Final for Photo 5

Elegance.  I found elegance through paying attention to the simple things.  It was interesting to find that most of these photos were taken in JPEG rather RAW, because the setting got changed somehow.  I found out that there is a certain elegance to not editing photos and letting them be.  But there is also an elegance in simplifying structures into silhouettes that conflicts with the elegance of what comes from the camera.  Really you have to find an elegant balance in order to find the most elegant solution.

First, before we get into the thematic portions, let’s take a look at my portrait shot.


I thought that this portrait looked best in black and white rather than color.  It just felt right, and sometimes that is what you have to go with.  The squench (Peter Hurley’s name for the technique) was performed well by my model, Noah.  The squench really draws the observer into the person’s eyes, evoking interest.  I tried cropping off the top of Noah’s head like what Peter Hurley does, but it did not seem right.  His structure is also not completely straight, which is also good because a curve seem more anthropomorphic and human.  This turned out to be a really great portrait.


I was looking out the window and saw a tree in the foreground of a beautiful gradient formed by the setting sun.  I saw it and thought that it needed to be captured.  It looked like a silhouette and it seemed to just look appealing.  So I captured it.  It came out flawlessly.  The gradient from orange to blue is always I pleasure to take photos with, so it sure helped in getting something flawless.  Now, it took a little coaxing to get it flawless.  It turned out it was taken in JPEG, so I couldn’t edit anything major without it looking like crap.  Luckily, it didn’t need major editing.  It is so elegant in its simplicity by virtue of having no extra distractions.


I saw one particular strand of whatever type of grass this is and I thought that it needed a macro to call its own.  I set my aperture as low as it could go and flipped up my flash and shot.  The details in the grass appear complex, though I think simplicity and complexity are exemplified within this grass.  This makes especially elegant, taking to seemingly contradictory things and combining them into one cohesive unit.


I saw a plant, something resembling a lamb’s ear (though I don’t think it is a lamb’s ear) and it seemed simple and mundane until one got close and saw the complexities of it.  So I did a poor man’s macro of it.  It worked very well.  All the little hairs on the leaf showed how elegant nature is in its design.  Still, I think that simplicity and complexity exist in this image, creating elegance.


I saw this view of a crescent moon above the rooftop.  It was fantastic.  I saw the view as if the roof was a silhouette.  It wasn’t, but I thought it needed to be to be elegant.  It is a fantastic shot, yet so simple.  I think that is what makes it great.


This photo is not a photo.  It is just a composition.

I used these four photos below to create it:

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I used different types of blend modes to create this.  I like it even though it is actually complex.  There is no simplicity in it.  But sometimes complexity is elegant, too.  Really, though, elegance is truly in the eye of the beholder.



I think the photos below are by far my best this school year.  They exemplify my styles favorite styles and some of my favorite activities.  They are just fantastic.  These are in reverse chronological order.


This photo just came perfectly together.  I think it was mostly luck since I was riding a bus on a highway in Alberta, Canada at a fairly high speed.  I knew, though, what settings I needed to get what I wanted.  I think that the range of lighting in the shot is its most important non-subject trait, that is to say that the range in lighting is the most important thing beside the beauty of that enormous mountain.

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I’m going to judge these as one cohesive unit.  This was one of my better shoots because they turned out so well on my first try.  The lighting is soft, there is a great contrast of lighting, and the textures are soft.  The light painting used on the images create a minimalist appeal that I am a sucker for.


There was no challenge in taking this shot.  The beauty of nature did all the work.  I think there is very little to say about the caliber of the image.  The watermark, however, is tasteless.  I thought people might actually care about stealing it, but I don’t really think they do.


The angle in this shot evokes something different and entirely better than taking the shot straight on.  It evokes mystery, not to mention the broken windows and the solid concrete that evoke a sense of mystery.  The shot also has a minimal approach which I very much enjoy.


This is a fantastic shot because there is such a range of colors and lightings that it evokes something fantastic in the observer.  The natural framing of the trees and the slope as the trees in the foreground slowly lead down towards the mountain that the shot was taken on keep the interpreter interested.  Besides the watermark, this is probably my favorite work I’ve made.


This one follows a similar vein to what I said about the photo above.  It has a lower range of luminosity, but it is also not necessarily need as extreme of a range.  The slopes of the mountains are angled in such a ways as to creating a path from left right, then right to left, and so on that the interpreter’s eyes follow.  The only thing I do not like this shot is that it has some chromatic aberration occurring in the foreground, which is somewhat upsetting.


