Photography

My new photo website is up with portfolios

August 18, 20090 Comments

My new site is FINALLY up displaying my portfolios.  Check it out.

http://jmclarkphoto.com

It’s not quite where I want it to be, but it’s a good start.

Until next time – Jim

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Panoramas

July 21, 20090 Comments

Certain places just beg to be reproduced panoramically.    You just can’t do some scenes justice with a normal single frame photograph.  I’ve always been interested in panoramas, something about them mesmerizes me.  I guess it makes me feel like I’m experiencing the scene like I did when I was there.

There are a number of methods for taking the shots and probably just as many more methods of stitching the photos together.

You can take panoramas handheld, with a level tripod or with a special tripod head designed specifically for panorama photography.  Nodal Ninja and Really Right Stuff both make panorama heads and I’m sure there are numerous others.  These can be expensive, as with most camera equipment, but produce superb results.  The advantage is the camera can be set up perfectly level and the nodal point, optical center of the lens, can be set.  The Really Right Stuff site has a good explanation (http://reallyrightstuff.com/pano/05.html).  Currently, I take my panoramas with a tripod and a hot shoe bubble level, it seems to work fairly well, but I will eventually purchase one of the panorama heads.

I’ve used several panorama stitching software applications including PTGui and Photoshop.  My favorite is a free program developed by Microsoft Research named Microsoft ICE (Image Composite Editor).  You can download the program at he Microsoft Research site (http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/groups/ivm/ICE/). I recently used this program to stitch together a handheld panorama of Lake Powell down in Arizona.  The panorama was a total of 6 photos, 2 rows of 3.   I took the pictures fairly quickly as we were about to head back into town.  I didn’t really think it would turn out as well as it did.  As a test of ICE I renamed each photo and opened them out of order just to see if the program could figure out which photo went where.  A couple of minutes of processing later and out came a perfect panorama.

You can see a larger version here.

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Until next time!

Jim

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Focus – Hyperfocal

May 8, 20090 Comments

At a recent photography workshop I attended in Northern Arizona, I learned something I hadn’t really paid much attention to in the past, Hyperfocal distance.

LeRoy DeJolie, our workshop instructor and amazing  photographer, showed us a simple way of dealing with Hyperfocal Distance without whipping out a range finder, tape measure, or just plain trying to guess.  I’m not a hyperfocal distance expert, but I basically think of it as a point where everything in the image is in focus (maximum depth of field).  This is important in landscape photography because it is common to have something in the foreground (rock, plant, tree branch, etc.) and of course the main subject of your photo which may be an extended distance from the foreground object.  It’s really great to have everything in focus rather than the foreground or background slightly out of focus.

DOF is determined by the focal length of the lens and aperture.  For landscape photography, if you want everything in focus in your image, you typically use a wider angle lens and a smaller aperture (larger f-stop number).  I normally try to use f11 or f16, this gives me sharp images without diffraction which would cause the image to appear not so sharp.

If I came across this situation in the past, I would try to focus on something about a third of the way into my composition.  This actually works fairly well, but not perfect.  The little trick that LeRoy taught us was to set the camera to manual focus, focus on the far subject, then adjust the focus so the near subject is perfectly in focus and then split the difference.  This has worked very very well for me and I used this method in the following image taken near Page, Arizona.

Hoodoo near Page, Arizona.

Take care! – Jim

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Early Morning at the Tulip Fields

April 26, 20090 Comments
After much deliberation, I decided I would rise welllll before dawn to take my annual drive up to the tulip fields near Mt. Vernon, Washington to catch the early light. Of course, I never sleep well when I need to wake early for something special. My plan was to wake up at 4:00am and be out the door by 4:15, yes that’s AM! I had prepared and loaded all the photography equipment the night before so all I needed to do was to throw on some clothes and be on the road. The drive up was fairly uneventful, though dark the entire drive. I contemplated returning home several times to a warm cozy bed, but persevered. I noticed on the way up that the temperature was continuously dropping as I got closer to my destination, just above freezing. I’ve been on enough early morning shoots that I was prepared with a winter coat, gloves and hat. It can get pretty cold standing there waiting for that perfect light.I arrived around 5:30AM and found a few people already scouting out locations in the fields. I received a recommendation to visit this particular field because of the variety of tulips. I put on my boots, gathered my gear and headed out into the field where I set up my tripod and camera and composed a shot looking East. And waited. It can be like watching water boil waiting for the sun to rise, but when it did, it was glorious! That alone was worth the trip. I took a bunch of bracketed shots, thinking I would probably do something in HDR to compensate for the large difference in exposure. I didn’t last too long in the field, even with my gloves on, my fingers were hurting from the cold AND you can only do so much with a bunch of tulips.

I did find an interesting old school bus on the way out. I surmised I could do something a little extreme with some HDR processing and subsequent processing with Nik Color Efex, one of my favorite Photoshop add-ons. I usually try to keep my photos natural looking, but I thought this subject deserved something more to bring out the detail.

Private Bus

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