Archives for August 2011

An Early Morning Surprise

I was up at my usual o’dark thirty somewhere in the middle of the night night working on my latest book (coming to stores near you Nov 11); when I saw a flash out the corner of my eye. I wondered who else was up at this otherworldly hour but went back to work. Another flash distracted me a short time later. This time I got up to see who was outside. I couldn’t see anyone in the dark so I went back to my computer and no sooner got settled when I saw another flash. Determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, I turned the lights off and went to look out the window when another flash illuminated the world in it’s brightness! Lightning! Right outside my living room window! Get out! This doesn’t happen in Oregon (at least not very often) and when it does, it’s very short lived so I sat back to watch and see what would happen. Five big bolts later found me scrambling in the dark for my camera. I set up right there in the living room with it’s elevated position set the camera to manual>BULB (I didn’t even take time to get the Lightning Trigger out), manual focus>infinity, f11 and clicked. The shutter had not been open long when a brilliant bolt flashed…click! Nailed it! Unfortunately it was behind the neighbors trees but, hey, we had lightning in Portland at 4:30am and I was up to not only see it but catch a few bolts on my CF cards as well. What fun!…

Nikon D3S, AF-S 28-300mm VR

Mom, you would have liked this late night lightning adventure. I didn’t even leave the house!

Flower Power B&W

You might be shaking your head over the title of this blog. B&W of such colorful subjects as flowers? And Dahlias no less with their brilliant color palette…

That’s just the point…Dahlias with their colorful patterns make dramatic graphic B&W images. Even if you don’t know the nuances of a good B&W you can make some down right respectable B&W images using NIK Silver Efex Pro 2. The really cool thing is the preview window and the filters for tweaking the contrast and tonal ranges. There are sliders for contrast, exposure and structure that when moved give you a preview of the effect so, you simply adjust to your own style. As for the colored filters, you don’t have to have a background in B&W to get the hang of the filters. Simply click on each one to see what the effect is on your image and select the one that you like the best. By simply clicking on two different filters, I was able to make two very different images of the same flower…

Silver Efex Pro 2 Neutral with Structure increased, brightness increased and the red filter applied

Silver Efex Pro 2 Neutral with Structure increased, brightness increased and the blue filter applied

The differences are not drastic but each image does have it’s own look. Neither is right or wrong, it’s simply which effect you prefer. The red filter gave the image a soft dreamy sort of look with no real contrast and the blue filter made the image more dramatic with greater contrast, deeper blacks. And for those of you who don’t care for B&W, that first color image is no slouch either.

A Glowing Review

I h=am very honored to have such a glowing review of my book on Composition from Peachpit Press. You can read it here and you can buy it here. Many thanks to my co-writers…John Batdorff, David Brommer, Rick Rickman & Steve Simon for helping to make it such an instructional book!

Falling Water

With two days of flowers under our belts I suggested that we head to the Columbia Gorge to work some different subjects…waterfalls! Yeah, another of my favorite subjects (of which I do have many). Once again, Ann approached a new subject with careful thought given to composition, exposure and mood. We would each compose a scene and then we would look into each other’s viewfinders to see a different perspective. I would make a suggestion or two and we would proceed with our image making each incorporating our own style into the mix. I have visited the waterfalls many times and while I still love them each visit, I am challenged with finding new ways to photograph them. Well, the photo gods were smiling on us with blue sky and white clouds (not a frequent occurrence here in Oregon:) ). Ann had noticed a shot on the way down to photograph Latourel Falls and when we had finished our up close shots we stopped to work the scene. The exposure range was greater than I could capture in one click. I could crop out the top of the waterfall but, that would defeat the point of shooting from this location with the great sky and the light on the upper falls. So, I decided to do a five frame bracket with 1 stop increments. Photomatix Pro did the rest. I simply added a few finishing touches and the end result…

Nikon D3S, AF-S 28-300mm VR

We continued on to Multnomah Falls where I decided to try a multiple exposure (an in camera 5 frame multiple exposure). I set the camera to shoot five shots and turned the Auto Gain on to let the camera to the exposure crunching for me. Why did I do a multiple exposure? I was trying to see what the effect would be on the water; a sort of blur effect through cumulative exposures overlapping each other. It has a sort of HDR look to it. I played with a few different shutter speeds for effect. I think the technique has promise but, I will need to work on it some more before I feel that I have it figured out…

Nikon D3S, AF-S 28-300mm VR

While I was looking for new compositions I still could not pass up one of my trademark shots of the blurred water falling over rocks. Multnomah Falls has a new look since the big rock fall of ’95. There is a new section of rock where the water cascades over it creating a beautiful silky layering effect. I had to shoot nearly 100 images to get the water to fall just so on the rocks and to keep the curtain on the right from obscuring the subject. I feel it was worth it working the shot until I got just the shot I wanted. I left a little of the blue cast in for effect. I feel that it adds to the mood of the image…

Nikon D3S, AF-S 28-300mm VR

Ann and I would get together to discuss a composition or exposure situation and then she would go off and make her own images which I have to say continued to impress me with their excellence. Want to get those creative juices flowing? Grab a buddy and get out shooting. The energy will come.