My last day of high school was today.  It was a good run, with lots of beautiful photos that I got to witness other take and that I got the opportunity to take myself.  I hope that my photos embody what I am in some way.  If that occurs, I think that might be where elegance actually occurs.


Hells Gate State Park 1

I recently stayed night and got to take some nice hikes at Hells Gate State Park.  Due to the amount of editing for each photograph taken on each hike, the trip photographs will be split into two blogs posts.

For the first hike, or really more of a walk, we went to the basalt columns at the park, which originated from the Pomona lava flows millions of years ago.  These basalt columns are commonly found in the nearby channeled scablands of southeastern Washington.

For most of the photographs below my workflow was approximately like this: I first used Nik Dfine 2 to remove noise; then, I used Nik RAW Presharpener; then, Nik Viveza; then, Nik Color Efex with a Vignette: Lens, Foliage Film Efex: Modern; and, finally Nik Output Sharpener.  Each of these photos took about 40 minutes to process due to the low amount of memory my computer has and the high amount of editing I actually did.  Most of the editing was done to increase photorealism, not to oversensationalize the scene.

For these photographs I tried to focus on my composition and not just taking photographs.  I had already done some of this but I wanted to make a more conscious effort to focus on making photographs and not just taking photographs.

On the drive there I got a picture of this handsome tree sitting all alone out in the vast rolling hills of the Palouse.

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As we progressed along the hike we entered the mouth of Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge in North America.  You start to see some outcroppings of the generally hexagonal-shaped basalt columns.

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I encountered this cool basalt column island that was right on the shore of the path.

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Cool geology and cool birds’ nests.8W4A0346 copy 8W4A0347 copy

It is cool to see that it appears that some of the columns are rusting.8W4A0355 copy

With the two photographs below I tried to focus on the basalt columns behind aspen trees.8W4A0377 copy8W4A0378 copy 8W4A0380 copy

It is fascinating to see the geometry that occurs in nature.  Seeing the geometry that occurs in basalt columns is especially fascinating.  I also love seeing the foliage growing on and near the basalt columns.  It demonstrates how even in difficult conditions live will prevail.

I think that I did well with focusing on composition.  I tried to divide many of the photographs in half to develop a contrast, and I certainly succeeded in that

Palouse and Rocks of Sharon

Last hike I went to hike the Iller Creek Trail.  It is in the Dishman Hills in Spokane Valley.  During the hike I got to see spectacular views of the Palouse, the Spokane Valley, and the Selkirk Mountains.

8W4A0164_5_6_PhotographicView of the Palouse from the Dishman Hills.  This is where the rolling hills of the Palouse really start.  I used Photomatix Pro and three photos to create this.


There were these impressive rock formations called the Rocks of Sharon on the hills.  Apparently there are fault lines which can be seen in them.  Again, Photomatix Pro was used.


Another angle of them.  Some of the rocks are pretty massive, but the perspective doesn’t show the massive size very well.  Again I used the Photomatix Pro.


There is a decent view of the Spokane Valley.  For some reason the trees looked like crap in all three of the shots combined in Photomatix Pro, and they still have a low amount of definition.


I like the way this one is composed.  It is an interesting angle.  It shows the rocks nestled in with the trees where normally only trees would be expected.


One more view of the Palouse on a cloudless day.

Canadian Rockies

Recently I made a trip with my robotics team Alpha+ to Calgary, AB to compete.  During this trip I got was able to see and take shots of some of the Canadian Rockies.   I also got to see the Badlands of Alberta and took pictures at the competition but those are for another time.

For these photos I used the now free Nik Collection, and I have to say, the collection is amazing.

Anyway, one of the most impressive mountains including the ones that I got to see in Banff was Crowsnest Mountain.  Take a look:8W4A9914



To get rid of the reflection I used the lasso tool to select the reflection.  I then went to Image>Fill and set it to content aware and Photoshop did the rest.  I used Color Efex Pro and Sharpener Pro to enhance it to the point that it was essentially what I saw with my one eyes.  Out of principle I tend to keep my landscape and nature shots as realistic to what my eyes saw as possible.  It is amazing what I was able to with just a few settings.

