One of My Favorite Subjects

October 24, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I don’t know how many times I’ve passed this old house on my way to my brother’s cabin, but I finally decided it was time to pull over and shoot it.  From the beginning I knew this has to be a black and white image.  What was left was just to capture the right angle, and I think I accomplished it.  As I said on FB when I had originally posted this image, there’s just something about old shacks, barns, and overall wood structures that attract me.  Can’t wait to do more while I’m in the area!
More images from this trip can be seen by clicking on the image above.
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Camera:     Olympus E-P5
Lens:          LUMIX G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens
Exposure:   1/800 sec;   f/5.6;   ISO 200
Post:           Lightroom CC, NIK Silver Efex 2

 


Before the Fall Color Change

October 21, 2016

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Right about now the Fall colors are about to peak in the Blue Ridge mountains, and photographers are rushing to capture these iconic scenes. I myself will be heading up there this week to try and capture my little piece. As I prepare, I thought I'd share a little of what it looks like right before the change. I had a chance to visit here about three weeks ago, and it'll be great to see the difference just three short weeks can make. I'll be posting and documenting my trip right here, so make sure to follow for more. 


Now I got it!

February 06, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

C. B. Smith Park Pembroke Pines, FL Feb 2016

CB Smith Park Pembroke Pines, FL
February 2016

I had somewhat of a breakthrough this week in my infrared photography.  It came about unexpectedly, as these things usually do, but it left me with an amount of knowledge in various infrared photography techniques that escaped me for a long, long time.  I'll get to what those techniques are in a minute.  

I was looking through Google+ as I frequently do (BTW, it's better than FB for enjoying others' photos), and was specifically looking for infrared photography, when I noticed a lack of these types of images in my feed.  I come to find out that the Google+ Community of which I was a longtime member, ceased to exist.  I looked everywhere, and couldn't find it.  And so I searched for another community to join, and in the process stumbled upon a Google+ collection by none other than Jason Odell, of the Image Doctors podcast fame.  In looking through his collection I saw that he shared a similar vision as I did in IR, albeit with better images than me.  And then I discovered that he had a link to a short video tutorial that he had put together in Infrared.  It turns out that inside his videos were specific discussions regarding the very techniques I was wanting to learn, or at least fine tune.  Now, I typically don't buy these kinds of things, especially with things like YouTube around, where you can literally find dozens of videos on every conceivable subject.  But in looking through the contents list of Jason's videos, there were the very specific techniques I needed.  So I plunked down the $20, and proceeded to absorb the entire presentation in one sitting.  It was excellent.

Now, those of you that have at least dabbled in color infrared photography know that accurate white balance is key to achieving the proper balance of colors in the final image.  Auto white balance can't cut it, as today's digital cameras simply aren't calibrated to adequately determine white balance.  Therefore it requires a precise manual setting using either gray cards, or, as I chose to invest in, an Expo Disc ($60).  Yeah, I'm serious about my IR.  Anyway, within Jason's videos was a very clear explanation of how to create a specific camera profile using Adobe's DNG Profile editor, so that it could be used in Lightroom or Camera Raw, to be able to adjust white balance in these applications.  I'd seen discussions on this before, including a free video that Jason had created (but he did leave out the small key details of specifically how to go about doing this).  But in any case, here it was.

And so I created the camera profile, installed in in Lightroom, and low and behold, had complete capability to tweak white balance as in normal color photography.  Now, Jason's videos went on the describe his techniques, including getting a 720nm IR look from the 590nm filter that I have inside my camera.  This is the other piece I was missing.  It's a look that can be slightly tweaked to give you an image with light pastel blue foliage, against a dark or black sky.  This is a look that I could never achieve.  It turns out that I haven't been able to go shoot specifically with this look in mind, but you can visit Don Ellis' kleptography site titled "Infrared Bali".  I think it's beautiful, and now this look will be within my reach.

To see more of my IR images simply click on the photo above to be taken to the gallery.  Not the greatest, but a vast improvement over my previous work.  Incidentally, the look you see above was achieved through the use of Lightroom, Photoshop, and the Nik collection of plugins.  Yes, infrared is fun, at least to me, but it does require a significant amount of post processing.  So if you want to dabble in it, first have a look at Jason's videos.  They'll get you started right away.


