Category Archives: Commentary

Blog For Peace

“Why, if we can love, appreciate and respect the many colors in nature, can we not feel the same about the simple black and white of humanity.”

Hanalei Bay Moving Light

Hanalei Bay Sunrise

Above the image of Hanalei Bay, is the Mission Statement I have used for my website, since it was created almost five years ago. More than any social media appreciation I have been fortunate to receive and more than image print and media sales, this is the most important goal I continue to wish for and work toward.

Gates of Moonlight

Yosemite National Park’s Valley View by moonlight

If you have watched a political debate recently, you may have heard a candidate claim that America is great, or America is the greatest nation in the world. I believe that verbiage would be more accurate if the word “is” were changed to “could be.” While there is so much good about America, there is also too much suffering and wrongdoing, to make the claim that this is the greatest nation, today.

What America does have an abundance of, is great natural beauty. Now, more than ever, I strive to be one of many photographers, not only in America, but all over the world that through our images of nature, show humanity that this world is a truly beautiful place.

If all people, no matter what color, religion or beliefs make an effort to be better to each other, every day, it is possible that we will start to see the world for how beautiful it is, and never again ask the question of the Mission Statement posted at the beginning of this writing.

Lake Tahoe Summer Sunrise

Lake Tahoe Summer Sunrise

 

 

 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Fall-The Gathering**OCTOBER IS BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH**

With my last new image for the month, I am hoping to make more people aware of the importance of regular mammograms. If discovered early enough, a woman can beat cancer. I did not know this, until witnessing it firsthand. It made me realize how important it is to share this message.

The gathering at North Lake takes place at sunrise, during fall in the Eastern Sierras. I arrived here while it was still dark, and was greeted by an early season snow storm. Using my headlamp to navigate the area, I quickly found a spot to set up, just before the place became overrun with photographers. The storm broke for a short time during sunrise, allowing for a small window of opportunity to capture some High Sierra Mountain light.

Keep Tahoe Beautiful

A summer sunrise sheds light to awaken a beautiful lupine field at Lake Tahoe

The day’s first sun rays awaken a beautiful lupine field, during a summer sunrise at Lake Tahoe.

Recently I experienced one of the most beautiful scenes I have witnessed, while photographing wildflowers at Lake Tahoe. However, even with the excitement of capturing new images, I could not ignore the sadness I felt during my visit here.

Not that long ago, this particular view could not be experienced. The recent record-low snow pack has resulted in a dramatic drop in Lake Tahoe’s water level. Due to this fact, both locals and visitors could now experience the immense beauty of an area once completely under water.

Standing in the middle of all this, taking in the breathtaking show, my goal was to photograph the beauty. However, my biggest hope is that the coming winter produces a large enough snow pack to return Lake Tahoe to a healthier level.

*Breast Cancer Awareness*Reach Out*

A colorful dramatic sunrise at Natural Bridges State Beach, in Santa Cruz.

A colorful dramatic sunrise at Natural Bridges State Beach, in Santa Cruz, California.

*Breast Cancer Awareness*Reach Out*

I wanted to do something different, and share a story with my latest image.

Just over a year ago a mother moved to the U.S. to be closer to her son. For years and for various reasons she had not taken the time to make any medical appointments. Now in the U.S. she was encouraged to take better care of herself and sign up for a medical plan. This led to her having a routine mammogram followed by a biopsy, and then being diagnosed with breast cancer. Learning that she had breast cancer was a shock and very scary; however in this case the fortunate thing was the cancer was detected early, at stage one. The oncology doctor scheduled the woman for the necessary lumpectomy surgery, and after some recovery time and tests it was thankfully confirmed that the woman had beaten breast cancer.

I hope by writing this short story, I will be able to reach out to someone who will think about reminding their wife, sister, daughter, girlfriend and of course mother to have regular mammograms. This is so important and means a lot to me. Cancer is a very hard word to hear, but if caught early, the chances of survival can increase enough to save many lives.

Landscape Photography Twilight LE Technique

One great benefit of having some interest in the sky during sunrise or sunset is the opportunity to photograph a scene at different times, and be able to come away with more than one acceptable image.

On this particular morning, there was very nice cloud cover above Lake Tahoe. Hoping to make the best of the situation, I set up to photograph not only at sunrise, but also just before and after sunrise. I also used different filter techniques to photograph each moment, so I could capture multiple effects. For this image I used a 10-stop ND filter, to show the effect of streaking pre-sunrise clouds above Emerald Bay. When shooting in the direction of the sun, I like to use a long exposure to obtain this streaking cloud effect just before sunrise and also after sunset, through twilight.

Carefully check the first couple of exposures in the camera’s viewfinder. If you notice blown-out highlights in the sky you will have to adjust the in-camera exposure. Another option is to attach a neutral density grad filter to your Big Stopper filter. This will eliminate blown-out highlights,

Capture One Pro 7 Review

BOX

Introduction

Capture One Pro 7 http://www.phaseone.com/capture-one is an extremely powerful raw software converter featuring a comprehensive set of tools to help create stunning results from your image files. Capture One’s performance and Image workflow sets it apart from any other imaging program I have used. With its fully customizable workspace, I am now able to process image files faster and can produce images with improved noise reduction, higher dynamic range and superior clarity. This is because Capture One Pro has created a new and groundbreaking image processing engine. With its new Bayer Interpolation Method, it will allow you to achieve vastly superior image quality with excellent color and fine detail from your camera’s raw files.

