Took a weekend to celebrate my wife’s birthday in Vancouver, BC with our friends Chris and Gretchen.  In spite of torrential rains, crazy winds and low visibility, we managed to get some fun shots.  Unfortunately, my wife Mary ended Saturday evening by breaking her foot.  Of course, Sunday was the only day where the weather was absolutely beautiful.  We managed to get in some shooting so all was not lost.  I’m presenting a few of my here.

We’ll do anything to get that shot!

I assisted Jay Goodrich on his workshop this weekend which ended with a shooting session at the Seattle Arboretum. I saw one of the students getting low to get the right shot. When I saw these two women walking towards us, I got my camera ready to capture what I hoped would be a quizzical look. They didn’t disappoint. So, the street photographer in me came out while I was teaching a landscape workshop. You just never know when the opportunity will arise!
What the hell is he doing?

Lightroom Tip of the Week

I’ve decided I want to have two Lightroom catalogs.  My primary catalog with all my photos going back forever and ever. And one just for the current year.  Yes, I know it is February but this is easy to do.   In your library module, click on all photographs at the top of the Catalog module.  Hit “G” for grid mode and click on Metadata.  Sort by date.  You now have 2013.  CTR-A/CMD-A to select all.  Hold your ALT key and the export button will change to Export Catalog.  Call the new catalog 2013 Library or some such identifier.  Export with the images and previews.  You can now open the .lrc file called “2013 Library”.   Then, at the end of the year, you do the same thing and then go to your MAIN catalog and import the 2013 catalog.  All your data will be preserved.

Why would I do this?  Well, here are a few reasons:

  • Keeps my images manageable by allowing me to just see the work on the current year images
  • Keeps Lightroom fast because I don’t have 20,000 to 30,ooo images in my active catalog
  • I can always go into my primary catalog if I want to look at older images
  • Allows me to start fresh with new Collection Sets and Collections
  • I am maintaining the same folder hierarchy on my hard drive so the images don’t have to move.
  • I’m still putting the new catalog in my Lightroom folder so I still only have to backup one folder to get all things photography backed up


Water Drop

At last night’s Macro Roundtable, Craig brought a setup with water drops from above and a U.S. flag behind a bucket of water. Using my Nikon Macro flashes (under and over the lens), I was able to capture the reflection of the flag in a water drop. In Lightroom, I cleaned up some of the reflections from the flash and then increased the saturation of the blues and decreased the saturation of the reds. I also masked all but the drop for sharpening.

Macro Roundtable

We had a lot of fun at the macro roundtable tonight at the Mercer Island Library. Lots of toys abound. Chris Evans had his macro flashes and focus stacking gizmo. Craig Young was the big hit with his water droplet station. Karen Ussery brought some very pretty shells and Jann Ledbetter had a beautiful plate of flower pedals and chocolates (which we got to eat later). The point of all this was to get creative, bring a setup and rotate around to take macro shots. We also got to learn from each other. It’s a bit unnerving when you’re trying to time your shot with a drop of water hitting a pan from 3 feet above when 5 or 6 people are watching and cheering you on with “too early” or “too late”. But we all had fun.

Use Bracketing for More Than Exposure

When we think of bracketing, most of us immediately think of exposure.   All bracketing means is taking multiple shots with +/- adjustments.  While I use exposure bracketing the most, I also bracket aperture quite often.  Aperture is the opening and closing of the lens to determine how much light hits the sensor.  It also controls your depth of field or how much of the image, from front to back, is in focus.  Actually, I like to think about it a different way.  Depth of field is how much of the image is out of focus.  Why?  Because often, when composing an image, it’s what is out of focus that matters most.

When considering the depth of field, take a look at what surrounds the focal point of your composition.  Blur the background and foreground in your minds eye while determining how much blur you actually want.  While this takes practice, it will be very beneficial.


This is where aperture bracketing comes into play.  If you bracket your aperture settings, you can see on your LCD or on your computer at home, just how much blur you want to achieve the artistic vision you are seeking.  Take the image of the tricycle below.  I took this at a recycle dump.  There was tons of clutter everywhere but I saw this sad, abandoned trike leaning against a dumpster.

Continue reading “Use Bracketing for More Than Exposure”

Rattlesnake Lake in the Late Afternoon

Went to Rattlesnake Lake near North Bend today.  Unfortunately, the light was flat and unexciting.  I was able to get some decent shots today using several techniques.  This one was taken using the Lee Big Stopper.  This was a 3 minute exposure at f/11.  During  the 3 minutes, I continuously threw rocks into the water at various places to create some movement in the stillness.  This gave the appearance of the milky water below.


The image below was 3 initial images taken one stop apart.  I used Photomatix to create this HDR image.  Though I’m not a fan of the “HDR Look”, I thought it worked on this image to give it another world feel.

Rattlesnake Lake 1

This was three images combined using HDR Pro 2 by Nik Software.  I then took it into Lightroom and added a bit of color to the sky.  I love the reflection of the tree stump in the water below as well as the small tree growing out of the top.


Win a free CustomSLR Glide sling strap!

It’s simple! Just subscribe to my blog emails on the right side of this page.  Not only will you receive notification of my blog entries which will hopefully enlighten and delight, but you’ll be entered into a drawing for this fantastic camera strap.

I will give away a CustomSLR Glide Sling Strap ($64.95 Value) to a random subscriber. Drawing will be December 10th. Check out the the strap here:

Get out and shoot.

Sometimes, nothing happens. Nothing. I met some friends at 8am this morning at the market. The light was boring, the market was boring, blah blah blah. Chris noticed the jet trails going across the sky and we challenged each other to take some sort of interesting shot of it. This is what I got. We walked around for another hour barely snapping the shutter and complaining that it wasn’t New York or Paris. Well, we don’t live in New York or Paris so Seattle it is. The point of all this is… I got out and shot. Had I sat at home stuffing my face with artificial light, I wouldn’t have had the camera in my hand.

Did I get any fantastic shots? Hell, no. Is this a great shot? Hell, no, again. BUT, I did get out and shoot and that’s the name of the game. Next time, who knows.