2017 – My Photography Year in Review

What a year! 

This year has been filled with ups and downs like most any year. I started off 2017 standing on the beach in Southern Oregon, the same way I ended 2016. Oregon is my forever home in my heart and soul. You will see some images from Oregon in this blog post. Everything was going well until Aug 11th when I tore my right calf muscle and couldn’t walk. This really puts a damper on outdoor photography. I started PT a few days after it happened and had a walking boot to help me walk.  Due to this injury I had to cancel a workshop in the Tetons which was a real bummer not only for me but for my clients who were coming from Austria. Through emails I was able to guide them into the right places at the right times for what they were looking to shoot. They also came over for the event of the year, the eclipse!  It was great to see the great images they were able to capture and I am looking forward to working with them again in Utah this year!

Summers keep me busy with night photography workshops in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, teaching students of all skill levels everything they could want to know about night photography. I work with Mike Berenson on these workshops to help provide the ultimate experience for our students. In fact, this year in Moab, Utah during our workshop in May our 12 students were treated to seeing the Northern Lights while we were at Delicate Arch! Yes, you read that correctly. One of our students called it, “an experience of a lifetime.”

Also this summer my daughter and I spent a good amount of time traveling in Oregon as well as Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. In one week we drove all the way across the USA from Tillamook, OR to St. Simon Island, GA. It was a great trip. I also took a solo road trip from Lititz, PA to Littleton, CO going through Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Kansas. Sadly enough the latter trip was done while I had my walking boot on so it made getting out and doing any hiking a real challenge…I did find a place in Ohio that has a nice waterfall that I would like to get back to. Honey Run Falls located in Howard, OH really looked like a gorgeous place. Unfortunately there was barely any water running down the rocks when I was there. So, it goes on the list of places to visit again with better conditions. I like to take the backroads and stay off the freeways when I travel, this brought me to a small town called Urbana, OH which really looked like a neat town…not neat meaning a big booming metropolis but a small homey feel. Urbana was laid out in 1805 and in 1812 was the headquarters for the Northwestern Army during the war of 1812. I did not get a chance to photograph here due to the pouring rain but it will go on the “to see” list as well.

I know, I know, let’s get to the images already, right?  That’s what you really came here to see. We will get there in just a second or you can just scroll down but you should read this part first.

In picking out the 12-13 images for this blog post I like to do something a bit different. Instead of just posting my “Top 10” from the year, I like to pick the best/favorite image from each month of the year. Otherwise, truth be told, you would just see 8 images from Oregon and 2 Milky Way images….Boring right! So, by doing this it forces me to get out and shoot at all times of the year.

Last but not least I would like to take a minute to thank a few people/companies for their continued support and I recommend you check them out for your own benefit if you find that they may be relative to what you do.

Sigma Lenses – I have been a Sigma Ambassador for about a year and all the images I shot this year were with Sigma Lenses. Absolute quality and craftsmanship.

Moab Fine Art Papers – I print 90% of my work on their fine art papers. I love the feel, look and colors these papers provide. Clients and Students have been very pleased with these papers as well.

Englewood Camera – I have spent the last 2 years building a great working relationship with this local camera shop. They have a full service lab and they do all my printing for my 18 and 20 inch fine art prints. They have everything you could need from a local camera store.

American  Frame – Custom printing and framing at great prices. I have been working with American Frame for about 3 years now and not only is their customer service second to none, also the quality of their work. American Frame provides many paper choices to perfectly fit the needs of any photography as well as unlimited choices for matting and framing. Over the years I have sent many friends to American Frame for their framing needs and everyone has been very very happy. You will be too.  I use American Frame for all my fine art prints 20″ and larger.

Artbeat Studios – I have nothing but good things to say about the Metal and Acrylic prints that come from Artbeat Studios. Not only do my clients love the quality, I do too. That is why I have several acrylics printed by Artbeat Studios hanging in my own home.

Reed Art and Imaging – Again, their work and attention to detail is amazing. They do a lot of various types of printing on various mediums. I have had a lot of Gallery Mounts done by Reed. Not only for myself but also for clients I work with to help them create their own masterpieces from their own images. Their team of printers and salespeople are great to work with and make you feel like you’re part of their team.

Overleaf Lodge and Spa – Located in Yachats, Oregon this is simply the finest lodging you can find with the best views and access to the beach and Ocean.. The Overleaf Lodge was a fantastic place to host my 2017 Oregon Coast Winter Workshop in December. Their staff was always kind and gracious and when I left my room key in my room and could not get in at midnight, they came to open the doors right away. Wine tastings, ocean views, a spa, and a small gallery. This is the place to be on the Oregon Coast!

Mike Berenson – I have been working with Mike now for almost 5 years doing Night Photography Workshops Mike captures amazing images that really make you feel like you’re there. Please visit his site and check out his work. It’s one of the reason I was so willing to team up with him to start Night Photography Workshop. His work has inspired me and it will inspire you too.

One more thing to note about these images. Aside from the panorama all photographs posted here are all single images, no crazy blends or photoshop. I wanted this to be more about my photography and not about my artistic abilities with software. Enjoy!

January

Oregon Islands Sunrise

Oregon Island Sunrise – Jan 1, 2017 – After a great sunset to end 2016 the clouds moved in as well as the rains. I went back up to my hotel room thinking that I may get to sleep in for the new year. Who was I kidding? Even if it was raining I would have went out onto the beach, it’s who I am.  Lucky for me the clouds were breaking up about an hour or so before sunrise. I walked to the north end of the beach, the lesser photographed section of Bandon Beach, to find this great reflection on an incoming tide. I was fascinated with the way the light was hitting the clouds and reflecting off the wet sand.  Sigma 24-105mm @ 24mm, ISO 64, F/16, 1 second.

February

Train To Denver

Train To Denver – Feb 12, 2017 – Downtown Denver near Colfax. Travelers wait for the next train heading into Denver. This image was shot and shared at the Lone Tree Photo Club exhibition night. The elements of this image that made it work well for me were the contrast between moving objects and stationary objects. Each of the 5 people in the image are doing something different all in a single frame. The person on the far left looking towards the city made me feel as if he or she were dreaming of something bigger.  Sigma 24-105mm @ 82mm, F/6.3, ISO 200, 2.5 seconds.

 March 

Jackson Lake Sunset

Jackson Lake Sunset – March 5th, 2017 – After seeing this location on the map I knew it had epic potential for a full Milky Way Panorama. Since the Milky Way is still very low on the horizon this time of year I set out to capture what I had envisioned. As I arrived at the lake I realized right away that the Milky Way shot wasn’t going to happen on this night. With the still of the lake and the gorgeous clouds reflecting in the water I waited around for sunset. I have since went back to the lake for night shooting only to find out there is a huge floodlight on the dock that will interfere with any night shooting from this location. Sigma 24-105mm @ 48mm, F/8, ISO 64, 1/80th second.

April

Earth Day Visitors

Earth Day Visitors – April 22, 2017 – We always kick off our Night Photography Workshop season in Arches National Park for good reasons. The position of the Milky Way is in a great location for doing all kinds of different styles of night photography. It’s very good for single images but even better if you are looking to make nice panoramas. We had just left Double Arch and walked over to the Windows area. As our group was getting set up I decided to set my camera down and snap an image of them in the window of the arch. I only took this one shot and when I looked on the back of the camera I was very surprised to see the shooting star… I called out to my friend, Hal Mitzenmacher who was in our group, “hey Hal, you gotta see this!” I had to show someone so they would believe me when I said it was just captured in a single image. Even though this image was taken during the peak of the Lyrids meteor shower, to capture it in the first frame after setting my camera down was pretty amazing. Sigma 20mm, F/3.2, ISO 1600, 13 seconds.

May

Northern Lights at Delicate Arch

Northern Lights at Delicate Arch – May 28th, 2017, 2:28am – More often than not we like to save Delicate Arch for the final night of our workshops. We were on the final night of a sold out Arches and Canyonlands workshop when our students began packing up ready to make the hike back down in the dark.  As they were packing up I decided to do a real quick pano of the Milky Way over the Arch. Starting on the north side I snapped an image and my jaw dropped… I abandoned the pano idea for a second and took another shot to confirm what I was seeing. Sure enough we had northern lights in Moab, Utah. I yelled to the group, very loudly even though we were all right there together, “Get your cameras out and start shooting to the north, we have Aurora activity!” This completely changed the mood of the group from being ready to call it a night to getting that epic shot that would make all others pale in comparison from this location. Needless to say we ended up letting the group shoot for about an hour longer while the Northern Lights did their thing. A moment of my photography career I will never forget. My adrenaline was running so fast that I forgot to take the lower row of images for the foreground. 8 images stitched together with the following settings. Sigma 20mm, F/2, ISO 6400, 15 seconds.

June

Flowers by the Stream

Flowers By the Stream – June 13th, 2017 – I always get up early, arrive early, sometimes annoyingly early. I once, many years ago, arrived 13 hours early to pick up someone from the airport. This shot happened because I got up early. I was headed up to Eldora, Colorado to go hiking and search for waterfalls. Waterfalls in Colorado? Yep, there are a few. As I was driving up the road to the trailhead I noticed all these yellow flowers along the bank of the stream and thought that would make a cool shot. I quickly hit the breaks, my daughter woke up from her slumber and I turned the jeep around. When I got out I noticed there was no wind but the sun was quickly rising and in a couple of minutes this entire scene would be completely blown out by the sunlight. Another reason to get up early is because the light is better right before sunrise. Sigma 24-105mm @ 48mm, F/18, ISO 64, 0.6 seconds.

