The Digital Photo Guy

It’s That Time of Year!

by on Sep.24, 2013, under Articles, Monday Morning Tips

Annual Eastern Sierras Trip

This year, my goal is to find Methuselah, the second oldest living tree in the world at 4845 years old. It’s located somewhere along Methuselah Trail, near the Ancient Bristlecone Pines National Forest Visitor Center. The oldest is also a bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) recently dated at 5062 years old in the same area. This newest oldest tree was, in fact, cored in the 1950s by Edmund Schulman but undated until 2012. Both trees are still living but unmarked to prevent modern day neanderthals from cutting off pieces for souvenirs as some aformentioned neanderthal did with Metuselah.

Indigestion   Woots   King Of the Hill

The above photos are from 2010 and are among my favorites from the White Mountains. This year, I hope to photograph Methuselah. Time permitting, I also plan to drive the extra 12 miles to Patriarch Grove to photograph Patriarch, the largest bristlecone pine in the eastern sierras. At just 1500 years old, Patriarch is a relative youngster.

From the White Mountains, I plan to check out Bodie to see if conditions warrant waiting a few days for snow. If not, I’ll head for Alabama Hills to find and photograph as many arches as I can find in a few days. Along the way, I’ll look for opportunities along McGhee Creek, Mono Lake and Bishop.

Lathe Arch   Mobius Arch   Mono Lake Sunrise

If anyone would like to join me, send me an e-mail and we’ll make plans to meet somewhere along the way.

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Sunflowers Galore

by on Sep.03, 2013, under Articles, Monday Morning Tips

White Mountains of Arizona

Mary and I took Arbey the RV (get it?) up to the Show Low, Pinetop & Lakeside area of Arizona for a week. It was my first time up there so it was interesting to see a completely different side of AZ. We were amazed at the huge displays of mountain sunflowers. It turned out that the locals had never seen such a massive display either. We were told this was the tallest and most bountiful display they had seen in decades. We just happened to be there at the right time.

Fort Apache-2   Fort Apache-5635   Fort Apache-5648

The first is one of the few HDRs that I like. It’s subtle enough to pass as a regular photo but HDR has added enough “pop” to make it better than the original. I used a 3 frames at 0, +2, -2 and combined them in Photomatix Essentials with Remove Ghosts checked. The wind was blowing enough that the flowers would have been badly ghosted otherwise. The longest lens I had was 200mm to I couldn’t active my “Move Horse Closer” mode. I could crop it a bit tighter but I was using my Canon 7D so full frame is 18MP. If I crop by 50% to make the horse twice as large, I only have 9MP, not enough for a large print. My other option is to print large, perhaps 24″ x 36″. Decisions, decisions!

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Mea Culpa

by on Aug.05, 2013, under Articles, Monday Morning Tips

aka, “My Bad!” or “Oh $#!*”

I sincerely apologize for the e-mail blast that went out last night from my new personal blog I was testing. I didn’t realize the new blog, titled “Right of Center,” shared the same subscriber list as my photography blog. When it’s ready to go live, the new blog will be by invitation only.

To those who sent me cogent, articulate protests, I thank you. Now, back to our original programming.

Desert Caballeros Western Museum

DCWM is one of the premiere western art museums in the country. One of the reasons we moved to Wickenburg is because DCWM was here.

I’m proud to say, three of my prints are hanging in the museum, next to American masters like Remington and Russell. OK, so my prints are in a separate building but, still, they’re in the same museum!

Mobius Arch framing Lone Pine Peak at night   Past Glory   Standing Guard

These three were selected as part of the West of Center exhibit of Wickenburg Art Club members. All the art is for sale and all proceeds will be donated to survivors of the Yarnell Hill fire. The fire, which killed 19 firefighters, was about 20 miles north of us. The sale of these prints will assist the families of the firefighters through the 100 Club of Arizona, Yarnell residents through the Arizona Community Foundation and their pets will benefit from the Wickenburg Humane Society which cared for them during and after the fire.

Photojournalism

Tomorrow, I’m photographing my friend Paul and his crew fell a huge eucalyptus tree. I don’t know exactly how tall it is but I estimate it’s a good 40 feet. I’ll try to get some photos uploaded quickly.

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Last Photos of Atlantic Puffins

by on Jul.13, 2013, under Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photos

Final Six Atlantic Puffin Photos

These guys are so cute and comical that I’d like to post all 300 from my 90 minutes on the island but I don’t want to bore you to tears. If I ever recover from my seasickness, I may try this again in the future.

Puffins-16   Puffins-15   Puffins-14

I believe the first guy was scratching under his chin but it might be part of his grooming ritual. Either way, he’s too cute. I liked the 2nd photo because of the soft green bokeh. The 3rd, if I recall correctly, was the start of a short flight (more like a hop) to another rock. He flapped his wings several times and flew just as I was distracted.

Puffins-13   Puffins-18   Puffins-17

These last three are simply “formal” portraits. Although, at first blush, they appear comical, they’re really very handsome birds. Unfortunately, their take-off and landing skills leave a lot to be desired. When landing, they remind me of gooney birds on Midway Island in the Pacific. It’s more of an inelegant, controlled crash.

