Seeing the world differently…

A little more than two years ago, I decided it was time quit working for others and pursue photography on a full time basis.  I started this blog to document my journey and share what I’ve been learning.  While I’ve learned much about controlling light through digital media, I’ve learned two things that I think are more important.  First – the more I learn, the more I’m surprised at how much I don’t know about photography.  This realization keeps me motivated to continue the journey and helps to make it fun!  Second – I’ve realized that I’m looking at the world much differently than I used to.

During my trip through Oregon in July, I watched the scenery go by with a different eye – evaluating the light and view to see if it was worth stopping and consuming a few pixels.  I just returned from a 2,600 mile trip through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado.  My father turned 85 last week, and we also celebrated Mom and Dad’s 65th wedding anniversary, which actually happens in November.  The whole family came for the party!  We had a great reunion – the great grandkids put on quite a show and it was good to see my brother, sister, and all the nieces and nephews.

While on the road, I found some great pictures.  A couple times, I saw something fun and had to turn around to make the image.  Here’s my view from the road.



This rock formation is on I-80 in eastern Utah, near the Wyoming state line. The best camera is the one in your hand, and I took this picture with my mobile phone.


I got out the big boy camera, too, and shot this panorama handheld from the same spot, but looking a little left.



West of my home town of Cheyenne, Wyoming, is the Vedawoo Recreation Area. The rock formations are phenomenal. This is an HDR of this formation.


This is a common scene along Happy Jack Road, Wyoming Highway 210, between Cheyenne and Laramie. When I was a Boy Scout, we frequently camped in this area. I chose a monochrome theme for this panorama.


As we got closer to Cheyenne, the rock formations changed in color and shape. A storm was coming from the north (left side of the picture).



My lovely bride had to return home early, so I drove her to Denver International Airport. I returned to Cheyenne on US Highway 85, the Can Am Highway, instead of the interstate highway. Traveling on US 85 is old school – primarily 2 lane road and slow downs through the many communities. I drove by this scene, but turned around to make this panorama. The two bridges in the foreground were part of the original highway alignment. They were not razed when the new road was constructed, and they were the impetus for this image.

I drove home through Rocky Mountain National Park, but that’s a blog all by itself!


The Big Thompson River flows through the Big Thompson Canyon in Colorado. US 34 between Loveland and Estes Park shares the canyon. This waterfall is located near Estes Park.


I found this scene along US 40 in northwest Colorado, west of Craig.


Also along US 40.



This is Bridal Veil Falls, along US 189 in Utah’s Provo Canyon (between Provo and Heber City). I was please that there was enough water to flow this late in the year.



Nevada markets US 50 as “The Loneliest Road in America,” but the stretch of US 6/50 between Delta, Utah, and the Nevada state line was a little more lonely. In Nevada, I saw Pronghorn Antelope and Deer.  I also got all the stamps in my ‘US 50 Survivor’s Guide.’  I mailed in the card and am waiting for my reward!


After a smoky stop at Great Basin National Park, just south of US 6/50 on the Nevada/Utah line, I found this scene in Nevada’s Spring Valley. Behind me, wind turbines spun slowly to generate electricity.


Also in the Spring Valley. I was channeling my inner Ansel Adams while I processed this image.


I couldn’t stop at just one monochrome shot.


If you go to Cave Lake State Park south of Ely, Nevada, , you’re greeted by this view on Nevada Highway 486.


This is the view from Stokes Castle, near Austin, Nevada, looking west.

As you can see, I had a wonderful trip.  The Expedition ran great, got excellent fuel mileage, and I saw some pretty country!  Watch for more blogs from this trip.


…and even closer…

In my last blog,, I discussed my continuing exploration into macro and close up photography with specific emphasis on using a flash to help with sharpness.  Since that post, I procured a set of close up filters.  These filters screw on the end of the lens, and come in values of +1, +2, and +4.  Like many filters, they can be stacked.  These filters allow a photographer to get closer than the normal minimum focusing distance, but they impact light coming into the lens less than other tools (such as extension tubes) and are less expensive, too.  In effect, I can set the camera closer to a subject for greater detail.