July

Sands of Time

Sands of Time – July 9th, 2017 – Being born and raised on the Oregon Coast and traveling up and down it many many times in my life, I like to think that I have seen most all the places that have access. I grew up roughly 15 miles from this location and have driven by it probably 1000 or more times but never actually got on the beach to see it. You can’t see it from your car on the road.  While my daughter and I were in Oregon this summer I decided to make a point of visiting this particular location, Twin Rocks, Oregon. I don’t know why they call it, “Twin Rocks”, they look nothing alike, nonetheless, my daughter and I went out in the early afternoon to enjoy and explore this area. The beach is quite large and open without a lot in the water except these 2 rocks. It was a very windy day and these ripples in the sand were just calling me to photograph them. I waited until the Sun was just on the horizon so that the light would create some nice shadows to help bring out texture and depth to my foreground. While not the most exciting beach, I only saw 1 other person here, it’s one I will visit again for sure. Sigma 24-105mm @ 28mm, F/18, ISO 31, 75 seconds.

August

Eye of the Eclipse Final

Eye of the Eclipse – August 21, 2017 – A day many of us around our nation will never forget. I had high hopes of going up into Wyoming to capture the eclipse in the path of totality. That dream was sent down the drain when 10 days prior I tore my right calf muscle. Still being at the initial stages of my injury I decided to not go fight the crowds, not drive the 3+ hours (it’s impossible to drive safe with a walking boot on your right leg) and take the chance of causing a wreck for a view of the total eclipse. I stayed home, sat out on our deck and just watch as we saw the moon cover the sun at 93%. The sky was clear just before the eclipse started and very slowly a thin layer of clouds started to form almost in rhythm with the moon covering the sun. As we, in Denver, approached maximum coverage these iridescent clouds began to form. Lunar Halo or Fire Rainbows were appearing around the moon and sun. Since I was looking almost straight up I was lucky enough to see this almost perfect circle around the moon and sun. While I did not get the epic shot of the total eclipse, I was quite happy with what I did capture and experience.  Sigma 24-105mm @ 105mm, F/7.1, ISO 200, 1/20th second.

September

Storm Landing

Storm Landing – September 16th, 2017 – I always arrive to our workshop location a day or so early to see if there is any special area that needs the attention of our workshop student’s cameras. Just my luck that it was pouring down rain in Jackson, Wyoming when I pulled into town.  I decided to head north to Yellowstone to see how much snow they had up there. I am not sure exactly if this is in Grand Teton or Yellowstone or no mans land. I saw these very dark clouds hovering above this hill/mountain so I pulled over and walked down towards the water. I noticed a small area of light hitting the hillside and started shooting. The light area got bigger and bigger to what you see here. As I was shooting, these geese (I think they are geese) flew into my frame and landed. I was very lucky to capture them just before they landed. It wasn’t something I had planned on shooting but a nice added element to the overall image. Sigma 24-105mm @ 75mm, F/9, ISO 64, 1/160th second.

October

RM ELK

Rocky Mountain Elk – October 7th, 2017 – The Rut is on! And that means everyone with a camera is up in Rocky Mountain National Park to get a shot of these big boys. On this particular day I saw people taking pictures with any device that had a camera in it. They say, “the best camera is the one you have with you.” There is a lot of truth to that. I had kinda been watching this guy pretty close and moving in the direction he was moving so that if he stopped and looked my way I could get a good shot of him. He had left his group and walked over to the trees when something caught his attention, he stopped, turned and looked for about 3 seconds and then continued walking. Eventually he went behind some trees and disappeared out of sight. I felt lucky to have him in the shadow with even light. Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary @ 600mm, F/6.3, ISO 1600, 1/80th second.

Winter Road

Winter Road – October 3rd, 2017 – This is not a mistake. Yes, you get 2 images from October. October is a very special month for many people. Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, Halloween, Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Everything, right?  Well, for us landscape photographers it’s a special month also. Here in Colorado our Fall colors usually peak in the first week up in the mountains and we start getting some snowfall too. When you mix Fall colors with fresh snow something magical happens. I can’t put my finger on it but I can put my shutter finger on the camera and capture it. It’s the way the seasons combine to create a beautifully unique landscape. This road has lots of “no parking” signs on the side but since I stayed in my lane I don’t consider it parking. I never turned the Jeep off and I was only out of it for a few clicks of the shutter. When I see this image I feel something that awakens my soul. Even though it has a road in it, I feel free in the fresh mountain air. Sigma 24-105mm @ 32mm, F/7.1, ISO 64, 1/400th second.

November

Tunnel View

Tunnel View – November 19th, 2017 – Every since I was a very small child I have always believed that everything happens for a reason, both good and bad. While we may not know those reasons for days, months or years later I have just accepted what happens and went with it.. My plan was visit my dad in Oregon in December when I was out there for my workshop. After checking schedules I realized that I would not have enough time to see him in December so I booked a trip out for 5 days in November. Usually November along the Oregon Coast can be a very challenging time since the weather is less than optimal for photography. One morning while my dad was out in the ocean fishing I decided to go see about getting this shot.  Having this as my “home beach” while growing up I had been alive long enough to remember when this tunnel was closed up, opened back up and the day I almost died just outside this tunnel by a massive sneaker wave. Just ask Gary Randall he’ll tell you all about it… I had been through this tunnel hundreds of times and always enjoyed this view as I was headed out. On the morning I took this image I entered the tunnel, turned on my Nitecore flashlight because it’s pretty dark in there and you don’t want to hit your head on the rocks hanging down inside. I turned on my light, walked about 10 feet and noticed something sitting on a rock surrounded by water. I looked closer to realize it was a $20 bill. I looked ahead of me and I looked behind me to make sure no one else was looking for it. I did not see anyone else at all so I picked it up and put it in my pocket. I was as happy as a clam in saltwater. I went about my morning shooting in a great mood when all the sudden I realized one of my filters wasn’t in my bag. I went into panic mode. I could not find my Tiffen double fog filter anywhere. This isn’t just your average run of the mill filter. They run over $300. Suddenly finding $20 wasn’t as exciting when thinking I was going to need to spend $300 to replace the filter… I kept telling myself that everything happens for a reason. Upset that I had lost the filter I decided to cut my morning shoot short. I had already got the shot I was ultimately after but I was still bummed. Still looking for the filter, hoping it had just fallen out of my bag, I retraced my steps along the waters edge. Thinking the worst, the water came up and the filter is out at sea I kept walking. I saw an empty beer bottle on the beach and picked it up, (when I lived in Oregon I did the S.O.L.V.E beach cleanup each year) thinking that Karma would play out… Still nothing. The filter was gone and the $20 means nothing to me now.. I get back up to the rental car, properly dispose of the beer bottle,  put my gear away in the trunk, open the car and get in and my filter is laying right there in the driver seat. A huge sigh of relief as only then I realized I had the filter in my pocket and it must have fallen out when I got out of the car. Sigma 24-105mm @ 24mm, F/14, ISO 64, 1/30th second.

December

Cape Perpetua Rush

Cape Perpetua Rush – December 7th, 2017 – One thing I always tell my students and I will tell you, If you are going to shoot moving water that is constantly changing, set your camera on continuous mode and shoot through the actions of the water. Then, when you are home you can pick the image that best captured the water how you like it. If you were to try and shoot the water as a specific moment, chances are you would not capture what you wanted. We, Chuck Rasco and I arrived in Portland, grabbed our rental cars and made a beeline for the coast. We knew we had only a short window of time to grab lunch since the sunset is early this time of year. Just as I had planned for the workshop, the proper tide and the timing of the sunset came together beautifully. Thor’s Well was rocking. It was at the right level where it wasn’t doing the Old Faithful geyser thing but just filling up nicely and spilling over. That is what you are seeing here. As Thor’s Well would fill up I would begin shooting until it was empty again. Of the 100’s of images I took this night, this was the only one where the water was exactly how I wanted it as it flowed up and over Thor’s Well. The reason I wanted it like this was because of how the sky looked. I wanted the water to mimic the clouds in the sky and chances are that isn’t something you can get on a single try. You don’t see many images with Thor’s Well completely filled up like this. It was a great ending to an adventurous year! Sigma 20mm, F/16, ISO 64, 1/4th second.

I would love to hear your thoughts, comments and opinions. Please feel free to use the contact form below to connect with me. You can also visit the Home Page and find links to where I am on the interwebs.  A big thanks to everyone for your continued support and joining with me to create lasting memories on these crazy adventures. All the best for 2018!

 

Compositing for Print Quality

We live in a world that is fast moving in both our daily lives and advances in photographic techniques. When I first started night photography I had 2 choices.

  • Shoot slow film and end up with star trails with no grain
  • Shoot fast film and get points of light stars with lots of grain

Now, with digital cameras, we can shoot both on one media card. Digital cameras have come a long way in recent years and you can get great night images in a single shot compared to even 5-7 yrs ago. Even with advances in camera sensors and processing, a single image still will produce noise which shows up when you try to print.

We have come up with some great ways to reduce noise in single images as well as using multiple images in a stacking process, but neither of these techniques yield the results that compositing can achieve.  I am not talking about creating fake scenes or fantasy worlds. I am, for now, simply talking about lining up a great scene using one of the many apps out there like TPE, Stellarium, or PhotoPills to create real images of real scenes that you can see with your own eyes…

Why do this?  Why go to all the trouble of planning, shooting, processing and compositing?  It takes time. I don’t want to sit on a computer all day. I wanna go shoot. So why do this….. The answer is simple… Print Quality is amazing, the light is better and the wow factor will blow your friends mind…  In all honesty, we all love when people ohh and ahh over our images…but for me, the real answer is the print quality. Being able to produce a great night image of the Milky Way in one my favorite places and print it up to 60″ wide or tall with hardly any visible noise is amazing!  Below I will show you the differences and the final results of single images, stacked images and a composite image.

Let’s begin. When I arrived in Badlands National Park I began using my apps to help line up great compositions where the Milky Way would be over some of the rock formations.  This is the Cedar Pass area. This image shows you exactly how the Milky Way looked just after the moon went down and the skies got dark. This is a SINGLE exposure of the night sky.

