Pacific Rim Sunset

Pacific Rim Sunset

Canon 30d, 17-40 f/4L

ISO: 100, aperture: f/22, shutter: 3.2 seconds, tripod: yes, filter: 2 stop soft edge graduated ND

I thought I’d write a little about post processing images.  A friend of mine shoots only in jpg because he doesn’t want to spend his time at the computer doing a bunch of processing… he just wants to shoot.  I guess I understand that.  Spending hours at the computer post processing images isn’t appealing to me either.  However, today’s software is very easy to use and can dramatically transform a photograph in just a few minutes.  Learning basic image processing skills is a must for any photographer these days.

The first image included in this post took about 5 minutes to process in Lightroom 4 beta.  Most of the work was done in the basic panel.  The highlights and whites were increased, blacks decreased and clarity and vibrance increased.  All done by moving the sliders one way or the other.  To finish the photo, I enhanced the highlight colors in the split tone panel, sharpened the image and applied a post-crop vignette.

The second photograph is the RAW capture right out of the camera, saved as a jpg for the post.  I do like the subtle and muted colors of the second image.  However, what I saw with my eyes, at the time of the capture, more closely resembles the first photo.  Getting an image to look like what I visualized is worth spending a little time at the computer.  Don’t forget to click on the images for a larger view.  Thanks for visiting the blog today.

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Oneonta Falls, Oregon

Oneonta Falls, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon

Canon 30d, 17-40 f/4L

ISO: 100, aperture: f/22, shutter: 8 seconds, filter: circular polarizer, tripod: yes

The Oneonta Falls is accessed by hiking through a narrow slot canyon about a 1/4 mile from the ‘trailhead’.  The hike involves climbing over a log jam and depending on the stream flow, wading through waist deep water.  It’s a great adventure with a spectacular waterfall at the end of the canyon.

I placed the camera on a tripod, set the self timer, ran upstream and got into position for a self-portrait.  Having a person in the scene helps to convey a sense of size to the canyon and falls.  I’ll tell you, I had some anxious moments holding still for the 8 second exposure thinking about my camera perched in a precarious location in the middle of the creek.

 

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Patterns in the landscape

Above: Dahlia blossom, Glendale Gardens, Victoria, BC

Below: Flamingo, Victoria Butterfly Gardens, BC

Canon 30d, 60 f/2.8 macro, ISO: 100, aperture: f/2.8

Whether repetitive or random, natural or man made, patterns in the landscape make me look ‘harder’ at a photograph.  I think that’s a good thing.  I wonder, what am I looking at?  Sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes not so much.  The mystery of the not so obvious makes me search for answers.  First, I look close at the details in the individual patterns in selected parts of the image, and then I push back and focus on the entire image.  Somewhere along the line I make a decision, do I like it or is it just ‘interesting’.  Either way, looking ‘harder’ at an image forces me to look closer at composition, camera settings, lighting, sharpness, contrast, tonal values, saturation…. If a photograph makes me do that, well, I like it.

Images were converted to black & white and edited with Lightroom 4 beta.  Edits were made in the basic panel and the contrast was adjusted with the tone curve.

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Seal Rock by day

Seal Rock, Oregon

(click on the image for a larger view)

Canon Digital Rebel with kit lens

ISO: 100

Aperture: f/14

Shutter: 1/13 second

Tripod: yes

Processing: Lightroom 4 beta

Here’s another photograph from the lost archive of 2005.  As mentioned in previous posts, it’s usually good to include a foreground element in a landscape shot… in this case, a large beach boulder.  Use a small aperture to increase the depth of field so the foreground and background are both in relative focus.  Take your lens out of the auto focus mode and focus about a third of the way into the scene.  The focus distance will vary depending on the aperture setting and the distance between the camera and foreground element.  The smaller the aperture, the greater the depth of field and the slower the shutter speed will be.  Use a tripod to increase the chances of a blur-free shot.  One more note, I especially like the lighting in this scene.  The overcast sky provided soft, even, wrap around lighting that revealed nice color and texture in the rock, beach and distant cliffs.

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Seal Rock, Oregon

Seal Rock, Oregon

Canon Digital Rebel, kit lens, ISO: 100, aperture: f/5, shutter: 1/100 second.

The other day I found a $5 bill in an old pair of levis I hadn’t worn for awhile.  Finding something of value that I didn’t know I had was cause for celebration.  These photos are similiar in that way.  I was digging through some of my old photo archieves and stumbled across several nice captures, I had forgotten about, taken at Seal Rock in 2005.  There are lessons to be learned from this experience.  One,  put on those old pants that have been stashed in the closet, you may find a hidden treasure in one of the pockets.  Two, take some time to go through your old photos.  You just may find some great shots that have been forgotten about.

