Tag Archives: Landscape

West Virginia Wrap Up

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A couple weeks ago we finished our West Virginia Fall Color Tour. This makes the 3rd year in a row we have had the pleasure of sharing one of our favorite fall color locations with our clients! As usual West Virginia did not disappoint. This year the mid-Atlantic was being blasted by heavy rains and some of our clients were questioning if we should cancel. Our research suggested that West Virginia would be on the outer limits of this storm and we felt this could possibly make for some great photography. As a practice we try not to shy away from bad weather. While the safety of our clients is always upmost in our mind, we also want them to go home with epic images!

This fall we were treated to beautiful color, nicely flowing waterfalls, great clouds, and even a nice rainbow over Blackwater Canyon.

We are skipping fall color in West Virginia next year in favor of Fall Color in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. But our Meetup is planning on doing what is fast becoming our annual camping and star party trip to Spruce Knob and hopefully we will find time to perhaps put a waterfall weekend on the calendar next spring. If you want to keep up with all things Road Runner, please join our Meetup or our Mailing List( on the right side of this page).

Icelandic Highlands

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We just wrapped up our 2nd epic tour of Iceland. We had a great group of participants and in spite of some challenging weather, we got to see and photograph a lot of great locations.

The image above was taken in the Icelandic Highlands on a day with light rain and 60 mph winds.

We always rent 4×4 vehicles so we can take our clients into the Highlands. While Iceland offers much for the photographer without going into the Highlands, our clients agreed unanimously that going to the Highlands was essential and the long rough ride on the Icelandic “F” roads was well worth the extra expense and effort.

 

Iceland Awaits

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After almost a year of planning, Denise and I are soon to head back to one of our favorite places on the planet! We are leading a group of photographers on a tour of what we think are the best locations in Iceland. While we have seen much of what Iceland has to offer during our previous trips and tours, we know that much more remains to be discovered. So we are spending 5 days exploring the north of Iceland before our group arrives.

The photo above was taken in the Westfjords at a waterfall called Dynjandi. It’s a beautiful and stunningly large waterfall in a very remote location.

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.

 

Conveying Scale

Today’s featured image was taken in the Highlands of Iceland. I have had the great fortune to have seen about 85% of this extraordinary country and I have to say that the Highlands are truly my most favorite place, with all the texture, color, contrast, a photographer could ask for.

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I often go to great lengths to ensure people are not in my landscape images, but in this case, I realized that there was truly no way to convey the vastness of this place without something manmade or human to convey scale. How many people can you find?

 

A Different Type of Landscape

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The picture above is a landscape in Palouse, but it’s really not about the landscape so much. For me it’s about the color, pattern and texture.

Today so much effort is geared toward having sharp images, tripods, shutter release cables, vibration reduction lenses, and high ISO cameras. All of these features can assist in getting the sharpest possible shot, but sometimes I find more meaning in something soft. The image was captured using a horizontal panning technique at 1/8 of a second. It was also shot at 400mm to visually compress the rolling hills. I shoot lots of abstracts and most will never be seen by others. The keeper ratio is likely 10 percent, but I find this to be a worthwhile pursuit.

Camera Raw Processing

RRPT has just returned from a wonderful photo tour of the Great Smoky Mountains. We had a great group of folks who were game for early mornings, long days, and late evenings! This was my 3rd trip to this area and by far, it was the best. We were gifted with some of the best weather conditions I have ever seen in this area.

During our trip, we discussed a lot about image processing, from which software products we use to which techniques we use to create our final images. So I decided to create some tutorials to demonstrate my approach… starting with my thought process and approach to my images, through the use of Camera Raw to enhance images and Photoshop layers and masks to modify specific areas of the images, to final touches!

These tutorials are chock full of tips and tricks on how to navigate and use Camera Raw and Photoshop. I focused on these products because I wanted to demonstrate that you can achieve beautiful images through basic tools, as not everyone has Photoshop plugins (NIK, TopazLabs, onOne, etc). So for these tutorials, I used what I consider to be the basic software tools need. For full disclosure, I work in Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite (Photoshop CC) and use and describe Photoshop’s version of Camera Raw, but if you have older versions of Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, you should be able to use processes described in these tutorials to enhance your images!

