Antelope Canyon

I took this shot while on a tour of Upper-Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona. I traveled over here just after visiting Havasu Falls and Horseshoe Bend. The place itself was gorgeous and  exactly what I had expected from other photographs that I had seen of the area. The only difference was how packed it was. There are basically two different tours. The regular tour and the photographic tour. Here I thought I would be able to just wander around it myself but unfortunately you need to go on a tour in order to get into the canyon. I wanted to go on the photographic tour because they will block the traffic of people for you and let you use a tripod but it filled up fast and it was also ridiculously expensive. Fortunately, I was still able to grab a few good shots with no one in it on the regular tour. I had to set my ISO fairly high because it was cloudy and dark in the canyon and I didn’t have a tripod. Because of the short notice, I wasn’t able to book a tour during the peak hours when the sun shines in but I was still able to get some good shots. This is actually just one image, no combined exposures or anything. I did some curves and levels adjustments and basic editing. Hope you like the results. Please follow and like...

Havasu Falls

This was the first place I visited on my cross country trip. I have wanted to go to Havasu Falls for a long time because of how beautiful it is with the blue water. Getting there was the hard part. To get to the trailhead you have to drive 60 miles down this road on an Indian reservation and then hike about 8 miles to a little Indian village that is buried in the middle of nowhere in this valley. Not to mention you need to get reservations a few months out which I didn’t realize until I got there. Fortunately I was able to get a day pass and still visit. There are actually several waterfalls at this location but Havasu Falls was definitely my favorite. This shot is composed of 5 exposures that I blended using luminosity masks. I had to make up for the difference in lighting since it was still light out. Hope you like the results. Please follow and like...

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...

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...

Zion National Park

Over July 4th weekend my friend Chris and myself visited Zion National Park in Utah. It was about a seven hour drive from where we were so it was a little bit of a road trip. We ended up getting a campground at this South Campground in the park itself which worked out really well because it was near the tram pick up which took you all over the park for free. The park itself was amazing! There were red rocks like the one seen in this picture everywhere, and plenty of hikes to keep anyone busy. The first day there we did a hike called Angels landing which was about a 5000 ft elevation climb over the span of a few miles. It was an awesome start to the trip. The best part of the trip was the following day on July 4th when we hiked the Narrows and got stuck in a flash flood! The photo below was taken right near the tram stop at a place called the Grotto. There are areas to swim in the water around here since it is deep enough in some places. This was taken a little way up though right around sunset. If you can’t tell, I was standing in the middle of the stream in order to take this shot. During the day there was a lot of harsh light and it was tough to take shots that I was happy with so that is why I waited until the end of the day for this one. This is a bracketed shot, and even though it may seem it, it is not a full HDR. This is mostly processed off of two RAW images with the finishing touches applied in Photoshop. I don’t know if...

Driver

I liked this photo a lot after I saw it on my camera when I shot it. I was working on getting the right amount of glare in the picture when I was taking it which was a little tricky and I couldn’t have known that it would have worked out this good when I was looking through the viewfinder since light can be tricky like that. This was one of my first few shots that I had taken with my Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 lens. This is a less expensive version of it’s Nikon counterpart and in my opinion works just as well. Although, it would be nice to have the auto-focus feature. The tricky thing is that when you look through the viewfinder with a wide open aperture like I was using, you don’t actually get an accurate representation of what it will look like in the actual photo. I didn’t know you could press the depth of field preview button at the time to do this so I was going off experience with different apertures and hoping for the best on this one. The sun couldn’t have been in a better position when I took this. It produced an awesome glare that gave the image a movie poster feel and really worked out. This is my buddy Steven Feusi who happened to be the driver of a sweet old Chevy Nova that ended up being extremely photogenic. Hope you guys like the results! Please follow and like...

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...

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...

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...