Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fog and Ice

These are some older photos I have finally processed.  This was the last fog from 2014.  Fog always provides and interesting mood to any photograph.  The tough part is finding fog that is thick enough to make the mood of the photograph what it should be.  The particular fog was were thick, so thick that it made it a little dangerous to pull into the location I was initially planning on.  I went a little further down the road to a different turn off and made my way down to the lake.  The lake was frozen from the many freezing cold nights and the grasses and trees were brown and without leaves.  This part of the lake is not all that deep so there were little pieces of tree protruding through the ice.  I found a couple locations in a close proximity to try and make the fog work with the photo.  

The first one I really enjoyed how the shoreline of the lake made a slight curve into the foggy abyss.  

Photo was to portray the wood coming out of the ice and the numerous air bubbles trapped in the ice.  

This last photograph was of the cemetery that is right along the outer banks of the lake.  This is originally where I wanted to stop for a photo but as you can see the fog is especially thick right in that area.  The road to that location is pretty heavily traveled and very narrow leaving little room for anyone to make emergency stops.  I used the grasses on the bank to frame this photo, helping to give it a couple layers of interest.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Clouds Make a Difference

The past couple of days I have made an honest attempt at one of my New Year's resolution for photography.  I have been actively trying to take more photos of sunsets.  Finding a great spot in a metropolitan area is very tough to come by.  Houses and power lines make it very difficult to get a great looking sunset.  Using a very wide angle lens does help minimize their view in your photos but if you look close enough, they are there.  Having said that, I do believe sunsets can be some of the most dramatic scenes whether you have those items in the photo or not.  The other thing that makes a great sunset are clouds.  Clouds are the difference between "wow that's a nice photo" to "HOLY CRAP that is AWESOME".  Clouds hold the color of the sun as it falls below the horizon line and the prism effect it gives on the clouds is amazing.  The sun falls causing an instant orange glow like fire over the clouds.  Sinking lower, it then turns to a lovely pink.  These are the best sunsets to capture on film or your digital sensor.  Sitting, watching the sun fall, also gives you a sense of peace.  I think that is what I most like about it.  For an amazing 15 to 20 minutes, you are witnessing something spectacular and that is tough to get in this fast paced world.

I digress.  The original focus of this post was to talk about how clouds will make a difference in your sunsets.  For the people who read my blog, visit my website, or follow me on Facebook, you have probably seen my post from the last sunset.  To capture that sunset, I observed what way the clouds were moving in the sky and set up to have the sun and clouds coming straight at me.  I wanted to add some drama to separate my sunset from others that I knew were out taking it that evening, so I attached a 10 stop neutral density filter to my lens.  This filter cuts 10 stops of light from reaching the sensor, thus giving you a much longer shutter speed.  You must use a tripod and remote release for this type of photo since the exposures can last up to 2 minutes.  Doing this allows the clouds to move in the frame and give the appearance of moment.  I tried this on the sunset last evening also, but the clouds were dissipating quickly and they weren't really moving.  I did shoot the sunset with a 6 stop neutral density filter in hopes to catch some cloud movement, but there wasn't much of any.  Additionally, the cloud photograph was taken at 12mm since the clouds were moving so rapidly and the stretched far into the frame.  The second was taken at 24mm to try and get as much of the clouds in the frame as possible.

Below is the difference between clouds in your photo and without.  So the next time you want to shoot a sunset, try for some clouds.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Filter Painted Sunset

The clouds were rolling in and a the temperature was about to have a change for the better.  It had been a beautiful day full of sun and some very welcome warmth.  I knew that there was a possibility of a spectacular light show from the falling sun.  Wanting the kids to experience the sunset, I hustled them to the car and set out for a lake.  I knew the lake would still be very frozen due to the frigid days we had just experienced.  Placed my tripod onto the ice and a very low angle so I could get a better perspective of the ice and more of the sky.  All of these photos were taken with a 10 stop neutral density filter and very in exposure time from 70 seconds to 225 seconds.  To view them larger, visit my landscape gallery at

This first photo was meant to display the wide array of colors the clouds were showing as they quickly moved out of the scene.  I had to turn the camera away from my initial location to get the colors.  

The last three photos were successive photos taken one after another and the exposure times increased with every photo due to the fading light.  This first one was approximately 120 seconds and the bottom was 225 seconds.  All the photos were shot with a Tokina @ 12mm, f/9, ISO 100.  I love the effect the 10 stop filter has on moving clouds.  I decided on this spot since the clouds were moving toward the camera.  It gives a better sense of movement and leading lines headed toward the sunset itself.   This is suppose to create a more pleasing photo.  

Thank you for viewing!

