The Digital Photo Guy

Tag: HDR

Waterfalls and Wildlife

by on Jun.22, 2014, under Articles, Composition, gear, Monday Morning Tips

Twin Falls at Newberry National Volcanic Monument

By this point, I was tired of volcanoes and lava so I was looking for something different. Twin Falls isn’t particularly spectacular but it was a fun diversion. To quote Edward Weston, “I see no reason for recording the obvious” and the scene from the viewpoint was as obvious and pedestrian as I could imagine. Hopping over a low parapet, I originally intended to reconnoiter a few yards up the side of the waterfall but quickly realized I didn’t have the proper tools for getting my gear up to the pool beneath the falls. So, armed with only my Canon EOS-M, I clambered my way up about 150 feet to the base of the falls. Not having my tripod with me, I couldn’t simply slow the shutter speed to blur the water. Instead, I tried something unorthodox by setting up for a three frame HDR in Tv (Shutter Priority.) This varied the aperture for each frame, varying the DoF (depth of field.) In PhotoMatix, I created the HDR, ticking the “Remove Ghosts” option. That removed the ghosts on stationary elements like the rocks caused by camera shake but couldn’t remove the DoF blur caused by the different apertures. Bottom line, the water isn’t quite as soft and creamy as a 3-5 second exposure but it’s pretty good. The first image is my favorite but there’s something I like about the second. The third is simply “interesting.”

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Our next stop was Lassen Volcanic NP. Any more volcanoes or lava and I was going to toss my cookies so I made landscapes at the Bumpass Hell parking lot inside Lassen. The first was my favorite. I also made a version with lens correction to reduce the lens distortion in the background but I still preferred the original. I love textures but, as you can see in the second photo, I’m not very good at it. I believe this is due to my compositional style which I’ll explain in my August 9 presentation at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum. The third photo is a composition where color is a key element. It’s one of those things that came to me as I peered through the viewfinder.

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These last three are examples of PDL (pure dumb luck,) aka, why one should always carry a camera. The osprey were at McArthur-Burney Falls SP in CA. I love ospreys and tried to make some photos of this pair with one or two chicks. This wasn’t my smartest move but, as regular readers know, I’m a firm believer in doing dumb things to learn. This nest was a good 500-600 feet away, across a canyon. I dug out my Canon 300/2.8L plus Canon 2X TeleConverter and threw on the 1.4X TC for good measure. On a crop sensor Canon 7D, I had an effective 1344mm focal length. With such a jury rigged setup, capturing clear images is, as I stated in the beginning, PDL. While the 300/2.8L is one of Canon’s sharpest lenses, adding the 2X and 1.4X teleconverters has a noticeable effect on IQ (image quality.) Further, even on a Gitzo 3530LS, Markins ballhead and Wimberly Sidekick, the slightest breeze or movement will induce blur. These are the two best out of nearly 100 frames.

Finally, at Clear Lake SP, I wasn’t expecting much so I had my standard setup, a Canon 5D MkII and Canon 24-105L with the Canon EOS-M in my vest pocket. As we crossed a bridge, a doe and her two fawns casually walked toward us. I was so surprised I only had time for two shots before they ambled off through the brush. Almost all the critters at this park were amazingly tame.

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Cowboys, Cowgirls & Art Deco

by on Jun.08, 2014, under Articles, Composition, Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Workshops

Oregon is a Fun State

We’ve been stuck in Klamath Falls, OR for the past 4 days while our toad (towed vehicle) is repaired. The 1993 Geo Tracker has been bulletproof but, after 21 years, things are bound to fail. This time, the electronic ignition control module died at Crater Lake so we towed it into Holmes Four Wheel Drive in KF. They diagnosed it ASAP but the part was nowhere to be found locally. Hopefully, the correct part will arrive tomorrow, Monday, 6/9 and we’ll be able to get back on the road. In the meantime, we’ve been parked at the Klamath County Fairgrounds where I photographed cowgirls competing in barrel races. Here are a few of the better photos.

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I ran the flag bearer through Topaz Labs Adjust and added a crinkley border just as an exercise in using TLA. Let me know what you think. The 2nd photo is titled, “Her mane looks better than mine!” I like the expression in the horse’s eye. The 3rd was the eventual winner. You can see how hard her horse cuts the corners. I love the girl coming off the saddle in the 4th. The focus and intensity is awesome in the 5th rider and I was happy to get the bull with all four hooves off the ground.

