Return To my PIXelations Index

PIXelations 28

Sedona Panos

by fotofinish , 12-09-2009 at 01:57 PM (973 Views)

My last bit of work from our recent Sedona trip involves a series of Grand Canyon panoramics. CS4 does a wonderful job photomerging pictures together. The results below were all hand-held and it still did a great job!

Once I merged them, I did some shadow-highlight adjustments, flattened them, and imported the resulting tiff files back into Lightroom for the final adjustments.

The two below are three-picture merges:

The one below here is a four-picture merge:

I tried a lot of different combinations, but these were my favorites.

Happy 2KX!

by fotofinish , 01-01-2010 at 11:20 AM (1205 Views)

Recently, Jayne and I attended a music CD opening for the son of a good friend of ours, Chris Freeman, and his band FreeMansFortune.

I had never photographed a performance before so I wanted to try it. I quickly discovered that this was not going to be easy. The lighting was poor, forcing me to shoot at iso3200 and even at iso6400. Even though I love camera movements, my results were not intended to be soft. Many of the shots were below 1/30s so I get what I deserve. I did use flash on a few shots but I mostly liked the existing light effect like:


Here’s one with flash:

And of course I did a movements pic on purpose:

You can see the rest of my series here

My Drawing 1 Class Conclusions

by fotofinish , 01-03-2010 at 09:57 AM (2489 Views)

In previous blog articles, I mentioned my enrollment in a Drawing 1 class at my local community college. Well, this class is finally finished. Besides the physical aspects of the medium (manual dexterity and the ability, or in my case the lack-there-of, to draw a straight line), I thought it would be a great way to experience how another medium approaches composition and design.

So, was it worth it? Yes and no.


  • Keep a sketch book.
  • ontext and form are both important in the composition.
  • Negative space is important and can play a major role in composition.
  • Drawing is the act of mark making.
  • Mark making is important in determining measurement and proportion.
  • Cropping is important to composition.
  • Pay attention to the movement of light over a solid form.
  • Cross contouring gives a sense of dimensionality.
  • Draw with feeling and aesthetic intent.
  • Do the techniques above sound familiar?

    A full semester (twice per week; 2 hours per session) was overkill for my immediate goals.

    The emphasis was on doing rather than discussing the reasons/strengths/weaknesses of each technique learned.

    I could not draw a straight line when I started the class. By the end of the semester, even I learned how to draw, albeit very primitively. But like any new skill, practice is essential to growth. My learning was more reinforcement of previously acquired knowledge. Still, I enjoyed the experience. It was something I always wanted to try. It was also an enjoyable way to refresh and reinforce my basic compositional building blocks. So, if I could go back in time, would I do this again? Yes. But maybe not for a full semester.

    Thanks for the post, I had thought about this and now may even do it…..I struggle to draw an stick figure, this should be good.

    I think it is worth it, overall. As long as you don’t look at this from a physical aspect and go with the general learning. It can be fun as well!

    I just started my freehand drawing class online through the Art Institute. I think being online is great cause we HAVE to discuss each others work, and the course is only 5.5 weeks, so you don’t have to do it too long. I’m really looking forward to learning some of the stuff you mentioned. It looks like overall it was a positive experience for you.

    Hi Amber, I’ve admired your work here over the years…sounds like a good approach, except I enjoy the contact with the other students. They are all so talented! Thanks for your visit.

    Cold Abstracts

    by fotofinish , 01-09-2010 at 09:36 AM (1054 Views)

    The day after New Year’s, Jayne and I went for a hike at Session Woods. We were mostly bored and had to do something in fresh air (after all, we are New Englanders!). I also wanted to test my foot to see if I would have any problems with a hike. I was able to deal with favoring my foot as we walked through the snow and uneven terrain. This was good news for our trip in February.

    The snow was not deep but there were occasional gusts of wind and blowing snow. A squall went through as we walked. I used my VariDensity filter and my 70-200mm to capture the images below.


