October 31, 2009

Oct 31: Halloween

My costume is a cross between a ski photographer and an out-of-shape tele-skier.
To really sell the performance, I huffed and puffed my way up the mountain, skied like it was my first day of the season, and took a few photos.

Okay, I admit it. It's not a costume at all. Even the huffing/puffing is genuine. I AM out of shape, but, I DID ski today, and it was awesome.

October 27, 2009

Oct 27: Night Bike

I'm working on another concept: nighttime adventure photos.
Here's an example of how it works:

Take your SLR, crank up the ISO to 3200, open up to f/4, pop the on-camera flash, and time it just right and you'll get an image like this:

Yuck, that's terrible. Blurry, noisy, boring....
Let's try again, changing a few camera settings and finding a better angle. You might get something like this:

Still not good. It just looks like a point and shoot that I used to capture a decent moment. Still boring.
Let's bring out some gear now. I'll use a battery pack and two lights.
Now, I can set the camera to ISO 200, f/8, hit the strobes at the right time and then let the background fill in during a 30s exposure.

This is much better, but it's still not right. The lights didn't balance well enough with the surroundings. The rider is ghosted, and the hill is too dark. And the moment seems missed, as the rider is past the camera.
Let's try again, changing to a 5.6 and decreasing the strobe power.
Then I'll add some star trails from ~700 images taken in Moab, spiraled using a technique I developed in PhotoShop.

There are still some issues to fix with this image, but it gets me closer to the target.

Oct 21-24: Moab Part II

For simplicity's sake, I've posted different images to different sites.
The blog images tell the story of the trip.
The website images, though, are my favorites. Check them out here.

The story:

We travel to Moab for 3 days riding and climbing, but forget the climbing gear. I guess we'll just look at the climbing routes and ride twice as hard.

We are explorers, following trails, but always looking for our own adventures

We ride between snow and sand.

We take in the scenery from countless viewpoints.

Sometimes our plans are foiled by fences. It's a tough decision to concede, but we turn around.

We ride the cliffs, on the edge of 1000' canyons.

Sometimes we must jump,

always at full speed,

to overcome obstacles,

which we conquer with joy.

After a long day of riding, the sunset is a welcome reward.


Epilogue. After the sunset, we had 5 miles to ride back to the car, in the dark, on slickrock, with cliffs and bumps all around. Some dared ride in the dark, with head-over-heels results. Some chose to walk, with stumbling results.
Through 3 days, I bled on elbows, knees, shins, shoulders, hips, calves, fingers, ....
Maybe I rode my bike, or maybe I fought a mean grizzly bear with a cheese grater and a belt sander. Either way, I am torn up.

Remember to check out my favorite images on my website: click here.

October 26, 2009

Oct 21-24: Moab Part I

This is just a teaser.
I went to Moab to ride, climb and shoot.
I brought heaps of gear and set my sites on dramatic mountain bike photo shoots.
All the tools (toys?) and all the prep, and my favorite shots are actually the ones taken on instinct. It's not how I usually work, shooting whatever shows up in front of me, but I like the results from this weekend.

A creek bed after a storm.

Swirling sands.

Wood mimicking rock.

Human wall mimicking nature wall.

Looking at this set, everything in Moab is rock. Mud, sand, wood, stone.... All turns to rock in Moab.

October 20, 2009

Oct 20: Surprise Fireworks

A fellow photographer (thanks Kevin) told me about his time delay photography. He lets the camera shoot, then goes back to see what he gets in individual images. It's photo fishing. Trolling perhaps. Cast a line for a few hours and see what bites.
Anyway, this is what I found while taking another look at my driving images.
Fireworks, from the freeway.

October 19, 2009

Oct 19: Flower Drops Continued...

It's getting complicated now, with studio lights and pocket wizards.
I developed a method for static water drops, to allow more fine tuning of the flower placement and focus. It's less guess and check, but takes just as much time, as I am now adjusting:
individual petals
number of drops
spacing of drops
size of drops
angle of stick/flower/drops
lighting angle/power

I am pleased with this new image.
It's less otherworldly, but still beautiful.

October 16, 2009

Oct 16: Published Work

The Rocky Mountain School of Photography published my image in their Course Catalog 2010.
It looks great as a half-page print.
It's also published (smaller) on their website.

Oct 15: Sunset Memory

While driving to Missoula last night, the sunset from the road was quite nice. It reminded me of this one I shot 6 weeks ago.

October 14, 2009

Oct 14: Macro Variations

I've tuned my process to develop some predictability, barely.
I've figured out the lighting and geometry.
Finding focus is still the crux, as my depth of field is ~3 mm. That's right, millimeters.

I can shoot this relatively easily:

and this:

and this too:

and even this:

More to come.

Oct 14: Hair Cut

I let my beard grow for most of 2 months, longer than ever before.
I thought of letting it go through Halloween, but decided it was just too much.
I feel cleaner now, and the neighborhood dogs no longer fear the crazy guy.
I shot 60 images while I cut my hair and trimmed the beard.
This one cracks me up.

October 7, 2009

Oct 8: Drop It With Style

I want to shoot flowers, refracted through a macro water droplet.
I've had this idea for a while: using a water droplet as a lens.
It took some time to develop a strategy.
Here's what I accomplished on my first go.

This is the ~250th shot of the session.

Here's a tighter look.

Here's why it took so long to even get this close.
The set-up that worked:
1/1000, f/8, Speedlite TTL +3.
(I also tried down to 1/250, and TTL down to +1.)
105mm focal length, 68mm extension tube.
Syringe to drip water onto rag. Drops form on the hanging corner and drop into the cup.
Shutter release cable.

It took over an hour to even get close. Then it took an hour to fine tune to get anything decent. Then, it was cold and getting late.
I'll try again, now that I have a starting point.

Oct 7: Super Resolution

By stitching 12 images together, I've created a flower macro, with greater depth of field, and enormous size. This image is 12000 pixels wide, which means it's 6 times wider than your 23" computer monitor.
This is only a test image, as I experiment to find the best technique for this process.

Check out the detail of the subset image, taken from the little black box in the top flower petal.

Click to see full size!

Oct 7: Orchid Shoot

Here's every frame from a countertop shoot, 109 shots.
I started with no clear idea, but worked through different lighting, lenses, angles, backgrounds, etc, to develop a concept for an interesting shot.
I spent over 2 hours with this flower, to create one satisfactory image.

October 3, 2009

Sept 29: Behind the Scenes

Here's a sample video for how I create my action stitch photos.
It starts with a concept. I find the line, the angle, the lighting, etc.
I shoot the background, to be merged as my canvas.
I shoot the action, to layer on the background.
I blend everything together, and clean it up.

Sept 27-29: Rogue River

The crew.

Calm water and forest fire weather.

Sun beams through the smoke.

The skies clear on day 2, in the canyon.

Even in foul weather, this one brightens up the day.

Rowing through the still water.

A beautiful driftboat, fishing for Steelhead.

Everything converges for the rapids.

Shooting the middle chute, with only inches to spare.

A chance to relax, for 45 feet.

Sept 29: Hung out to dry

The sheets came in just before the rain.

(Another cliché in the title?)

Sept 27: Deer in the headlights

I couldn't resist the cliché.