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



Fisherman and Son

The deadline for the K-State international programs photo contest is coming up and I’ve been going through my library trying to pick out my three entries for this year.  Last year I submitted three photos and 2 of them placed – one took first and the other was an honorable mention.  The one that got first place was a photo of the Marina Bay Sands that I took while I was in Singapore for the Kraft iTaste program.  The other one was the coin diver photo.

Because this contest is hosted by the Study Abroad Office, more than just submitting a photo of a beautiful place overseas, I want to emphasize culture and make the viewer wonder or think about the story of the subject within the image.  So in the process of looking for entries, I ran across this photo of a fisherman and his son out on Lake Sebu in the province of South Cotabato in the Philippines.  Lake Sebu is home to one of the many indigenous people groups in the Philippines, the T’boli.  Although the area has been modernized in many ways, you can still easily see things that probably haven’t changed in the last 50 to 100 years.  In this photo the fisherman and his son are paddling back to shore after checking their tilapia nets. Their little canoe looks empty, so they didn’t bring back any fish, so maybe the went out to feed them.  Take a close look at the canoe, it’s been carved out of a single tree trunk.  I wonder how long it took to make it.  Notice the paddle, that’s been hand-made as well, out of bamboo.  Also, the fisherman isn’t riding in the canoe, he’s out on the end.  These are things that I would venture to say, have remained unchanged for many years and give us a glimpse of the “original” culture of the people.

The T'boli Fisherman


Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-r
Lens: DA-L 55-300
ISO: 800
Focal Length: 230mm
Aperture: f/8
Shutter Speed: 1/500s



Dawn Creeps Over the Mountains

Photomatix Pro & Photomatix Plugin for Aperture 3 comparison

So I was going through my photo collection in Aperture 3 and I saw this sunrise photo that I’d processed a couple of years ago with I think the Photomatix plugin for Aperture 3.  I’m not sure though, it might have been the standalone, Photomatix Pro.  So I decided to process the original files for that image and see if I could do a better job.  So I opened the three source photos in the latest Photomatix plugin for Aperture 3 and started processing.  Boy, was I in for a surprise.  I could not do it.  The results were just terrible compared to what I’d done before.  The detail, the color, the sharpness, it just wasn’t there.  So I reprocessed it again, and the results were a little better, but still awful.  Now, its normal that your editing skills go up and down, but, man, I was thinking that I’d completely forgotten how to edit.  So I tried it again and again and again and the results were the same.  I was getting frustrated, so after two hours of moving sliders back and forth, I fired up the latest, standalone, Photomatix Pro (v4.2) application, loaded the source files, pre-processed them, and without even moving any sliders, just with the default settings, the image looked amazing compared to what I was getting with the plugin.  The details in the shadows were back, there was less noise, and the image was sharper.  I learned something today, don’t use the Photomatix plugin for Aperture 3, use the standalone application.

This is the image I processed a few years ago, maybe using Photomatix Pro or the Plugin (I kinda think that they’ve gone backwards with the plugin).

Break of Dawn Across the Rice Paddies

This is the image I just processed using the standalone application, Photomatix Pro.

Break of Dawn Across the Rice Paddies

This is the image I that I just processed using the Photomatix  plugin for Aperture 3.

Break of Dawn Across the Rice Paddies

The top two are about the same, some lighting differences, but in terms of detail they’re about the same.  The second one is just a  bit sharper because I added more sharpening.  The third image has horrible detail in the shadows.  You can really see that detail is lacking in the grass and in the walls of the shack.

Here are crops (if you open the image by itself you can see the 100% crop) of the three images.  The top one being on the left and the bottom one being on the right.  What do you think?


Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax k-x
Lens: DA-L 18-55
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 18mm
Aperture: f/16
HDR Composite using 3 photos from -2 EV to +2 EV

Enhancement of “Lake Sebu Sunrise” w/ Color Efex Pro 4

Hunt’s Photo and Video Melrose is hosting a photo contest on their Facebook page.  The prize is a copy of Nik Color Efex Pro 4.  To enter, you submit a photo edited with Color Efex Pro 4 (CEP4).  I downloaded the free trial of CEP4 and tried it on several of my HDR photos.  One of them was the “Lake Sebu Sunrise” photo I posted a while back.  I wasn’t quite pleased with the original image I posted, and I think I said something about that in my previous post – something like “the best I could do for now”.  Well, I opened up the image in CEP4  plug-in for Aperture 3 and applied one filter, the contrast color range filter.  Wow, I think the image looks much better now.  What do you think?

The original – before enhancing in Color Efex Pro 4

After applying the Contrast Color Range  filter in Color Efex Pro 4

Lake Sebu Sunrise Photo Enhanced in Color Efex Pro 4


I mentioned that I submitted this photo to a contest hosted by Hunt’s Photo and Video Melrose.  Well, that contest is heating up and I’m currently in second place, with the second most number of likes.  If you like and enjoy the photo above and have a Facebook account, I would sure appreciate it if you would vote for my picture on Facebook by liking it there!  Thanks!  Here is the LINK.

Passing on the Skills of the Trade

Early one morning at Lake Sebu, I was out taking photos.  As I was looking out over the lake, I saw this canoe moving along.  I kept watching it and saw that it was a father taking his son out on an early morning canoe ride.  They were going in circles around the water front of their bamboo house.  I thought it was just kind of cool, this close relationship between father and son.  They just kept paddling around and around, backing up, moving forward, maneuvering the canoe.

Canoe with father and son

Well, this canoe was quite a ways from where I was sitting, on a hill over looking the lake, at least a couple hundred meters.  It was only until I blew the picture up on the computer that I noticed that the son also had a paddle.  What happened on the lake wasn’t just a close father and son moment, it was a father teaching son moment, passing on the skills of living life on the lake.  Awesome!  It reminds me of the verse…

Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Father and Son on a canoe