Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tops for 2009

Here on the last day of the last month of 2009, I thought I'd write a few words about my favorite photo applications. These are the programs that I've either discovered this past year, or older programs that I've gotten to know better.

The program I came to appreciate the most in 2009 was Adobe's Lightroom 2. I found this to be a tremendously powerful, efficient and flexible program. The presets in the Develop module are my favorite thing. I often have difficulty visualizing how an image would look with certain changes, but the presets give me a thumbnail preview of these effects. This not only takes me in exciting and unexpected directions with some images, but also increases my efficiency when working through a large number of images. Everything about the program feels streamlined and efficient. I look forward to discovering more about it in the coming year.

2009 was also the year where I really started to find my stride with HDR, or High Dynamic Range images. This is the process of shooting multiple exposures of the same image and combining them in post processing to show a wider range of light than you could get from one image. You can use this technique to either more accurately represent what the human eye sees, or take a more surreal approach and create something almost otherworldly. The one program that's essential for creating this type of image is Photomatix Pro. This program takes a while to master, and I'm certainly not there, but I am starting to find what works best for me. For best results you really need an editor that supports layers, like Photoshop to finish the images. An inexpensive program on the Mac that supports layers is Pixelmator. There's a lot of Photoshop level power in there without the crazy price.

I can't talk about this past year without talking about the iPhone. I got mine in January, and it has since become my most used camera and post processing machine. I have it with me at all times, and not only is it good at just capturing moments that you would otherwise miss, but is a legitimate image making tool in it's own right. Some of my favorite images from 2009 were taken with my iPhone. The apps that I've found to be essential are Best CameraBest Camera, PhotogenePhotogene, CameraBagCameraBag and AutoStitchAutoStitch Panorama. Apps I use less frequently, but are still cool are Photo fxPhoto fx, ShakeItPhotoShakeItPhoto, TiltShiftGenTiltShift Generator - Fake DSLR and TimeLapseTimeLapse.

If I were to pick a favorite post from this past year, I think it would have to be "Water droppin'" I think I had the most fun shooting those images, and I certainly got the most views and feedback on that post.

I want to thank of you regular readers for your feedback and continued visits. I would still be taking pictures even if no one else ever saw them, but I truly enjoy sharing them and hearing/seeing what others are doing. In 2010 I look forward to growing in both my "seeing" what's around me, and in my finishing skills on the computer to deliver my vision. Can't wait to see what's to come!

Rainy days

It's supposed to rain here today. I know, crazy right! Anywho, here's some cool drops to set your mood today.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Window on the world

This is a 45 minute exposure I took in Yosemite. Such an inspiring place. Just a technical note about these kinds of images; be prepared to do a lot of clean up in post production. Different cameras will generate different amounts of noise during a long exposure, but there will still be colored or hot pixels that will need cleaning up.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Clouds over Mulholland

I thought I'd throw in some moving pictures to get the week started. I shot these sequences just down the road from my church, a few minutes before yesterday's pic. Have a great (short) week!

Sunday best

This is an image I shot yesterday at my church. It was so great to walk around by myself and enjoy the peacefulness and changing light. As seems to be my norm lately, this is a 3 exposure HDR.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!!

I hope everyone has a fantastic day with family and friends. My family and I will be enjoying a quiet day at home, staying out of the bitterly cold 70 degree weather. ;)


Up a creek

I was photographing in and around Bridealveil Creek when this photographer stepped into my shot. I decided to just got with it. His bright red shirt really stood out and livened up that part of the image.


Merry Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Self Portrait

If it stays cold outside, you could be seeing a lot of these this winter!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Time for a topic

I've been feeling a bit low on creative energy lately. My Twitter buddy Jay Friesen and I decided to pick topic this past weekend for a little motivation. We agreed on "Time" and he went off to shoot video and I shot stills. To check out his video, head over to his blog. Here's my interpretation.


My subject is a little grungy, but he was cheap. ;)

This kinds of topics/challenges/limitations really get my creativity flowing. I really needed a kick in the butt to go out and shoot and this did the trick. Maybe we can do some more of these in the future. Thanks for the push Jay!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hot ride

A conveniently parked motorcycle just down the sidewalk from where I took yesterday's Christmas tree image. This is another 3 exposure HDR.


