Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone is the image you see on almost everything promoting the park.  The image you see most often, though, is taken from the air.  Unless you pay for an airplane or heli ride, you are out of luck to re-create that shot.

There is a trail that will gain you some elevation above the spring so you can shoot somewhat down on it.  It is a bit of a booger.  Straight up.  Not fat friendly.  I didn't go all the way up to the top.  I got high enough to get above the trees and stayed low enough to keep my heart inside my chest.

Shooting this thing from above you need a few things to be in your favor.  First, you need it to be a little windy.  If it's not windy the steam from the hot spring just sits above it and blocks the spring.  The wind pushes it out of the way.  Secondly, you need sun.  Afternoon sun is better.  You would think softer light would be better, but I've tried it and it isn't near as vibrant.

Another thing that really helps when you are processing your image is the new Dehaze Tool in Lightroom.  IN the case of these hot springs, it pretty much kills all of the haze caused by the humidity surrounding these springs.

ISO 100, 75mm, F/14 @ 1/30th second

I made this image with my Sony A77ii and Tamron 16-300mm lens.  I'm glad I took that lens, because the composition I needed was just outside the range of my favorite landscape lens, the 24-70.

White Dome Geyser

While I was out in Yellowstone a few months back I was determined to shoot some geysers at night under the stars.

While I made made plans to do this all by my lonesome, I actually ran into a friend earlier in the day and he had mentioned he was planning to do some night geyser shooting, too.  He even mentioned the same geyser I wanted to go to, White Dome Geyser.  So later that night we met up at the geyser.

Now, shooting these starry scenes, or even the Milky Way isn't rocket science.  You have to set your camera to Manual Mode.  Start by selecting your aperture as wide open as you can get.  If your lens goes to F/4, choose that...if it goes to F/2.8, then choose that aperture.  Next set your shutter speed to 30 Seconds.  Lastly you have to adjust your ISO.  I usually start at around 1600 and adjust.  If the image needs to be brighter bump your ISO up.  If it's too bright, simply lower your ISO.  That's it!

I'll admit, though in this image I was using my Sony A7S.  It can shoot in the dark without much noise, so it's kinda like cheating.  I shoot this at ISO 5000, which is still "low" for this camera.

ISO 5000, 24mm, F/2.8 @ 30 seconds

I processed this image using Lightroom.  The new Dehaze Tool in Lightroom really made the sky pop on this image.

I mentioned I shot this with my Sony A7S, but I also used my Tamron Lenses 24-70 F/2.8 Lens.  The Milky Way was actually visible above the geyser, but I didn't have a wide enough lens to capture it all.  So I settled for the stars and glowing colors of the north.

Mirrorless Lensbaby

I recently acquired a Lensbaby Composer Pro for my Sony FE Mount mirrorless system.  I was pretty excited to get it on the camera and give it a whirl.

I've had the Canon EOS mount Lensbaby Composer that I've used for a while, but I was super stoked to get the FE mount Composer Pro, as I could use it without an adapter.  For new Lensbaby Composer users, I believe there is a bit of a learning curve.  That curve is cut down quite a bit on the Sony mirrorless systems due to something called Focus Peaking.  Focus Peaking basically highlights whatever is in focus on the screen in whatever color you select in the camera's menu system.  And it works!  And works good...really good!  It really helps us blind ones. ;)

Here's an image I made with some of our newly bloomed wildflowers, the Sony A7R and the Lensbaby Composer Pro with the Single Glass Optic.

ISO 100, 50mm, F/4.0 @ 1/640th second

I processed this image in Adobe Lightroom and finished things off in On1's Perfect Effects 9.  I used a couple of my favorite presets in the On1 suite.  First I applied a preset called "Vecchio".  It applies a warming effect on the photo.  Then I finished it off with the "Big Softy" vignette preset.  

If you are interested in Lensbaby Optics, feel free to click the banner on the right to visit their page.

Command, this is bluebird...

So the action has picked up over the last few days at the bluebird box in my backyard.  The eggs hatched about 10 days ago, so mom and dad are both feeding pretty heavily now.

I've setup my trusty bird blind about 10 feet from the box and I sit in there early in the mornings and capture them doing acrobatics while they bring in the food.

ISO 1250, 280mm, F/5.6 @ 1/1600th second

Here the male bluebird is returning with a cricket.  I swear he looks like a rocket when he returns to the nest.  I'm not sure how he even stops in time without crashing!

I made this image with my Sony A77ii and Tamron 150-600mm Lens.

You'll notice the ISO was higher than I normally like here, but I had to bump it up to get a fast enough shutter speed to capture this pose.  I did apply a bit of noise reduction in Lightroom.