Clouds, Ripples, Reflections

This one is from beautiful Southwest Florida, aka, Fort Myers. So I took this when I was living back in America. Then again, Florida and Thailand are basically the same temperature and climate, except we don’t smacked by hurricanes here on the Gulf of Thailand. Instead we get monsoon rains. Nothing says fun while going 60km/ hour on a scooter while getting smashed in the face with rain.

I took this photo from a pontoon boat while on Estero Bay. We rented the boat to go fishing but it was surface of the sun hot. I mainly went to provide sarcastic comments and to drive the boat. I’m better at one than the other. Not saying which. Of course I brought a camera so I took a few shots while I wasn’t skippering or being sarcastic.

Editing this was just me playing around with Intensify and then just a bit of a dodge and burn and called it done.


Clouds Ripples and Reflections

Cutting Through

This is from Great Falls earlier this year when I went out for a New Year’s hike with my Sony A7R and a polarizing filter. The weather was nice and it wasn’t that crowded so it was a pleasant day out.

One of the things I have been late to the game with has been polarizing filters. Sure, you can somewhat reproduce the results with editing software but there is still something about a good polarizing filter that makes an image pop.

I have been using step rings for all my filters. This works great but I am really lazy and it’s one more more thing to remember to carry with me. I was surfing on Amazon and somehow I got recommendation for Amazon Basics filters. The in-house brand for Amazon is usually decent quality and the filters were very inexpensive so I just bought a complete set. Think from 82mm to 52mm was all of around $80. For the price and quality, you can’t complain and now I can be lazy and go with one filter for my various lens.

Editing wise this is really out of the camera. I didn’t go fancy. The polarizing filter did the the heavy lifting in the sky and then I just ran gradients to for clarity and dehaze to bring out the clouds. Once I had my basic edits done it was off to Photoshop where I put in a slight curve and then just local adjustments using dodge and burn.


Cutting Through

Into The Mix

I promised a water heavy week and I am delivering on the promise. This is another one from Great Falls.

I took this image standing on a bridge that goes over a rocky ravine with a small channel running through it. If you have never shot on a bridge before you are in for a treat. Bridges move. Alot. You don’t really register it in a vehicle but standing on a bridge you will notice it quickly.

Trying to time your shots when there is no traffic on the bridge is always fun. You really have to nail it or the camera is going to move. I don’t care how much image stabilization you have. Your camera platform is moving. Be that you or a tripod or monopod.

Editing this was mostly about curves adjustments and dodging and burning. Water is really a pain to edit and get a consistent look out of. You really need to watch and make sure you don’t clip the highlights. So I spent a lot of time messing about with that.

Once I had the local adjustments done I went and loaded the image into Intensify CK. Picked a preset I liked and then brought it back into Photoshop. Masked that in at various opacities. I then loaded up Camera Raw filter and adjusted my white balance and called it a day.


Into the Mix

Rush of Water

I promised a series yesterday since I just wasn’t in a position to post after an extremely long day at work. So I will deliver as promised. This series might be a bit abstract for some.

I was shooting at Great Falls and I just was fascinated by the light on the white water areas. So I took the opportunity to photograph these while I was doing other landscape work. I knew it would be a bit more abstract than normal but I think it works. I wanted a cohesive series to work with since a single image wasn’t going to convey much. With the series you get an idea of the power of water as it rushes through the world.

Editing wise these are straightforward edits. Nothing fancy was done other than add tone curves and local adjustments. Then some straight up sharpening to give things a bit of bite that would be missing.


Rush of WaterRush of WaterRush of WaterRush of WaterRush of WaterRush of WaterRush of WaterRush of WaterRush of Water

Where The Falls Begin

This is the first view of Great Falls you see from the Maryland side. You walk out to an overlook that allows you to see the river where it turns into the falls.

This week may be heavy on the water theme. I’ll see how I feel when I load up the rest of the images I have edit. Having the luxury of sitting on a large back catalogue I can jump around with my images.

My mother who reads everyday and some others I know asked me why I don’t edit images immediately. The fact is I don’t want to be emotionally attached to them. It’s not like I’m in love with these things. It’s just that when you take an image you have this vision in your head of what that image should look like. When you dump it to the computer and look it’s not at all what you envisioned in your head.

With letting images sit for a bit you lost that memory of what you expected the image to be. You aren’t attached to it. It’s just another image the same as any other. You look at it and figure out what you can do with it.

I have found that I will edit images that I just can look at objectively. Is it an interesting image. Light good. In focus. The usual stuff. There is no disappointment because I have moved past the moment.

When I went to edit this one I wanted it to feel expansive which is why I cropped it the way I did. The mouth of the falls is very wide. So I wanted it to convey that feeling. Once the crop was in it was time to add the curves to add the contrast. So did that and it was time for dodging and burning.

Having edited a lot of these images before getting to this one I discovered that water really likes a midtone dodge versus a highlight because it would blow out the whites quickly. I also dodges the rocks to bring back some of the features in them. Then when I was happy I felt it was missing something. So loaded it into Intensify CK and picked a preset.

Back into Photoshop I masked in the new layer with different opacities. The goal was keeping your attention on the water and rocks. I then lower opacity for the other areas. It keeps the look the same but it doesn’t draw attention to it.

Finally I have started to do my white balance in Camera Raw once I am done. I get much finer control over the final image. So once that was done it was hit save.


