Memory Lane

Here is a photo of Trey Ratcliff and Danny Levin that I took about five years ago. Danny and I were on one of Trey’s New Zealand photo adventures.

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Memory Lane
Trey Ratcliff and Danny Levine on Lake Hayes in New Zealand

That seems like such a long time ago, but I still have a ton of photos and memories. I shot this on the original Sony A7R which was relatively new at the time. Now, I’m on the third generation of that camera, but I still own the original. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

see more from New Zealand in the gallery

Actually, I processed this with the latest tools. In this case I Aurora HDR 2019 and Luminar 3. Those are also the third generations from Skylum, and I’ve been using them for three or four years now. Every time they come out with new versions I go back and find old photos like this to process. When I do that, it’s like taking a trip down memory lane.

Old Photos New Software

This is an HDR image full of fall colors that I took four years ago in New Zealand. It was the first morning of a five-day workshop with Trey Ratcliff. In the southern hemisphere, April is in Autumn so the leaves were turning.

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Old Photos New Software
This is an old photo I processed with Skylum’s Aurora 2018

I had recently purchased the Sony A7R and now, four years later, I’m still impressed with the images. Since that time Sony has created two new generations of that camera so I now use the third generation A7R III. Also, since that time Trey and Skylum introduced HDR software known as Aurora HDR. Now Aurora is in its second or third generation as well. As a result, I’m revisiting these old photos with the new software. The software has improved to the point that it’s very easy to make old photos look amazing.

New Zealand gallery

Four years seems like such a long time, I would go back in a heartbeat. For a photographer, New Zealand is a dream. But I did take thousands of photos while I was there so even if I don’t get back right away I still have these photos to look at and enjoy.

Walk Through the Forest in North Carolina

This was taken a couple years back on a walk through the forest in North Carolina. It was supposed to be a short two-hour hike but ended up taking twice as long and was more difficult than we thought.

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Walk Through the Forest
Walk Through the Forest in North Carolina

Apparently enough people get caught in the same mistake that the rangers and locals have formed a small rescue industry. I felt bad because it was my idea and my wife and sister-in-law were following my lead. But in the end we made it back before dark with a story to tell. We were hungry but too tired to go out so we ordered room service when we got back to the hotel.

As far as photography goes it couldn’t have been better; I’m still finding photos I had forgotten about. Coming from a flat place like Florida it was a big change to be in the mountains and hills. I think that also contributed to our misjudging of the hike, it was downhill going in and an uphill climb coming back. Florida has no hills so elevation never crossed our minds.

I just looked up the step history for the hike on my iPhone; it was 14,000 steps and the equivalent of 43 stories climbed. That may not be Mount Everest but it’s a lot of uphill walking for someone from Florida. When I’m taking pictures I get carried away and it’s probably not fair to the people I’m with.

other forest images from the gallery

I consider myself tech savvy yet I only learned about the iPhone step tracker about a year ago. My phone has been tracking steps for years; who knew? Now I can match it up with some of my photo hikes and see how far I walked. There are a few in there that I can recall very well. But having sore feet is a small price to pay for good pictures. And I’m sure I’ll do it again and again; only now I can check my steps for an added degree of satisfaction.

Winding Roads

I spent a recent afternoon on some winding roads north of Toronto. The drive is nice any time but this time of year is hard to beat. The days are quickly getting shorter and there are dustings of snow here and there. Coming from Florida this was an exceptional treat, not only the colors but the cooler weather as well.

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Wnding Roads
Winding roads in Ontario Canada

Whenever I saw something I liked I just pulled over and took a shot out the window. That’s a lazy way to take photos but I couldn’t help it, I was in a lazy mood.

Sometimes laziness works, luck works too. Sometimes getting a good photo of a landscape is a meticulous process of preparation and execution. Other times a simple shot out the window will do. I admire photographers that go to great lengths, it shows in their work. Sometimes, I do that, especially when I have more time. But given a quick afternoon drive and a camera, I’ll go with the flow.

autumn photos from the gallery

It’s a little like taking photos when you’re on a tour. Your time is not your own, your on a tour, following a schedule. So you do your best and get what you can. Sometimes its like that when I have a short time to go take photos, I just go with the flow and have fun.

