I’m just about to burst…

I’m so excited about my photography right now that I’m just about to burst!  I know, it’s been 3 weeks since my last post and I’m sure you’re all asking, ‘if he’s so excited, why so long since his last post?”  The answer is simple – I’m having too much fun to make a post!  The problem with that, however, is the backlog of images to share.  I still have two posts worth of images from my trip home last month – stay tuned for them!

We’ll get to current pictures in a minute because there are fun things I want to share.  First, I’m waiting for my new lens, the Generation 2 Tamron 150-600, to arrive.  I’ve been shooting with the first generation 150-600 since it came out almost 3 years ago and have always loved the results.  The new lens has better optics, faster autofocus, and a shorter minimum focusing distance (by almost a foot!).  I found a nice home for my old lens (the new owner has already made some great images, and has nicknamed the lens ‘Godzilla’), so I’m without a super telezoom for the short term.  My withdrawal is almost as bad as when my camera body fried a circuit board last June and I was without my 7D for a time.  I’ll get through it – I promise.  With the raptors returning to the Carson Valley, I’m excited to try out the new lens!

Second, I’m launching my exploration into Shutter Priority (Tv) mode.  For the last couple years, I have shot primarily in Aperture Priority (Av) mode, which controls light using the aperture opening.  Aperture size impacts depth of field, or how much the image is in focus from the foreground to the background (large openings = shallow depth of field, small openings = deeper depth of field).  For wildlife shots, especially birds, I shoot wide open.  Large aperture openings also allow fast shutter speeds, capturing detail and freezing motion.  I don’t worry about the background being in focus because I want to highlight the bird or animal in the image.  For landscapes, I use smaller aperture openings to have more of the scene in focus.  I shoot my landscapes from a tripod, so shutter speed is not really a concern.  I use Manual mode for my landscapes, allowing me to control exposure with either shutter or aperture priority, looking for the best settings for the particular subject and conditions.

What prompted me to explore Tv mode?  Sports photography!  One of my son’s friends has two little boys who play flag football.  I took pictures at a game last Saturday (they won – it was very exciting), and asked a friend/mentor to critique my work.  His comments were very helpful, pushing me to explore the wild world of Shutter Priority.  Here’s a couple pictures from Saturday.

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He had just intercepted a pass and was running into the end zone for a touchdown!

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These little guys take the game seriously – look at the intensity (or maybe fear of getting hit) on their faces!

As you can see, the focus is just a little soft.  I shot these in Av mode, so a shift to Tv mode will give me a faster shutter speed to freeze the action better.  I’m excited to give it a try!

A couple weeks ago, I went to Mormon Station State Park in Genoa to take pictures of Treffen Lake Tahoe, the Porsche Club of America’s cruise around the Lake Tahoe area.  The tour made a lunch stop in Genoa.  Go to my Treffen Lake Tahoe page (https://photorogr.com/treffen-lake-tahoe-2016/) to see my pictures from the day.

My retired guy ATV group made the ride up Mt. Patterson the other day.  Here’s a few images from the trip!

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I took this on the drive up, with my mobile phone. Note the smoke low on the horizon.

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This is the view looking west from the top of Mt. Patterson. It was mid-day when we arrived and I wasn’t happy with the light. I made the image anyway and am pleased with the result.

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The view to the north. Lots of smoke low on the horizon. The signage going up the hill described Mt. Patterson as ‘Mars with vegetation.’ I love the colors in this mountain.

On the way to Mt. Patterson, we passed the turnoff to CA 120, the Sonora Pass Road, and I just had to go back and drive Sonora Pass.  The leaves are starting to turn, and the PHOTORANGER loved the drive.

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The PHOTORANGER at the summit of Sonora Pass.

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Fall colors, on the east side of the Pass.

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Hopefully a sign of a good fall color year.  I found a great book on fall color in the Sierras, with excellent information on where to go.  Fall color exploration, here I come!

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I was amazed at the amount of water still flowing.

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The mountains had a fresh dusting of snow.

