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...

Balloon Glowing Jun06

Balloon Glowing

A little over a week ago a friend had told me about the Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival. Unbeknownst to me, I decided to check it out. Turns out it is this really cool event that is held in Temecula yearly. It took place over at Lake Skinner, just through Wine Country. The General Admission tickets get you into the event and even let you attend the concert at night (which I didn’t even realize prior to it starting). Once you are in you get to look around and go to shops or do what my friend and I did and just go straight to buying tickets for alcohol. The price isn’t terrible and you get to try all different kinds which is really cool. After being at the festival for a few hours, the Balloon Glowing started. I brought my camera specifically for this opportunity. I had never been to one so I literally Googled how to shoot a balloon glowing prior to coming. I didn’t find much advice unfortunately. So what method did I use? Shoot a crap load of pictures of course. Well…with at least some intention. I wanted minimal people in the picture and I wanted every balloon lit up from the flames as well. Now getting the balloons all lit up wasn’t too hard since all I had to do was wait for each one and snap a few pictures each, the people were a different story. It was pretty crowded around here and I still don’t have a wide angle lens so I couldn’t really get in front of everyone and get all the balloons in at the same time. So instead I literally took close to 100 images and masked the people out one by one. Quite...

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...

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...

Rocky Waterfalls

Along the stream to Bash Bish Falls in Massachusetts, there was this small hidden waterfall that was right on the edge of the water. It wasn’t really a waterfall per say but it was good enough for me. Fortunately it was cloudy out so there was no harsh light around to cast any unattractive shadows. Instead, it was just nice filtered light bringing out all the detail in the rocks and the moss. I had to take bracketed shots for this one because of the difference in light from the foreground and background. I couldn’t correctly expose the background with one shot because then it turned out with the foregrounded being entirely too dark. So I bracketed these shots at -2, 0, and +2. I used the usual Photomatix to combine the three exposure. I had just downloaded the new Photomatix and came to realize that there are these awesome new presets that make the HDR processed images look a lot better than the old presets the previous version used to have. I like to use one called “Photographic” the best and it is rightly named so. I hit a few sliders here and there but half the time I barely need to touch it. I highly suggest checking it out and getting the new version if you haven’t. It is well worth it in my opinion. I should also mention that this is a vertical panorama image as well. I had to stitch two processed images together because I’m unfortunately still using my kit lens to take all my landscape photos. Soon I will hopefully acquire a wide...

Forest Path

One of the only paths that lead to Campbell Falls in Connecticut was this beautiful hiking trail that was nestled deep in a dense forest. It was a perfect overcast day when I came here and the green colors in the forest really caught my eye because of how vibrant they were. I set up my tripod one the bridge and snapped away not expecting anything special from some of these pictures since the main reason for going to this spot was for the waterfall. Fortunately the path proved to be just a beautiful a sight. I shot this with my Nikon D7000 mounted on a tripod. I bracketed the shots in order to mask away some of the darker and brighter areas and processed the whole image in Photoshop. The only add-on that I used was Nik Color Effex Pro. If you have never used this program I strongly suggest it because there are a lot of helpful presets and you can enhance the pictures pretty substantially whilst still keeping the natural look and feel. I have been trying a more natural look and I keep working to perfect it. The best part about the more natural look is that it requires a lot less work, though the photo straight out of the camera has to have a better overall lighting range than usual. This is why going on a cloudy day was perfect since there is only filtered light all around. If you have any questions feel free to...

Campbell Falls

I just recently got home on post-deployment leave and I have been trying to visit some cool places to take pictures at. I found this amazing site called New England Waterfalls that lists all the waterfalls in the New England area and even gives each one its out rating for how good it is. The rating seems really accurate too considering I just recently visited two of the five star ones that are on the list and they were beautiful. The waterfall pictured below is Campbell Falls which is located at Campbell Falls State Park in Connecticut. It was a little bit of a drive from where I live (three hours to be exact), but it was well worth it. There was even another waterfall nearby that we were able to hit up while we were that far out. It was a short hike to this waterfall and it was a perfect day because it was an overcast sky which provided some great soft light. This is a RAW image file that I combined with the HDR I created through bracketed shots in Photomatix. Very little editing was done in all honesty in order to keep this one as natural looking as possible. Hope you like the...

Huntington Beach Sunset...

I took this shot a little while back at Huntington Beach in Southern California. It has been a little bit since I have had internet, so there are a few pictures that I haven’t posted yet so I’ll try to put some up. Unfortunately I don’t have all the photos I want to post so my selection is limited but I’ll get them on here eventually. Anyway, I was scoping out some places to take pictures in California on 500px and I came across this spot at Huntington Beach. It wasn’t too bad of a drive from the Oceanside area so I took the trip up North. Unfortunately the sky wasn’t on my side for this visit. It was a cloudless sky and very dull in color. The lights that reflected off the water were the only thing going for the shot initially, so I took the pictures in hopes that I could bring something better out of them later on and that the trip wouldn’t be a waste. I really don’t like making composite images when it comes to landscapes because I feel like it blothes the intended natural beauty, but in this case the images that I took were not what I had visualized in the shot when I planned it out. Overall, the results of making a composite help to better portray my vision of how the scene looked to me. This shot was taken in different parts. One part was the sky, another part for the water, and multiple parts were used for the pier. I have some reserve images that I use to replace skies with if they are dull and don’t do anything for the image. If you want to learn about some of the techniques I used or are interested in getting different prints that may not be available through my site please feel...

Doomed Youth

I took a few more shots of my buddy Steven Feusi while we were at Huntington Beach the other day. What can I say, he likes getting his picture taken and I like taking pictures, so it works out. You can check out his tumbler that goes by Doomed Youth page by clicking on his name in this post. It was a great evening for taking pictures considering the sky was filled with clouds. I didn’t even come here intending on taking any portraits, rather I had visited this spot with the intention of taking landscape shot which were also accomplished as well. You can check out one of the landscape shots from this night here. The cloudy sky acted as a great diffuser for any harsh light the sun would have given me. I had to step way back to take the shot because the lens I was using was intended for a full frame camera and my Nikon D7000 crops the view because of this. This is a RAW image file that I processed in Photoshop CS6. I love this lens. It is a Rokinon f/1.4 85mm. It gives awesome blur effects on the subjects. Let me know what you think or go to Steven’s page and give him some...

Newport Beach

This shot was taken at Corona Del Mar over at the Newport Beach area. I found this spot through a mixture between the ever reliable 500px and google. Ever since I have found this spot, it has been an all time favorite for me because of the large dramatic rocks that protrude from the water. It was the first nice night I have been out for picture in a while because I have been busy with going to the field for the military. Not to mention lately I haven’t had to great of luck with the weather for some reason. Fortunately it worked out real well on this visit. The sky was really cloudy which provided great diffused lighting on the rocks and afforded me the opportunity to correctly expose the rest of the image with ease. What I originally envision was somewhat different from the clouds that were given to me in this image so I ended up replacing the sky with a composite. I only do this when it is absolutely necessary in my opinion because I hate blotching nature with surreal manipulations for no real purpose. I try to do it with realistic looking intentions. This is a RAW image file with a bit of work done to it. I masked through the sky to bring in another sky I had saved in one of my folders. I also applied some Nik Color Effex filters and levels adjustments. I masked through the -2 and +2 exposures as well. Hope you like the...