An Incredible Sunset

Today I am sharing another image from The Rock Factory.  Yesterday I mentioned how incredible the sunset was that evening.  It was the best I had seen in quite some time.

The Rock Factory has a bunch of these hoodoos that are very interesting.  A hoodoo is a rock formation that usually consist of soft rock topped by a harder rock that doesn't erode as easily.  The less eroded stone on top then protects the softer rock that forms the column form further erosion, too.  When you look at these formations, you think "How in the heck does that giant rock balance up there?".  That's how.  

This is such an amazing location, but despite all it has to offer the thing I enjoyed most was shooting with a few friends and avoiding the massive crowds that were at all of the popular, iconic spots.  

Aperture Priority, F/11, ISO 100, 0.4 seconds, Exposure Compensation -1EV, 15mm

These giant rocks resting on the ground made perfect foreground elements that serve a few purposes.  First, they help anchor the image, which, in turn gives the image depth.  They also, in conjunction with the hoodoo, help to lead you to the real subject...the sunset.

This image was made with my Canon 5D III and Tamron 15-30mm Lens.  This combo was mounted on my Sirui N-3204X Tripod and K-30X Ballhead.

Mesa Arch

Tomorrow we start our workshop in The Grand Teton National Park, but we arrived a few days early to visit a few other places before the workshop begins.

One of the places we wanted to visit was Mesa Arch in Cayonlands National Park.  It is a very iconic arch and probably the most photographed thing in the park.  It is located in what is called The Island in The Sky district of the park.  It is very easy to get to as it is only about 1/4 mile from the parking area along a well maintained trail, which is probably why we were soon joined by about 100 of our closest friends for the sunrise shoot, most of them iPad shooters, however.

Just to the other side of the arch is a 1200 foot drop into Buck Canyon. This creates a "bowl" and what happens is when the sun rises and reflects off of that "bowl" it lights the underside of Mesa Arch up glowing red...more of those shots to come ;)

This shot was taken after I got some sunrise images from the "iconic" few just to the left of where I am standing now.  Some of the crowd started to disperse and I tried a few quick compositions before wrapping up and leaving.   I am always a sucker for a sun star, so I tried it from a few different angles.  This was one of my favorites, although there were many from this particular morning.

Aperture Priority, F/11, ISO 100, 1/40th second shutter speed, 15mm

This image was shot using a Canon 5D Mk III and Tamron 15-30mm Lens.  This setup was all mounted on my Sirui N-3204X Tripod and K-30 Ballhead.

Bluebonnets, bluebonnets, bluebonnets

You were warned yesterday that more of these were coming. ;)

This image was made in the same field as the image I posted yesterday.  This time I focused only on bluebonnets...and it seemed they went on as far as you could see.  It is very hard to see in this image, but in the background right along the horizon on the right side is a very large field of indian paintbrush flowers.  I actually drove over to check those out, but the land owner had placed private property signs up and roped off everything at the road.  So, I headed back over to this bluebonnet field.

Tech talk...I shot this at 15mm on my Sony A7R II using the Metabones adapter and Tamron Lens.  So, basically, I set the lens to 15mm and put it right at the edge of these bluebonnets at a very low perspective.  I wanted to get low for this shot.  Not too low, though.  If I had gotten much lower than this you couldn't see that the field is full of flowers.  It would have looked more like a dozen flowers than thousands.  Since the sky wasn't very interesting at all, I knew I didn't want to include much of it.  So, using my Sirui W-2204 Tripod, I positioned my camera just a bit above the tops of these bluebonnets and angled it down to exclude much of the sky.

I shot this in aperture priority mode at F/16.  I had to raise my ISO up to 800 because it was so windy.  In order to keep the bluebonnets sharp, without blur from the wind, I raised my ISO so I could get a faster shutter speed.  Between bumping my ISO and waiting on times between wind gusts, I was able to capture a few frames where there was no blur.

I'll try to give you a break from wildflowers next time.  ;)

 

Texas Wildflower Sunset

I spent last week in Texas.  While I was there, I wanted to make sure I tried my best to find a good field of the Texas state flower, the bluebonnet.  These flowers could be found most everywhere along the roadside, especially so the farther you drive away from a city, however for the area I was in finding a really large field full of flowers proved to be a challenge.  After doing a little research, I was able to locate one field that was the best of any I found in the short time I was out there.  

The only problem was it was not too far from the main highway, so when I got there, 40 of my closet friends were there already.  Many of them there to take children's portraits in the flowers, or family portraits in the flowers...one photographer had a couple pull their truck out in the field of flowers to pose with the truck for engagement photos.  So I spent a lot of time waiting on these people to move or working around them.

