With the year winding down it is a good time to reflect on the year that was. I was fortunate enough to visit some pretty great places in the past year. Most of my travel was near the beginning of the year this year. Here are a few photos that I like that remind me how fortunate I was in 2013.

13.) The first picture on the countdown was taken from my hotel windows in Sacramento this past May. The Tower Bridge is an interesting structure, and the sun setting behind it makes for an even more interesting structure. The boat went through the frame at just the right time. This was one of those photos where everything seemed to fall into place. 

Sand Mountain in the morning

12.) Here is the first of a few photos from my Colorado trip last year. I really love the landscape out there, and I think that I could have filled up this countdown with a photos from the trip. This photo was taken on my last full day out there as I was eating breakfast. I kept seeing this scene out the window while I was eating. I excused myself from the table, grabbed my camera, and then walked out to make the picture. I then went back to my breakfast. I am sure that most people on the outside think that my behavior was pretty weird. I just saw it as a time to capture the scene while it was there.

11.) This is the first of three pictures taken in one morning at the Marin Headlands. I had a great time photographing the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise. I decided to see what was on the backside of the hill that I was shooting from. You have to walk through an old bunker to get there. Once through though a small clearing appeared. I thought this was a nice little scene. Something about what man has done to a great landscape. The beauty combined with the ugliness made this one of my favorite pictures from the trip.

10.) This picture was made just for the family that we were staying with in Colorado. I thought that the street sign in the middle of nowhere was pretty neat. Something about the picture spoke to me though, and it is one of my favorites from the trip.

9.) Here is another picture from my morning at the Golden Gate Bridge. After the sun had come up I moved over to the battery to make this image of the bridge. It is an iconic shot of the bridge so I used a little processing to make it more by own. This really is a beautiful structure, and the pictures just take themselves.

8.) Every trip to Steamboat, Colorado had to have this iconic barn in it while I was a kid. I was very excited to see the barn now as an adult with my current camera gear. The roof of the barn does not show it, but the snow was very deep that day. I was sinking in up to my hips with every step, but I made my way out to where I wanted to be to get this shot of the barn with the ski resort in the background.

7.) In February we went to Milwaukee to see some roller derby. To start our trip though we went to the Milwaukee art museum. This bridge connects the two buildings, and it is very photogenic. When the building is ‘open’ it is even more so, but I never saw that while I was there.

6.) This is the most recent photo in this countdown. I helped my brother move into his new house this past August, and decided to stop by Cataract Falls on my way home. The sky was very high, and I didn’t think that I would get any good pictures out of the trip, but at least I could scout the location. I ended up making some nice pictures that I was proud of. I really need to get back here again.

5.) This shot may not really be in my best 50 shots of the year as far as landscapes go. It was taken by me just after getting married though so the emotion of the picture vaults it into the list here. I was on a bridge in downtown Columbus, Ohio viewing art of all kinds. I saw the skyline reflecting off of the water, and I wanted to make a picture. I moved in between two photo tents to do so. It is a nice memory of a great weekend.

4.) While on our yearly trip to Ocean City this year I woke up early a couple of days to try and capture the sunrise on the famous pier. My first day I was shut out, but I made some interesting long exposures of the water. The next day though I was rewarded with a glorious sunrise. The interesting fact about this picture is that it was made with my point and shoot camera. While my main camera was taking a bracketed series on a tripod I went down to the water with the point and shoot to see how that view looked. This ‘test shot’ ended up being my favorite.

3.) This photo happened more by accident than anything else. I was out trying to capture the Milky Way with a camera that I had rented. I drove away from the city to have a better chance. The only problem with that is the fact that I didn’t know any of the ground I was now surrounded by. I had a few decent pictures, but nothing that I would publish. I decided to try a different way home, and that is when I came across this barn. The fact that you could see through it seemed to make it the perfect object to place in the foreground. I made my exposure, and I was thrilled with what I accomplished.

2.) Watching the stars out in Colorado is really something. I had never really tried an extremely long exposure photography before. The above picture was a half hour long exposure. I love the way that the stars circle my favorite mountain in Colorado. The cabin we stayed in also looks great off to the side. This was a trip to remember, and I would love to give it a try again.

