Sunday, April 26, 2015
Available at Amazon $31.50 with free shipping on Amazon.
Photo of the Day. Vino on the Vine. This was shot up in Napa Valley, CA. Some of the vineyards are not fenced and you can wander off into them. It is best to ask first since I have been chased out of one by a very angry owner. Photos were the only thing being taken so it was hard to understand why they were upset. This is printed on aluminum and they look like you could pluck a grape off the vine it is so intense. Have a great day.
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If you have never been to Montana, well you need to go. There is a place there called Glacier National Park and it belongs on everyone's bucket list. Trust me on this! I took 5 weeks back in 2005 and toured as many of the national parks as I could get to in that time. Sitting on the back terrace of the lodge at Crater Lake National Park (sit on the terrace have a beer and clam chowder) I struck up a conversation with a gentleman in his mid to late 70s. We talked about my trip and when I expressed possibly skipping Glacier he almost quit talking to me. As he put it, Glacier is like Yosemite times a hundred. I will not go that far, because I find Yosemite a special place. However, it was enough to get me to go and it was worth every second of the 750 mile (one way) trip. This photo is from a section of the park on the east side. This panoramic is about 36 inches long and 18 inches high without enlargement. I have not printed it that large yet but maybe its day has come! Have a great day.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
WCM Photography is having a huge promotional sale on all my work at the website. All prices are currently marked down 25% to over 50% off. I am not sure how long the promotion will last. Depends on volume of orders.
Monument Valley is one of the coolest places I have ever been to shoot. The buttes and mittens and spires all change every minute of the day as the sun moves from east to west. The clouds come in every once and a while and give a whole different look and feel to the place. This place does not wait in the photographer, so you better be ready and set up. If you get the chance to go to this place, please do so.
Photographers, if you plan to sell your work please secure a commercial permit from the Navajo Tribal Park administration. These can be secured before or after the pictures are taken. They are less expensive if you get one before.
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Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Photograph of the Day. I truly love huge photographs and the deserts around Moab, UT. This photo combines both. It is about 2x7 feet in size without enlargement and was taken at the Green River Overlook in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. I have not had it printed yet. It is a composite of approximately 10 to 12 individual photographs as well as multiple exposures for an HDR.
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Monday, March 2, 2015
Saturday, February 28, 2015
Thought I would show you guys what my home away from home looks like. This is a 2005 Aliner. It is perfect for one person and two if you really like each other. I call it my aluminum tent! LOL. However, the old tent did not have hot and cold running water, a heater, an air conditioner Yeah!, a three burner stove, built in lights, electric fans, refrigerator, and a full size regular bed. This is my home while out shooting photography. It works just fine!
I got so tired of sleeping on the ground. I tent camped for about 13 years doing photography trips before I bought this thing. I also camped for a month in a tent while working on master's thesis in June in Mississippi on the gulf coast.. man what I would have given those days for air conditioning!
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Lower Antelope Canyon, Navajo Tribal Park, Page, Arizona.
This photo was shot with a Nikon D810, 17mm to 35mm AFS Nikon lens, bracketed 5 times (-4 to +4), and processed in Adobe Photoshop CS6 using Nik (Google) HDR Effects Pro 2, Nik (Google) Sharpener 3, Nik (Google) Viveza, and Topaz Clarity software. I also used a de-noise program but not sure which one as I use three different ones depending on the photo. The ones I use are Neat Image , Topaz DeNoise 5, and Nik (Google) Define 2. All of these perform great depending on the photo.
If you have never been to either the Upper Antelope Canyon or the Lower Antelope Canyon then you have one or two things to add to the bucket list. This place is pretty spectacular. I have always gone as a photographer and that sometimes takes over the experience. I would like to just go and walk through and absorb the place. I took Lower Antelope Canyon Tours owned by Dixie Ellis and family. The guide was Quintana (lost the card.. hope I spelled that correctly) and she was excellent.
