Tuesday, September 30, 2008

At the Park Again

At the Park Again, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Sorry if this bugs my few regular readers that enjoy the aerial photos. My New York to Las Vegas photos didn't turn out as planned. I couldn't get them to color correct. I'm slowly figuring out the nuances of taking photos through Airbus windows. Unfortunately I can't figure out how to remove the color cast from the windshield when there is haze in the air. On a clear day removing the color cast is easy -- add some yellow and red in LAB colorspace. With haze in the air the color cast is not even across the frame and global adjustments don't work. Which brings me to today's photo and a color cast that I know how to fix.

I took this picture of Ella in the shade of a tree. The original had a nasty blue color cast. Shade on a sunny day is always blue because shady areas are lit by the diffuse light reflected out of the blue areas in the sky. To remove the blue I went into LAB colorspace and created an curves adjustment layer where I moved the B channel more towards yellow. To make this change only effect the shady blue cast parts of the photo I built a mask based on a high contrast, inverted, duplicate of the B channel. Pretty tricky huh? If you want to learn how to do this type of thing check out The Canyon Conundrum by Dan Margulis.

Video Shot With Canon 5D Mark II

Here is yet another reason to lust after the new Canon 5D Mark II. Check out this HD video shot with the 5D Mark II. The video was created by photographer Vincent Laforet.

And because Vincent Laforet is having a hard time drumming up traffic for his blog here is a link. There are some really interesting behind the scenes videos there.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Power of Indy Rock

Since when does indy rock get involved in presidential politics? I'm not sure that a single Wilco fan would have voted republican anyways. I suppose you have to rally the base. Whatever the motivation, I think this is the coolest Youtube video I've ever seen. Barak Obama and Jeff tweedy on the same stage -- how awesome is that?

Western Colorado

Western Colorado, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

This photo was taken about 80 miles further east than my last post. This is western Colorado near Dinosaur National Park. Notice the bright fall colors on the edge of the plateau. Some small thunderheads were forming in this area and we were doing a lot of dodging and weaving to keep our passengers in the smooth air.

For a closer look at the fall colors check out this huge version.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Eastern Utah, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

This photo was taken in eastern Utah. I think this area might be the most desolate area in the lower 48 states. Other than a road, there are no signs of human deveoement in this swath of desert.

This picture was taken on the same flight as the photo in my previous post. I have one more good photo from that flight to edit, and then I got a whole bunch more that I took yesterday while flying from New York to Las Vegas. If you're an nature photographer living in Colorado I recommend going outside this weekend. The leaves in the Rockies looked like they are at there peak.

For all the conspiracy theroists and Ron Paul supporters here is a link to a large size version of this photo. You'll notice there is plenty of space for you to build a compound and the IRS will never find you. Here is a name recomendation; "Freedom Canyon".

Friday, September 26, 2008

35,000 Feet Above Zion National Park

Here is a new aerial view hot off the sensor of my Canon 5D. This is Zion National Park in Southern Utah. I took this while en route from Los Angeles to New York City. If you want to take a closer look at the canyon see this nearly 100% size view.

There were great clouds and lots of breaks in the haze as we cruised over the desert southwest. I could see lots of bright fall colors on some of the higher peaks.

It's getting late and I have an early van tomorrow so there is no time for more photos tonight. Maybe I'll get some more stuff edited and posted in the coming days.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Advantage Raw Files

Seattle Skyline, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Today I dug through some of my Seattle photos from a week ago. This one seemed worthy of editing and uploading to istock. Lately I have been shooting in jpeg format because my hard drive is bursting at the seams. When shooting Seattle I shot in raw because I figured the night time photos would require a lot of editing and raw would offer more flexibility

While completing the edit work on this file I realized why I like shooting in Raw.

1) Color correction in raw is easy. The raw conversion dialog box in Photoshop is faster and easier to me than creating a color correction layer later in the edit.

2) Using raw you can keep the image in 16 bit mode for the entire edit. When I open a raw file I make sure to open it in 16 bit format (check the box at the bottom of the raw converter to open in 16 bit mode). A normal jpeg is an 8 bit file. Editing in 16 bit means there are less rounding errors/changes for each photoshop adjustment you make. 16 bit files seem to hold up a lot better when I do heavy duty edits.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Baby Blue Eyes

Baby Blue, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

I took this one of Ella out on our back deck. She gets crabby between 4:00 and bedtime. The only way to keep her happy at that time of day is to do something outside. We took her toys and a blanket onto the back deck.

I used my best lighting skills to make this portrait. I metered the scene for ambient light and set up my camera in manual mode for one stop underexposed to the ambient light. I then set my spare strobe with umbrella reflector high and right (right side of frame) and maybe a little behind Ella. There is a solid fence just outside the left side of the frame. I bounced the camera mounted strobe off that fence. I had set a 2:1 ration between the umbrella flash and the camera mounted flash. You can see the umbrella lit side is slightly brighter.

If you want to learn how to do this sort of thing you should read strobist.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Oregon Forest Fire

Oregon Forest Fire, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

I took this photo a couple days ago while flying between San Francisco and Seattle. We were over southern Oregon. I think this is the Royce Fire. This is the biggest forest fire I've ever seen from the air -- even bigger looking than the Big Sur fires from earlier this summer.

