Half Moon Bay Photography Photography - Canon 5D Mark II Textures

Pelican on the Wing at Half Moon Bay’s Princeton Harbor

On the Wing - Half Moon Bay - 2012

I’ve been playing around again with textures – this time using the new Adobe Paper Texture Pro extension developed by Russell Brown. This extension includes several beautiful textures from Flypaper Textures – and I used two of these in adding texture to this image.

The original image was shot with my Canon 5D Mark II using the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens. It was shot at 200mm @ f/3.2 at 1/6400 sec. The sky was hazy providing a great background for adding textures – but otherwise making for a very boring image!

For this treatment, I added a radial filter in Photoshop CC to create the vignette and then added two layers of Flypaper Textures from the Adobe Paper Texture Pro panel – Muscatel and Apple Blush – both in Overlay blend mode at 100% opacity. I used a layer mask on both layers (picking up the red channel to use for the mask itself) which blocked the textures on the pelican itself. A final sharpening layer was added using high pass sharpening only on the pelican.

Half Moon Bay Nikon Photography Photography - Nikon D600 Photoshop

The Wonders of Luminosity Masking in Photoshop


I’m increasingly using the techniques originally pioneered by Tony Kuyper known as “luminosity masking” when editing images in Photoshop. The basic idea behind luminosity masking is to take advantage of the luminosity levels in an image and to use that information to enable much more selective editing of the image.

Imagine, for example, dividing the range of luminosity levels into 10 ranges – from pure which to pure black. Tony’s techniques allow you to easily isolate each of those luminosity ranges so that you can make adjustments to just that portion of an image. Tony’s got some free tutorials on his website and also sells a set of Photoshop actions and a panel that make using his techniques much faster and easier. Along with his stuff, Sean Bagshaw has worked with Tony to create an excellent set of video tutorials that shows how to apply these techniques. Sean’s a great teacher – and the videos are crisp and to the point – also highly recommended!

Here’s an example. Earlier today I visited the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach just north of Half Moon Bay along the great Pacific Coast south of San Francisco. It was a drizzly wet day on the coast today – and that’s what I was hoping for.

The image above is straight out of the camera (a Nikon D600). Using just a few simple steps applying Tony’s actions, I edited the image into the version below. The tonal contrast is so much better – and it’s also a bit sharper thanks to Don Margulis’ excellent Sharpen 2013 actions (part of his Picture Postcard Workflow). I’ve titled the image “Fallen” – if you look closely you’ll see why – and that’s what caught my eye while walking by this morning.

Fallen - Fitzgerald Marine Reserve - 2013

Black and White Half Moon Bay Photography Photography - Black & White Photography - Canon 5D Mark II

A look back at the F/V Josie C aground in Half Moon Bay

Josie C #2 - Half Moon Bay - 2009

In the summer of 2009, something happened to the fishing boat Josie C and she ran aground in the Princeton Harbor at Half Moon Bay.

When I originally processed this image, I used a single image HDR treatment which (as is often the case with HDR newcomers!) was a bit overdone. I recently went back and processed the image again – this time not using HDR but more conventional techniques in Photoshop.

Above is my favorite – the black and white version. Below is the color version from which the black and white was created using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2.

Josie C #2 - Half Moon Bay - 2009

Half Moon Bay Nikon Photography Photoshop

Back to Fitzgerald

This morning I headed over the hill to Half Moon Bay – hoping to catch a few shots of the James Johnston House with some puffy clouds in the sky. But my plans were thwarted – the clouds had moved south and the was a Holiday Boutique and Winter Tea underway at the house. So, instead, I headed north up Highway 1 to Moss Beach and Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.

Fitzgerald is one of my favorite spots along this part of the Pacific coast – and I was back with my new Nikon D600 and tripod to see what I could find. As it turned out, there’s a lot of repair work going on in the Reserve. At first I was disappointed but after I walked in further I saw an opportunity for a shot. Unfortunately, being a relative novice with the new camera, I wasn’t able to get a clean HDR image (tripod shake, no cable release, not knowing how to use the self-timer). So, instead, I opted to just post-process one of the single image shots I got as part of a 3 image HDR bracketing sequence.

Here’s that original image:

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

Tonight I processed the image in Photoshop CS6 – applying some of the techniques I’ve learned recently in workshops with Mark Lindsay and Harold Davis – along with some additional explorations that Doug Kaye and I have doing around these workflows. Much of the goal in applying these techniques is to transform a “flat” image into one which has much more depth – helping to focus our eyes on the areas of high interest.

Here’s tonight’s result:

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

Black and White Half Moon Bay iPhone 4S Monochrome Photography Photography Photography - Black & White

A Walk at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

Yesterday, we took a walk through the “tunnel” of trees at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve north of Half Moon Bay. This image was shot using my iPhone 4S and adjusted in Snapseed on the iPhone itself – pretty amazing how you can hold such great photography tools in your hand these days!

Fitzgerald black and white

These trees were planted in the late 1800’s by Juergen Wienke, a German immigrant who named the area “Moss Beach” and opened a hotel in the area.

Black and White Half Moon Bay Nik Software Photography Photography - Black & White Photography - Canon 5D Mark II Photoshop

From Capture to Final Image – An Example

IMG 8129

In January, Doug Kaye and I headed out for some photography along the Half Moon Bay coastline. We headed first for the beautiful trees of the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve – and, as we were heading back, I shot this image looking down on the beach at Moss Beach. The image above is straight out of the camera – a Canon 5D Mark II with a 70-200mm f/2.8L lens. This particular image was shot at 1/800 sec at f/7.1 at a focal length of 135mm.