These photos follow my standard MO for sunsets at the beach.  I use the rule of thirds for composition and find some wet sand to reflect the colors and patterns of the clouds.  I know, I really should get beyond the basic composition mode and think more creatively, but this formula for landscapes is hard to beat.

I used the new Lightroom 4 beta version for processing.  The improvements made in the develop module alone will be worth the price of the upgrade.

Canon Digital Rebel, kit lens, ISO: 100, aperture: f/5.6, shutter: 1/50 second.

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Pacific Rim Sunset

Pacific Rim National Park

Canon 30D, 17-40 f/4L, ISO: 100, aperture: f/22, shutter: 1/6 second, tripod: yes, filter: 2 stop soft edged ND

I like this photograph because it reminds me of a seascape my great grandma painted decades ago.  Her painting is hanging on our living room wall.  It’s a daily reminder of how talented she was, even late in life.  She didn’t even start painting until she was in her early 80’s and continued producing notable work until age 95.  She is an ongoing inspiration for me even though she passed away many years ago.  I sometimes wonder… will my great grand kids be inspired by my work and maybe even hang one of my photographs on their wall?  She makes me try harder to make a photograph worthy of that honor.  Inspiration is a wonderful thing.

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Tofino, BC

Beach sunset near Tofino, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Canon 30D, 17-40 f/4L, ISO: 200, aperture: f/22, shutter: 1/2 second, tripod: yes

When I look at a photograph I try to analyze why I linger with a particular shot or what causes me to look harder, before I move on to the next photo.   In other words, I ask, what are the elements of a photo that I like, or don’t like?  With the photo above, I’m immediately drawn to the texture in the foreground sand.  My eyes stay there for a while and then follow a circuitous path to the starburst around the sun.  Then, I back track to the reflection of the clouds in the shallow water on the left side of the photo.  All in all, I like the photo well enough to post and discuss.

Summary-

  • Foreground elements are important when making a good landscape photo.
  • Accentuate foreground elements by using low angle light, e.g. setting sun versus mid day sun.
  • Use a small aperture, in this case f/22, to maintain good depth of field and create the starburst around the sun.
  • Finally, the photo follows the classic rule of thirds for composition.  That seems to work with this photo.
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Ucluelet Seascapes

Seascapes, near Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Canon 30D, 18-55 kit lens, ISO: 100, aperture: f/4.5, shutter: 60 seconds, filter: R72, tripod: yes

This was a rather uninspiring day (at least for me) at the beach; mid-day, overcast early with a few passing clouds later in the day…  Time to pull out the tripod and R72 filter.  The R72 makes for long exposures so does wonders for adding interest to moving water and clouds.  The filter is very dark so auto focus is impossible.  Don’t forget to manually focus before touching off the shutter.  The images were desaturated in Photoshop and a modest tone curve was applied.  My only regret is that I don’t get uninspired more often.

18-55 kit lens, ISO: 100, aperture: f/4.5, shutter: 30 seconds, filter: R72, tripod: yes

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Bandon seastacks

Bandon, Face Rock State Park, Oregon Coast

Canon 30D, 17-40 f/4L, ISO: 100, aperture: f/11, shutter: 20 seconds, filter: split two-stop soft edge ND, tripod: yes

This shot was taken about 30 minutes after sunset so most photographers had packed it in for the night.  The slow shutter speed provides the silky water look that really makes the photo.  A good tripod is a must in this situation.  The split ND helps to balance the high contrast scene.

 

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Petroglyph Lake, Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge

Rock Art at Petroglyph Lake, Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, Oregon

Canon 30D, 17-40 f/4L, ISO: 100, aperture: f/11, shutter: 1/40 second, filter: polarizer, tripod: yes

Hart Mountain has a lot of attractions to keep visitors busy; the deer and antelope (of course), hot springs, wide open vistas, isolated pockets of aspen trees, mountains with near vertical escarpments and Native American rock art, just to name a few.   The art work, thought to be thousands of years old, is very accessible for those willing to hike a mile or so.  The area is quite remote so when visiting you will likely have the gallery to yourself.  It’s easy to slip back in time and imagine being here to watch the artists working on their rock canvases.  It’s a great place to enjoy art (not the typical museum gallery) and reflect on the value of our cultural heritage.

This is a single exposure processed in Lightroom.  I did a fair amount of dodging and burning to balance the high contrast scene and highlight the rock art.

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