Redwood Forest

The thing I love most about photography is being able to capture an image just as you saw it at that point in time. Often times we take photos and look at them afterward with disappointment over the fact that they look nothing like how we remember the beauty of the places we visited. I always had this problem when I started off. Eventually I ended up picking up different techniques for shooting and for editing that have really helped me along. It’s been several years now that I have been doing this and I feel that all the hard work is paying off and the effort I put into it can really be seen in my photos. I posted one of the original images that was used in making this final image seen below because I wanted everyone to see how big of a change I was able to make after editing. The initial picture is that problem I discussed earlier with the photo not looking like how I saw it while I was there. A camera can only do so much after all. This is where the artistic side of photography comes into play. You can see from the transformation that I was able to put more depth into the photo and really make it come alive. That is what I strive for with photography. I took this shot at the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Santa Cruz, CA. I shot it with my Nikon D7000 and shot 5 bracketed photos that I later masked in order to get one image. Please follow and like...

Happiness

The great thing about photography is that you are able to capture moments and hold them there forever. For instance in this photo I captured happiness. This couple had just gotten married that day and we were doing some post wedding pictures over at the Urban Lights at LACMA in Los Angeles. You can see on their faces just how happy they felt at that time. Photography is one of those things where you can look at a picture and immerse yourself back into that place and time of that picture and remember how you felt, that’s why I love it. The ability to capture it, no matter how fleeting the moment or time may be, is a reward in itself. I’m sure there are many pictures people have of past relationships, old friends that moved out of their lives, or people that have passed that show many different emotions in them. Regardless of what feelings may be carried by those memories now, a photo of that time is something that you can look at and remember back when you enjoyed that time in your life. When you were in a different place, and different circumstances, with no idea on how the rest of your life was going to turn out. I find that amazing. I was literally lying down on the ground in order to take this shot. I told them just to talk to each other and not to mind me for the time being, however hard that might have been. What ended happening when they started talking? They started smiling and laughing. Who knows if they thought it was funny that I was on the ground but either way it was great for photos and nice to see that they were...

Bird Rock

I had been busy lately with seeing friends a lot, work and other various things and haven’t had the chance to take off on my own in a little bit. Whenever I go too long without some along time I really start to miss it, so I decided to take off to Sunset Cliffs in San Diego to go shooting this past Friday. The Wednesday prior had one of the best sunsets I had seen in a while so I was hoping to get another chance at a good one. I had been watching the clouds throughout the day to see if anything would develop and I was keeping my hopes up even though it looked a bit overcast. When I got down to this spot, it was a little before sunset and the sky was just beginning to open up in the right areas. I was overjoyed because this was about an hour and a half drive for me and I really wanted some usable pictures out of it. Getting down to this spot is a little bit tricky because you have to find an inlet on the cliffs which isn’t easy if you have never been here. I scoped it out the first time I visited on Google Earth along with a few other sources and I was able to find a spot. It’s funny how some things can turn out to be great subjects for photos that you would otherwise dismiss if you knew what they actually were. Take this rock for instance. It is called Bird Rock because birds are always gathered on it and that white streaking along the top is actually bird feces. Who would have though that it would still look good in a picture. I shot...

Palm Tree Forest Feb14

Palm Tree Forest

Found this palm tree forest right off the road on our way to Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch. We weren’t going to stop initially but I thought that it was so cool how symmetrical everything was and I really liked how the trees looked all lined up with each other. I’m not exactly sure what they were growing all these pine trees for to be honest but I didn’t really care either. I just though it was nice to look at. There was a fence around the whole forest that blocked off people from going in so I ended up taking this picture from the edge of that fence. We just pulled over in the car and I set up my tripod and shot away. I wanted to get the right angle so I could show just how aligned all these trees were. They all even looked about the same size. It was really cool. Throughout this cross-California trip with my sister, we encountered some really cool things. One day we were driving through the mountains and hit the worst fog I had ever seen. You literally couldn’t see five feet in front of the car, it was nuts. Because it was so bright when I took this shot, I had to take a few extra exposures so that I could get the full range of light that I wanted in the final picture. I find that thinking about the end product when you are taking pictures is very important because you need to know what exactly you need to be able to complete that goal. I used my recently adopted technique of luminosity masks and combined the light values from the other exposures. I edited the whole photo in Photoshop CS6 and did adjustments...

McWay Falls

If you have ever been to California and for some reason haven’t visited the Big Sur Coastline then another trip is in order. This is one of the most beautiful drives that I have ever taken and I highly suggest. This was another one, of many spots, that my sister and I visited. If you travel up Highway 1, you are bound to run into this beautiful spot. This is McWay Falls. I had visited this spot the first time I traveled the coast but it was in the middle of the day when I got here and the harsh light didn’t do this spot justice, so I never ended up posting a picture. Fortunately, this time I had arrived at exactly the right time. It was literally less than 1 minute after sunset that we arrived here. I was booking it in our little rental SUV in order to get here with enough light. I was so relieved when I found that we had just made it. Upon arriving, I quickly setup my tripod and started snapping away. Turns out that I even had some time to spare because it wasn’t until a few minutes after I had started shooting that some of the best light came out. The sky started turning that warm orange glow, and all that harsh light that was splayed on the rocks had disappeared. I bracketed 3 photos as usual and applied luminosity masks to them in Photoshop. If you have any questions or comments about my technique or my work then feel free to ask! Please follow and like...

Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch Jan25

Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch...

