Happy Father’s Day!

To all fathers and those who have assumed the role: uncles, aunts, grandparents, siblings, friends and others, today we salute you for the monumental task you have undertaken. Remember to lead with love.

Hugs,
M&M

Father and Son
(look closely)

Shooting Fall Colours… sort of

Hi Folks:

If you live in the northern hemisphere then autumn is upon you, and if you’re fortunate enough to be in an area that has deciduous trees, then they’re likely in the process of turning the glorious colours of fall – reds, yellows, oranges, browns… (NB: if you want to know why the leaves change colour in the fall, click here). This is a great time of year to be a landscape photographer, and it’s easy to become seduced by all of those colours. However, it’s also a good time to look at the underlying skeleton of your photographs, and one way to do that is to remove the colour and move to a monochrome palette. (Yes, this is an attempt to put off the ‘learning to see in black and white’ post I keep thinking I should write, but for now this will serve well as placeholder. 🙂 ) By shifting away from the colours of the leaves we can look at shapes, at form, at movement, at textures, at light and shadow… All of these essential components exist in colour images as well, but they can get moved to the background of your compositions if you’re not careful.

The images below were all shot in nearby Beacon Hill Park on the same day. All were shot with my cell phone as I was walking through the park, and they all share similar processing in Lightroom. They all reveal what lies behind the colours that are so wondrously revealing themselves right now.

Okay, that’s it. Now go out and make some photographs!

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. It’s important to remember that unless you have a camera with an achromatic sensor (since there are only a few companies in the world that make them, if you had one, you’d know) with digital you’re always capturing colour information even when you’re shooting in B&W. As such you can adjust the luminance values of the various colours (shown as grayscale) to change the contrast and overall look of a B&W image either in camera (when shooting jpg, by choosing a different recipe) or in your raw file conversion software.

The Earth is Singing

The other day I walked down to the ocean, stepped past the rocky shore and the water hid my sandals as the waves lapped playfully around me. I walked knee deep out to my island, where I’ve never been except at low tide, and had the ocean racing around and around the edges, flinging drops up playfully to tickle, to caress. I haven’t felt that alive in a long time.

And as I sat there, with all of the world behind me and only the ocean in view, she began to sing, just for me.

I realized that the old tales of Sirens being evil, luring men to their deaths on the rocks was wrong – that the sailors gave themselves to the water gladly, with full hearts, just to feel wrapped in that sound.

Hugs,
M&M

Holland Point Waves

Photo of the Month – Cathedral Grove

Hi Folks:

March has been a busy month for us, but we did take one day toward the end of the month and head ‘up island’ to Cathedral Grove.  A part of MacMillan Provincial Park, Cathedral Grove has been ‘gentrified’ to provide easy access to a stand of several-hudred-year-old Douglas fir and cedar trees.  Unfortunately many of the trees are suffering from root rot/fungal infection, and a heavy wind can bring down a rain of branches.  Fortunately for us, on the day we were there we had sunshine (it only rained while we were driving), little wind, and not many other people.  I made over 400 images that day, almost all of them for HDR/panoramic images, and collapsed that number down into less than fifty composites.  I’ve joined them all up but have yet to push them around in Lightroom.  I do have a couple, however, and thought I’d share them here.  Both are 3-shot bracketed exposures (HDR, at +1/0/-1) and converted to B&W in Lightroom.

The Sentinel

The Sentinel

Ancient Watchers

Ancient Watchers

Okay, that’s it.  Now go out and make some photographs!

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. You can find more of our posts on photography and Lightroom tutorials here, and you can find links to over 200 other sites that have Lightroom tips, tutorials and videos here.

Photo of the Month – A Return to Film

Hi Folks:  According to Wikipedia, it was 120 years ago (1892) that George Eastman first began supplying Thomas Edison and William Dickson with 35mm film for their movie projectors.  Film was around before that, of course, but in a variety of sizes and feeding systems; 35mm film became a standard in 1909, and in 1934 the 35mm film cassette for still photography was introduced.

So, in honour of 120 years a group of us met on a rainy afternoon in November at Ross Bay Cemetery to celebrate a (temporary?) return to film and to the days of B&W.  Some had never shot film before, for some it took a while to remember how to work a film-advance lever, and for others film is still in daily use.  For the most part there was no autofocus, no LCD screens (“you have to look through the little viewfinder there”), and no ‘instant’ results.  Those who had film cameras brought them, and those who didn’t were welcome to bring some film and borrow a camera from someone else.  I brought six cameras (five 35mm and one double lens reflex) and loaned out three.  For those who just can’t get into film, they were welcome to bring their digital cameras and there wasn’t a bucket of tar nor a bag of feathers anywhere about.  More on that in a bit.  Overall it was a lot of fun.  Continue Reading →

Photo of the Month – September

Hi Folks:

One of the basic tenets in photography is that every image has to stand on its own merit – as the saying goes, “Nobody cares what you went through to make that photograph.”  Still, I’m reasonably proud of the image below because of the circumstances in which it was made.

About the middle of September Marcia and I took the ferry over to Saltspring Island to take in the market and the Fall Fair, and we caught a late afternoon ferry to return.  There was a storm brewing, so, fool that I am, rather than being safely ensconced in the cabin I was out on deck making photographs of the clouds.  This image is a panorama stitched together from 19 images, shot handheld on a moving ferry.  The 19 images were stitched together in Autopano Pro, and the final image was pushed around a bit in Lightroom.  I trust you’ll enjoy it!

