>Day 047 – 02162011

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I have just finished reading an article in Outdoor Photographer magazine about Montana, known as the Big Sky State, and it inspired me to process one of my photos in HDR and then convert it to black & white. The photo above showing the coastal hills and storm clouds is what I came up with.

I created the HDR file using a single color raw file. Using Adobe Camera Raw, I created seven separate images, each of which had an exposure change of 1/2-stop and subsequently each saved as a TIFF.

All seven TIFF copies were combined in Photomatix Pro to create the HDR color file, which I saved as a 16-bit TIFF.

Finally, I opened this file in NIK Silver Efex Pro to convert it to a black & white image using the High Structure preset and adding a yellow filter to darken the blue sky (the red filter proved to be too dark).

Technical data: f/6.3 at 1/500th sec, ISO 100.

>Day 046 – 02152011

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I have seen this type of shot used around Valentine’s Day and also used by many wedding photographers, although they usually use a different book instead of the one I picked, H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. Yeah, the incongruousness of it didn’t escape me…

After I took the series of shots I noticed that the flashlight I used to light up the subject created a heart-shaped spot light in this particular shot.

In Adobe Camera Raw I increased the color temperature to warm up the scene just a tad and I added a 30% vignetting. I increased the sharpening in Photoshop CS5 using an additional layer and the High Pass filter.

Technical data: f/11.0 at 1/5th sec, ISO 100.

>Day 037 – 02062011

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We made our biannual pilgrimage to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg, CA, and we couldn’t have picked a better day to visit. The weather was a balmy 70 degrees F with a light ocean breeze. And, as it is usual during our visit, we were greeted with a variety of plants in full bloom.

I found this calla lily plant (Zantedeschia aethiopica) growing under the shade of a pine tree and almost hidden from view. As I took the photo, this helped me out for two reasons:
1) I use the trunk of the pine tree to steady myself and my camera (I wasn’t carrying my tripod).
2) I deliberately exposed for the white of the flower, which in turn made the background quite dark, helping the flowers to stand out.

The raw file was processed in Adobe Camera Raw where the yellows and greens were enhanced using the Adjustment Brush.

Technical data: spot-metering at f/8.0, 1/125th sec, ISO 100.

>Day 035 – 02042011

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A young specimen of snowy egret (Egretta thula) hunting for food at the Santa Rosa Creek reservoir. This bird looked mature enough to be hunting by itself, however it was smaller in size than the other specimens we’ve seen around the reservoir.

Cropping and sharpening of the original raw file were performed in Adobe Camera Raw.

Technical data: f/4.5, 1/250th sec, ISO 100.

>Day 032 – 02012011

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I do not understand the dynamics behind this phenomenon, but I found it fascinating to watch how the water spray formed and flew backwards as the waves crashed before reaching the shore. The ocean was restless because a rainstorm had just passed by this area a few hours before and the wind was gusting.

The photo was taken at a safe distance from the water using a 70-200mm zoom lens extended to its maximum focal length.

Technical data: f/5.6, 1/1250th sec, ISO 100.

>Day 031 – 01312011

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Another one of my forays into HDR territory. This photo was taken during out latest hike along the beautiful Sonoma Coast while the rain clouds broke for a while. I do not know who the hiker is, however it caught my attention when I saw him all alone walking on the plain.

Using Adobe Camera Raw, I created six copies of the original raw file, changing the exposure value on each copy and saving them as a 16-bit TIFF. Subsequently I combined all the resulting TIFF in Photomatix Pro and chose the Fusion Enhanced preset. Lastly, the file was processed in Adobe Photoshop CS5 to improve the detail and to add the frame.

Note: I finally had the chance to use my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM zoom lens and I absolutely LOVE it! It is a heavy lens, but used on bright light I was able to hand-hold the camera with this lens mounted on it and the Image Stabilization feature did a great job helping to eliminate movement blur.

Technical data: f/8.0, 1/500th sec, ISO 100.

Day 025 – 01252011

The setting sun coming in through an open window creates this interesting pattern in the wires of a dish drying rack. I found this pattern to be intriguing enough to photograph.

The original raw file was converted to grayscale in Adobe Camera Raw, and subsequently refined (with a Curves adjustment, noise reduction and sharpening) in Adobe Photoshop CS5. The high ISO used gives the photo its characteristic grainy effect.

Technical data: aperture f/4.0, exposure 1/125th sec, ISO 1000.

Day 021 – 01212011

The sun has returned to our side of the world and the days are gorgeous and warm during the day. At night, well, let’s say winter is still here…

I took this photo during our hike into Annadel State Park near Santa Rosa, California. On our way to visit Lake Ilsanjo I spotted this view of a semi-dry creek beautifully reflecting the early morning sun. Some of the rocks in the creek look like they’re floating in space.

Corrections to the White Balance and Color Saturation were performed in Adobe Camera Raw. Detail Sharpening was done in Adobe Photoshop CS5.

Technical data: aperture f/4.0, exposure 1/80th sec, ISO 500.

Day 020 – 01202011

I found these aging blackberry leaves very attractive because of their vivid colors. The dark background gives the image a chiaroscuro effect. Also, the twigs create lines going almost perfectly to the four corners of the picture.

To achieve the chiaroscuro effect in-camera (and because the photo was taken on a bright, sunny day) I used a combination of a large lens aperture and a fast shutter speed. Sharpening was later enhanced in Adobe Camera Raw.

Technical data: aperture f/4.0, exposure 1/500th sec, ISO 100.