I See Faces

Some people see things in the clouds, I see faces or shapes in rocks.

I see a bunny from Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

I see a bunny from Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada


Just a face. It looks like someone may have arranged some rocks to heighten the effect at Arches National Park

Just a face. It looks like someone may have arranged some rocks to heighten the effect at Arches National Park


I see a totem or mask from Colorado National Monument, Colorado

I see a totem or mask from Colorado National Monument, Colorado


This one needs a little creativity. The arches are the eyes looking down and the rock in the middle is a big nose.

This one needs a little creativity. The arches are the eyes looking down and the rock in the middle is a big nose.


I see Bob Hope's profile from Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

I see Bob Hope’s profile from Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada


I see a face in profile with nose and a mouth with the tongue sticking out

I see a face in profile with nose and a mouth with the tongue sticking out

What do you see?
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Kansas City

I recently went to Kansas City or Edwardsville, Kansas to be more exact for work. Here’s a few of my non-work related photos.

Found this in a field down the street from the office

Found this in a field down the street from the office

This is has to be the biggest single store I've ever seen. If you can put it in your house, it's here

This is has to be the biggest single store I’ve ever seen. If you can put it in your house, it’s here.

Frozen Custard seems to be a big thing here.

Frozen Custard seems to be a big thing here.

We knew we were near our  hotel when we saw this tower

We knew we were near our
hotel when we saw this tower

Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri. Typical restaurants and shops, just much different architecture.

Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri. Typical restaurants and shops, just much different architecture.

One of the modes of transportation in Kansas City, Missouri.

One of the modes of transportation in Kansas City, Missouri.

Pretty little flower

Pretty little flower

My co-workers indulged me in a photo excursion to Riverview Park on the Kansas side of the river.

My co-workers indulged me in a photo excursion to Riverview Park on the Kansas side of the river.

Taken from Riverview Park where the Kansas & Missouri Rivers meet. I think this one was the Kansas.

Taken from Riverview Park where the Kansas & Missouri Rivers meet. I think this one was the Kansas.

Kansas City, Missouri Skyline, taken from Riverview Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Kansas City, Missouri Skyline, taken from Riverview Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Lewis & Clark lookout from Kaw Point at Riverview Park in Kansas. This was the shot I was after, just wish it could have been later in the day. I found it in a brochure at the hotel and thought it would be an awesome night shot

The shot I was after, Lewis & Clark lookout from Kaw Point at Riverview Park in Kansas, just wish it could have been later in the day.

LAX Appreciation Day

Normally I avoid going to LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) like the plague but when I found out they were doing an open house for a new terminal I thought it might be interesting. The tour tickets and parking were free, you just needed to register for a specific tour time. I choose 10:30 which was a good choice as it eliminated traffic issues and taking the shuttle from the parking lot to the terminal eliminated all the stress of driving around the airport. I invited Kim to come with me and we had a good time touring the new terminal and walking around other parts of the airport. We also spent a few minutes watching the planes fly over our heads while landing.

Double click on any photo to view in slideshow viewer with captions.

Shooting the Moon – Day & Night

There was a full moon when I was in Moab for a photography workshop. It popped up in both my night and day photos; sometimes as the subject and sometimes as a light source.

We went to Balanced Rock in Arches National Park to do some lightpainting. Moon glow at Balance RockAll the students were given the opportunity to lightpaint Balance Rock. It turned in to a bit of a race to see if we could all get done before the moon rose into a position where the moonlight would over power our lights.wpid1279-Moab-9845.jpg Catching the moon at the edge of the rock produced a starburst effect.
wpid1088-Moab-9866-283.jpgI captured a silhouette of Balanced Rock from the parking lot where the moon shows up as a blown out starburst.
The next morning we were at the Double Arch/Windows/Turret Arch area for sunrise. wpid1284-Moab-9873.jpg In exposing for the foreground, the moon shows up as blown out starburst, you don’t see any detail in the moon. Both of these highlight how difficult it is to capture a photo where there is detail in the moon and a foreground element. You can focus on the moon, zoom as far as you can and get something similar to this photograph I took in California in January.wpid1268-Route66-6269.jpg I cropped the photo to make it even larger, but you end with the moon and nothing else. Not that interesting.

