The Red (Rope) Pony

This was a bit of a bear of a horse to process. I wanted three exposures stubbornly so I could get that great tonal range (even though I later converted it to a monotone). A good rule of HDR is not to make multiple exposures of difficult subjects like animals or moving objects. He was both. After much masking and manipulating in photoshop, I was able to get as close as I could although his nose isn’t tack sharp (you can see what looks like camera shake but is actually ghosting). This particular pony was on break from being ridden by cranky kids at the Memorial Day festivities at a local park. He had that look on his face… the I don’t mind being glue if this can all just stop look. I told him he was a good boy and pet his nose. I hope it helped.


Super 7(000)

Ever since seeing the poster for the new movie “Super 8“, I was inspired to try and recreate the same mood. I had no idea if I would find a location suitable or if I’d be able to come close to capturing the poster’s feel. On this day,the sky was right (menacing clouds in layers and completely overcast) and I live in a somewhat rural area in California (Sonoma County) so chances of finding something midwestern were slim, but not impossible. After driving for about a half hour I spotted this water tower out of the corner of my eye. I had to stop on a two lane road to get the bracketed shots I needed for the cloud contrast and it had started to rain. Fortunately I didn’t kill anyone (or myself) and I got my shots and processed them using Photomatix and some heavy-handed photoshop. I took the pictures with my Nikon D7000, thus the name. I enjoy fun diversions like these and encourage all photographers to take a break and have a blast doing something you wouldn’t normally do.

3 exposures EV -2 to +2
Photoshop CS5
Silver Efex Pro

Raining in the Sunshine

I’ve met people who absolutely hate it when the sun is shining while it’s raining. To me, it’s one of the coolest phenomenons of weather. It is a dichotomy of meteorological logic that results in a beautiful, even cinematic scene, especially when it happens during the golden hour. This is my driveway. It’s not the most stunning scenery, but the quality of light alone is enough for me to want to preserve on film and retrieve on those dreary days. The only downside? My camera was absolutely soaked. I didn’t want to miss the moment, so I sprinted out of my house without an umbrella. Fortunately, I’ve got one of those weather resistant camera bodies. D7000, you have proved to be amazing once again. This was 3 tonemapped exposures because I was shooting into some major glare and wanted to get the foreground. 

The new iMac’s are here! I’m somebody!

I’m a fanboy. Of Apple. But that’s okay! I’m no less qualified to make an unbiased review of the amazingly awesome and uber sexy new iMacs just released last week. On pure impulse I purchased the 27″ 2.7 GHz i5 model, the most “accessible” in my opinion due to price point.

-Hold on a sec, this is a photography blog. Why are you talking about a computer? 

Aha! I’ll get to that. First let me say that I was never a huge fan of the unboxing videos. It seemed perverse in some way, but let me tell you as I cut the tape on that snow-white box I wouldn’t have minded someone pointing a camera at the table to relive that moment. As is getting to be the case with Apple products, packaging is getting pretty spartan which is a good thing for me. I hate clutter. There was one box for the wireless keyboard and Magic Mouse, documentation, OS and App disks, (and Apple stickers) and the iMac itself with the power cord tucked neatly into the styrofoam. Set-up, is literally plug and play, and with my time machine backups, I was up and running in 20 minutes with all my applications from my Macbook Pro. The 7000 pictures took a bit longer to transfer (man I need some better storage). The first thing that’s noticeable is how good the screen looks. This is what everyone should be looking at be it for work or for play. Congress should pass a law that outlaws any other screen to be on the market and subsidize these babies. I’m just in awe with how crisp, bright, and representative of the intended quality of photos displayed on it. The second thing that is noticeable is that it is faster than anything I have ever worked on. With the new “Sandy Bridge” processor, it races. Opening Photoshop, Bridge, Lightroom, Photomatix, file importing, surfing, and Skypeing at once are still faster than doing just one on the 2.53 GHz i5 Mackbook Pro I own. As for Thunderbolt? It’s got potential, but until there are some peripherals that support it, it’s just two holes in the back of the display.

So, in the olden days, someone might remark in their photo zine on the architecture of their new darkroom, how the electrical was this and the bench design was that. Same thing here, except with less sawdust and this also plays Portal. I include this computer review here because if you are 1) a photographer and 2) can afford it, this will be second to camera alone in your arsenal for the level of quality it allows you to work. It supports SDXC cards for super fast imports which is great not having to wait 20 minutes for a full 8 GB card of RAW. At times it seems it is built specifically for those who work in the visual medium. Now the downside is that it is a pricey investment, but I believe it is an investment that will pay off in spades. I prefer the trackpad to the mouse (years of laptop use) but there is no option in store to opt for one or the other, so buy online if you just want a trackpad.

Kendall-Jackson Winery

Living in Sonoma County means knowing where the wineries are because visitors from out of town look at you like a dozy shut-in if you can’t recommend a place to go for a good flight (hip term for wine tasting). Such a recommendation was made just last month with visiting family where we piled in the car and went to Kendall-Jackson winery. It’s a very warm, french-inspired chateau with good wine (I’m not a huge drinker of it myself) and good people. They let me take pictures all around the property which is very much anathema to some other establishments around the area. Jess Jackson, of Kendall- Jackson, died today. I never met him or really even read much about him before the obits started trickling out, but I felt very welcome at his place. So, I’ll be going back to  pay respects arriving empty handed and departing with memories of a nice afternoon and a bottle of Chardonnay.