I’ve been working with the close up filters but, like any new technique, it requires experience with the technique to truly master it.  One of the actions I’ve tried has been focusing at the minimum distance and then moving the camera towards or away from the subject.  With a zoom lens, I can simply change the focal length to achieve best focus.  Things get a little more complicated with a prime lens, especially when I set the tripod on uneven surfaces (such as the river rock in my backyard).  It’s a fun part of the journey, however, and you’ll hear more about it in future blogs.

On to this week’s images!


This image was made before I got the close up filters, so it provides a basis for comparison.


I found this guy on a Candy Tuft in my back yard. I need to work on the chromatic aberration in this image (the blue edges of the petals).


Same Wasp as the above image, but he sat still long enough for me to use the in-camera HDR to create this image.


I got photobombed by this little guy hiding in the rose petals. After I noticed him, I tried to make him part of the composition.


This little guy (literally, he’s maybe 3/16″ in size) really photobombed me. I didn’t notice him until I downloaded the images on my computer.


But, he looks good even when cropped closer.


This guy was too busy to give me a full face closeup.


My lovely bride’s Blackberry bush is looking good this year.


We were going to pick the black one, but the bunnies got it first…


I played with the flash on this one. I like the result!


Susan’s Crab Apple tree is also full of fruit…


…as is the Peach tree, although we are finding a lot of pits on the ground around the tree…


…and the Pear tree is very heavy with fruit. We didn’t get much fruit last year, since we had smoke in the air during the prime pollenation season.


I found this Anderson Thistle on the west side of Lake Tahoe.


Walking in my back yard one evening and I saw this lonely Day Lily bloom. The surrounding plants had old, shriveled blooms, but this guy waited to be recorded for posterity.


This bloom from the front yard, also a Day Lily!


This is the first bloom of the year on our Hibiscus plant. When fully open, the petals measure 6-8″ across. I have to be quick with this plant, as the flowers only last a day or so.


Our Black Eyed Susans aren’t blooming in great numbers this year, but this one is very pretty.


This Rose bloom seemed luminous when I shot it. This is an attempt at an HDR to bring out the full color of the flower.


Another Rose from our back yard.


Finally, my photo world wasn’t all bugs and flowers, I took a drive to Glen Alpine Falls to see how they were running. The Falls has changed much since my shoot last April.

Well, as many have accused me, I’m having wayyy too much fun – and I’m enjoying every minute of it!  Thanks for following me.


Working on getting closer!

Recall that I started an exploration into macro and close up photography a couple months ago, and posted Up Close and Personal on June 6.  I’ve continued this exploration, introducing a couple new techniques into my process.  The challenges I described in my previous post are still there, but I’m getting a little more comfortable with the solutions.  In the last couple weeks, I’ve started using my flash off-camera to better control how I highlight the subjects, and I’m experimenting with diffusers and reflectors to help control the light as well.  As always, the first time I tried the flash I got excellent results.  Subsequent efforts have been a little more challenging – the result of thinking about what I was doing and not just doing it.  Since I described the technical stuff a few weeks ago, let’s get right to the pictures!


This is a Day Lily in our front yard, and was one of my first images using flash. The flash really brought out the colors and helped with sharpness.


I took a drive up CA 4 to Ebbett’s Pass last week. This Sunflower was along the road…


…and this Sunflower was in the same little patch, but had some wildlife wandering around.


My lovely bride is very happy that this Hydrangea is finally blooming. Another of my initial flash images.


This Anderson Thistle was near those Sunflowers. Many regard this as a noxious weed, and rightfully so, but it can sure make a pretty picture.


I love how this Prickly Poppy turned out. For some, I took the processing a little too far. I did it on purpose to bring out the details in the stigma, styles, pistils, anthers, and filaments, and the lines in the petals. (Oh yeah, I love my wildflower book.)


This is a bloom on a Butterfly plant that appeared beside my Shop Building a couple years ago. As you’ll see in the next couple images, I had a little fun with this plant.


