Where The Road Leads

I shot this at Antietam Battlefield when I was crossing between the various areas in the park. There wasn’t much traffic so I was able to setup my tripod in the middle of the road and take the shot.

I need to tell the story of trying to edit this image and why it may not be as good as I like it. I have a scratch disk in an external enclosure. It’s a 512gb SSD and I use it as my portable drive when I travel and as I indicated, a scratch drive for Photoshop.

I have been having problems with the drive and it has been dropping offline in the middle of the edits. I thought I fixed it when I noticed the drive was hot. So rearranged them and it cooled down. Crashed again. Then I noticed my Time Machine backup was running. It seemed when it hit a certain point it crashed all drives. Thought I fixed that by removing some stuff. Crashed again.

I barely got the final edit and saved full resolution. I was going to make some final adjustments but it crashed shortly after the save. I was lost at this point and just said enough. So if the image is “extra crispy” it’s because I resized the image after it had been sharpened. When you resize it also sharpens the image. So things might be a bit more than normal.

Editing wise when my disk wasn’t crashing this is a HDR image. One of the things I am doing now is not taking the +2 bracket when I do the conversion. There is very little usable data in those files and tends to do weird things to the image. Learned that from Trey Ratcliff who is the guru of HDR.

I did the conversion in Aurora 2017. Just played with sliders till I was happy. Then I brought it into Photoshop (when it was running) to do some final edits. I then did another copy in Lightroom to lighten the sky. I then took that image and masked in the sky on the HDR. I would have blended better but at that point I was worried about the disk (in fact as I type this the drive ejected again without Photoshop running).  So hit save and called it a day.

For inquiring minds I believe the cheap enclosure I bought for the drive is the issue. A new one will be ordered in post haste as I do not have the issue with other drives.

Enjoy the photo for what it’s worth!

Where The Road Leads

Forlorn On The Floodplains

I took this photo recently along the C&O Canal. I stopped at a lock gate that I used to drive past everyday when I drove to work. The day was grey and nasty but I had my hiking boots on and my Sony RX10 with me so I figured why not take a quick hike and see what there is to see.

I wandered down off the path and hit the back trails where the the more adventurous hikers and trail bikers go. I eventually ended up at the Potomac River. There was some rain recently so the river was higher than normal. I jumped around on little islands until I found this vantage point. I am not sure if I shot this handheld or on my tripod but I was happy with the image.

There was very little color in this image. It was going to be in monochrome no matter what. The cool things about these is when you do a conversion you get way more detail because you are no longer looking looking at color. It’s all about tones and textures at the point.

Ran my usual camera profile fixes and then put a curves adjustment in. I did some dodging and burning to bring out the reflections. Then it was into Tonality CK to do the conversion. I just played with sliders until I was happy with the effect. Then back into Photoshop for another quick dodge and burn and done.


Forlorn on the Floodplains

Path To Modernity

Took this image in Chicago last year. Was my last night in Chicago before I flew out to Thailand for a brief holiday.

I wanted to go to Millennium Park and photograph the bean statue that is big draw in the park. I had seen stuff from Ming Thein and was only a few blocks away. My schedule didn’t mesh until the final night. The problem was it was pissing down rain but it was a typical Summer thunderstorm. There one minute and gone the next.

I set out to the park and got my own bean shots. I was in no rush. To make sure I slept on my flight to Thailand I was staying up all night so I just started to wander around. Millennium Park is very large. Lots of little paths to wander down. I ended up this wooden path among the wild flowers and figured why not take a picture.

This image may look HDR but it is not. When I do an image like this I always use my base workflow. This means applying the correct camera profile. Then I do my curves adjustments and any dodging and burning. I always have a “finished” image that I could publish if I wanted to. Once I have that I look at it and figure out if I want to give it a bit more details. I tend to work in zones for a lack of a better word. I will load filters in for specific parts of the image. One for the sky and buildings. One for the walkway and flowers. I mask thone is with different opacities. I did a hue/saturation adjustment on the flowers because things got a bit nuclear and masked that in and said done. Takes some time but you do get nice images out of it.


Path to Modernity

Architectural Travels – Part 4

Final installment on the Architectural Travels. These are all from Panama City, Panama as it turns out. Didn’t plan it that way but it is how it worked out.

All these images except for one were shot on my Nikon D810. The one that wasn’t was shot on my Sony RX100III. When I went to edit these some just felt better in monochrome so I did the conversion using Tonality. I have come to prefer that over Silver Efex because you get much better control. Silver Efex has very limited options which causes you to be limited.

With all that out of the way I return to my normal stuff tomorrow. I am hoping to do another series in the future. While a lot of work you get to see a theme and pattern emerge from the images that you just don’t get when you do just one at a time.


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Leaving Shore

I seem to have a thing for nautical photos when I’m not editing architectural photos. This one was taken in Thailand with a Ricoh GR.

Go to any tourist beach in Thailand and you will see a few things. People selling you stuff you don’t want or need. People trying to convince you to rent a jet ski. People convincing you to take a speedboat to whatever island happens to be near. I highly recommend not doing any of these things.

