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 took this photo a couple of weeks ago while I was out enjoying the 5D Mark III. The sky was not as great as I would have liked, but you can’t always pick what days you will shoot. I only had the camera for a few days so I had to make pictures while I could. I saw this little scene while driving, and I decided to give it a try. I liked the layering in the scene very much.

Technical Data

As I said above I did not like the sky very much here. That is when I decided to try something new here. I took the photo into Color Efex Pro to try some edits. I applied the detail extractor and the brilliance/warmth filters to the image. I then used a graduated blue filter to give the sky some drama. It may be a little over the top, but every now and then I like to try something new. This was a great way to spice up a dull sky. I brought it back into Lightroom for a couple of final touches before posting it here.

Photo of the Day

The area around Fowler is a great one for photography. When the  Canon 5D Mark III arrived last week I got in the truck and headed that way. I love the windmills, farms, and more importantly the theater downtown. It has that old time look that you just don’t see anymore. I wanted to give this photo a look that would bring out the beauty of the old theater.

Technical Data

This photo went through a couple of phases of processing. I ran it through Color Efex Pro from Nik Software. I used the detail extractor, and the tonal contrast presets to get the looked that I wanted. I then ran it through Silver Efex Pro from Nik as well to convert it to black and white. I used the Fine Art Process filter there to give it this clean black and white look. I then took the photo back into Lightroom to perform a small crop. There was some unnecessary items in the top and side of the photo that I just took out.

Photo of the Day

Here is another shot from Ocean City. This carnival ride really looked good to me. I knew that I wanted to make some pictures of it, but without a tripod I couldn’t do the long exposure that I was thinking about. This year I may just cart the tripod around the boardwalk so that I can get the pictures that I had in my head. The boardwalk is an amazing place that I think can provide some interesting images. We will see in a couple of weeks if that is the case.

Technical Data

This is a three shot HDR that was edited in Photomatix. From there I took the photo back into Lightroom 5 to use the sliders there. I did run the photo through Color Efex Pro by Nik Software to punch it up a little. I used the brilliance/warmth, detail extractor, and the glamour glow filters to give it some life.

The Color Wheel

Photo of the Day

This photo was taken on my first night in Ocean City last year. I was walking around the boardwalk when I saw the sky lighting up. Most people point their cameras towards the sunset, but the color was great the other way. I knew that I would not make it to where I needed to be in time to make a picture from the side of this ferris wheel so I took the picture from where I was. I like the look of it, and I know something else that I would like to try when I visit the boardwalk this year at night.

Technical Data

This photo was processed using Color Efex Pro by Nik Software. When I first used the program I don’t think that I realized just what it was capable of. I never tweaked the presets, and I did not even realize that you could stack them. Two of my favorites are detail extractor and glamour glow. I usually run the glamour glow at about 50% opacity. It just seems to add a nice look to the photo. The detail extractor really seems to help things pop. When I brought the photo back into Lightroom 5 I used the light sports preset to sharpen it a bit. I toned the preset down a bit just so that it wasn’t over the top.


Photo of the Day

Part of the fun of visiting Columbus this past weekend was the area our hotel was in. Columbus really has done a great job with what they call the Arena District. This is a great area that was once a penitentiary. It is nice to see that the city took that ground and made something beautiful out of it. Where we stayed in Columbus was very much in the Nationwide area of town. As you can see here much of the scene has Nationwide written on it. What you can’t see is that the road is also named Nationwide. This is a beautiful part of town that I would love to visit again.

Technical Data

This picture was taken on our way back to the hotel after dinner. I was going to take my camera bag with me, but I settled on one lens and my camera. Of course the sky would be awesome on the way home leaving me wishing I had my tripod and another lens. I made the best out of the situation though. I wanted this scene shown a little different, but I turned my camera so that I could at least get the two important components of the scene in it. I liked what I saw in my camera, and I knew that I had a shot for the blog. The main problem here was noise though. Shooting handheld I tried to walk the fine line between the noise of a high ISO, and the need to keep the shutter speed within my handheld range. I shot this at ISO 800 which I thought served to helped me get the picture with the least amount of noise.

