Bonsai

This bonsai tree was located at the Huntington Library in Los Angeles, California. If you live in Southern California and have never been here then it is a must see. There are various different gardens like a Chinese and Japanese Garden as well as all kinds of interesting floral that is scattered around the grounds. I came here pretty early this day and stayed for at least three of four hours just walking around and taking everything in. There is so much to see here that I even filled up one of my memory cards. I took this shot while I was in the Japanese Garden here, going through the large bonsai area they have. Some of these trees were over a hundred years old and had some real cool forms they had taken over the years. This one in particular stood out to me because of the awesome position that it was in as well as the great lighting and cool shape. This was one of the few bonsai trees there that was totally in the shade which made for a large amount of detail able to be shown without getting blown out whites or too dark of blacks. I thought the corner that it was in was interesting also because I felt that it limited the distractions around it, like other bonsai trees, and made for a simple background. It was pretty simple putting this picture together. I just took a few regular RAW images of it handheld, exposing for the tree itself and that was it. I took it into Photoshop CS6 later in Adobe Camera RAW and messed around with some of the sliders in order to adjust some of the shadows and highlights and gave it some more vibrant...

Chaurami Aquarium

If you ever visit Okinawa, Japan then Chaurami Aquarium should be on your list of places to see. This has one of the largest whale shark tanks in the world and the grounds are equally impressive. It’s located right along the shoreline so you can go right outside the aquarium and check out a lot of cool cultural displays for free. I was in Okinawa with the Marine Corps at the time because of a deployment we were on. I didn’t visit this aquarium until a few weeks into being there because there were a few other things on the island that I wanted to see, to include Hiji waterfall which is mentioned in another post. After finally deciding to visit the aquarium I was glad that I did. I probably stayed at the tank pictured here for the longest. I couldn’t take my eyes off these massive whale sharks. Seeing one up close is way different than seeing them in picture because it’s hard to show just how large they are. That’s why I had the idea of putting the silhouette of people in front of the tank. I think that without the silhouette of tourists in front of the tank then this image wouldn’t be able to give an accurate representation of just how large the sharks were. Even the tank was impressive on it’s own because of how large it needed to be in order to house these creatures. I took this shot from the back of the room on top of a raised area with a tripod. I exposed the image for the shark tank in order to silhouette the people in front. Once I opened the RAW file in Photoshop CS6, I did some color adjustments and brought it into Photoshop...

Hiji Creek

This was taken a little way down from Hiji Falls where the water was running to. The Hiji Falls area is located in the Northern Yambaru area of Okinawa where there is a very low population and a dense amount of forestry. There is another picture from this visit of the actual falls but this shot I found to be just as charming if not more so. The thick vegetation was exploding with color on this visit and the calm crystal clear water made for an interesting subject for the photo. From the photo it looks like I’m actually standing in the water but in reality there was a little path of rocks that went across a miniature waterfall that I was standing on to get this shot. This place was bit of a pain to get to because we had to take a bus here and if you have ever been to Okinawa you would come to find out that they don’t speak much English and everything is in Japanese characters. Fortunately I had been going over the Japanese Rosetta Stone at the time so I knew a bit of conversational Japanese that helped us out getting here. This was also the second time we came here because on our first trip it was closed by the time we arrived. I liked this area in particular because everything was shrouded in shade giving the whole scene a nice soft light and the whole area felt so full of life. For this image I mounted my camera on a tripod and shot three exposures in order to get the full range of light in the scene. I took those three exposures and attempted an HDR image but quickly realized it was better off as...

Japanese Hut

While on deployment in Okinawa, Japan back in 2012 I did some sightseeing. One of the most memorable places that I visited was here at the Shuri Castle area located in Naha. The little Japanese hut that is pictured here wasn’t actually the main attraction at this area, rather it was the actual castle that is featured in another photo on my website. There was so many awesome places to explore and photograph at this location that I actually have several photographs on my site. This was located a little past the Shuri Castle grounds on an almost hidden trail. I had scene this spot on one of the brochures and had kept my eye out for it the whole time we were visiting here but couldn’t find it. It wasn’t until the end when we were leaving that I had decided to try and venture off to find it. It had rained on and off non-stop all day and at the time of this shot it was just starting to clear up. I figured the sun would be coming out pretty soon and the group I was with was getting a little restless so I tried to work fast. I didn’t have a wide angle lens at the time and really wanted to get the whole scene in one picture so I decided to stitch together a panorama of sorts. I should probably mention that this is also an HDR image. I shot a total of 6 shots; 3 exposures for one side and 3 exposures for the other side. When I edited the photos on my computer I had to make sure a lot of the exif info was the same that way the stitch would be seamless. I did the same adjustments for...

Hiji Falls

This area, known as Hiji Falls, is mentioned on another post on my website which is further down the stream from the falls and it is covered in thick vegetation with crystal clear water. You can check out the post here.  This is one of the first waterfall pictures that I had taken with my Nikon D7000, which was new at the time. I would say that this was where a love of waterfalls started. strange as it may sounds, this picture makes the falls look puny. In reality they are actually a pretty good size and are located in a beautiful spot. It is a small hike through the woods to get to these falls. The spot they are in is so great because all of the surrounding trees and vegetation practically block all the direct sunlight from coming in. This made for a great all around lighting that helped to bring out a lot of the colors. I shot this from a rock that was located in the middle of the pool beneath the falls. I had hopped over the security rope and snuck over here (I tend to do that a lot). I can’t even remember how many shots I took of this scene because I was trying everything out knowing that I wouldn’t get the chance to come to this spot again. I was swapping filters left and right and trying all kinds of different exposures. In the end, I settled on this image here which is a single RAW image files that was masked through in Photoshop CS6 in order to bring out some of the shadows and highlights that the camera couldn’t pick up. Only a few filters were applied from Nik Color Effex Pro in order to...

Shuri Steps Apr18

Shuri Steps

I took this shot while I was walking up to the main area of Shuri Castle located in the town of Naha in Okinawa, Japan. I have another post from this area which is located a short distance off the castle ground and picture a Japanese hut on a lake that can be viewed here. On this visit there had been rain clouds following us around all day and I was afraid that it would ruin our visit since It would make things real difficult to take pictures without getting my camera soaked in the torrential downpour that Okinawa usually experiences. Luckily, it had only drizzled when we first arrived at the castle and stopped for the rest of the time. This was actually more beneficial than anything because the ebbing rain pent up in the clouds made for some awesome pictures. You can see here just how heavy those clouds looked. This area is pretty much what the whole area around here was built like. There were a lot of stone structures with pointed roofs that have become iconic to the Japanese culture. This place is the kind of place you expect to see when you go to an Asian country (as stereotypical as that sounds). I really wanted to bring out the details in the stones that showed signs of aging and wear so I decided to make an HDR out of this shot. I took 3 separate exposures at -2, 0, and +2 and combined them all in Photomatix. I barely touch the sliders much from their defaults setting except to lessen the HDR effect in order to give the images a more natural look. Once they were combined, I took the image in Photoshop CS6 and started the post-processing by masking...