When you consider the sheer number of times I have been to Thailand there are things I know. Most of these thing have been learned either first hand or by first hand accounts. Stuff you don’t want or need is massively inflated and its junk. Jet ski scams are so common they post warnings on most countries foreign services offices. Boating safety is a joke at best. It’s weekly you read about some boating accident over there. You can look at the picture and see the lady standing up and the hull packed with people. Good luck on enough life jackets.

With all that said I still liked the image.

Editing wise it’s pretty straight forward. The one issue with Thailand is the bright light and the sky and the water can often turn into one color. I wanted to make sure there was clear separation. I used gradients to make sure the color tones were correct for each of them. I did some dodging and burning to bring out the details of the people in the boat. I also kicked up the area along the shore to make it bit brighter to give the perspective of standing there. Bit of sharpening and done.


Leaving Shore

Architectural Travels – Part 3

I am almost done with the Architectural Travels series. I just have one more set to publish. These images were shot in Chicago, Illinois, Thailand, and Panama. The bulk split between Chicago and Panama.

When I started this series out I never had the intention of splitting it into so many categories. It just worked out that way when I started to edit the images. I could see how some images were more similar to others so it just made sense to save them that way.

This series was shot on 4 cameras. My Sony RX100III, Olympus EM1, Canon S100, and Sony A7R. Short of me looking at the names I can’t visually tell the differences between them. With good editing and a workflow that remains the same you can get consistent results regardless of the camera used. Interestingly enough I do own 3 out of the 4 cameras still. I sold all my Olympus gear to purchase my Nikon gear so I could have full frame for all my professional work.


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At Anchor

This is from Panama City, Panama. Not exactly sure where I was except along the water. I walked from my hotel down to the waterfront that day and just kept walking until I hit Casco Viejo.

In Panama City there are tons of marinas. Some are private and some are public. I didn’t explore them that close as I was just walking along the trail with no particular destination in mind other than towards Casco Viejo. I liked this this image because I could pull the reflections off the water and the boats add a bit of color in another wise flat photo.

My goal when I edited this was to make the boats stand out and give some detail back to the sky. Once I had my basic edits done it was time to start adding masks to the image because there was no other way to bring out details. First was the sky so I loaded up Intensify CK and then masked in the sky bits I wanted. I followed that up with a mask for the boats and land. When you use two different masks you need to make sure the transition is clean between the two masks so you lower opacity to make it look cleaner. Did a bit of a dodge and burn to touch things up and called it done.


At Anchor

Architectural Travels – Part 2

I indicated in part 1 of this series that I was going to go through and clear out all my architectural photos I have taken over my travels. I return with part 2 which I am calling reflections.

These images were taken in Panama City, Panama and Chicago. There are no Thailand shots simply because where I am in Thailand doesn’t do large glass buildings. They are in Bangkok if you are interested but I’m not biggest fan of the city.

These images were shot on 3 different cameras. The cameras were a Nikon D810, Canon S100, Sony A7R, and Sony RX100III. There are subtle differences between the cameras but I tried to keep the images with the same style when editing for consistency purposes.



Tower Above Casco Viejo

This is one of the never before published images from Panama City, Panama when I was there last year.

The tower which is the most prominent feature in the image is the Iglesia San Francisco De Asis. If you are Spanished challenged it’s the Church of Saint Francis of Asis. Who it should be pointed out was never a priest or monk. Just for historical reference.

I liked how the tower stands above everything else in the image. Still there is a lot visually going on. It’s a layered image with the water, the boat, causeway (road), then the smaller buildings then the tower above it all.

When I was editing this image there just wasn’t a lot of color. The buildings are yellow and the roof tiles are red. The sky was grey and with very little details in it. So I did a monochrome conversion using Tonality CK. I just kept playing with sliders until everything felt right. I tried to keep things tonally as separated as I could. The goal being to keep each area distinct as possible. Now looking at it the water is a bit too much but still the overall image is decent.


Tower Above Casco Viejo

Architectural Travels – Part One

I rarely have time to do series of images. This is mainly due to the fact that editing takes considerable amount of time. With me having some time off I went ahead and completed a series I have had in mind for some time, all the architectural shots I have taken over the course the last year or so and publish them in cohesive sets.

I broke up all the images into what I consider sets of similar characteristics. This set I am calling details. It’s more about the finer points within the architecture. Some of it is subjective. It is my interpretation of the style and I do not pretend to be an architect by any stretch of the imagination.

For those of you that read regularly and aren’t into pictures of buildings have hope. I will intersperse the series with normal landscape and travel photos I normally do. I am cognizant that this is mostly personal interest to me.

I’m not going into editing details. The series was shot on 5 different cameras. I have used a Canon S100, Sony RX100III, Sony A7R, Nikon D810, and Olympus EM1. The images were shot in Thailand, Panama, and the United States, specifically Chicago. I could have jammed more in but I thought that was enough.

Hope you enjoy.