The Eyes Say It All

July 30, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Burrowing Owls, Brian Piccollo Park"I Can't Believe You Said That!"Burrowing Owls, Brian Piccollo Park


Burrowing Owls
Brian Piccollo Park
Cooper City, FL
July 2015

It's been quite a while that I've visited these little guys.  In fact, the last time was when I bought my first micro four thirds camera.  Bird photography being one of my favorite genres, it was only fitting that I should go and try out this new gear on my favorite "birds".  So now I've come back, with a new set of gear.  Still micro four thirds, but this time I switched from Panasonic Lumix cameras to Olympus.

I really do hate writing about gear in this space.  That's what SmartPhotoGear.com is for, but being that this outing was specifically to test out my new camera and lens, I suppose I have no choice.  The owls did not disappoint, although the weather could have been better.   I wound up taking my Lumix 100-300mm lens on my new Olympus E-M5 MK II.  I gotta say, the improved 5-point image stabilization of this camera is absolutely great.  All of these shots were handheld, with the lens racked out to nearly 300mm.  That's 600mm equivalence!  Unbelievable for me, whose body sway is absolutely terrible.

In any case, I just wanted to share these little guys, whose eyes make it so simple to convey an emotional expression in a picture.  If you run across this post, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.  I'll be adding to the gallery as I post process more of them.  Till next time.....


Hiawassee Barn

April 19, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Hiawassee Barn
Hiawassee, GA
October 2014

One of my favorite subjects to photograph are old barns.  They offer so many opportunities to explore different styles!  I frequently travel to Hiawassee Ga, a small town a couple of hours north of Atlanta, and just on the border with North Carolina.  And every time I've been there, I pass this old barn.  Well, I finally got a chance to stop and get some shots. 

I knew from the get-go that it would be a small black and white project.  I shot this in RAW, naturally, so I also had the option to keep it all in color.  But once I got into the post processing, I couldn't resist the B&W.  Since this is my very first barn project, I really didn't have a plan as to how I would shoot, such as angles, light vs shadow and so forth.  So I just shot.  As it was, I didn't come away with as many shots as I would have wanted.  But then again, one can only present a few images of one specific subject before boring a viewer.  

I found I really enjoyed this, but more importantly, I came away with many more ideas, not only for this particular barn, but for others I may come across.  Next time, I'll have a more planned shoot.  

For a few more images, go to this link, or simply click on the image;  

http://andygarcia.zenfolio.com/hiawasseebarn


IR Through The Trees

January 29, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

The Hammocks
Kendall, Miami Suburbs
January 28, 2015

One of my favorite ways to capture an IR image is to shoot through the trees on a crisp clear day with a cloudless sky.  Fortunately this is exactly what is plentiful this time of year in South Florida.

My processing steps were a channel mixer swap of the blue channel only.  Actually I used a Kolarivision action to do just that, then followed by a hue adjustment on the blue channel.  The base image was taken with a Lumix GX1 converted with a 590nm filter.

You can find more in my color InfraRed gallery.


Glades Sunset

January 29, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Glades Sunset
Everglades Holiday Park

June 23, 2015

Sunsets can be kind of boring.  They're such a commonly photographed subject.  Which is why you should always strive to place a foreground element whenever you take a sunset, or sunrise for that matter.  

Today I went out to test a Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8 lens a friend had loaned me.  I've been feeling the need to up my game in lenses lately, having mostly kit lenses to work with at the moment.  Not that there's anything wrong with kit lenses (although many would disagree), I've always thought that if you're not a low light shooter, and if you're careful about selecting the right aperture for your intended subject, kit lenses work just fine.  In fact, some do, however once you begin to advance a bit in your photography you begin to notice subtle differences in performance that you just can't deny.  Things like chromatic aberration, corner sharpness, and contrast.  This little walkabout cemented this for me.  I could definitely benefit from an upgrade, and so hence begins my quest to purchase one of these lenses.  

You can find more images from this shoot in the gallery, here.


My Journey Into Infra Red Photography Begins

March 20, 2013  •  Leave a Comment
It's been a while now that I've been contemplating a change in my photography.  Having recently switched from a full size Canon DSLR rig to the smaller micro 4/3rds system, I thought, would satisfy my desire for a change.
 
But as I've started to switch to the new form factor, system, and even switching to the mindset that a hybrid camera entails, I still had the desire for even more change.  A change that not only departs from my usual subjects,  but also the aesthetic.
 
Hence my journey into infra red photography.  I was lucky enough to get a Canon G12, converted by Lifepixel with a SuperColor IR filter.  After some research, trial and error, and just dumb luck, this is one of the first images I've produced with it.

