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Welcome to today’s post. This is the seventh, and I hope final, attempt at this post. I hope you enjoy it. PLEASE click on images – they appear much better in the lightbox.
I love movies. When friends hear this they are quick to respond, “Ohh. Did you see so and so?” Most likely it will be a first run movie so the typical response from me is, “Nope, I haven’t yet.” I’m cheap. I wait for it to hit the Riverside Theater or show up someplace on the Internet. Suffice it to say that The Big Lebowski still sits near the top of my all time favorites. Another little know fact about movies in the theater – you can get a great idea about how good the movie will be by the quality of the previews.
A stranger joined me at Panorama Point, where these images were shot. Since I never caught his name, I’ll refer to him as The Dude. He pulled out his camera and snapped a few shots early, before sunset, and then headed back to his car. I couldn’t let him do that. I knew what was coming. The first image, the Preview, was too good. So I just blurted out to him, “Dude, the movie hasn’t even started yet. You need to stay another 20 minutes. Trust me on this. We’re just getting a preview of what is to come.”
And with The Dude I stood and made the uncontrollable, audible “ohhhh and ahhhh” noises. The sky began exploded around us. All the way around us. I find awe in those moments of twilight when the sky is in a real-time perceptible state of change. Most of us on any given day may not even give a glance to the sky. Those of us who do are probably considering whether it will rain. Furthermore, during most of the day the sunlight is hitting clouds from above, masking a majority of the character, texture and detail that exists in them. When the sun gets low a few things happen: First, the sun position is changing rapidly, creating rapid change in the circumstances. Second, the clouds are lit from the underside, giving rise to a much greater level of detail, contrast and character. Last, the light warms up in color.
The sky is changing right before your eyes. The color is changing. The texture is changing. It is real-time. It is like watching a movie plot unfold. The first image was a great Preview. The second (and other variations I shot during this 20 minute flick) was the main show. They were shot 15 minutes apart. Nothing perceptibly changes between noon and 12:15pm; it happens in those waning moments of before sunset and into twilight.
I hope for drama and beauty in my landscape images, but also for some relationship between the drama in the sky and the rest of the landscape. I got that in today’s images. As The Dude (in The Big Lebowski) said, “That rug really tied the room together.” And so it is in the clouds, color and landscape.
Technical Details: Canon 5D MkII, Canon 16-35mm lens, ISO100, f/16, 3.2 seconds, Singh Ray Warming Polarizer, bracketed +/- 2 stops for Photomatix (click on image, it always looks better when seen larger)
Welcome to today’s post. As promised, I have some new landscape images from Bandlands National Park to share with you over the next couple of posts, but I had to devise a strategy for sharing them. Options included sharing by order of life threatening moments (fell down a hill in Cedar Pass), by places I had a great conversation with total strangers (Panorama Point), or was nearly attacked by wildlife (Big Horn Ram near Visitor Center). Of course I could use a more conventional strategy, like color vs. BW, but that would be predictable. Since my goal is to share great images and give you a better sense of the park, I’ve decided to go out on a limb and share by location. If you’re thinking of visiting the park and taking some pictures, then these posts might serve as a guide for you.
My journey to the Badlands started late Tuesday night, about 10 pm, after working all day long – a straight drive through the night in hopes of making the east end of the park by sunrise Wednesday. That goal was never really in doubt, at least to the extent of my willingness to drive 90mph, which I did for the last 40 miles or so. Driving at night for over 8 hours is not for the timid. Its exhausting and requires a careful balance of tactics, including caffeine, light food, sunglasses, singing out loud, dimming lights on the dashboard, texting while driving and of course AM talk radio about excessive sightings of UFO’s in Missouri this year.