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Colder temperatures have made things a little harder than normal in terms of getting out to photograph.  Honestly, sometimes you have the motivation to get out there, but it's squashed the minute you step into -20 degree wind chills.  With that point in mind, I have been trying to do anything the last couple of days to get my mind in a better place.  On Facebook, one of the groups I belong to suggested trying oil in water and seeing what you come up with.  Yesterday, I decided to give it a try.  I used a crate I purchased for portrait shots.  I placed some scraps of construction paper on the bottom and stuck it beside the patio door.  The patio light is indirect which is perfect. Next, I took a 11x17 casserole dish and filled it half way with water. Finally, I placed a couple drops of olive oil in the water.  Using my macro lens to get good and close to the oil dots, I started snapping away.  Using the breaks in the construction paper provided some very lovely colors to the oil spots.  To see more, please visit my website at

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

End Of Year 2014

It's that time of year when everyone looks back at what they have done and what they could have done to make the year better.  I enjoy going back through photographs, not so much to remember where I have been, but rather what I have done.  I tried a couple new things this year which I plan on doing more of in the future.  I also see places that I need to improve.  One thing is taking more pictures.  I was at a place a couple years ago where I had so many pictures to go through and always seemed to have my camera in hand instead of actually enjoying the moment.  I tried to not do that last year and had some great times, but I don't have all the pictures to remember those moments by. This year I am going to try and find a medium where it works both ways.  I think photographers in general struggle to do this so I don't feel alone.

I finally got my little guys interested in photography.  I can already tell they have an eye for the camera.  It feels good to have them interested in something I enjoy so much.  Maybe next year I can take them on a little trip to see some eagles or some big waterfalls.  I got a full family photo of my parents side of the family.  I didn't really get a full arrangement for the photo, but it captured all of the kids with my parents so I'm happy.  Last time we were missing a little one.  I got a chance to visit and take some pictures of family and friends this year.  It is always good to catch up, even if I am behind a camera.  I visited a NICU for the first time this year.  I was surprised how unprepared I was emotionally seeing the little ones connected to every machine possible.

I started taking more landscape photos this year and really enjoyed it.  I am most definitely going to try to do more of that in the upcoming year.  Wildlife takes so much time to hunt and find.  Landscapes on the other hand, are always there.  You just have to catch the right light and clouds to make them work.  I always strive to capture clouds in my landscapes since it gives a better sense of feeling.  Clear skies, while nice, do not a good photograph make.

Enough blabbering; show some photos!

I added these photos to an album on Google+ so I could have my own backgrounds showing on my chromecast.  This also makes it so you should be able to click on the photo and see a slideshow at full size.  If you want to see more of what I did this year, feel free to visit my

I was able to capture the night sky like I had always wanted.  Doing it for the first time provided lots of challenges and I feel that I am going to be much more prepared for the next time.  Next time, I plan to get a vast improvement on the Milky Way and cleaner stars in general.

I captured some wildlife.  Not quite as much as I wanted due to various reasons, but what I got I was very happy with.

I also enjoyed making some composite images this year.  Most were of my children, but I helped some other people with some photograph issues.  I was planning on offering a retouching service, but haven't rolled that out yet.  

 I captured my first long exposure of a waterfall.  I thought some were decent to my standards, but there is definitely room for improvement.

Here are some of my favorite landscapes of the year. 

It wouldn't be a year without some disgusting macro photos.

And some cool looking ones.

I also did a couple of panoramas of the sunset and beautiful countryside.  

I saw the beauty mother nature can provide, but I was also able to see the destruction she can cause also.  I didn't go to Pilger on purpose, I was passing through on a trip and stopped just outside of town.  I didn't want to interrupt the cleanup or interfere with them getting their lives back together.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Sunsets

Over the Thanksgiving break I took the opportunity to enjoy some warmer weather and take a series of sunset photos.  The clouds were ripe for a great sunset, but just before the sun went down the wind had a different idea.  The wind picked up and cleared out what was going to be a very colorful sunset and left with this little band of clouds.  I attempted to do things right in camera and not use HDR for this sunset.  I used a 3 stop hard edge neutral density filter since there is practically no elevation differences in the landscape of the northern plains to even out the exposure.  I then transferred the files into Photoshop after my usually adjustments in Lightroom and added an LAB processing effect to the photos.  LAB processing brings out the natural oranges in the photo and adds to the saturation without degrading the image.  I toned that layer back to get the sunset the bright orange that I experienced that night.  I put the sun in the center of area toward the bottom third to get the most amount of sky possible and to crop out the farm buildings to the right side of the photo.  I normally would include those in the photo, but these wouldn't have added to the photos.

This photo was taken just a minute or two before the very top photo.  To see the difference in LAB color effects and regular process scroll back and forth between the two.  I cropped the other file to a 16:9 ratio because I didn't like the fence line in the photo below.  

These were the clouds on the backside of the sunset.  I thought these would stick around long enough, but again, the wind had a different idea. I took this photo with my fisheye lens and marginally straightened the horizon line in Lightroom.