Thursday, October 30, 2008

Saddest Dog Ever

Saddest Dog Ever, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Is it wrong to put your dog in a cage to make a photo for istock?

We're trying to sell this crate on Craigslist and I needed a model. Once Gatsby was in the cage I decided to try to get a stock picture. The lighting is simply camera mounted strobe bounced off a wall camera right.

My shoot couldn't last long because Maria made me let Gatsby out after a couple minutes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

HDR Without the HDR Look

Scrub Oak, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Take that stuck in customs blog! Here's an HDR image that doesn't look like a nuclear disaster area.

HDR is great for scenes like this where there is too much contrast for a single exposure. This is a composite of three different exposures combine into one HDR image in Photomatix Pro.

I grow tired of super saturated fake looking HDR photos, but I do like when it is used subtlety.

BTW, this photo was taken in Shell Ridge Open Space in Walnut Creek, CA.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ella In a Wicked Vengeful Mood

In a Wicked Vengeful Mood, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

What to do when I don't have any new photos to post?

I had some fun with Photoshop on my train ride into work this morning.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Desert Mountain Morning

Desert Mountain Morning, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

It was another beautiful morning in Las Vegas when I took this photo. This is the time of year when I get jealous of people that live in the desert southwest. The mornings are crisp and there is always a chance for nice photogenic clouds.

The mountains in this photo are on the edge of southwestern Las Vegas. Maybe someone who lives out there can tell me the name of this small range.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Don't Forget to Vote

I lived in Ohio for 3 and 1/2 years. People like the ones in this video really do exist.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Red Eye Sunrise

Red Eye Sunrise, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Time to wake up. The first light of morning peeks over the horizon and it's almost time to start our descent into New York City.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Virga Over Vegas

Virga Over Vegas, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Here is another aerial photo from the Las Vegas area. The strange weather you see in this photo is called virga. Virga is when precipitation falls from a cloud and then evaporates before reaching the ground. In this case the precipitation is a snow shower that drifted off the peak of Mount Charleston. The snow melts and evaporates high above the Las Vegas suburbs.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Conservatives Bail On McCain

It's easier for the conservatives to blame McCain rather than their own failed ideology.

Red Rocks Descent

Red Rocks Descent, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Arriving in Las Vegas from the west is always spectacular. I took this photo two days ago while we descended over the mountains west of the city. The mountains are jagged on top and descend steeply on the Vegas side.

There was a lot of moisture in the air for the desert. Clouds were forming over the mountains and then blowing across the city. We did two Vegas round trips. During both flights Mount Charleston had a snow shower hanging over the summit. As always it was a bump descent into Vegas.

Here is a large version. You can see Red Rocks Park.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Breaking Habits

Cleared to Land!, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Sometimes I like to look through my old pictures. I’ll open up a folder from six months ago and view it as a slideshow. However, the last time I checked out an old folder I noticed something about my style of photography that I didn’t really like. I think I am using the camera as a cropping tool. Way back when I first got into photography I did a lot of cropping in Photoshop to correct or enhance my compositions. Over time I got better at making the crops with the viewfinder. Now I rarely if ever crop a photo in Photoshop. A problem with my style becomes apparent though after flipping through a couple hundred old photos. With all my concentration on level horizons, vertical lines, and clean edges my photos start to look like they were all taken through a well aimed cardboard tube. All the excitement and motion in sucked out. That’s fine for a landscape that’s supposed to portray a sense of calm, but for many other photos a perfect crop doesn’t create the right mood.

That brings me to today’s photo. This picture was a direct attempt to break all my photographic habits. First off, the horizon isn’t level. Also, I put a little bit of the nose of the airplane in the lower left corner. The combined effect makes it look like the airplane is turning, even though we were on a long (15 mile) stabilized final approach. The LasVegas Strip is also visible, but not completely. Normally I would either have all of the strip in the frame or none; such is my flawed way of thinking. With the strip half cropped out it feels like the photo was taken in a hurry. That’s the effect I was going for. But ,to prove this is a photograph and not a snapshot I kept control over the upper left corner of the frame. I purposely left blue sky (mostly) all the way around the cloud and didn’t cut any of it out of the edge of the view finder. I did bring the cloud close to the edge -- that’s my usual control freak cropping style. Also, I used the diagonal nature of the clouds in the frame as a lead in line.

I think the overall effect of this photo gives the viewer a sense of flying even though they are looking at a static view. I could be wrong. After so many hours looking out aircraft windshields I might have a scewed viewpoint. If I see an airplane nose, a tilted horizon, and a runway my brain says, “We’re turning final, better double check that the gear is down and locked.” Who knows what a non-pilot thinks about this same view.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Photos That Pay the Bills

Grain Elevator, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Here is a photo from Seattle. This is a grain elevator that is next to the harbor. Why am I posting such a boring picture? 1) because I didn't shoot anything interesting today 2) to show you how I shoot my bread and butter shots for istockphoto.

