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A foggy day at Multnomah Falls

Foggy Multnomah Falls

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 200, f/10, 131 seconds // buy print)

It’s kind of amazing that you can get to this place in less than 30 minutes from the Portland airport. I’ve never been here, or down “The Gorge” and I have to say, it was utterly amazing. Waterfalls everywhere and such beauty. On my way back to Portland, I looked across the Columbia River to the north shore and saw sheer cliffs with waterfalls crashing down into the river…and it was like something out of Lord of the Rings or some fantasy movie.

Even these falls…Multnomah Falls…with the bridge and the trees, seems like it’s from some dream.

It was a foggy, rainy day. Which probably isn’t out of the norm for this area or Oregon in general. But I think it’s moreso like this in the winter months. Everything was wet. Everywhere. The sky was murky and foggy…the trees sometimes masked in clouds. When I got home and looked at these shots, I knew I wanted to do one in monochrome. It just felt right.

This was a 131 second exposure using a 10-stop filter. I started this in Silver Efex 2 and then took it into Photoshop for some luminosity masking to add more detail. Love how it turned out.

Make sure to click on it for the best effect.

The orange moon

Click to view on black, I think it’s got a much better feel to it.

I’m not much of an astral photographer…star trails, the Milky Way…the Moon…none of these are my strong suit at all. I just haven’t felt a strong desire to shoot these kinds of subjects.

And honestly, the moon has been shot a bazillion times…what else can do you do with it?

But despite all of that, I got up early on Saturday morning to check out the lunar eclipse that was going to turn the moon orange. I’ve never seen that before and the next eclipse of this type wont come again until 2014 (so I heard), so I figured why not try to take a few pictures.

It was a negative 2 degrees (Fahrenheit for my Canadian friends) and I think that was the coldest temperature I’ve ever experienced before. That’s what I get living in Arizona.

All I had was my 70-200mm, and I thought the moon might fill the frame a bit more than it did, but this was the result. No cropping…I kind of liked the descending line of trees so I kept it this way. This shot was the best of the bunch. Right after this moment the sky started going brighter and brighter, and as the moon became fully eclipsed, it was too light out to even see much more than an outline.

Alien

Alien - Boiler Bay Oregon

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 16-35mm 2.8 l, 16mm, iso 50, f/8.0, 602 sec, 10-stop filter // buy print)

If I had to pick my top five favorite science fiction movies of all-time, I think Alien would be in there, and perhaps also the sequel, Aliens. The second one was fantastic…there was just so much awesome action and memorable lines (“Game over man, game over!“) but the first one will always be a classic. A terrifying trip with some space travelers who are being slaughtered by a creature hitching a ride on their vessel.

For those that have seen Alien, you may already have figured out why I chose it for this week’s Movie Title Wednesday image. One of the more haunting scenes in the movie is when they find the alien spaceship and rappel into the belly of the thing. Lining the floor in a strange mist are all these organic pods, which just happen to be eggs ready to own your face.

Kind of reminded me of the rocks floating in the foggy ocean in my image. And it’s hard to see, but one of them is actually not a rock, but a old, rusty canister, which to me almost looked like an abandoned space capsule. Sweet.

This photo was taken on the Oregon coast in an area known as Boiler Bay. I left my hotel well before the sun came up that morning and was using Google Maps to locate ANY good spot about an hour north of Newport. I came across Boiler Bay and waited until there was enough light to hike down a fairly steep trail to the beach below. I was surprised I found the spot at all…it was a tiny little pull-out on the side of the road and I barely saw it in the dark.

Glad I did.

I believe this was one of my last shots of the morning before I had to book it to Portland and catch a noon flight. I was lucky enough to have perfectly overcast skies to keep my images moody just like I wanted. This particular exposure was done with a 10-stop and lasted just over 10 minutes. Thanks again to Rick Young for letting me borrow his filter.

I badly want to return to the coast of Oregon sometime, perhaps for a week or two. There is just so much to see, so many skies and sunsets to capture with the gorgeous, rocky shoreline. Two weeks wouldn’t even be enough.

Cape Fear

Cape Fear - Devil's Gulch Oregon Coast

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm 1.4 L, f/16, iso 400, 58 sec // buy print)

As this Movie Title Series continues on an on for over a year now…it feels like I’m running thin on movies I’ve seen that have titles which work well enough for images.  Hence you may start seeing films that I’ve actually never viewed before. Or perhaps I may have seen portions of it, but have no clue what it was about, nor remember anything.