The good news about So Dak at night is the lack of any human existence and the lack of curves in the interstate. My powers of observation, which are, well…powerful…observed several 30-50 minute intervals during which neither car nor curve was detected. Its a great time to think through the problems in your life, but I will say this; contrary to common cultural wisdom regarding males, I did not think of sex every 7 seconds. Let’s do the math on this – nearly 9 hours on the road equals 32,400 seconds. Divide that by 7 secs and we have 4,629 times I would have thought about sex. No way did that happen. First, 2,117 of those opportunities were given to thinking about the Packers. I counted those. Another 1,977 were given to the show on UFO’s and how I hoped some would show up right there, near Kennebec or Murdo, South Dakota. Of the remaining 534 sex-thought opportunities, 521 went to photography, 11 went to gas/potty break stops, 2 to this blog post and 1 to sex. Truth be told, that 1 sex thought actually had to do with a question that’s plagued me for years now. How do porcupines have sex? Answer: Very carefully.
Ok, so I made it. Heart and nervous system no longer functional. Just twitching. Exhaustion, fatigue, dehydration, over-caffeination, excited with what I saw happening in the early twilight of sunrise. I came in to the east side of the park, near the Door and Window trails which are amazing at sunrise. And what a sunrise I had. I shot everywhere I could and needed at least 3 cameras in different locations to truly capture what was happening. But I don’t have three cameras. So I took shots, ran to another spot, took more shots, ran back to another spot, took some more shots and then went back to the car and nearly fell asleep at the wheel on my way to check in to the motel, while you were just waking up.
4 images from Door Trail. The last is a true, 5 frame pano composed of 15 total frames prepared through Photomatix and stitched together using PTGui.
Technical Details: Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 16-35mm @ 16mm, ISO100, F/14, 0.3 second exposure, 3 brackets 2stops, Singh Ray 2 stop Rev. ND, Singh Ray Warming Polarizer
Welcome to today’s post. Last week I ran my Lake Superior workshop. Students were instructed on the concept of dynamic compositions and techniques used in creating them. One tool is the a strong foreground, and sky that connects with the foreground, in a way that creates a whole image. The presence of a strong horizon line and a disconnect between sky and foreground can inadvertently create two different images from one. Generally, this is not a good thing. This is a particularly challenging tool to work with in landscape photography and really stretches one’s ability to see and to use a lens that creates/aides the relationship between foreground and sky.
Dynamic compositions are created by capturing dynamic color combinations, use of leading and diagonal lines, movement of light, strong foreground/middleground/background relationships. Dynamic compositions can take your mind’s eye on a visual trip through the image. These aren’t requirements for an image to succeed, just helpful tools to work with along the way. In today’s image, I would have loved some additional dramatic twilight color in the sky, but it just never came around, so I get to go back and try again! I did enjoy the shape relationship and visual movement created by both the foreground rocks and cloud structure. For better or worse, I don’t generally shy away from tricky compositions and in this case I put on my rubber boots and risked limb and photo gear, traversing very slippery rocks, to find today’s image. Thanks to Robert Clark for the great capture.
technical details: 3 frame/2 stop Photomatix Exposure Fusion, f/10, ISO100, Canon 24mm tilt shift, Canon 1Ds MkII
This post is a rare event of commercial work I present on my blog – mostly because I don’t shoot architecture that is all that exciting to me right now. A lot of it is fairly dull and documentary, from an photographic artist’s perspective. Its still VERY IMPORTANT to the client, though, and that’s what I want to focus on today: finding a way to make the potentially dull more attractive!
For the non-photogs that visit my site, you’ll no doubt think this discussion is too technical, but perhaps you’ll appreciate the close relationship between artistic eye and technical action.
For the photogs, perhaps I can provide a tool or two for you to improve your personal vision for any image.
The Case Study: The new law firm space and a study in DYNAMIC
Situation: Developer Client wants pretty images to sell design and construction services. No particular features, just eye catching. This is a typical situation and gives me a lot of freedom to shoot how I want to – which is necessary in commercial spaces like this law firm.
Process: Walk through with client, visiting shot list, restrictions around time of operation, potential law firm client interruptions, etc. Staff considerations are big. People in shots? Who? Releases? In this case, we decided on excluding people from shots. Entry (first image) was the most architecturally interesting shot, so timing of shoot built around light in this space.