Importing Image Files

Importing image files in Capture One Pro is a breeze. Connect a card reader to your computer, insert a memory card and Capture One Pro will open the import window automatically. Image files can also be imported from your computer by clicking open the image and choosing Capture One from the program list. My preferred method is to click on the down arrow located in the top left corner, as shown in the screenshot below. The Import Images dialog box will open. Here you will select the location from where to import your files, fill in the desired fields and press import.

Click on screen to enlarge

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Exposure Screen

The exposure window screen is one area where Capture One really shines. This is where image exposure can be improved dramatically in a few simple steps. Using the High Dynamic Range tool, I have been able to correct extreme highlights and recover detail in deep shadows faster and more accurately than with any other software. The powerful Levels and Curve tools can be used to fine-tune exposure while the Clarity and Structure sliders will add punch and brilliant detail to each image.

Click on Screenshot to enlarge

Click on Screenshot to enlarge

Color Editor

Phase One states that the Color Tool Tab and its functionality should always be the cornerstone of your image editing workflow. Here, Capture One Pro provides a set of tools to adjust colors that are designed to produce stunning results more efficiently than ever before. Essential tools such as White Balance, Color Balance and a Histogram are found in this window. The powerful Black & White editing tool allows users to create stunning black & white images. The Color Editor tool will fine tune color in your images, and this is where the magic happens. Selecting the Basic Tab and color picker allows users to click on a specific color in an image to modify. When the View selected color range box is checked, only the color affected by any adjustments will be visible. In the screenshot below I used the color picker to select the blue area of the balloon.   Selecting the Advanced Tab allows users to adjust the most narrow color spectrum without affecting other colors in an image. For this screenshot, I placed the cursor over the Color Editor Icon to highlight it. Drag To Reorder appears in the pop-up box, allowing users to customize the interface to set up a workspace for a particular job.

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Built-In Presets

Capture One Pro offers a set of built-in presets similar to ones found in other image conversion programs. Presets can be found by clicking Adjustments>Styles, from the main menu. Even though most Capture One users will prefer to choose from the extensive adjustment tools available, individual presets can be applied alone or together very effectively, especially if a job needs to be completed to meet a deadline.

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Sharpening and Image Quality

Photographers with Photoshop experience will already be familiar with the Sharpening tools found in Capture One. The Noise Reduction Tabs found in this window provides yet another indispensable feature found in Capture One. The Noise Reduction tools will allow photographers to shoot using higher ISO settings with complete confidence knowing they will be able to produce noise-free images with superior clarity.

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Click on screenshot to enlarge

To export a processed file, go to File>Export and choose either the Originals or Variants option. Choosing Export Variants will export the processed version of your image file. The Store Files drop down menu will appear. Choose a location where your image file will open and complete the image output options, as desired.

Other highlights of Capture one include Lens Correction, where typical optical issues like distortion, light falloff and chromatic aberation can be fixed quickly and easily. The Keystone Correction Tool can transform warped captures into natural looking images in a few simple steps. Capture one incorporates Tethered Capture so you can instantly import and view images as you shoot them. Other features include Levels and Curves, a Composition Tool, Focus Check, Sessions, a Spot Removal Tool and much more…

The final balloon image processed in Capture One Pro 7

The final balloon image processed in Capture One Pro 7

Conclusion

Before deciding if Capture One Pro 7 was the right choice for me, I processed several images using four popular raw software conversion programs currently on the market. These were Adobe Lightroom 5, Capture One Pro 7, DxO Optics Pro and Oloneo’s HDR+RAW software. While I was impressed by Capture One’s user customization options, ease of use and processing speed, there was one factor that elevated the software above the competition. A Landscape image is often judged by the quality of color and light captured. Capture One consitently produced the most accurate and dynamic light and color rendition of all the four programs.

Capture One Pro 7 vs Capture One Express 7

While Capture One Pro contains more features than Express, the latter can still very much hold its own, offering most of the powerful features found in big brother. Professional and advanced amateurs will require the ability to use layers, a feature only available in the Pro version, but users who already own Photoshop will easily be able to continue making any necessary adjustments within that software. Owning both Capture One Pro 7 and Photoshop is the ideal situation. However, if I had to start over and was able to choose only one program, I would use Capture One exclusively. Not only does capture One Pro give me the ability to produce the best possible images from my raw files, but it is also available at a price much easier on my wallet than the full version of Adobe Photoshop.

Click on the following link to view pricing for Capture One, and a Key Features Comparison chart for Pro and Express. http://www.phaseone.com/en/Imaging-Software/Capture-One-Pro-7/Pricing.aspx 

Phase One is currently offering a free 60-day trial of Capture One! Taking advantage of this offer is a fantastic option, and one that made me realize what an indispensable tool this software is. Capture One is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems.

LOGO

One Wish

I wanted to begin 2013, with an image that contains both meaning and emotion. On December 19, 2012, I became a United States Citizen, so I knew that I wanted to post an image of one of America’s most iconic views. However, I felt even more emotion after the tragedies that recently took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

My thought was to name this image ‘Iconic Peace’ wishing that one day peace will become as iconic as the beauty of nature we have become so happily use to. As I have written on my website ‘About’ Page; my intention and hope is to bring people together through the beauty of nature.

The Shot

On this cold morning, there were no clouds in the sky to dramatize the scene. As I could not settle on a less photographed composition, I decided to wait until a good part of the mountain peaks were bathed in sunlight. I attached a polarizing filter to my lens, and turned it until the color was at its most vivid. Although rather chilly, it was a perfectly calm morning, and I was able to capture yet another version of a perfectly mirrored Teton Range.

Happy and Peaceful New Year to All!

Schwabacher's Landing - Grand Teton National Park - Wyoming

Schwabacher’s Landing – Grand Teton National Park – Wyoming