One thing is for sure, the worst day of taking photos is still better than the best day at work. And this was not a bad day by any stretch of the imagination.

A Walk in the Park

I got this one afternoon when I decided to take a walk in the park. This is Stanley Park in Vancouver and is one of the best urban parks in North America. It rivals Central Park and Golden Gate Park. I took this at a little pond known as Lost Lagoon where there are some resident swans. You can usually line up a good shot if you just wait for the right moment.

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A Walk in the Park
A Walk in the Park at Lost Lagoon, part of Vancouver’s Stanley Park

Waiting for the right moment is good advice for landscape photographers. If you stay in a single spot long enough, something is bound to happen. It’s all a question of how long you want to wait. Usually I’ll walk up on a scene and not see anything in particular. The scene can be like a puzzle, however it almost as though a sixth sense tells me there’s something there. I just have to recognize it, compose it, and take the photo. So it could be a matter of focusing in on a small area, or it could be just slowing down and waiting for something to unfold. It’s an inexact science but the longer I wait, the more likely I am to walk away with something worth my time.

Another little technique to add to this is pick a time of day when you think something might happen and then get there a little earlier. For instance, in Florida, right at the crack of dawn the pelicans will fly from their nighttime resting spots to their daytime fishing locations. So if you want to get a sunrise with some pelicans flying by, you get there a little early and wait, but be ready because you might only get one chance, believe me I’ve missed more than I care to admit.

landscapes from the gallery

With this image I planned to come in the afternoon because I knew the sun set across the water from a section of the path. So I got there, waited, noticed the swan swim by, then click and I had my image.

Oh, and one other thing, if you’re going to be out in nature, bring mosquito repellant. I got swarmed as I stood here and waited. Next time I’ll take my own advice and bring some.

Sense of Direction

This is from my trip to New Zealand a couple of years ago where I participated in a photography workshop. After all of the time that’s gone by I still have a lot of photos in my backlog to process. Here we were standing on a hill one afternoon overlooking Queenstown. That trip went by so fast I’m glad I have photos to re-live it in little increments later.

Sense of Direction
Whenever I travel to places I don’t know, I struggle with my sense of direction. This is facing south in New Zealand.

Whenever I go somewhere new it can be a little disorienting. By that I mean I’m never to sure which way is north south east or west. I remember having that feeling when I was here and struggling to sort it out in my mind. I love going back to Google Maps or Google Earth to look at places I’ve been and get a proper sense of direction and location. It’s helps me to integrate the experience after the fact.

For instance, with this shot I keep expecting to see the river, but it’s to my back as I was facing south. When we headed to Glenorchy, I thought we were driving south but it’s actually north. And if all that isn’t enough, on the last day I took a helicopter through the southern alps during which I had zero sense of whereabouts. Thankfully I was geotagging my photos, so now years later I can go back and begin to piece the locations together into some kind map of the journey.

Perhaps the sense of not knowing where we are in a new land adds to the sense wonder and excitement. I think perhaps, there might be something to that.

More images from the New Zealand gallery

Queenstown Reboot

This is an image I took on my first day in New Zealand about two years ago. As you can see from the colors it was autumn in the southern hemisphere. If I recall I was so happy to see all the fall colors that I quickly processed the photo and posted it a few hours later.

Queenstown Reboot
This is an image from Queenstown that I’ve just reprocessed, I think it turned out better than the first time.

Now when I look back on that image I realize my tastes have changed. That’s a nice way of saying the other picture makes my eyes bleed. The colors of the original are amped up quite a bit and appear too bright and unrealistic.

And so as I was looking at some of my old photos the other day and I thought to myself, why don’t I reprocess this? Since I have the original RAW files I did, only his time I used different tools and techniques I’ve acquired over the years.

More New Zealand images from the Gallery

This is a three image HDR that I originally combined in Photomatix Pro, this time in AuroraHDR Pro. Last time I wanted the colors to blast so I oversaturated them, this time I wanted it to be a little more realistic. I think both versions have their pros and cons, (I’m being kind again). The old image looks pretty good as a thumbnail or on a phone, this one looks better on a large screen or print.

Each image has its place, but as I continue to evolve as a photographer and artist my taste change and so do my techniques. This is just another example of that. I plan on reprocessing a few more from that trip so stay tuned.

