Category Archives: Uncategorized

Restoration

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On my way down to the Smokies for our Fall Color Tour I stopped along the way to check out some old cars. Most of the cars were in a field with grass almost as tall as me, so I did not get to shoot most of the cars. But I was treated to a tour of the owner’s restoration shop. She commented that some clients are skeptical because the shop is pretty old and not very fancy. I told her I totally understood because some people incorrectly attribute a great picture to the type of camera used. At that point I knew we understood each other.

I think she was skeptical when I said I wanted to shoot this Chevy from the 30’s. After all it’s in primer. But I loved the shape of it and the spot lighting.

By the way I did see one of their completed vehicles and it was beautiful.

I used Topaz Star Effects on the lights.   Check out our discounts page if you think you could use Topaz Products in your workflow.

 

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.

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

 

Win a Trip!!

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Since the inception of Road Runner Photography Tours we have frequently raffled spots on some of our tours. This May however, we are doing something we have never done and frankly have never seen anyone else do either.  We are planning a weekend photo tour in one of our favorite areas of West Virginia and the only way you can attend is to win a spot on the tour.  That’s right, every spot on the tour will be given away to randomly selected winners.

If you want to enter for a chance to win one of the 6 spots on the tour you need to head over to this page;  www.RoadRunnerPhotographyTours.com

If you want to increase your chances of winning a spot on the tour it’s easy.  You just need to share the custom link that will be made available to you after you enter.  You can share this link with friends directly via email or you can use the buttons to post the link on your favorite social media site.   Each time someone enters using your link, you will get an extra entry into the contest as well.

Let’s just imagine for a moment, that you don’t want to win. I know I’m having trouble imagining that you would not want to win.  But you can still help your friends win by registering and sharing the link with your photo friends.  Imagine how grateful they would be if they won a spot because of your help!

Full details are available on the contest page.

 

 

Entrance to the Underworld

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Its not as menacing as the title would suggest. But the image above shows the entrance to this year’s ice cave under the Vatnajökull Glacier in Iceland. Getting to this location required driving over miles of frozen tundra, steams, and even a lake. It would have been impossible to find this on our own.

Each year guides in Iceland start searching for Ice Caves in November. This cave is only accessible when it’s not raining. The runoff from the glacier runs through this cave and the day before it was partially flooded according to our guide. This cave was located at the base of the glacier where the ice meets a lake below. In the summer you would need a boat to get back to this spot. Three years ago the guide told us they could not find any caves. It was obviously a bad winter for the guides.

The experience of being under the glacier was incredible; patterns in the ice, rocks embedded in the ice for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

Iceland is incredible in the winter.

Grandpa’s Truck

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Do you ever revisit your old images?  I do on occasion and probably should do it more often.  I took this picture almost 10 years ago.   It was a truck in the woods on my grandfather’s farm.  As a kid I thought I had been just about everywhere on that farm, but never saw this truck.  After the farm was sold to a developer I decided to make what I thought was one last visit, but in truth I ended up going back several times.  The developer had cut a road through the woods and this truck was visible from the road.  I think many years ago it was probably left parked at the edge of a field and over time the forest kept growing and eventually encompassed the truck.

When I shot this truck I knew that I needed to take more than one picture, but this was before I had learned much about HDR.  So I took a few brackets and it was enough to keep the sky behind the trees from blowing out.

Skip forward to today.  I loaded the 3 bracketed images into Photomatix and then moved the HDR image into Photoshop where I applied a little contrast and then used Topaz Impression for the painted look.

With today’s technology I can achieve a look that exceeds anything I thought possible at the time of capture.

Photomatix is my favorite tool for creating HDR images.  It is available as a free download and is fully functional for 30 days.  If you decide to purchase use the discount code “RRPT” for a 15% discount.

Topaz Impression is a fantastic tool for creating that “painted” look.  Use the code “roadrunner” and click here for a 15% discount on Topaz products.  Topaz products are fully functional for 30 days, so give it a try.

West Virginia Wrap Up

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Denise and I just finished our annual West Virginia Fall Color Weekend. As usual West Virginia does not disappoint! We had a great group of photographers who loved every minute we were able to spend in the field. Mother Nature did not cooperate in regard to sunrises and sunsets, but she made up for it with full streams and waterfalls along with lots of fog.

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What’s Your Backup Strategy?