Sort of like Cape Fear.

I am certain I saw this movie, or at least the majority of it. But aside from knowing it was on the water, kind of scary and called Cape Fear, that’s all I remember. Now that I look it up on IMDB, I find out the plot was about “A convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a 14 year sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him.” Creepy. I believe people liked it…I remember all this talk about how freaky it was. Robert DeNiro…Nick Nolte…Jessica Lange. May need to watch this one again. Lange is now on American Horror Story and is downright creepy in that as well.

This image is from Devil’s Gulch along the Oregon coast. When I stood there, it was kind of freaking me out a bit. You probably don’t know it, but the road around that mountain on the horizon isn’t down by the water. It’s about  1/4 to 1/3 of the way up the mountain. That’s how far you have to hike to get down to this point. The sun was going down, it was getting dark, kind of foggy, the waves were crashing around me, the low-tide exposed rocks were black as night…and I have to say…I was nervous.

Cape Fear.

But I loved this scene. I hung in there for a few exposures to get it right. The silhouette of that mountain was just too beautiful to pass up. I definitely would love a week driving up the coast of Oregon, and that probably still wouldn’t be enough time.

Red Dawn

The Guardian - Sedona Arizona Sunset

(click to view larger on a black border…just looks better)

A break from all the lightning and storms…time for Movie Title Wednesday!

One of those movies that I just have to watch if I see it on the TV on a Saturday afternoon is Red Dawn. Granted, I haven’t seen it on the TV much recently and probably have watched it through only a handful of times (the last time being a very long time ago), but it’s still such a fun movie. World War II, Russians attack, Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson…hiding out in the woods, a resistance, fighting back…awesome stuff.

It should be pretty obvious how this film’s title relates to today’s image…but I have to say, it’s really a total lie.

I shot this at sunset. But come on, that movie is perfect for this picture! I’m not going to apologize for it!

Back in early July, our little family spent some time in Sedona, enjoying time away from the heat. Great stormy weather, beautiful skies and of course, the gorgeous mountains surrounding Sedona. If you’ve never been here, you gotta go.

This was down an old dirt road right as the sun was about to drop away. I was struck by the colors and the shadows on the cliff faces, but also with this towering pine tree, seemingly rising above the rest of the forest.

While my HDR processing with landscapes is becoming rarer and rarer, this is indeed a six-bracket tonemapped image. The beauty of this night was the absolute calm weather, which left this tree unmoving for me while I fired off the brackets.

(canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/16, iso 100)

The golden treetops

I have a client at work (my day job) that resides in northern Arizona. Whenever they call to have me come up, I never curse the three hour drive…I relish it and enjoy the time I get to spend seeing this beautiful state. I usually leave around 4am and thus usually find myself at an interesting spot for a sunrise, or maybe a few places for night photography, and then a bazillion other things along the way.

Yesterday I made a trip up there and I was on the lookout for fall colors. I spotted a 10,000 foot mountain nearby and saw an entire hillside covered in golden Aspen…so I asked my client if there was a way to the top and she  said YUP! So I headed down the dirt road to the top and explored a few trails that led to these amazingly tall, golden treetops.

I have never photographed fall colors before…so this is all new to me. I knew I wanted some vertical shots of tree tops and other things, so this is basically a few attempt at that. For those wondering, it’s a single exposure HDR. I actually tried doing 6 exposures, then 3…but too much movement killed it. Plus…the colors just didn’t look right. Tried the single…and bam, it came together.

Hope you enjoy a little taste of fall from Arizona!

Down that dark road

I’m lucky to have a few great friends at work and one of them is Jesse. He’s a car guy, loves to go “wheeling” every Friday night and would go out of his way to help you install a new car stereo, not to mention a bazillion other things. A week or so ago we had to drive up to Williams for work, which is something we love doing despite the 3-3.5 hour drive time. Especially in the summer when it’s 110 in Phoenix, but a cool 75-80 in the gorgeous pine country of northern Arizona. He’s such a good guy and let me pull over a bunch to satisfy my insatiable hunger to photograph cool stuff.