1.) The Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise was probably the highlight of my year as far as shooting a landscape was concerned. In just a short period of time I was able to capture many images of this iconic bridge. This image though taken just after I arrived is by far my favorite. All of the colors seemed to blend together in a really fantastic way. When I thought of this list I immediately thought of this photo as #1.

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Photo of the Day

One night while racing back to get a sunset picture I was confronted by this scene on my way into the hotel. The sun was setting just so to allow a shadow of one of the ladies that greet you to land on the wall. The golden light and the shadow were enough to make me stop in my tracks and make this picture. This was one of those happy little accidents that really make the trip for me.

Technical Data

I really did not do much to this photo. A couple of tweaks in Lightroom were all that were needed. I love it when a picture like this is so easy to edit.

Photo of the Day

At the end of May I was in Sacramento to see the jazz festival and visit family. Sadly I enjoyed being at the hotel very much too. We had a great view of the Tower Bridge from our window. One night I raced back from the festival to get some pictures of the sunset. Most of those pictures were taken in landscape format, but here I decided to include the boats and parties going on right below us. The colors in the sky were amazing, and they played very nicely with the bridge.

Technical Data

This is a handheld three shot HDR image. The way that the window was designed I could not get my tripod close enough to it to avoid reflections. I had to handhold the camera. The images were processed in Photomatix Pro to get the 32 bit image, but then saved and opened up in Lightroom to handle the rest of the editing. I think the HDR image looks much more realistic when it is processed in Lightroom. The sliders seem much easier to use as well. Because of the dynamic range of the scene it took a lot of massaging to get this image to look this way.

the stroll

Photo of the Day

Here is another picture from the trip to California. One night we decided to go for dessert. We went to a place called Rick’s Dessert Diner in Sacramento. I did not know what I was getting into when I walked into the diner. There was a huge line, but the reward at the end was a great dessert. I had one for myself, and I got to sample another dessert. Both were delicious. This place definitely has to be on the list to visit every year. While waiting in line you walk right past an old jukebox. I loved looking at the names of the songs on old tabs, and it brought back memories. I had an idea for a shallow depth of field picture, and I think that this is very much what I was going for. A little piece of history to go along with a great dessert.

Technical Data

This was an easy edit. I just adjusted the highlights, clarity, and white balance. We were in line so I really had the time to get it right in camera. I love it when a picture is so easy. Another technical note is that this is yet another picture taken with my ‘new’ 24-70mm lens that I bought just before the trip. Yet again I go somewhere with a new piece of glass that I use way too much. I think that it worked beautifully here.

Photo of the Day

Part of the problem with this past trip to California is that I have a few pictures from both the Golden Gate and the Tower Bridge that I like. I want to spread them out a bit, but I feel that I have to show some of them before showing others. I thought that I would show this picture right away because of the speed that was needed to get it. We were at the Musical Festival in Old Sacramento when I saw the light was fading. I knew that I wanted to get up to our room quickly to get a picture of the sun setting over the bridge. When we initially checked into the room I used an app on my phone to see where the sun would set precisely. I was very pleased to see that it would set just to the side of the bridge. When you only have a couple of days at a particular location you have to hope that things work out in your favor.   This time things worked out. I even got a boat to come through at the right time.

Technical Data

This is a three shot HDR photo processed in Photomatix. I took the shots with a bias towards the sun so that it would not be blown out. I then took the 32 bit image that Photomatix gave me, and I opened it back up in Lightroom to use the sliders there. I love the power of those sliders in Lightroom. I worked them to bring out the detail that I saw in person that day. I have been using Photomatix a bit more lately since the trip to California. I may post a couple of images straight out of the program in the near future. After Photomatix I ran the photo through Color Efex Pro. I used the detail extractor preset that I have come to like as well as the glamour glow preset. I think that it improved the original picture very much.

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Photo of the Day

On our last day in California I was determined to soak everything in. Of course I had seen a few great bridges during our short trip, but everyday in Sacramento all I had to do was look out the window to see the Tower Bridge from our room at the Embassy Suites. This was no accident. When we booked the hotel we asked for this view. Over the course of the four days we were there I took a few pictures from our window. None of them spoke to me though like this one taken at sunrise on our last day. The sun had come up behind me, but the colors that it gave off were amazing.