I will tell you a couple of things about shooting in the canyons. These tips will make life easier for you.
NEVER CHANGE LENSES IN CANYON!
The canyons are dusty and that dust would love to land on your sensor. Please don't give it the opportunity. I never change lenses in the canyons. Take two bodies if you have to, though I don't recommend it. Be prepared to get the sensor cleaned after shooting the canyons for a couple of days. The dust finds its way in no matter what. Just a hazard of the job.
Take one camera, one zoom lens in the 16mm to 35 mm area, a great tripod, a large 2-gallon ziploc bag or other bag, remote release (corded or not), lens cleaning brush or cloth, water, good hiking shoes, and a hat with a brim like a baseball or other . NO CAMERA BACKPACKS. Learn to use the "long exposure noise reduction" settings on your camera. You will want long exposures if they are putting dust in the air for effect so low ISO settings. Below is the explanation for each.
I have seen some people shooting with every lens available in the canyons but the 16mm - 35mm and 28mm to 70mm seem to be most popular and they are happy. Here is the reason; the canyon is dark but the opening at the top of the canyon to the sky will blow out due to over exposure. Having a zoom allows you to zoom in and cut out the opening at the top. You can try to bracket your photos and then perform High Dynamic Range processing. I have completed 7 brackets and the opening at the top of the canyon still be lost to over exposure. A great lens hood or even an after market lens hood that is over sized may come in handy. You are shooting up most of the time and lens flare can be a problem.
One other item to note on the lens focal length is depth of field. The more zoomed out the shallower your depth of field will be for a given aperture setting. I like the 17 to 35mm lens and set it at around f8 to f13. Beyond that f13 and things begin to soften up and below f8 my field of depth is more shallow than I want. Remember that while you may be looking 10 or 20 feet ahead the walls of the canyon will be very close on the edges of the photograph. Some people like that to be buttery soft bokeh. Some like sharpness in those area to show the grainy nature of the sandstone. Personal preference will rule, but if you don't have the settings right you will be stuck with what you get. You can always go back and re-shoot everything. I will never admit to how many times I have actually done that, but trust me it is more than I wanted.
Everything you shoot in the canyon should be on a tripod. The tour companies will not sell you a ticket for a photographer's tour (2 to 2.5 hours long) unless you have one. The exposures in the canyon can get rather long.. some in the 20 to 30 seconds range. Hand holding is impossible unless you use a really high ISO and that degrades the photos in a number of ways.. read on.
Ziploc Bag or equivalent:
The bag is to cover your camera on the walk through the canyon when not shooting. I have been in the canyon on days that have no wind blowing and it is perfectly fine without a bag (provided a guide is not throwing sand and dust in the air for effect). However, you are in a slot canyon about 40' below the surface and when the wind blows sand around on the surface it rains down on you and the equipment. You can cover the camera and lens with the bag when this happens and wait for the wind and sand shower to stop before continuing to shoot.
With the long exposure times you will need a remote release or you can learn how to use the built in timer on your camera. Either will work just fine. Sometimes the biggest problem in camera shake will not be you or your tripod but other tour groups passing by and accidentally hitting your equipment. Grrrrrrrr
Lens Cleaning Brush or Cloth:
This is pretty self explanatory. However, I would urge you to check and clean the lens between each set up for a photo. Once you are back home or at the hotel is the last place you want to be when you realize you had a bunch of dust on your lens. If the guides are throwing dust in the air for dramatic effect your lens will need to be cleaned often. I use one of these, or a cloth, and an air blower to help move the dust off with as least amount of abrasion as possible.
You are in a desert. Drink before you get thirsty. If on the photographer's tour there will be about 3 hours from start to finish. That is too long to go without water in this environment. Don't ruin someone else's tour because you did not take care of yourself!
Good Hiking Shoes:
The canyon is not that difficult to maneuver in. However, there are places that are just one foot wide, and others that require you to scramble up or down, and there are a number of stairs. Be prepared with good footwear. It would be difficult to get someone out of the canyon that cannot walk due to a twisted ankle.
