What a Rush!!!!!

This week has been wonderful.  While Shooting the West (shootingthewest.org) was awesome, the days before and since were equally wonderful.

I was in the final stages of building my STW presentation and needed a little break, so I decided to try something new – flowers overlaid on a textured background.  I’ve played with the technique before, but not with a specific goal in mind.  I had some textures in a folder, and the flowers from my backyard this Spring were great candidates.  To make a long story short, the results are wonderful and I will be making them into note cards and prints.  I’m thinking about canvas prints, too, but we’ll see.  Here they are!BLND3950-TXTR0250-a-w

BLND6537-TXTR0250-a-w

BLND4706-TXTR0250-a-w

BLND3968-TXTR0250-a-w

I drove to Winnmeucca last Thursday.   I took my time and enjoyed the drive.  A couple months ago, I got my US 50 Survival Guide from the Nevada Commission on Tourism, so I planned to get a couple stamps while I was on the road.  The Dayton Chamber of Commerce was closed, but Fernley’s was open so I got my first stamp!  For the uninitiated, the US 50 Survival Guide is designed to promote travel on the Loneliest Road in America.  When I get 5 stamps, I qualify for my US 50 Survivor certificate and sticker for my car!

While on the road, I got a call from a senior center in Carson City.  They were hosting a fundraiser for wild horse adoption, and wondered if I would bring some wild horse pictures to display and sell.  The fundraiser was on Tuesday, so I would have to work quick when I got home on Sunday.  I agreed and put it on my calendar.

I got to Winnemucca in good time, so I stopped by the Convention Center to check in and coordinate my presentation with the audio-visual tech.  He downloaded my file and everything worked, so that was one less thing to worry about.  I bumped into a friend who was finishing his workshops, so we grabbed our cameras and headed for the Humboldt River for a few pictures before dinner.  All we found were small birds, so we visited the local Museum.  I encourage you to stop in when you visit Winnemucca – the Museum is great!

Dinner with more friends at the Martin, a local Basque restaurant.  It was a busy night so we had a wait, but it was worth it!  I had pork ribs that were wonderful!

Friday morning and Shooting the West kicked off for me.  I enjoyed seeing old friends, making new ones, and meeting people that are friends on Facebook.  The presentations were great, with diverse subjects and beautiful images.  The keynote speaker was Drew Gurian, who discussed his work as a photographer in New York City.  Other presentations included ranch photography, large format photography, and a wildlife photography presentation, along with presentation of awards for the Range Outback Photo Contest.  I had a great conversation with  the Canon representative, who showed me how to use the in-camera HDR feature on my 7D Mark II.  An interesting process, worthy of a few pixels sometime.  (See my blog ‘An Amazing Week for Me’ on March 29, 2016, for a discussion on High Dynamic Range photography).

My presentation was Saturday afternoon, but I wasn’t worried.  I had practiced and I was ready.  I paid close attention to the morning presenters.  I was almost sold on mirrorless cameras until the presenter told us about the negatives – short battery life and very susceptible to getting dirty when changing lenses.  I enjoyed the presentation on photo workshops and tours, but started to get a little nervous as my start time got closer.  Finally, it was my turn.  I took the stage and, of course, the AV tech ran into difficulty starting my presentation.  I knew it would happen, but I only had 15 minutes and a couple jokes.  He resolved things quickly and I began.  Don’t ask me what I said – I have no idea, and I only had to rush a little at the end.  I got great feedback from everyone afterwards, so I feel good about it.

Sunday morning, and I’m off to the car show and air show at the airport.  Here’s a little of what I saw!

ROGR7000-w

I forgot the year, but this is a Hupmobile.

ROGR7023-w

You see the darndest things at a car show. The guy on the left was showing this home-built camp trailer, towed by his Model A.

ROGR7018-w

There were several military vehicles there. This is a beautiful Willys Jeep.

ROGR7002-w

The local tractor club was showing, too. I always enjoy an old Ford tractor.

ROGR7026-w

I didn’t get close enough to see if it was armed or not!