Lubec, ME, Easternmost Point in the US

Cutler-1   Cutler-2   Cutler-5

I tried my hand at creating a “painterly” effect without resorting to the myriad LR or PS CS plug-ins, add-ons or other 3rd party tools. I liked this old house and I think it looks like a painting without going “over the top” with special effects. What’s your opinion? The mailbox (from a different abandoned house) looked rather forlorn even before I processed it. The tombstone would look great on a “dark and stormy night.” Unfortunately, clear skies were all I had to work with. All these photos were made with my “go-to” lens, the 24-105/4IS L on a Canon 5D Mk II and post-processed in LR4.

Cutler-3   Cutler-4

The chain fence was in front of a derelict building. I’m not completely happy with it because I missed my DOF. The last photo is the prettiest house we saw in Lubec. It was the epitome of a picturesque New England waterfront home.

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More Atlantic Puffins

by on Jul.05, 2013, under Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photoshop CS2/4

Puffins of Machias Seal Island

Puffins-7 Puffins-8 Puffins-9

Puffins are highly social birds but, often it’s hard to tell what’s really happening. In the first photo, I believe the trio in the foreground is gossiping but, it’s possible it’s two males about to get it on over a female. Since it’s impossible to tell males and females apart so it’s also possible it’s three females griping about the lack of eligible males. (just kidding)

I’m pretty sure the second photo is of a nesting pair but they haven’t yet produced an egg. Otherwise, one or the other would be sitting on it. The third photo is a bit sad. It’s either a male with nest building material looking for a female to “play house” or it’s a male who’s lost his mate. The reason I think it’s a male is because a female wouldn’t stand around looking forlorn. She would be busy building the nest, assuming the guy is watching TV at the local bar!

 Puffins-10 Puffins-11 Puffins-12

The first photo is another angle of the guy with nest building materials in his beak. The second photo shows a pair on a nest. They either have an egg or are very close to it. The last photo is the only one made with the 5D MkII and 70-200/4L. All the others were made with a Canon 7D with the 70-200/4L + 1.4TC. The last photo is also one of the first where I applied a positive vignette. I usually apply a negative vignette (slider under Effects) to slightly darken the corners and draw the viewer’s eye to the subject. In this case, the light BG seemed to call for a positive (light) vignette.

Puffins only display the colorful beak and yellow cheek “rosette” during nesting season. Both males and females have the same coloring. The heads are not white but a very light gray. Like so many creatures, Atlantic puffins are considered “Threatened,” just one step removed from “Endangered.” In the past, Atlantic puffins were hunted to near extinction along the New England coast. By 1900, just two small colonies remained off the Maine coast. Here is a link to a good Atlantic puffin FAQ.

Lightroom Tips

As previously mentioned, I use Lightroom 4 (LR4) for almost all my processing anymore. A good reason for making the switch to LR is that Adobe Photoshop CS (Creative Suite) is no longer offered as a stand-alone product. It can only be purchased as a subscription model. I don’t know about you but paying $50/month for an entire suite of tools of which I would only use about 5% is a beyond silly. I’m currently at Photoshop CS4 and plan to never again upgrade.

The transition to LR entails yet another learning curve. Some people thrive on the challenge while others just want to “git ‘er done!” For photographers of either bent, the best resource for learning LR is George Jardine. I know I sound like a shill, a broken record of a shill, to be exact but George really is the best. Applying what I’ve learned from George’s videos, I can now import, tag, sort, develop and output hundreds of photos in just a fraction of the time it used to take with Photoshop CS4 and Bridge. Most importantly, I now have a clear grasp of what LR controls do, how to apply them and how to evaluate the results. How often have you agonized over a photo, wondering if one treatment was better, worse or the same as another? Now, you can actually know what you’re doing! What a concept!

I don’t get a nickel from George, I just want my readers to get the best they can out of their photos and George’s videos are the path to LR enlightenment. So, today’s LR Tip is, “If you don’t have it, get it. If you have it but haven’t installed it, install it. If you’ve been flailing around inside it, check out George’s videos.”

By the way, LR is NOT for you if you want to mangle pixels through cutting, pasting and otherwise changing the appearance or position of photo elements. LR is NOT for the scrapbook contingent or “Look at my adorable (baby, puppy, kitty, etc)” crowd.

More on Acadia National Park

Acadia-1 Acadia-2 Acadia-3

Long time readers will recognize my penchant for the absurd. As I alluded in my previous post, Acadia is actually a monument to Old Money, as opposed to, say, Old Faithful. The first photo shows stainless steel rails and a freshly painted walkway at a scenic area. There may be others but this is the first time I’ve seen stainless steel handrails throughout a NP. The next two photos show how even water is carefully channeled and diverted to its proper place. I must admit, they did a nice job of selecting and placing the rocks.

Acadia-4 Acadia-5 Acadia-6

The first photo shows the South Ridge Trailhead at the top of Cadillac Mountain. I was trying to make a photo without the blue trail markers on the rocks but it was impossible. Really? Trail markers on a 1300′, 3.5 mile trail? Is this a Cub Scout training course? The 2nd photo is my effort to try to photograph our RV at the top of Cadillac Mountain without the gazillion tourists and cars. Yes, Yellowstone, Yosemite and other western NPs are crowded but, seriously, so many people and cars that I have to walk into the middle of bushes to block all the clutter?

The last photo is the raison d’être for Acadia National Park, the toney ‘hood of Bar Harbor. This is what Rockefeller and his cronies wanted to protect by declaring the surrounding land a national park. Ain’t America great, money can buy anything including a national park for your backyard.

 

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