Dave Morrow Photography: November 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Silent Witness - The Great Wall of China, Jinshaling

I read an amazing blog post today from Patrick Difruscia, that I highly suggest to any artists that use social media. In the post he discusses how many photographers now value their photos only after seeing the response from social media networks & allow this social media response to change how they felt or really feel about this image or art. Fortunately and unfortunately social media has become apart of all photographers lives in one way or another. For some this global response truly matters, and without a great response, comes a feeling of worthlessness or self doubt for a picture they may have loved prior to posting it online. For others, they could care less, and will continue to use social media for what it is, a tool. I guess this is the risk we all take when sharing things we create, just remember, it can turn for better or worse, and only depends on how you twist it in your mind.

Picking up a camera in November of 2011 I've never known any world except that of social media for the purposes of photo sharing. In this realm I was able to find inspiration along with some great photographers that I could mimic as I learned the skills that were necessary for me to create my own style. That being said, there was a time when I really REALLY cared how many "likes" or "+1s" were placed on a certain photos that I posted online. Why, because when you pour your heart into something, you want everyone to see it and share in your enjoyment. This isn't a learned behavior, but something we are born with, more of an animal instinct. As my experience grew, and I created a style of my own, the feeling faded and I was less inclined to put the value of my own work on the shoulders of millions that I didn't know. I have  come to a realize, that keeping myself happy and creating unique photos that I love will in turn inspire others to do the same, and really, that's the bigger picture.

Now don't get me wrong, I truly appreciate the response on photos and enjoy interacting with others all around the world. It is a truly unique and eye opening experience, but this is by no means what brings me to the table of photography.

Let's just think about it, what drives you to do the things that your brain tells you "you love"? For me it's the challenge of planning some adventure that will take place on the other side of the planet from where I am typing this sentence right now. Then comes the fun part, executing that plan, and with a little luck, coming back with some amazing photos, stories, and memories that will be hard to forget. That unknown challenge is why I enjoy taking pictures and love traveling. I think we all have something that makes us tick, sometimes it's just hard to find.

No matter what you do, create, teach or love, take a step back and make sure you're enjoying the ride, because in the end, that's the only thing that really matters.

The Shot
From time to time I'll post a picture that's really special to me, this is one of those pictures. I think it's something that happens as a combination of a great trip where you capture the picture and the enjoyment that comes from bringing back those memories while editing the photo on your computer later in time. Paul Weeks was nice enough to take this photo of me shooting sunset on the great wall earlier that night.

Sitting out there on the great wall watching the sun set and the stars appear one by one, it's hard not to think back on the events that happened at the same location 10, 100, or 2000 years ago. When it comes down to it, not much has changed in that exact spot where I stood, even tho the world around it has in more ways than anyone could have ever imagined.  But one day when it's all said and done, those stars, those same stars, they witnessed it all.
from www.DaveMorrowPhotography.com

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nordic Nights - Southern Iceland

Do any of you have Sound Cloud? I use it constantly and share a bunch of music that I like on there. It's a free service and unlike Pandora ( which I also use a lot ) or other music streaming apps, artists upload their music here and share it so that you can pick and chose what you want to hear. You can find me at Dave Morrow Photo @ Sound Cloud.com. Feel free to leave suggestions for other cool music apps in the comments below.

I've been post processing a ton of Iceland pics lately. As shown in the post processing workflow video provided with the last post, all the pictures in my Lightroom Catalog are categorized by location and then tossed into smart folders depending on location. It's really fun to become completely immersed into one of these folders and find a bunch of pictures that were taken a year or so ago then forgotten about.

I took this behind the scenes shot an hour or two after shooting the sunset scene pictured at the bottom of this post.You can see our KuKu Camper parked in the middle the road.

The Shot
Post processing this shot lasted over at least a month. Thinking it was complete I would return a few days later and realize that results were not there yet. Eventually I was thinking about throwing the file out and starting over. Thankfully one last try, and finally, success ( well at least in my eyes ).

