Monthly Archives: May 2015

A Fleeting Moment

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Last Friday Denise and I arrived in Davis, WV just in time to be greeted by significant rain. I was making Denise drive so I could work on my motion abstracts when suddenly the sun pops out before it stopped raining. Without missing a beat Denise proclaims there must be a rainbow somewhere. I started looking around and sure enough there was one behind us over the Canaan Valley Wildlife Management area. We quickly turned in, jumped out, and started shooting.
From the time the sun popped out to the time the rainbow disappeared was about 5 minutes. These moments are fleeting and knowing our gear allowed us to jump out and start shooting. If you have to fumble with your gear you just might miss some opportunities.

Palouse Year 3

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In a few days Denise and I will be heading to Washington for our Palouse Photography Tour. This is our third year doing tours in the Palouse. For those who don’t know, the Palouse is the largest wheat growing region in the country. The landscape is full of rolling hills, barns and my personal favorite, lots of old trucks.

We are looking forward to working with a great group of participants, several of whom have done other tours with us. We can’t wait to see what they create!

During the last 2 years we have mapped thousands of miles of country roads and, believe it or not, we will be scouting some new areas in the days before our participants arrive. I already know the week will fly by.  Did I say fly?  Stay tuned to this blog to see what that means.

 

Mt. Storm Time Lapse

The other day, I was asked to describe how I created this image:

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I decided it would be easier to write a blog and create a video demonstrating the techniques, than to layout out an answer in a Facebook reply. So let’s get started.

The Set Up

This image was created from 37 different images, created using the time lapse feature in my Fuji XT1. If you do not have time lapse built into your camera, you can purchase a wired or wireless remote with time lapse capability for most camera bodies. The time lapse was set to continue indefinitely, with a 1 second interval between images.  The camera was set to Aperture mode, with the Shutter speed determined by the camera. A sturdy tripod is a must. I also shot RAW and JPG files.

As you can tell by reviewing the image, that the image was created midday and yet, cloud movement is clearly visible. I was able to achieve this effect by using a Singh Ray 15-stop Mor Slo filter. (To receive a 10% discount, please use our discount code: ROADRUNNER10). The 15-stop Mor Slo is a great filter that will allow the photographer to create long exposures in the middle of day. The Singh Ray filters are so well made that they do not add color cast or distortion to the images. (Tip: buy 77mm filters and then a set of step-up rings, this way, one filter can be used on all your lenses).

Once the camera was in place, I triggered the shutter and waited. One thing to consider, when shooting time lapse images, consider bringing a second camera body along, as the wait can be quite dull with nothing to do. This may explain why I shot 37 images and not 100.

Post-Processing

As noted above, I shot both RAW and JPG files. I did this so that should I chose to process a single image, I would have the RAW file and for the time lapse image I could use the JPG files, which are smaller and easier to manage when blending so many layers. I organize my files using Lightroom and process my images in Photoshop. So after my trip, I imported my images into my Lightroom catalog (for a video on how to do this, click here). I selected the images that I intended to combine (a total of 37 images) and then opened the images, as Layers in Photoshop. From Lightroom, this is a simple Right click on the selected image thumbnails, Edit in, scroll to the bottom of the list and choose As Layers in Photoshop.

It takes Photoshop a few minutes to open and add each layer to a single tab, once it is complete, you can start changing the Blending Modes for each layer. At this point, take a moment to check the file size. In this case, my file size was just under 3GB. This is a huge file and I only used the JPGs! Now, I can start changing the Blending Mode for each individual layer (except the bottom layer) to Lighten. This allows the lighter pixels to come through from the layer below. As each of the 36 layers are changed, you will see staccato effect in the clouds start to appear.

Once all of the Blending Modes are adjusted, you have to decide if you are ready to flatten the image and start processing. I suggest that first you create a “stamp” of the image. Essentially, a “stamp” is a flattened version, that can be created as a separate layer (while maintaining all of the original layers below it) or by having all of the original layers merged together. I suggest that you use the “separate layer” method, so that you can check the result. You can always decide after to remove the original individual layers to reduce the overall file size. To create the separate layer, select all of the individual layers (all 37 in this case), and then right click, and while holding the ALT/Option key, choose Merge Visible. Photoshop will do some work and create a Layer 1, that sits at the top of the Layer Panel. If the result is what you were expecting, then you can select all of the original layers again and delete. This will bring the overall file size down to something manageable and pick up the operating speed of Photoshop, as you start to process the image.

At this point, how you process your image is up to you. I darkened the sky, enhanced the power plant, and darkened the foreground with Camera Raw. I then desaturated and slightly toned the image. I did some selective dodging and burning to further enhance the clouds and smoke. Lastly, I added a vignette.

To see a video on how I blended and processed my 37 images, click here.

For additional tutorials on how to post-process images, click here.

Fuji, Fotodiox and the Lensbaby Sweet 35

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I must admit that not all items in my camera bag get equal use. It has been a long time since I used the Lensbaby Sweet 35 lens, at least it feels that way. But before I go on, I must digress.

