Saturday, September 19, 2015

Wide Angles

So, I have been neglecting my blog for the past couple of months.  It hasn't been on purpose, just super busy.  I am going to try to start posting every Friday something new or old that I have shot in the missing month.

So, today, I am going to tell you about the amazing little lens with a huge front element called the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens.  I primarily wanted this lens to shoot some landscapes, HDR, and Night photography.  Landscapes and HDR have been some of the most common shots for this lens over the course of the last couple months and I look forward to giving it all its due when it comes to night photography once the mosquitoes die off for the fall.  Always better shooting when you don't have to worry about those pesky little things.  Only problem is the Milky Way is best viewed from our area June through September.  So, we will have to see what the fall and winter have in store.

This lens is really wide and really sharp.  I have caught myself a couple of times having the tripod legs in the photo, that is how wide this lens it.  It does however produce some stunningly wide shots and handles sun flare and chromatic aberrations very well.  It is definitely a favorite in my bag and goes with me everywhere.

Here is a sunset shot late in August.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Calming Reflections

Noticing that the clouds were starting to break, I thought I might have an opportunity to catch an amazing sunset.  The wind was calm and the situation wasn't right for filter painting.  I decided to pull out the trusty Rokinon 14mm for this.  The reflections from the sky turned out to be amazing.  There were some fishermen nearby so I wasn't able to get down close to the water like I had planned, but I really liked the spot I picked out.  I used luminosity masks to bring out the colors in this file.  I have really enjoyed learning how to use luminosity masks and think they are an amazing tool to use for landscape photography.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

More Waterfalls

I ventured out earlier this springtime with my youngest to photograph the waterfalls at Platte River State Park.  I am trying to get shots of it in every season to put into a collage.  I was a little more prepared this time around with a 10 stop filter and a 3 stop grad to keep the upper areas of the falls the same exposure as the lower falls.  I used a circular polarizer to cut out the reflections in the water.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Fisheye Sunset

I have always been a huge fan of the fisheye lens and since my wife purchased it for a birthday present last year, I have had nothing but fun.  It took a little while to figure out focusing since it is a pure manual lens, but once I mastered that it has been a true gem in the camera bag.  Being down a tripod, I grabbed a piece of driftwood and tipped the camera up while setting the base on the ground to get the largest view of the sky I could.  It was a very colorful and dramatic sunset this evening.  Enjoy!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Long Exposures Daytime Style

Something I have always wanted to try was stacking multiple ND filters during the day time to get a super long exposure.  Taking a long exposure in the day is tricky due to the sun and shadowing factors.  You also need to have clouds for some movement in the sky to make the picture more interesting and show depth.  I found the perfect situation to try this but didn't have much time.  I have a 6 stop and and 10 stop filter that I stacked on to each other to get a full 16 stops of light.  Moving the exposure to around 3 minutes with enough depth of field caused me to move my f/stop to f/11 and increase my ISO to 400.  I didn't want to take a much longer exposure due to the amount of noise that you will already have in your image due to the time and thereat of the day at 3:30pm.  The other problem is with 16 stops of ND filter in front of your image, you can't really compose a shot due to everything being so dark.  I probably should have composed the shot then added the filters on later, but time wasn't on my side.  I took the original photos and worked them as I normally would in Lightroom and was given the suggestion of cropping and conversion to black and white.  

90 seconds

235 seconds

217 seconds

90 seconds

This is the first photo I took from the day and ultimately turned out to be my favorite once I cropped and converted the file.  I did a massive amount of work on this file to make it presentable and I am very happy how it turns out.  This was 217 seconds.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mid-Summer's Milky Way

I haven't taken many photos of the night sky in my time as a photographer as the times are limited which I have to do such things.  It usually requires summer, lots of bug spray, getting the kids to bed at a decent hour, and finally trying to wake up to an alarm at two o'clock in the morning.  Usually it doesn't work out.  On top of all of that, I have to have a place to shoot, cloudless skies, preferably no moon, and if I am lucky little wind.  All of this usually has to take place when I visit the Sandhills since I am probably not going to drive an additional hour on top of all the stuff mentioned before to get out of the city lights.  When I get the chance, I try to take it.  

Earlier this year, I attempted to shoot the night sky in late December.  It was ridiculously cold and being a novice at night photography it took quite a bit of trial and error.  I didn't get much in the way of usable photos from that experience, but did get some knowledge of what I needed to do.  

Mid-June, I photographed a wedding and on the way home decided to try my hand at the Milky Way again.  This time, I was armed with knowledge and bug spray.  I stopped on a country road knowing that I wouldn't need to worry about other cars due to the time of night and set up for a series of 30 second exposures.  I used my old Tokina 12-24mm for these photos at f/4.  The Tokina is pretty sharp at f/4 and does a good job on the night sky.  Ideally, a f/2.8 or faster lens is best for astrophotography, but this one did just fine.  Not having the moon in the sky, it was easy to see where the Milky Way crossed the sky, but the tough part was getting the camera level and having the horizon line where it needed to be.  There were about three test shots for every good shot that came out of the night.  Since there wasn't a shred of light illuminating the ground, I used the flashlight from my cellphone to light paint the grasses in the foreground.  It did a pretty good job helping me give the photo some depth.

I have seen numerous photos arranged in a panorama across the sky showing off the Milky Way as it crossed the night.  I decided to attempt this with 7 vertical shots to get as much of the sky as I could.  I am happy with how it turned out, but I know for the next time that I probably need to take about 14 shots instead to make it work best.  In addition, I am armed with a new beautiful lens with night photography in mind. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Bob

During a recent Nebraska Photographers Network outing, we stopped by the Bob Kerry Pedestrian bridge for a couple photos.  Being from Omaha, it was sad that this was the first time I had ever visited the bridge.  I have seen many photographs of the bridge, but had none of my own.  While many people were on the bridge capturing the sights from above, I was more interested at the belly of the beast.  I decided to stay down and capture the sky above and create some long exposures with the Missouri River traveling underneath.  There wasn't much of a sunset since it was such a clear day and night, but there was a big moon.  Here are a couple shots of The Bob.

Day Time Filter Painting

Trying something I have been wanting to for a while, I took the camera, lens, and a 10 stop filter to the lake to try my hand at filter painting in the day time.  While I didn't get as much blur as I thought I would, I did get some very interesting cloud movements.  The wind was really blowing this day and the high level clouds were moving in a different direction than their lower counterparts.  Made for an interesting shoot.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Canadian Wildfires

I have been reading about the Canadian Wildfires and it appears that there is no end in sight for the trouble and struggles they are going through up there.  We have seen many of the after effects with many days of sub par air quality due to the jet stream bringing the smoke into our area.  One of the only positives I can think of that has come from the fires is the amazing sunsets we have been receiving here at home.  I have compiled a couple of photos from the past couple of weeks to document the smoke and haze which has invaded the area.

The photos below were taken with a variety of lenses and circumstances.  Some were taken during a very smokey day, while other were taken with just a hint of it on the horizon.  I have tried my best to document the beauty the sky has brought, but remember the situation that those to our north are dealing with.  May they receive relief soon.

To view more photos from the amazing sunsets this situation has brought us, visit my website at

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Russ and Chelsea

The last couple of weekends I have had the pleasure of spending time with this couple.  Capturing the moments and details of their special day has been nothing short of a fantastic experience.  I normal try to pick a couple photos from the day to display, but since it was over a two weekend timeframe I have more photos that I know what to do with.  So here are some of my favorites from the wedding and reception!  

Congratulations again to the Bride and Groom!!!

Please select the photo to view in a larger gallery!  That way you get to see all of the awesomeness!