After the car/plane show, I headed east to Battle Mountain to have lunch with an old Air Force friend and his wife.  On the way, I decided to try that in-camera HDR feature.

7DHDR7080-w

This is the in-camera image. It’s nice, but a little off from what I like in an HDR image.

PMX7080-fused-w

Using the bracketed exposures, I merged them in Photomatix with a little nicer result.

7DHDR7064-w

Another in-camera image. Notice the ‘ghosting’ or multiple images of the car on the right side of the image. When using this feature, I will have to be careful to ensure that nothing moves, since the camera aligns the bracketed exposures, but doesn’t account for ghosting.

PMX7064-fused-w

Here’s the merge I did in Photomatix. Bottom line – in-camera HDR could be useful in the right place at the right time, but it will not replace my existing HDR workflow.

On Monday, I got ready for the fundraiser on Tuesday.  The money raised will support the Nevada Discovery Ride (www.NevadaDiscoveryRide.com).  This August, Samantha Szesciorka and her horse, Sage, will undertake a 1,000 mile journey to encourage wild horse adoption.  The weather was excellent and I met many nice people – sales were good, too!  Samantha is very nice, and I wish her well on her ride.

Okay, that’s it for this post.  I’m taking a little time and working on the yard (I finally mowed the lawn this morning!), but I will be showing at Something in the Wind at the Dangberg Ranch on May 14 and 15.  Come on by and see the kites – make sure you say hello!

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Advertisements

Just a few more days!

Time is running out!  In just a few days, I’ll be in Winnemucca for Shooting the West (shootingthewest.org) and will be making my presentation Saturday afternoon.  I’ve been working on the presentation for a couple months, going through my pictures from the last couple years to select the best ones to showcase.  Last week, I was feeling good about my selections and was starting to make the cuts necessary to meet my 15 minute time slot.  I asked my lovely bride to go through the slide show with me, as the cuts were becoming more difficult to make.  At the end of the first run through, she says that I haven’t included my best shots!  Holy cow!!

We opened up the hard drives and looked for the shots that she thought I should include.  After adding in another dozen or so, I started the ‘deselection’ process all over again.  I have the presentation down to 78 slides now, which is on the high side of my original target of 70+/-.  I think it will work.  There’s time for more fine tuning.

I made a big addition to my editing toolbox this week – software to calibrate the color on my computer monitor.  ColorMunki from X-Rite is my choice – simple to install and use.  The ‘before and after’ showed small adjustments in the colors, but I move forward with more confidence in my editing.

I managed to get out a bit – I didn’t lock myself in the study, after all!  Here’s a few images from the last couple weeks.

I have a new photographer friend in Carson City who showed me a different group of wild horses.  We were standing in a saddle with multiple bands, probably 100 or more horses.  There was a group of 16-18 bachelor studs showing us their physical prowess.  It was very exciting to see!

ROGR5714-1-w

These two started a fight in the middle of the group of horses – a common occurrence during our time there!

ROGR5859-a-w

This is my favorite shot from the day. These two had moved away from the group and were serious for several minutes.

I also got a couple shots that were less ‘exciting.’  The scenery shot was featured on a local morning show during the weather report this week.

ROGR0678-blend-fused-w

This is the view looking south towards the Carson Valley, and was the featured image on the Channel 2 Weather Report last Wednesday!

ROGR4953-w

This foal is proudly leading the band up a hill. The rocks made a wonderful background!

I had a little fun this week, too.  I went to a local ranch to see if the ‘kids’ were out and about, and they were!  I also spent a little time in the back yard.

ROGR4549-w

Remember Pickup? Here he is again – climbing a tree and getting into mischief.  You don’t see that every day!

ROGR4706-e2a-w

My exploration into macro photography and creative filters continued with these Lilac flowers from our back yard.

ROGR0583-w

Some flowers from one of our Crab Apple trees.

ROGR6883-a-w

This Quail and its partner were making their way through the plants in the back yard yesterday. By the time I grabbed my camera and headed outside, they had gone up the hillside and were in the rocks.

