Saturday, July 12, 2008

Colorado Trip

Colorado Trip

Following is a report from my trip to Colorado starting July 7th 2008. The main destination was the Crystal Mill. This sits just outside the tiny town of Crystal, Colorado. Crystal is about 4 miles of some of the roughest 4 wheel drive "road" I have ever traveled from Marble, Colorado. It was worth it.

But first,my trip started from Prescott, Arizona, where I live. The first night I camped along the West Dolores River, which is just north of Cortez, Colorado. All the streams and rivers are running high with snow melt. The Rockies had a hugh winter snow pack and it is still running strong. The second day I stopped in Telluride, Colorado. I hiked up to the house/power plant that you see in the first picture. This stands above the town of Telluride and is a small hydroelectric plant and a house that a pleasant couple lives in from about June to late fall when the snow gets too deep. What a view from ones back yard !! This image is made up of four separate pictures tone mapped with Photomatix.

I hiked on up above from the house/power plant and found the next image. The light was not right at the time so I continued up the path. I finally reached a point where it was get wet from a stream crossing or turn back. At this point I was probably 2,000 feet above Telluride. I turned back. When I got to the small stream flowing over the rocks and thru the plants, the light was perfect. It provided just the right back light.

Next it was over the mountains to Ouray, Colorado via Imogene Pass at 13,114 feet. I believe Imogene Pass is the highest pass for vehicles in North America. As you can see from the next image, I made it with my trusty Jeep Cherokee. This was one rough drive from 8,750 feet elevation of Telluride to the summit.

The next image is a small alpine lake in the mountains just east of Ridgeway, Colorado. The is an HDR image composed of 24 separate pictures processed with PTGui software. I really liked the interplay of the reflections of the trees and the logs in the water. Fortunately there was no wind.

Next it was across the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to my primary destination, Crystal Mill. In my previous post I talked about pre-visualization. The image I had in my mind was one of this Mill by night with multiple flashes. I used five electronic flashes triggered remotely from the camera with Pocket Wizards. I wanted a little glow in the sky so I took the primary picture about 20 minutes after sundown. To get the silky water of the falls I combined the flash picture with a long exposure shot without the flash. I "processed" this image in Photoshop to get just the right amount contrast, etc. I've included more shots of Crystal Mill. Which do you like the best? Post your comments please.

The next image is of Roger and Bonnie Neal. They live in Crystal during the summer and you can buy Roger's books of Crystal from his home there where this image was taken. I spent some time with Roger and Bonnie. Roger was kind enough to show me some hidden secrets of Crystal. Thanks Roger.

My last stop was Independence Pass just south of Aspen, Colorado. It is 12,093 feet elevation. This is an easy but beautiful drive. I did one hike near the pass starting at 11,500 feet to Linkins Lake at about 12,000 feet. Boy is the air thin at 12,000 feet. The last picture is of Linkins Lake.

Thanks for viewing. Hope you enjoyed.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Pre-visualization, Planning and Patience

About three miles from my home is a lake with bike paths all around it. I regularly take hikes and bike rides here as it is very beautiful and has many photo opportunities. I have seen this scene for about a year and planned on getting this image when the conditions were just right. It had to have some nice clouds. It had to have the water level up to get good reflections. The trees had to be green. I thought it would look best in Black and White and probably needed several images stitched together for a nice panorama. When I saw that the conditions looked right I got my camera and bike and set out. Once in place I could see that the dynamic range was too great for a normal shoot so I had to shoot it with three exposures per frame. Since it was going to take six images across for proper overlap for stitching, this meant eighteen exposures all together. They were shot with -1.0, 0.0, +1.0 EV. This would cover the exposure range I needed to keep the clouds from burning out and the shadows from going black. I used my Pentax K20D with 31mm lens and camera turned vertical. I used aperature priority mode with exposure locked to keep the exposures consistant across the frames. These were hand held shots.

Once back at home I loaded them into Adobe Bridge and produced eighteen Tiff images. These were then processed with PTGui Pro 7.8 which not only stitched them but also exposure blended them. I then went into Photoshop and cropped and converted to Black and White using a Black and White adjustment layer. I also added a levels adjustment layer to bring back some contrast. The last step was a little sharpening.

This image took "Pre-visualization". I had in my mind what I wanted the image to look like once I saw the opportunity. It took "Planning" as to how I wanted to get the shot. It took "Patience" to wait for the right conditions to develop.

To me there are two things that stand out that one needs to develop to make good images. The first is "Seeing". By this I mean looking around and recognizing a photo opportunity. The second is "Pre-visualizing". The ability to know and see in your mind what the final image should look like. These take practice, practice, practice.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Desert at Night

One of the things I am in the process of creating is a portfolio of images of desert scenes at night. Night images create an entirely different feeling from those taken during the daylight hours. The results are often mysterious, thought provoking and give a feeling of isolationism. Here are examples of the same tree. One taken in the daytime. The other at night. I used three remotely triggered flashes for the night shot.