To make money at istock you have to have some hero images that get downloaded over 100 times, but you also have some slow and steady earners. This picture falls into the slow and steady category. I bet this photo will sell 3 to 5 times a year. That's not much money, but considering the work involved in taking this photo it is a pretty fair return. I took this photo on the way to get a much better shot. I already had my equipment with me, saw the clear blue sky and an industrial building, and thought there is a quick $5. It's as easy as finding a $5 bill on the sidewalk.

Shooting stock photos like this won't make you rich, but having 100 photos like this in your portfolio means an extra $500/year in income. That's a couple speedlights, or maybe a Carbon fiber tripod. Not bad for five minutes work here and there.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Birthday Merry Go Round Ride

Yesterday was Ella's first birthday. We took her to the Oakland Zoo. More pictures to come...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cold Front Over the Mojave

Cold Front Over the Mojave, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

All my flying photos from the past week have been all about the cold front that passed through. Here is the cold front making its way across the Mojave Desert west of Las Vegas. The second valley in this photo might be Death Valley.

This photo was inspired by Alfred Stieglitz's series of equivalents. I suppose anytime I take a picture of moody, complicated clouds I could say it is inspired by Stieglitz's equivalents and I'd sound really pretentious.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Is the Economy Really That Bad?

For those Americans that are sure we have fallen into the abyss take a look at this video. This is 24 hours of worldwide air traffic. Compare the United States to Africa. Things could be worse.

Now imagine if each pilot had his own photo blog.

Monday, October 6, 2008

First Snow for the High Sierras

First Snow of the Season, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

I took this photo yesterday morning while flying from San Francisco to Washington Dulles. These are the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The view is looking south. Mono Lake is on the left side of the frame. This is the first snow of the season to hit the area. You can see fall colors on some of the lower altitude trees.

The storm that brought this snow was the same cold front that brought the bay area rain I talked about in my previous post.

Check out this highly detailed version. I love the delicate little clouds that are hanging over mono lake.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Perfect Light Missed

Walnut Creek BART Station, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Wow, what spectacular light. I am typing this as I ride BART into work today. Overnight we had our first rain in the bay area since May. The sun just came up. Everything is dripping wet and bright sun is cutting holes through the gray clouds reveling pacific blue sky.

This is my favorite type of light for outdoor photography -- bright low angle sun coming from one horizon and the other horizon blanketed with dramatic clouds. Anyone with the slightest photographic experience would look at the scenery today and realize it is a beautiful morning for photography.

I just had a technical understanding epiphany while rolling though the hills of east bay and looking at the light. The reason why this lighting works so great for landscape photography (besides the obviously dramatic sky) is the sunlight reflecting off the background clouds. The direct sun from one side creates intense highlights, the same as it does every cloud free California morning, but the presence of the clouds today on the opposite horizon makes a diffuse fill light for the shadows. This fill light brings details to shadows and helps separate objects from their background.

I wish I could have taken a shot of this wonderful light through the window, but I already got hassled by BART security this morning for taking the photo at the top of this post. Right now there are two security cameras mounted in the ceiling of this train car with flashing red LEDs pointed my direction. It is illegal to take pictures of BART or on BART without a permit I was told by the BART police. Since I was on my way to work when the cop talked to me he saw my airline ID badge. He mentioned the name of my company with a chuckle as if to warn me that he knew who employed me. It is a shame that such paranoia is alive on such a optimistic looking morning.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Little Bit of Fall Color in Colorado

Colorful Colorado, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

This photo was taken last week over western Colorado. If I remember correctly we were abut 50 miles west of Eagle when I snapped this. You can see the bright fall colors even from 36,000 feet.

Here is the big version.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Owens Valley

Owens Valley, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

As promised, here is an aerial photo of the Owens Valley in California. This picture was taken yesterday around 8:00 am from 29,000 feet. We were flying from San Francisco to Las Vegas. This view is looking south down the valley. The Sierra Nevada mountains are on the right side of the frame.

Owens Valley is a favorite spot for outdoor/nature photographers as well as Hollywood directors.

If you're location scouting for your next film check out this larger version for a detailed view.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Superfly Sunrise

Superfly Sunrise, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

I took this one this morning while doing the first walk around of the day. This was taken at gate A5 in San Fransisco. In the background you can see airplanes taxing out to runways 1L and 1R.

We flew to Las Vegas. I got a good shot of the Ownens Valley on the way across. I'll post it tomorrow.

The airplane is named "Superfly". Hence the title of this post.