Single Resize

Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4 F2.0, 20 seconds at 3200 ISO

The image below is a 100% crop from the image above. No editing. You can see that this is showing some noise..Not too bad but enough I wouldn’t want to print over 18″ long

100crop

This next image shows you the same image using 9 images to stack for noise reduction. I would show you the full image as well but because these are sized down images for the blog it wouldn’t really do any good.. So these 100% crops should tell you what you need to know. Now you can see the noise is reduced. When using image sequences to reduce noise an easy to factor in how much it will affect the image is by using square roots.. For example if you use 9 images you will get a factor of 3x noise reduction. If you use 16 images you will get a factor of 4x noise reduction. You don’t have to use exact numbers but I find it easier to figure the final outcome… If you are shooting at 3200 ISO and use 9 images for a NR factor of 3 you are now essentially creating an image with the noise of 800 ISO. If you were to use 16 images you would then be creating an image with the noise of a 400 ISO single image.. There are some limits but these are great factors to work with and the reduction in noise is quite nice. This kind of quality would allow me to print up to 30″ wide or tall with little noise.

100cropstack

 

I want the BEST print quality possible…I don’t want to see noise in my night images… I want highly detailed, fantastic light, true color (yes the stars have their own colors) big printable images and this is where compositing comes in.

You arrive at your location, you line up your shot, check your tripod legs (I used to have a faulty one that would collapse on its own free will during my long exposures) and wait till that foreground light is just right. Yes, I am talking about shooting your foreground image at sunrise or sunset for the best possible light, lowest ISO for the absolute best print quality.  Now, depending on how long after you shoot does the Milky Way rise you can either leave your camera set up in the exact same spot..or, as I would do, pack it up, take a nap, then set it up once the Milky Way rises into the correct position.

Once the Milky Way is up you will now want to shoot a sequence of images, I like 16 images, 20 seconds, back to back. I just set my camera to continuous mode, press the shutter release and lock it.. I don’t use a timer or mirror lock up because I want the time between each image to be as short as possible. This helps the stacking software align the stars more precisely.  Let’s take a closer look at what just 9 images does when stacking for noise reduction in the night sky.  On the left you see a cleaner image while on the right you see a pretty noisy image. The image on the left is made of 9 separate images.  If you look right in the middle you can see the difference the most

_DSC3829 copy

So now we have our beautiful foreground that was shot at ISO 64 and our stacked sky image that was shot at 3200 ISO with a noise level of ISO800 and now it’s time to make the magic happen. What I do is select the sky in the foreground image and delete it. I then bring my stacked sky into my foreground image and place it exactly where it should be. Remember, we are creating really scenes…not something that people will search their entire lives for a never find. Once I have my stacked sky in my foreground image I then edit them separately using layers and layer masks to make sure they work well together. This is a very important part of combining 2 images into 1.  I have seen so many images where people simply remove a sky and replace it but they don’t do anything with the foreground and it just looks like they pasted one on the other..I take much more pride in my work and make sure that it looks like one seamless image. Let’s take a look at what our starting point is for each of our images. The image on the left is the stacked image for the sky and the image on the left is the foreground image I will use… Now you will see the position of the Milky Way…

123

Once again thank you PhotoPills for the amazing software and letting us be able to line up our perfect shots..  After combining the 2 images, doing basic edits on both layers to seamlessly blend them together I ended up with what I like to call my Pre Edit.  I have cropped, adjusted color, contrast and added a little depth to the image. While this may look drastic to some, it’s really very minor in terms of post processing abilities.

Pre Edit

Pre Edit 100 crop1

I then take my image into Nik Software Color Efex Pro for final adjustments using

  • Warmth/Brilliance
  • Classic Soft Focus
  • Lighten/darken center
  • Contrast Only

Once these adjustments are made I go back into Photoshop to create my master file, web file and print file. Before we take a look at the final image lets take a look at all 3 steps again side by side.

45

Again we are doing all this work for the ultimate print quality. Printing big is something I take to heart and I want to make sure that you, as a client or customer, get the best quality possible. and Now let’s take a look at the final image. This is an image I would be happy to print without any hesitation whatsoever. It’s a real scene, anyone can see it on the right day of the year, you can get your own shot of this by only walking 10 feet from your car..I am not sending you on a wild goose chase.. One of the reasons I do photography is to inspire others to get outside and see the beautiful world we live in.

Final Resize

If you really take pride in your work, take the time to make sure your images are the best they can be. Cameras are only so good and while they produce amazing daytime images they can be lacking for nighttime images. We (most night photographers) make use of the software that is out there that allows us to go above and beyond the limitations of our cameras.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions you may have or photography items you would like to discuss. I am attaching a contact form below.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog, you can find out more about my work and our night photography workshops when you visit

 

 

What are Night Photography Workshops?

Night Photo cover

 

One of the most commonly asked question I get is, “What are your Night Photography Workshops all about?” The simple answer is, learning night photography. That being said, our workshops are much more than that.  They are fun, entertaining, educational and some have called them, “life changing.”

Myself, with Mike Berenson help to take your night photography to a much higher level. We welcome all skill levels into our workshops. One of the benefits of having 2 instructors is that you get more attention, you are able to ask more questions and get more helpful answers and you will leave the workshop without any unanswered questions. This is our goal. We want you to feel as though you have asked and been answered all the questions you had. We don’t hold anything back. We tell you all we know at the time.  I say, “at the time” because in the 4 years we have been doing the workshops so much has changed in the world of Night Photography. We do our best to keep up to date with the latest equipment, software and processing techniques so that we can give you the most current info to help you create the best possible images.

IMG_4160

Mike and I currently teach our Night Photography Workshops in Moab, Utah – Arches and Canyonlands National Park,  Jackson, Wyoming – Grand Teton National Park and Idaho Springs, Colorado – Mount Evans – the highest paved road in the America at over 14K feet. We have good working relationships with Ranch Inn in Jackson and Moab Valley Inn in Moab to provide you with a comfortable working space during your classroom time.  Classroom time?  Yes, we spend about 3 hours each day in “class” going over all kinds of aspects of Night Photography so that you have more time in the field each night to actually shoot and get great shots..   Trust me when I say we have more content for the classroom than we can use.. We have been making small modifications so that you get only the best and most important info available.

We meet on day 1 and go over an introduction about who we are, what the workshop will cover and some images that we hope will inspire you to get creative and make you want to learn. After all, that is why you are there.

group

CLASSROOM TRAINING

WHAT DOES THE CLASSROOM TRAINING CONTENT LOOK LIKE?

Students receive all training content in electronic format (in addition to the live training) giving them easy access all the clickable links and resources.

Topics We Like To Cover In Classroom Training

  • Planning
    • Key Concepts & Tools
    • Planning Resources On The Web
    • Getout There And Scout
    • Safe Night Photography
  • Shooting
    • Procedures & Settings
    • Noise & Noise Reduction
    • Multiple Exposures
    • Light Painting
    • Super Long-Exposures
  • Post-Processing
    • RAW Processing in Lightroom
    • Exposure Adjustments
    • Color Balance & Selective Color
    • Blending in Photoshop
    • Focus Stacking Blending
    • Star Spikes & Comet Like Star Trail Processing
    • Multiple Exposures for Noise Reduction
    • More On Noise Reduction
    • Panoramic Stitching
    • Sharpening For The Web

Software Applications We Use In The Post-Processing Portion

  • Primary
    • Adobe Lightroom
    • Adobe Photoshop
  • Secondary
    • Nik Color Efex Pro & Dfine
    • Star Spikes Pro

Evans Workshop Group

 

Depending on the time of year (April, May June) we tend to take advantage of Milky Way shooting and sunrise. August and September we generally take advantage of sunset and Milky Way.  We have found this makes it a bit easier on our students and allows them to get more out of the workshop and see the area we are working in before it gets dark. With 2 instructors and taking advantage of sunrise or sunset we feel this really adds quite a bit of value to the workshops.

We have finished up day 1 of classroom training. Out into the field we go. What do we do now?  We will discuss some group shooting guidelines so that everyone can have an enjoyable experience. Once we have talked about that we will discuss the most important aspect of night photography. No matter how epic the skies are, no matter how relaxed you feel to be under a billion stars, no matter how far you hiked or drove there is one thing that will ruin your night of photography quicker than anything else… Any guesses is to what that is?   Not knowing how to focus in the dark. I could write 20 pages on this alone but the simple fact is, you don’t want soft blurry images… You don’t sacrifice sleep, time and effort (hiking) to get home with properly exposed images only to find they are blurry.  This is the first thing we will teach you on night 1 of the workshop. No matter if you are working on points of light or long exposure star trails, you want your images to be sharp so that when you print them (yes, you should be printing your work) they will look as good as they can. Why is it the first thing we will teach you?  We don’t want you to waste an entire night of shooting great nights scenes only to be disappointed when you come to class on day 2 to find that all your images were blurry… Having your images in focus and sharp is, in my opinion, the most important part of night photography in relation to image quality.

Mike and Lillian

We work with you, both in the classroom and in the field, to make sure you get any questions answered you want. If you don’t know how to find something in the menu of your camera then either Mike or I will know how to find it. Combined we have almost 60 years of photography experience with all kinds of cameras and lenses. Mike and I have slightly different processing styles which seem to work very well during the post processing portion of the classroom training. Because we have different shooting and processing styles, our combined knowledge really compliments each other to give the most benefit to our students.

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We love answering your questions and making sure you are learning. We will not only tell you “how” but we will also tell you “why” we do things the way we do. This gives you a better understanding and a better knowledge base for your photography. There is a lot of science behind getting great images from Night Photography and we want to make sure you know as much as possible.

With 3 hours of classroom training each day and 6+ hours of shooting each night the workshops can feel a bit intense. We ask that you go at your own pace. By this we mean that if you don’t feel like you can stay out as late with the group then don’t feel bad if you need to get some rest..either by sleeping in a car if you rode with someone or going back to the hotel. We want you to feel comfortable and your safety is our #1 priority.