Brimmed Hat and Sunscreen:
The walk to the entrance of the canyon is short but completely exposed. There is some shade in the waiting area. In the canyon there is no need for the hat for sun exposure but if it is windy and the sand is raining down on your parade you will be glad you had something to keep that sand out of your hair, eyes, and out of the back of your shirt! The walk back from the exit of the canyon is completely exposed and about 1/4 mile long.
Depending on the canyon (Upper Antelope has more space than Lower) there may not be a lot of room for maneuvering. The backpacks just get in the way. You will want to take it off and set it down so you can get the composition you want. Just don't take it with you! If you are not going to change lenses in the canyon then no need to have two or three in the pack.
On one of the photography tours of Upper Antelope Canyon a photographer set a backpack down and moved to take some shots a bit down the way. Other tour groups are constantly passing by you when you are there. Someone picked up the camera backpack and it was gone. It had all those lenses and other items that she was not going to use anyway on this photo shoot. Please leave them in the trunk if the car or in the hotel room. I was told by the tour guide that thefts of this nature were very unusual.
Long Exposure Noise Reduction and Low ISO Settings:
I have shot the canyon using both a high (800 to 3200) ISO setting and low (64 to 100) ISO settings. I always use Long Exposure Noise Reduction Settings as the exposures can get long and you don't want to be fooling around with that setting when you could be taking photos. Yes, it makes taking a photo twice as long but the clean files you will get are worth the wait. I also always shoot in RAW format.
The lower the ISO setting the longer the shutter is going to stay open. This does not seem like a big deal. However, if there is dust in the air or the guide is putting dust in the air to accentuate a light beam, then a longer exposure is going to capture more of the reflected light from the dust that is in the beam of light. If you use a higher ISO then the shutter speed is faster and the camera has less time to "collect" the light reflected from the dust in the light beam. It can make the difference between a light beam that is strong and spectacular and one that is dim and wimpy.
In areas where you are not trying to capture a light beam with dust in it, then it does not really matter. Of course, you will have a more noisy image the higher you go with the ISO. Correcting for noise in the final image is not an easy task. The walls are sandstone and therefore have a texture. If you over correct for the noise you will lose a lot of the texture of the stone. It is a balancing act!
Extra Batteries and extra memory cards are recommended. Know your equipment before you go and you will have a much better experience. Your photos will be better and you will not feel stressed to get the photo and not hold up the rest of the group.
Turn Around - A LOT:
You have no idea how many times you will turn around and see a beautiful shot behind you. After passing around every bend in the canyon, turn around and look behind you. Do this a LOT as it will be very rewarding!
Commercial Photography Permits:
A word about Commercial Permits for shooting in the canyons. If you plan to sell for commercial gain the photos you take in the canyons a Commercial Photography or Filming Permit issued by the Navajo Nation is required. Can you do this without the permit. Yes. Is it right? No. Please don't give the photography industry a bad representation/reputation by breaking the rules. You should apply for a permit a couple of months before you go, or you should plan to spend a couple of days (2-4) getting the permit once you arrive in Page, AZ. The process can be frustrating but be patient. The permits generally only allow you to shoot about 2 - 3 hours per day and you have to specify what canyon you will be in. If you want to shoot multiple days and multiple canyons put them all on the same permit so you only have to do this once. Please note that having a permit ($50) that you have paid for does not reduce the Navajo Park entrance fee ($8) and the tour fees ($50 to $85).
There is such a thing as getting a permit after the photo shoot. It cost $200. I secured permits once there for the shoot. It cost me about 4 days of time and lodging alone would be more than the $200 fee for a post shoot permit. I don't know if the post shoot permits are hard to get or not. My guess it they are not, but I truly don't know. If I have to do it again I may opt for the post shoot permits.
