Valley View in B&W

Having done some B&W recently, I am falling in love with B&W!

There is something amazing about B&W. Hard to put into writing what it is, but there is drama, strength and something “classic” about black and white images. One of the undisputed masters of this medium is of course Ansel Adams, who also immortalized the view you see here. Called Valley View, it is now a popular spot to stop and take a photo. In Ansel’s time, it meant a multi day hike with a mule and a bunch of glass plates and a huge camera and tripod. If the weather did not cooperate, too bad. These days, you can drive the entire Yosemite valley in less than an hour and you can sit in the car if it is too cold or too hot or wet. Oh how times have changed.

Ansel Adams said “I hope that my work will encourage self expression in others and stimulate the search for beauty and creative excitement in the great world around us” and it is in that spirit that I am posting this picture. When I took that shot, I distinctly remember thinking ” Ansel once stood here, seeing that same beauty as I am seeing now”.

Thank you Ansel for your contribution to photography and for the inspiration you bring to us all.

Valley View

Posted in HDR, National Park, Yosemite

Windmills of Holland

Still in the Netherlands, this is a view of a place called “Kinderdijk” where 19 windmills still stand, all dating back to 1740.

Again, this is an HDR shot converted to B&W.

Posted in The Netherlands, Travel

Cathedral Rock in B&W

Here is my second submission to the 5-in-5 challenge on Facebook.

This Yosemite’s Cathedral Rock. It had been raining heavily, but “sort of” cleared up just enough to take this shot. Another HDR shot converted to BW.

I love how the B&W treatment emphasizes the “drama” of  of the scene.

Cathedral Rock

Posted in Uncategorized

Golden Gate Bridge in Black and White

There is a 5 day challenge going on on Facebook where people are nominated to post a BW photo, 5 days in a row.

I was recently nominated by Mike Schumacher, the president of the Auburn Photography club. He did me a great favor as I am not someone who naturally “sees” in BW. Mike did me a huge favor because, by accepting the challenge, I had to browse my photos with the very specific intent of determining which shots would “work” in BW, something I simply never do.

I’m delighted to say that I found quite a number that seem to “work”, although that is obviously a very subjective point of view.

As many of my shots are HDRs and I am converting the HDR versions into BW – I’m finding that the punchier colors of the HDR process often translate well into BW. I very quickly found myself drawn to images with strong cloud formations as they really became very pronounced in BW.

So I will be posting at least 5 images over the next 5 days. I thought I’d start with this one of the Golden Gate.

Let me know what you think!

Golden Gate Bridge

Posted in Uncategorized

Fall Color in Vermont

Driving through Vermont, always in search for color, these reds, golds and yellows really stood out against the green pine trees. The rustic fence adds a nice “rural” touch to the whole image.
This picture is taken in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Fall Color in Vermont

Posted in Vermont

Two Domes in Rome

When walking around Rome you cannot miss the huge Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II and the Trajan’s Column. The monument is huge and has these massive steps leading up to it. Across the road is a park with some trees. The shade is perfect to take break from the sun and have a refreshing gelato, purchased from one of the local vendors.

Looking around there I spotted these two domed buildings.

Both are churches. The one on the left is the Santa Maria di Loreto and the one on the right has the wonderful name of “Santissimo Nome di Maria al Foro Traiano” (which basically means “The Church of the Most Holy Name of Mary at the Trajan Forum”).

Standing here, if you turn 180 degrees and look down the road, you will see the Colosseum in the distance. Not too far a walk that is certainly worth doing as it passes all sorts of interesting buildings and historic sights. Trouble is or course, if you stop and shoot everything you see, it will take a long time before you get to the Colosseum.

These two domes were shot with my Canon 5D Mark II, 3 exposures, then merged in Photomatix.

Two Domes in Rome

Posted in Italy

The London Eye

If you’ve been to London you will know about thew London Eye. It a huge ferriswheel that takes you on a 30 minute spectacular ride. The rotation is very slow so you never feel like you stepped onto a rollercoaster or anything. It’s a very graceful and smooth ride. Needless to say the views are amazing.

