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.
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.
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.
The rains we had recently created some very nice sunsets. I came here on a whim to see if I could get some shots and lucked out on account of the clouds and light. Just as much as the sunset I like to capture the quality of light. When that blazing ball recess below the horizon everything we see is from reflected light. And the lower it sinks the more atmosphere it travels through casting a soft and warm glow. If the conditions are right, that glow is unlike anything else and is the closest thing to a feeling magic I’ve ever experienced.
I have recollections as a child playing outside in the long summer evenings. I remember the glow of light and the special feeling I got from it. But I would have forgotten were it not for my pursuit of photography. As a landscape photographer I recognize and appreciate the quality of light. At times like this it can be other worldly.
Anyway, I get carried away and take dozens and dozens of photos. Sometimes many of them are great, but then the problem is I have a million great photos of the exact same thing. Its like money in the bank I suppose, store them away for a rainy day.
Due to some other priorities I’ve been staying close to home lately. That’s been nice because I get to visit all my favorite photo locations within a short drive. But I just realized I haven’t been back to this park in about two years. It just got put at the top of the list. I like it here because of the ponds and the reflections, so I just need to wait for some nice clouds and head over in the next few days.
They were going to put a water park here, that was over a year ago but I’ve not seen any construction when I drive past. Hopefully the natural beauty is preserved. I need to remember is to bring mosquito repellant, this is close to a swamp and bayou so there are plenty of biting things. Normally I get so engrossed in what I’m doing that I just ignore them.
Now that we’re getting into summer weather again we’ll start getting afternoon thunderstorms. Those can be loud and dramatic, but the best part is after they pass the clouds can be spectacular. You can see some of those clouds way off in the distance here, but this image doesn’t really feature them. Clyde Butcher, a famous photographer from Florida says that the clouds are our mountains. That’s a reference to how they can play an important role in Florida landscape in the same way mountains do in other parts of the country. To me that makes perfect sense, and the bonus is that our mountains change every day. How cool is that?
This is from a couple of years ago in Vancouver. Normally when I stay in a big city the hotel looks out at the back of other buildings, but this time I lucked out. The room was thirty floors up and facing west so I could watch the sunset in the evening.
Getting access to a high vantage point in a big city is a big plus. Its a perspective I always find fascinating because of all the little details. Its a little like having a window seat on an airplane and watching the ground as you gain altitude, it’s all looks so different.
Nowadays drones provide these kinds of perspectives, at least they used to. Most cities restrict drone flights for number of reasons so short of that, getting access to a high floor is still the way to go. One of my favorite things to do is go the observation decks of well known buildings; Hancock in Chicago, Empire State in New York and the CN Tower in Toronto. But on this occasion all I had to do was open the curtains to my room.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is one of two bridges that connects Bradenton to Palmetto. I live in Palmetto which is a small town so I take a lot of photos of, on and around these bridges. Bridges are a persistent theme with me as I’m sure you already know. To get these long exposures at night I use a tripod to hold the camera steady while the cars drive past creating long ribbons of light. In this case it was a thirteen-second exposure. Normally I’m freezing an instant of time however in this case thirteen-seconds. Freezing time is a funny concept, but don’t think too deeply about it, I wasn’t really going anywhere.
Back to the bridge, I said there was two bridges, but this was taken from a third bridge. It was the original bridge that crossed the river and was built maybe a hundred years ago, it now serves as a fishing pier. What’s left of this original bridge stretches about a half mile into the river so it allows this close perspective which might have required a boat.
Urban landscapes are interesting to me, especially when I can portray a simplified scene like this. Shooting at night helps remove some of the distractions, processing in monochrome simplifies it even more. I also like how the pilings are a repeating pattern below the lit surface. There is some kind of message of strength in there I think, maybe. Again, let’s not get too deep, this is a small town and this is a simple bridge. End of story.
I took this in British Columbia while returning from a whale watching trip at a group of islands just offshore. Patches of fog started to form in the afternoon as we made our way back to port. The coast of BC can be treacherous and only the most experience sailors have any right to navigate here. There were buoys with bells and fog horns everywhere. The fog renders your eyes useless and so without electronics you must navigate by ear; not for the faint of heart. Even so it makes for ethereal scenery, especially from a boat.
There is an automated lighthouse in Ucluelet not too far from here. Basically the horn begins sounding whenever the fog rolls in. I’m sure it’s reassuring to sailors because from what I saw the fog rolls in pretty fast. I was told the month of August is also known as “Fogust”. Standing safely on shore I could hear the bells of the buoys and the horn of the lighthouse for miles around. When I first arrived the sounds were new and unusual but by the time I left they’d become an integral part of the sights and sounds of these costal communities.
There are many forms of water in nature but perhaps not so often do we think about it in it’s gaseous state. Yet it can shroud the sky, land and water in a cloak that despite it’s willowy nature, becomes impenetrable to all but the most skilled among us. It was after staying here a week that I gained a whole new respect for sailors and, for that matter, pilots too.
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.
This is the Casa Batlló Stairwell in Barcelona. This house is a work of priceless design by the famed architect and designer Antoni Gaudi. I took this while climbing the stairs to the roof. It’s a narrow courtyard of sorts with the house surrounding this central core. As I recall there were about five flights to the roof so on my way up I had plenty of opportunities to stop and gawk at the design.
This is a very big house, I could live comfortably on just one floor, even less. But if I did own the whole place I’d be sending texts to the kitchen to order meals, that would save a bunch of trips up and down the stairs. Then of course I’d need a Stair-master to get some exercise. I never said I was brilliant, if it was my house I really would have more money than brains.
I took a ton of pictures throughout the house, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Actually everyone takes pictures inside. There’s a nautical theme going on and it reminds me of a ship, or maybe something out of Jules Vern novel. When I Google other photos of this a few of them have an under water effect. Perhaps that was intended. In any case, here is a link to a search of stairwell photos from the house on Google: https://goo.gl/JW1jqj
Here are some more images from Barcelona: https://justenoughfocus.smugmug.com/keyword/barcelona/