Apparently upon first seeing this fire a Delta flight crew called Air Traffic Control to report "Hey, I think one of your volcanoes is going off". They were completely serious.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Last Day of Her First Summer

Last Day of Summer, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

We took Ella to the Park today. It is the last day of summer. You can see the greens are starting to turn a bit more yellow. Ella loves the swings, and she also likes to sit on a bench eating Goldfish Crackers while dad takes her picture.

I took this shot with my Canon 135 L f/2. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this lens is great. This shot is at f/2. How do you like that bokeh?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Seattle Panorama

Seattle Panorama, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Here is something new for me -- a panorama created in Photoshop CS3. I haven't made a panorama in years. The last time I did a pano the software was very clunky and the frustration level high. Using CS3 this panorama was a piece of cake. It is made from three raw files shot with my ultra-sharp canon 135 L f/2 lens. It took my old laptop about 15 minutes of number crunching to stitch the photos together. When it was all done I took a look at 100% and couldn't find a flaw in the stitch. The full sized file is 8733x2791 pixels.

I took a few other panorama series of images from this overlook in Seattle. Hopefully they all turn out this good.

BTW, if you don't know how to make a panorama in photoshop go to file -> automate -> create photomerge

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Seattle Sunset

Seattle Sunset, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Here is another photo from the other evening in Seattle. I am not sure what this neighborhood is called, but it is very nice. I climbed up through a drug addict infested park and arrived in this amazingly rich neighborhood with great views of the city.

This picture was taken specifically for istock. I made sure to get all the elements of Seattle in the frame; The Space Needle, Stadiums, Harbor, Mount Rainier, affluent neighborhood, and I left plenty of copy space at the top of the frame.

This was shot with Canon 5D and Canon 24-70 f2.8 L.

Seattle at Night

Seattle at Night, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Add another cliche scenic photo to my collection -- I shot downtown Seattle two nights ago. The weather was great with clear sky, and I brought my tripod along. This proves that a prime lens works great for scenics. I took used my Canon 135 L f/2.

This shot was taken about 30 minutes after sunset. You can see the glass towers still glowing from the sun reflecting from the sky, but it's dark enough that window lights glow. The settings for this shot were shutter speed 30 seconds, aperture f13, and ISO 50. I love the ISO 50 setting on my Canon 5D. There was absolutely no noise in this picture even with the long exposure.

There were about 20 other photographers taking photos from this overlook so I can't say I captured an original image, but I am still a sucker for this type of photo.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mount Diablo Sunset

Mount Diablo Sunset, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Tonight I made a jail break. I was able to get out with my tripod for all of 20 minutes. Luckily I know of a few nearby overlooks. This is a view of Mount Diablo and Highway 24 between Lafayette and Walnut Creek.

I love setting up my tripod.

When I got home dinner was ready. I am a lucky guy.

Hmm, What is That Jingle I Hear

Yesterday I set up to take some photos of Ella. She turned eleven months old and I have been trying to get photos of her each month. Our dumpy rental house doesn't offer much for background so I was using a plain white sheet and one of Ella's blankets for a backdrop. I hate the plain white sheet. It looks worse than a JCPenny's portrait, but I am more sick of our ugly red furniture in every photo.

We started taking pictures and our big dog Gatsby got Jealous and decided to get in the frame. Ella is obsessed with Gatsby's dog tags. She always tries to grab them. You can see the concentration on her face in this pic. You can also see the ruins of my ghetto photo set in the background.

Ella eventually got a hold of Gatsby's tags -- see here and here

The strobist would not be proud of me. This photo was lit with camera mounted flash bounced off the ceiling. I do have a second slave strobe, but all my rechargeable AA batteries are be used in Ella's toys. Living in California sucks. I can't even afford an extra set of batteries.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thunderstorm at JFK International

Here's another one from my big delay at Kennedy International Airport two days ago. Kennedy is backed up even when the weather is nice. This picture was taken as a late summer thunderstorm was rolling through. There were at least 25 aircraft parked out on runway 13R waiting for the weather to pass. We were near the end of the line. The airplane in front of us was a Jetblue A-320. In this picture I captured its beacon reflected in the wet concrete.

The windshield angles away from me so only a small part of this photo is in sharp focus, the area where the bead of water goes all the way across the frame. If I try a shot like this again I think I'm going to try to get parallel to the window and get more of the beads of water in focus. Hopefully I don't have an opportunity for a reshoot anytime soon.

My Favorite Photo Blog Has Moved!

With the demise of the Photoshelter Collection the best photo blog on the net, Shoot the Blog, is closing. The good news is Shoot the Blog author Rachel Hulin is starting a new blog here.