I needed a break from the computer one day last week, so I made an impromptu visit to a location where I’d heard about an Aerie.  I wasn’t disappointed.  After making several images of this Bald Eagle sitting in the nest, it took flight and gave me quite a show!  Here’s a couple from the day!

ROGR6641-1-a-w

Coming in for a landing. This image was made microseconds after touchdown.

ROGR6634-a-w

The in flight image. What a magnificent Raptor!

Sorry that the blog is short, but I have to finish my presentation, pack my bags, and try to fit in a ride with my ATV group before I head for Winnemucca.  I’ll give a report on Shooting the West in my next blog!  I look forward to seeing old friends, making new ones, and meeting face to face with people I’ve ‘friended’ on Facebook.  Until next time – enjoy!

PHOTOROGR

Just don’t forget the basics…

In the last several blogs, I’ve talked about new shooting and editing techniques and all the fun I’ve been having.  These past few weeks have been truly amazing for me, up until a couple nights ago.  I was reading one of my books on High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography – the chapter on tripods – and a I came on a little ‘Tip’ sidebar that said, “Rather counterintuitively, using a tripod in conjunction with image stabilization can result in unsharp images, so it is advisable to turn stabilization off whenever your camera is tripod-mounted.”

For a little quick background, many lens manufacturers build their lenses to correct for small movements and shakes, resulting in sharper pictures.  Each manufacturer calls it something different (Canon says image stabilization and Tamron uses vibration control, for example), but they all accomplish the same thing.  The problem is that when a camera is mounted on a tripod (versus handheld), these small movements and shakes don’t occur, so the lens panics (figuratively, not literally) and introduces some shake so the image stabilization system has something to do.  It’s kind of like those overprotective parents in movies and TV shows that obsess over their children’s first date or outing with friends – inventing problems that aren’t occurring.  It makes for a humorous story line, but it doesn’t make good pictures.  The lesson: turn off the image stabilization (if the lens has it) when using a tripod!

Is this new information to me?  No!  It’s a basic action in photography, the same as turning on the charging the battery, turning on the camera, taking the lens cap off, or putting a memory card in the camera.  Have I been doing it?  Well, no.  I have been concentrating so hard on the neutral density filters and camera settings, getting a good composition, and remembering the cable release to reduce camera shake on the tripod.  I haven’t been turning off the image stabilization on my lenses! Silly me!  The biggest problem has been blending the different exposures in HDR software, where I was seeing lots of ‘ghosting’ or blurred portions in the final image.  I attributed it to wind blowing the tree branches or the differences in water flow, never thinking about that dadburned image stabilization.  So, lesson learned and reminder to take care of the basics!  Will I forget again?  Yes!  After all, I’m still learning.

For this week’s images, I’ll start with my recent trip to Glen Alpine Falls, on Taylor Creek upstream from Fallen Leaf Lake which feeds into Lake Tahoe.  With all the snow the Sierras received this year, the Falls are running strong and are very beautiful.  If you want to go see them, take CA 89 along the west shore of Lake Tahoe, a few miles south of Emerald Bay, and turn west on the road to Fallen Leaf Lake.  The Falls are on the far west end of the Lake.  I had to park at the fire station and hike about a quarter mile up a hill – an easy hike and well worth it!  I had rented a Canon 10-22 Wide Angle Lens from Gordon’s Photo Service (gordonsphotoservice.com), to try something different from my lenses.  It was fun to use that lens – with the short focal length and the natural distortion on the edges of the images, I had to adjust my shooting style – especially to create the panoramas.

PHOTOROGR-GAF-HDR3-4303-6-w

Glen Alpine Falls – 5 exposures, HDR processed in Photomatix and Photoshop.

Glen-Alpine_Panorama1-2016-04-07-f-e1a-w

For this image of the Falls, I stitched together 4 images to create a panorama. I used the wide angle lens turned 90 degrees (long axis vertical), with a 4 stop neutral density filter to slow the water for the picture, merging in Photoshop.

PHOTOROGR-HDR5-4326-8-w

This is Taylor Creek, downstream of the Falls. I made 5 exposures and blended them in Photomatix to bring out the beautiful colors in the rocks.

With Spring, our trees are flowering!