On the way to Calgary we went to the Frank Slide just on the other side of the crest of the Rockies Mountains.  We can see the remains of the landslide and the slowly flattening mountains in the distance below.


I used HDR Efex Pro.  I think that this does a very similar job to Photomatix Pro.  I think the Presets are better in HDR Efex Pro, but I think that ultimately Photomatix Pro is more powerful.

I saw this frame in Banff and was fascinated by the mountain on the right.  Take a look:




I did a little cropping first to get rid of the blurry tree.  I then used RAW Presharpener, Color Efex Pro to make it look more eye-popping, Dfine to remove noise, and finally Output sharpener to make it perfect.

Honestly this suite of tools is amazing.

Cedar Grove

Last weekend we decided to go to the Ross Creek Cedar Grove near Heron, Montana.  We had to hike approximately 3 miles to the grove since the road was closed to vehicles.

On the road to the grove there is a fantastic view of the Bull River valley.  I was amazed, so I set up my tripod, set my camera to aperture priority mode, set up the camera to bracket, and exposed away.  I then used Photomatix Pro to process the bracketed exposures and Photoshop to touch-up the sky and few other things.IMG_8289_90_91_tonemapped

I had problems because I noticed that the exposures I took were all somewhat blurry.  I took them at F/22.  What gives?  There was no shake.  Apparently I reached the diffraction limit of the equipment.  What I used to fix some of this was to setup a high pass filter and use a layer mask on the high pass filter layer to adjust areas that didn’t need the filter.  Now I think it looks pretty good, although the parts could look better if not for the inherent diffraction limit.

This was one of the shots of the cedars.   I find the texture of the bark to be really cool.

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I realized as I was typing this that HDR doesn’t always works out correctly.  I took away some of the depth.  It brought forth a lot of detail, but it lost a lot of the depth.  It doesn’t give enough perspective of the scale of the tree.  This tree is probably 10 feet in diameter.

I just like the shot below, though the HDR processing may have been a little overdone as well.


Light Painting 2

Source: Digital Photography School

Inspired by the above, I decided to try my hand at more light painting.  I decided to first try with my electric guitar.  I set up my new Proline tripod and set my guitar on the hardwood-styled vinyl floor and went to work.  I traced the edges the perimeter of the whole guitar and then light painted the pickups.  First try:


I love the texture that that the light painting gave.  I almost has a midnight jazzy feel.  The “wood” floor gives a certain class to the setup.  This seems like a great and unorthodox way to do product photography.  It looks moody.  I did not expect it to turn out this good first try.

I then proceeded to take paint my electric ukulele.


Again, it feels blusey or jazzy.  The outer glow gives focus to the product.

I was tired of doing instruments so I looked for other things.  I found a hat.  I first painted the brim of the hat, then painted the top of the crown and around the sides of the crown.


It looks understated and mysterious.

I found another object, a video game controller.  I painted basically every part of it.


The light is very soft.  The darkness around the halo of light is mysterious and enigmatic.

Lastly I tried my 1950s Harmony Uke.  I chose it because I thought it would fit well with the blusey/jazzy vibe I was starting to get from the previous exposures.


Again, it is just a great effect.


I believe all the shots were done in one take, which surprises me.  I loved these turned out.  Great way to do product photography.  Didn’t quite expect that so much.  I mean, it wouldn’t work for every product, but it certainly works to draw the eye in.

Multiple Flash Photography

For this assignment we did multiple flash photography, although the assignment was really called multiple exposure photography, though that seems to be a misnomer.

Most of these were done by firing the speedlight manually without any connection to the camera.  When taking these photos I set had a small aperture to minimize any out of focus parts I’d get from not being able to predict things such as where a ball is going to bounce.


This was just a first test.  It looks eerie, but it doesn’t have enough contrast for my taste.


This one worked out pretty well.  It is not very obvious that this used the multiple flash photography method, but it still is pretty cool.


I decided that I’d try to get guitar movements.  I knew that it would show motion really well.  I thought that I’d try picking patterns first, but none of those turned out, so I thought I’d do the fretboard.  These were “jazzed up” with more constrast, which made them look much better.  With these it actually looks like I’m playing rapidly.

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My goal in this whole thing was to get a shot of the pattern of a bouncing ball.  I finally figured out how to set the speedlight to fire to a certain frequency, but I still wasn’t able to capture it.  These are what I got.

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After that I decided to see what I could get with my feet