Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Update : Iceland version 2.0


Well - it has been too long since I have posted here.  I would love to have a great excuse, but truth be told ... most of my online activity has been limited to posting and interacting with people on Google+ and Facebook.

Anyway ... in a couple of weeks, +Michael Bonocore+Colby Brown and I will be picking up a 4x4 in Reykjavik and heading out into the country for 2 weeks of exploration and photography.  This will be my 2nd trip to Iceland in the summer - last year I attended an amazing 10-day excursion led by +Brian Rueb of +Aperture Academy.  The trip was extremely well-planned and Brian took us to amazing sites every day.  If you every get an opportunity to attend one of Brian's workshops - do it :)

Here are a few more images from last year to hold you over until I get back from this years trip!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Panoramas - A New Challenge

To view the image over on gigapan.com -> Click Here...

The image above is an example of the types of high resolution images that I have been challenging myself with recently.  I made this specific image on the eve of the 2013 Super Bowl.  Sure the Niners lost, but at least we are still a Happy city!!! 

This specific picture is comprised of several full-frame images that have been stitched together using Adobe Photoshop.  To accomplish this,  I used a telephoto lens (Canon 70-200mm f/4 IS) attached to my tripod vertically.  With my tripod head as level as possible (the Induro BHD-2 has a small bubble level to assist with this), I start on one end of the scene and shoot a frame.  Then I rotate the tripod head horizontally, making sure to leave at least 25%-30% overlap from the previous frame, and continue this process until the entire scene has been covered.

Here are a couple of tips:

  • Set your exposure manually (shutter speed and aperture).
  • Set your focus manually.
  • Set your WB manually

If you do not, the slight differences in each frame may make it difficult to achieve a smooth-looking final image. Now go out and give it a try!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Travel : Cusco, Peru with The Giving Lens (photos)

Two months ago, I was preparing for my first trip to Peru.  Now I sit here, back at my computer in San Francisco, wondering how did that time fly by so quickly?

During this short time I also managed to fit in a 10 day photo tour of Iceland - but that is another story :)

This post is to share a few of the images that I took during my Peru trip.  The trip that I went on was an "exploratory" trip for a full blown workshop that will be conducted by The Giving Lens organization in the spring or summer of 2013.  If you are not familiar with The Giving Lens, head over to their site and have a read.  The organization is founded by Colby Brown and is focused on helping others in the world through photography and travel.

I will write more about the philanthropic activities of out trip later - for now ... here are some pictures.  Also, if you wish to see posts from myself and others related to this trip, search G+ for the tag #TGLperu (do this Search on Google+) :

Plaza de Armas in Cusco

Mount Veronica over the Sacred Valley by Moonlight

Mount Veronica

One of the Residents of Machu Picchu

Morning Light in the mountains of Machu Picchu

Incan Ruins at Tipon

Machu Picchu

Sunset over Cusco, Peru

Friday, May 25, 2012

Quick Tip : Checking for a Dirty Sensor

It has been about 6 months (shooting 3-4 days a week) since I last cleaned the sensor on my Canon 5D Mark II.  I have started to notice that it is taking more of my time to clean up those little dust bunnies appearing throughout the frame.  Especially on shots shot with a small aperture (high f-stop) against light fields of color.

So here is a quick test I do to see if it is time give the sensor a cleaning:
  • Take a well-exposed shot of something light colored, a painted wall or the sky works well for me.  I want to use a high f-stop, usually f/18 or so, so it needs to be a bright enough scene and I will use Aperture Priority mode.  I don't crank up the ISO, leaving it at 100 or 200.
  • Make sure your shot is in focus, and  shoot a few.
Here is my test shot - I could have overexposed it a little to make it lighter, but that wasn't really necessary.  Notice that the sensor spots are no very obvious (See it larger here Dirty Sensor Test-Unprocessed):

Dirty Sensor Test Shot : Pre-processed
Dirty Test Shot - Unprocessed
After I have a few shot, I import them in Adobe Lightroom 4 for some processing that will help bring out those sensor spots that always seem to show up when you don't want them.

Developing to bring them out in Lightroom is not very difficult.  I like to convert to black and white then boost the contrast - especially in the middle range.   Here is the result of my develop changes for this same image (See it larger here Dirty Sensor Test - Processed):

Dirty Sensor Test Shot : Processed

I know that on this blog post, the spots may not look obvious in the relatively small JPEG, but if you do this in Lightroom, then Zoom in 100% and pan around your image, the dust spots will be pretty easy to see.

For reference, here is what the Develop Module settings I used.   I also save these as a User Preset in Lightroom so I can do this test with very little effort in the future.  I have also exported these settings so they may be imported as a User preset into Lightroom.  Get that file here: Lightroom Dirty Sensor Test - Sky

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Location : Racetrack Playa, Death Valley

Not very long ago, I had the opportunity to go back the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park with +Colby Brown and +Peyton Hale. My previous trip to this location was during a photo walk in fall of 2011 (#DV2011), only a short 6 months ago.

Walking out to the playa last month, I was immediately struck by the significant changes that were visible to me. The very first thing that set the mood for me was that I recognized the rock at the far end of track in this image.   I had just seen  that exact rock laying next to the road after getting out of my car.

The rest of the walk across this amazing ancient lakebed was a very sobering and somber experience for me. During the short 6 months since my previous visit, rocks had been moved, some rocks were missing entirely.  New rocks had been placed haphazardly (I assume) around the lakebed, and some rocks had been obviously dragged through soft mud to make new tracks - footprints and all!!

This picture I am sharing, while not original - hell, these stones have been shot thousands of times - can not be taken again. Vandals have assured that, and for that I cried...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Publications : Landscape Photography Magazine

Last summer I was contacted by the editor of a relatively new photography-related publication called Landscape Photography Magazine.  The magazine was adding a new Interview section to its future issues, and I was asked if I would like to participate as one of the initial interviewees.  Needless to say, I was excited at the opportunity to show some of my work in a professional publication, and to have an opportunity for people to learn a little bit about me and my photography.

Horsetail Fall in Yosemite National Park

A portion of the article is available over at In Conversation With: Joe Azure.   If you are already a subscriber, you will want to log in to ready it in its entirety. For those of you not yet subscribed, enjoy the first six issues online (or via download) for free.  Those issues can be accessed here: Magazine Archive.


Monday, February 6, 2012

What Lies Beneath

On February 1st of 2012, I posted an image, that to my surprise, was enjoyed by a large number of people.  That makes me very happy. b  In fact, the number of views this image received here on G+ in 3 days was nearly as many TOTAL views, I have ever received on Flickr in over a year!.

 I don't really want to repeat the original post in this blog entry, but it can be found here: Google+ Post for "What Lies Beneath".

One of the people who follows my stream decided to write a poem to go along with the image.  I enjoyed all of the comments, and I was especially touched that someone saw one of my images and was moved to create something unique for it.

The following was written by Samuel Larson - and for it, I am extremely grateful.  Thank you Samuel.

the fog does not lift,
it is a gift.

the orange is set,
this is what we get.

it looks great,
nothing to hate.

many do wonder how this came,
even I wonder the same.

ponder and ponder "from where did this come?"
without knowledge, you feel dumb.

but many of you may know who its from,
from God it has come.

slow it rolls in like a snail
that is on a wet trail.

quiet nice mist from heaven,
people watch it from 6:30 to 7.

What Lies Beneath