Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

During my visit to Colorado in June my aunt Glynis and I took a drive to Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s a magnificent park, spanning a huge mountainous area with very little roads or development. The road we did take (Trail Ridge Road) climbs to 12,000 ft and is the highest continuous paved road in the USA. While we only made it up to 11,000, the altitude was definitely noticeable. Standing up too fast after changing lenses took a few moments of recovery.

I saw my first wild elk and, at the very top, a yellow-bellied marmot. Another first was being truly IN a thunder-storm, with lightning striking the valley far below us. Needless to say, we high-tailed it off the mountain.

The shots here were taken with the D300s and Tokina 11-16/2.8, Sigma 35mm f/1.4 and Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8 G. Many are HDR.

Gateway to Estes Park.

Gateway to Estes Park.

View near the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.

View near the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.

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A pair of elk.

A pair of elk.

Stanley Hotel in Estes Park (Shining, anyone?)

Stanley Hotel in Estes Park (Shining, anyone?)

Even in June, the snowbanks are at least 10 ft. high.

Even in June, the snowbanks are at least 10 ft. high.

View South towards Estes Park.

View South towards Estes Park.

Tundra above the snowline.

Tundra above the snowline.
Yello-bellied marmot.

Yello-bellied marmot.

Panorama of Long's Peak.

Panorama of Long’s Peak.

A sudden and violent storm from high on Trail Ridge Road.

A sudden and violent storm from high on Trail Ridge Road.

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This Weekend I Bought a D700 Part 5 – Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 Pro DX

Yes, this is a DX lens and I shouldn’t expect its image circle to cover the D700 sensor… but let’s try anyway. Here are images of my ceiling at f/2.8 at 11mm through 16mm with no lens corrections applied:

11mm

11mm

12mm

12mm

14mm

14mm

16mm

16mm

If we add lens correction to the 16mm image, it doesn’t look that terrible!

16mm with lens correction

16mm with lens correction

Here are a few examples at 16mm. They aren’t perfect but I would consider the lens useable in a pinch… at least until I figure out what to use for my wider-than-35mm lens.

DSC_1268 DSC_1273 D700 with Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

 

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

Blog Week Day 5 – Farewell to Waterloo Bowling Lanes

Tomorrow night Waterloo’s last bowling alley, Waterloo Bowling Lanes, will close its doors. Soon it will be demolished with a 7 story condo taking its place. I, along with many other Waterloons, are saddened by this. The lanes have been open since 1949 and will be sorely, sorely missed. There’s something special about a run down 5-pin bowling alley. Nostalgic Canadiana, maybe.

Last night, Mitzy and I made light painted composite images of the building to honour its closing. The technique is the same as the one shown here, with 5-10 shots making up each composite.

D300s with Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 PRO DX at 11mm f/11 4s ISO 200

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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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ObG Thursdays – Old Post Office Light Painting Composite

Lighting a large scene with just one flash is something I’d wanted to try for a while and finally got around to it with this shot in today’s Oldie-but-Goodie.

This photo is a composite of six shots, stitched together in Photoshop CS5. In each, I lit a different part of the building using a single SB-900 flash with the standard diffuser cap. I fired the flash using the test button and in most of the shots I fired it multiple times. The camera (Nikon D300s wtih Tokina 11-16mm) was set to manual exposure (f/8 8s ISO 100) and manual focus and set on a tripod in the parking lot. The long exposure allowed the camera to capture the ambient light but also gave me the time for the flash fires.

Here are the shots that went into the composite. In the first four I lit both the concrete and brick walls.

DSC_9339 DSC_9340 DSC_9341 DSC_9342 In the next two I tried to light the smoke stack by zooming the flash in to 200mm. The flash lost a lot of power at that distance and even with multiple fires it was difficult to light the stack.

DSC_9345 DSC_9346At this point the images look like a mess with many points of light and many Owens. However, by choosing which part of each image I wanted to come through using layer masks I could clean this up considerably. Below I show a capture from Photoshop with each of the images and their corresponding layer mask. Notice that for the most part only a small area (the white region of the layer mask) is used in the composite.

ScreenHunter_16 Apr. 11 07.19In the end I did have to remove a few stray flash bursts and Owen limbs here and there using the healing brush and clone tools. Finally, with a curves adjustment to brighten the lower mid-tones, I ended up with this!

DSC_9339-EditAs this was my first ‘light painted’ composite, I did learn a few lessons. Most importantly, it was difficult in a few instances to remove my ghost from the image. Next time around I would use brighter flashes and stand further away from the subject to not catch as much of the reflection. Distance would also help broaden the spot as it falls on the surface. Overall though, I was happy with this first attempt!

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.