Marina at Lake Perry

The semester is finally over.  At first it felt like it was going by quickly, but the last few weeks have been on slow mode.  It’s been ages since I’ve processed any photos for fun and not for the paper or an assignment, but I finally got around to it.  It feels good to be back.  I just hope I can keep doing it and not get so wrapped up in robotics this summer that I put it off and neglect this blog, again, for the nth time. It’s frustrating.

It’s been a while since I’ve shot any landscapes.  This photo was taken over spring break, back in March.  I haven’t really shot any landscapes since then.  I’ve been shooting quite a bit of baseball.  Go K-State! Big 12 Champs in Football, Basketball, and Baseball! EMAW! It’s a good time to be at KSU! …but I digress. I was asked to shoot a wedding and some senior photos, but I turned them both down because of schedule conflicts, and weddings really aren’t my thing, yet… maybe in the future.  So, I haven’t been idle, I’ve had assignments, but, I just haven’t had the chance to shoot landscapes, which I really love, but hopefully I can get out on the weekends this summer and shoot.  If you guys have any suggestions of great places to photograph in Kansas, let me know in the comments, I’d appreciate it.

Now let’s get to the details of the photo.  I set the camera (Pentax K-5) on a tripod.  I set it to bracket mode.  I used a wireless remote to trigger the camera. I don’t remember locking up the mirror, but if you really want to ensure that you get the sharpest photos that your gear is capable of, do that too.  I took six photos.  In bracket mode I can take a max of 5 with one click.  That’s great, but I don’t use it, because theres a funky limitation, you can only take 5 photos within a range of 4 stops, like between -2EV to +2EV.  When shooting into the sun, you might want to shoot from -4EV to +4EV.  So what I did was to take 2 sets of 3 photos at a time, 2 stops apart.  The first set was from -4EV to 0EV, so a photo at -4EV, at -2EV, and at 0EV.  The second set was then from 0EV to +4EV, so a photo at 0EV, +2EV, and +4EV.  Now you might be wondering why I have two photos at 0EV.  Well, I have yet to really test this out, but I think with into-the-sun photos, I get better results in Photomatix Pro when I have a duplicate photo at 0EV or whatever the middle exposure of the set of photos is.  I processed all six in Photomatix Pro.  I then imported the result back into Aperture 3, I did some basic edits there adding some contrast and vibrancy.  I then used Nik Color Efex Pro to add a color contrast, which really brought out the red sky around the setting sun.  Finally, to sharpen the photo, I used Nik Sharpener Pro. I think I like it better than the Unsharp Mask filter in Photoshop.  If you have any comments or questions, let me know in the comments section.

The winter sun sets behind the hills, its last rays glistening across the water as it leaves an amber glow in the sky.

 Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA* 16-50
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 16mm
Aperture: f/11
6 image HDR, bracketed from -4 EV to +4 EV


Photo Contest Selects

A few weeks ago I submitted three photos to the 2013 KSU International Photo Contest.  This contest has no specific theme, just that these photos should be taken outside the US if you are a local student.  I came up with a five photo short list and printed these out and asked people to pick three.  All of these photos were taken in the Philippines and most of them I’ve posted before. I thought it would be interesting to see what people here think.  So, which three would you pick?  Please share in the comments.  Thanks.

The T'boli Fisherman Mt. Mayon Low Tide Mountain Valley Storm The Colors of Dawn


Winter Storm Clouds

The Kansas State University Olathe campus is closed tomorrow because of the weather, still not sure if the campus here in Manhattan will be open or not.  I’m guessing it will be business as usual. Last week we got hit pretty good, maybe 7-8 inches of snow, not the 12-15 I was expecting and kinda hoping for, but I didn’t waste what “little” we had.  It started out as just a small group of us friends throwing snowballs at each other but it morphed into this epic snowball fight with like 20 people!  It was a lot of fun.