Technical Data

This was shot with the intention of making a three shot HDR image. In fact I have included a version that is HDR next to this one in my SmugMug gallery. I liked the colors from this metered exposure better though so I decided to use it. I did use a preset in Lightroom though to get me close. I used Matt Kloskowski’s HDR Look (medium) to get it close, and then I tweaked the sliders to try and recreate the beauty of that morning.

Over the course of the trip I made many beautiful images with the 24-70mm lens that I had just purchased. I love the lens, but here I couldn’t zoom as far out as I would have liked. On a full frame camera that may have worked, but here it did not. I instead switched quickly to the 10-24mm Tamron lens that I have had for over a year. I really like the range it gives me, and it helped me get this shot. I only used a couple of lenses on this trip which just shows how much faith I have in those lenses.

red rabbit

Photo of the Day

Today I will be on my way home from California. Last year on the way home I took this picture just after arriving at the Sacramento Airport. When we arrived I was perplexed by this huge rabbit, but the excitement of seeing a new city was too much to stop me. I knew that I would be back in a couple of days. On the way out of town I did stop in order to make this picture. I have seen some interesting things in airports, but this one takes the cake.

If all goes well I will have a new image from the trip for you tomorrow.

Follow My Journey

This is my first trip actively using Instagram. If you want to follow along with my trip follow me on Instagram at pinolaphoto. During the trip I hope to show the journey as well as a couple of sneak peaks at what is to come on the blog later. 

Technical Data

This was shot in three frames at exposures of -2, 0, and +2 in order to fuse them in Photomatix to make an HDR image. At the time I thought my result looked too fake, and I didn’t like it. The beauty about technology is the way that it helps you see your vision through. I started using Lightroom after this trip, and with a little knowledge I was able to get the photo that I wanted originally. I still ran the three photos through Photomatix, but this time I saved the image as the 32 bit file. After re-importing back into Lightroom I was able to see the photo achieve what I had hoped. In a room that had a wide dynamic range of light I was able to bring all of that back to life. I love it when plan comes together.

stockton burger

Photo of the Day

Last year when we went to California we went to Sacramento right from the airport. We had an idea of a place to eat at, but it was not open. The next choice was this burger joint down the street. As we were leaving I wanted to get a picture of the place where I had my first meal in California. The picture above is the result. I am writing the posts that will show up during my trip early so I have no idea what my eating habits will be while out there. I do know that the burger here was a great way to start the trip off. I ate a couple of new things o the last trip so who knows what will happen this time?

Follow My Journey

This is my first trip actively using Instagram. If you want to follow along with my trip follow me on Instagram at pinolaphoto. During the trip I hope to show the journey as well as a couple of sneak peaks at what is to come on the blog later.

Technical Data

I was in the middle of my ‘HDR everything’ phase while out in California. Thankfully I also had just started shooting in RAW at the time. I took my metered exposure into Silver Efex Pro 2 to see what I could do. I love this program, and it gives me some great results. Here is a look at what the fine art preset in the program can do. I love the look, and I think that it needed no other tweaks to it. If you haven’t bought the program yet it is now cheaper than ever. It is well worth the money.

sac airport

Photo of the Day

Today I chose this photo of the airport in Sacramento because I am starting my own journey. I will be leaving Indianapolis about when this post hits on my way to Colorado. A short stop off in Minneapolis is all that stands in my way. I don’t know what kind of internet access I will have on the trip so I will have posts scheduled everyday on this blog. This is the first of those posts. I chose this photo because it symbolizes what a day traveling looks like. You hurry up to get to the airport just to sit and wait to be called onto your plane. From there you wait to take off. After that you find the baggage claim, and then wait for your bag to come through. The good news about travel though is that you can see some things that you would not normally see while doing it. Hopefully when I get back I will have some pictures for you that will last a while.

Technical Data

For this shot I fused three pictures taken on the scene into one HDR image. I ran the three shots through Photomatix to fuse them together. From there I tweaked the image to where I thought that it should be. From there once again I used Matt Kloskowski’s light sports preset on it as a starting point in Lightroom. I then tweaked it to taste to get the image that you see above.