Friday, September 7, 2012

Before and After

One question that seems to come up all the time, is if I did anything to my photos or if that's the pictures straight out of the camera. The truth is that all photos out of digital cameras really need to have "some" kind of post-processing done to them to make them look better after you take the shot.  Most cameras just make those adjustments automatically as they write the image to the card inside your camera.  If you snoop around the menu on your camera you can usually find setting that you can change to tell the camera how much or what kind of adjustments to make.

When you shoot with a higher end SLR camera, you also get the option of taking your photos and having the camera just store the RAW unedited version and then it's up to you to decide how that picture should be processed.  The first image you see here is one that was just taken out of the camera after a very slight touch of color boost and sharpening.  It's pretty much what you would see out of a point and shoot camera when you leave it set to auto mode.

With the RAW option in my camera I also get more data to work with in each image which then gives me the option to to a little more post-processing if I want.  In this example, I found the tree branches coming in from the top and sides of the picture to be very distracting and not really having the effect I'd hoped for when I first took the photo. (Not that this was really meant to be anything but a quick snapshot taking during my first trip to Vegas).  Using a program like Photoshop gives you some really powerful tools and you can do things like remove unwanted items from pictures... sometimes fairly easily as was the case with the trees in this image.  It also lets you take those basic color and sharpness adjustments to the next level to help make the photo really "pop". 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fantasy Forest

I took a trip into the Hoh Rainforest on the  Olympic Peninsula last week. It's been a while since I've been up there and I find that I always enjoy how peaceful and quiet it is in that part of the state.
Usually when I tell people that we have a rainforest here in Washington,  I get some funny looks because most people think of rainforests as being Tropical and much closer to the equator. They tend to forget about the kind that doesn't have a good publicist... the Temperate Rainforest.  Washington has one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S. which really shouldn't be a big surprise since we are known for our rain.

I thought I would try something a little different with a few of my photos there this time around.  I don't normally take my photos to any kind of extreme "artsy" kind of look when playing with them in Photoshop but something about a couple of the photos made me want to play with them and give them more of a "Lord of the Rings" kind of feel. This was a shot of a fairly popular spot in the forest. It's a grove of big leaf maples covered in moss. Since you can find all kinds of nice photos of these tress out there already, I thought giving it a little twist and making it different might be kind of fun and might make it a slightly more interesting photo.  I'd love to hear if you like it or not ... is it too much?

Monday, August 20, 2012

British Columbia Parliament Building

If you ever get the chance to travel to Victoria British Columbia, and you happen to make the trip by taking the Ferry from Port Angeles Washington—one of the first buildings you will probably notice is the British Columbia Parliament Building.

The Neo-baroque buildings face north on Belleville street facing the Inner Harbour and diagonally across from The Empress Hotel. A statue of Queen Victoria stands on the front lawn as well a statue of a soldier to commemorate the province's World War I, World War II and Korean War dead. Atop the central dome is a gold-covered statue of Captain George Vancouver.

Despite many problems, including exceeding budget—the British Columbia Parliament Buildings began operation officially during 1898—the final cost was $923,000.

Trying to get a photo without a crowd of people in front of the building is pretty tough unless you're willing to either get up very early in the morning and get there before people are out and about starting their day or doing what I did and hang around until the crowds call it a night and you only have to wait out the other photographers. I actually had to spend some time waiting for a couple that decided to practice dancing on the empty lawn and then decided to just snap the shot and try to remove them in Photoshop. I think it turned out okay.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Air Force Memorial - Washington DC

This is another photo from the memorial tour in Washington DC.  Once again I found myself walking around looking for a unique angle to shoot from, trying to see if I could find something that wasn't the typical photo that we all take when doing the tourist thing.

I had almost given up on shooting anything out of the norm when I stopped to read this inscription, and as I read it I realized there was a great reflection of the memorial behind the words.  

Among other things, the three vertical spires symbolize the three core values of the Air Force: Integrity first, Service before self, and Excellence in all we do. It also seemed very fitting that this image captures another message, one that goes to the heart of many in the Armed Forces, and that is the message of Sacrifice.

It might not be the best photo I've ever taken, but it might be the one that touches closer to the core of who I am today than anything else I've ever shot.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Iwo Jima Memorial

I recently took a trip to the Nation's Capital and like most of my trips in the last few years, I got there just in time for a major heat-wave. Being from the Northwest you should know that I've gotten used to our high's of 80 on a hot day, so stepping outside into 104+ temps and high humidity left me wanting to just hang out in the hotel where they actually had air conditioning that kept me from becoming nothing but a puddle on the floor.

As much as I hated to though, I did manage to leave the hotel a few times and actually kept the sweat out of my eyes long enough to shoot a couple of photos while I was there.  I'm sure you have seen thousands of photos of all of the monuments and memorials around DC and I have too.  So I tried to challenge myself to do something a little different than the norm while I was there.  I wanted to try to capture something that would bring out those feelings I got while standing there looking at these memorials.

There are so many young men and women that paid the ultimate price for our Freedom and continue to do so. I found my mind wandering to the current crop of soldiers and I felt a great respect for them and a hope that they will all soon return home safely.  With the heavy skies I thought this image had to be a Black and White and a little harsh to try to capture all of those feelings... but the Flag had to be left in color to show the hope of a Nation. Not sure if I managed to pull it off but I'm happy with the results of this shot, and hope maybe it makes people stop and remember our troops, both past and present, even for a few minutes.  If you are someone that prays from time to time, please send a few their way, and if you see a soldier in your travels... remember to thank them.  I don't think they hear it enough.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Latourell Falls

If you are a waterfall lover like I am, you have to take a trip through the Columbia River Gorge if you ever find yourself in the Pacific Northwest.  There are 108 recognized falls in the region and a number of them can almost be seen from your car with next to no hiking needed to reach them. 

This 249-foot waterfall is one of those that is easy to see.  Just follow the Historic Columbia River Gorge Highway. To view this waterfall just follow the short uphill path from the picnic area.

There are also a couple of other paths you can take from the picnic area. One leads down to the bottom of the falls and takes you along the creek as it continues to run towards the Columbia River.

If you're feeling a little adventurous you can also take a short 0.8 mile hike hike to the Upper Latourell Falls where you can actually walk behind the falls.  The upper falls drop 75-100 feet into Latourell Creek before dropping the 249 feet you see here.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Night in Tacoma

It's been a while since I got out to take any kind of night shots so I packed up the camera gear and decided to head into downtown Tacoma to see what I could find to photograph.  I'd been wanting to try to take some photos of the new(ish) convention center but every time I'd gone in the daytime there were always too many people around, too much traffic, and the light just never seemed to cooperate.  Turns out the timing was great this night.

The weather held up for me and there were no big events going on at the Convention Center that would have people milling around in the hallways and flowing in and out of the doors. 

I took a few shots from various angles of the building and then played with them in color and in black and white, and still can't decide which versions I like better.  Here is another shot that was taken just to the right of the one above and then converted to Black and White.

Which look do you like better?  Please leave me a comment with your opinion and let me know. You can actually see the color version of this shot in the Gallery and also on the home page of my site for now.

Friday, February 3, 2012

First shots since the ice storm

Today was the first day in what feels like months where the weather was actually nice enough to break out the camera gear and take a few shots to clear the rust.  After work, I wandered down to the Tacoma waterfront and snapped a few shots before darkness set in.

I played around with this shot a little and kind of like the way the effect worked.