Monthly Archives: September 2011

Nature’s Spotlights


Lately I seem to be tuned into how nature spotlights elements of the landscape. This can happen on a cloudy day when beams of light shine through a hole in the clouds, at sunrise or sunset when the suns rays find their way through a gap in the mountains or when sun light bursts through a hole in the trees. Notice how these spotlights draw your eye to a specific feature.


I have included here a couple of examples from my recent trips to Washington, Colorado and Utah. When you are in the field shooting, make sure you take time to look all around you and notice how nature is highlighting the landscape. If you see light moving across the top of the mountains, watch and wait to see if it brings out a feature that will add to your composition. Often you have to be patient, but the reward is worth it.


Also note that nature provides different colors of spotlights come morning or evening.


Blog images:

  1. Shot at sunrise at the Colorado National Monument. Light was selectively beaming onto different monuments as the sun broke the horizon.
  2. Here a ray of sunlight coming through the tree canopy formed a perfect spotlight on the base of this Sycamore tree early one morning at Maryhill State Park in Washington state.
  3. The last rays of aspen glow just hit this mountain top through a gap between other mountains at sunset – Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.
  4. Another hole in the clouds late in the afternoon created this spotlight on the mountain side. Again in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Posted in Composition, Light

HDR Saves Even a “Bad Day”


In going back over some images I captured in Yosemite a few months ago, I was once again reminded that even a “bad day” with good subject material can yield great images. When I was in Yosemite the light was flat, the valley seemed gray and the clouds were low. I never did see Half Dome. Below is what an unedited RAW image file from the HDR set looked like. Regardless I decided to shoot HDR exposure sets keeping B&W processing in mind.

Blog_20110424_1-6I just got around to processing some of the images and am quite happy with it. Others ones like that below came out quite nice as well.The power the photographer has with HDR photography and the latest image processing tools is impressive.

Yosemite NotchYou might be asking if HDR was necessary. The answer is yes and no. The light was such that I could capture images like the first one in one exposure (the one shown is an example). However, I choose HDR to get the most data I could in the shadows and highlights. This allowed me great deal of latitude in bringing out a lot of contrast and detail. 3 exposure was probably plenty, but I don’t get to Yosemite very often.

Blog Images: Both images were generated in Photomatix 4 from 5 exposure sets. They were then post processed using Nik’s SilverEfx Pro. Some additional adjustments were made in Lightroom3.0 and/or with Nik’s Viveza2.  The last image was shot with a 450mm focal length to grab the “V’ composition I saw in the distance.

Posted in HDR Photography, Uncategorized

My Mother’s Passing


I learned today that my mother passed away. While tears were shed they were mostly tears of joy. She has had Alzheimer’s for well over a decade and so the mother I knew has been gone for many years.  It was good to know she was finally no longer subject to that terrible disease and was now in a much better place. I am sure she is singing and humming the old hymns as she used to do around our home. I can still hear them.

Why I am writing about this here? One of my earliest memories of photography is of me photographing an Iris in my mother’s garden. She loved to garden and often had me “dig in” and help break up soil, transplant shrubs and pick the vegetables. I am sure it was here love of gardening that instilled in me a love for the natural beauty of God’s creation. She has been dearly missed.

Blog Image: Somehow this image seemed appropriate. A flower basking in a glorious diffused light. New and fresh, reborn. The image itself is a high key photograph of a Coneflower taken against a white background lit by window light and filled with a reflector.

Posted in Uncategorized

Analysis and Creativity


I once had a college professor state that “you must be able to analyze before you can create”. This was much to the chagrin of the young engineers who wanted to just design something new, not analyze an existing design. Applying this to art and photography it is essential if you want to grow as a photographer. You need to spend time viewing and analyzing artwork and photographic images to see why they work. Look at the use of color, the use of tone, the composition or placement of key elements, the shape of the frame, the quality and direction of the light, the implicit lines formed by the tonal transitions, etc. You can also ask yourself how does this image make you feel and why? Why did the artist/photographer use the perspective/lens he did? Take the time just to study one image. It can really be enlightening when you are analyzing well crafted images. In the end, this analysis prepares your mind and heart to creatively capture what your eyes and soul see.

Blog Image: Taken at Stanford University. 1.3sec at f22. Processed with Lightroom 3.0.

Posted in Uncategorized