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Another fun thing we like to do is help you identify what it is you are looking at in the night sky. Mike will give you a “tour of the night sky” with his green laser pointer which usually draws some “Wow”, “Holy Cow” and “Where did you get that thing” because it does an amazing job of pointing right where he wants you to look. Most people know the Milky Way but not the surrounding celestial objects… We are here to help. This is also fun so that when you do get home and are showing your images to your friends or sharing them online you accurately describe what the objects are in your image.

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During our 5 night events in Moab, Utah we have permission to take our group into Moab Giants Dinosaur park and use their model dinosaurs as props/foregrounds in front of the night sky. It’s a fun experience for everyone.

Stars over Teton RanchIridium Flare over Grand TetonJackson Lake Northern Lights Pano

We love teaching in various locations because each area uses a different type of lighting. Workshops in Grand Teton National Park us natural lighting either from the stars or the moon to help illuminate the scenes. Generally speaking, the mountains are too far away to light paint. We time our workshops with the proper moon phases so that we can get the best possible light on our scenes. All 3 of the above images uses only natural light from either the moon or stars to light the scene. The top and middle image are all moonlight. In the middle image you will see an Iridium Flare that we set up to capture with our group. The bottom image is a multi shot pano which captures the Milky Way over Mount Moran from Jackson Lake as well as the northern lights glowing on the horizon. We have a very high percentage of return students who will take a workshop in the Tetons or Arches one year and then take the other one the next year. Different locations, different learning experiences.

Jackson Lake StarsNight On the Farm

Some people really love the long exposures. We teach various techniques with different focal lengths as well and where to position the camera for the desired result. In the top image a 50mm lens was used to create the longer trails of light looking West. The image on the bottom was created using a 14mm lens and doing multiple shorter exposures to the North that we later combined in PS to create the comet like stars. The bottom image was also planned so that we could capture the ISS as it flew by, low on the horizon.

Milky Way Dreams at Delicate Arch (1)Earth Day Visitors (1)

Our workshops in Arches National Park really take advantage of light painting and using LLL – Low Level Lighting – to illuminate the arches and rocks. Workshop groups are no longer allowed to use any handheld illumination devices to light paint. We have found that our LLL works better anyway as it keeps the light very even across the scene..

Delicate Air Glow

Delicate Arch – The highlight of our Arches workshop.  This scene uses just 1 LED light panel that is placed to properly illuminate the arch. This allows for constant even lighting for everyone to use.

Heavens above Turret (1)

September 2016 – our last Arches workshop of the year. The above image was created with years of planning. It’s not an image 1 person could realistically set up and capture. This image took 3 LED lights, 2 instructors with walkie talkies, clear skies, right time of year and some patience to properly align everything. Mike had one group over at Turret Arch and I had another group shooting this scene. Mike and I communicated back forth while the students took test shots to make sure the lighting was in the right spot. Once the light was in the right place my group of students took their shots and then switched over to Mike’s group and his group came over to shoot this scene. It really was a magical night for everyone. We had 2 students who traveled all the way from Austria who also had this vision in mind so it worked out perfectly.

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Mike Wetzel – 2 time workshop student – uses LLL and comet like star trail processing to create the magical image of Double Arch in Arches National Park.

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Also a 2 time workshop student, Jann Ledbetter shoots Delicate Arch from the viewpoint as you end the hike. Jann writes – “Another Milky Way shot…this one over Delicate Arch (while the Aurora was dancing behind us!!). Definitely worth the somewhat scary climb to get up there!
This night was magical in a way that will NEVER be forgotten!!
Thanks Darren and Mike for making it all happen!”

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Being part of a group going out at night always feels safer to me. Even if it’s just me and one other person, there is a level of safety that helps to ease the tension of possible dangers and let’s my mind work on photography. We have had this told to us many times by our students as well.  We spend 3-5 days together and friendships are created which makes it a much more enjoyable experience, specially in today’s world of sharing via social media… We like group pictures, we like people having fun and learning.. So what happens after the workshop is over?  We will send you a post workshop evaluation that we hope you will answer with complete honesty. This helps us make the workshops better and a lot of great ideas have come from the feedback our students have given us.

What else?  You probably have at least 1 full media card if not 2 with roughly 1000 images just sitting there waiting to be processed. One thing that will ease your mind is knowing that Mike and I are always willing to help you after the workshop is over. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to send either one of us an email and we will do our best to get you moving in the right direction.

For me the final product is the print.. Seeing that image at least 18″ wide on beautiful photo paper, metal or acrylic is really the end of the photographic process. Some of our students have taken it much further..

We teach you how to focus, scout locations, properly expose and compose, how to find a great foreground to go with your sky, how to minimize noise in your images and when you put that all together…..

Hal Mitzenmacher writes – Darren White, Mike Berenson – THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! Without the techniques you have taught me, I could never have dreamed of printing night images at 24″ x 83″ without a trace of noise and sharp as a tack (forgive my cell phone pic, I was so excited at the results I was seeing, my hand was shaking). I thought it would be appropriate to print this out on some of Legion Paper’s Moab Slickrock Pearl Metallic. It makes the image pop

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Thank you Hal and all of the students who have taken our workshops… We truly have a genuine interest in taking your learning to the next level.

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 What are people saying about our workshops –

Mike and Darren make a fantastic team. They bring a very wide range of skills and techniques to the workshop. They both willingly share their skills with all and strive to better each student’s knowledge of the craft.
– Rob from Colorado

Excellent workshop, well organized, professional.  I will definitely do another workshop with you guys.  I’ve done a lot of workshops, this is one of the ‘best’ for quality & value.
– Greg from California

The workshop was Muy Bueno!  This was not the first workshop that I take and let me tell you it has been the one I enjoy the most.  You both make me feel like we were friends for a long time.
– Guillermo from Mexico

I thought the workshop was excellent, a lot of great information especially about how to go about planning when and where to go out to shoot the milky way.  The in-field instruction was great and I was able to get my questions asked and answered.
– Angie from Missouri

I had a total blast on this workshop and learned a lot!  I’m so excited to try what I learned out on my own.  I’m also excited to do another workshop in the future!
– Elizabeth from Colorado

Mike and Darren – Thank you for being so patient with me as I adjusted to new equipment and not talking down to me. It was a little intimidating but I loved the workshop. You made me feel very comfortable with questions etc.  I love how down to earth you both are. I definitely walked away wanting more and hope to join you in Arches in the future after my 17 year old graduates this upcoming year. I do wish we could have covered more in class but definitely felt that outside the class I learned quite a bit from both of you. Next time will ensure that I am more comfortable with my newer equipment.  Thanks again for the inspiration.  I have already recommended you on Facebook.
– Raemi from Colorado

 

You can read many more testimonials as well as view our upcoming events here Night Photography Workshop

 

Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art – Not Just For Portraits

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A couple weeks ago as I was getting ready to walk out the door and head to Moab, Utah for our 2nd sold out Night Photography Workshop of the year I heard a knock on my door and to my surprise he was delivering my new Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art lens.

I was happy to say the least. I opened my camera bag, made room for the beast and off to Moab, Utah I went. As soon as I finished with the workshop in Moab I headed north on a mini vacation with my daughter as we road tripped through Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska. I used the lens frequently when I felt it was the right focal length. I am not a portrait photographer by any means so I had other uses for this lens. Lucky for me I was able to make all of my ideas work because I took my time and did not rush myself in the field.

Without further ado I would like to share with you some real world images that were taken with the 85mm lens at various settings and using various techniques which I will describe when needed… Each of these images are for the most part unedited. I did resize them a bit smaller to fit the blog better.

Dillion Reservoir near Breckenridge, Colorado – This was the first image I took with the lens. En Route to Moab this made a good first stop to stretch the legs. The sun was setting and I had time to get my tripod set up and wait for the water to calm a little bit. All the images in this blog were taken using a Nikon D810 and Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art Lens. The settings for this image are as follows: ISO 64, 1.6 seconds, F9

Dillion Reservoir

I had arrived in Moab, Utah and was checking out some new to me areas. I liked the early morning light hitting the canyon walls and figured this would be a good time to test out the shallow DOF… I was about 15 ft away when I shot this image and you can see that even at 1.8 it did a good job of isolating the front of my Jeep. Keeping it in tack sharp focus while allowing the rest of the scene to go soft.

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I was actually shooting the landscape behind the rock when I saw this little lizard crawl out and onto the rock to check out my new lens…I figured why not snap a picture of him.

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Shooting the layers of land from Dead Horse Point State Park in Moab, Utah. When shooting at a distance where nothing is directly in front of you, 6.3 f stop works well and keeps everything in check. The furthest hills may be a tad soft and in my opinion that is just fine..All the layers up front are good and sharp.

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During our workshops we like to include either sunsets or sunrises into our in field training to maximize shooting time for our students. This image was taken from the Lasal Mountain Overlook in Arches National Park as a small storm was blowing past us during sunset.

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Great DOF and razor sharp at 2.8.. I was about 4 feet away when I took this image. One of our students was making some adjustments on his camera.

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While the 85mm doesn’t have OS, IS or VR, I still find it very easy to shoot handheld in daylight hours.  Maybe because I have always shot big SLR cameras. This is an image just south of Devils Tower in Wyoming and when I crossed the bridge and looked over, I knew I had to stop and snap a few pics.

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One of the biggest reasons I wanted an 85mm lens is to create massive size panos. This image is made up of 7 vertical images to create a 179mb file which is 5x larger than each of the single images that come from my D810. If needed this image could be printed almost 20ft wide and 6t tall. Also when doing this it allows  you to crop if you need to or see another image within the image you want to use.

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Another reason for doing panos is to create a much higher res file… Below is a full 100% crop and you can see how sharp this is even at 100%.

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Night Photography is where I really plan on using this lens the most. By using the 85mm focal length and this lens in particular with its sharpness I can now create extremely high res, highly detailed images of the Milky Way. Using advanced Noise Reduction techniques and reinforcing the points of light not only creates a much cleaner image but also brings out some colors you would not normally see.