I have been a Nikon Shooter for close to 10 years. I know the buttons and controls in my sleep. But during the last couple of years many of my friends have been making the switch to the Fuji X system. It’s small, lightweight, the quality is stunning and finally it got to the point that I could no longer ignore the Fuji. So about a year ago I made the plunge and purchased the XT-1 and several lenses. Ever since I have been having a love and hate relationship with the Fuji. I love the Fuji because of all the items that I listed above. It’s just sometimes the controls are not intuitive to me. This has caused me to fumble at times when I should be in the moment. I’m sure most of this could have been avoided if I had locked myself in a room for a day and read the horrible little manual that seems to accompany any camera regardless of cost.

Let’s get back to the the Lensbaby. I have no idea what the market share is for the Fuji X- Series cameras, but at this point it must be small enough that Lensbaby has not opted to make a lens specifically for the Fuji. So I obtained an adapter from FotoDiox and it has sat in my camera bag for the better part of a year, that is until last weekend. I decided to finally try the adapter and the Lensbaby. It was wonderful, and once I was looking through the viewfinder it was the same as it has always been. The experience was seamless. I’m not sure when I will reach for the Lensbaby and Fuji combo, but I’m sure it won’t be a year.

The final image was processed using MacPhun Tonality Pro.   For a discount on all MacPhun products use the discount code “ROADRUNNER”.    Clients of Road Runner Photography Tours are eligible for a 10% discount on Lensbaby products.  Contact us for the discount code.

The Road Not Taken

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. ~ Robert Frost

 

And I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference… This one line sums up how I have always looked at life. Explore where others may not have wandered. When I set out to travel, I don’t think to myself… where does everyone else go or how does everyone else do it. Instead I try to forge my own path and head in a direction that might not seem as likely.

This doesn’t mean I don’t travel to well-known destinations, because I do. But it does mean that I try to see that destination differently. Maybe I stay in a small pensione or albergo and not the well-worn hotel chain. Maybe I eat where I see locals and not the restaurant recommended by the concierge. It also doesn’t mean I travel alone. In fact, I rarely travel alone. I prefer traveling with friends, creating shared memories and experiences. Simply, I like to go to places and then experience aspects of that place that are not as well-worn by others.

This past weekend, two friends and myself headed off in search of something to photograph. We could have stayed local, gone to DC or Arlington or…. But instead we headed west. We had a general idea of where we would end up, but we took a circuitous route through the countryside of West Virginia. The rule in our car… just say stop and the driver needs to do his or her best to accommodate. This is likely to include driving until it is safe to turn around and heading back to the location. Also, we never question the stop request. Just because we may not have seen what the requestor sees does not mean the requestor did not see it. However, if you say, “that is cool” or “wow what great light” or similar, the car keeps moving. You must say stop.

Here are a few “Stop” images from that trip. Random lonely barns, abandoned cars, bored bovine… scenes of life in the country. As much as I love the big cities with their monuments to progress, I have often taken the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference.

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Along the Way

Often when heading out on a photo expedition, it is so easy to be only focused on the destination. The desire to get there and get started is so compelling we often forget to enjoy the journey.

Today I am sharing an image that was captured on the journey. I was headed to Weston, WV… taking a round about way there through Davis, WV to get a burrito… for all you Hellbenders fans. This route takes me by one of my favorite industry locations… the Mt. Storm power plant.

I have hundreds, maybe thousands of images of Mt. Storm, but I never hesitate to stop, because each day brings a new opportunity for creativity. Some stops are more fruitful than others; this was one of those times. The sky was modeled with thunderheads, with just enough wind to create motion. This time, however, I did not want to capture long streaming clouds. This time I wanted to create stop-action motion.

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This image was created by setting up the intervalometer on my camera (Fuji XT-1 has this built in) to shoot images consecutively, with a one second pause in between. I was using a Samyang 12mm lens, at f5.6, with a Singh Ray 10-stop Mor-Slo filter. The shutter speeds varied between 3 and 10 secs. The images is composed of 35 individual images and some post-processing in Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw.

When on the move, try to allow enough time to explore. Here is another example of what can be found along the way to somewhere else.

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If you are always rushing to get somewhere, you just may be missing the fun stuff. Allow some extra time for opportunity to present itself.

Happy Shooting!

 

Asylum

This past weekend, RRPT led 3 tours photography tours at Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (TALA). The first tour was a night tour, where the focus was on light painting. The images featured here are from that particular event. We also led two day-light tours, morning and late afternoon. TALA is an amazing place. When you enter, you are transported to the past. The owners are working hard to keep the facility alive and open to the public with photography tours, historical tours, ghost tours, and more. To learn more about TALA, click here.

We are hoping to schedule another night photography session later this year. For more information, join our mailing list by signing up (see the side bar) or by following us on Facebook.

The ladies in this images, Macy and Danielle, were great awesome models! We can’t thank them enough for helping out!! _XT11233-Edit _XT11275-Edit-2_XT11294-Edit_XT11405-Edit_XT11218-Edit