"You carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment. In that insight of inter-being it is possible to have real communication with the earth, which is the highest form of prayer." Thich Nhat Hanh
Well, its' that time of year again when I look back and review all the images that I made and select some of my favorites. I was going to devise some sort of plan like categorize stuff, i.e, favorite landscapes, portraits, objects, etc. but after listing a couple of handwritten pages I decided I'm just going to go into the vault month by month and start extracting my favs. It may be in some sort of order...or not. It's just easier this way.
Thanks for checking out my blog this year. I hope you've had fun with your photography as well.
The images posted are from two separate Austin walkabouts in January 2013.
Contrasts. That's what I look for. Contrast is what's going to make your optic nerve tingle. Dark vs light, opposing colors on the color wheel, size or scale (big/small/thin/fat), soft edge vs hard edge , opposites can make your image do a little dance. Juxtaposing opposing elements takes a little practice...you need to see it first and then play with the composition and framing to maximize the effect. For this image, I took three shots with the middle one being the best.
Most photographers that I follow say they post process 100 per cent of their pictures. In other words, every shot goes into Photoshop for some kind of processing. A lot of pro photographers tend to see a digital "haze" on all the files. I'll admit I see it most of the time. So if everything else in the file is copasetic the least they do is run it through a low percentage/highpass filter to leech out this digital haze. Most people don't see and for most pictures it doesn't affect the viewing experience.
The two images I posted here are straight jpegs from the camera. The only thing I did was reduce the size to 600x for the web.
I did all my "processing" in camera. Pretty much automatic as I get.
The camera is set to P mode, white balance is set to auto as is ISO. I set image to VIVID plus 2 and saturation to plus 3. The only thing I had to control was highlight clipping. There wasn't very much, the top one is -0.7, the bottom is -0.3.
There's some shop talk running around the web about "pre-processing". We'll probably see more of it.
The advances in the quality of the ADCs (analog to digital converter) in digital cameras is so good now that many photographers are shooting in jpeg rather than RAW. Someone even suggested that RAW may eventually go away which I can see happening. The quality of ADCs will continue to get better - the immediate response and quality of global pre-processing will certainly follow suit. Photshop will be reserved mostly for local tweaking.
Camera specs; top ISO 800, f9 @1/500th ss - bottom same. Hand held, polarizer on a Nikkor 35mm f2 lens. Haven't changed that lens in over a month now. Back to the good old days when all I had on my OM-1 was a nifty-fifty.
The recent heavy rains caused fallen branches and deadwood to be swept into piles of woodsy debris. And now with the addition of winter leaves falling from different sources in various states of decay, a strange dark kaleidoscope of texures and colors is created.
"A tree says: a kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought. I am life from eternal life! The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail." Herman Hesse
A gorgeous day. About 75 degrees, a slight hint of a breeze, blue skies, and a snappy happy sun.
It was a grand day for a walk in the park, over the bridge, and through the woods, etc. I meant to take a quick walk but ended up meandering the woods for two hours.
Here's the Maclura Pomifera part....
These are maclura pomiferas...AKA osage oranges, AKA horse apples, AKA bodocks, AKA....etc.
According to wikipedia these lime green seeds, the size of softballs, fall off from a tree whose branches were used by Native Americans for their bows. Also had something to do with Thomas Jefferson. Keeping cows at bay. If you're curious check it out. Another president was involved, too...odd stories all to do with maclura pomiferas...who'd thunkit.
Over the years and not many at that, I've developed a pretty lean post production flow. I really don't do too much to my images. Ninety percent of the time I'm done in under three minutes. I use unsharp mask, high pass filter, saturation, and maybe a bit of vignetting. Those four Photoshop effects is where I swim almost all the time.
I really try and get what I want in camera when I'm in front of the subject. A habit that goes back to the film days when you didn't have too many variables to choose from, especially with transparencies. With Kodachrome and Ektachrome your f stop was your only best friend.
Look at it this way, your DSLR is basically a light sensitive computer with literally dozens of choices that affect the ones and zeros once they slide off the sensor and become files. You have highlight monitoring and RGB monitoring right in back of your camera. That's where most of my decisions are made - on the spot.
Another factor is that I personally don't like sitting in front of a computer screen for very long. After an hour and a half I'm toasted. So I work the image in the field (in fresh air!) and perform minor tweaks at home.
Now all that said, this morning I wanted to try some electronic/digital painting. The above image is the result. Took about twenty minutes. Hasn't been my look or style in the past - Not too sure yet.
I need more time and courage to proceed in this vein. With my low tolerance for kneeling before my digital altar that gives me time to post about 4 images whereas normally I can post and publish/print 4 pix in fifteen minutes. I may have to find a happy medium and stick it in my tool kit for "those special" projects. Besides all that kneeling is hard on my knees.
If you visit my blog enough you will see that besides people portraits (which I love doing) my other passion is just nature itself. I continually find trees, leaves, branches, grasses, water. even rocks endlessly fascinating and no end to inspiring me to capture their colors, shapes, moods, and architecture.