Holiday cheer

A little something to get you in the holiday spirit.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Falls and trees

This one's from our most recent trip to Yosemite. I went back and processed this single image as and HDR to get a better handle on all the super brights and super darks. Me likey.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lexus LF-A

The is Lexus' entry into the supercar market: the LF-A. As with most pictures taken at car shows the background wasn't very appealing, so I spiced it up a bit in Photoshop.


Dam symmetry


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Water and hills

Another from my recent hike around the Sepulveda Dam park. Had some fun with the tone and color of this one.


Friday, December 11, 2009

A bridge with range

I took this during a walk today around the Sepulveda Dam recreation area. This is a 3 image HDR processed in Photomatix Pro and finished in Photoshop Elements.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Took this on the walk back from lunch.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Viper ACR

I went to the L.A. Auto Show with my two boys and my dad yesterday. I've been almost every year that I've lived out here and it's great to be able to share it with my boys now. It was a bonus to have my dad come. I took a lot of shots, but this is the only one I'm happy with so far.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Tora Tora Tora

Taken during a Pearl Harbor reenactment at the Edwards Air Show.


Here's a link to a slightly larger size.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Morning jewels


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Driving to Yosemite Valley

Here's a video I shot while driving into Yosemite Valley during our trip in November. If you've never been there, this might give you some sense of the scale and beauty of the place. I really had no idea what to expect the first time I visited and I was just blown away by its' size and majesty. The video quality isn't the greatest as I shot this with my Canon G9. But hey, you use what you got! I want to thank my wife for holding on to the tripod that was sticking up through the sunroof for the whole 27 minute trip!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wine? Oh.

Inspired by a post over at Syl Arena's blog, I decided to try my hand at some product photography. This post, and really his entire site, are worth reading and subscribing to in your feed reader. I'll let you read the post, but I had a lot of fun setting this up and trying to recreate his shots. I didn't have a softbox like he used so I shot my umbrella through a diffuser. There's certainly a lot of room for improvement, but it's so great to try something new and step outside of where you're comfortable. Oh, and in case you're wondering, the wine was very good. ;)


Check back tomorrow for a special video post!

Monday, November 30, 2009

More range

This is a picture I took a while back at The Getty. I went back and reprocessed it to get more dynamic range. I like this much better than the original.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Up close


Tuesday, November 24, 2009



Monday, November 23, 2009

Locked up


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Glass houses

It's amazing what you'll find in the ceiling of a public restroom.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Taken on Veteran's Day in the Rose Garden of the Reagan Library. "Um, yeah, we're gonna need to do some replanting."


Monday, November 16, 2009



Friday, November 13, 2009

Moonrise over Yosemite Valley

My last night in Yosemite I decided to head down to Tunnel View to shoot a time lapse of the stars and also some long exposure star trail images. As seems to happen with a lot of my photography, I stumbled upon something awesome. In setting up for the time lapse, I placed myself perfectly to capture the moon rising over the valley. The moon was about three days past full, but it was still plenty bright. Standing in that majestic place with the stars above and the moon revealing the beauty below, I was in awe. It was so quiet, and yet these massive cosmic forces were at work, spinning and orbiting through space. Words can't really describe, so I'll let you see a little bit of the grandeur that I saw. This 20 second video is comprised of 400 or so images covering just over 2 hours. Enjoy.