Where The Falls Begin

Sunset on Paradise

Why not wrap the week up with a sunset from Thailand? This was taken along the beach on the Gulf of Thailand. You can see Koh Larn (koh means island in Thai) in the distance and a little bit of Pratumnak on the left.

The beach I was on had all these weird rocks. I have no idea what they were but they looked good in the water with the sun setting. I have published previous images that were similar but I really liked this one. It seemed the HDR just made it pop nicely.

Editing was done in Aurora 2017 and doing the conversion myself. I just add layers until I am happy with the final product then taking it into Photoshop for some final work. One of the things I have to do is defringe all the images. While Aurora can do it Photoshop does a much better job in the Camera Raw Filter. Once that was done it was spot removal and then some dodging and burning and done.


Sunset on Paradise

Ripples In Time

This series was shot at Meadowlark Gardens. I deliberately went this day because the wind was gusting and with the lakes and ponds at the park I knew I could get some interesting water shots.

While I was shooting this I was fighting with the very bright light and using a circular polarizer to try and cut down on some of the light. While I’m familiar with them I am not used to using one all the time. I have primarily used neutral density filters. I wanted to avoid the neutral density filters because I wanted to keep the shutter speed up to freeze the ripples in the water. I think I achieved it but still had some very bright photos.

Editing this was tedious because of the size of the files. Nikon D810 files are huge even with lossless compression turned on. So when you stack a series up in Photoshop you computer just starts to get slower and slower. I prefer to queue them up and edit as I go. Moving from Lightroom to Photoshop. That way I don’t miss any photos.

My other problem was just how bright the files were. I wanted the images to remain simple and not mask in a bunch of layers. This is where Color Efex saved me. I created a recipe that allowed me to lower the light while retaining hue and saturation. Once I had that magical formula it was just a matter of me applying it to each image along with the usual adjustments and I was good to go.

Bit esoteric than my usual but I enjoyed shooting and editing it.


Ripples on WaterRipples on WaterRipples on WaterRipples on WaterRipples on WaterRipples on WaterRipples on Water

Sparkle In The Spray

I returned to Meadowlark Gardens on a long holiday weekend. Since I no longer live in Virginia I was worried about paying out of state fees but they never asked so I happily paid my usual $5 and in I went. I think they are so popular that they don’t bother with where you live now.

I was there to shoot something specific but I saw the fountain and figured why not. The light as you can see is harsh because of the time of the day but it was working for me in other ways. I was also shooting with my Nikon D810 which I had not shot with in over month because I had been using my Sony A7R. So some settings I thought I was using weren’t working for some of the images.

Still I had a good time and I got some usable images and this is one of them. The I liked how the spray was was sparkling in the sunlight so I make sure my shutter speed was up so I could freeze it and fired off a few frames.

I had to really dodge the fountain spray to get it to pop like it did. Then I masked in a bit here and there till I got things the way I wanted it. Once I was happy I called it done.


Sparkle in the Spray

Don’t Cross The Streams

It seems I have been obsessed with movie titles or lines for post titles lately. This one came from Ghostbusters. If you have never seen the original or the remake go watch. It will make sense.

This is the Navy Pier from across Lake Michigan. You can see the skywheel that I have previously published images of before. I was all the way down the Chicago River Walk near some marina and I took this image.

With the image being so dark really with a lot of extra stuff I went for a 2.7:1 ratio. I meant to do 2.4:1 but this crop gives it a more panoramic feel to it.

I have been using Aurora 2017 more lately and it does a really good job creating HDR images with only 1 source image. Normally I mask in bits but with this image being black with various coloured lights I left it alone as HDR no masking.

Still wanting a bit more detail I masked in a layer from Intensify CK to bring out a bit more details in the light trails. Once I was happy called it done.


Don't Cross The Streams

Float Along The Harbor

I have been shooting new stuff! In fact I have shot around 3000+ frames over the last 2 weekends. I have been in cities, national parks, municipal parks. I have climbed over rocks. Walked through streams. I have faced perils such as flesh eating chipmunks, carnivorous squirrels, blood sucking midges, rabid turtles, and quicksand like mud.

All of the above is true. Mostly.

This image I faced none of the above issues. I was on the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. I wasn’t there to shoot landscape stuff. In fact I shot stuff completely different which I will share later. I just liked how this looked when I was walking to my next location so I took the picture.

I have been using my Nikon D810 a lot. When I travel I take the Sony A7R due to weight issues and ease of packing for flights. When I’m home I use the D810.

Normally I use zoom lenses because I mainly do landscape and travel work. It’s easier to avoid changing lenses and keeps weight down. I have owned a 50mm 1.8 for some time but never used it. With the project I was working on it was the fastest lens I had so I just put it in my bag and no other lens to keep me honest.*

*I do have a 35mm 2.0 on order.

Editing with the Nikon D810 is a whole other experience to any other camera I have owned or own. The resolution and dynamic range on it are mind blowing. I can get a lot of detail out of it giving me leeway to do a lot of things.

I used Aurora 2017 which really does a good job with single image HDR. I then mask in the HDR bits I wanted. I then added a Dynamic Contrast mask with Nik Color Efex. I then had to dodge and burn a bit more to fix some dark areas. Then I called it done.


PS – Sorry for the ramble. It adds pizzaz for an otherwise placid photo.

Floating On The Harbor