Crater Lake

Before arriving in KF, we were at Crater Lake. It’s hard to make a photo that doesn’t look like the gazillion other photos taken by a gazillion other tourists so I did what I could by making a panorama of reflections on fairly still waters.


Prior to that, we were at Junipers Reservoir RV Park outside Lakeview, OR. That was a beautiful place. The park is inside an 8000 acres working cattle and timber ranch. I got a chance to photograph some ranch hands rounding up and driving cattle to a different area. For the first time in my life, I want to learn to ride a horse so I can keep up with the cowboys instead of driving my 4WD through brush. Of course, modern cowboys are different from cowboys of old. One was talking on his cellphone while driving cattle.

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The photo of the 2 cows crossing the trail is titled, “Quick, while he’s not looking!” The last 2 photos are SYFs (small yellow flowers) covering a field near the reservoir. Notice how each uses a different compositional style. Be sure to attend my lecture at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum on August 9 from 1 to 4 PM to learn how and why I composed both.

Art Deco in Klamath Falls

At first blush, KF appears to be a down-on-its-luck, podunk town but we found a vibrant Old Town area that has been revitalized through art and culture. The 10 block stretch of beautiful art deco buildings is bookended by 2 wonderful museums, the Klamath County Museum at the north end and the Favell Museum of western art at the south end. A 3rd museum between the two, the Baldwin Hotel Museum, is reportedly another excellent venue but we didn’t have time. There was a bustling Farmers’ Market as well as numerous restaurants in that 10 block stretch. We ate at the Thai Orchid Cafe and were suitably impressed with the taste, quality and prices.

What most caught my eye were the amazing art deco buildings along this 10 block area. I don’t know if the buildings were restored or facades were applied after the fact but they were beautiful.

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We got to the Farmers’ Market around noon and several of the vendors were already on the verge of being sold out. As for the buildings, I wish I had my 17-40/4L but all I had was my 24-105 on the Canon 5D MkII and my EOS-M mirrorless. I didn’t even have my tripod with me. However, the Lens Correction tool in Lightroom 4.4 got a workout with these photos. I simply liked the “Hot & Cold Water” sign on the Crater Hotel. The last was simply a photo that made me laugh.

The thing that I most enjoyed about KF is that everyone is pleasant and polite. I know it’s not nice to stereotype but I was blown away when a tattooed, skinhead wearing a heavy metal T-shirt opened the door for Mary and me, smiled and said, “Have a great day!”

Model Shoot on July 19 at Wickenburg Art Center

Remember to reserve your spot for the WAC Model Shoot. Chy Von Shweets will be our rockabilly, high fashion model (think Bettie Page with tattoos meets Vogue.) The shoot is $20 in advance to pay the model for gas, makeup supplies and lunch. There will be room for just 6 photographers. If you’ve been interested in studio work, this is a low-cost way to see if this is for you. You can send the $20 via PayPal to

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Freebies, Webinars and Meetups

by on Apr.25, 2011, under Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photoshop CS2/4, Photoshop Elements, Schedule, Webcast, Workshops

Gloria Hopkins Composition Webinar Video Available

Click THIS link to register to view the video recording. Registration is $19.95. If you bought Gloria’s book, Natural Design, after April 20, 2011, send me an e-mail with your name, e-mail address and date of purchase. You will receive a $5 (25%) discount code.

Pacific Southwest Railway Museum – April 30

On Saturday, 4/30 from 9AM to around noon, I’ll be at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo, CA to photograph big, old, rusty, broken railroad engines, cars and equipment. Here’s more info.

HDR Tools, Tips and Techniques Webinar, May 7

On Saturday, May 7 from 9AM until noon, learn about the latest in HDR from a National Geographic photographer. Click HERE to register. For more details, click HERE.

Bighorn Sheep Scouting Trip, May 20

On Friday, May 20, I’ll be in the Palm Springs/Morongo Valley area to search for a herd of wild bighorn sheep. I only recently heard about this herd so I can’t guarantee I’ll find anything. I don’t know of any accommodations or services nearby, I’ll be in my RV. To join me, click HERE to send me an e-mail.

Palomar College Summer Classes Posted

Digital SLR for New dSLR Owners, June 14 & 15
Photoshop Elements for Digital Photographers, July 12 & 14
Hands-On Photoshoot at Kit Carson Park, August 6

Photoshop Elements in Six Weeks, May 11

Learn Photoshop Elements in six weeks, just one hour each Wednesday.

Eastern Sierras, October 2011

In either the second or third week of October 2011, I’ll be in the Eastern Sierras to photograph Mono Lake and Ancient Bristlecone Pines National Forest. If it snows, I may change the schedule to include Bodie, a magical place in the snow. If you’d like to join me, reserve the middle weeks of October. I’ll be in my RV so if I can tell you about campgrounds and BLM land where you can car/tent camp. If you need a hotel, you’ll have to make your own plans. To join me, click HERE to send me an e-mail.

$2 Webinar Series

If 20 or more people express interest, I’ll schedule a $2 webinar on just about any dSLR photography-related subject. The first two covered Buying a dSLR and dSLR Exposure Basics. Post your requests/comments here and we’ll see which subjects have legs.

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Sharpening Videos and Webinars

by on Apr.24, 2011, under Composition, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photoshop CS2/4, Photoshop Elements, Workshops

Sharpening Photos in Photoshop Elements

On the San Diego Photography Meetup Group, I commented that a photo was a bit soft and could benefit from sharpening. The photographer replied she didn’t know much about sharpening. That got me to thinking that sharpening is something most experienced digital photographers do automatically without a lot of thought but it could be baffling to many newbies. I’ve embedded a Video Monday Morning Tip that explains basics of sharpening.
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There are several more videos covering sharpening in the Video section as well as a PDF article in the Monday Morning Tips section. I hope you’ll take a moment to review these resources so you can make your photos the best they can be.

Most of my videos and articles are basic enough that the instructions work for either Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

Rob Sheppard HDR Webinar

REGISTER today for Rob Sheppard’s HDR Tools, Tips and Techniques webinar on Saturday, May 7 at 9AM Pacific Time. Rob is editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine, a National Geographic contributer and author of over 30 photography books. Learn from the man who edited Galen Rowell’s articles. I’ve taken classes with Rob and my photography has improved in immeasurably due to his teaching skills.

2011 San Diego Fair Entries

Here are my entries for the 2011 San Diego Fair. It’s your turn to critique my work. Let me know if you see anything you would have done differently in either making the photo or post-processing it for competition. Entering a competition is a good way to validate your work and ensure you’re not “drinking the Kool Aid.” Just because your mother says you’re a good photographer doesn’t mean anyone else thinks so!


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Gloria Hopkins Webinar a Hit!

by on Apr.21, 2011, under Composition, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing

Composition Clarified in Three Hours

In just three short hours, Gloria Hopkins explained the ins and outs of composition in clear, concise, succinct terms that everyone understood. As a confident artist, Gloria used both her award winning photos as well “cutting room floor” dregs to demonstrate photographic composition. It’s a rare artist that allows others to see her failures as well as her winners. The entire webinar was recorded and will be made available for viewing in a few days. Stay tuned for details.

HDR Tools, Tips and Techniques Webinar – May 7

Rob Sheppard is on tap in two weeks to present his HDR Tools, Tips and Techniques webinar. Any photographer who hasn’t been sleeping under a rock knows that HDR (high dynamic range) is the hottest thing in photography. Many have seen works by early HDR pioneers like Ben Wilmore and Rick Sammon. Many have also been waiting for HDR to mature into “real” art that accurately reflects the grandeur of nature without the garish, cartoon-like effects of early HDR tools. 

If your idea of HDR is like the photo of the cars immediately to the left but you’d like to produce HDR like the sunrise in the Eastern Sierras (far left,) then this is the webinar for you.

Rob Sheppard has been working to develop a natural HDR style that complements rather than exaggerates nature’s beauty. Rob will tell us about his favorite tools as well as tools that failed to make the cut. Rob will demonstrate techniques for creating HDR photos that have the look and grace of an Ansel Adams without hauling a 65lbs view camera and glass plates into the wilderness. While demonstrating tips for optimizing these techniques, Rob will explain the process on your screen.

You’ll actually watch Rob develop an image on your monitor. Everything he does will immediately show up on your monitor. If you have a question, he can stop, backup, restart or otherwise redo the step to answer your question. Don’t miss this webinar. It’s not everyday that you can sit with a National Geographic photographer.

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