ROGR3959-e1-w

A macro of the flowers on a Perfect Purple tree in our backyard!

ROGR3901-e1a-w

These flowers are on our Pear tree – hopefully, the bees will come and we will have Pears this year!

ROGR4221-a-nik1-w

With all the moisture we’ve had this Winter, the desert is full of color. I’ve never noticed these desert plants before, but they are blooming all over the Carson Valley! This one is just up the road from our house!

I haven’t forgotten the wildlife in our area, although the Raptors are mostly gone.  Here’s a few:

ROGR4769-w

My education in bird identification continues. I was very excited to see this, thinking I had something exotic like a female Canvasback Duck. Turns out, it’s just a Mutt Duck. Apparently, Mallards aren’t very selective when they mate, giving us birds like this. It is, however, very pretty – for a Mutt!

ROGR4633-a-w

I drove past a Western Meadowlark a couple months ago, so when I saw this one I was determined to get the picture. I posted this to the ‘Yep I’m from Wyoming’ page on Facebook and, at last count, I was well over 130 likes! For those of you unfamiliar with my home state – the Western Meadowlark is the Wyoming State Bird!

ROGR4398-w

These Owlets live in the Carson Valley, and share the nest with Mom, Dad, and two siblings.

ROGR4368-az-w

This Great Horned Owl was on a branch over the nest, with 2-3 Owlets in the nest. Not sure if it was just the wind, or if the kids were acting up that day, but I love the look on its face.

ROGR3852-e1-w

This Quail was running around my backyard, but stopped long enough for me to get this picture!

I’ll close with a few scenery shots.

ROGR-NFX-3638-w

This is an abandoned ranch house in Hope Valley, just across the border in California.

ROGR3663-fused-w

This waterfall is on CA 89, on the west end of Emerald Bay.

ROGR4096-w

The Carson Valley is one of the ‘go to’ places for soaring. These two gliders were in the sky over my house. They weren’t as close as it appears in this image.

ROGR0552-1-w

My lovely bride asked for a short drive last Sunday, and we happened on this scene along Waterloo Lane in the Carson Valley.

Shooting the West (shootingthewest.org) is only a couple weeks away!  I’m putting the finishing touches on my presentation and am very excited to be a part of this great event this year.  If you’re near Winnemucca in a couple weeks – stop by the Convention Center and see the pictures!  This Sunday is April 17, the day the Ford Mustang was introduced at the New York World’s Fair in 1964.  It’s National Mustang Day, so I’ll be driving the Bullitt to celebrate.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Honored and humbled and excited and intimidated…all at the same time!

A year ago, my good friend and photography mentor, Craig Moore, introduced me to Shooting the West, a photography symposium in Winnemucca, Nevada.  I ventured to Winnemucca last March and had a great time, made new friends and improved my photo skills.  Any of you who attend events such as this know that the promoters solicit feedback from the attendees.  In my evaluation, I noted that the program did not include a nature photographer and I suggested they include nature photography in future programs.  One should always be careful for what one wishes because last August I got a call asking if I would be interested in making a presentation on nature photography at the 2016 Shooting the West symposium (honored and humbled).  I thought about it for about 3 seconds and quickly assembled a brief outline with a few examples of pictures (excited), and submitted my proposal for a nature photography tour of the Carson Valley.  A couple weeks later, I got an email advising that they accepted my proposal and I would be on the program (more excited).

As the initial excitement subsided, reality set in – I would be showing my pictures to a room full of photographers from around the country (intimidated).  Thinking back to last year’s program, I realized that, in addition to the amateur and hobby photographers in attendance, there would be people who have been shooting for decades, travel the world and get published in National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, and other international publications, and write books and teach classes about photography and photo editing.  Oh my God!!!  (More intimidated!!!!!)  And I just said yes to showcasing my work on a really big screen for all to see (even more intimidated).  I’m not afraid of public speaking – as many of you know all too well – but I’ve only been shooting seriously for a short time.  Then I said to myself, “Self – get it together, put your best foot forward, and see what happens.”  Finally, the voice of reason (but I’m still intimidated).