As a photographer, you sometimes get tunnel vision. It happens to me all the time. You get an idea in your head about a shot and you focus all efforts on making it happen. That’s usually when a shot you weren’t even planning on taking becomes the actual reason you went there.

Once we were up close to Williams, we passed a giant lake bed full of flowers. I posted that shot not too long ago. The thing was, I was so infatuated with the flowers and storm clouds, I wasn’t looking anywhere else. As I came back to the car, Jesse calmly points out this dirt road heading into the trees. Me, being the AWESOME photographer that I am, who knows ALL…said “Yeah…okay Jesse…looks cool.” So I walked over there to snap some brackets, almost feeling like I was doing this as a courtesy because at least Jess was trying to help me out a little. Figured I would just get the brackets real quick and we’d be on our way.

Back in the car when I looked at the results in my camera…I realized it was going to be one of my favorite shots from the day and maybe in awhile. I knew right away I’d do it in black and white.  It would end up looking much more mysterious devoid of color.  I was giddy thinking about what the final product was going to look like. This is a 6-bracket HDR using Photomatix, CS5 and Nik Silver Efex for the B&W.

I guess the moral of the story is to always listen to your buddy Jessie.  He may be obsessed with Family Guy and wear his sunglasses at night (inside joke), but when he points out an idea for a photo…you’d damn well better do what he says.

Sunset on the Mogollon Rim

I know what you might be thinking…where is the color? This is a sunset right? Yeah…it was, but honestly…if there are no clouds or other excitement, the tones of a normal sunset tend to bore me to tears. At least, when I look at them in photos. In person, it was a beautiful and serene moment from my camping trip late last week.

I’m shooting from atop the Mogollon Rim area, a ridge that stretches across the mid-to-northern areas of Arizona. It’s about a 90 minute or more drive from Phoenix, and what’s amazing about it is being able to go that short distance and see temperature go from 110 to 77. I love it up there!

What struck me more about this sunset scene in front of me was the “layers” of mountains stretching out in front of me…and the edge of the Mogollon Rim coming from the right horizon and dropping into the valley.

That and of course the moon and Venus up in the heavens. Subtle, but they are there, I promise *grin*

I still look at this photo and can’t decide if I love it or if it’s just okay. The camping trip itself was a blast, but the skies were so clear the entire time, I wasn’t excited about most of the shots I took. This sunset was beautiful in person, but it just didn’t translate well to a photo (in my opinion), so the black and white was a way to “fix it” for me.

Technically this is a six bracket, HDR processed with my usual suspects, taken with my Tamron 17-35mm 2.8.

Northern Arizona stormy fenceline

This is another one of those shots from my northern Arizona trip that I didn’t process for a long time. I normally like my skies less rain-cloudy and more fluffy cumulus, but I dug the backdrop and corner fence posts in the foreground.

Definitely was a fruitful trip in the way of photography for me, despite being there for work. Got very lucky with the stormy weather up north, got to see Grand Falls, amazing parts of the northern Arizona high deserts and came away with a ton of quality stuff. Amazing how a little trip like that, with almost no planning, can lead to such beneficial and memorable results!

The road through the forest

While it may be obvious from my constant babble about weather, storms and lightning, that I LOVE that stuff with passion, there is also something else I enjoy immensely.

The cool pine trees of northern Arizona.

Being a desert-born dude who lives in the Phoenix area almost year round, minus the occasional excursion elsewhere, getting out of that blistering sunshine is of vital importance, especially during the summer. Ever since I was a kid my dad used to take us camping once or twice a summer. People who don’t live in Arizona have no idea that the pine trees are only less than 90 minutes northeast of Phoenix, and if you drive just a little further, you can go from 105 degrees to 75 in just two hours. And at night, the temps drop to the 40’s and lower.

We’re hopefully going camping again this summer, me and a few buddies. The place I always go is the Mongollon Rim, north of Payson, AZ.

This photo, however, was taken about three hours north and west of Phoenix, around the Williams area. I visited back in May and this weekend while cleaning up my hard drives, I found out I hadn’t processed all of the photos I took that day. I cannot lie, I love this shot. The storm clouds add a nice contrast to the green pine trees, and you know me, I always enjoy a nice road in a composition.

I processed this with the usual suspects: Photomatix, CS5, Topaz Adjust, Imagenomic….but with Topaz I used a little more flavor than just a simple contrast adjustment, and I like the effect that I got here.