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

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Sunset on a Farm


I enjoy shooting into the sun and trying to capture it right before it disappears.  Notice how flat this place is?  That’s south, central Kansas and boy are the sunsets beautiful there.  I also like the tractors!  The one on the left is hooked up to a planter, incase you were wondering.

I actually processed this photo a couple of months ago and decided to reprocess it, this time using Photomatix Pro instead of the Photomatix Aperture Plugin.  I think the results are better this time. A lot cleaner for sure.  I like it.

Sunset on a Farm

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA* 16-50
ISO: 80
Focal Length: 16mm
Aperture: f/13
HDR Composite using 6 photos from -3 EV to +4 EV
Merged using the Photomatix Plug-in for Aperture 3

Kansas Sunset


When most people think of scenic places to visit, I doubt if Kansas ever comes up.  Usually you think of the Grand Canyon and the national parks out west like Yellowstone and Yosemite.  My dad used to have a shirt that said, “Kansas Trek: Where No Tourist Has Gone Before”.  Kansas may not be as eye-catching as Zion National Park, but there is beauty here.  We don’t have mountain ranges and giant trees, instead we have miles and miles of flat land, and if you stand on a mole hill, you can see from one end of the state to the other.  Just kidding, but the sunsets here are beautiful.  You see the sun come down like a bright ball of light, with its rays racing across the plains, trying to escape before the sun runs into the ground and it’s too late and all that’s left is a faint, warm glow where it used to be.  Beauty is everywhere, you just need to be able to recognize, capture, preserve, and share it so that others may also see and appreciate it.

Kansas Sunset

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA* 16-50
ISO: 80
Focal Length: 19mm
Aperture: f/13
HDR Composite using 3 photos from 0 EV to +4 EV
Merged using the Photomatix Plug-in for Aperture 3

Winter by the Lake


We’ve had what I would consider pretty cold weather in the last few weeks, with high’s below freezing.  Luckily we got a bit of snow with it on New Year’s Eve.  No point in having cold weather if there isn’t any snow.  Well until the snow gets slushy and dirty anyway.

For this year, one of my personal photography projects is that every month, I will visit some place in Kansas, photograph it, and at the end of the year I will put together a calendar for 2014 using these photos.  So on the first day of the year, with snow on the ground and the clear winter air, I went out and drove to Lake Shawnee and took some photos.

Before going out on any kind of shoot, it does help to plan a little.  Part of my planning for this shoot was to check the sunset time for January 1, and I think it was around 5:09 pm, and I wanted to be there right around 45 min to an hour before sunset so I would have time to scout around and get setup.  I also looked up Lake Shawnee on google maps so I would have an idea of which side of the lake would probably be the most interesting, not to mention accessible.

When you go out to some nice place to shoot and you have your  tripod with you, you might be tempted to set up at the first spot with a nice view.  Don’t.  Force yourself to look around and to scout out the place. That’s one of the reasons for planning ahead and giving yourself plenty of time.  Doing so will definitely increase your chances of getting a very nice and maybe, a unique photo.  Hey, if you don’t find any other nice spots to shoot from, just go back to the one you found first.

So when I arrived at the lake and had my gear out and my tripod over my shoulder, I took a walk.  Since I had time I would take a series of photos from different spots and try different angles.  As I was doing this, I noticed this bird (I’m not sure what kind) in the water and near the shore.  It was a pretty big bird, and it was alone, and it was in a perfect spot for a photo.  So I got the 70-200 out and tried to get closer, but even before I got close, I somehow spooked the bird and it decided to fly over to the other side of the bend in the lake.  So I walked around over to the other side, it was maybe 200 feet, and even before I got there, the bird flew off again. Bummer.  But, it turned out to be good, because on that side, there was a spot where the bank of the lake was pretty low and flat and the edge of the water was right up against the snow on the bank.  Perfect!  So right as the sun was about to disappear behind the line of trees, I took this photo.

Winter by the Lake

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA* 16-50
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 19mm
Aperture: f/16
HDR Composite using 6 photos from -5 EV to +4 EV
Merged using the Photomatix Plug-in for Aperture 3

Eclipse


In case you didn’t know, the “Top of the World” is actually in Manhattan, Kansas, not the Himalayas, not Nepal!  Don’t believe me? Google it… okay, I know, I know, almost every town with anything taller than a mole hill has a “top of the world”.  Anyway, this last Sunday was my first time to check out the “Top of the World”, because it was the best place in town to view the eclipse, and it was actually my first time to photograph one.  If you are like “what eclipse?”… uhm, there was one on Sunday, May 20, 2012.  It was pretty cool.  Didn’t get to see the “ring of fire“, but it was an eclipse.

Just in case you want to know.  I had the Pentax K-5 with the DA-L 55-300 mounted on a tripod, had the camera set to aperture priority.  I used the lowest ISO possible for the K-5 – ISO 80.  The aperture was f.19, the focal length 190mm, and the resulting shutter speed after applying -1EV was 1/45 sec. There you have it.

Eclipse