Anyway, with all this snowy weather we’re having, I decided to post this image.  I actually took this back in January.  I think I was on my way to class or on my way to the office.  I was carrying my camera, using my Carry Speed Strap, so it was handy and easy to get to.  I take my camera with me everyday, but I usually have it in my bag, and I’ve found that unless I have it out of the bag, even if I have it with me all the time, I’m not going to take more photos.  That’s why I got the Carry Speed Strap, so I could easily carry it outside the bag and be ready to take and make photos.

This photo is a HDR image.  I used Photomatix Pro to merge three DNG RAW photos bracketed from -2EV to +2EV.  I then imported the merged or tonemapped image into Aperture 3 (I use Aperture 3 to manage all my photos).  I did a few adjustments in Aperture like exposure and added contrast using curves.  I lightened certain parts of the image with the dodge tool, just brushing it in on parts of the lamp-post and some of the snow.  I also used the intensify contrast brush (I really like this one!) to darken the clouds in the background a bit more and make them stand out a bit.  I then used Nik Color Efex Pro Aperture plugin to bring out some more detail and add some “brilliance” to the photo.  The last step was to send it to Photoshop for sharpening with the unsharp mask filter.  That was pretty much it.

Winter Storm Clouds


Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA* 16-50
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 16mm
Aperture: f/10
3 image HDR, bracketed from -2 EV to +2 EV


Kansas State University150th Anniversary Kick-Off

Wow, it’s been over a week since I’ve posted anything.  I’ve been super busy and things have been a little on the crazy side.  I feel like I’m getting kinda behind on things.  I actually meant to post this a week ago, but it’s been crunch time for one of my projects and a bunch of other things that also need attention.

A week ago, on Valentine’s Day, Kansas State University officially kicked-off its 150th Anniversary celebrations.  I thought it would be this huge event, but it turned out to be just a short program at Ahearn Fieldhouse.  There were lots of high-profile people there, like Sam Brownback, the governor of Kansas.  There were a ton of free cupcakes and ice cream, and part of the marching band was there, but, overall, I was actually a little underwhelmed.

I didn’t take too many photos and I didn’t bother to take photos of people, even the famous ones.  I’ve found that most people shots, especially of people I don’t know, even if they’re performing on stage, bore me.  There is one exception, I do like to take photos of cute little kids playing and having fun.  Like there was this one little girl (I actually know her parents) who was so excited to see Willie the Wildcat and get his signature and give him a high-five, it was so cute and genuine.  That reminds me, I’ll actually be shooting a friend’s kid’s birthday party tomorrow.

So, anyway, instead of people photos, I shot a panorama of the entire event from the other end of Ahearn.  Panorama’s of landscapes, those are what I really enjoy shooting.  What I’m posting today is the one I’ve finished processing.  I’ve got a couple more to do, but this will probably be the only one I’ll post here.  If you’re wondering how I process these, take a look at my HDR-Panorama tutorial.

KSU 150th Anniversary Kick Off

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA* 16-50
ISO: 800
Focal Length: 16mm
Aperture: f/14
39 images stitched into a HDR Panorama using Photomatix Pro and Photoshop

A Peek Into Fantasy Land

It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow so I was originally planning on posting some photos of flowers that I took last summer and fall, but I was a little disappointed with how the red roses turned out.  Some of the shades of red were blown out, having no detail.  I could get it back by under-exposing but then that messed up the rest of the image.  Anybody have any ideas on how to take photos of red flowers?  Do I need a different lens?

So, instead of doing a Valentines post, I came across this image I shot back in October.  It was a beautiful, autumn day, and I had just received a new lens, the DA* 16-50 mm and I was excited to test it out, so after class I went for a walk around the K-State campus. This was one of the images I came back with.

I framed this image so that the arch would frame the scene and add depth to it, giving it a three-dimensional look.  What I really like about it, is that the scene behind the arch looks like a fantasy land.  It’s like looking through this window into a completely different world.  What do you think?

Do you see that cone-shaped roof of the building in the background?  That’s the same one that’s in my earlier post called The Lonely Tower.

A Peek Into Fantasy Land