If you have ever been along Route 66 then I’m sure that you are familiar with where this shot was taken. This is the Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch. This is conveniently located in the middle of nowhere just Northeast of Los Angeles. My sister and I were on our way up North to visit Yosemite and Sequoia National Park and we figured we would go a little out of the way to take a stop here. Coming here from South Los Angeles, it seemed like there was a bit of driving with not much around. The town that this is actually located in was so small that I would imagine everyone knows everyone. I didn’t see any signs when we were looking for the spot where this was so we had to keep our eyes out. Once you get near it though it is hard to miss. This plot of someone front yard that this historic site is actually located in was larger than I had imagined. There were hundreds of bottles setup on little tree like arrangements that were made of re-bar. There was even an old broken down jeep inside that just added to the vintage effect. It was really bizarre and interesting to see at the same time. There were only two other people there when we first showed up who left soon after and the rest of the time we were on our own. I definitely suggest visiting it if you are in the area or going on a trip across Route 66. I took this shot mounted on a tripod with a remote shutter release. I shot directly into the sun because I wanted to filter the sunlight through the bottles so I could make them light up and bring...

Salvation Mountain

I took a fairly lengthy road trip with my sister this past week because she came and visited me in California. Salvation Mountain was one of the stops among many others. We went everywhere from Southern California to as far North as Sacramento. I have loads of pictures that I took that I still have to go through so you can expect there to be some new posts coming up with photos from the trip. This was my first time visiting Salvation Mountain. To get here you have to drive pretty far into the desert to the West of Southern California. I could probably count the number of homes in some of the cities that we passed; it was quite the sight. Once we got to the site it was just as cool as I was hoping. Something I found out was that portions of this mountain are man-made out of hay and whatever other bonding agent…probably mud. It was also a little bigger than I expected because it wasn’t only the mountain that was there, but there was also little rooms and alleyways we could walk through, not to mention a bunch of cool stray cats. Usually I try to avoid direct sunlight, but for this picture I think it suited it. I like the way the glare of the sun came out too. I think it gives it the desolate desert feel I was going for. I used luminosity masks and the usual 3 exposure bracketing method to create this image. The whole thing was edited in Photoshop CS6. Hope you like the results! Please follow and like...

Luminance

This is an old photo that I took while at Corona Del Mar. I have been wandering around the internet lately reading various articles that all seem to focus on a technique that I had never used before called luminosity masks thus the name of the post luminance. What these essentially do is bring in particular light values of a photo, acting almost like an HDR technique, which is something that I like and am very familiar with. What I read was that luminosity masks actually had much more control and accuracy compared to the HDR technique so I decided to give it a shot. Most of the info I used was off of the 500px website which you can get to by clicking the link. Jimmy Mcintyre also has an awesome website that has loads of useful information on the subject of digital blending and luminosity masks. I used a luminosity mask action that I set up in Photoshop CS6 and imported all the three exposures as layers. The main file that I used for the base image was actually a lightly processed HDR image that I had put together. I wanted to see if I could actually get better results from luminosity masks and I quickly found out that I could, so not much of the final image is HDR. It was tricky to get it to look right at first and required a bit of work from the get go, but the hard work quickly comes to fruition once you get the hang of it. Hope you like the results! Please follow and like...

Bash Bish Falls

This is a shot I took at Bash Bish Falls located in Southwestern Massachusetts. This is said to be the highest single drop waterfall in the state.  I visited this spot with my sister while I was back home on post-deployment leave. It was about a three hour drive but we had never been and decided to venture out for the day. It ended up being an overcast day which was a good thing since there wouldn’t be any harsh light. The hike to the waterfall was short too, I don’t remember it taking any longer than an hour and once we got there, there was barely anyone else at the falls. To get this angle I had to end up jumping across the stream on a few rocks to get to the other side. I usually try to look at a lot of different angles and spots for locations that I shoot at just to find the one that I really love the most. Even though I only end up posting one picture of most of the spots that I should, you would be surprised at how many different pictures and angles I end up having at the end of the day. I’ll use different shutter speed settings for water, 10 stop filters, and bring my tripod real low to the ground sometimes. It all depends what I like the most at the end of the day that makes me choose it for my website. This shot was a regular RAW image taken on a tripod. I had a ND filter on the front of the lens to slow the water a bit and processed this photo in Lightroom for minor adjustments and then Photoshop CS6 for the rest. Please follow and like...

Beach Ride

Everything was good; I had this idea for a picture that I had wanted to take in my mind and was finally ready to try and make it happen. The sun was out, the spot was chosen, we had a way to get to the spot. Everything seemed perfect. It wasn’t until we were leaving that the clouds started coming in and going in front of the sun. By the time we got to the spot at San Onofre beach, it was completely overcast with no sun in sight. The whole reason for this outing was because I had wanted to situate the setting sun glare somewhere off the side of the picture to give it a warm effect that made a nice natural glare over everything. I was so excited for this shot but was disappointed when I learned that it wouldn’t be happening that day. So what did I do? I made the best of the situation. I had ended up bringing along my SB 700 Nikon flash and a wireless trigger along with some gels just in case. I’m extremely glad I did because I had ended up using it for this shot. The natural light wasn’t too bad I thought it looked a little dull and I wanted it to seem like there was still sun in the picture so I could try to recreate the original idea as close as possible. I put a warming gel on the flash and positioned it off to camera right, where the sun would have been. I had wanted to be the model for this picture but since I had such a specific idea in mind, I couldn’t have someone else shoot this for me so I had my friend Steven model with...