I don't use PhotoShop Creative Cloud. When PhotoShop 6 (stand alone version) ceases to function I am moving to another program to process my photographs. I have owned PhotoShop since version 3, I believe. Before PhotoShop I started out with Elements at version 3 also. I have purchased every upgrade, only to now be told that I have to subscribe to an endless rental fee for processing my photography. As a photographer I would love to be able to hold my clients hostage to a monthly fee in case they needed some photography done. I don't have that luxury, and believe they would laugh at me if I tried it. I urge Adobe to reconsider this business model.
Hope some of this helps for anyone going to the canyons. Have fun and be safe!
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Wednesday, February 11, 2015
This was shot a while back in Yosemite Valley. I am not sure what the name of the rock formations are but I was on the North Road on the valley floor kind of heading out of the valley. This photo is comprised of 6 individual shots stitched together in Photoshop CS6.
I don't know about you guys but I really don't want to do a subscription thing for my Photoshop. May look at changing over to Phase 1's Capture 1.. think that is the name. Does anyone have any thing good or bad about that program? Would love to hear. It does worry me that a lot of my add-on programs that run inside Photoshop will not work with a new program. I think Adobe has just gotten greedy and wants a continuous cash flow. If you receive money every month for people to use your program anyway... what is the incentive to make the program better.. you already have them on the hook.
Just my thoughts,
Monday, February 9, 2015
Setting Sun on Half Dome in Snow, Yosemite National Park, California, USA
There is not much to say about this photo. My feet were cold and the guy next to me had a brand new Hasselblad HD40 megapixel camera when they first came out. I was a bit jealous and intimidated as I had a Nikon Coolpix 8800.
The Nikon Coolpix 8800 was a great camera. I learned a lot about photography on that camera. To this day I still sell photos taken with that camera. Up to around 11 by 14 the shots look great. Larger and they begin to get a bit soft with only 8 megapixels to work with. At the art shows the younger people want to know what is the best camera and how many megapixels etc... I pull one of the photos out take with this camera and then tell them is an 8-megapixel camera and they are amazed. As far as what is the best camera... I will let you all in on it.... it is the ONE YOU HAVE WITH YOU!!!!!! I now take a camera every where. I have a small point and shoot and it does nicely.
One thing about going to Yosemite in the snow is there are no crowds! It makes the snow worth it.
Humpback Whale Tail, Monterey Bay, Moss Landing, California, USA
Well there is nothing overly spectacular about this shot other than being able to see these magnificent creatures in their world. I went down for a week to Monterey Bay and stayed in Moss Landing at the KOA. It was about as convenient of a place to stay to the whale watching boats as you can find. I went out on several but Blue Ocean Whale Watching was the best.
I have always wanted to get a shot like this. I got several that day and of course I am not satisfied with any. I want a perfect shot... not sure there is such a thing. Shooting from a boat is a bit tricky with a large zoom lens. It magnifies the movement of the boat in a huge way. I shot this with a Nikon 80-400 AFS. I was not as impressed with this lens as I thought I would be.
I have another thing to tell you about this trip. It was the first with the new Nikon D810 and was I ever excited. I had a couple of days shooting and all went well. However, there is limited room on the boats and I wanted to be good guy so I took the side bags off my main camera bag. Those side bags made the overall case where it would not roll over unless you picked it up and put it on the other side.
I came out of the trailer and set my coat and camera on the pick nick table and turned to lock the vehicle when heard a very sickening sound of camera and lens rolling off the table to the concrete below. I was sick. I opened the camera bag (LowePro 75 - I think) and the lens was fine.. however it broke the lens off the camera body and the lens mount. So the camera body was toast until Nikon could replace the front of the body and lens mount. I tried to be a professional about it but I was so ticked off. The Nikon 810 was only 34 days old - ugggghh. I pulled myself together and grabbed a Nikon D800 back up body, switched lens and rushed off to meet the boat. It was not even a good day to see whales. I should have stayed in bed!