It's hard to tell in this picture but the mountain you see on the left side of the shot below is the same height as the mountain you see in the picture with our camper above. Things towards the center of a really wide angle lens always appear much smaller than they really are.

None the less, we were out driving for 4 hours during this sunset, and I can hands down say it was the best I have ever seen. Thankfully there are 40 pictures on the computer from this 4 hour span and only 3 have been processed. This is the first to make it online, so hopefully you like it:) from www.DaveMorrowPhotography.com
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Monday, November 18, 2013

Churn - Cape Kiwanda, Oregon

After searching frantically and finding lots of new places to shoot while heading up the California Coast I am starting to draw blank. There are tons of great spots that have been photographed time after time, but I would prefer to get a few some what unique spots as well. This usually happens through pure off the path exploration. Unless anyone wants to hand over some GPS coordinates for good locations, say between Los Angeles and San Francisco anywhere near the coast?

Enough with trip planning, I have some cool videos to share. My project over the past few weeks has been to rid my Lightroom Picture File Catalog of any pictures that I don't really care for anymore as well as set up a more efficient file structure using smart albums along with some other drag and drop sort of setups. There really isn't a need to muck up a huge hard drive with garbage files, I also find it to be so much more inspiring looking nice picture compositions. Often times looking through these pictures I'll get inspired and go off on a post processing tangent. For those of you interested in the workflow / organizational part of my post processing, check out the video below. I made this video last year, but it still has a bunch of good tips in it:) I also recommend the Why You Need an Artistic Workflow Article by Klaus Herrmann which is a great read.

Dave's Post Processing Workflow Video Tutorial

The Shot

Last summer was my official immersion into the world of photography. Prior to that I never really pushed myself in terms of travel photography since picking up a camera in 2011. The real tip in the scales came when I decided to ditch the Canon 7D and buy a Nikon D800 along with a few good Lenses. After the D800 arrived one of the first trips I made was the Oregon Coast and Cape Kiwanda. Upon arrival I realized all those amazing pictures I had been seeing from guys like Aaron Reed and Chip Philips at this location were not just "Walk Ups". I kept coming back to the location, and finally on the 6th time the waves were moving around pretty well. Here is my first post from the trip along with some post processing info:)

Post Processing Info ( Grab some discount codes to the programs below at bottom of About Me Page )
Processing Time: 45 minutes
Music: The Path - Carbon Based Life Forms
Drink: Ninkasi Sleigh'r

Lightroom 4
  • Single RAW file captured at an exposure time of 1 second.
  • Bring out shadows and blacks
  • Slight Clarity brush on water for some pop.
  • + Vibrance & - Saturation 
 Photoshop CS6
  • Apply Tony Kuypers Luminosity Masking Actions & Techniques to bring out the "mid-tones" and "highlights" in the water.
  • Apply color correction using "Color Balance" adjustment.
  • Selective color balance to the water and the red rocks. 
  • Selectively adjust contrast using "Curves" adjustment.
  • Nik Color Efex Pro Contrast, Sunlight, and warmth / glow.
  • Nik Output Sharpener ( selectively )
  • Noiseware Professional by Imagenomic, the best NR software out there...
  • Slight global vignette application
  • Save to JPEG.
from www.DaveMorrowPhotography.com

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Spires - Mount Rainier, Washington

For a while now I've been planning to hit the California Coast just north of Los Angeles and do some Milky Way stuff. Finally my map is filled with a bunch of good destinations and I'm ready to make the push. We will be starting in Los Angeles and driving up to San Francisco over 5 days. Crossing my fingers for clear skies and good weather. The last blog post had a bunch of Tips on Planning for Photography Trips some of you should enjoy.

On to some other news and updates. Five more of my Star Photography Workshops have sold out, leaving 15 left for the entire year of 2014. If you are looking to attend, now is a great time to buy:) Full info and details on my Star Photography Workshops Page.