    You can see the rest of my series here.


    by fotofinish , 01-23-2010 at 03:12 PM (1103 Views)

    No, I didn’t mess something up, this time! Data Asset Management (DAM) is a topic I desperately need to understand and implement. For years, my photo import naming system has served me well. However, since my hard drive space in the past was small, I was forced to backup, burn to DVD, and then physically remove these pictures when I was finished with them. Well, needless to say, I have many spindles of DVD’s in my basement.

    Since external hard drives have dramatically decreased in price, I bought a terabyte drive for about $250. I also downloaded Seth Resnick’s Where the $!@# are my pictures! from Luminous Landscape in an effort to understand the concept better. Needless to say, Seth is one anal master of it! And he repeatedly admits to it during the course of the tutorial. My biggest take-away this was his marvelous use of keywording in Lightroom.

    So, I made my decision to reload ALL of the pictures I have ever shot (which really is a small amount compared with, say, Seth!) onto my new external drive and eventually import all of these into one giant Lightroom catalogue. I made a high level volume1 directory, and then made separate subdirectory folders, one for each year going back to 2001, with a few miscellaneous year folders for some of my scanned film files from the 1970’s. This is a process that will probably take me several months to achieve. I have already loaded and keyworded back through 2007 as of this writing.

    I made my first keywording attempts during the last several years, but Seth teaches the concept of a heirarchy. What a difference this has made for me! For example, I made a high level location keyword, then broke that into countries, then USA, states, cities, and finally specific shoot locations by project. I also have a high level people keyword broken out by family and friends. This will make my wife, Jayne, very happy because now with just a couple of clicks onto the right keyword, I can call up in an instant ALL of the pictures I have ever shot of our kids! Powerful!

    Each picture may have MANY keywords assigned which helps with any searches I may want to do in the future. The great thing about using Lightroom is that if I feel a subcategory should really belong under some other category, all I have to do is just drag that subcategory and drop it onto the new category! Lightroom handles all of the rewording automatically!

    Probably the biggest benefit of reloading all of my past pictures is the rediscovery of images I originally had dismissed as non-keepers. We evolve each year as photographers, so the way we approach picture harvesting changes from year to year. I now can see potential in many images I thought at the time were worthless!

    I still have long term plans of getting into composite creation. I am getting increasingly bored with straight, representational though perhaps still artistic photography. I have all of these spindles of DVD’s just lying on shelves in my basement, collecting dust. Is that going to be the fate of my pictures? Not according to my plan. I want to be able to go back through these pictures as needed in the future and create art in the form of abstractions which allow me to express some feeling or theme I wish to explore.

    And now, within one Lightroom catalogue, I will be able to accomplish this.


    by fotofinish , 01-30-2010 at 07:03 PM (2767 Views)

    I have been doing some interesting research on the craft and technique used by the famous Russian painter, the father of abstraction,Wassily Kandinsky. I am fascinated by his use of color, and his use of point and lines. A brief summary of his major works can be found here.

    My favorite is this one:

    …as an aside, Jayne and I are departing for Australia on Wednesday, February 3 and return on February 20. We will stop in Cairnes for a few days, then Melbourne for about a week, and finally Sydney for about a week. This is our number one trip of a lifetime, on our “bucket list”!

    I like Kandinsky too. A print of that particular work hangs in my media room. I see something different in it every time I look at it. Have a great trip. ~~Peg

    Hi Peg,
    For the timeframe involved here, he was ahead of his time. Thanks for the visit and the comments.

    Another Trip Report

    by fotofinish , 02-24-2010 at 05:18 PM (1008 Views)

    The latest trip Jayne and I made recently was to Australia. This was the trip of a lifetime for us, covering 16 days. Our travels included three cities and started in the northern tropics city of Cairns, with access to the World Heritage Sites of the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree rainforest. It is in this rainforest where it is said that a cure for one of the stages of AIDS was discovered based on the bark of some tree there. However, the scientists have never been able to find that tree again.

