Yesterday we made our way to Lake Freeman to spend some time with family. It is always a relaxing time, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that my phone gets horrible service there. I actually had it turned off for much of the trip so there were no distractions. I need to start doing that more. As the sun started setting though the phone came back out. I did not bring a camera with me to the lake so I had to use my phone to photograph that amazing sunset that we saw. The sky was beautiful in multiple directions making the decision of where to shoot hard. I ended up just waiting for boats to make the choice of where to shoot for me.
The Week In Photos
Last week was a fun week. It started off with some birthday fun, and then went right into college football season. I couldn’t think of a better way to cap it off than the sunset at the lake. You can view some of my favorite photos from last week here.
Last week I spent quite a bit of time near the Wabash photographing the wildlife there. I had some fun seeing the eagles, herons, and everything else that calls the Wabash home this time of the year. One of the days a large dump truck came into one of my spots on his horn. I knew that it was the end of the wildlife for a while so I moved about a bit. I saw this scene driving by, and I came back to make this photo. I love the symmetry all around here. The twin bridges moving off into the distance, the sky nearly matching the river. It was just a cool scene to me. I knew that with the color of the Wabash that I would be converting to black and white so I metered with that in mind.
An HDR Image That Does Not Look HDR
When this blog was in its infancy I often made photos that looked very fake. There was something in the HDR process that I liked to crank up. As time has gone on though I have found a way to have the best of both worlds. I get the look that I like, but it is in a very believable photo. This is done very simply now. I take my three photos (in this case they are metered at -2, 0, +2) into Photomatix Pro. I merge them there, and then when the 32 bit image pops up I save the file to a tiff. This was the point when I would have gone on with Photomatix to make something much too dreamy. I open the 32 bit tiff file back up in Lightroom to use the sliders there. What I end up with is one very large file with a lot of data. I can pull things out that would have been lost in any one photo. This is the way that I prefer to do this now, and I think that it works very well. What do you use on a scene with a lot of dynamic range?
Yesterday I made another trip to the Wabash to see what was happening in the morning. The critter world must have decided to sleep in as nothing was happening on that end. The sun did decided to peak out though on the water. The warm rays of the sun created a nice effect on the ice cold water. The Wabash is getting close to freezing over. The icebergs floating by are getting bigger everyday. I chose this spot because the animal tracks take you right down to the river and the steam. I like things that lead you into the photo, and here the animal really does.
Always Have a Backup Plan
The last couple of days I have not done so well with the eagles. With that in mind I know that it is a hit or miss proposition. The other day when we saw one that caught a fish right in front of us it was very lucky. I usually have something else to try while I am there so it is not a wasted trip. I took my Canon 5D Mark III with me knowing that I might have a great morning shot if nothing else. Had I just been single minded I would have just had an iPhone shot of this moment.
Yesterday I went back to the Wabash a couple of times. The first was at first light in the morning. With no signs of life I decided to try again in the afternoon. I did see a couple of eagles in the afternoon, but they were out of camera range. I did have some fun photographing some herons as well as some sea gulls that were fishing in the river. An unexpected development was a squirrel that ran in front of me. It hid behind a tree, and I guessed where it might pop out. I guess right, and I made the photo. It was a nice keeper from a day that did not have many.
Using the Sigma 2x Teleconverter
I shot everything yesterday with the Sigma 2x teleconverter on my Sigma 300mm lens. There had been a point where I quit using it thinking that it made my images a little soft. This was not for pay though so I did not mind a little test. I found that on the LCD screen that the photos looked alright for the most part. When I pulled them up in Lightroom I noticed that they did look a little soft. I think that for now the 2x tele will be retired. It does get me much closer to the action. It does get me about 288mm farther than the 300mm with the 1.4x converter on it coupled with the 1.6x crop factor on the Canon 7D II. That is quite a bit. If the images are not sharp though it is not worth it. Tomorrow I will try again with the 1.4x converter on the lens.
In early 2006 I went with some of my co-workers to Las Vegas for a conference. One day I went off on my own to see the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. I took the boat ride on the lake, and up to the dam. I made many photos with my point and shoot camera on that trip. Just before leaving I bought a new piece of software called Microsoft Photo Suite. It had a built in panoramic function in it. I made many images on the trip knowing that I would stitch them together as a panoramic image. This was the trip of the panoramic image. I don’t know if I have made as many since as I did on that short trip. I kept using the Microsoft program for the sporadic panorama that I would make up until a couple of years ago. I was shooting a point and shoot in auto so the pano is not perfect, but it is a nice memory of a beautiful place. If the photograph can bring back the great memory of the trip than you don’t have to have it perfect.
My Favorite 14 Landscape Photos From the Past Year
Last year was a year in which I did not get out as much as I had in the past to make photos. Taking care of a one year old kind of took me out of that ballgame. With that said though I made some great photos with a great subject in front of me everyday. It is a good trade off for sure. I did get out to make some photos though. A couple of quick trips to Pennsylvania and Maryland helped me get some landscape work in this year. Here are my 14 favorite photos from this past year.
14. This photo is here for one reason and one reason only. I made it with my step daughter as we enjoyed a beautiful sunset out of our front door. She had her camera and I had mine. We both made a great picture, and a great memory.
