The Pano

I often take Panorama’s, but seldom actually stitch them together.

alstrom pano_PEi.jpg

So let me step back a minute.  Panorama’s are a wide span photo, either vertical or horizontal.  These days you can do them with your camera or point & shoot, where in some ways they are easier.  Just press the button to go… and again to stop.  Wa-la.

To do them with DSLR is a little more complicated.  In Photoshop, you do a Photomerge, which is hidden under the obscure tree File – Automate – Photomerge.  Select the photos you want to merge and it will whir and wiz until it comes up with a compilation of your photos stitched together.  You’ll have to do some cropping or Content Aware patching to fill in any holes… but wa-la… the Pano.

Alstrom Sunrise Pano PEPSi.jpg

A good tip when you do the Pano in camera is to stick up one finger to designate that you are beginning a pano… then take your series, trying to remain level to the horizon and constant focus & exposure as you sweep your photos across, then stick up 2 fingers to designate that you are done.

_40A6047i  _40A6054i

This way when you are going through you digital negatives you know you have done a pano and can stitch it together using Photomerge in Photoshop.

Admittedly, I will take them, but rarely get around to or bother to stitch them together.  Maybe it’s because they just don’t inspire me as great photos, they are difficult to print, and hard to email.  Some subject matters do lend themselves to the pano format however.  So don’t necessarily blow them off.  Give them a try to enhance the story telling of your trip.

Mesa Arch Pano_PEi.jpg

Advertisements

Whether to Weather

My friend, Maureen, recently asked me which is better – gray skies or blue.

Hmmm. As in all things… it depends.

lp rainstormPSi

powell rvr closPSi

I love the dark clouds of an oncoming storm. It adds such great interest to a photo. Gray clouds are an entire different matter. They can create a washed out dull photo. In those situations it may be best to just cut the sky out of the photo altogether and enjoy the absence of a gray washed out sky.

Blue sky on the other hand can be very harsh and lend no interst to the sky… no drama or interest.

skinnyspirei

mittensPSi

It’s as they always say … dawn & dusk are the best.

Those times yield the best low lighting on your subject casting a nice soft glow.

Weather can yield the best photos. Dark, bloomy clouds add depth. But if it’s just gray and overcast it can create a bad photo day. Watch for the weather. Embrace it, and take advantage of the weather… it often adds more than less.

mittnPSi

Slot Canyons

2wayarch2PSi.JPG

Slots canyons are a landscape that is reminiscent of the desert southwest.  They are completely unique to Arizona / Utah area.  It’s not like they are common in Florida or Maine.  They are canyonesque shapes and textures that are unique unto themselves.

Here in Arizona they are common through the Indian Reservations… which unfortunately makes them expensive.  But there are other less accessible places to enjoy them, though they do require knowledge, agility, and a hike to get there.

bearPSi.JPG

They also require, if you’re so inclined, finesse in capturing them photographically.  Slot canyons are an illusive subject matter with their sandstone form and varying light.  They represent an abstract challenge to capture visually.

swirlPSi.JPG

j beam lookPSi.JPG

For me, they are difficult to capture.  Maybe because I tend to photograph tangible subjects like wildlife and landscape.  Photographing something abstract takes imagination.  You must see the shapes, contours and contrasts without washing out the colors.  It’s also technically difficult because the poor (dark) lighting conditions require a tripod … and a cloudy white balance setting promotes the orangey hue.  Pity I don’t have more opportunity to practice.

sandwavePSi.JPG

faceptgPSi.JPG

owlfar hortPSPSi.JPG

Campground Glow

jjfire_ssi.JPG

We went camping the other day, and to be perfectly honest, I’m a bit embarrassed by how FEW photos I took.  The advantage to night camping (particularly at my age) is I can get night shots – stars, milky way, etc.  But I took only a handful of photos… and didn’t stray far from the fire.

This time of year, there is still some snow on the ground, and the overnight temps can be chilly.  So I didn’t even get out the tripod.  I handheld my camera and took a couple pix of my favorite model – my faithful and patient love-of-my-life husband, John.

jsits fire_ssi.JPG

It stuns me the quality of photo one can get in our digital cameras these days.  With ISO’s that can go up to 200,000, one can make a pitch dark photo look like daylight.  In the old days of film, you could buy high ISO film, but you paid for it in graininess and noise in your photos.  Forget about using your zoom or stopping down your aperture, it was just grainy.