Made from 10 images by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.4.0.

And last but surely not least…The most time consuming and most effort put into an image. 48 images total (8×6) to create an even larger file with a subject. 6 back to back images in 8 different camera positions. Each group of 6 first stacked to create one noiseless file. Each of the 8 noiseless files then stitched to create the entire scene. Shot at 6400 ISO as orig RAW imags. This file now has the noise of a 1600 ISO file when printed at full size..which is huge… When doing smaller prints the noise level will be around that of a 400 ISO file simply because of the massive file size. Think 16×20 contact print for those of you who are familiar with film.  Shots like this are time consuming both in the field and back in the digital darkroom. I don’t recommend doing something like this when shooting in a large group or you time in the digital darkroom could be increased exponentially due to any kind of light that would get into one or more of your shots during your sequence of exposures. < That will be for another blog all on it’s own.. For now let’s just take a deep breath and try to fully realize the crazy amount of detail you can get in your images with the Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art lens.

Made from 6 images by Starry Landscape Stacker 1.4.0.

While I did not use it for any portraits or any people images, I am told it’s an award winning lens for that too…and I believe it. For me personally, it will be used to create massive panos, highly detailed images of the night sky and crazy shallow DOF images when needed… Also when possible I will use it just to create a wider angle of view..

I can stitch 2 85mm images together to create a 42mm wide shot, 3 images can create a 28mm wide image and 5 images can create an image that is as wide as a 17mm image yet all of these will have much larger file sizes and be able to print cleaner and larger than any single image.

I do plan on sharing more images from this lens as time goes on and I use it more. I think things are going to get pretty exciting.

Please feel free to leave a comment or message. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have!

Shooting With Film Again

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1991 – High School

Good times for sure. Lots of friends, no internet so we had to talk to each other to communicate. My sophomore year I joined the yearbook and newspaper teams as a photographer. I spent a good portion of my days in the darkroom filling orders for the copy teams, developing film and making prints. I loved it. I got to work on my own or with 1 other person and didn’t have anyone telling me what to do.. As I look back on it now, I really consider it my first job. I was in charge of the darkroom by my senior year.  I made sure things ran smoothly and that prints and images were ready to go on time. We had deadlines to meet.

I graduated HS in 1993 and began college. I entered some images into our local County Fair and took first place in all the categories I had entered. After arriving back home from a trip to Montana my mom told me that the owner of our 1 hr film lab wanted to talk to me about a job. I was very excited…I had wanted this job for a while but was turned down about 6 months earlier. When I asked my mom why he wanted to talk to me now, she said that he saw my work at the fair.

I went to work at the photo lab for about 3 years  saving all my money and I was finally able to purchase my first Pro camera (Nikon F4s).  While working there I was also doing some sports photography for our local newspaper that just happened to be across the street. I did that for about a year. My real love was photography for me, for my soul, not working for someone else. The money and benefits weren’t good enough at those jobs so I had to grow up and get a real job…..with benefits. Photography kind of went by the wayside for many years…

In that time digital cameras had hit the market in a big way and changed photography. I jumped on that bandwagon and am still riding it today. I love photography in general. Digital is great, fast paced and fairly simply given my background with film. I was no computer wizard so that was the tough part of the learning curve.. Film went bye bye, I wasn’t working in a darkroom or making prints anymore. I felt as though something was missing from my life. The years went on, I moved a few times, had a few more real jobs, got married and had a child…

2016 – 41 yrs old and I’ll be dammed if I can’t do what I want when I want…

I want to shoot film again, I want to make pictures and I want to develop my own film – I knew this would not happen overnight. First, after deciding that I wanted to shoot film again I also knew that I wanted to shoot Medium Format as well as 35mm.

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Choosing a Medium Format camera that I felt was a good fit for me took a little while. I did not want a fixer upper but I also did not want to spend an arm and a leg – remember I have a family.  I finally decided on the Mamiya C330f – Twin Lens Reflex. It shoots 120mm film and each negative is 6cm x 6cm which is quite a bit larger than 35mm. I had never shot medium format before as well as I had never shot a camera that did not have a light meter built in. Now with a camera and some film I am ready to go.  I get out there and all set up and now I am not sure how to meter the scene. Good thing I had my Nikon D810 with me. I set all the settings the same and used it to meter the scene. This worked pretty well  but if I am going to be honest it was a bit of a hassle to have another camera just for that.. A month ago I purchased a handheld light meter that does a great job. Sekonic 308 because it was small, decent price and offered both indecent and reflective light metering.

After having a few rolls of exposed film I needed to get them developed and since I did not have the proper chemicals at my house I took them to Englewood Camera to be developed. I have created a nice working relationship with the employees there and they have always done a great job with my work.

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Now that I had some processed film and paper to print on, I was ready to get back into the darkroom and start making prints. Well there are not many darkrooms left that don’t want either an arm or a leg or for you to bring all your own stuff i.e chemicals. After a little research I found a place up in Boulder, Colorado that offers darkroom rentals for a very reasonable price. I rent it for 3hrs at a time and this allows me enough time to get a fair amount of work done.

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With the camera, film, a lab to process the film and a place to make prints I am pretty well set up to begin producing my own prints again. Over the last year since acquiring the camera I have had a lot of fun buying new films, light meter and chemicals so that in the very near future I will be doing all my own developing at home. I am not sure I will ever have a place where I can make prints at home and I am OK with that. I am simply very happy I have all the tools in place to begin this journey again.

Last week I took advantage of an expired film sale that Englewood Camera had. Some of the film has been expired for almost 40 years. I just shot a roll of black and white the other day that was expired 18 years ago and after getting it developed it looked really good…no light leaks or fogging. I will be printing from those negatives tomorrow.

 

So by now you may be asking yourself, “Why is he shooting film again?” and the answer is very simply. It slows me down, makes me think and let’s me appreciate what I am shooting/doing. From setting up the camera, getting a good focus, checking the light, taking the image, getting the roll developed and then choosing the best image to print can be a time consuming process. The center print above of Yosemite Falls was taken last summer while on vacation with my daughter. Starting next week I will be doing some scans of the images and while I plan on doing scans to post online. I am not going to do any prints from the digital scans unless I get an order for one that is bigger than I can print myself.

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As of right now I can print up to 16×24 directly from the negatives. If I were to do a drum scan of the negative then the native print size at 300dpi would be 60×60 inches.  Yes, that is the power of shooting Medium Format film. In digital terms that would mean your file would have to be 18,000×18,000.  As soon as our living room is done being painted I will be printing an image 36×117 inches that is a panorama from my digital camera. The file size is 24089×7379.

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For me personally, this is something I loved to do as a kid and something I want to enjoy again. The images that I produce wont be available to the masses. Not everyone will have one and more than likely not more that 10 prints will ever be made from the same negative. From start to finish I will have my hand on the process the entire way. The images that I create on film will not be the grand landscapes you see from me today. I will be shooting people, cityscapes, close ups, abstracts, patterns, textures, shallow DOF ect…. I love shooting landscapes, big, colorful landscapes and now I want to incorporate images that tell more of a story and really make the viewer think about what they are looking at or the story that goes with the image.

I hope this gives you a little insight on what is coming up for me in the very near future. Do I plan to give up digital?, No. Just planning on shooting more film along the way.

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Be sure to contact me directly if you have any questions or just want to talk about photography. You can also find me on the interwebs, FB, IG, and TW..

2016 – A Year In Review

It feels good to sit down with a little free time and finally write this blog. As bad as I wanted to write this before I left for my trip on Dec 21st, 2016 and just get it out-of-the-way, I am glad I waited. One of my favorite images of the year was captured on New Years Eve in Bandon, Oregon. Taking 2 weeks away from the chaos of the holidays was the perfect way to end the year and cleanse my mind. I spent my time along the Oregon Coast and the weather was really nice for December.

I am doing this a bit different from most other photographers. Many photographers simply pick their favorite images of the year. I am going to share with you 2 images from each month. That being said, obviously some will be much better than others simply because there are certain months of the year when I don’t do as much in the field.

January – Starting the year off with a bang broncos-win-afc-championship-game-20161

Holy Cow! If you were a Denver Bronco Fan then your year started off pretty dang good when they beat Tom Brady and the Patriots to win the AFC Championship and head to the Super Bowl. I had 2 options. Buy a ticket to the game and get a shot from the inside or find this vantage point and hope they won. Including myself there were only 3 photographers who had this view and only 1 other photographer who got a shot similar to this. We were on the overpass (in a pedestrian walk area) getting live updates from our phones so that we could time our shooting so we did not miss the fireworks. The fireworks only lasted a couple of seconds and they were gone. Given all the back story to this image, this is a once in a lifetime shot. Peyton Manning’s last game in this stadium. The last time he would ever play against Tom Brady. Peyton Manning retired after winning the Super Bowl. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @82mm, 64 ISO, F16, 1/4th second. Multiple images at these settings combined to make the final image.

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Steamboat, Colorado is such a beautiful small place. I had been wanting to photograph this old historic barn/cabin for several years and the right conditions never presented themselves when I could go. After learning about a massive snowfall and then a day of clearing, I took my chances, I arrived in the middle of the night and simply waited for this light. Sunrise this morning was a bust, it was very foggy. After a couple of hours the sun had come up and the fog had lifted. I feel blessed to have shot this with no footprints or any signs of people. What drew me to this particular image was the shadows and lines in the snow. I also loved how the wood grain of the barn contrasted so nicely as the sun was hitting it. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @62mm, F9, 64 ISO,  1/250th second.

February balanced-rock-mono

Balanced Rock is an iconic location in Colorado’s “Garden of the Gods”.  From the parking area the rock really doesn’t look like it’s going to tip over because the base seems so much larger. I was set on trying to find an angle and vantage point that was a bit more dramatic. Something that would really give the viewer the illusion that it was ready to fall at any moment. Even walking around while standing up was different from getting low to the ground, as I did in this shot. I used the widest lens I had, got very close to the ground and shot the image looking up. I waited for a few minutes until the clouds were right over the rock to add a bit more drama to the overall image.  Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Rok 14mm, F11, 64 ISO, 1/20th second.

