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

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

 

Dragonfly


I was going through my Aperture library today, looking for a photo to share and I came across several dragonfly shots.  I’d rated these and there were quite a few images and various versions, and I had rated them way back when, so it was relatively easy to pick out the best one.  So, if you want to be able to easily pick out your best photos years from now, make sure to have a workflow that involves renaming, rating, key-wording and so on.

For this dragonfly photo, when I shot it, I remember taking a ton of photos.  I was using the Pentax k-x with DA-L 55-300 mm kit lens, mounted on a monopod.  The dragonfly kept flying around, landing from leaf to leaf.  Well the 55-300 isn’t exactly a fast focusing lens, so it was kind of frustrating.  But, eventually, I, came home with a keeper.  Well, at this point, it’s good enough for me.  Perseverance does pay off.

I’ve mentioned several times on this blog that I use Aperture 3, and if you have a mac and are looking for an “all-in-one” photo organizer, editor, etc. I would recommend Aperture 3.  Now, Aperture 3 does have a learning curve and the software is jam-packed with cool features and tools, that training would be advisable.  For that, I highly, highly recommend Joseph Linashke’s training videos over at Aperture Expert.  Definitely go check his site out, you will definitely learn a lot, and it’s not just all Aperture 3,  there is some real good workflow information as well.  His prices are great too.

Dragonfly

1/125    f/14    ISO 1000    260mm

Painted Sky Over Makiling


You all have seen how the sky and clouds can light up into beautiful shades of red, yellow, and orange right before sunset.  Well, whenever I see that happen, I think of how God is again displaying his creativity by painting the sky.  It just blows me away sometimes.

UPLB is right at the foot of Mt. Makiling and when it’s not raining or overcast, the sky right before dusk, is usually quite beautiful.  I wanted to capture that beauty and color of the sky without anything like trees or posts or power lines in the way.  So I went up to the rooftop of the AMTEC building, which houses my department, and started shooting.  During this time I was into panoramas and had I discovered the FREE photo stitching software, Hugin, that is so amazing and has versions for Mac, Windows, and Linux.  So, to capture the whole scene, and since I didn’t (and still don’t) have a wide angle lens, I shot several photos to stitch into a panorama.  I’ve forgotten how many photos I took for this image, maybe 3 or 4.  Actually, I might have taken more because the final image looks like it’s a HDR image.  So, I probably took around 12 or 16 photos and bracketed from EV -2 to +2.  I should have used a tripod, but I did not have one at the time, so I used a monopod.  I shot with the Pentax k-x and the 18-55 mm kit lens.  I opened the photos with Hugin, which is pretty easy to use once you figure it out, and let it do its thing.  Hugin can combine several exposures to make a HDR image as well, which is a very cool feature.  Once the photos were stitched, I dis some contrast and other adjustments in Aperture and this is the result.

Painted Sky Over Makiling