A little info for you techies out there. I used OnOne Software's DSLR Remote iPhone app to drive the time lapse. I connected the camera to my laptop that was running the DSLR Remote Server. I then logged on with my iPhone through an Ad Hoc network on my laptop. A bit cumbersome in the field, but a heckuva lot cheaper than buying an separate intervelometer for $150! And once it was set up, it was rock solid. I set it to take an image every 20 seconds and it went until the laptop ran out. I combined the images in Quicktime Pro at 24 framers per second. A tip if you're going to shoot a time lapse: don't shoot at the highest resolution. Shooting at a lower resolution makes the files much more manageable and you can get more on a memory card. And realistically you're not going to make a video at higher than HD resolution (1920 x 1080). I had my camera set to a medium jpeg and it made my processing later much easier, and the quality was still very good. The final movie at full resolution is like butta. Mmmm, butta.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Zoom fall

I got inspired one evening while shooting in Yosemite (not hard to believe) and decided to try a technique that I haven't used in a while. If you have a DSLR with a zoom lens attached, you've got everything you need to try this. The idea behind it is to zoom the lens either in or out while you're taking the picture. You need a somewhat longish shutter speed to notice the effect, so late evening is a great time to give this a shot. All the images below were created with this technique and no additional blurring or zooming tomfoolery after the fact. Yes, tomfoolery.

You can do this hand held or with a tripod. Having the camera on a tripod makes repeating things much easier and you might find it easier to hone in on a certain look. I shot all of these hand held, partly because I didn't have my tripod with me (um, yeah) and also because I enjoy the freedom of just moving and shooting. But mostly the former. Ok, so you got your DSLR with zoom lens, you've got your camera set up to give you a proper exposure with a longish shutter speed, and maybe you've even got something cool to shoot. Zooming in and zooming out while you take the picture give different looks so you should try both. One may be more appealing to you and/or work better with whatever your subject is. Start by zooming your lens all the way in (or out) and focus. Keep your finger half pressed on the shutter button so your focus will remain the same as you start to zoom. After you start to zoom, go ahead and take the picture and keep zooming until the exposure's over. That's it!

Now there's all kinds of variations on this technique. You can not zoom all the way, not start zooming right away, play with your focus point, change you shutter speed, etc. It's a great way to experiment, and you might just come up with something you like!





Wednesday, November 11, 2009

El Capitan HDR

This is a 3 exposure HDR of El Capitan with the Merced River in the foreground.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Full moon by

Here's the first video from my Yosemite trip. These were individual frames taken with my DSLR then joined together later to play as a video. This covers about 2 hours and includes a little over 400 frames. I had so much fun experimenting and shooting these kinds of video/sequences. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunset at 6000'

Man, what a week! My first visit to Yosemite in the Fall, and I gotta say, it was pretty fantastic. The weather was perfect, a lot fewer people, and the colors...oh the colors. The main water falls were even flowing a bit thanks to some recent snowfall in the upper elevations. Being there for a week really allowed us time to take it easy and not rush from scenic vista to scenic vista. My wife and kids were very patient in indulging my many stops to take "just a couple more pictures". All in all, just a wonderfully relaxing and rejuvenating time.

Picture wise, I've got lots in store. Actually, it's not just still pictures, but moving ones as well! I'm working on a few videos that I hope to have up this week. To start thing off, though, here are a couple of pictures of a sublimely spectacular sunset. How's that for alliteration!



Sunday, November 1, 2009

Getting away

I'm packin' up the whole family today and heading up to one of my favorite places on earth; Yosemite. We've postponed this trip 3 or 4 times this year, but now we're doing it. I've never been this late in the year, so I'm super excited to see what Fall in Yosemite looks like. I won't be posting anymore this week, but rest assured that I will be taking enough pictures to feed the blog for months to come! I'll leave you with an image from Yosemite that I took several years ago. Have a great week.


Oh, I probably will be on Twitter from time to time, so if you want to keep up while I'm gone just head over to

Friday, October 30, 2009

Low pressure


Wednesday, October 28, 2009



Tuesday, October 27, 2009



Sunday, October 25, 2009

Global Hawk HDR

Ok, this is my last post from the airshow. Probably. Maybe. Anyway, this is another HDR, but this time it's from a single file that I processed three times. How's that for fancy! Have a great week, and look for some non-airplane related posts in the very near future.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Too soon

Thursday, October 22, 2009

High flying action!

*Warning, lots of pictures!*

I wanted to show the awesome variety of aircraft that were flown at the Edwards Air Show. Here are some of my favorites. If you can name all of them, you win a prize! Not really, but give yourself a hearty pat on the back.














I had to show the P-38 twice, cuz it's my all time favorite.