Shooting the West XXVIII will be held April 26 – May 1, 2016.  Registration opens January 18.  For more information, go to shootingthewest.org, call 877-623-3501, or email info@shootingthewest.org.  I’m back to being excited, by the way (and still honored and humbled)!

It’s winter – prime raptor season – I’m out almost every day trying to get new and good images for my STW presentation and to market at Eagles and Agriculture (February 18-20, 2016, go to http://www.carsonvalleynv.org/pages/EAGLESAG1/ for information).  Don’t worry, I’m not limiting my presentation to raptors only.  I hope to include a good representation of game animals, non-raptor birds, and the Valley’s predators – at least the ones of which I have pictures.

Here’s a few images from the last couple weeks.  I think you’ll like them.

PNWHA-PHOTOROGR-0050

I was out checking an area for a Golden Eagle aerie, and I found this stud wandering in the Pine Nuts all alone. He let me make lots of images. I’m trying to decide which one to submit to the Pine Nut Wild Horse Association for their 2017 calendar featuring studs.

PNWHA-PHOTOROGR-0045

He and I watched each other closely while I shot. He’s not from the area, that we know of anyway. We’ll see if he makes it all the way down to the other bands. We named him Mystery.  Oh yeah, I haven’t found that aerie yet.

ROGR6389-w

I’ve seen lots of Kestrels in the last few weeks. I’m not sure if they are more plentiful, or if I am better at seeing them.

ROGR6394-w

This one looks like he’s giving me ‘the bird’ as he flies away.

ROGR6468-w

My lovely bride commented that I get a lot of ‘butt pictures’ when I’m shooting birds, but I love seeing the frozen motion of their wings and feet as they take flight.

ROGR0009-w

I saw this Blue Heron on a very windy day…must have stopped blowing for a second or two while I made the image.

ROGR5939-w

I found this immature White-crowned Sparrow near the Nevada-California state line. This is my favorite composition for birds – tack sharp with a blurry background…

ROGR6298-a-w

It was a snowy day outside this pole barn, but this Great Horned Owl didn’t seem to mind.

ROGR06645-b-w

I saw this Golden Eagle probably 600 feet away.

ROGR6313-a-w

This was the scene outside the pole barn…this guy was trying hard to stay warm and paid me no attention.

ROGR6286-a-w

Same bird – different angle and background…maybe next year’s Christmas card???

ROGR5912-e1-w

Did you see that? Yeah, but I don’t believe what I saw…

ROGR06719-a-w

Coming in for a landing…er, going up for a landing…

ROGR5811-a-w

I drove by this Red-tailed Hawk, and went back for the picture. At first, he tried to sell me a watch…

ROGR5819-a-w

…and then he took a spin around me…

ROGR5876-w

I think this is my favorite. I was checking a location for Owls and saw this guy. Again – my favorite composition – tack sharp subject with a blurred background.

That’s all for this post.  Between the raptors returning to the Valley and the wonderful weather, I’ve had a great couple weeks of shooting.  I look forward to more fun, finding that aerie, and a visit from Santa!  Have a very Merry Christmas!  PHOTOROGR

 

Shooting the West…and a little reflection…

I had the most wonderful experience this week – I attended ‘Shooting the West: The Nevada Photography Experience’ (www.shootingthewest.org).  Mere words can not adequately describe this event, and I don’t have the photographic skill to do it justice, either.  I attended a couple classes, met several people that I ‘knew’ through Facebook, made many new friends, and saw some amazing pictures.

My experience started Wednesday evening, with a class called ‘Winnemucca @ Night.’  Instructor Craig Moore led our group into the chilly Winnemucca evening and gave us great information and ideas for taking pictures in low light conditions.  Here are a few of my ‘experiments.’

IMG_4683_edited-1alg - 04

We started with ‘flash techniques’ for taking pictures of bright lights (such as casino lights) with a person in the foreground. Craig taught us a technique that allows the lights to shine but the person to be seen in the image. I have an image in mind – stay tuned. Then we played with long exposures, capturing lights from cars and nearby signage. I only took a few shots, but I enjoyed the technique. Visit my Shooting the West page and look at the image with the Winners Casino sign and the traffic signal – I got all the lights in the traffic signal.

