Friday, April 27, 2007

From the Files

As I mentioned before, I'm in the middle of the long and somewhat tedious process of scanning most of my old film images. This involves long hours in front of the computer not only scanning, but touching up dust spots and keywording the images. Most of the images I remember, but every once in awhile one comes across my desk that I completely forgot about.

Bodie, California is a great ghost town, arguably the best in the western United States. Run by the California State Parks, it is preserved in a status of "arrested decay". Most buildings are sealed off but the Miller House is open to wander through. At a fairly high elevation and frightfully dry and isolated, the town is worth the effort to get to for anyone interested in history or someone who just likes to explore.
Please remember all images ar copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Ferry at Mukilteo

My wife Merril has a term she coined to describe a certain type of light at sunset. Right after heavy overcast, the sun will break through and illuminate everything in the foreground very brightly while the scene in the distance will remain in deep shadow. It is a lighting effect we saw very often when we lived in Portland, so it is forever referred to in our house as "Oregon Light".

I always love when this happens, so Tuesday as I was poking around the Mukilteo Ferry dock and the light broke through, I worked quickly, knowing it wouldn't last for long. As predicted, the light only lasted for a minute or so before dipping back into the overcast. I managed to shoot several images of the ferry illuminated by the sun before the entire scene faded to a soft slate blue. I ran under some abandoned docks I had found earlier and shot several frames on the small waves swishing around the abandoned coloumns.

Before I left, I noticed the lights of the ferry were contrasting with the stormy sky to the north. Another few frames of rather long duration finished the evening. Cropping the image to a panoramic format helped create a more dynamic image.

The best part of the entire shoot was not a single image required any adjustments in photoshop beyond tweaking the exposure or cropping.

Please remember all images are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Coal Lake

All the effort required to get to Coal Lake is in the car, slogging up a dirt road. Once you reach the trailhead, you are within a hundred yards of the lake. A classic Cascades lake with heavily forested shores and rocky cliffs. The way it is situated, late afternoon light rarely reaches into the valley of the lake so you are left to shoot during the brighter portions of the day.

Digital is perfect for this type of contrasty photography where the shadows and highlights are too extreme to be recorded properly on film. I used to use a graduated neutral filter to help but here it would be useless with the dappling of light and shade.

Enter the world of digital. I shoot in RAW mode which allows me to record the entire tonal range of the scene. from black to white. I then processed the image twice, once for the shadows and once for the highlights. Using Photoshop I layered the light exposure on top of the dark exposure. Wherever I thought the image was to light, I erased the top layer to reveal the darker exposure down below. After I was happy with the results, I flattened the file to create an image that had good tone in both the shadows and the highlights.

There are many ways to achieve this result. Some are probably better, but this way is very intuitive and works well for me.

Please remember all images are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission.