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A Special Weekend in Bend with Sean Bagshaw and Zack Schnepf

Sunset - Smith Rock Oregon - 2013

Last weekend, I headed north from Menlo Park to Bend, Oregon – and a photo workshop led by Sean Bagshaw and Zack Schnepf. This image is from our visit to Smith Rock on Saturday evening. A special spot – with some very special clouds that evening.

Sean and Zack are masters at both the outdoors and post-processing images. They’re both very familiar with the luminosity masking approach pioneered by Tony Kuyper. If you have an opportunity, do a workshop with them! Just be prepared – at this time of year – for a couple of long days – up early to leave around 4:15 AM for the morning sunrise and staying up late to catch the evening sunset!

Here are a couple of other images – taken at sunrise Saturday morning (same day) at Dillon Falls along the Deschutes River south of Bend.

Morning - Dillion Falls - 2013

Rapids - Deschutes River - 2013

Untitled - Dillon Falls - 2013

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Back to Hawaii in Monochrome with my Canon 5D Mark II

Tree in a Field on Mahukona-Niuli Road - Hawaii - 2009 by Scott Loftesness

One of my favorite things about Flickr is how I get to see some of my older images – just because someone else found them by searching on Flickr or Google! Each day, I enjoy looking at a report that Flickr provides of activity on all of my photos.

A couple of days ago, an earlier color HDR image of this photo turned up. It brought back memories of that place – on the Big Island of Hawaii on the road heading east of of Hawi. I shot this as a 3-image handheld bracketed shot with my Canon 5D Mark II. The original image I posted on Flickr was processed in Photomatix Pro.

Tonight, I opted to process the HDR using Photoshop’s Merge to HDR Pro. I then brought it into Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2, added some control points for tweaking before finishing it back in Photoshop with some dodging and burning using some new techniques we’ve been learning.

I find this composition very pleasing to the eye – with that gradual slope on the hillside, the beautiful angle of the tree and the foggy skies above. Ah, Hawaii indeed!

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Lessons from 2012: Our Web Has a Long Memory

New Year's Day - San Francisco - 2012

I just took a look back at the most popular web pages here on my blog during the last twelve months of 2012. The most popular pages – based on page views – weren’t written this year – but they’ve stood the test of time – at least as far as Google and the other search engines are concerned.

Here’s the list of top 10 posts based on page views during 2012:

  1. The Winner Is: Oven Roasted Tri-Tip Roast for Football Sunday (Feb 1, 2009) – Best ways to cook tri-tip!
  2. My Life in a Sling! (Nov 10, 2009) – The story of my rotator cuff surgery – and an amazing community of others who’ve also been through this rough surgery.
  3. HOW TO: Setting up the Canon PowerShot S90 to Shoot HDR (Jan 31, 2010) – All about how to shoot HDR images from compact point and shoot camera.
  4. New Photoshop Learnings from Jaime Ibarra (Nov 13, 2011) – Jaime’s a master and I took a private 1:1 workshop with him.
  5. Sunday Morning Coffee: Carmel and Point Lobos (Jan 25, 2009) – So many memories of the Monterey coast. If you go, check this out.
  6. Yosemite’s Half Dome – Handheld HDR with Canon 5D Mark II (jun 5, 2010) – My early learnings about HDR.
  7. First Time Out with HDR Photography on a Canon 40D (Sep 6, 2008) – More early HDR learnings.
  8. My Mid-2011 Photography Workflow (Jul 30, 2011) – An important milestone in my workflow – which has since moved beyond.
  9. Hierarchies – of Life and Privacy (Aug 13, 2005) – A perspective that’s stood the test of time.
  10. A Floating Faucet Fountain (Jun 13, 2009) – One of those fun stories that brings back childhood memories of home shows and the like!

Look at that list – no posts from 2012 made the top 10! It’s kinda crazy how long the long tail is. In the case of my blog, the top 3 posts accounted for over 50% of this year’s page views. The remaining 40+% were spread out among hundreds of other posts. I wonder how this distribution might change in 2013?

What post from 2012 was the most viewed? This one – How We Appreciate Great Photographs.

Looking back a year ago, here’s my list of the most popular posts of 2011 – with my commentary. Interesting to see some changes this year in the rankings.

See you next year!

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A Special Light – Pigeon Point Lighthouse

A Special Light - Pigeon Point - 2012

My photo adventure yesterday over to the coast was one of those rare ones – I captured so many great images very quickly in the beautiful light and cloudy skies. It truly was a photographer’s winter delight!

I enjoy exploring a wide range of post-processing techniques with my images. Realism is fine – and many (most?) of my images are exactly that – realistic as shot in the field.