In this shot you can see the Houses of Parliament in the bottom right. The water is the River Thames of course.

The “pods” take up to about 15 people each and there is just ONE red colored one, we happened to ride in the pod next to it so this provided some cool contract again the sky.

You are not allowed to take tripods up so hand-held shooting only. As you are completely enclosed in glass reflections can be somewhat of a challenge, but with some care you can awesome pictures.

I don’t do heights very well, my lovely wife Linda, made me go! I was glad she did though as the smooth ride (and the enclosed capsule) made it very enjoyable and I ended up loving every minute! I’d take the ride again . . .

A true HDR shot would not work here as you are moving all the time, so this is a single shot, but still processed in Photomatix. The high dynamic range of the 5D mark 3 is awesome and I am finding that I can easily pull 2 or 3 stops variation out of a single raw file.

Powered by Qumana

Posted in Travel, UK, Where to Photograph

Sycamore Monterey Beach

This is one of the great beaches along the Big Sur coastline.

Unless you know it is there and look up how to get there you will almost certainly miss it. The exit to this beach is just south of the Big Sur Station and is not sign-posted. The narrow road goes through a semi-residential area and even if you take the exit, you will think it leads nowhere. Keep going however and you will eventually get to a car park with the beach being a brief walk along a tree-covered sandy path.

As you clear the trees, this beautiful beach appears with some awesome rock formations. This arch is one of the highlights and something I had wanted to go back and shoot having first seen it a few years ago.

Linda and I spent several hours there shooting all sorts of interesting driftwood and the other rock formations – all very cool and highly recommened.

This picture is a 5 shot HDR, shot with the 5D Mark 3 and my EF17-40mm lens. The ulta-wide angle is essential here if you really want to get the interesting shots. I LOVE these compositions with something interesting in the foreground and these seaweed-covered rocks provided just that.

Posted in Big Sur, California, Colors and Textures, HDR, Travel

Death Valley Sunrise

Another shot from the Mesquite Sand Dunes in Death Valley. It’s early morning and you can see the sun coming up over the distant mountains.

That cloud cover you see prevented any strong shadows from forming, something you often get there in the early morning. On clearer days, the left of that sand dune in the foreground would have been dark, creating interesting contrasts along the ridge of the dune.

I still love this picture though and the color in the sky adds extra interest.

When compared to the previous post, this view provides some context as it shows the wider scene so you can see what this area looks like. Death Valley must be one of the more interesting areas I have ever visited. Do diverse and the landscape can be so intensely alien, but so beautiful at the same time.

This shot was a 3-shot HDR using my Canon 5D Mark 3 and the EF 24-105mm lens. Toned in Photomatix and finished in Lightroom V5.

Posted in California, Colors and Textures, Death Valley, HDR, National Park, Sierra Nevada, Travel

Lonely Footsteps in Death Valley

Something a bit different for today’s post. These footprints were seen on a sandune in Death Valley.

These foot prints weren’t mine and I was on the dunes very early in the morning, before sunrise. But someone had already beat me to it. Doesn’t it make you wonder who it was? Where they went? What they were doing?

The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are relatively easy sand dunes in Death Valley to visit, but it does take a bit of a hike to get to them. Getting the tops of them can be quite tough as the sand is soft and your feet just sink away. The effort is well worth it however and the best time to go is early in the morning as the sun can cast long shadows. Some really cool shots can be made here. The dunes are far less interesting on an overcast day as you don’t get the effect of the sun. These foot prints were undoubtedly from some other photographer (who else would be mad enough to get up 4:30 am and hike a mile in soft sand?).

This shot was taken with my 5D Mark 2 and my EF 70-200mm f2.8 lens. I used f/5 aperture to blur the foreground and the background. Edited in Photomatix Pro and fine-tuned the color and vignette in Lightroom V5.

Posted in California, Death Valley, National Park, Travel