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This panorama was stitched from 8 images, then processed using a couple Nik Color Efex Pro filters. Some of my mentors/friends think it’s a little overdone. I like it!

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The scenery was stunning, everywhere I looked.

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I made several images of this mountain. I like this one for the trees in the foreground.

I didn’t forget to make images of the yard.  Here are a few.

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Remember the discussion of Aperture Priority above? This flower was shot with a wide open aperture and close up filters. The foliage in the background becomes a pleasing blur, while preserving the detail in the petals, stamens, and pistils. When I master focus stacking, the petal at the top will also be in focus.

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I finally found a Daisy bloom that hadn’t been molested by the rabbits.

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I love these Roses, but they are proving very challenging for me. I am constantly fighting the monochrome of the petals and work to introduce meaningful shadows to separate the petals. I was drawn to this composition by the dead bloom at the bottom of the image, in contrast with the vibrant blooms above.

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The last image of this post. I took a quick trip into the Pine Nut Mountains, just a couple miles east of our house, one evening last week. The sun was going down and was shining through some clouds. I’ve never made an image like this, so I thought I’d give it a try. I’m not totally happy with the result, so I’ll be working to improve my image capture processes in these lighting conditions.

That’s a lot of fun for me.  I promise that I’ll get the images from my trip done and posted.  They’re worth the wait – I promise.

Thanks for reading my blog.  Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Photo Editing Software…and Rocky Mountain National Park!

In previous blogs, I’ve talked about the ways photography has changed due to the transition from film to digital photography.  The basic principles of controlling and recording light have not changed, but editing processes have changed dramatically.  Like many photographers, I work to get the best possible image in camera but further processing on the computer is essential to my success as a photographer.  Thankfully, there are really smart people who have developed great software to make this part of photography easier.  I use Adobe’s Photoshop (PS) CC (Creative Cloud – yes, I pay my access fee every month!) and Camera RAW (ACR) as my primary software.  I also purchased Corel’s Paint Shop Pro X7 when it was cheap (PSP X8 had just come out) and work it every now and then, but PS and ACR remain my go to software.

As those smart guys at Adobe make their products better and easier to use, and I learn how to use the features I have along with the new stuff, I try to produce better images.  Recently, the Adobe CC guys announced a new feature in Lightroom (LR), a sister software to PS.  As background, I prefer PS to LR because I can use layers in PS.  ACR and LR use similar menus and controls for processing, so I’m not missing out on those features.  LR manages files which PS does not do, however, I use Adobe Bridge for my file management.

Back to the cool new tool in LR – Boundary Warp.  If I create a panorama in LR, Boundary Warp allows me to adjust the image without having to crop and lose content.  Regardless of how well I shoot a series of images to merge into a panorama, there is always inconsistency in the edges requiring cropping and/or filling.  Boundary Warp minimizes data loss and is very cool, from my perspective.  I processed several panoramas using both PS and LR to determine if one is preferable to the other, but I’ll let you be the judge in the images below.

Oh yeah, LR now has a High Dynamic Range (HDR) feature in PhotoMerge, but I prefer PhotoMatix Pro for my HDR images.

Today’s images come from the day I spent in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), located in north central Colorado, last month.  I entered RMNP from the east side (US Highway 36 from Estes Park CO).  After a quick stop in the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center for some shopping and a stamp in my national parks passport book, I proceeded into RMNP and that portion of US 34 known as Trail Ridge Road.  Trail Ridge Road is only open in the summer months, as its 12,000 foot (+/-) elevation makes for a very snowy road in the winter months.

I came across a flock of turkeys, but failed to get a decent image of them.  I drove by this beautiful vista.

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I believe the peaks to be (left to right) Mt. Wuh, Stones Peak, and Terra Tomah Mtn, with Tombstone Ridge in the middle ground.  This panorama was created and edited in Lightroom, using the Boundary Warp feature.

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Here’s the same view processed in Photoshop.