Another bloom from the Butterfly plant. The flash was under the bloom and I rotated the image to make it appear a little more natural.


And I got real wild with this one. I desaturated (removed all the color) everything but the yellows and oranges in the center of the flowers. It’s a technique I’ve always wanted to try. Did it work well in this image? Probably not, but the experience of doing it made it worth the effort.


I think this is a Black-Eyed Susan. Could it be the inspiration for archery targets?


Another view of the Hydrangea.


This is a pod cluster on the Heavenly Bamboo in front of my Shop Building. We were a little unsure when we planted this, but it is a beautiful plant and tough as nails! I used the flash on this, too.

I have another new technique for macro and close up – watch for it in my next blog!  Meanwhile, just Enjoy!  PHOTOROGR

Water Water Everywhere…

My lovely bride and I made our annual trip to our grandson’s birthday a couple weeks ago.  This year, we decided to celebrate the centennial of our national park system by visiting Crater Lake National Park on the way.  Everyone should go to Crater Lake – but beware, you can’t take a bad picture there.


This pano was taken from the west side of the Lake.


Also from the west loop, this pano includes the caldera (volcano within a volcano) inside the main crater.


From the south side of the lake. Love the clear blue water and great reflection of the clouds!

After a wonderful day at Crater Lake, we drove to Portland and had dinner with our niece.  The next morning, we spent some time in the Columbia River Gorge checking the views and the waterfalls.


World famous Multnomah Falls. This was our first time there, and we understand why this is one of the most photographed falls in the world!


Wahkeenah Falls, just west of Multnomah Falls. Also very spectacular!


Another view of Wahkeenah Falls.


Shepherd’s Dell. A smaller fall than the others, but worth the short hike to get there!


We found this small waterfall on one of the trails. The branch at the top left caught my eye, and I used it to frame the falls.


Latourell Falls. The rocks are the best feature of this site.

The Columbia River is spectacular, as well.


A view looking east from historic US 30. This road was built about 100 years ago, and is a marvel of engineering. I think all transportation professionals should have to study how this road was built. This road was built with emphasis on the journey, not the destination.


The Columbia River from the aptly named Vista House!

We drove along the Deschutes River – one of the images I shot there.


And my favorite waterfall – White River Falls, in central Oregon near the Deschutes River.


I wish we had been there earlier in the day for better light, but I think it worked out.


The state park has several excellent views of this beautiful waterfall!


I am going back to this waterfall – I promise! When one lives in the desert, one forgets how fun it is to see water flowing in July!

I’ll close this post with a few flower macros!  I’m really having fun with macro photography!


Found in a park in Richland WA.


I had help from my grandson taking this picture. Look close and you can see the bee in the center of the flower!


I shot this on the side of SR 22 on the way to Portland!


Macro and some creative editing.


On one of our non-photo stops, a nice person working in a store told me about these Poppies and mailboxes at the edge of town. I found it, and had to make the picture. Not macro – but a great image!

Water water everywhere!  We had a great trip and really enjoyed the scenery.  I didn’t try any new techniques, instead reaching into the toolkit for those that I’ve been developing.  Thanks for following my blog – until next time!  Enjoy!!  PHOTOROGR

Summer is here…

…and it’s getting hot outside!  Thankfully, the Carson Valley cools down at night, which helps keep the house comfortable!

I’ve had an exciting couple weeks since my last post.  I received an email from a museum in Roseville, California, asking if they could use some of my panoramas in their train diorama.  I’ll let you know when the display is ready!  I have note cards at the Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park.  They’re the big size, so go get them.  I also got a call from a company looking for a picture for a proposal.  The image came out great and I wish them luck with their proposal.

I got out and did some long exposure/HDR stream shots.  They’re so much prettier when the vegetation has leaves and a little color.  I also spent last Sunday at Heritage Park in Gardnerville, shooting the Car Show and The Great Race lunch stop.  The pictures came out great, but my Canon 7D broke and is at the Canon Repair Center.  We hope it’s not fatal!  While I don’t think it broke because I was taking pictures of foreign cars and those made by the Evil Empire, I’m not ruling it out!