A photograph of the moon will look more interesting with something else to balance it out. At Turret Arch I zoomed through the opening in the arch to make the moon look bigger while still maintaining some foreground.wpid1092-Moab-9924.jpg This took care of the composition, but I still needed to shoot as an HDR to get the full dynamic range. I converted to black and white so that the color of the rock didn’t compete with the moon.wpid1094-Moab-9925-343.jpg

According to the Farmers’ Almanac, the full moon in June is called the “Full Strawberry Moon” as it’s been used by tribes as a signal to gather ripening fruit. This June, the full moon falls on June 22 and 23 and the moon will appear the closest and largest of the year.

Reflections at Park Avenue

I’ve always been a fan of reflections. I’ve even have a theme gallery on SmugMug dedicated to them. I usually look for them by either looking into glass or large bodies of water such as lakes or rivers. One of the things I learned during The Digital Photo Workshop in Moab was that it actually takes very little water to create a reflection opportunity.

Tower of Babel at Sunrise

Tower of Babel at Sunrise

We went out for sunrise in the Park Avenue/Courthouse area of Arches National Park. The Tower of Babel is one of the rock formations that can be seen from this area.

Rock Puddles

Rock Puddles

There was an area near there of rock with slight intentations that can fill with water after a rain.


Making Reflections

Making Reflections

In our case, it hadn’t rained in a while, so the workshop instructors brought their own water. They filled some of these rock intentations with water.

These man made puddles were not very big and to look at them it probably wouldn’t occur to you that you could get a reflection out of them.

The trick is that you have to lay on your belly so that you can get an angle where you not only see your subject but the reflection as well.

I have to say, kneeling on the rock in order to get on my belly, is hard on the body. In fact, in one case where I only wanted to move a short distance, I just rolled over 🙂

The results though are well worth the effort.


Tower of Babel Reflection

Tower of Babel Reflection

Click on any image to view them larger.

Rock Climber at Fisher Towers, Utah

One of the opportunities we had on the workshop I attended in Moab, was to photograph a rock climber than had been hired just for us. The area we were at was Fisher Towers outside of Moab, Utah.

Climbing UpOne of the things that was cool about the location was the vantage point we were able to shoot from. As the climber, I didn’t catch his name, starting going up the rock, we were able to walk up a slope next to the rock so that it looks like we are higher than the climber.

The guest instructor for this workshop was Dave Black who has a background in sports photography including covering 12 Olympic games.

His advice to us was that we needed at least a 1/500 second shutter speed so I set my camera on Shutter Priority mode and dialed it in.

On hindsight I wish I had experimented with setting my aperture at f2.8 taking advantage of that ability on the lens I was using. Since it was a bright sunny day, I think I could have gotten an even faster shutter speed and had a softer background.

Looking UpDave’s other advice was to make sure all four limbs of the climber were in view and to look for a gesture such as looking or reaching up.
Since you’re using a fast shutter speed to freeze the action of the climber you ware looking for something else to indicate movement.Roping the Wind


Another thing we were told was to experiment with the angles in which we take the photograph. I think my angle here was a little to extreme as you can tell by looking at the background.Angled climber


Climbing at Fisher ToweresI was using a 70-200mm lens and most of my shots were zoomed into the climber, so this one shows the scale of the rock he was climbing.

If you look closely at the bottom left of the photo you can see a guy holding the rope for the climber.

I don’t understand rock climbing enough to understand why someone standing on the ground holding your rope helps you climb up 🙂


Besides making two climbs up this rock, the climber did some poses for us.wpid1104-Moab-9668.jpg


Although I wish he was facing in my direction, this was my favorite photo. He’s holding on with on hand, I’ve got all four limbs and lots of gesture.
Almost There

Click any image to view them all larger.