The photo above was taken at an aperture of f/9.0 at 4000 ISO.  Amazing right?

jside_ssi.JPG

Above was taken at f/4.0, 10,000 ISO.  By shooting with a large aperture I could not only draw in as much light as possible, my depth of field is shallow, and I grab the cast glow from the fire.  It’s just amazing to see what modern digital cameras are capable of.

jneels_ssi.JPG

The Study of Elk

elkinthemiddlePSi.JPG

As with anything we are passionate about, and aspire to do better, we must practice and study.  Learning from masters in the trade that have come before us is a good way of learning.  As such, I have been studying from my photography masters and reading their advice and wisdom.  Joe McNally, as a photo journalist, cites the key is to capture ‘gestures’.  Whether it’s in the expressions, the actions of the individuals, or the drama as it unfolds.  No doubt,  Joe didn’t have elk in mind when he offers this advice.  But the same is true.

elklaffPSi.JPG

Just as ‘a picture tells a story’, so do the movements and expressions of my subject… and in this case, our elk.  Their territorial nudges, tender nose kisses, or ‘banter’ between themselves all convey emotion and interest.

elkgesturePSi.JPG

elkportPSi.JPG

I’ve been fortunate enough to get a lot of elk photos… but with the astute advice of a photography master… my photos can become better, more poignant, and tell a better story.

tiftPSi.JPG

noseupPSi.JPG

elktalkPSi.JPG

elksuklPS_1i.JPG

 

Dreams DO come true

When I was getting ready to graduate from high school, oh so many years ago, like so many other young adults I was faced with that all important decision, ‘what’s next?’. What do I do with my life?  At the time, as a teenager, I was really into photography.  I used to go out every night and photograph the sunset and mess around with time lapsed photography.  I actually thought I was good.  I wanted to be a Photographer when I grew up.

Well… my dad, in all his wisdom, steered me in another direction.  “Why don’t you go do something that actually makes money?  You can be a Photographer when you retire.”, he told me.  Wise words indeed.  I don’t know what the percentage of Photographers made a successful living at it, particularly back then – before the age of photo workshops and online presence, but it wasn’t very high.  And you had to be VERY good – David Muench good.

So I followed my dad’s sage advice and became an Engineer.  Now that I’m retired I have picked up my camera and tried to get serious about taking real photos.  Moreover, I set a goal for myself… I wanted to be published.  Not just published, but published in Arizona Highways.  A girl can dream, right?!

To my total aghast and surprise, I got a call from Arizona Highways yesterday.  Crazy, right?!  They had selected one of my deer photos for the 2017 AZ Highways calendar… not for a large month photo- but as a little inset photo.  Baby steps, though.  I’m going to have one of MY photos on AZ Highways 2017 classic calendars.  Be still my heart.  OMG!  My dad would be proud.

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 3.14.34 PM.png

 

Photo Storage

I guess I knew this day was coming.  When I decided to start shooting RAW, I knew it would be memory intensive… and it has been.  I have had no regrets whatsoever.  It was the right decision to make, and has allowed me to better control the color and attributes of my photos without loosing integrity of the digital negative.

As I have taken more photos in RAW, my files and folders have grown to large sizes.  Since I keep these photos by year on my computer, my computer has started to bear the brunt of this this volume, bogging down my computer.  I had to find a solution to get all those memory extensive photos off my 1tB computer, and put them off computer, yet readily still accessible.  I back up all my photos on an external drive.. and these days 3-4 tB drives are cheaper than ever.  But to connect and spool up an external drive every time I was to access my photos is time extensive, and didn’t seem practical.

So I started reading about RAID’s: Redundant Array of Independent Disks. These back up units allow you to put independent internal disk drives in the unit, and allow one to mirror data for backup within the unit, yet it can sit on your desk or elsewhere and act as a easily accessible drive unit to backup and store my memory intensive photo files.

Done.

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 10.59.20 AM.png

Enter Drobo 5D. With 5 separate internal disk slots, and 16tB of memory  it solves my problem and allows me to store my RAW photos off computer and free up valuable computer space to do, well .. computing, Photoshop, etc.  So far so good.