Day of Shoot: Varying cloud cover producing changing light conditions in lobby/entry. Begin shooting tests, reviewing, variety of camera positions, all the time keeping an eye on clouds and changing light conditions. Also paying attention to typical, distracting garbage that appears on a lobby desk i.e. taped up signs, calenders, staplers, etc. All this stuff needs to be addressed and managed by the photog.
Concepts: Dynamic Color – Dynamic Lines Looking for good lines and observation that interior colors are warm, colors on widows and TV cool. This gives me some dynamic color to work with…also observing dynamic lines created by furniture, patterns in ceiling tiles, etc.
Execution: HDR bracketing to manage variations in strong natural light with ambient artificial light, no polarization needed for windows. They were treated with polarization coating, giving rise to low level reflections.
Post Production: Manage hue and saturation of yellows/reds for interior and blues in window using Selective Color Adjustment layer. Specifically, my Canon tends to push blues to a very strong, saturated and unnatural hue. I pull blues back with +15 points of yellow. This makes a huge difference in reading the overall color pallet and dynamic balance of the image. I use Photomatix Exposure fusion to balance light without the harsh, surreal effects typical of the HDR engine.
Technical Details: HDR using Photomatix Exposure Fusion, Canon 1Ds Mk II, Canon 16-35mm, f/10, 10/5/30 sec exposures, ISO200, Singh Ray circular polarizer
Hi Gang, I want to share an image I shot over the weekend and discuss some of the technique use in it and the images in my previous post. “Why Are They Surfing Lake Superior?” Let’s start with that one by mentioning the photographers currently inspiring/influencing my personal work. One is Joel Grimes (my cousin KC turned me on to him) – Joel’s work blows me away. Another is the work of Eric Curry, who I’ve mentioned previously. I’m beginning to play with their techniques as a fresh start to 2011 photography season.
Next I want to share a quote my friend Megan sent to me, read by her daughter from Jim Henson’s Doodle Dreams book. “An artist gives people back a part of themselves – the stories and sounds, the feeling of what it’s like to be alive. That’s a pretty powerful gift.” Its just a beautiful quote I wanted to share with others.
In the Lake Superior portraits I used one light, my speedlight with a softbox on a light stand, above and right behind me. My intention was to use a three strobe setup, but upon arriving I found out that my power converter wouldn’t handle it. No worries, I had my alien bees battery pack as a backup. Well, I thought it was charging the entire drive up, but it was dead. So, #3 backup was the single speedlight I was fortunate enough to have with me.
I first shot my portraits with the light, then had John the surfer step out of the scene and shot a series of 3 images for HDR processes. In post production I first produced the background using the Photomatix HDR engine, then I brought the frame with John back in and masked him into the image. In both images of John I used a series of Photoshop processes, including Selective Color layers pulling back the brightness on reds and yellows, as well as a mix of gradient maps and high pass filtering to get my own gritty look.
In today’s image it was much more complicated. Tommy, the subject, is an amazing talent. He’s a musician, but he’s also incredibly inventive and creative. The remote control car at his hands was built by stripping down parts from three other cars and building what he wanted. He knows more about a race car than a NASCAR crew chief. I wanted to photograph him in his boycave, where his work gets done. It doesn’t stop with cars, though. He builds extremely large, intricate Star Wars cruisers, in the background is a solar oven he built as a class project (it basically got much hotter much faster than any other), and like many young men, he digs riding his skateboard and snowboard. While building his creations he watches “Top Gear” on TV.
The space was staged and then I brought in my strobes. Two accent/rim lights and a key light immediately camera left. Then the lights were removed and I shot a series of 3 images with all the room lights on, for HDR production (Photomatix Exposure Fusion engine). After that, both Tommy and I started painting with light. We used a fluorescent work lamp from Home Depot wrapped in blue gel for the star wars ships. I used a spot light for the car at his hands, as well as across the floor, the stack of tires, the small helicopter lower left, etc. Then on the lower left space ship Tommy put a flashlight down inside to get the warm glow in the control deck. All in all, I layered together 25 frames to compose the single final image. I’ve included a few of the layer images for reference. The first is the HDR image, then a couple of frames painted with light.