Palavas Swamp

Palavas Swamp
The Palavas Swamp in southern France                   Click here to purchase a fine art framed print

The Palavas swamp is a habitat for all manner of birds on account of the shrimp and other tasty morsels that thrive here. The glassy surface at dusk caught my eye as I drove past. Those houses on the other side sit along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, this is a popular destination for vacationers in summer. However I was here in the off-season which afforded me an opportunity to see a slightly different side of life in southern France. Quiet walks along the beach or simply watching the night set in across the swamp.

Check out some of my favorite images here

Other swamps around this area are used to cultivate salt. The nearby town of Aigues-Mortes is where some of the finest salt in the world comes from. I’m not a good judge of salt but it seems to me refined and smooth. nevertheless but we bought a little box to bring home which we use sparingly for special dishes.

Aside from the salt, several little aspects of French culture rubbed off on us while we were here.; cheese, wine and baguettes be chief among them. But other things like slowing down to enjoy a meal which is something we don’t always do back home. In the end we came back with just enough to whet our appetite for more and the thought that things taste better when we slow down and, use a dash of good salt.

Gardens Sunrise

Gardens Sunrise
Queenstown Gardens Sunrise in the heart of an amazing little city                                            Buy a fine art gallery print

A couple of years ago in New Zealand I was here for a Queenstown Gardens sunrise. It’s an oasis of nature in the middle of the city, except for one thing. The city is an oasis in the middle of the wilderness. If that sounded like a contradiction it is. Queenstown doesn’t need an oasis, it’s already surrounded by beauty and awesomeness on all sides. This park is just the cherry on top.

I was here on one of Trey Ratcliff’s photo adventures. This was our first day. There were about twenty of us and I really didn’t know anyone except one other guy I met on G+. So here we all were on our first morning doing our best to capture the light and such. Now fast forward to the end of the week. Now we are all best friends and feel like we’ve just been through the most amazing experiences together. Big change from beginning to end.

I’ve had this image in my backlog for almost two years. I tried a few times to process it but wasn’t pleased with the results. This time I have some new software called AuroraHDR made by MacPhun and the very same Trey Ratcliff. Now, what was once a challenge has become easy. For HDR images like this, I find it much easier to get the results I want. I guess the moral of the story is, the longer you wait, the better the software gets, the more you can do. That sounded kind of lame, but you know what I mean.

More photos from New Zealand

Standing on a Hill in New Zealand

Standing On a Hill In New Zealand
Standing on a Hill in New Zealand early one cold morning                                      Buy a fine art gallery quality print

A couple of years ago I was standing on a hill in New Zealand with twenty other photographers. It was early in the morning before dawn and everything was quiet, still and overwhelmingly beautiful. I had to pinched myself to ensure it wasn’t a dream. Well, I made that last part up, my fingers were to cold to pinch anything, but I was pretty happy nonetheless.

Its great I have this image because it helps me remember. I wonder what it wold be like if I could remember everything with vivid clarity. I think it would be a double edged sword. Truth be told I’d, only I’d only want to remember the good things, but if I had that memory I might not have a choice. Maybe that’s why we are the way we are. Our memories fade so we have a chance to move on, start new, live another day.

I’ve heard that when we die we have a life review. That we see everything we’ve done that affects other people. If that’s true, then that will be one heck of a memory machine. Or, maybe that’s how we remember when we don’t have our aging brains getting in the way. Maybe our minds are really that good, it’s an incredible idea. I think it’s true, we have hints of it throughout our lives and society.


Now if I could only learn how to tap in to my unlimited memory, I could tell you what I had for dinner last night and, I could remember my e-mail password. I had one more point to make but I seem to have forgotten what it was.

I’ve heard that when we die we have a life review. That we see everything we’ve done that affects other people. If that’s true, then that will be one heck of a memory machine. Or, maybe that’s how we remember when we don’t have our aging brains getting in the way. Maybe our minds are really that powerful, it’s an amazing idea. I think it could be true, we have hints of it throughout our lives and society.


Now if I could only learn how to tap in to my unlimited memory, I could tell you what I had for dinner last night and remember my email password. I had one more point to make but I seem to have forgotten what it was.