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No scene is ever the same twice. This is 100% true when speaking about landscape photography. If you see something you like, you better shoot it now because it will be totally different when you come back. I was actually on my way to another location when I was driving into Chatfield Lake State Park near my home here in Colorado. I saw the sky blowing up with color through the trees and I had to stop and get this shot. It took a moment to compose it to my liking and while this image doesn’t have a huge impact at this smaller size. Imagine it as a very large print in the 50×50 inch range. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @105, F5.6, 200 ISO, 1/160th second

Marchoregon-storms

A typical, classic overcast day along the Oregon Coast. I had spent most of the morning hiking around the various areas of Cape Meares and I could see a big storm rolling in out over the ocean. As I made my way back up the trail I found this scene with the layered clouds and seas that were just starting to get rough. The color version looks black and white with very little contrast. I decided to just go with the Monochrome on this one and bring out the drama I was seeing with my own eyes when I shot the image. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @68mm, 64 ISO, F8, 1/80th second

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Ahhh, those springtime sunsets. The ponds have thawed, there are still some clouds in the sky and the colors are so unique. When I was walking around the pond I couldn’t quite find the comp I was looking for so I decided to do a panorama image of the entire scene. My results fascinated me. I never expected the land to be perfectly level with the clouds forming a circle in the sky and reflection. I believe this is a 5 shot vertical pano covering 180 degrees as I am looking north. The clouds were the reason I decided to pick this image. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @24mm, 100 ISO, F8, 1/2 second.

April

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I live 11 miles from Red Rocks and when I am home and there are no concerts going on this makes a nice vantage point to get above the city. I could see these clouds building up and was actually going up there for sunset. The weather in Colorado is crazy, don’t let anyone tell you different. As the sun began to set behind us and this cloud started pouring down rain, this gorgeous rainbow appeared. This lasted for about 3-4 minutes before the clouds behind us got dark and angry. We barely had time to get to the car before the lightning was striking all around us and hail was pounding the ground.  Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @105, 64 ISO, F8, 1/320th second.

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The Milky Way Rainbow over the Paint Mines near Calhan, Colorado. Away from the town of Colorado Springs far enough to take advantage of some really dark skies is a beautiful place known as the Paint Mines.  We timed this image so that we could get the full moon rising a couple of hours before sunrise. This image showcases a few different things. A full 180 degree Milky Way. Roughly 8 images were used for the panorama sequence. The full moon rising under the Milky Way, the Milky Way bubble with the Lagoon Nebula and a very very rare siting of Comet 252p/linear. I am not sure if you can see that on this image but during April many photographers were noticing a small green dot in their night images. After doing a little research I found out that it was indeed a comet. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Rok 14mm – 3200 ISO, F2.8, 30 seconds.

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During one of our workshops in Grand Teton National Park. While our Night Photography Workshops focus on shooting the night sky, we also like to allow our students to take advantage of sunset conditions when they present themselves. We could see this forming for miles. We arrived at this location with our students and it was fun to watch them all scatter and find a good vantage point. Mike stayed up top with some of the students and I went down along the creek with the rest and then the sky just started lighting up and put on a show for about 30 min. It was one of the most incredible sunsets I had ever seen. When we all gathered back at the cars we were all just speechless. It was a great bonus for our students to get to see such an amazing sight in such an amazing place. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @35mm, 64 ISO, F8, 1/15th second.

my-million-star-hotel

I’m not sure there is a better place to get a good nights rest. This particular night I went out with 2 other photographers down to 11 mile reservoir west of Colorado Springs, Colorado. We knew our timing was perfect for the milky way shots we wanted to get. One of my friends decided to bring his yellow tent. Towards the end of the night we decided it was time to set it up. The Milky Way was in the perfect location in the sky for the shots we wanted.  Many people will argue that this is a composite image or multiple image blend but I can assure you this is a single exposure. We used some creative lighting techniques to properly illuminate the tent from the inside and the longer, blurry stars in the water are simply from the water moving a little bit during the exposure. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24mm 1.4, F2.2, 1600 ISO, 30 seconds.

Junebleeding-light

Vacation time with my daughter. We set out on a 6 week road trip, traveling through many states and national parks. We left our home in Denver and drove straight through to Yosemite NP in California. Crazy I know. It was her idea. I will openly admit I had never been here before and I had not planned out any places to shoot. I wanted to experience it with fresh eyes and no set images I wanted.  We car camped up at Glacier Point that night and what a great experience that was for her. My daughter loves car camping. It was a crystal clear night, billions of stars to see. The next day we wandered around the park in the early hours after sunrise and I found this scene. I loved the way the light was beaming down behind the rocks yet in the middle of the scene. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @90mm, F7.1, 64 ISO, 1/320th second.

coastal-clover-sunset

As much as I love the Oregon Coast all year-long, there is one thing that makes Summer that much more special. The clover blooms along the beach. When you book a room at either the Overleaf Lodge and Spa or Fireside Motel these blooms are right our your front door on the beach. I happened to be here at peak season and they were beautiful . There was a very thin haze in the sky which made for a very colorful sunset in spite of the fact that there were no clouds. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @52mm, 200 ISO, F13, 1/80th second

Julydelicate-explosion1

Delicate Arch, Moab, Utah, Arches National Park with the Milky Way bursting out from behind. I had tried this shot on many occasions and was bound and determined to get it right. I knew it could not be done with 1 image so I started looking around for software programs that would zoom the stars for you. I didn’t find any that I thought gave good results. One night while out shooting I decided to use my zoom lens and do a longer exposure while zooming the lens. It worked. It took me a few tries to get it like I wanted but in the end I had the stars just how I wanted. I knew I could then shoot the arch and blend to the 2 together. For those of you who have been up to Delicate arch in the summer, you know the Milky Way does appear right behind the arch. It’s quite a sight to experience. I was happy to be able to make my vision come to life with this image. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-35 @35mm, F2, 3200 ISO, 20 seconds

colorado-morning

Rocky Mountain National Park, 90 miles from my home. This particular morning I was scouting for Elk in the meadow and I noticed these clouds forming over the mountain. I walked along the stream to find a decent comp where I could include the foreground rocks under the water. A short exposure freezing the water would not allow the viewer to see the rocks. By using a slightly longer shutter speed the water moved over the rocks during the exposure and allowing them to be visible. When I took this shot I remember thinking how nice it was the way the clouds expanded from the mountain covering the entire sky of my frame. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Rok 14mm, F18, 31 ISO,  0.8 seconds.

Augustkolors-of-kansas

August was the month I fell in love with Kansas all over again. I used to visit all the time as a kid. We had (have) family that live there. I remember big hail storms in the summer and everyone running for cover. Broken windows, dented cars, ect… I met Barbara Mandrell in Kansas back in the early 80’s. Family got older, we quit going to the reunions and time passed. Then one day while scrolling through the internet I found this picture of an arch. An arch I had never seen before. When I found out it was in Kansas and only a 5 hr drive…I took off. Not knowing what to expect I figured I would get out there, see it and then turn around and come home. Quite the opposite. While the area is rather small and there are only 2 rock formations on the property, you can walk around all of them to get different views and angles, depending on what the weather is doing. I went out there twice  for a couple of days at a time and there was never a dull moment. massive thunder and lighting storms all night and epic sunrise and sunsets in the morning and evening.  This particular image was taken just as the sun was setting and these monster clouds were building. I kid you not. An hour after I shot this, we had major lighting bolts 366 degrees all around us. It was amazing. I left the person in here to give the area a sense of scale. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Rok 14mm, F15, 64 ISO, 1/2 second.

milky-way-monsoon

And then it happened. This cloud produced serious lighting all night long. While most of it was internal it still lit up the cloud very nicely. Again, this is a single exposure image. There are a few areas of the clouds that look like they are layered and the reason that it looks that way is because the lightning was going off multiple times during the exposure so the clouds were in very slightly different positions, therefore, showing the movement of the clouds. This was only the second time in my life where I had a chance to witness a storm cloud and lighting with the clear sky above. The previous time was up in RMNP and I was already at 11k feet. This image in Kansas was taken at sea level. Exif Data – Nikon D810 –Sigma 24-35 @24mm, F2.2, 1600 ISO, 30 seconds.

Septemberwindow-to-the-heavens

Mike and I plan our workshops roughly 9 months in advance. After looking at the dates for our final Arches workshop in 2016 I began to do a bit of research. I had been to this location several times for sunrise or sunset and even one time at night by myself. None of the images I go turned out like this. This was the image I wanted. I had been dreaming of this image for about 3 years. I quickly checked the position of the Milky Way and knew it would be lined up perfectly. I knew with both instructors we would have enough light panels to properly light each of the areas of the arches. We made the suggestion to our students on what was a crystal clear night and they jumped at the chance to do this. We had 2 students from Austria who were very excited about this location and were asking me about it even before the workshop started. Working together with other people to create an image that is rarely seen sure is a nice treat. Mike worked with one group of students back at Turret Arch and I worked with another group at this location. By using walkie talkies we were able to do test shots until we got the lights in just the right spot. We let after my group got their shots, we let the groups switch locations so that everyone who wanted a chance to shoot this got it. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-35 @35mm, F2, 3200 ISO, 25 seconds.

oxbows-autumn

Grand Teton National Park, Jackson, Wyoming. Mount Moran reflecting in the very calm Snake river as the fall colors line the banks. When shooting this location ( and I have many times ) it’s amazing how just a few steps this way or that way can really make a difference in your composition based on the way you’re facing the mountains. We generally schedule our final workshop of the year in Grand Teton National Park. We are able to take advantage of the late summer Milky Way as well as the fall colors. When we have ambitious students like we normally do, it’s not uncommon to show up at class in the afternoon and hear how awesome their day was shooting the sunrise. We really like that they can take advantage of the other wonderful scenery as well as the gorgeous night sky. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @105mm, F5.6, 64 ISO, 1/250th second.