Here is a shot from one of last years summer workshops. A handful of us woke up to shoot sunrise after a long night under the stars. This is one of the locations we will shoot from this year as well.
My last group of star photography workshop students for the summer. We had a nice sunrise at Tipsoo Lake to finish the thing off:)

The Shot
Last year during workshop season I would take a few pictures here and there while out with the different groups of students to show them what I was doing, and what tips & tricks were used along the way. For the most part I would wander around and help people with their own camera settings, allowing them to get some amazing shots of their own. It's really fun talking with everyone about photography, teaching, and learning about a bunch of new cameras along the way. Here is a shot I took while showing everyone my setup on the mountain. We even walked down that path a ways to do some exploring as well, then up to the main vantage point of the mountain to shoot some more. The skills used in the post processing of this shot can be found in my handy Star Photography Post Processing Video Tutorial.
from www.DaveMorrowPhotography.com

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Sunset on the Jinshaling Great Wall - Travel Tips & Tricks for Photographers & Explorers

Trip planning, love it or hate it, to set yourself up for a great adventure ( at least in terms of photography ), it must be done. For me trip planning is constantly in the back of my mind, it has come to the point that I really don't even think about it anymore, my body just performs the task. Prior to going on most trips ( Not just photography, but any trip ) you jump online and do a picture search, or maybe search for some cool stuff to do in the area. Well, this becomes an overwhelming task, because suddenly you have a schedule, and there goes the entire concept of vacation.

To kick the whole last minute "To Do" list idea out of my trip planning I've gone with a year-round approach of marking locations down when I browse the web on a daily/weekly basis. For me Google Maps - My Places is the best way to do so due to the fact that it allows you to make your own maps and save locations to them as you go. Anywhere you have Internet connection you can access these maps, and with devices such as the Nexus 10 I am able to store small parts of my maps to the device's hard drive for travel when no Internet is available. Some other nice features allow you to collaborate on the maps with others, or lock the map so only you can access it ( or anyone you provide with the access link ). As you have probably noticed I still use the old school Google Maps ( online / computer and my Nexus 10). The new Google Maps seems to be a great for the social aspects of maps, but for trips, classic maps it is.

Here is a screen shot of my ever growing My Places Map of the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, just one of the 60 or so maps from around the world that I am currently working on. Over time I've been able to put together every really cool location that I want to visit in this area and travel to them all. If I ever want to go back, well the map is waiting for me in the cloud.

Google Maps - Dave's Columbia River Gorge Travel Map

Once I have a map that is really starting to fill up and look good, I will pick a date to travel, and start doing some research on that location for that time of year. This works great for locations that are far away and require flying, or close distance and require just a weekend trip. When it's time to plan the specifics of your trip there is nothing better than Dual Maps from Mashedworld.com.

After planning the small details of my trips I take the final step of writing a travel agenda which contains everything I may possibly want to know while out traveling. For weekend trips this isn't really necessary, but when out traveling and shooting ( Sunrise - Day - Sunset - Blue Hour - Stars - Repeat ) each day for 3 or more days on end, things get confusing and this really takes the planning/thinking part out of your journey.

My agendas are designed in Microsoft Word and then saved to PDF after completion and include click-able Table of Contents which allows me to easily access any day of my trip with the click of a mouse or the touch of a screen. I also keep stuff like my flight itinerary and hotel plans in this agenda so everything is in one place. This is also click-able through my table of content for easy access. I keep this travel agenda file on my phone and my tablet device for easy access. No more scrolling through emails for lost items, hotel confirmations and travel plans it's all at your fingers with a travel agenda.
Here are some other great travel tools you may be interested in using. PS: I am switching from an iPhone to the Nexus 5 later this week, so I'll add some new apps to this list soon. Most of these you can find for iOS and Android operating systems.