Now go out and make some photographs!

Mike.

Saltspring Island Storm Clouds

Saltspring Island Storm Clouds

Photo of the Month: Thunderhead

Hi Folks:

October 4th already and I just realized this morning that I didn’t do a ‘Photo of the Month’ post for September.  Yeesh!  So, in the ‘better late than never‘ category…

September’s image wasn’t very hard to choose.  I wish I could take credit for the clouds, but someone else gets that honour.  It was one of those ‘grab shot’ images; I was downtown and walking along the Inner Harbour and the clouds were just amazing.  I made several series of images for panoramas, but this one was the best in my opinion.  I use Autopano Pro to combine my images into panoramas and process everything in Lightroom.  If anyone’s interested, this image was converted to B&W in Lightroom, and then ‘coloured’ using the split-tone settings of:

Highlights
Hue: 41
Saturation: 23

Balance: +100

Shadows
Hue: 0
Saturation: 0

It’s a sepia effect that I like.

Here’s the image:

Thunderhead

Okay, now go out and make some photographs!

Mike.

P.S.  I entered this image in the recent ‘Tip Squirrel Lightroom Competition‘.  If you want to see the original (before) image and Lightroom-processed (after) image together, you can do so here.

P.S. II, the Sequel: You can find more of our posts on photography and Lightroom tutorials here, and you can find links to over 200 other sites that have Lightroom tips, tutorials and videos here.

Photo of the Month

Hi Folks:

Well, September descends upon us tomorrow – back to school for those who are so inclined, and the end of summer vacation for most.  On this last day of August I had a look through Lightroom to see that I made nearly a thousand images this month.  In the digital age there are many who make a thousand images a day, but I’m still from the film era, where I would get a dozen images from one roll of 120 film.  Anyway…

I’ve put a lot of thought into what to make my ‘photo of the month’ for August.  We had family visiting at the beginning of August, and while I made several ‘tourist’ shots, I’m not a people photographer at heart.  We went to two different car shows this month and there were some good prospects there, but I profiled an image of an automobile last month.

I met some old friends for lunch today as they passed through town, and in explaining to them what we like about Victoria I mentioned that this is largely a city of villages, each one unique, and yet forming a coherent whole.  We haven’t been everywhere in Victoria yet, not by a long shot, but of the various places we have toured Oak Bay is my favourite.  While a separate municipality from the city of Victoria proper they are adjunct, with Oak Bay covering the city’s southeastern shore.  From our walks there we’ve found that Oak Bay has a sense of neighbourhood and community that we really like.  To that end I thought I’d use one of my Oak Bay images for this month’s selection. Continue Reading →

Photo of the Month

Hi Folks:  Well, if you promise not to mention that the ‘photo of the month’ post was due yesterday, I’ll pretend not to notice!

At a meeting of our local photography group recently, several people did presentations of images based on a specific theme.  Mine was on ‘faces’.  I should explain that I’m not a people photographer, and people appear in far less than 5% of my work.  I shot a wedding, once, and swore I would never do it again.  However, as a landscape photographer one thing I like to do is to look for ‘faces’ and things in other objects.  Sometimes they’re fairly obvious and sometimes they’re more elusive.  If you go through my Flickr photostream you’ll find a number of such images, but I chose one to highlight as April’s photo of the month.  It’s a piece of driftwood I found along the shore on Dallas Road – nearly an entire tree, in fact, and there are some good size rocks embedded into the roots.  However, looked at from the bottom of the tree the shape forms a fairly good representation of a human skull. Continue Reading →

Photo of the Month

Hi Folks:

I’ll get into the philosophic issues of pride and narcissism in another post perhaps, but since one of my great loves is photography, I thought I’d dedicate the last day of each month to a ‘Photo of the Month’ page. Basically this will be my favourite image of those I’ve made during the past month. If I go a whole month without making any photographs it will likely mean I’m in a coma or something like that. So, below is my favourite image for November, 2009. It may not be your favourite image from my work (you can see more here), and you don’t even have to like it. On the other hand, if you think it’s the best work you’ve ever seen I won’t be offended by that either!

Without further ado…

Driftwood Sculpture

Driftwood Sculpture

(click on the image for a larger version)

As humans we see the world in colour (or at least most of us do), but as photographers we can train ourselves to see the world differently – not just in terms of composition and ‘rules’, but we can begin to appreciate how to ‘see’ in black and white as well.  Some colour photographs are good specifically because of the colours contained in the image itself – the photgraph at the top of this page for example has a whole mix of colours from deep oranges through yellows and blues and into violet hues (although these show up better in a print than on screen) – but with black and white we strip away those colours, and the cues that we get from the colours themselves.  What we’re left with is form, shape, texture, hue, highlight, shadow…

This image was made along the shoreline at Dallas Road in Victoria, BC.  When I first saw it, this jumbled pile of bits and sticks reminded me of this story, one I wrote several years ago.  Using the power of the wind and the waves, with ocean water and stones for tools, a living sculpure is created.  If I’d come the previous day, or the following one, the image would have been different.  Sand castles are magical like that too.

Mike.

P.S.  As for the sign thrown back by the ocean, that’s closer to this story.