Don’t forget to shoot in your backyard

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One of the joys of being a landscape photographer is traveling the country or perhaps the world to pursue your craft. In this blog I would like to suggest that you not overlook your own backyard. I’m guilty of this I must admit. For the past several years I have been working to cultivate a nice garden at home. Last year I was taking another photographer friend to the airport for a trip to Iceland and he looks around my front yard and asked if I had been taking pictures. It was a reminder that my hard work from years past was paying off and there was a lot to photograph. I too was guilty of overlooking the beauty in my own yard.

Since then I have made more of an effort to photograph the beauty of my own yard. The blog image is one of my Calla Lilies shot with the new Lensbaby twist 60 with a macro adapter that fits between the body and the lens so I could shoot a little closer. Clients of Road Runner Photography Tours are eligible for a 10% discount on Lensbaby products, so drop me a line if you want to make Lensbaby part of your photography toolkit.

Sunflower Season

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The middle of summer has arrived and if you live in the DC area we are lucky to have some great fields for sunflowers that are open to the public. Mckee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area grows several fields each year and currently the flowers are peeking!

Having shot the sunflowers each year for the past several years I find it a bit challenging to come up with fresh compositions. On the way to the field this year I noticed some fast moving puffy clouds and was hoping to do some long exposures, but by the time I arrived the clouds had moved out and I was left with a clear blue sky. I reached for my seldom used fisheye lens and came up with the shot above. I used a reflector to light up the face of the flower, but fill flash would have been an option here as well.

Solitude

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When I started thinking about this blog, I was going to title it “How’s Your Friday Night?”. The only reason for that question is that I see others post pictures on social media asking such questions when they perceive their location is better at that moment in time than yours.

I’m not convinced that everyone would want to be standing in 3 feet of cold mountain water on a Friday Night. But this is how I spent last Friday evening and I can’t think of any place that I would rather have been. Even considering the mild case of poison ivy that was a result of this evening.

This little spot is hidden away on the upper part of the Rapidan River just inside of Shenandoah National Park. The road getting there is a bit of a rough ride and not something I would want to travel without a 4×4 truck. The entire evening I had this little portion of the park all to myself. I love doing tours, workshops and meetups but last Friday evening I really enjoyed the solitude of having this little spot all to myself.

A Passing Storm

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The meteorologist is predicting a thunderstorm. When this happens do you think about the photographic opportunities? I must admit that I do not always think about getting out when storms are imminent. But I do have a device called the Lightning Bug that makes capturing images of lightning much easier. The Lightning Bug plugs into the Hot Shoe on your DLSR and connects to the camera by cable, you set the sensitivity on the Lightning Bug and sit back and let the camera and Lightning Bug do all the work.

Perhaps it’s a little more difficult than that, you still need to make judgements about exposure and composition, but the Lightning Bug handles the difficult task of timing the exact moments of capture.

If your DLSR is not handy, I have had great results using an iPhone App called iLightning Cam to capture lightening with my iPhone.

Our Friends at Hunt’s also have a blog on using the Lightning Bug to capture Fireworks.

Our friend Alan Samiljan, at Hunt’s Photo and Video is having a sale this month on the Lightning Bug. It’s $20 off and includes a free cable. Give Alan a call at 781-662- 8822 if you would like to add this to your camera bag.

P.S. While Lightning can be a great subject for us landscape photographers, please be safe and don’t put yourself in harm’s way!!

Another Great Meetup

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This past weekend our meetup group visited East Broad Top Railroad in Pennsylvania. The East Broad Top was once a short line railroad that transported coal from the mines to another railroad for transport to the end users.

Mother Nature did not really cooperate and we had a fair amount of rain, but there was plenty to shoot indoors and everyone really enjoyed this location.

We are in the early stages of planning a return trip so be sure to join our meetup if you want to be notified of our next trip.