Click to view my Moab gallery at SmugMug

Sunrise at Mesa Arch

Mesa Arch at Sunrise is one of those iconic locations that attract a ton of photographers. Since the area around it is not that big, you need to get there early to stake out your desired position. I went here as part of a photography workshop with The Digital Photo Workshops. We started arranging our carpools at 4:30 am in order for us to get there with plenty of time to set up. One of the benefits of going on a workshop, is that they get you to the right places at the best time. 🙂

A tripod is a must for this early hour so everyone has to get in real tight and close as you can see from my cell phone shot.Inline at Mesa Arch

The difficulty I had in choosing my location was that I was using a Canon 60D with a 18-200mm lens. The 60D is a crop sensor rather than a full frame so my angle of view is 1.6x whatever focal length I’m using. The widest I could set my lens at was 18mm which if you multiply that by 1.6 gets an angle of view around 28mm which isn’t that wide. To get the whole arch in my frame, I would have needed to back up, in which case I would have had a long line of photographers in my shot.

The spot I was able to get was on the right side of the arch that along with the foreground rock gives the illusion of a window opening. I knew I wanted to capture the sun as it “burst” over the horizon and that I wanted to be looking through the “window”. I achieved that by collapsing my tripod as low as it would go and sitting down. Not the most comfortable shooting position for an extended period of time 🙂

I setup my camera in Aperture Priority at f/16 to capture the sun as a starburst and to maximize depth of field. I also turned on auto-bracketing, which takes three pictures at different shutter speeds, for every push of the shutter button. The three exposures can be combined in post processing to create HDR images.

With the tripod and camera setup, now it’s time to wait for the sun to make an appearance. This is where the ability to be patient kicks in. I find being with a group helps pass the time. Another benefit to being with a workshop group. On my own, I tend to get bored and impatient and leave places earlier than I should.

This next photograph was made at 6:09 am. It’s light enough to see all the detail in the landscape and has a very cool look to it.
Mesa Arch Morning

This next photograph was made at 6:39 am. The difference 30 minutes can make. I’ve captured the sun at a position that creates a starburst, and the landscape has a much warmer glow. See what I would have missed if I had left after the first photograph?

Mesa Arch Sunrise

The post processing of this image was done back at the hotel during time set aside during the workshop so that the instructors can provide guidance. Jeff, one of the instructors, made suggestions, I would have never thought of on my own.

The combination of being in the right place at the right time with guidance on post-processing, led to one of my most successful photographs.

Click to see my SmugMug gallery from this trip.

My Digital Photo Workshops Moab Experience

In April I attended an action packed photography workshop in Moab, Utah conducted by The Digital Photo Workshops. The Digital Photo Workshops hold weekend workshops that start on Thursday night and go through Sunday afternoon. For this trip they had a “crew” of Jeff Leimbach, Randy Van Duinen & Wayne Bennett and guest instructor Dave Black.

I got to meet and get to know some fun and interesting people, especially my fellow carpoolers. The instructors, Jeff, Randy, Wayne & Dave, created a fun and comfortable environment in which to learn. I’ve been on other workshops where I felt an invisible line between the instructors and the students, that I did not feel here. They strive to have one instructor for every 4 students so the class size wasn’t too big and I never felt like I had to wait to ask a question.

So just how action packed was it? Let me give you a taste.

On Thursday night we have a meet and greet followed by some instruction to whet our appetites for what’s to come. Breaking the ice with the instructors and fellow attendees helps set the stage for the rest of the weekend.

Friday starts by meeting at 4:30 AM in the parking lot to set up carpools before heading out to Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park.Inline at Mesa ArchIf you’re not aware Mesa Arch is one of those icon sunrise locations that attracts tons of photographers. You have to get their early if you want a prime spot.

Once the sun is up we head to breakfast at the Jailhouse Cafe. Jailhouse CafeIt doesn’t matter what you order here as long as it includes the BACON!! I had the Ginger Pancakes..they lasted me all weekend. Did you know cold pancakes can be tasty when you’ve missed dinner 😉

Back at the hotel meeting room, Randy gives us a walk through of his photoshop/lightroom workflow. This is the first workshop I’ve been to that includes the post-processing.

