Playing With Boundary Warp

Ever since the new boundary warp came out in ACR a couple weeks ago, I’ve been wanting to play with it. I really enjoy making Panos because they tell so much. The story is just so expansive with a Pano and at the same time you can really be specific when choosing what to add. With the Merge to Panorama in ACR it’s become very easy and enjoyable to make Panos and thus capture the world around us.


I was out Saturday doing the one thing I enjoy the most when not working on a specific project, cruising. I’ve found more great photographs by driving around, with a camera on my lap, watching the sky and the light then anywhere else. That’s the best part of being a photographer is discovering new places. This place I knew about but hadn’t shot there because I needed the right sky. I didn’t quite have it that day but there was one great cloud and that’s all it took.

To see the pano bigger click on the Image.

Now the top shot was the first image I took but I knew the moment I stopped this was a Pano opp. Using the D4 and 24-70 AF-S, I closed all the way down to capture as much detail as I could because when you’re doing a Pano, it’s going to end up really big! You want that detail if you are ever going to print it out. This was six frames that I then merged in ACR and converted with SilverEfex Pro. Now on this image I tried boundary warp to fill in the edges that weren’t there when the images were merged together. Normally I use Auto Crop which normally makes the Pano narrower, one of the disadvantages of that method. That didn’t happen with Boundary Warp. Now I was wondering if it would look off anywhere but it didn’t. Perhaps that’s because this was a landscape and there were no definitive lines, like with a building, but it’s definitely something I’m going to have to keep playing with and studying.

Holiday Projects

I love the holiday season! It’s just a great time to be with friends and family, eat a lot, play games and generally do nothing of importance. When there’s snow of course there is skiing. Afterward coming back inside to a nice warm fire, makes the whole day worthwhile. The other nice thing about this time of the year is that you can work on those projects that you’ve always set aside on the back burner saying, “I’ll eventually get to them.” On that cold winter day when nothing is going on, it doesn’t hurt to pop open the notebook and play with a few images.


How a Long Lens Can Help With Landscapes

I do a lot of landscape work and often it’s with a wide angle lens. The reason for that is usually because of great light or great skies. But when neither of those two things show up then it’s great to go tight and take out little chunks of the landscape. While waiting for the birds on the pond to cooperate, I pointed the D4 and 600f4 towards the freshly snow covered mountains that surround Bozeman. Now that might seem a little much, but when you go wide with a mountain side covered in pine trees and snow, then it just looks like black streaks and white dots. When you go tight you can actually see the pine branches. In this case it becomes more about the patterns of the land instead of the overall tone of the land.


Why go black and white? Well the light sucked for landscape at that moment, so with flat light the mountains just screamed monochrome.

Random Image for Random Weather

Well we’ve had a rather unusual spell of odd weather the last couple of weeks here in Bozeman. I’ve always considered Bozeman to have odd weather in general because of its location between the Bridger and Gallatin Mountains, but this year seems to be pretty odd even for that. Last fall we had a lot of really cold and snowy days. I mean down in the negatives cold. Right now it should be that cold but lately it has been up in the forties and even in the fifties the last couple of weeks. Well that doesn’t help with winter photography since a lot of the best shots come from those ice cold days around the geothermals. Hopefully with this new storm coming through we’ll get those cold temps again.


The Endless Joys of Snow

I truly love Winter. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in the Sierra’s and spent every waking moment not in school on the ski slopes enjoying the fresh powder. I love it to this day but I enjoy it in other ways, by capturing the beauty of freshly fallen snow in my photography. Snow can be a great element in any photograph. It’s most versatile and obvious element is the fact that it adds a white point. If you are working on a black and white conversion, having an absolute white is important. Well it also adds more color to any landscape.


These normally brownish hillside would not look nearly as interesting if there wasn’t snow. I know this for a fact because I have driven by this hillside numerous times as I traversed I-80. The snow adds color by covering up some areas while leaving others exposed. This creates more dimension on the hillside as the sweeping, rolling hillside becomes more dynamic. With the help of ACR and the adjustment brush, a simple sweep in certain areas bringing down the exposure and a sweep along the tops bringing up the snowy covered mountain tops, brings out more of that dynamic look. Now I actually really like it like this but for this example, by using the ACR brush in this way we set the image up for a great black and white.


As you can see the result is a pretty compelling hillside. The clouds on the other hand were just something I lucked out in. They were there so I stopped. If it was a blank sky, the image wouldn’t be as good. Simple tools to bring out more in your landscape photography.

The Road Home Leads to New Images

At the end of every holiday season back home in California is the drive back to Montana. Now I’m no stranger to long drives, having done this particular drive more then three dozen times, but this one felt long. My original departure was actually delayed a day because of a big storm going through Southeast Idaho. By the time I left yesterday morning it had gotten better but remnants were still hanging around. Although the roads had me concerned, one thing that I knew would happen would be some good landscapes.


Right around Winnemuca some great puffy clouds had formed over the freshly snow covered desert landscape. It was pretty simple shooting with the D4 and 70-200 VRII. The real challenge, and is usually the case, is finding somewhere safe to pull over.

Go Black and White

Lesson number four is pretty straight forward, go black and white. Again it’s easy to be seduced by all that color but remember that all of that color when converted is just going to be bright white or grey against a dark background. It’s really simple to get a strong black and white out of fall color because there is naturally a lot of whites and blacks which are the two most important factors to consider. There must be an absolute black and absolute white in every successful black and white image. Don’t forget that.


One of the important factors to remember when working with Fall color and black and white is the composition. There has to be enough dark space in between all of those leaves in order to give a shape to the trees. If there isn’t the eye just gets lost. One of the great things about working with Aspens or Cottonwoods is the trunks are usually pretty bright surrounded by a pretty dark dirt forest floor. This helps to provide that shape. Keep in mind the gradient filter in Camera Raw can be very helpful when it comes to working with foregrounds and backgrounds.


Lastly for this lesson, remember to go small. One leaf can be a powerful image with the right help. What is the right help? Well go to my last blog post to see what that is. But here is a quick summary: quality leaf, good background, gesture, light and depth of field.

Never Forget Your Library

For some reason whenever I poke around in my image library without any real intention, some random thought just pops in my head that I would normal never think about. Of course that usual means a blog post will emerge next. I was looking through my landscape images thinking about which ones I wanted to make a print of and it occurred to me that I had forgotten when and where I had taken some of the images I was looking at. This made me wonder what else I had forgotten about the images I hadn’t processed yet.


As time goes on the natural progression of a photographer is to keep shooting and to keep building that library. Having more images to tell the stories that come up in life is important, it’s also how we stay in business. Remembering all those stories is the hard part.


Now you may be wondering if it were these black and whites that stumped me into my original confusion and they didn’t. They just seemed the proper way to illustrate my point. As if removing the extra information will lead to the answer.


In the end I don’t know of anyway to remember every image, or what it was like shooting everything that I have. That’s what the photos are supposed to be reminders of. I wonder if in the end that’s how every image is. For only the photographer knows the whole story and if he’s not around to tell it then we are left guessing. It’s our imaginations job to fill in the blanks when we take a photo and when we are looking at someone else’s.

Friday Fun with a Shelby…..almost

For a long time this has been one of my out most favorite cars. It’s just a beast and that I would love to ride in one day. Now I wish I could say that I had the opportunity to photograph a real Shelby Cobra but I didn’t. Nope this is just a toy that I have had for a long time as a reminder of what hard work might someday get you. And I mean a lot of hard work! But I was feeling goofy one day and took some pics of it. What better way to end a good week on then big dreams for the future.



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