Octobercrystal-mill-fall-sunrise

I have a 4×4 Jeep but it’s not really suited for the kind of driving needed to get up to the infamous Crystal Mill near Crystal, Colorado. So, when a group of friends asks you to go along for a weekend of shooting and camaraderie up in the mountains, you don’t say no. Even better was the fact that we were going during the fall colors and we had a cabin right across the street. I had seen a billion shots of this mill and knew I wanted something at least slightly different for my own. Anyone who has been here knows that it’s a pretty cramped location. You can just pull out a 35mm lens when you’re down near the water and get the whole scene in the shot… I mean that mill is right there in front of you looking down on you.  I used the widest lens I had at the time and did a sequence of about 7 shots to get this more than 180 degree pano and still include the entire stream and the sky. I had to leave a day early  and when I left there was a nice storm blowing in and the next day all the fall color was gone and the trees were bare. Hearing that made me even more glad that we arrived when we did and not put it off till the following weekend. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Rok 14mm, 7 images, F22, 64 ISO, 1/20th second.

pumpkin-spiced-aspens

After getting back down to my Jeep I knew I had the whole day ahead of me. I wasn’t in a rush to get home. I took my time wandering around Colorado and enjoying the fall colors. We stopped in Crested Butte and had lunch at Secret Stash Pizza. So good. Highly recommended when you’re in Crested Butte, CO. After some pizza I continued on my way home, again not in a hurry. I was getting close to Buena Vista when I saw a sign for Cottonwood Lake. I had never been there before and decided to drive down the road to see what I could find. Well, let me tell you, that entire area is great for fall colors. As I was looking for a nice grove of Aspens I also knew I wanted some color mixed in. By this time the sun was getting low on the horizon and the road, which is pretty much just a canopy of Aspen trees wasn’t letting much light in. I was almost to the end and I looked to my left and saw these nice Aspens with some nice colors mixed in. I quickly  grabbed my camera and took 2 shots before the light totally changed the entire scene. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @105mm, F7.1, 200 ISO, 1/40th second.

Novembertree-trunks-in-the-sunset-light

One of the things I always tell people is that the light is never the same twice. Even if it looks close, it’s not. Your camera will read it differently each time. These trees are generally pretty ugly and not much to look at. I walk around this pond where they are located often, usually not seeing much to shoot. This particular evening happened to be different. The light was low and soft. Some fall color still remained and the way the light was hitting the grasses really struck a chord with me. I carefully composed the image with the trees offset so that nothing was centered. I wanted the viewer to be able to look around in the image yet not go out of the frame. By keeping a tree on each side I feel I accomplished this. I also liked the layers this image offered. From the golden grasses to the reds and then back to the sunlight coming in from the top. I felt as though there was just enough depth to make it work. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 105macro, F2.8, 64 ISO, 1/50th second.

hallett-nights

Hallett Peak from Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Yes, I like to shoot at night when it’s cold. Not only do the skies seem clearer but the cool temps also keep your sensor from heating up too quick and adding excess noise to your images. This image was actually shot as we were leaving. We had been shooting from the other side as the moon was rising and lighting up another mountain. As we were leaving I noticed the partially frozen lake and thought that might make a nice foreground in addition to the stars in the sky. As you can see here this is a late in the year Milky Way image. The Milky Way has already flipped over and is now leaning  slightly to the north.  Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-35 @35mm, F2, 3200 ISO, 30 seconds.

Decemberpolar-express

The Polar Express – Durango, Colorado. This gorgeous steam engine is historic yet well-kept up by the Silveton Durango Narrow Gauge Railroad. You can hear it all over town when it’s running and on a cold winter morning the steam is really thick and there is lots of it. When you are on a family trip it makes things a bit more difficult to get a particular shot you may want. Adding to that the schedule of the train and it can be near impossible. One afternoon before we went to lunch I asked when the train was going to be coming back into the station?  They told me 2:45pm. That worked for me. As we were finishing up our lunch I noticed the sky getting darker as if there was a storm moving in. I went down to the tracks and found a good vantage point that would allow me to fill the frame with the steam engine. Just after I shot this it started pouring cats and dogs…I packed up my gear and found cover.  Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @105mm, F7.1, 200 ISO, 1/500th second.

bandon-new-year-eve-light-show

Last but not least, the reason I waited to write this blog until after my trip to Oregon over the holidays. In the 10+ years I have been going to Bandon, Oregon I have only been totally skunked one time. Even when the weather is overcast you can still get some great shots. It’s simply a photographers paradise. I had been in Bandon for 4 days and didn’t have many clouds. I, personally, like clouds in my images. I am not a fan of clear blue skies unless I am planning on shooting the stars at night (I did some of that too). Just as my luck would have it the clouds started forming early on New Years Eve day. I could see it was going to be great. I just needed to find a nice comp that would showcase not only the clouds reflecting in the wet sand but also the depth of the beach.  I found my comp, made sure there was separation between the 3 middle rocks and then started shooting. I did some long exposures, short exposures, really long exposures, some with the water coming into the frame, some without out. While I am out shooting I generally will shoot though most scenes and then pick the best one when I get back to have a good look on the computer. Something about the waterline in this one as the wave stopped and then headed back out to the sea really caught my eye. I feel like when I am looking at this my eye initially sees the entire scene but then follows the white line through the frame. This lets the viewer explore more of what the scene has to offer. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end 2016. Exif Data – Nikon D810 – Sigma 24-105 @24mm, F14, 64 ISO, 2.5 seconds.

As you can see 2016 was a great year. I had a wonderful time with my family in various locations as well as co teaching our night photography workshops. All of these images are available as Fine Art Photographic Prints, Fine Art Canvas Gallery Wraps, Fine Art Metal Prints or Fine Art Acrylic Face Mount Prints. I will offer special discounts to those of you who contact me via the contact form below.  Simply message me with the medium you would like, the image description and size. Thank you all again for your continued support throughout the years. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog,

Darren White – Darren White Photography

What’s in my bag – Gear I use

I often get asked, “what camera and what lens did you shoot that with?” Generally speaking my answer is usually, “a digital SLR.”  A very vague answer, yes. Every photographer has a different goal with their work. We are not all going to print 40×96 images nor are all of us just going to simply post online. We photograph for many various reasons and I can honestly tell you that the best camera to have is the one you have with you.  I am seeing more and more magazine covers that have been shot with smartphones. Our phones do a pretty good job when we don’t have to make huge prints or we just want to share something to Instagram or Facebook.  Now try to print that same photo as a 24×36 and see  how it looks. Probably not so great. For me, personally, I need to make sure my images are clean, sharp and will enlarge without showing artifacts.

I feel safe in saying that 98% of all digital SLR cameras today do a pretty dang good job with image quality. When faced with basic daylight landscape shooting I think it would be very hard to tell the difference in an 12×18 print shot with 12, 16, 20, or 36mp camera. Blow that same image up to a 40×60 and now the difference will show.

Just like a construction worker needs the right tools for his/her job we as photographers need the right tools for our jobs, whatever that may be. While I do large format printing on a regular basis there are those rare exceptions like back in 2009 when I had a request from a company to print one of my images 5ft by 10ft as a backdrop for their exhibit. At the time I was shooting a 12mp Nikon D300 and needless to say the test prints were not coming back looking very good. I did some tweaking on my end and the printer did some tweaking on their end and we finally got it printed.

Below you will see what I am currently using with the gear list below the image.

bag-contents

Induro CTX 314 Carbon Fiber Tripod w/ BHL3s ballhead

Nikon D810, Nikon F4s, Mamiya C330f Medium format twin lens reflex

Sigma Lenses 15mm fisheye, 20mm, 24-35mm, 24-105mm, 35mm, 105mm macro

Nisi Filters 10 stop ND, 6 stop ND, Circ Polarizer, Blue/Orange

Nikon MC-36 cable release, Vello wireless remote trigger, Manual cable release for My Mamiya C330

Nitecore flashlights, Tiny Monster TMGT16, NightBlade MH25, MH27, EC25 Cobra

I am currently using Kodak and Ilford color and black and white films. I carry a couple microfiber cloths with me to clean my lens if I need to.

Joby mini tripod with F&V HDVZ96 16×9 LED Light Panel

Cabelas Multi tool pocket knife.

Kingston waterproof media card holders

Nikon Charger and extra battery

Business cards and sensor cleaning kit.

CaseLogic Kontrast DSLR backpack

Tamrac shoulder bag – I use this for my medium format gear.

I believe that is all the gear I currently have. It was good for me to do this as I am leaving for Oregon on Thursday and I needed to re organize all my gear in my bags.

If you have any questions please feel free to use the form below to contact me.

Digital Compositing – Time to Move Forward

Is compositing right or wrong? Doesn’t matter. It’s my art

It’s almost 2017. I have been a photographer for over 20 years starting back in the day of film. I think back to the tricks we used to achieve certain effects of our final images. When I was doing wedding photography we would use a clear filter on our lens and apply a very thin layer of Vaseline to soften the focus. I have shot a sharp image and then a blurry image and sandwiched the 2 in the printer to get the “Orton” effect.

Over the last 10 years since switching to digital I have kept pretty true to my art. I have waited for epic light, I have lost many nights sleep, I have spent a lot of time away from my family to get really great images… 99% of them coming from a single shot. Doing my best to get a great exposure on any given scene.