Now, I think a field of bluebonnets is a pretty awesome sight, but when making a photo I like to add something in the foreground as a bit of an anchor.  It doesn't have to be anything really special.  In this case I used the only handful of Indian Paintbrush Wildflowers that were in this field.  I thought the contrast of the red flowers helped to anchor the foreground a bit and also adds a bit of a leading line to the rest of the field of blue.

It was very windy during this particular sunset, so I had to bump my ISO up to get a high enough shutter speed to "freeze" the flowers, so I bumped it up to ISO 1600.  I shot this scene in aperture priority at F/16 in order to get the nice starburst.  That yielded me a shutter speed of 1/30th.  While that isn't a "fast" shutter speed, if I waited until the wind slowed a bit, it was fast enough. 

This image was made using my Sony A7R II, Metabones lens adapter and Tamron 15-30mm Lens.  I also used my Sirui W-2204 Tripod and K-20 Ballhead.  I took this tripod because it is super stable and small enough to fold up in my carry on luggage.  It worked out great!

I also processed this image using Lightroom and On1 Effects.  

Warning:  More flower images coming soon.

 

 

 

SAHM

SAHM, that's what my wife calls herself, a Stay At Home Mom.  SAHM, that's what I call Stay At Home Macro.

From time to time I will purchase some flowers, my wife thinks they are for her, but no, they are for my SAHM.  See what I did there? ;)

I setup the flowers in a vase on the dining room table next to a window.  I will use the available window light and if I need more, I will use one of the little LED lights that are designed for on camera video lights.  They work great for adding a little light to a macro subject.  In this case, a daisy.

ISO 400, 90mm, F/16 @ 1/4 second

Hover over the image to see the camera settings used.  Click the image to view it larger.

The angle of light plays a very important role in the final image.  Holding it an angle that will accentuate details you want is important, especially if you plan to process the image as a black & white, as I have here.

Another tip...Glycerin.  If you mix a 50/50 water glycerin mix you will have a liquid that will not evaporate.  For the most part, it will stay where you put it, too.  This single drop remained here during and after my entire shooting session.

This image was made with my Sony A7R II, Metabones Adapter and Tamron 90mm Macro Lens.  This setup was mounted on my Sirui W-2204 Tripos and K-20 Ballhead.  THe image was process in Lightroom and converted to black & white using On1 Perfect B&W.

More From the Hotel

Here's another shot from the Old Shelby Hotel.  This is looking down the hall as soon as you walk in the front door. 

Here I simply got my tripod in a really low angle, almost to ground level, and used a super wide angle lens to take in the whole scene.

ISO 100, 17mm, F/11 @ 6 bracketed shutter speeds

Hover over the image to see the camera settings used.  Click the image to view it larger.

This image was processed exactly the same as yesterday's image, only this time I used a different preset within On1 Effects to get started.  This time I used a preset called "Just Enough Darkness".  I've found that preset gives a great starting point for creating a great mood in these types of shots.

Image made with my Sony A7R II, Metabones Adapter and Tamron 15-30mm Lens.  All mounted on my Sirui W-2204 Tripod and K-20 Ballhead.

The Old Shelby Hotel

Over this past weekend I took a trip with a friend of mine, Brad Lackey with Lookout Mountain Photography, to visit an abandoned building known as The Old Shelby Hotel.   

This hotel has quite the history.  It was said to be the first building in Alabama to have running water and electric lights.  It also played an important role in The Civil War as it served as a hospital and also training grounds for soldiers at different points during the war.  Today it is merely a shell of what used to be...but that's the kind of thing us photographers live for, right?

ISO 100, 15mm, F/11 and 6 bracketed shutter speeds

This is an HDR image.  If you want to capture all of the highlight and shadow detail in a scene like this you really have no other choice than HDR.  In a room that is dark with  bright light coming into the windows, there is no way to pull all of that detail out of one RAW file.  

Here I took 6 shots bracketed from -3 all the way to +2 at 1 stop apart.  Then I merged them using Lightroom's HDR Photo Merge feature.  After tweaking a bit inside Lightroom, I jumped over to On1 Perfect Effects to finish this image.  I used one of my favorite presets for this kind of stuff.  It's called Kryptonite.  It gives a pretty strong effect, but you are able to dial the opacity slider back to your amount that suits your taste...just like you would in Photoshop.

This image was made with my Sony A7R II, Metabones Adapter and Tamron 15-30mm Lens.  All of this was mounted on my Sirui W-2204 tripod and K-20 Ballhead.