These tutorials are somewhat sequential… starting with Columbine, then Rivers, then Foggy Tree. I mentioned this, because Columbine is the longest tutorial and includes a significant amount of Camera Raw explanation. The other two tutorials, although still descriptive, are not as in-depth on Camera Raw functionality, but get straight to the enhancements. Although the tutorials demonstrate the use of Camera Raw and Photoshop on specific subjects, all of the techniques demonstrated can be used to enhance any image, any subject.

My goal was to create instructional videos that help photographers learn how to use the image processing tools available to them. Hope you enjoy! If you find these tutorials helpful, please subscribe to RRPT’s YouTube Channel, as we add videos and tutorials regularly!

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis):

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In this tutorial, I show you the various features of Camera Raw and describe how I use the Basic adjustments, as well as the Adjustment Brush, features. Then I demonstrate how to bring the image back into Photoshop to enhance the blur/soft background (2 techniques for this!) and how to sharpen our main subject. I describe how to use layers and masks to selectively apply our adjustments, including what white/black masks do, and some tips and tricks for manipulating masks. I also describe how to select the brush tool and how to change its characteristics, including size and opacity. Lastly, this tutorial also describes Free Transform and how to use the transform tools, along with layers and masks to clone parts of your image.

To view this tutorial, click here.

 

 

 

River:
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In this tutorial, I demonstrate how to enhance a forest river scene. We cover how to clone unnecessary features from your image, add dimension to long-exposure water, straighten the image through the crop tool, and how to enhance the mossy rocks to give the image that added pop! These tutorial focuses primarily on the Adjustment Brush tool in Camera Raw and shows that you can take an image to nearly its final stage with this one invaluable piece of software.

To view this tutorial, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foggy Tree:
_XT19932-EditIn the final tutorial in the set, I discuss how to enhance an image taken in deep fog. Most of us LOVE foggy days and foggy scenes, but can be stumped when we get home and see this flat monochromatic image. Where do we start? Well, this tutorial demonstrates that in a few easy steps, you can take a bright, flat, foggy scene and create a moody scene with dimension fit for a zombie movie!

To view this tutorial, click here.

Square

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Do you crop?  Personally I hate to crop.  Hate might be a little strong so let’s just say that I have a serious aversion to cropping.  This is because I have an inherited trait, I’m a “perfectionist”.   While sometimes this creates friction in the day to day world,  I consider this a gift in my case because it is what pushes me to always strive to be a better photographer.   But at the same time I am not suggesting this is a necessary trait for a good  photographer, just one that works to my advantage.

 

Back to the idea of cropping.  It all starts with the decision to take the picture.  When you hit the shutter button were you taken with the picture in your viewfinder,  or did you just snap the picture and hope it looks better on your computer monitor?   When I started studying photography again several years ago after a 20 year break, one of the things I found helpful was the idea of getting it right in camera.  This means a good composition and a good exposure.  The advanced electronics in our cameras make getting a good exposure pretty easy these days, but so far no one has invented a composition finder.  That part is up to you.  Truthfully, I don’t think photography would be much fun if our cameras could pick or evaluate the artistic quality of the shot.

 

I remember sitting at a camera club competition a few years ago and hearing the judge suggest that a particular image would be better cropped as a vertical instead of a horizontal.  A vertical crop in this case would throw away about 60 percent of the original image.   While this might have made for a more pleasing composition to this particular judge, it obviously was  not the vision of the photographer.  Only the photographer whose work was being critiqued knows if this was good advice.

 

I’m suggesting that cropping should be a decision that is made before the shutter is pressed, not after the shutter is pressed.  Speaking strictly for myself I would consider it a failure if I took a picture, only later to be told to harvest a small section or perhaps see a picture in the picture that was better than the one I took.  That means I did not see the better shot.   I could go ahead and crop and share with the world, but I would know it was not my original vision.

 

In the case of the picture above, I envisioned a square format when the picture was taken.  My camera shoots in a rectangular format so except for cropping, there was no effective way to achieve this vision prior to pressing the shutter.  Just my opinion, but I believe that cropping should be a conscious decision and not a way to save a bad picture.