiting for….get out and smell (photograph) the roses!

Images Captured with Nikon D3X, AF 200mm f4 Micro on Lexar Digital Media. Finished using NIK and OnOne plug-in filters. (Use the discount codes to the right for a savings when you purchase NIK or OnOne software)