Owen and Mitzy Visit the UK Part 4: The Highlands – From The Black Isle to Ullapool

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The Chapel on the Rock – First photo from my trip to Denver/Boulder Colorado

This past week I visited Denver and Boulder Colorado for my cousin Simon’s wedding. The trip was fantastic and I’ll have lots and lots of images and stories to share over the next couple of weeks. To start things off, here is a photo of one of the highlights of the trip. My aunt Glynis took me to this church, near Allenspark, after a long drive into the mountains at Rocky Mountain National Park. The Chapel on the Rock deserved a full HDR treatment (otherwise the mountains and sky would have been completely washed out).

I shot this with the D300s and Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 Pro DX. Five shots at f/8, each separated by 1 stop.

Chapel on the Rock near Allenspark, CO

Chapel on the Rock near Allenspark, CO

An Afternoon with a DeLorean

My friend Justin owns a DeLorean. Actually he owns two DeLoreans. The day after shooting the wedding this weekend, Portt and I met up with Justin in West Montrose so the car could pose with the covered bridge.  I both envy and don’t envy Justin. On the plus side he owns two classic 80’s supercars. On the other hand, wow did a lot of people stop and ask to pose with the car. He must get that a lot.

The light was moving back and forth constantly between overcast and bright sun. Bracketing each shot allowed me to capture the full range of tones with the option of HDR later on. I decided to go the HDR route with the posed shots. They may be a bit over done but I think they have the “car ad’ look to them. I went even heavier in the processing on the last shot. I was trying my best to pan, but with a wide angle FOV (19mm) the effect isn’t too pronounced.

Nikon D300s with AF-S 17-55mm f/2.8.

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Blog Week Day 1 – View from Rattlesnake Point

Tonight is the first night of my (possibly ill-fated) plan to post every night for a week. I’m starting the week off with an HDR composite from the top of Rattlesnake Point near Milton, ON. This shot is made up of 5 images, each separated by 1 EV of exposure. HDR processing was done in Photoshop CS5.

Since I tend to pack on the light side when walking I rarely have access to a tripod, something that is normally helpful for HDR photography. My trick is to set the camera to shoot at its highest frame rate (7fps on the D300s, or something around 3fps in 14-bit mode) and hold it as steady as possible. That way I minimize movement between frames.

Another trick I use is to program the lower function button to control exposure bracketing, as the D300s doesn’t have a dedicated bracket button. With the button pressed I can control the number of frames (2-9) with the rear dial and the exposure steps (0.3-1 EV) with the front.

Here’s the final shot with the D300s and Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 11mm f/8 ISO 100.

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A Flooded Field – Two Golden Hour HDRs

Driving to Guelph last week I came across this flooded field with just the right clouds and just the right lighting. Each shot is a high dynamic range (HDR) composite of three images separated with a stop of exposure difference between each. Yes, that’s my Mazda 3 parked up ahead in the first image.

I should also mention that I was on my way to a formal dress-up cocktail party, so I was in a full suit and dress shoes. I’m sure the passing cars must have had a laugh…

D300s with AF-S 35mm f/1.8 DX at f/8 ISO 200.

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ObG Thursdays – Lincoln Memorial

This week’s Oldie-but-Goodie comes from a trip Mitzy and I took to Washington DC last summer. On a blazing hot day, we took refuge in the Lincoln Memorial where I took this photo with the D300s and Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8.

Lincoln MemorialI used a few photographic tricks to make this image. First was my choice of perspective. I used the Tokina 11-16mm at 11mm to capture the vast interior. The room was also full of people but Mitzy pointed out this excellent vantage point that was completely tourist free! Compare above to the image below. It’s hard to believe that they were taken just a few minutes apart:

DSC_3716To capture the full tonal range of the space I used an HDR technique. I took five images, each separated by 1EV and combined the -2, 0 and +2EV into an HDR image in Photoshop’s HDR Pro tool. Here are the three images that fully encompass the darkest and brightest tones.

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The combined image looked like this:

DSC_3728-Edit-2Once the HDR was created I tweaked the brightness/contrast and fixed the vertical perspective in Lightroom.

ScreenHunter_16 Mar. 20 21.09And that’s it! A unique perspective of a familiar landmark, captured with full tonal range.

ObG Thursdays – Top of the Great Wall

Today’s Oldie-but-Goodie post comes from a year ago this week when I was high up on the Great Wall of China. I was in China for work (lots of photos here) and stayed for a few days to meet up with my friends Mark and Ling in Wuqing, on the south side of Beijing. They were wonderful hosts and on the second day of my visit they hired a car to take us to the Great Wall north of Beijing. The driver got a little lost and ended up taking us to a different section of the wall than we’d intended but we didn’t complain. This mountain pass, known as Juyongguan Pass, had a great ring of wall that went up the north side (Badaling) and back down again, across the valley and then up and down the south side. The climb was steep and grueling.

I had with me the D300s, AF-S 35mm f/1.8, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 and a borrowed AF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 and made good use of them all. The day was extremely hazy and visibility was a lot worse than the photos make it out to seem. When editing I added a huge amount of contrast and saturation to keep them from looking washed out.

The shot below was with the 11-16mm at 11mm 1/125s f/9 ISO200. Although it doesn’t look it, I composed this as a 4-shot high dynamic range (HDR) image. Each of the images that went into it were separated by a 1EV exposure difference. I found that the HDR process brought out a richness of colour that wasn’t there in the individual shots. To add separation between the individual mountain peaks and the foreground I did some dodging and burning with the curves tool and blending duplicate layers with soft light and screen modes. I used added a bit of glow to add an ethereal feel.Great Wall of China