The image below is composed of 5 images to make up the wider panoramic image. During each exposure the light did not change, yet if you were to walk up to this scene in the dark your eyes would not see this as it’s presented here.. In theory, yes, this is how it looks to your camera sensor. We used an LED light panel to illuminate Turret Arch. Vega, the star above the arch was diffused by the thin layer of clouds, The light pollution from Moab added to the color the clouds giving them a nice yellow color on the left. With only minimal processing this was the final scene. Fact is, the eye did not see this…the camera sensor did..

turret-arch-heavens

I am at a point where I want to try something new, Digital Composting, a term so many feel is wrong.  I think of a painter who wakes up one morning, walks over to his canvas and begins painting a scene from his head, it’s not a real scene, just a scene he has  envisioned and wants to put on his canvas. Who are we to tell him that is wrong? Have you been to EVERY place in the world to know if that scene exists or not? No. You haven’t.

For whatever reason, through the ages of photography there has been negativity towards editing and adjusting scenes… For the purpose of our Art I feel that we are free to do as we wish. For commercial purposes I don’t feel it’s right to advertise something that a tourists or traveler will never see… I would never advertise a workshop to Death Valley with a shot of the sand dunes with a castle in the middle because that is not something the students would see.. I would use the image if I were advertising that we would be learning how to composite images.

Over the last week I have been trying some new things to see if I can create some realistic images using 1 or more image. I think so far I have done a pretty good job.  If this is your thing or something you like seeing, great. If not, that is fine too. This is my art and I will continue to do things my way..I am willing to teach as much as anyone wants to learn.

I feel over the last 10 years I have kind of been in a bubble. Yes, I have learned new techniques and tips to create better images but I have never really stepped outside that bubble until now and I feel like there is an entire world in front of me with endless possibilities.

changing-seasons

Changing Seasons” –  The above image is a piece I created this fall by using 3 separate images of the same scene and all I did was combine them in Photoshop to create the desired effect. All blurring was done in camera..

delicate-explosion1

“Delicate Explosion” is a 2 image blend. I took one image of the stars while using my zoom lens to create the desired effect of the star burst and then another shot for Delicate Arch. This image represents a true scene. The Milky Way does rise behind delicate arch in the Summer. An image like this simply can’t be created in one exposure. Having the skill and foresight to create 2 images to put together later is where the credit for being creative comes into play.

lightning-lane

Lightning Lane” – Arches National Park – 2 image composite with a sky replacement. The orig image had stars in the sky. We were light painting the road and Courthouse Towers while shooting at night.. This was the first image using a new technique to replace the sky. The final image is much more powerful and thought invoking. It looks good in print too.

desert-storm

Desert Storm” is a 2 image composite with the lightning bolt from Kansas and the alcove from Valley of Fire State Park.

lightning-over-mesquite-dunes

“Storm over Mesquite Dunes” is a 4 image composite for the final image The 3 lightning bolts and the sand dunes. I took the lightning bolts behind my house from Chatfield Lake State Park and the dunes are from Death Valley.

These are a few examples of digital composites I have created. Yes, there have been some I have worked up that I just look at and think, “that’s just wrong on too many levels” and I end up deleting the images.

Having the skills needed to take each image and then see it as a compliment to another image is a great example of how my vision has progressed throughout the years.. I won’t be stuck doing the same thing…For me personally, this progression is good for me on all aspects of my work.. Will I completely change the way I shoot? No. I still plan on getting great images they way I have before. Now I am simply seeing places where other images might fit into another image.

Right or wrong, it doesn’t matter to me…It’s my art and I will do what I want…

If you would like to read my first post on “Nothing is Real” <— please click and enjoy.

Whatever your vision is, create it and never let anyone tell you different…

Thanks for your time,

Darren

 

 

New Luminar from Macphun

kansas-gold

Luminar from Macphun is here! 

I will start out by saying that I have only had the program a few days. There is quite a bit to learn and I have only touched the surface. It’s been a fun ride so far.

Whenever I try out a new editing program there are a few criteria that the software needs to meet for me to continue using it.

  • Simple
  • Responsive
  • Fast
  • No Crashing
  • Effective

Simple – This means that once installed I can push some buttons, move some sliders and things will happen that I like. I don’t want to have to go searching for results.

Responsive –  This is a big one for me. When I make an adjustment with a slider I want the effect to happen as I am doing it or within 1 second of the adjustment… I have used other programs that take minutes to apply the adjustment and quite frankly I can’t live my life like that.

Fast – No lagging. As mentioned above things need to happen fast. I didn’t purchase a fast computer to run slow software.

No Crashing – When things start crashing I get nervous… With some of my more detailed night photography where I am using a lot of individual images to create one final image.. Putting in an hour or so worth of time and then have the program crash is a deal breaker for me, and probably you too, right?

Effective – It has to be able to do some nice things and produce some great results. If you bought a program only to find out it didn’t do what you wanted or give you the desired effects you like, you probably wouldn’t use it much. I have found that what I am doing with Luminar works very well and keeps my images very clean. This is extremely important because my images are printed large…I don’t want any artifacts from processing showing up in my images.

I am happy to say that Luminar has met and exceeded all my criteria. The software was easy to install the first time. It hasn’t crashed, it’s fast and responsive to the adjustments I make and it’s loaded with a lot of great presets to get you to a fantastic starting point quickly. I say “starting point” simply because there are still things I do in Photoshop when I am fine tuning my images and preparing them to be posted online.

Let’s take a look at some side by side comparisons with a few images I have processed with Luminar.

Screen Shot 2016-11-21 at 5.24.05 PM.png

Here is a nice side by side comparison of my RAW file on the left with the “Warm Sunset” preset on the right. That’s 1 click to this point. In PS you would need to do 2 or 3 individual adjustments to get to this point. Here I simply found the preset that most closely matched where I was headed with this image and selected it. I took this screenshot before I made any minor adjustments to the panel on the right because I wanted to show you the effect it had on the RAW file. As you can see in the very top image of this article I did finish off the image in PS before creating a file for posting online.

Screen Shot 2016-11-19 at 9.44.33 AM.png

center-of-attention-luminar

“Center of Attention” – This preset works great when you have a centered subject and you really want to put emphasis on your subject. This image is from 4 years ago and one that I never took the time to process before. As you can see from the Before and After and the final image underneath. All I did here was use the preset and then add a little warmth to the color tone and I was done… Less than 30 seconds to edit this image from start to finish. I want to spend more time out shooting when possible and less time editing so having a program that is this quick and easy to use really excites me.

Screen Shot 2016-11-19 at 9.23.43 AM.png

way-too-close-luminar

I could show you these side by sides all day. I think the best thing to do is try it for yourself and  Download the free trial and start creating your own amazing works of art.

If you wish to purchase Macphun Luminar <— click here this let’s them know you found it on my blog.

Please note that I do not get paid, or paid for anything that is in this blog. The opinions are my own and I am simply sharing then with you…  Will Luminar replace photoshop for me, probably not. It will become a very useful addition to my workflow. This program is extensive. You can use layer, masks, blend modes ect to create anything you want!

Transitions – Product Reviews – General Photography related stories

Welcome to a new resting place for me on the web. I hope you will enjoy your stay and find the blogs you read here to be informative and to your liking. This blog will be used to tell stories about my images, share product reviews and discus events that are happening in my photography world.

If you are new to my work let me get right to it and tell you a little about me. My name is Darren White. I own and operate Darren White Photography – Fine Art Landscapes based out of Littleton, Colorado. I have been in Colorado since 2013 and have felt quite welcomed here as the people are friendly and supportive. I am a native of the Pacific Northwest where I was born and raised. A lot of my work is from the Northwest in and around Oregon and Washington.

I am co-owner of Night Photography Workshop where we teach students how to shoot and process images of the night sky. Our work takes us to Wyoming where we teach in Grand Teton National Park, Utah where we teach in Arches and Canyonlands National Park and here in Colorado where we teach up on Mount Evans at over 14K feet above sea level. This keeps me pretty busy in the summer between late April and late September. I also do private workshops both on location and post processing.

my-million-star-hotel

I have been doing photography now for over 20 years and through the years I have seen a lot of things come and go. I started shooting back in the film days. Back then I was doing weddings, portraits, sports, animals, and anything else people would pay me for. I worked at our local 1 photo lab as well as the local newspaper in their darkroom and shooting high school sports as well. I got into landscapes when I was 16 and could drive to the beach. I was always fascinated by the ocean so that is where I spent a lot of my time. I grew to appreciate the sunsets, sunrises and any great weather we had that created a beautiful scene. Maybe it was a foggy morning where the sun was trying to burn through or fresh snow at sunrise. I took a good hard look at what was around me and always was able to find the beauty in what I was seeing.

Over the years I have learned through experience, trial and error and the constant effort to get better. I have worked with a lot of companies in various sectors covering many subjects on different levels. I will touch more on this later.

What I am doing now?  Aside from teaching in the summers I specialize in Fine Art Photographic Prints, Acrylic Prints, Metal Prints and Canvas Gallery Wraps. I have spent 20+ years working with various labs to find the best one for each product I offer. I feel I am in a very good place now with the companies I work with Artbeat Studios and Reed Art and Imaging do my HD Face Mount Acrylics depending on where my client is located. American Frame does all my Fine Art Photographic Prints over 20″ and Englewood Camera does all of my smaller prints up to 20″ long. Using these labs has provided me the best quality possible while being able to keep my prices affordable for my clients, customers and collectors. I have been using each of these labs for over 2 years and have built a great working relationships with them that I feel will continue for quite a while. 11228026_10206695695283655_993119726573377078_n

The above image shows some of the inner workings of American Frame – a smaller lab that puts out amazing quality prints. American Frame offers a lot of great paper choices. I have found that not all images look great on all papers. My image of Sunrise at Nubble Light above was printed on gorgeous Hahnemühle Photo Rag fine art paper. This paper allows the true beauty to come though and be appreciated to its full extent by the viewer.

Over the next few weeks I will be uploading some previously written blogs from other sites before I close them down. I will be adding new blogs, at least 1 a week, on all things photography. From software to cameras to lenses. I will also be uploading some tutorials as well. Please take a moment and subscribe to my blog to be updated when new blogs are up. Thank you!