Processing flowers with Topaz Labs

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I am working through folders of images that I have captured, but didn’t quite finish, and I realized that I was on a true flower bender last summer.  I have over 100 photos of flowers I took at home, during the hot summer months, inspired by different on-line classes and videos I was watching.  Below are different treatments of a single dahlia. Continue reading

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Photography: Finding a subject when things don’t go as planned

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There is a famous “secret” arch in the Valley of Fire.  The first time we searched for it, it took us about an hour to find it.  We went back there recently and found it quickly.  This arch is hard to photograph because the way the light comes in.  We never seem to be there at the right time of day.  We took our friend Lisa there, and I had Peter and Lisa try to block the light with their bodies (which I didn’t realize involved holding plank positions for long periods of time).  And while I was struggling, Lisa suggested there was a different shot. Continue reading

Photographing Poppies in Antelope Valley, CA

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Yes, the super bloom is upon us, and as I write this blog post we are having very mild weather in the 60s.  However, this week it will heat up to the 80s for several days.  The poppies look pretty good everywhere I have seen them.  I think they will last a couple of more weeks, but we are past peak by now.  Here is what you might see. Continue reading

Photography – Finding the composition

It’s that time of year.  Peter and I are officially chasing wildflowers, and yelling at strangers who trample them.  Its just heartbreaking to see.  A couple of weeks ago, we made a trip to Diamond Valley Lake (DVL) near Hemet, CA.  It was Friday morning, the crowds were manageable, and I was grateful DVL had people walking the trail ensuring the flowers would not be trampled in the name of Instagram photos.  There is something about trampling for a transient experience that makes me super cranky.  There was also something else making me really cranky, my go-to lens was in the shop for repairs, and it happened right during the super bloom!  I decided to stop fretting and pull out two lenses that don’t typically make it into my bag – one was the 16mm 1.4 (Note:  on a cropped sensor).  I had a ton of fun, and found myself creatively stretched.  I’ve often read, “try something new”, “work with a different lens for the day”……but its hard to get out of your rut.  Someone said, “pick your rut carefully, because you will stay in it for a very long time”.  I’m glad there was something to knock me out of mine.  Below I will share the good, bad, and the ugly as I figure out to “see” wide in a completely new way. Continue reading

Photography Project: Photographing through Fractal Filters

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I have this strange attraction to prisms.  I have a homemade one about the size of a triangular football, that I have lugged all over the streets of San Francisco and Vegas (I received fewer perplexed stares in Vegas).  I have purchased scientific prisms, children’s prisms (still my favorite), vintage prism lens filters, and am even considering buying prism glasses for rave parties and removing the lenses so I can hold them in front my my camera.  For Christmas, I decided to get serious, and make an investment in proper prisms, so I purchased the Fractal Filters set of three. Continue reading

24 Hours Chasing Wildflowers in Southern California

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Cottonwood sunset, Joshua Tree National Park

Well, it’s on the front page of the Los Angeles Times and every other news outlet…there is a “super bloom” of wild flowers in Southern California.  Given all of the rain we had this winter, we are seeing quite a bloom that should last at different elevations for at least another month.  Though it will be hot the next two days, there is more cool weather and rain in the forecast later this week.  It should keep the good times going.  Here are a few hot spots right now.  Mary and I hit all of these over the weekend in one long push. Continue reading

Photography Project: Abstracts with flowers

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Sometimes a flower is more than just a collection of petals with an interesting center.  Sometimes it is a microcosm of a cloudy sky, or ripples in a running stream, or smoke wafting through the air.  As you are reading this, you have probably concluded that I have lost my mind, maybe I had too much egg nog during the holidays, or the 24 hour stream of holiday music burned out too many neurons.  But seeing something more than a flower is key to creating an abstract image.  Continue reading

Photographing the Soul, Consoling, Tower at Manzanar

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Photographing cemeteries is always a bit tricky.  I am always a bit sad when I do this.  I want to be respectful, and at the same time, fine some beauty in these places.  I have been to numerous Civil War battlefields, like Gettysburg, that are essentially large cemeteries, and Arlington National Cemetery.  Because of its location and the story of Japanese internment, I find the cemetery at Manzanar, very haunting. Continue reading

Photography: Thinking through a composition

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You may have heard composition guidelines like “the rule of thirds” or “don’t place the horizon down the middle of the frame”.  For me, composition is more nuanced.  Its about the placement of items within the frame, how they relate to each other, and more importantly, what should be excluded from the frame.  Below is an image that illustrates how I worked through a composition; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Continue reading