I discovered Shoot the Blog a few months ago, and I have become a habitual Shoot reader. Hopefully Rachel is able to keep up the great work at her new blog. If you aren't familiar with Shoot the Blog I recommend checking it out. Everyday Rachel somehow finds new and interesting photos and photography stories to post.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Snow Comes Early to Wyoming's High Country

Winter is coming. It can be seen in the high country of the western United States. Last week while flying over Utah I saw fresh snow dusting the top of the High Uintah Mountains in North Eastern Utah. The above photo was taken yesterday. It's the Bighorn Mountains in north Central Wyoming. I don't think this snow will stick around all winter, but it is a sign of what's to come. The elk have probably started to move down out of the mountains into the more protected valleys. I wish I had some free time and money to take another trip out to Yellowstone.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

September Over Door County, Wisconsin

Because of weather near New York, we flew a slightly more northerly route than usual to San Francisco today. This photo is a view of the Door Peninsula in Wisconsin. Lake Michigan is on the right side of the frame and Green Bay (the bay, not the city) is on the left side of the frame.

Do you live in Door County and want to see your house? See a larger version of this photo here

Waiting for the Weather in JFK

This is what a three hour ground delay looks like at JFK international. A thunderstorm shut down all departures for two hours. Two runway changes and another hour later we finally took off.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Capitalism Rules the Land

Capitalism Rules the Land, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

This photo was taken mid afternoon over Los Angeles. You can see a full size version here.

Is this landscape anyone's dream come true? In an area as geographically gifted as Los Angeles it surprises me that after 150 years of human development this cityscape is the best we could come up with.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sara Palin and Aerial Wolf Hunting

Bush is trying to tamper with the endangered species act, and he supports shooting the Wolves of Yellowstone National Park. Is this what we get for the next four years:

Learn to Take Photos That Stand the Test of Time

Lately I have become interested in taking pictures that have historical qualities. So much of my photography work in the past has been fine art and nature. After looking through my backup hard drive I realized that most of my photos could have been taken at any point in history. There is no evidence of place in time, in fact I usually made sure to keep anything modern out of my pictures. That's what you do as a nature photographer. I don't plan to quit taking nature photos, however I also want to start taking photos that create a record of our present time. Which brings me to the point of this post...

How does one learn to take pictures that will be interesting 100 years from now? I found a place to start learning: Shorpy the 100 year old Photography Blog

Here is how Shorpy describes itself: "Shorpy.com is the 100-year-old photography blog that brings our ancestors back, at least to the desktop. What do they have to tell us? The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a boy who worked in an Alabama coal mine near the turn of the century"

Looking at other peoples photography is one of the best ways to learn the art. By looking back and seeing what is interesting about the old photos at Shorpy one can learn what to take pictures of today that will be interesting 100 years from now. I take a look at Shorpy every few days and find the site very inspiring. The photos posted there are always interesting, and you have the ability to view them at full size. The detail in Shorpy's images is amazing.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mono Lake and the Sierras

Mono Lake and the Sierras, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

OK... so in my last post I said I didn't want to edit any more through the window photos for a long time. Well, this morning I got this shot as we passed over Mono Lake, California, and I liked it enough to spend 45 minutes editing it tonight.

Here's a breakdown of my aerial photo editing process using CS3:

1) Convert to LAB color

2) Create two curves adjustment layers -- one of them I use to adjust lightness/contrast and the other to adjust color. I play back and forth between the two layers, a contrast adjustment might reveal the photo is too green so I slide towards red in my color correction curves layer. After the color is correct I am then able to really crank up the contrast without making the sky look like a green and yellow mess.

3) Once the color and contrast is correct I create a third curves adjustment layer where I crank up the color saturation (the LAB color way) by evenly steepening the a and b channels curves. I completely overdue this layer and dial back the layer opacity until the saturation looks correct.

4) After flattening the above layers I create a duplicate layer and do some heavy duty noise reduction. By this point in the editing process noise has been created in areas with no texture or details (in this photo the lake had a lots of noise in it). If the noise is really bad I revert to Gaussian Blur at 1.5 pixel radius. I then completely mask the noise reduction layer and brush through the mask at the problem areas; sky and lake in this pic

5) Flatten the image again, create a new layer, select the lightness channel only, and sharpen at amount 20 radius 50 and threshold zero. Once again completely mask the layer and brush in the areas that need more sharpness. In this picture I brushed in the mountains and area around the lake.

That's it... you're done. If you have fancy supercharged computer (I don't) you can substitute all the image flattening with merge visible (ctrl+alt+shift+E) and keep the layers separate till the end. If I ran things that way my old compaq would crash or start on fire. Also, you can avoid some of the color correcting problems by shooting in raw and fixxing color in te RAW converter. My hard drive is too full for me to shoot RAW. Maybe I'll do some house cleaning tomorrow.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Hotel Seattle

Hotel Seattle, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Today I got the corner room at our Seattle hotel. The view is great. If you're from Seattle you can try and guess which hotel we stay at.

If I have to edit one more photo shot through a window I think I will puke. Airplane windows and hotel windows steal contrast and leave a color cast.

I'm submitting this one to istock. We'll see if it makes it past the harsh gaze of the istock inspectors.

What do you think this photo will earn in two years on istock? I'm betting two downloads totaling $5.50. If the Space Needle or mount Rainer were in the background I'd guess a photo like this would bring in over $40.

I took a jog around downtown Seattle and scouted out some good photo locations. Next time I overnight here I'm bringing my tripod.