Google Earth
Photo Pills - This is my go to photography planning app as of now. Worth the price tag:)
The Photographers Ephemeris - Another great planning app which I constantly use. Especially for planning star photography trips.
Dark Sky Finder - A must have for star photographers or lovers of the night sky.
Kayak Pro - Great for on the go and last minute flight & hotel reservations.
Yahoo Weather - Really nice interface and easy to use.

The Shot
The Jinshaling Great Wall was a task, why you ask? Well first of all it's nearly impossible to find a driver that will drive you all the way out there then come back a few days later and pick you up, we ended up paying double to get the guy to "promise" to return at a later day.

Our goal was to capture the Milky Way rising over the engineering marvel, this required camping, well a sleeping bag at least. The weather channel was forecasting 40 degrees Fahrenheit temps that night at the minimum. When the sun set, and the temps started dropping, and kept dropping all the way to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Without any camping mats and only 35 degree sleeping bags, let's just say there was not much sleeping in the schedule. We did on the other hand get some nice star shots which I will share later. Here is the sunset we caught before that frigid but beautiful night on the Great Wall of China.

Let me tell you, there is nothing better than seeing the Milky Way illuminate all of the little watch towers, stretching out like a snake to near infinity over the vast landscape. I had to sit back and let my mind wander for a bit, thinking about all of the things that had gone on here over the past thousands of years. What a place...

from www.DaveMorrowPhotography.com

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Boats in the Mist - Xingping, China

Has anyone gotten their hands on the new Google Nexus 5 yet? I am really tempted to pick one up, but not really sold on the 5" screen, the 4" screen was already big enough. Everything else about the phone looks so nice that I might just buy it anyway..

After starting this Behind the Scenes Photo Project a few weeks ago I started to realize, " damn I have a ton of pictures from random adventures and great times". It's been really fun going back through them all:) Hopefully some of these will provide you with adventure ideas and inspiration for new travel locations. With the backlog of photos that I plan to add to my portfolio constantly growing you may see a behind the scenes location that hasn't really made it to the website in the form of a portfolio picture yet. Are these Behind the Scenes shots a good edition to the website or do you wish they would go die somewhere? haha. No but really, would like to hear some thoughts...
Barely survived a night of sleeping/freezing on the great wall in -2 Degree Celsius temps. Got some nice Milky Way shots tho:)
Paul & I Feeling the Pain After Camping on the Great Wall of China

The Shot
As many of you travelers may know, the Cormorant Fisherman no longer fish for a living, but they do provide photography services for the right price. If you are in the Guilin/Yangshuo/Xingping area and would like to see these guys in action I highly suggest going through a guy named Jack who runs Yangshuo Private Tours. He provides a wealth of information, and will set you up with everything necessary and more. I was highly impressed & as goes for anything on this website, I mention his name and product because it's amazing and for no other reason.

We woke up early, 4AM early, and I stepped out on to the nice little porch we had ( This Old Place Youth Hostel / Could stay here for weeks, awesome spot ) overlooking the Lijiang River, in Xingping. The water for instant coffee was hot, and we were ready to knock out the next mission on our trip itinerary. Up to this point in the trip weather had been perfect.

This particular morning it was pretty nasty, wet, rain, fog, you name it. None the less there was no way I was coming all this way and not getting a picture of the fisherman at sunrise. Mr. Huang the fisherman met us at 5AM and we boarded his small bamboo raft to venture up the misty Lijiang. Upon docking the boat, he setup his little skiff and pulled the birds out of their cages by the necks ( they didn't seem to mind ). We proceeded to take numerous shots of him for the next hour or so.

At first it's hard to get used to shooting very low light & High ISO ( 2500 in the case of the shot below ), but once you get the hang of it, taking an insane amount of shots will guarantee you get something sharp, and interesting. I came away with 10 shots that I really liked from the morning, here is the first to make it online. Upon waking up I complained of rain, but I think it ended up making this picture.from www.DaveMorrowPhotography.com
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