The final image – after post-processing – is below – titled: : Windswept – Moss Beach – 2012.

Windswept - Moss Beach - 2012

The steps from the original image out of the camera to the final result involved some tweaking first in Lightroom 4 – mostly about alignment – and then exporting the image to PhotoShop CS6 for some tweaking using Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 and Silver Efex Pro 2. In Color Efex, I used the Detail Extractor, Tonal Contrast and Glamour Glow filters to enhance the color image. I then opened it in Silver Efex to convert it to monochrome – and tweaked the brightness, contrast and structure settings to enhanced the layered image effect. A bit of selenium color was added along with a subtle vignette – before saving it and bringing it back into Lightroom.

A few final tweaks in Lightroom included final alignment and cropping, and an additional subtle vignette. I also updated the keyword meta data and added a title/caption.

Hope you enjoy it!

Black and White Half Moon Bay Lighthouse Monochrome Photography Nik Software Photography Photography - Black & White Photography - Canon 5D Mark II

Point Montara Light Station

Late this afternoon, I headed over to Half Moon Bay – specifically to Montara and the Point Montara Light Station – to join up with a small group of Google+ photographers. I tried several HDR shots – none of which worked very well given the continuous movement in the ocean. But this image grabbed me – primarily because of the vanishing point effect of the clouds merging at the lighthouse.

I shot this with my Canon 5D Mark II on a tripod – using a Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 lens. I shot it at f/11 at 1/50 of a second and post-processed it in PhotoShop CS5 using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 and Color Efex Pro 4 filters. I particularly like the wide tonal contrast around the lighthouse in this image.

Half Moon Bay HDR Photography Lightroom Nik Software Photography Photography - Canon 5D Mark II Photomatix Pro

The Tunnel View at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

Yesterday, Doug Kaye and I headed out on a glorious January morning for some photography shooting over on the coast. We headed first to one of my favorite spots – Fitzgerald Marine Reserve north of Half Moon Bay. This county park has an iconic row of trees that offer a beautiful setting for us photographers. On some mornings, you’ll get fog – on others, a mix of fog and sun. Yesterday we had a glorious bright sun – but with that low sun angle this time of year.

I call this image “Tunnel View” – mimicking the Yosemite shots of that same name. I just love how these trees frame the path – and provide their own tunnel. The sun and shadows add layers to the image.

I shot this with my Canon 5D Mark II with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L lens – and post-processed it from a single RAW file using Lightroom to export 0/+/-2 exposure JPEGS for processing in Photomatix Pro. I imported that result into Photoshop CS5 and further tweaked the image using Nik’s Viveza 2, Color Efex Pro 4 and the amazing Silver Efex Pro 2. I did a final blend in Photoshop before importing back into Lightroom for some final tweaks, noise reduction, a touch of vignette and a bit of love (!).

Hope you enjoy it!

Compact HDR Half Moon Bay HDR Photography Photography Photography - Canon PowerShot S90

Tree Canyon – Fitzgerald Marine Preserve

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve (HDR) by Scott Loftesness

A year ago today, I was over in Half Moon Bay on one of those amazing mornings – where the fog and the sun are almost dancing in the sky.

The Fitzgerald Marine Preserve has this amazing cypress tree canyon (no better word for it!) the someone planted and tended many years ago. You feel like you’re in a tunnel walking this lane – and, usually, there’s no one else around to spoil the natural beauty.

This particular image was shot in HDR using my Canon PowerShot S90 mounted on a tripod. The sun had just started shining through from above those trees on the left while the rest of the trees were still below foggy skies. Just seeing this image brings back vivid memories for me of having been there – just a year ago.

It’s time to get back over there again!

Half Moon Bay HDR Photography Photography Photography - Canon PowerShot S90

More Canon PowerShot S90 HDR Photography – Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

I had such fun on my brief excursion to Stanford yesterday shooting HDR photos for the first time on my new Canon S90 that I got going early this morning for a trip over the hills to Half Moon Bay and environs.

I have several favorite spots for taking shots in Half Moon Bay and I visited each of them in turn this morning while the light was still good and low over the winter horizon. But, of all the places, the best shot of the day came from one of my favorite walks among the cypress trees in the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. See what you think – view it larger here!


The sun glow in this photo is amazing – especially considering that the sun was actually a bit beyond the upper right corner of the photo. Today, I again used a tripod for the S90, shot three JPEG images at 0 and +/- 2 stops in aperture priority, f/8, ISO 80, and post-processed using Photomatix Pro and Lightroom 2.6. (Here’s a link to a similar shot taken last July with my Canon 5D Mark II.)

Shooting HDR with this superb tiny little camera is turning out to be a whole lot of fun! Throw the S90 on a lightweight tripod (it looks so tiny up there!) – and you can go almost anywhere and take some really superb HDR shots – without the weight of a big camera and lens! After all, the only reason I bought the Canon S90 was because of my rotator cuff surgery in my right shoulder about 10 weeks ago which made shooting with my Canon 5D Mark II impossible for a period of time. The S90 has kept me in the game – learning new things about using compact “point and shoot” cameras to make some great photos!