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”

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Photo of the Day

This morning I posted an image made by Ansel Adams. I wanted to process one of my photos in a manner that I thought Ansel would have approved of. I have made many photos of Hans Peak in the years since I first saw it. Some might say that I make too many photos of it. I really think that it is an interesting subject from many different angles. For this photo I was lucky in the way that the light hit the mountain. Sometimes you just need a little luck on your side when you don’t have much time in an area. The conditions have to be right for the photo when you are there.

Technical Data

I think that this photo works so well here because of the lack of clouds in the sky. Had their been a few clouds this image would have not been the same processed in this way. I might have kept it in color. As it was I thought that a moody black and white would be perfect. I started out by using the Trey Ratcliff preset An Infared Morning on the image. From there I tweaked the sliders to get the look that I wanted for the photo. The last two that I worked on was the black and the white sliders. I wanted to get those just right. I think that the attention to detail here paid off.

Photo Sale!

This image and all of my others on my website here are now 50% off until Labor Day. I thought that after the long winter that we endured a photo sale was in order. If you like the photo above just click on it, and you will be taken directly to the image on SmugMug. If you just want to browse my online portfolio you can click on the link below.

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Photo of the Day

In January I was coming back from my hometown of LaPorte, IN when the sun was setting. It was really amazing, but I could not find anything in the foreground to add interest. When we were almost home I saw a small stream near the windmills. I pulled over to make this photo. This was a case of pulling over, making the picture, and then getting back into the car. I like the way that sometimes fate smiles on you, and this was one of those times.

Technical Data

I liked how this photo looked after I adjusted the sliders in Lightroom 5. I decided to take the photo into Perfect Effects 8 to see if I could make it look even better. By using a few presets in the program I was able to get the photo to look much better in my opinion. I love how you can add a preset, but then dial down its effect. You can just take what you want from it. It is a super quick way to add effects as you would with Photoshop layers, but without all of the work.

Photo of the Day

Last year was filled with many great moments. Many dreams fulfilled for sure. One of those dreams was to see the sun rise over the Golden Gate Bridge. I only had one shot at making a picture during the only morning that we were in San Francisco so I played it safe and went up high in case fog rolled in. I didn’t want to be low, and have no picture. What I saw up in the Marin Headleads amazed me. People were out everywhere making their own mark on this photo. I made this photo though after many had left. For some reason once the sun rises people leave. What they must not see or care about is the tremendous color that can still happen when the sun is low. The same holds true for a sunset. Most of the time the best color in the sky is after the sun has gone down. I like how everything seems to work here for a simple picture. This is not a gallery image, but it is a great reminder of a super morning.

Technical Data

For this photo I used one RAW file to take into Lightroom. Inside of that program I made a couple of adjustments to the sliders to bring out the colors and the detail in the scene. I also used the HDR look preset in the program to get started. From there you just have to adjust a few sliders to make the image appear as it did that morning. Your eye can see a much larger dynamic range of light than your camera can. That is where software comes into play. You can make up for that range with the tools that we now have.

Photo of the Day

About a year ago I spent a week out in Colorado enjoying the sights. We stayed in the small town of Hahn’s Peak which is just outside of Steamboat Springs. In an area like this you can literally point your camera in any direction and make an interesting picture. Here we have a scene that I was hoping would come to much more than it did. I thought that the entire cloud might light up giving me a fantastic picture. Sometimes though it is the subtle things that look the best. The way that they sun lights up the bottom of the clouds makes it appear as if a fire is heading towards Hahn’s Peak. I have come to really like this photo.

My brother is actually out there right now, and I am very jealous of him. For someone snowed in here in Indiana I really wish I could track through some of the deep snow to make some pictures of the mountains.

Technical Data

I waited a long time with my tripod ready to make this image. As I said above the sky did not pan out like I had hoped that it would. With that in mind I edited to make what did happen stand out. I brought the orange glow of the setting sun more to the front by adjusting the vibrance. I also adjusted the white balance a bit. This was a fun photo to edit, and maybe next year I can make a few more like it.

Photo of the Day

Yesterday I posted a picture of a warm baseball day for a couple of reasons. The first was because one of the guys that I grew up watching was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The second was a way to think of warm weather in the middle of a cold spell. I like a cold day, but when water freezes instantly when thrown into the air it is just too cold. As the snow started falling, and before the temperatures dropped I went out to make a few pictures. This small bridge at Happy Hollow Park seemed to be a great subject. With the weather deteriorating I did not stray too far away from home, but sometimes the best pictures are the ones closest to you.

Technical Data

For this photo I used the HDR preset look in Lightroom on the photo. If you read this blog very often you will know that it is one of my go to presets. I just like the look that it gives.

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.

Photo of the Day

I really have taken too many pictures of Hahn’s Peak in Colorado. I really love the way that the mountain looks, and I will probably take many more pictures of it before it is all said and done. I took this picture in July of 2010 when my brother was getting married out there. I went for a walk one day and was confronted with a new view of the little mountain.

Technical Data

This picture was taken well before I knew about RAW images or HDR techniques. If the sky looked flat I didn’t know how to pump it up. I used a Matt Kloskowski preset in called HDR Black and White (Strong). With a jpeg you really cant do too much to the photo  or it will really start to show. I quit while I was ahead here.

Photo of the Day

This is another picture taken at the Cataract Falls just over a week ago. With the high sky I did not expect much from my photos. I was really there scouting for a future trip. With my neutral density filter though I was able to slow down the water enough to make it interesting. I really need to invest in a darker ND filter so that I can create some interesting effects with the water. I thought that I would share this picture with you today, but expect some more pictures from the falls in the future. It is a beautiful place that I would like to visit many times.

Technical Data

This photo was part of a three photo bracket taken at -2, 0, and +2. I ran the photos through Photomatix. With most of my HDR work lately I have not used the sliders inside of Photomatix. For this picture I used a preset called ‘Basic Black Dress’ that I downloaded from Trey Ratcliff. I don’t use Photomatix presets often, but sometimes they work. On this very sunny day this one seemed to work very well for me. I then sent the photo back to Lightroom to make a couple of final adjustments to it. Overall I was happy with this result, and it was fairly quick.

Behind the Scenes Video

Here is a video that I took on the scene with my Nikon point and shoot of some of the sights and sounds of the falls. I have really enjoyed having a video of my shoots because it helps me get a little better. I hope that it shows you a bit of what I see on location as well.