San Clemente Girl Apr27

San Clemente Girl

This isn’t actually a photo I took but I wanted to put it up because my buddy Steven had taken it and I helped with the editing. My buddy spotted this girl while we were at San Clemente Beach just hanging out for the day. I was teaching him how to use this new Rokinon 84mm f/1.4 lens that I bought and he couldn’t help but want to take a photo of this girl that was near us on the beach. He went over and asked for permission and she was kind enough to say yes. Thanks to a comment she had made on the photo, we have found out that her name is Claudia Pacheco. The clouds were covering the sun at the time so it made for a real nice filtered light which accentuated the natural beauty of the girl. He did a great job with the actually taking of the photo considering he has minimal experience with photography and he was using a manual focus lens that is notorious for easily getting out of focus pictures if not focused properly. I was surprised at how bright her eyes had shown in the off camera image considering this was all natural light and we had no reflectors so that was a big plus. I barely had to touch this photo when it came to post processing. The only work that was dont on it was a slight curves and levels adjustmen and a few unwanted blemishes taken out in Photoshop CS6. You can find my friend Steven Feusi, the one who took this photo on tumbler here. Hope you like our collaborative efforts at making a photo. And a big thank you to Claudia Pacheco for letting Steven take this awesome photo...

Red Sky

I took this shot while at Corona Del Mar beach in Laguna, CA. This beach is super rocky and real nice for some landscape photos. I have shot here before and got some great pictures so I wanted to go back and try again and it worked out great. Funny thing is that the pictures didn’t turn out nearly as good as I had wanted so I tried my hand at some photo manipulation. The photo below is the original photo and right below that is the finished copy. To make the finished copy I actually had three exposures shot at -2, 0, +2. I processed these into jpeg files and combined them in Photomatix into an HDR image. With the newly made HDR image, I brought it into Photoshop CS6. where I masked through the better parts of the RAW images to make the photo more pleasing. From there I ended up replacing the sky with another file that I had on standby for just that purpose because I knew if the sky had more of a red hue it would better suit the vision I had intended. It didn’t look quiet right since the water still didn’t have the reflection and tones of the new sky so I added the new sky layer again and flipped it vertically and set the appropriate blending mode. The rest of the post-processing included masking through certain areas and using basic Photoshop tools like levels and curves as well as Nik Color Efex Pro. Hope you like the end result. If you have any questions on the specifics of the process don’t be afraid to...

San Onofre

This location was actually on Camp Pendleton which is a first for me. Usually I never stay on base for photos but this night in particular I had decided to go out rather late and saw that the sky was going to prove to be a good sunset so I decided to venture out to the closest beach to me which happens to be San Onofre. This beach is said to have some of the best breaks for surfing in Southern California and I believe it does from experience. On some real good day it does tend to get packed in the water but I have never really seen it get packed on the shoreline, at least not on the military side. This photo is mostly natural meaning I didn’t do much as far as post-processing goes. Frankly I didn’t feel that I had to do anything. Once I took the picture and check it out when I was done I could tell I was going to be pleased with the end results. I usually try to make blacked out or shadow areas as visible as I can but in this photo I find that these areas actually add to the overall composition. It gives it a more dramatic type of lighting in my opinion. The natural colors from the sky were also surprisingly beautiful that day. And to think that I wasn’t expecting much from coming here on this day.  This is a single RAW image that has been masked through the better parts of two other exposures taken at -2 and +2. I kept the dark tones that were present in order to preserve the realism. I used Photoshop CS6 for levels and color adjustments and Nik Color Effex Pro for other various adjustments. If you...

Golden Gate Park

I took this shot while strolling through Golden Gate Park one morning during my visit in San Francisco. I had come up to visit during a 4 day weekend that I had. This was my first time up here and there was so much to see. I hit all the usual spots and decided to hit some spots that weren’t as well known such as this one. This was taken during early morning as the fog was rolling out. This is a 3 exposure shot made from -2, 0, +2. These three exposure were combined into an HDR in Photomatix. Once combined I brought the single photo into Photoshop CS6 and masked through the other layers in order to bring out the better parts of the image. Some of the problem areas were the reflection in the water and the movement of the leaves in the trees. I used Nik Color Efex Pro for a few more advanced filters and that did it. Hope you like the...

Path to Hell

Salk Institute in La Jolla, California is an awesome display of some superb architecture. Louis Kahn is the architect behind the structure shown in the photo below and I’m not too familiar with architecture but from people I have talked to it seems that his building all have pretty interesting looks like this one. The Salk institute is one of the leading institutions in the world for biological research and I was constantly seeing various people in and out of this place. Considering all that is far above my head, what my focus was on was photography. I had wanted to photograph this spot for a while but it is always locked up and a keycard is needed for entry. There are tours that are given except they only ran on weekdays and at times that weren’t late enough for me to get the pictures around sunset that I had wanted. I ended up calling ahead through a reference number and asked for entry and I was fortunate enough to be allowed in. I took as many shots as I could before the sun went down and was even fortunate enough to have an amazing sunset. I picked the name “Path to Hell” because I thought that the real void and futuristic architecture in the foreground leading up to the fiery sky in the center of the image really makes it seems like it is leading to some mysterious unknown place. My favorite part about the image are the subtle hints that were picked up, like the reflection of the sky off the ripples in the water going down the center. This is a 3 exposure shot made up of -2, 0, +2. I masked through the better parts of the photo in Photoshop CS6 where...