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The Return of Mother Nature

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This past weekend while my partner Denise was busy leading a Meetup in Assateague,  I decided to drive out to Shenandoah National Park.  My first plan was to spend the cloudy afternoon shooting waterfalls, but I lost a couple of hours due to a nail in one of my tires and the subsequent trip back to the city to get the tire repaired.   I still made it to the park in plenty of time for sunset.  The clouds were looking quite promising leading up to sunset, but the magical light never happened.

That’s okay, I still had plenty of time to shoot landscapes, abstracts and even do a little light painting after dark.   Just a few weeks ago the park suffered a forest fire that affected over 10,000 acres.  In the shot above you can see the fire damaged trees but at the same time other trees are leafing out.  I have no idea what the long term damage might be to some of the trees, but to this untrained observer it looks like Mother Nature is quickly repairing the damage.

 

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MacPhun Aurora HDR Pro!

MacPhun is offering Aurora HDR Pro with bonus features!

HDR can be extremely challenging for a number of reasons. Let’s look at this image I recently developed. The challenge was that the 3 bracketed images include various items in motion. For example, in the middle exposure (top left), the woman was walking away from the stopped train. But in the darker exposure (top right), there is altogether a different women in that same position. In the lightest exposure (bottom image), she is even more blurred. With other HDR programs, I have struggled with blending images with movement, even when I have selected the primary/base image. Additionally, I wanted to get the most dynamic range possible without the image looking “hdr”.

Aurora HDR Pro successfully blended the 3 images, while retaining the features from the base image I identified and the integrity of a “non-hdr” image, creating exactly the final image I was going for!

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Developed from these images:

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Key Features include: 

  • Aurora HDR Pro + Bonuses for only $89!
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  • Watermark Sense App: Batch Watermark images with text and/or logos
  • Preset Pack: 18 Bonus Pro Presets
  • 25 Bonus Textures
  • 4 Sets of Professional Exposure Brackets
  • Over $100 in Savings

To purchase Aurora HDR, click the link below!

Aurora HDR + Bonuses

Don’t Miss Out!

Don’t Miss Out on our Early Bird Specials and Fall Tour Opportunities!

Alaskan Aurora Adventure – 15% discount expires on May 31, 2016

Current Price (with 15% discount) – $4463

Regular Price – $5250

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To learn more about and register for this trip, click here.

Davis and Canaan Valley, West Virginia – Discount expires on July 31, 2016

Current Price (with discount) – $280

Regular Price – $350

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To learn more about and register for this trip, click here.

Cape May, New Jersey

Current Price – $375

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To learn more about and register for this trip, click here.

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On The Move!

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It just occurred to me the last time I blogged was almost a month ago after wrapping up our Charleston Tour.  Since then I have been super busy with our Meetup Group, and traveling the camera club lecture circuit.  No complaints, it’s always a blast getting out and meeting new people who share this passion we call photography!

The image above is the latest in my Motion Abstracts Series.  I prefer a cloudy day for this type of work and of course try to keep the sky out of the image.  Even though the tree does a nice job breaking up the boring gray sky, I decided a couple Flypaper Textures were just what I needed to take the problem with the gray sky “out of the picture”, so to speak.

If you want to learn more about Textures, my partner Denise regularly lectures on textures to camera clubs in the Mid-Atlantic area. Her next lecture on Textures will be at NIH Photo Club on June 14th.  If you want to check out Flypaper Textures, be sure to use our discount code to save a few bucks.

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Charleston

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We just concluded our first tour of Charleston, South Carolina! I was last in Charleston about 8 years and revisiting this fantastic city was even more fun than I remembered. Charleston has so much to offer photographers. The beautiful architecture of the old city, beaches for sunrise, plantations and gardens to just name a few of the great shooting locations.
 

We are looking forward to returning to this great city! Drop us an email at info@roadrunnerphotographytours.com if you would like to be notified when we offer our next tour in Charleston.

 

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