Take a look at the Heritage Park Car Show page for pictures of the car show, and The Great Race page for pictures of the race cars!  There are links to The Great Race website on both pages.

So, here’s a few images.  Enjoy – PHOTOROGR


This is a Columbine flower. When I master ‘focus stacking,’ it’ll be a better picture.


West Fork of the Carson River.


More Carson River…


The moss on the rocks and branches really made this picture for me!


Great Race racer – Lincoln Continental – now that’s a great cruising machine!


1966 GT350-H…rare and gorgeous. How would you like to drive this across country?


My friends, Mike and Sharon Silvera, won ‘Spirit of the Show’ with their 1911 Chalmers! What a gorgeous car!


Another friend, Mike King, with his classic Woody! Check out the rest of the show cars at the Heritage Park Car Show page!

Up Close and Personal…


Desert flower!

Well, my exploration into Close Up and Macro Photography has begun in a big way!  Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun!

Rob Sheppard begins his book on Macro Photography this way, “…This truly is a different world for most people and most photographers.  When you and your camera get in close to things, what you discover can be amazing, unique, and remarkable.  We simply don’t usually spend time looking at most things around us with a close-up point of view.”  A few pages later, Rob describes this paradox, “By going small, you can go big, very big.  How is that possible?  By getting in close to the small things, that smaller majority, we actually see more of the beauty of the world.  The world becomes a bigger place!”

Not only am I developing a new view of the world, I’m developing a new set of photography skills as well.  Depth of field (DOF) is very different when you’re working in close.  Shoot a landscape at a small aperture opening and DOF goes for miles.  Shoot a flower at a small aperture and DOF is measured in centimeters and fractions of inches.  Hand held shooting is possible, but keep your expectations low.  The definition of ‘good light’ takes on a whole new meaning, however.  For example, mid-day light is very harsh and unforgiving to the landscape photographer and gives me fits when shooting wildlife.  Go for the small subjects, and mid-day light can be your friend.  For me, Macro and Close Up brings a new set of challenges, but it reinforces the same basic photography concepts by forcing me to use them in a different way.

Enough technical talk for now – let’s get to some pictures!


I found this little fella’ working our new Catmint in the backyard.


My lovely bride likes it cropped a lot closer…thoughts?


This is a Macro of a Rose in our backyard. I gotta say, I’m putting fewer miles on the PHOTORANGER since the flowers in the yard are blooming!


Red Hot Poker just starting to bloom. When it’s fully bloomed, the tips are red and the rest of the bloom is yellow. This is one of my favorite plants!


We found this California Poppy at Topaz Lake. One of my few successful hand held macro shots!


On the Thornless Hawthorne in our backyard. These flowers are gone now.


When I started being serious about Macro, I rented a Macro lens and went looking for subjects. I drove Monitor Pass and found these beautiful flowers. Don’t ask me what they are – they’re just pretty!


This is a Peony from our back yard. I made multiple exposures and merged them in Photomatix. With our flowers, that’s always dangerous because the wind moves everything. I got lucky this time!


I found this Peony at the Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park.


Not a Macro – a Close Up! This is a headlight on a 1927 Willys Knight that I saw at a car show over the weekend. This is an HDR image processed in Photomatix.

Well, it hasn’t all been Macros and Close Ups.  I took a ride with my old retired guy ATV group the other day.  We drove east of Carson City to Silver Springs, then south towards Fort Churchill.  Just south of Buckland Station, we turned left into the high desert and unloaded the ATVs.  A short 11 miles later, we arrived at Hooten Well and took a break.


This is a panorama looking west towards Cleaver Peak. The desert is green, but it was a very hot and dusty ride!


Cleaver Peak with remains of one of the stone structures in the foreground.

Our ultimate destination was Salt Cave.  Native Americans used them for shelter and decorated the ceilings.