 

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Are you at risk of losing your images?   Think about it for a minute.  What would happen if your computer died,  or if your hard drive crashed?   I’m not going to be able to completely cover this complex topic in just a Blog, but I hope to give you some things to think about.   Rather than tell you how you should  backup your images, I will explain my system and hope it gives you some insight into how you can protect your images.

 

I use Lightroom to import and catalog my images.  Upon import a copy is saved  to my computer’s hard drive as well as a 2nd copy backed up to an external drive.   After import into Lightroom, I take a few minutes to add keywords and location data to the images.  In regard to an external drive, when I travel I bring a small USB3 external drive but at home I use an external Sata docking station with a 1 TB drive.  After I have made the backup I power down the external drive.   I know some people keep their backup drive(external) running whenever their computer is running, but if you’re doing that you are also putting a lot of hours on that external drive and likely reducing its lifespan in the process.  The idea is for your backup drive to survive the death of your computer.

 

The next step is to move images to my Network Storage.  I use a device made by Synology that holds Four 2 TB drives.   The device is configured so that if one hard drive dies it can be swapped out for a good drive and no data is lost.  This drive is a little slow and I would not recommend it for primary storage.  But it seems dependable and after about 2 or 3 years of use I have not had any problems.   The reviews on Amazon are quite good compared to another popular option for Network Storage.

 

In regard to Lightroom it is also a good idea to back-up your Lightroom catalog.  I do this on a different drive within my computer, then periodically move a copy off to my Network Storage.

 

Lastly I make a backup of all my image files at the end of the year and move this drive off site.   If something bad were to happen here at home my prior years images are protected.

 

One possible option I have not explored is using archival DVD’s.   This option would not practical  for me,  it would involve way to many DVD’s.  But if you have a few images that you consider your best work, this might be an option.

 

What about Cloud Storage?  Considering that I shoot up to a terabyte of data each year, cloud storage is just not economical.  However, for my iPhone images it’s perfect!  After I finish processing an iPhone picture I send a copy of the finished picture and the original to Dropbox right from my phone.

 

If you want to try Dropbox check out this link to setup your free account with 2 GB of storage.

 

I would not suggest that my way is the best way or the only way to achieve safe storage of your images.   But it’s a system that fits my budget and works for me.  The important thing is if you value your images, you need to have a backup strategy.

Not So Modern Marvels

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A couple of weeks ago we spent the weekend near Pittsburgh.  The main purpose was to shoot Carrie Furnace, but on the second day we had a smaller meetup at the W.A. Young & Sons Machine Shop.   This century old machine shop and foundry is just like it was when the doors closed in 1965.  Inside are 25 fully functional belt driven machines.   I was thinking that it must have been noisy with all these machines in operation, but when the caretaker fired up the old flathead engine that powers the drive belt system it was surprisingly quiet.

 

The photo above was just one of the many I took during our 3 hour visit.   I processed this one with the new Perfect Photo Suite from OnOne Software.  I’m pretty impressed with my first look at the new version of Perfect Photo Suite and one nice feature is that you do not have to use the suite from within Photoshop.  So users that don’t have Photoshop can still use this powerful suite of tools.   A 30 day trial version is available.

 

We are making plans to return to Carrie Furnace and W.A. Young & Sons next May.  Join our meetup group if you want to be notified when the dates are confirmed.

Nature Visions – November 8-10, 2013

Nature Visions Expo is right around the corner!! Nov 8-10th.

This is a great event that features speakers from around the country presenting lectures and running workshop on a myriad of photographic topics and techniques.

This year features renowned photographer Bryan Peterson! Bryan has been a successful commercial photographer for over 30 years and is the well-known author of a number of best-selling photography books, including: Understanding Exposure, Learning to See Creatively, and Beyond Portraits.

This year also features a number of free presentations, such as:

  • More Time Behind a Lens and Less Time in front of a Computer
  • Through the Eyes of Julieanne Kost
  • How You Can Get Great Pictures with Your Phone
  • Applied Camera Basics
  • Getting Started with Your New Point and Shoot or DSLR Camera.

In addition to the educational opportunities, you will also have the opportunity to meet professional photographers from around the country, visit the juried exhibit of nature imagery, as well as the open exhibit, and treat yourself to an array of photography related vendors, offering all sorts of event discounts! Admission to the exhibit and vendor arena is free!

Don and I have a table on the main floor, so please come by and see us. We will be running some event specials, including a raffle and a great discount on our 2014 Tours!!

We look forward to seeing friends and meeting new ones, so stop on by!!

For more information on and to register for the event, follow this link: http://naturevisions.org.