Monthly Archives: August 2011

Simply Rocks – Analysis


You would think photographing rocks would be simple, but sometimes things are not as simple as they appear. On the shore of the Columbia River a few weeks back I decided to shoot some images of the beautiful river rock along the shore (in Maryhill State Park).  Here are a few of the decisions or things I had to take into consideration.

  1. Is the composition pleasing? Finding something that really works can take a bit of searching. Sometimes you do some rearranging to get what you what, but doing that can be risky. The image can easily look too contrived or just not natural.
  2. Lighting? In this case it was early morning sunlight. I did try shading (my body)  and using a diffuser to modify the lighting. In the end I chose the low angle sunlight. I used a polarizer and varied the amount of polarization to get the look I wanted.
  3. I varied the shutter speed. There were small rippling waves coming in and that kept the rocks wet. Did I want to see motion or not in the image? I liked the images without water motion– 1/30sec.
  4. Which lens would be best? My 105mm macro or my 24-70mm zoom? I went with the macro.
  5. What aperture? While the rock surface was flat, I did need to make sure the closest and furthest rocks would be sharp. With a 105mm macro this was critical. I found f11 was sufficient.

During the post processing there was a whole different set of questions and decisions to be made. How much contrast? How much color saturation? Any white balance adjustments to be done? Cropping? Touch up? Vignette?


So that is why these “simply rocks” images are more than they appear.

Posted in Uncategorized

Return to the Lavender


Another year has passed and the lavender returned. Due to other obligations in my life, I was not able to get out and capture much of the lavender this year. A couple of weekends ago, I got the chance to capture a field that was still in reasonable condition. It was at Willakenzie Lavender Farm in Yamhill Oregon. I got  out bright and early so I could catch the sunrise on the lavender. As I drove to my destination it was hard to resist all the possible images I saw along the way. There was nice ground fog hanging here and there along the beautiful valley, but I was determined to catch first light on the lavender. Here are a couple images from that morning.




Blog images:

  1. This is an HDR image captured at sunrise. I didn’t quite get the sunburst I hoped for. The image was processed with Nik’s HDR Efx Pro with some additional processing in Lightroom.
  2. The second image taken shortly after sunrise was a “shoot through” were I used a long lens (70-200mm zoom at 190mm) to shoot through some lavender and focus on one lavender stem. Shooting flowers with a long lens is  not typically the first thing that comes to mind, but it can result in nice images. f6.3 at 1/160 sec.
  3. The last image captures the sunrise light just brushing the tops of the lavender. 70mm, f22, 0.5sec.
Posted in HDR Photography, Uncategorized

Beyond Sprinklers


A couple of  blogs back I  wrote about shooting backlit flowers early one morning when the sprinklers were on. Then this past month I was roaming around the beautiful Stanford University campus late in the evening looking for images to capture. As I walked around the fountain sculpture shown below (the White Memorial Fountain created by Aristides "Aris" Demetrios) the sun moved back behind it creating a dazzling light show.


I couldn’t help but think of those flowers. Applying what I had learned from shooting them I was prepared to capture this set of images. This is why it is important to practice (I know you probably hate that word) your photographic skills at home and “along the way”. It prepares you for the future when you are at that far away photographic destination.


Besides capturing images from the side and taking advantage of the dark background, I also got down low and took advantage of the blue sky. I under exposed a bit to get the deep twilight sky look shown below.


The last image is one I call “The Mermaid’s Tale”.


Of all the image sets I shot at Stanford, these were the images that got me the most excited and made the creative juices flow. I am glad I was prepared.

Blog Image Notes: As with the flowers I generally had to adjust the EV to –1.- to –2.0 to handle the back light. I also shot with a range of shutter speeds to vary the shape of the falling water. The first image was at 1/80 sec and the last was at 1/800 sec. All images were processed using Lightroom 3 for tonality, etc.. The first two images used the Antique Light preset in Lightroom while the last two images kept the natural color.

After writing this blog I found this recent article about the fountain –

All images of the sculpture have been used with the permission of the artist.

Posted in Uncategorized