…and I had to shoot them in Macro…yes, I need to work on my DOF and focusing…

My plan is to continue to be up close and personal for a while, with the occasional landscape and panorama.  HDR is a great tool, and I’m getting more comfortable with it.

For my LinkedIn friends, please consider endorsing me for Digital Photography.  Thanks in advance!

Until next time – Enjoy!  PHOTOROGR

I’ve slowed down a little – could you tell?

There’s nothing like a three week break between posts to demonstrate how much I’ve slowed down in my shooting.  Just to be clear, though, it’s only my shooting that has slowed down!  I’m spending more time studying new techniques and continuing work with those I’ve already added to my ‘toolkit.’  Also, it is Spring so I have to spend a little more time at home working on the yard and taking care of business in general.

I’ve continued my exploration of in-camera High Dynamic Range (HDR), as you will see below.  As explained in a previous post, HDR is the process of combining multiple exposures to utilize the best parts of each image for best detail from shadows and highlights.  After figuring out the settings, it works much better than I originally thought.  I noted an interesting part of the in-camera process the other day.  While reviewing several sets of exposures, I saw that the camera floated the ISO setting to obtain the underexposed image.  When I manually create multiple exposures, I usually float my shutter speed to create the over- and under-exposures.  I never adjust the aperture because of the impact to depth of field.  In addition, I’ve been exploring the Nik Efex filters and the variety of options available in Photomatix Pro.  I made these pictures at the Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park, with the Sierras as the background.  They will demonstrate better than words.


In-camera HDR with minor adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). Another problem with in-camera HDR is that the file is in JPEG format, which limits post-processing options.


This image was made from the same set of exposures as the one above. I combined the exposures in Photomatix Pro with additional processing in Nik. I received feedback from another photographer, telling me I needed to change my camera settings to minimize noise and also be careful of chromatic aberration. I’ll discuss these topics in future posts.


This in-camera HDR was processed in ACR.


Also in-camera and processed in ACR.


I should have shifted a touch to the left to keep Jobs Peak from hiding behind the wheel spoke.

My lovely bride and I are members of the Friends of Dangberg Home Ranch, and I’ve been working with the Curator on some note cards for them to sell.  Here’s a couple of the options we are discussing.


I took this image several years ago when I didn’t know what I was doing photographically. There are those who will argue that I still don’t know what I’m doing, but I’ll leave that alone for now. This image was shot in low resolution JPEG format at the wrong time of day, but I was able to work it enough to make this image – formatted for a large note card.


Just for grins, I made it monochrome and applied a sepia filter. This will probably not make the cut for the final note cards.


Better light and better angle. Jobs Peak is visible in the left side of the picture.  This one will be on the note cards.

The Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park teamed up with the Carson Valley Arts Council for an event called Something in the Wind.  A kite group from Oregon came down and put on a wonderful event.  The wind cooperated, sometimes just a little too much.  Here’s a little of the color from the two day event.


These spinners were on poles – very fun and beautiful.


Can you tell we had good wind? The spinners came down soon after I made this image.


Lots of colorful flags, too!


And then there were the kite fliers – all shapes and sizes! This little guy worked his kite pretty hard.


The bubbles were quite the hit on Sunday!


Kites are very beautiful these days!  A far cry from newspaper and sticks that we used.


The kite folks put these in the air and tethered them, and they flew all day!


This young man walked by my booth and proudly announced that he just turned 7 and he got this box kite for his birthday! I enjoyed seeing a father and son spending time together.

I stopped by my favorite Owl venue and captured this Barn Owl!


Looks like a young one by the puffy feathers. I shot this handheld, so it’s not the best focus (camera shake from me and my hands – the low light and long shutter speed also contributed).  A cutie nonetheless.

The nice wet winter brought lots of flowers to the desert.


This is the introduction for my next shooting technique – Macro Photography! Stay tuned!


The mountains west of the Carson Valley.


Shot from the road, looking up hill. But the flowers are gorgeous!

I’m really looking forward to my exploration into the world of Close-up and Macro Photography.  Thanks for looking at this blog.