The differences in brightness, contrast, and color are my adjustments and experimentation.  I manually cropped the LR version to a standard 5:1 ratio panorama, the same as the PS version.  What’s important to note is that there doesn’t appear to be geometric distortion from the Boundary Warp, however, there is more foreground in the PS version (check the tree line) which indicates a larger availability of data in the LR image.  Based on my totally non-scientific experiment, I opine that the use of PS versus LR for panoramas is a matter of personal preference at the moment.

Back to pictures.

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I believe these peaks to be Mt. Chiquita (l) and Mt. Chapin. This is a panorama merged in PS.

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For comparison, I shot this image using a wide angle lens. For this view, either shooting method works fine.

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This is a panorama of Sundance Mtn. While I was at this location, I visited with a very nice young lady who was shooting with her Canon T2i and a Canon 100-400 zoom lens. We had a nice discussion about lenses and photography.

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One of my favorite shots on the day. This is an HDR. When I shot this, the flowers in the foreground were in deep shadow and HDR allowed me to bring them into the light, so to speak. The wind was blowing at 12,000 feet, as you might imagine, so there is a touch of movement in the flowers. A few minutes later, the clouds moved off but the wind came up. The flowers in the full light images were blurry due to the wind.

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If you’re an Elk in the mountains on a hot summer day, how do you keep cool? They’re on a snow bank enjoying the cool. They were probably 1/2-3/4 mile away.

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And these Elk were using the trees to keep cool, again, 1/2-3/4 mile away.

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I believe these peaks to be (l-r) Stones Peak (the sharp pointed one), Sprague Mtn, Nakai Peak, Mt Julian, and Terra Tomah Mtn. This is a panorama merged in PS.

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I came around a corner with lots of people looking up a hill, watching this Bear. He was a couple hundred feet away and cared less about the crowd at the bottom of the hill. I parked and came back for this shot, the best of what he gave us before disappearing behind the trees.

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When he disappeared, the crowd dissipated. I hung around to see if he would make another appearance, and made a few images of the flowers and landscape.

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Beautiful mountain flowers.

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I made this image with my trusty mobile phone. Every now and then, it makes a nice image. Note the wildlife.

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I believe the center mountain to be Terra Tomah Mtn, with Jackstraw Mtn on the immediate right. This is another panorama merged in LR using Boundary Warp.

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Same view from a PS merge.  I see a subtle difference in the foreground, especially on the right side, but not enough to conclusively say one is better than the other.  Both images are stunning!  oh yeah, the LR image is cropped to 5:1 ratio and the PS is at 3:1.

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I was making a series of images for a panorama when I caught movement out of the bottom corner of my eye. This Marmot, also called a Rock Chuck, was very busy and unfazed by all the people just 30 feet away.

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The rocks were alive with these North American Pika. About the size of a Guinea Pig, these little fuzzballs were busy working on nests for the coming winter.

I have established a page dedicated to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Visit the page to see more images from this part of my trip.

Since I got home, I’ve spent some time in the yard with my flowers, so I’ll close with them.  Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

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One of the Rose blooms in the backyard.

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My favorite Candy Tuft. The sun was going down and lighting up the side of the bloom.

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.

UTAH:

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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.

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

WYOMING:

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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.

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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.

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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).

COLORADO:

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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!

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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.

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

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Also along US 40.

UTAH:

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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:

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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!

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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.

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

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I couldn’t stop at just one monochrome shot.

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

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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.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

…and even closer…

In my last blog, https://photorogr.com/2016/07/23/working-on-getting-closer/, 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!

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

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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).

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

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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.

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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.

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But, he looks good even when cropped closer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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Another Rose from our back yard.

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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.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

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!

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Another view of the Hydrangea.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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!

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

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Another view of Wahkeenah Falls.

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

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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.

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

The Columbia River is spectacular, as well.

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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.

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The Columbia River from the aptly named Vista House!

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

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

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

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

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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!

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Found in a park in Richland WA.

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

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

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Macro and some creative editing.

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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

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

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West Fork of the Carson River.

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More Carson River…

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

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

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

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

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