But, sometimes, you find a special image that you just want to “push” – off into a different, more artistic direction. Yesterday’s lighthouse shots at Pigeon Point are just the latest example.

I processed this image as a single image HDR from the original RAW file shot handheld with my Canon D600. I used Photomatix Pro for that initial HDR conversion and then imported the image into Photoshop CS6. After a few tweaks in Adobe Camera Raw, I used Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4’s Brilliance/Warmth filter in two passes to shift the color of the sun. There’s something about the warmth of this kind of processing that adds to our appreciation of an image – and it seemed to work in this case.

Finally, I used a few Content Aware fills in Photoshop on various chunks of the sky to smooth things out a bit and remove some potentially distracting artifacts. And I was done.

A “special light” indeed – hope you like it!

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A Rainy January Day at the Golden Gate

A Rainy January Day - Golden Gate - 2010

This is another one of my older images – from a January morning in 2010 when I was at the Golden Gate Bridge shooting with my tiny Canon PowerShot S90 camera. This is a three shot HDR (High Dynamic Range) image – blended in Photoshop using HDR Pro and then tweaked using my latest Lab color workflow and some other tricks. I remember being cold and damp on this particular morning – and this image brings back memories of that mood!

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Revisiting Yosemite – Three Brothers and the Merced River

I recently had a request for a large print of my Yosemite – Three Brothers image.

After looking at my earlier 2010 processed version, I decided to re-process it again using some of the techniques I’ve been learning. I think a better, more natural image resulted. See what you think…

Here’s my 2010 effort at an HDR (High Dynamic Range) version:

Three Brothers - Merced River - Yosemite - 2010

And, finally, here’s my late 2012 version – a more sophisticated workflow and, hopefully, a better and more natural image:

Three Brothers - Merced River - Yosemite - 2010

Click on either image to see a larger version.

Funny how our tastes change as we learn more about what to look for. The earlier version is one of my most popular images – but, frankly, it’s a bit overdone. That’s what we tend to do as we learn new tricks. Instead of that earlier version, I’ll be printing a 20×30 inch version of tonight’s version – and looking forward to seeing how it turns out!

This image was shot during a one day private workshop that my son David and I took with Michael Frye in early October 2010. I was shooting with my Canon 5D Mark II, David with my tiny Canon PowerShot S95. With Michael’s great help, we learned a whole lot about photography from some very special spots for shooting in Yosemite Valley. A great trip!

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The Lighthouse #3 – Pigeon Point – 2012

The Lighthouse #3 - Pigeon Point - 2012

This image of the Pigeon Point Lighthouse was shot on January 13, 2012, during shoot with my photo buddy Doug Kaye. We started out at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve near Half Moon Bay and then headed south along US 1 to Pigeon Point. The light was very special that day – this image was shot about 1 PM but you can see the sun angle is still not very high.

The new version of Lightroom 4.1 has 32 bit HDR Tiff handling support – so I used Merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop CS6 to blend three images together (taken on a tripod using +/-2 EV exposure bracketing with my Canon 5D Mark II). I brought the image back into Lightroom and make a few final tweaks – love how this version turned out! Click on the image to see a larger version!

And be sure to checkout my earlier post Coasting in 2012 – Pigeon Point Lighthouse for a black and white image of the Pigeon Point Lighthouse!

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More on HDR Processing Workflows using Lightroom, Photoshop

Doug Kaye has added a new post that describes several workflows – including his new favorite – for High Dynamic Range (HDR) image processing using Lightroom, Photoshop and tools such as Unified Color’s HDR Expose/32 Float, LR/Enfuse, Photomatix Pro, Nik’s HDR Efex Pro, and more.

If you’re wanting to try HDR photography, Doug’s pretty much covered the bases on the various post-processing alternatives. I’m looking forward to trying out his newly recommended favorite technique using 32 Float in Photoshop!

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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!

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A Better Approach to HDR Processing Workflow with Adobe Lightroom

Last year, I wrote a bit about my mid-2011 photography processing workflow. I talked about how, for single-image HDR processing using RAW images, I would open them in Photomatix Pro rather than using Lightroom’s export image capability. I also wrote how, for HDR bracketed images, I did use Lightroom’s export image capability to convert them to JPEGs for processing in PhotoMatix pro.

My friend Doug Kaye has shared his new insights about a better workflow for HDR processing – one that maximizes the dynamic range available for post-processing rather than limits it as the Lightroom export flow automatically does. Be sure to read his insights – along with those of Klaus Herrmann who introduced the notion creating extended EV value images as TIFF files from the original bracketed RAW images in his article “Creating HDR Images the Right Way.” If you have comments for Doug, please share them on his Google+ post.