IMG_4709_edited-1lg - 04

We stopped by a local night spot. The patrons were very accommodating and allowed us to take lots of pictures. I saw this great image in the mirror.

IMG_4718_edited-1lg - 04

Experimenting with long exposures again, we learned how to make ‘ghost images’ on the court house steps. Can you see the mere shadow of myself? This was very fun.

IMG_4727 raw edit_edited-2lg - 04

The local Catholic Church has this beautiful display outside. I made several images using different settings. This was the best image out of the camera, but still took a little work to bring out the colors on the walls.

It took most of the night to warm up from the ‘chilly’ evening, but my camera and I were ready for the Composition class on Thursday.  M.D. Welch taught us the basic elements of composition, and then cut us loose to practice.  I traveled to Winnemucca often when I worked for the Nevada Department of Transportation, but I looked at the community with different eyes on this trip.  Here are a few of my images from Thursday.

PHOTOROGR - Mirrored Image - 4851

This is an image that I made for my weekly photo challenge – mirrored images. Winnemucca has these beautiful light poles, but they only have the light, flag, and Chief Winnemucca gusset on one side. I copied and flipped the original image to create this interpretation of their street lights.

IMG_4922_edited-2alg - 04

The Martin Hotel is one of the best Basque restaurants in which I’ve had a meal. We were near the end of the class when Michelle, one of my new friends, pointed out this beautiful reflection. Thanks Michelle for sharing. I have to start looking around more…

IMG_4730_edited-2alg - 04

I went back to my architectural roots with this building. This beautiful Art Deco style is home to Winnemucca’s Volunteer Fire Department. The blue tint to the picture was quite accidental, as I had the white balance on my camera set for the previous evening’s light. Sometimes those accidents work, but most of the time they don’t – at least for me. Take a look at the ‘not blue’ image on the Shooting the West page to appreciate the building in more natural light. I kind of like this one.

IMG_4774_edited-2alg - 04

As with many cities in the western U.S., the rail road is a big part of Winnemucca’s history. Amtrak still stops here, but the train station is more of a covered waiting area than a traditional train station. In my mind, the architect successfully integrated traditional elements of railroad stations into the design. In this image, two diesel engines on a siding are seen from inside the station. On the left, the sign identifies this stop as Winnemucca.

And then came two days of presentations by world class photographers, with subjects that included the California Missions, aerial photography, landscapes, time lapse, and trail camera photography.  Using images submitted by attendees, one presenter showed how to use Photoshop to edit and repair images.  As part of STW, participants can enter a picture in a competition titled ‘Give It Your Best Shot.’  The presenters and participants choose their favorite pictures and the images were breathtaking.  No matter your interest, experience, or skill in photography, Shooting the West is a ‘must do’ for anyone with an interest in photography.  I encourage you to go to http://www.shootingthewest.org to experience this great event for yourself, and consider attending next year, April 25 to May 1, 2016.

Oh yeah, during my R&R time, I bumped into a Hawk on a snowy morning.  I just can’t make a post without including a Raptor picture or two.

IMG_4383_edited-2lg - 04 - Copy

Yes, it was a cold morning and, amazingly, we had snow on the ground and in the trees.

IMG_4373_edited-2alg - 04

Same Hawk, different tree. I’m not sure if he was making sure I saw the liftoff or if that was his way of telling me to leave him alone.

 

As you can see, I was blown away by my STW experience.  On the 3 hour drive home, I reflected on the things I’d seen, the information I received, the people I met and talked to.  I found myself thinking about the possibilities and direction I want to take my photography.  I haven’t yet decided what direction I will take as I continue this journey.  I guarantee that you will continue to see images from the Carson Valley and surrounding area – the raptors, wild horses, and beautiful scenery.  But you will also see me try new techniques and new subjects.  I have an image in my mind outside a local casino, and I have a starting point to begin the exploration of that image.

Hang on, because this ride is only going to get more interesting from here.  Enjoy – PHOTOROGR