    From Cairns, we flew down south to Melbourne. While there, we saw incredible wildlife (kangaroos, Wallabies, koalas, exotic birds, etc.). Two highlights were the March of the Penguins on Phillip Island and the koala preserve there. Another highlight was a drive along the famous Great Ocean Road and a visit to the 12 Apostles (huge sandstone mounds in the water just off shore) in Port Campbell National park. The last major highlight here was a visit to the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary.

    Finally, we explored Sydney and its famous harbor and harbor bridge, as well of course as the architecturally magnificent Opera theater. We also visited the Blue mountains and the mysterious stalagmites/stalactites of the Jenolan Caves.

    I brought an Epson P3000 40gig viewer (like I usually do) to off-load the day’s pictures so I can reuse my cards. For the first time, I actually filled the viewer with 2 days left to the trip! In all, I took some 3000 pictures, roughly 46 gig worth!

    This was a different kind of shooting experience for me than our past trips, especially since we did mostly bus tours with limited shooting time at stops. While 90 percent of the pictures I took were of snapshot quality, I did manage to capture some interesting and very satisfying images for me, exploring the abstract sides of Australia.

    I found that using aperture-priority accounted for most of my success this time. I usually shoot in manual mode, setting both the aperture and shutter by hand, but because I had to shoot quickly I needed the semi-automatic approach. So, I just boosted the ISO so that my shutter speed was as high as I could make it to accommodate hand-holding the camera. There just wasn’t time to set up a tripod. And frankly, the shooting seldom occurred during “golden hours” anyway.

    I will post some picture samples here and a more specific report on each of the three cities we visited coming soon. G’day, mates!

    Wow 3,000 pictures to process. Keep you busy for awhile. Sounds like a good trip. Am so happy you could go. Bet there will be some interesting pictures to follow.


    I really had some fun, Skippy!


    by fotofinish , 03-05-2010 at 07:37 PM (778 Views)

    The first stop on our recent Australian trip was Cairns. The reason we chose this location was because it is one of the staging areas for access to two World Heritage locations: the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree rainforest. To be listed, a location must be:
    * An outstanding example of the major stages in the earth’s evolutionary history.
    * An outstanding example of significant ongoing ecological and biological processes.
    * An example of superlative natural phenomena, and Containing important and significant habitats for conservation of biological diversity.

    When Jayne and I first got off the plane, the temperature was 38 degrees Centigrade (approximately 100 degrees fahrenheit) with high humidity!

    Great Barrier Reef
    One day we took a high speed ferry some two hours out to a conveniently erected viewing platform out in the reef. The platform had a canopy and included supplies of snorkeling and scuba diving equipment. The coral formations and the varieties of fish filled our eyes with wonder and amazement. I must admit, though, I felt that the coral color and colorful fish varieties in the Grand Camans seemed better.

    Here’s a picture I took in a boat with glass sides:

    Daintree Rainforest
    Another day we took a tour through the Daintree rainforest that included a flatboat cruise down the Daintree river. We actually saw a crocodile! This was our first experience with a rainforest. One problem was that we got there in late morning, so we didn’t see a lot of wildlife. We did see some exotic colored birds, though. The density of the vegetation was certainly thicker than anything I have seen in the States. My whole concept of the value and importance of the rainforest changed because of what I read prior to going, and also as a result of what our knowledgeable guide related to us. But more about that in another entry.

    Here’s a picture from the flatbottom boat cruise down the Daintree River:

    One interesting highlight in the town is that at dusk the skies fill with bats with a wingspan of several feet. They sure strike fear into the other birds that could be noisily heard in terror in the palm trees throughout the town.

    Finally, this is one of Cairns at sunset:

    You can see the rest of my Cairns series here.

    Return To my PIXelations Index