I shot three images here with an HDR situation in mind. I often do this, but lately I haven’t been making the HDR image. I find that Lightroom helps me get the metered exposure looking very much like the scene did in real life. Here though I knew that the varying light would be impossible to capture so I would need HDR. The three shots were taken at -2, 0, and +2. I exported the images from Lightroom into Photomatix to get my merged image. I saved the 32 bit file, but I also tried to see what I could do with the tonemapping tools inside of Photomatix. I did get an image that I would have loved a year ago, but it looked a little too fake for me now. I did save it though thinking that I might be able to used some of the texture from it.

I brought the image back into Lightroom to use the sliders there to bring back the rich colors I saw that night. I loved how it looked, but I felt that it needed some more texture to it. I opened up Color Efex Pro to see what I could do. I applied the detail enhancer filter at 100% and the glamour glow filter at 50% to the image. Sending those back into Lightroom I realized that I had just made my noise problem a little worse. I then used another Nik plugin called Dfine2 to get rid of the noise. It is not completely gone, but for the sake of an internet picture I think that my job was done. All of this post processing might have been the result of watching the Trey Ratcliff HDR Tutorials again. For some reason they always make me work a little extra on my photos.

Lightroom 5

This is the first image that I have worked on using the just released Lightroom 5. I had used the beta a bit to see what the new tools could do, but I did not want to import everything into a beta so I had not used it in a while. While I didn’t use all of the tools that were now available to me I did enjoy the sleeker look of the program. I might have to go back and find some older pictures to jazz up using Lightroom 5.

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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mccovey cove

Photo of the Day

Today I thought that I would share a little different photo. I normally worry about all of the details inside of a baseball stadium. This past spring taking pictures of Purdue baseball I was consumed with getting the peak action. While visiting AT&T Park in San Francisco I knew that I had to turn that off. I wanted to try some new things to see what I could do. When I saw this boat coming into McCovey Cove I knew what I wanted to do. I actually ran ahead a bit so that I could frame this shot up. I wanted the boat in the foreground with the scoreboard and some of the details of the stadium in the background. At the end of the day this is more of a snapshot from my trip, but it was something that I don’t see everyday at the ballpark. I will have some more photos from the ballpark in the future I am sure. It was a beautiful sight, and it made for some great images.

Technical Data

I tried a few things here to get what I wanted. I kept going to black and white using Silver Efex Pro because of the lack of clouds in the sky. I finally decided to try something in Color Efex Pro 4 to see what it could do. I stacked two filters together to bring the scene together. I used one called detail extractor that does exactly what it sounds like it does. I also used one called brilliance/warmth that brought out some of the colors of that fading sun. In the end I liked the way that I was able to keep the scene in color. Normally I will make a picture black and white with this sort of sky, but for once I was glad to keep the color. When I brought the picture back into Lightroom I upped the highlights a bit more to bring out the detail even more.

ross ade pan

Photo of the Day

Today was a day spent clearing some space on my computer. When I first bought this computer I was in the middle of a photo 365 project with a full time job, and many other things keeping me busy. I would take my pictures, pick the best one for my post, edit the photo, and then post it. The rest of the pictures have just sat on my hard drive until I ran out of room. Today I cleared over 40GB of space off of my computer very easily. Of course in making the photo above I added some back to that.

This picture was taken as Purdue was playing Penn State this past November. I wanted to show the view from my seat as the sun was going down. It was too overcast to get too much color in the sky, but it was still a very cool sight. Purdue was pinned back near it’s own end zone, and I thought the pano would also show just how far that they had to go. After a few months of waiting I have finally gotten this pano made.

Technical Data

This was a panoramic made from 12 pictures. I had my 18-135mm lens on the camera, and I turned it to landscape mode to make the images for this. I started from my left where Purdue was in there own end zone, and worked my way to the right. I have always used Microsoft Photo Suite to make my panos. The program is from 2006 so I thought that I have to find a better solution that was a little more current. It turns out that when I bought Photoshop Elements 11 when it was on sale that I bought my solution. They have a process called Photomerge that did a great job with this pano. I stitched them together without to my eyes any ghosting. It was a longer process than I am used to, but the end result was fantastic. The photo still needed a little punch after being merged so I ran the photo through Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 4. This was a new product that I just bought last night when I saw that it was part of a formerly high priced suite that was now just $149. That does not sound too cheap, but for what you get it is an absolute steal. I used the detail extractor preset in the program. It seemed to just add that punch that I wanted to achieve. From there I took the file back into Lightroom to perform my crop. I am used to cropping in Lightroom so it made sense to do it there. I love how this photo turned out, and I may have to attempt a few more panos now that I know that I have a great program to make them.