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Warm and Cozy

Warm and Cozy

Warm and Cozy, that’s what I’m calling this photo and the name of this post.

There’s something about this photo that I like (not just because I made it).  Maybe it’s the sense of a warm and inviting cottage by a pond.  The yellow glow from the lights in the windows and reflecting from the calm still water really make this shot work!

While it looks warm and cozy, it was certainly anything but that when I was standing out there, setting the camera to get this shot.  It was dark, and getting cold, and as usual, I didn’t have a warm enough jacket with me, not to mention gloves.  Gloves can be a real pain when you’re trying to push tiny camera buttons and I end up taking them off, so I just left them back in the motorhome.

My camera of choice for this image was my Panasonic GX-1.  The GX-1 has a slight edge over my Olympus E-P3 when it comes to working in low light (by producing less noise).  I put my Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens on for 2 reasons:

  1. The lens was still fairly new to me and I wanted to use it!
  2. I really like how sharp and clear some of my previous results were with this lens.

The only other piece of equipment I used was a tripod.  From past experiments and failures, I knew I needed a steady mount to have any kind of success.

Once I figured out how to compose the shot, I got busy.  The interesting thing to me, looking back, is that I only took a few shots of this scene.  As I mentioned, it was getting cold and I wanted to get back, so I didn’t do much experimenting.

My settings for this final image were:

  • Aperture Priority
  • f/3.2
  • 40 second exposure
  • ISO 160
  • RAW

The final image is from a single RAW file (non-HDR), post processed in Photoshop.

So far, Warm and Cozy has been my most popular photo on my Facebook Page (click on the link), and has won “Photo of the Day” at (click on the link).

If you’re interested in purchasing a print click here (and thanks)!

That’s it for now, until next time – Happy Shooting!

Photo Contests

Now that my wife and I are back from our amazing vacation to the Eastern Sierra, I have many, many gigs of photos to go through.

One of the fun things that I’m doing with all of these images is entering a few of them in an ongoing photo contest on the State Parks website:

So far, I entered 4 images and have been fortunate enough for each one to be selected as Photo of the Day!  Hopefully I’ll have a shot at Photo of the Month.

This is what I posted, take a look and let me know what you think (you can comment below)!

Click on each image to see a larger version

And finally, here’s another photo from the trip that I entered in the B&H Photo/Video Fall Color Contest:

In case you’re wondering, these images were created using either my Canon 60D, or my Sony NEX3.  Each of these is a composite of at least 2 images, merged to bring out the full range of detail in both the shadows and highlights using Photomatix and Photoshop.

I’ll try to put my thoughts and process in some kind of logical order and dedicate a post on HDR (at least my take on it).

That it for now.  With a little luck I’ll be sharing a Photo of the Month!  Until next time, Happy Shooting!

Something fun!

I was just notified that one of my photos won Photo of the Month at one of my favorite photo websites. This site is devoted to State Parks, and has a photo contest for the day, week, month, and year.  I’ve been submitting photos on and off since 2008.  It’s fun to see how others react to my work, and also to see the work of other great photographers.

During the time I’ve participated in this ongoing contest, I’ve been lucky enough to have won quite a few Photo of the Day mentions, and even a few Photo of the Month honors.  And, the real icing on this cake is a photo that won Photo of the Year – 2008 (black and white category).

This photo is of an old abandoned car in the ghost town of Bodie, located off of Highway 395 near Bridgeport California.  The original image was taken with a Canon 300D (DSLR) as a RAW file, and converted to black and white in Photoshop.  NOTE – This is something I learned awhile ago, always take your photos in color, even if your camera has an option to shoot directly in black and white.  It’s very easy to convert the color image to black and white, but almost impossible to go from black and white to color.

Back to the photo of the car, I think the thing that struck me when taking photos that day was the clouds and sky.  Although my wife and I have been to Bodie many times (and didn’t plan on going this day), I couldn’t help but wonder what photos would look like with the wonderful clouds we were seeing.  So, off we went.  Not a quick trip either.  Bodie is 13 miles off of Highway 395, and the last 3 miles are on a very bumpy washboard dirt road.  Turns out that it was well worth the time and effort it took to get there, with a perfect deep blue sky and fantastic cloud formations.
Fast forward to September, 2011.  While camped at the Silver Lake RV Resort on the June Lake Loop we were blessed with some amazing afternoon thunderstorms.  We were only about 15 miles from Mono Lake and I just couldn’t help wondering what that lake and strange tufa formations would look like with these dramatic clouds.  So, off I went.  Here is just one example of what I experienced (and the shot that won Photo of the Month):
If you want to see the State Parks website you can go here:
So, I think the moral of the story is to look for something to set your photos apart from all of the others out there.  Sometimes it may be because you got up earlier than everyone else and caught the warm, golden light of the sunrise, or you put yourself at the right location at the right time for some drama in the sky.  Good luck and happy shooting!