Monthly Archives: March 2010

Something Totally Different

Horse Head Nebula 

You are probably wondering what is up with this blog image. Well, as I have mentioned before, a good photography club can present you will new opportunities in photography. This past week my club setup a program night where we all learned about shooting images of soap bubbles and soap films. While I am not planning to share the setup here (unless there is popular demand), I thought I would share some images from the shoot.


The soap film images were the most intriguing to me, but the question is, what to do with them (see the adjacent image which is a straight take). They look like some late 60’s psychedelic art. But, the key appears to be just let your imagination run wild and ask what do you see (kind of like the cloud game we played as kids – or still do).





  1. For the first image I saw the Horse Head Nebula when I looked at the soap film and so using a mix of Photoshop (lens flare) and Niksoft tools I created the image you see here. I will likely change this a bit more, but you get the idea.
  2. This is what a straight soap film shot looks like. Who knows what I will see in this one.
  3. This soap film clearly had a mountain landscape in it but I wanted to see what would happen if I shifted the color balance and used Topaz’s Simplify and Adjust to play with it (and play I did). As time went on, I saw an effect that made me think of Van Gogh’s Starry Starry Night. Using Niksoft Viveza as well (for the stars)  I ended up with an image I call Van Gogh’s Rocky Mountain Night (sorry Van Gogh…).
  4. The last image is one of the soap bubble images.


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Two Poppies


Being spring, the garden nurseries are now open and stocking perennials and annuals to fill our garden beds. As I have noted before I am both a photographer and gardener. I now look at flowers for not only how they will look in the garden but for their photographic appeal.


Poppies are wonderful subjects with the crepe paper pedals and showy centers. As you can see in the blog images I picked up a couple of them and before planting them have taken the time to photograph them with the setup I detailed a few blogs ago,

Next year I will photograph them in their garden settings.



Image details:

  1. The first image is composed from two images. They both used a heavily textured piece of glass moved in a circular motion. One (A) had the glass between the two flowers and the 2nd (B) in front of both flowers. In photoshop the two were blended (normal) slightly with A in the background. Using a brush the flower center detail of A (the white poppy) was revealed via a mask .
  2. The approach for the second image was similar, but with different glass that was held still. This created the water like illusion with the center of the front flower being out of the “water”
  3. With a pink backdrop an in camera overlay of a sharp image and a soft focused image where blended to create the soft glow.
  4. Poppy bud and flower in front of a obliquely moved glass pain with yellow tulips in the background.
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Technique, Subject and Abstraction


Do you ever find that after you discover a new technique, you start linking that technique with a specific subject? For example, I have found that after using pans and swipes on tall vertical trees I tend only think of using that technique for trees. While it works well for trees, it can work well for other subjects (if I think of it). One thing that helps is to abstract and associate techniques with the abstraction. For example, tall pine trees can boil down to strong vertical lines.


While lying on the ground shooting hostas emerging from the ground yesterday, I was able to abstract and see it similar to a forest of vertical lines. I have included a couple images from that shoot here along with a forest shot from the past.

Blog_20100319_3 There are a lot of other possibilities during spring – grape hyacinths can look like tall trees with purple foliage when viewed from the ground. So get out there and see differently – abstract and try something you never would have before with a subject.

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Not a word you hear everyday – virga  – no it isn’t some new drug.

As I was out taking a drive early this morning I saw some unique cloud phenomenon being lit by the morning sun. I quickly pulled off the road and looked for a shot of this phenomenon. As I finished taking a couple pictures a farmer walked over to see what I was up to. As we began to talk, he quickly explained that what I was looking at was “virga”, rain the evaporates before hitting the ground. He explained beyond that going into the low and high pressure centers that were moving in and out respectively – he anticipated less than 0.1 inches of rain. This farmer knew his weather.

I had seen these streaks before preceding rains, but didn’t know it had a special name. Now I do and so do you – virga.

The blog images are HDR images. I choose to go with HDR because past experienced indicated that it really helps bring out cloud/sky detail. Notice that I also used a long lens to emphasize the sky. On the last image is used NikSoft’s Viveza to light up the lights.


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Floral Decay


This may seem like a funny title for spring, but as I was doing garden bed cleanup I ran across some old hydrangea blooms from last year. They have decayed in such as way as to leave intricate lace pedals. I decided to pick up a couple and shoot some images.


I put various parts in a clamp to hold them in place and set up dried hydrangea blooms in the background for color (with a light green cloth behind them) – seemed appropriate. It was not real easy to create compositions that worked. Generally very selective focus was necessary to separate out the intricate details of one part versus another. I used a Nikon 105 micro lens. The last image required the addition of a Nikon 5T closeup lens.


In post processing I leaned toward high keying the images to go with the light delicate nature of the subject. I also enhanced the selective focus or added blur vignettes if needed.

Blog_20100310_1-5Which image do people like best?

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Magnolia’s are sure one beautiful flower to shoot – so soft. I just got a chance to shoot a star magnolia last night and the bud of a tulip magnolia earlier in the day. In the next week or so the magnolias at Portland’s Hoyt Arboretum should be at peak. I am looking forward to that. I visited there Friday and the buds were just starting to break.




Blog images:

  1. The first image is a selective blend of two exposures. One is as sharp of the core center as possible. The other was as shallow a depth a field of possible to get the orange globe from a house light. I used the center region from the first.
  2. The second image is an in camera blend of a sharp focused bug overlayed with a complete soft focus bud (which creates the glow).
  3. Shot at a moderate aperture of f9 to get a region of the magnolia sharp while keeping the car in the background out of focus. The cars color picked up on the pink in the magnolia.
  4. This last image is shot at f7 to keep the light gap in the tree limbs generally round behind the magnolia. This somewhat monotone image captures the ethereal feel of the magnolia.
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Spring Continues to Flourish


As I have noted in a couple of blogs, spring is here in the Northwest. It has been progressing faster than I would like. It can get frustrating as you see things come and go before you get all the shots you would like. Especially when you have another daytime job.  If you miss some bloom, you know it will be another year before it comes again. Or maybe you did get in a shot, but it didn’t quite come out like you wanted – maybe you will get to redo it next year – if you remember. I am not complaining, but I thought I would share one of the feelings you experience as a photographer. I suspect this is a common one.

Fortunately there is quite a string of blooming subjects around here in spring so you can’t dwell on what you missed, but look forward to what is still coming.

For the last  blog shot I broke the rules, but I think it still works. It is not only  out of focus, but completely out of focus  not a single sharp point – bet you know what they are. This images is an impression – showing only abstracted shapes, lines and color.


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It is All About Light


I find that I continuously have to remind myself that it is all about the light – finding the great and appropriate light for a subject. That may or may not be the “golden hour” around sunrise and sunset. When it comes to quality of light I find that William Neill is one of the best. If you haven’t visited his sight or blog you should. Links to his blog and website are on the right side panel.


The blog images were shot on a return to one of my local parks. While I was there during sunrise, the light on these trees was not best until a while after the golden hour. The light was magical and I brought this out more with a touch of Nik Glamour Glow.

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