The top shot: ISO 400, f3.2, 1/125th ss, -0.7 exp comp. Bottom: ISO 800, f3.2, 1/100th ss, -0.3 exp comp. These as well as yesterdays were shot with the auto focus off. I find that if I focus manually I can be more precise in what it is I want to highlight.
Finally, the colors I've been waiting for. The chlorophyll is rapidly leaching away - you take away
the green you start ended up with yellow, reds, and oranges. Maybe another week or so and most of the foliage will have turned. At least the ones left. Today the wind was pretty hefty and the leaves that had lost their gluey sap were flying off into the breeze.
For these images, I left the ISO in auto because I was going in and out woodsy canopy toppy stuff and the light was constantly changing. I brought a couple of lenses but ended up just using the Nikkor 35mm f2 the whole time...with a polarizer. The 35mm which is roughly a normal fifty mm forced me to get in close. I was pushing branches and bushes aside as best I could, sometimes getting tangled up with the tripod catching everything.
The polarizer was sucking up a stop or two of light - I noticed the ISOs were usually around 800. Most were shot with a tripod - and if I couldn't find even ground I went hand held.
I'm starting to see those fall/winter/November colors on the local trees. By this time last year, the leaves were all yellow, red, and orange...very little green. This year the chlorophyll is draining a bit slower and there's still a lot of greenish pigment out there. I imagine in a week or two that will
The above image taken Monday - ISO 100, f5.6 @ 1/15th with -0.03 exposure compensation to tame the water drops. The 18-135mm lens was out to max. Camera was on a tripod and shutter tripped with timer.
I've posted images before from a number of trips to the banks of the North and South San Gabriel River. Those images are from an access off of H35 in Georgetown. This morning I approached the river from Toll Road 183 north of Leander. I did a little loop off the highway and parked tucked pretty close to under the bridge. Due to recent heavy rainfall the dirt path was thick with mud and my Tahoe kinda slipped down the ravine into the parked position. The tires were completely covered in about 1" thick coating of mud, mud the consistency of cookie dough. They looked like racing slicks. I wasn't going to worry about it then so I walked down to the river banks and spent the next hour and a half making images along the east side of the bridge. When I got back to the car, I looked at the tires and wasn't sure they were gonna get me back up the slope I was on. So I got out my trusty Boy Scout knife and started hacking away at the mud until I could see tread on all four tires. That took about twenty minutes. I just didn't want to get stuck there with spinning tires. I managed to turn the car around and pointed it up hill toward some green grass about 20 feet away and went for it.
Driving home on 183 the mud was flying up into the wheel well and flying off onto the highway making a heck of a racket. After this posting I gonna hit the hose. Below are some images. I think it was worth it.
All were shot at ISO 100 on a tripod, most of the time using the timer to trip the shutter. I also went back and forth using a standard polarizer and a Ray Singh Gold/Blue polarizer.
My attempt at capturing the color of fall fruits. I saw these red pears at the local grocery store and thought the color was very beautiful and fall like. Reminds me of the color that some leaves are turning right now.
This is really a simple set up. No electric lights. Just a cloudy heavy overcast sky which gave me a wonderful soft light that wrapped around everything.
Camera stuff. I set the camera to it's lowest native ISO of 100 in order to maximize resolution and color processing. Place the D7000 on a tripod and removed the protective filter so it was just the lens. That way I eliminated two layers of air to glass transfer. I tripped the shutter with a cable release. I focused using my eye no auto focus. Basically, everything manually.
Top - f2.8 1/30th ss.
Middle - f8 1/2 ss exp comp -0.07.
Bottom - f5 1/15th.
I kept changing the f stop and shutter speed while checking the back lcd histogram to make sure I wasn't over exposing the red channel since that was the dominant color.
Now watch me get on a fruit kick.
I had to buy a couple of new tires today and I figured that was going to take a couple of hours. So instead of being couped up in the waiting room with bad coffee and a blaring tv, or bringing a book to wile away the time, I brought my camera and went for a walk around the neighborhood. Some fields, dense brush, roadside flowers and the color of the day - bright yellow. Yellow flowers seemed to be everywhere.
I had the camera fitted with the 18-135 and a polarizer. ISO was 200 and aperture priority set to f5.6 because I was sometimes using the long end of the zoom.
One of my favorite spots to read books is by the window - lots of soft afternoon light comes through and a little breeze to boot.
On the table is Gregory Heisler's newly released book "50 Portraits" which I am reading through for the second time and taking notes. If you're not familiar with Gregory's work you can google him and see what he's done. Probably taken more TIME covers than anyone else.
It's a great book but with one little caveat - unless you're really (read really four times) into photography I would wait until it comes to a library near you.
Out of the 50 portraits in the book, 48 are made with either a 4x5 view camera, an 8x10 view camera or an 11X14 wooden camera that he made. Great for excruciating detail and beautiful subtle tones but only if you have lots of time, understanding subjects, and can process your own large format film and prints. A luxury to say the least.
For the only two shot in digital - Gregory was using a HD Hasselblad - probably about 30 grand with lens...I think...the lens may be extra.
I am enjoying the wonderful insights into his thinking process and methods though.
Want to know how much he charges for a portrait session? - fogettaboutit.
I'm trying to figure out what I can use in the way I shoot....maybe need to read it a third time. Take more notes.