To keep to our agenda, we eat lunch in the car as we drive out to the town or remains of a town called Cisco. Cisco is located off Highway 128 between Moab and the Colorado border. The 128 is how I got to Moab from Grand Junction, but more on that in another post. SelfieCisco provided a lot of old, broken, rusted subjects for HDR photography.

Sports PhotographyOn the way back from Cisco we stop at Fisher Towers where we get to photograph a rock climber hired just for us.

Sport photography is one of Dave Black’s specialties as he’s photographed 12 Olympic games among other events so we were well coached in what to look for.

By the time we get back to the hotel we’ve got time to grab a few snacks before it’s time to head out to Balanced Rock in Arches National Park for sunset. While we do some shooting during sunset, the highlight of the evening will be lightpainting Balanced Rock. Globe

While we wait for it to get dark enough we play around with creating some light spheres. We also get our first hand’s on lesson from Dave on lightpainting a “tabletop” or in this case a “rocktop” . Lightpainting SmallOnce we master the small stuff, it’s on to lightpainting the big stuff 🙂


Saturday starts at 4:45 with a return to Arches National Park. This time we are headed to the Windows/Double Arch Area for sunrise. From one parking lot you can visit Windows Arch, which lets you photograph one arch looking through another Arch, Turret Arch and Double Arch. The most interesting photograph you can get here is Windows Arch, but it’s not that easy to get to in the dark and I chickened out. I was able to walk around Turret Arch and get help from Jeff & Wayne on my compositions.

After breakfast back at the hotel, we get some more workflow instruction from Jeff and Randy before working on our own photos. Jeff, Randy, Wayne & Dave were on hand to help  us with either shot selection, post-processing or words of encouragement. We also got a chance to do some more lightpainting in the classroom with Dave before heading out to Delicate Arch for sunset and lightpainting.

Getting to Delicate Arch was quite a hike. I jokingly told Jeff, I’d pay extra if they provided some Sherpas to haul me up 🙂 I have to say it was worth the hike. We sat on the rim taking photographs as the sun went down.Delicate Arch

As it was getting dark we headed to a lower vantage point so that we would be looking up at Delicate Arch and the Night Sky. While at Balanced Rock each of the attendees got to take a turn at lightpainting, here Dave did all the work while we pushed our shutter buttons. Logistically it worked better. There were a lot of people besides us there who were cheering Dave on as he was doing the lightpainting. As a sports photographer, I’m sure he’s used to hearing people cheer for his subjects, but it’s probably not that often he hears cheering directed at him 😉

On Sunday we met at 5:00 am to go to the Park Avenue/Courthouse area in Arches National Park for sunrise and some reflections. How do you shoot reflections with no lake, pond or river in sight? Making ReflectionsYou find little puddles in the rock and if there aren’t any puddles…you make them 🙂 The second secret is you need to get on your belly so that you catch both your subject and it’s reflection in your viewfinder. Laying down on rock isn’t the most comfortable thing to do, but you don’t take these kinds of workshops to be in your comfort zone.

We return to the Jailhouse Cafe for more bacon (and breakfast), followed by more image processing with the instructors. The workshop ends with a slide show of everyone’s best submissions. It’s always fascinating to see how we can all be in the same place at the same time and see such different things.

Between getting up to meet as early as 4:30 and not getting back to the hotel until as late as 11:00, hiking and crawling around on my stomach, I was tired and sore. It was the kind of tired though that makes you feel like you accomplished something… and I did. Click to see the best.

Mesa Arch Sunrise
Stay tuned for more about what I learned in future posts.

 

Angles at Great Park

In the Palms Court area of the Great Park, they have this orange and white checkerboard pathway. The orange of course represents “Orange County” and the history of citrus in the area. I had fun shooting the same area at different angles. Note the little rock that seems to move around 🙂