Yep, another grain elevator shot. Whew, how many of these can any of you take? Well, we’ll find out. I’m going to start including a short video on my thoughts regarding the WHY of the image post as well as the HOW of it. Today is the first of these. Please feel free to post any questions or comments about the image and/or video.
NEW NEWS Well, I did it again. I have a new site with a new domain name and for good reason. The short of it is a change of focus and a need for better SEO (don’t worry if you don’t know what that means). Those two simple sounding issues created a number of large headaches, now cured! Many, many thanks to my good friend, Matt Albiniak, for overseeing the overhaul. THANK YOU MATT!!!!!
What’s new? I’ll be offering more workshops and that information will be available here, including online workshops. I’ll be producing more video tutorials, and I’ll be blogging in a more traditional sense about photography. Most of this new blog activity will be found in the “News” category. I will blog frequently, but I don’t know if I’ll blog regularly. Hmmmm…..
So, if you’re in to pictures or you’re just a good friend that puts up with me, then I’ll send you an email when I’ve posted a new image (like today). If you’re really into photography, you may want to subscribe via RSS to keep up with the frequent “News” posts, or subscribe in the “ENEWS & UPDATES” area. If you prefer, you can follow on Facebook via Networked Blogs and always feel free to share a post on Facebook or other social media using the new sharing feature found in the posts. Ok, please subscribe one way or another, if you haven’t already.
OTHER NEW NEWS I’m in a new studio as of Wednesday, Oct. 30th, located in Edina, MN. I love referrals for studio work and if you have an idea for creative studio photography you’re interesting in trying, let me know. I’m usually game. You can view my portfolio of studio work at my commercial website.
Fine Art Gallery: Please visit the Fine Art Gallery to purchase fine art prints. The design needs tweaking but the site is fully functional. If you have questions regarding a print, feel free to contact me directly.
Regarding today’s post:
Today’s post was shot from a perspective shown to me by a 2009 Digital Landscape Workshop participant, Amy Okaya. I was so taken with the image she produced from this spot that a few weeks later I went back on Sept. 10, 2009 and shot my own take on it. This was sunrise at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. What stunned me was how many new ways there are to see an old subject and all it took was a fresh set of eyes to show me. Perhaps there is a lesson in there for all of us, regardless of what we pursue????
Today’s post title is inspired by another amazing photographer, Guy Tal. In a recent post on his blog, Guy discusses the purpose behind his landscape photography, “…you are there to make images of beautiful experiences. Make it a beautiful experience first, and you will have something to photograph.” Guy’s writing articulates very well a message I’ve been delivering to camera clubs all winter and spring, and is the energy behind the name of my blog, EXPERIENCE, and its a major theme in my workshops. A huge THANK YOU to Guy for articulating this so well.
This image was made last Friday night, on the Lake Superior, under the overpass. I left Saint Paul and arrived there with just one hour to shoot. It was cloudy, late, cool transitioning towards cold and beautiful. I photographed, I sat and watched a man catch a trout, and I listened to the water. I experimented and played with images, I got my feet wet because I forgot my waders. 3 1/2 hours to shoot for an hour, go to sleep and turn right around in the morning and drive back, and for what?as it enters
To EXPERIENCE. A BEAUTIFUL EXPERIENCE. I’ve added some audio captured at the same time and location as the image, to add to the experience.
Technical: ISO100, f/10, 24-70mm @70mm, 3 images/1 stop bracket HDR processed with Photomatix Pro software
Following up on Tuesdays post of BW images, today’s post features a variety of color HDR images all produced with Photomatix Pro. I’ve been experimenting with different light conditions, different effects. For example, in the Mickey’s shot I definitely wanted to see what would happen when motion was introduced across three exposures and NOT controlled for in Photomatix. I’ve learned a great deal about using Photomatix Pro, much of which I HAVEN’T found in other tutorials, so I’m considering one. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll start working on it. Enjoy the images and have a great weekend! If you have specific questions, ask them in the comment section where I can try to provide responses helpful to everyone.