13. This was one of the coldest winters that I have known. One cool thing (no pun intended) to come out of that was the first sun dog that I had ever seen. It takes a lot of variables to be right to get one of these. I was at home with a limited view of it, but I tried to frame it the best that I could. This was the type of year that you could throw boiling water outside and watch it disappear. I don’t know if I am ready for that again.
12. While in Ocean City this past year I played around with some familiar concepts. I had my 10 stop ND filter to use so I tried to smooth out the ocean. That is not an easy task when it is roaring, but a 30 second exposure will do that. I bought that ND filter with big things in mind, but I really have not used it that much. When I did though it was very cool to me. Many of the photos on this countdown will use that filter.
11. This little church on the corner is one of my favorite subjects. I usually find a way to test out new equipment on the beautiful old church. A couple of weeks ago I was going to do it again when I realized that it was in the middle of being painted. I think that part of the charm of the church was the fact that it was not perfect. I will have to go back to see what it looks like now.
10. Somehow I found a way to make sure that my step daughter made it into this list. During this 30 second exposure she was running around inside the frame, but never stopped so you can’t see her. Unless of course you notice that ghost in the background. This was another time where the 10 stop filter really made a scene much more dramatic.
9. I was not on the ground for very long in Pennsylvania this past summer. When I was there were things to do that had nothing to do with photography. I did manage to get out and make a few images though. When I saw this barn I knew that I had to photograph it. I think that I wasted way too much time finding my way back to it, but the end result is not too bad. Continue reading “Top 14 Landscape Photos of 2014”
Yesterday was a day to make some photos. During the day I went out with my daughter to see how far the leaves have come. They really have come a long way in a short period of time. It won’t be long before they are off the trees now. At night I went to campus to shoot some portraits with the university as the backdrop. I was not looking to make a photo like this when I set out, but when I saw it I had to give it a try. The storm clouds were rolling in, and a lot of the leaves on this lake were turning. I have photographed this small lake a few times, but none since my photo 365 project ended. I come from a city with many lakes. The lack of public lakes here in town make it hard on me. I will have to go out of my way to find some more water shots before the leaves are gone. I like the idea of this shot, but I could use a little more color in it.
I have only stayed the night on Lake Freeman once, but it was a magical night. A clear night with very little humidity allowed the stars to shine. With very little wind the lake was so calm that it mirrored the scene above. I probably spent more time looking at the stars that night than actually making pictures. Shooting stars were all over the place, and it really was a sight to see. This one night on the lake really made me want to spend several nights out on the lake.
Shooting the Stars
To make this shot I set my tripod up on the edge of the pier. This really is not an ideal spot to set up as the pier can move, but with all of the double decker piers lined up it it is the only way to make a clear picture like this without a distracting foreground. I made sure that I had my white balance close which I normally do not worry about. For some reason I decided to do so that night. As I talked about earlier on this blog it was a good thing as I was just shooting jpegs that night. My camera only had the SD card in it that I have set for large jpeg. My CF card slot was empty which normally shoots full size RAW images. The fact that I was able to use several shots from that night speaks volumes to why you get it right in camera. Had I relied on fixing it in post I would not have been able to salvage most of the photos from that night. It is also a good reason to always check your gear. Just because it is saving images does not mean that it is saving them the way that you want it to.
Last Thursday I stayed up way past my bedtime to photograph the stars over Lake Freeman. They were out in force, and it was a beautiful sight to look at. I grabbed my camera very quickly along with my tripod. I set up to make this picture, and I was very happy with how the first iteration looked. I decided to change the white balance in the camera to what I thought that it should be. The photo then looked much better. I usually just fix it in Lightroom as it is easy to tweak there. For some reason I decided to do it on site just to see what it would look like. That was a good thing because I did not have my CF card in the camera so all I was recording on was my SD card which shoots in large jpeg. That makes editing hard, and takes away some of the power of Lightroom. I was basically left with what I captured on the scene. I made some photos of the Milky Way that night with the expectation of bringing out more detail in Lightroom. Shooting a jpeg made sure that I could not really do what I wanted to do here. The moral of the story is to always check your camera before shooting. I was in a hurry, and I did not. It cost me a couple of pictures this time. This photo of the moon setting though was luckily saved. It is also shows you how good the 5D Mark III is that a jpeg file can be used from it.
Editing the Night Sky in Lightroom 5
Since this was a jpeg I really did not want to push it too far. I adjusted the highlights and vibrance slightly. I also brightened up the exposure a bit. That was really all that I felt comfortable doing to this photo. I really think that I was pretty close on the scene so I did not have to worry to much about post. This is one more reason to get it right in the camera. Sometimes when I make a photo I know that there is something that I will fix in post. Here I knew that I could get it there on the scene. A few extra minutes there helped me later on.
Today while at Camera Outfitters I saw that they are having a Macro Workshop on July 26th. They are having it at Bennett’s Greenhouse which should be a great spot for a workshop. I have something going on that day otherwise I would love to attend. A representative from Tamron will be there with some demo macro lenses that I would love to try out. You know how I like to try out new equipment. If you want to go you can jump on their Facebook page here or call them to reserve a spot at 765-449-4494.