Couples Shoot

This is a portrait of my friend Teddy and his girlfriend at the time Maryam(unfortunately they broke up some time after this shoot). They wanted to do a couples shoot and it was my first payed shoot so I took the opportunity immediately. I’m fairly new to portrait photography so it was a definite learning experience but I think overall it worked out great. I brought a 5-in-1 reflector that is a must have piece of gear. I used it throughout this entire shoot considering how often some of the shots had to be in direct light because of the spots we were in. It helped to reflect some of the light back in their faces in order to fill in the shadows which  made for a softer look rather than having harsh light splayed throughout the photos. This shot in particular was one of those shots. I thought it would be a good idea to try this shot on top of the lifeguard tower but the sun was still a little harsh so I used the reflector. You can’t see it in this picture but my buddy’s girlfriend (at the time) was actually holding the reflector with me in order to keep it in the spot I had wanted it. I didn’t have someone else to help me out in this situation so I made do with what I had and she was more than happy to help out. We got a lot of good pictures and they all seemed pleased with the results. For portraits, I try and keep the processing as minimal as possible. In the case of this photo I simply applied a curves and levels layer and fixed the white balance along with some color adjustments which were all done in Photoshop CS6....

Married

I shot this at my friends wedding at Coronado near San Diego, California. He let me shoot his wedding because I wanted to get the practice so I told him I would do it for free.  They got married on the beach here on a pretty sunny day. Coronado was such a beautiful place for a wedding and the couple was great to work with. Being my first wedding, I didn’t realize the full extent of the work that has to go into this. Probably the most time consuming was the post-processing because of the sheer amount of photos I had taken. It was super sunny out and hard to shoot so it was hard to handle a lot of the light because for the large amount of the wedding it was all harsh light. It wasn’t until later on when the sun started going down that the light quality increased and I didn’t need to use such a high amount of off camera lighting to balanace the scene. That was when this photo was taken. I took this as we were leaving the beach and heading to the cars to leave. The sun had already set and it was getting dark by this point. We were walking past the main entrance when I remembered I wanted a picture of the rings with them wearing them. There was a nice flowerbed that was lit up by a few scattered lights and I figured this would be a good spot for just that. I used a higher aperture in order to get the desired depth of field and brought their hands into the light and started snapping away. A few pictures was all I needed to know I would be pleased with this shot. It was my buddy Shawn and his now wife...

Lost in Translation

This photo reminded me a little of the cover of the movie “Lost in Translation.” This is actually my sister in this picture and this was taken on Acorn Street in Boston, Massachusetts. This was my first visit here surprisingly considering I have lived in the area for most of my life. You can probably already tell from the photo, but it was an awesome little street. There were cobblestone roads and old looking lampposts as well as brick buildings everywhere. It was also around Christmas time so there were even little wreaths with red bows. It was surprising in a way because it was right off a busy area around Boston Commons and almost like a hidden gem. If you have never been to Boston in general then I highly suggest it. There are tons of old historic buildings which have some interesting and beautiful architecture that makes for great pictures. This road is one of the many areas you can find out there. I took this with natural light because the building masked the sun so it was all shady which made for nice soft light. There was even a nice natural backlight that was provided for the picture from the lower building right behind my sister which helped to outline her more and seperate her from the background a bit. I have been getting into portraits a bit lately and have been trying new techniques to get the look that I visualize when I plan out the shots. I’m constantly learning and trying to perfect my technique so there will be more to come. This is a single RAW image file that I processed in Photoshop CS6. Most of the adjustments were minor apart from the dodging and burning that was...

Bay Bridge

This is a shot of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, California. This was my first time visiting San Francisco and it was a long awaited trip. Ever since I was stationed at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base I had wanted to venture up here. I had gone around most of the other places in Southern California and I knew that I had to check out Northern California as well. I only have a motorcycle for transportation but I find that to be a good thing. I planned out my route to go up the Pacific Coast Highway considering that was also an area I had wanted to experience while in California. I’ll start by saying this is the most beautiful and scenic ride that I had ever taken. It was along the coast for most of the way with curves and sharp turns everywhere (A.K.A a motorcycler’s dream). Once I got up to San Francisco I had visited all the usual sights first like the Golden Gate Bridge along with the large hills and trolley system in the city. It wasn’t until the day before I was going to leave that I came here. I had parked somewhere near the wharf and walked over here at nighttime. Once I got to this area where I took this picture, I couldn’t believe that this bridge barely gets any hype. If I asked most people I knew from the East Coast about it, I doubt they would even know what it was. This bridge may not be the Golden Gate Bridge but it’s still a must see spot while in San Francisco. With the lights outlining the bridge and the small cement pillars in the water below, this makes for a great shot. This is...

California Sunset

I took this shot at Corona Del Mar near Newport Beach in Southern California. This is my favorite local beach to go to for several reasons. For one, this beach has awesome rock formations in the water that make for all kinds of possibilities of interesting pictures as well as being fun to climb on! (yes I still like climbing on rocks) Also, barely any people go over to the rocky portion. Almost everyone stays on the main beach so I have never had any problems with having to wait until someone moved out of a shot I wanted. This place is also in a nice neighborhood with parking spaces everywhere close by. This shot is from one of my earlier on expeditions out here when I fell in love with the place. I had set up the tripod in this spot in preparation for the coming sunset and was crossing my fingers that the clouds wouldn’t go away by the time the sun had begun to set. Fortunately it hadn’t and this really helped some nice colors show up in the sky that I hadn’t originally seen when I took the shot. I had taken three exposures for this shot considering I was looking directly into the sun. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get the tonal range I intended with one exposure so I combined all three exposures in order to make a somewhat HDR. I used the original RAW files for a base and only used the HDR version for exposing some of the shadows that were missed. I have tried to stay away from that fake HDR look because it gives pictures a weird funky look and I like the more natural look anyway. I used Photomatix in order...