Right away I'm noticing how radically different things are shooting in infra red.  The key to obtaining great IR images is to get the white balance right, as you shoot.  And the more accurate you can get that white balance, the better off you'll be in the next stage, post processing.  To me, this is the best part, since I've found that I enjoy the post processing just as much as actually taking the image.  No-where else in photography is Ansel Adam's quote "You don't take an image, you make it", more appropriate.  

Here's another version of the above image with a completely different aesthetic look.  

As I write this I'm still processing a bunch of images.  Strangely enough, I seem to have a better eye for pre-visualizing what an infra red image will look like than I do for normal photography.  

I'll part with another image that I took this last weekend at a local park.  Again, it may not appeal to everyone, but I sure do like it. :)

Well, maybe just a few more............

Just keep in mind that I'm still experimenting...................


Portland Japanese Garden

December 18, 2012  •  1 Comment

My wife and I had the opportunity to visit the Portland Oregon area last November (2012).  During our trip , we had a chance to visit the Portland Japanese Garden, and the adjacent International Rose Test Gardens.  Because my trip was business related, we were constrained to visit in November, which was not during the best time of year for this area.  Fortunately, we were still able to enjoy the gardens.   I came away with more images than I thought I would.  Of all the images I took, this is my favorite, and will definitely be gracing a wall at home as a 20 x 30 canvas print.

P1030649-Edit Pond #1
Japanese Garden
Portland, Oregon
November 2012

This image is of the bridge crossing the Upper Pond.  This is one of those shots that immediately jumps out at you and you just have to stop to shoot.  Although we were there in the middle of the week, there were still plenty of people walking around, so I had to wait, and eventually come back, to get this shot.   Incidentally, For a really cool virtual tour of this pond as seen from the bridge, have a look at this.

As I walked through the gardens I came upon a guy sprawled across the asphalt walkway, trying to get a shot of some steps leading into another section.  His wife immediately began apologizing for him , to which I responded, “don’t worry about it, because when you leave, I’m gonna do the exact same thing”, which I did, and came away with this one……

 

P1030631 Steps
Japanese Garden
Portland, Oregon
November 2012

I even came away with a few video clips.  Here is one I took of one of the many ponds.  It’s not great, but it is my first.  I’m finding that video is something I’m really enjoying, especially as a means to chronicle my photo walks.  It does take a significant amount of time to process though, and the learning curve is rather steep, but it’s something I’m committed to, and hope to share more of in the future.

 
Japanese Garden Pond

 

As I write this I’m still processing a lot of the images, but there are some already posted to my gallery site, which can be accessed by clicking here.


An HDR Visit To The Swamp

June 09, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Went on another walkabout this week, this time to try out the Lumix 7 – 14mm f/4 wide angle lens.  Nice piece of glass!

P1020992_tonemapped_grunge

No Gator Molesting
Everglades Holiday Park
June 9th, 2012

No sooner than I left this spot, a gator came up just beyond the water’s edge.

I had initially gone there with the idea of trying out the lens, trying to determine how well of a performer it was, especially at 7mm and wide open.  I was pleasantly surprised by it’s performance, especially corner sharpness.  The problem was that the lighting was nothing short of terrible.  So as it turned out, this outing was more of an enlightenment in post processing techniques than a full blown evaluation of the lens.

As I’ve realized so many times before, sometimes we need to step back and revisit our photographs one or two days later.  Sure enough, I began to get ideas for alternatives in post processing.

 

P1020997_tonemapped Tourist Swamp Boats
Everglades Holiday Park
June 9th, 2012

It occurred to me that running these images through Photomatix 4 as pseudo HDRs might yield some interesting results, and it certainly did.  Immediately the light balanced itself out, but what was most interesting was the detail that came out in the clouds.  Lightroom 4, as good as it is in extracting shadow detail, simply did not bring that out.  Then, purely by accident, I happened to hit the “Grunge” preset in Photomatix, and what I got just jumped out at me.

 

P1030013_tonemapped Cyprus Strands
Chapel Trail Nature Preserve
June 9th, 2012

Now, as is typical with the grunge HDR look, some colors, especially green, are way over-exaggerated.  So I took to Lightroom once again to tone down some of the colors by turning down the luminance in the various color channels, and finally arrived at what is presented here.

I realize that the grunge HDR look is not that popular, and to be honest, I’ve not taken to it very much, but after seeing these results I’ve now realized that  it definitely has a place in my workflow, and I hope to explore it much more in the future.

P1030015-2_tonemapped

Early Sawgrass
Chapel Trail Nature Preserve
June 9th, 2012

The next step will be to print these.  I’ve a feeling that I’m going to like how they turn out, and I’ll definitely comment on this in an update to this post.

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