P.S. This is also one of the miniature desk prints on aluminum that I am selling on Amazon - picture is a link. It looks great on a desk. I have given several of these to people that work in cubicles to brighten their work space.
Sunset At Devil's Golf Course, Death Valley National Park, California, USA
This is one of those times when I was just in the right place at the right time... and had a camera and a couple of flash heads on light stands pointed out across the hummocky landscape of salt at the Devil's Golf Course. This place is like an alien planet. I love Death Valley in the winter and spring. I like to go December to March but leave it to the more heat tolerant the rest of the year.
If you have not been please go see this extraordinary place!
El Capitan with Clouds, Yosemite National Park, California, USA
Hope you guys don't get tired of YNP. I am sure there are a lot more to come of the valley shots. Heck we have not even gotten to the high country. I was headed up the tunnel road to go to Glacier Point when I stopped and looked behind me. The ole El Capitan with cloud shadows was really a treat. I still made it up to Glacier Point for the sunset and got some more shots there to come.
Photo is a link to Amazon. Just letting you know in case you do not want to go there.. but please my feet need shoes ... go buy a print or two or two thousand. LOL
Wine Grapes, Napa Valley, California, USA
More Wine on the Vine. The print of these grapes literally makes my mouth water. I have been told that wine grapes are not sweet like the ones in the grocery store, but man these look yummmmy. I was shooting one weekend up in Napa Valley, CA and was out in the vineyard when a car stopped and a lady came up to inquire what we were doing. I explained that we were just out for a day of photography. She looked at us for a minute and said to have a great day and be careful around the grapes. I believe she was the vineyard manager and was so cool about us shooting there.
I have been in other vineyards when I was chased out almost on the end of a pitch fork. Sometimes this photography stuff is dangerous. I admit that I am build more for comfort than for speed these days so I have to rely on my wits... all two of them to get me out of trouble! *S*
Oh the photo is a link to this for sale on Amazon.
Chapel in the Snow, Yosemite National Park, California, USA
If you have read some of my blog you know I cannot get away from YNP. This place has many faces from summer to fall to winter to spring. Every time I go I find something I want to photograph or plan a trip back to photograph. There is a reason Ansel Adams photographed in the valley for all those years! He was so lucky.
Sunrise Grazing Horse, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA
I had to pay that horse a ton of money to show up and stand there!!! Not true.. but I got lucky and the horse was not concerned about the camera at all. It was pretty cold and wet that morning. I was leaving Grand Teton National Park and headed down to Moad, UT and Arches when I saw this scene. I had to wade across a small stream to get the shot but cold, wet feet was a small price for this capture.
Hope you like it.
The photo should link to Amazon if you are interested in a small print on Aluminum. I know I keep saying this but the aluminum prints are incredible!!!
Upper Antelope Canyon, Navajo Tribal Park, Page, AZ, USA
The Navajo People may have been relocated to a reservation but the some of the most dramatic scenery in the south west is theirs. This is Upper Antelope Canyon. It is actually at the very entrance to the slot canyon. This was taken during May and I recently shot the canyon again in November. It has a completely different look due to the different angle of the sun due to the time of year. I think the shots in May were more dramatic. Don't tell Peter Lik about this place.. shhhhhhhh LOL
The photo is a link to this print on aluminum in miniature over at Amazon for $31.50 and free shipping! Whoooo hoooo.. I love me some free shipping.
El Capitan Black and White, Yosemite National Park, California, USA
Ok, it seems I am on a Black and White theme here. I guess I am channeling Ansel Adams. I love a good black and white photo. However, there is certainly a training process when looking at a color scene as to what would look good as a black and white. It is all contrast and shades of gray and the mind does not automatically think in that way. But it can be trained to!
North Tower, Golden Gate Bridge, Black and White from Marin Headlands, San Francisco, California, USA
Well this is a black and white digital conversion of the North Tower and the Transamerica building that was shot when I was first getting into photography. It is also one of the offerings at Amazon as a miniature art print on aluminum.