Dave Morrow Photography: December 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Lenticulars - Alvord Desert Oregon

There are some awesome shots from the Alvord Desert so this past summer I decided it was time to knock it off the old To Do list. The drive down there is pretty lengthy from Seattle so it seemed best to stay down there for 3-4 days. Needless to say there is absolutely nothing out there and that includes people. For 3 days I sat around, read, drank beer and tried to stay out of the nasty wind storms that constantly bombard the playa. Each night with sunset came along some of the nicest light I've ever witnessed and then... The Milky Way. Alvord Desert is an awesome place that I highly recommend to any photographer or explorer.

Here are a few Behind the Scenes shots that I took while wasting the days away down there. Alvord Desert Oregon, YES I love this place. Camping on Alvord Desert in Oregon

The Shot
Up to this point in my life I've never seen a really good lenticular cloud in person.... Well it happened. This one was huge and made Steens Mountain ( 9,722 ft ) look minuscule in comparison. Thankfully this guy stayed around for sunset as well.
from www.DaveMorrowPhotography.com
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Monday, December 16, 2013

Visions of the Arctic - West Fjords, Iceland

I've tried a lot of different business card companies in the past, but finally nailed it down to one that I really like. I've used Moo Business Cards for my last two orders of 400 cards and both times they came out looking really nice. Their print colors are actually spot on with what my calibrated home monitor renders which I was also thoroughly impressed with. I went with a glossy, all white card with pictures on the front and text on the back. Here is a quick behind the scenes video from my card selection meeting. The featured pictures were uploaded directly from Smugmug, text was added, and 10 minutes later the order is complete. Easy!

The Shot
This is another photo from the vaults, meaning I took it nearly two years ago, a few weeks after I got my D800. It's kinda funny looking through old pictures, especially the camera settings, many of which I would think twice before I shot at these days. This one for example was single RAW file taken at f/22 to get that nice silky water. Well shooting at f/22 really degrades the nice sharp details of the shot. In retrospect I would have liked to snap this off at f/8 for the full landscape then blend that f/22 water back in using Photoshop. I could go into full detail on my aperture selection methods, but browsing the web while writing this post I found a really nice website with full explanation on why I don't usually shoot beyond f/11.

None the less it's a good thing to keep learning and improving. I find that a lot of my pictures that I took even last month are lacking skill sets that I currently use. Hopefully this will continue for a long time.

This shot is from the West Fjords of Iceland. Unlike a lot of the locations which I can't pin point on a map when I get home, this one was very memorable. We stopped randomly along the side of the road and strolled down this small stream which took us to the ocean. At these latitudes of 65.6 degrees North, you're nearly in the Arctic Circle. The water almost looks like the warm Caribbean with it's beautiful blue glow, but trust me that stuff is cold!
from www.DaveMorrowPhotography.com
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Naiad's Ghost - Spirit Falls, Washington

Last night I was on Drink and Click with Lotus Carroll and Juan Gonzalez along with some other great photographers discussing star / night / Milky Way Photography. I have included the YouTube recording below for anyone that missed out. There were some really nice pictures shared from everyone on the show.

During the show I also make an announcement about a special project Michael Shainblum and I have been working on for a while. So tune in!

UPDATE: I'm holding an Online Star Photography Post Processing Group Workshop this Sunday for anyone that wants to follow along as I process a star shot from start to finish. Full details, and sign up HERE.

The Shot
This was another one of those shots that I just couldn't get right. Going back and back again to make more final adjustments it just wasn't happening. After a month of sitting on my computer I opened it up today and decided it was done. For anyone that hasn't been to Spirit Falls yet it seems to be getting much more popular. The location really isn't hard to find, but the hike down can be a bit tricky / dangerous. TJ Thorne did a nice Behind the Scenes Write up and Video that I looked at before venturing down there on my own.

Since I've seen so many pictures coming out of the area, many of them being vertical compositions, I wanted to try the horizontal view. It took some hanging off ledges and setting up my tripod in some strange configurations, but I finally came away with this shot that I snapped off  an hour before sunset as the light painted the trees in color.

Here are the post processing details for anyone interested!

Post Processing Info ( Grab some discount codes to the programs below at bottom of About Me Page )
Processing Time: 1 hour
Music: Lee Burridge Burning Man Set
Drink: A few different Ninkasi beers

Lightroom 4
  • Two RAW files were used to make this picture. One for the full scene and then one for the water movement.
  • Lighten up the shadows and blacks
  • adjust white balance
  • + Vibrance & - Saturation 
  • Sync both RAW files for all settings
  • Final adjustments using clarity brush on the "water" RAW file.
  • Export both pictures to TIFF
 Photoshop CS6
  •  Blend both picture files together using layer masks.
  • Apply Tony Kuypers Luminosity Masking Actions & Techniques to bring out the "mid-tones" and "highlights" in the water and color in the trees 
  • Curves to selectively balance light across the entire photo.
  • Apply color correction using "Color Balance" adjustment.
  • Apply selective color balance to the water and the trees.
  • Nik Color Efex Pro Contrast, Sunlight, and warmth / glow selectively through out the photo.
  • Nik Output Sharpener ( selectively )
  • Noiseware Professional by Imagenomic, the best NR software out there...
  • Slight global vignette application
  • Clone stamp tool on a bunch of sensor dirt and little things that annoyed me;)
  • Save to JPEG.
from www.DaveMorrowPhotography.com
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Monday, December 9, 2013

Wires - San Francisco, California

I play this game once in a while when scouting for new spots to shoot that involves finding random pictures that I like then trying to pin down the exact location where they were taken. Obviously this isn't very hard if you've been to the city or location before, but it becomes much more interesting when the location you're looking for is on the other side of the world. There are obviously lots of clue like time, day, location of the sun, moon or stars, along with other man made clues that you may see in the image. Using Google Maps / World makes this task infinity easier, but at times I think I nailed the location, then show up to the actually spot where I though the picture was snapped and find it to be way off.

That scenario was just the case when trying to nail down the spot in the picture below. I had everything mapped out, but on arrival found there were a bunch of different locations within that same area in which to shoot. Needless to say, it always pays off to arrive an hour+ before sunrise or sunset to do some scouting. I always pack a few beers and a book just in case:)
Just after sunset in San Francisco / / Nexus 5

The Shot 
After a long night of shooting Milky Way / star trails in Big Sur, we decided it was a good idea to drive through the night and catch sunrise over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. We arrived around 4 AM to get some nice night / blue hour scenes with the moon rising over the bridge. Once the sun started to rise it became apparent that this was going to be an amazing morning. The fog level on the bay was near perfect, and over the next 2 hours I captured some of my favorite shots from the trip. I really wanted to grab some lesser known compositions so I pushed myself to do so through out the morning, grabbing an "iconic" shot here and there for good measure.
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Friday, December 6, 2013

Flyin' High - Crater Lake Oregon

For all of you star photography fanatics out there,  I'll be on the Drink and Click Show with Lotus Carroll this coming Wednesday discussing the subject. You will also have a chance to win a free copy of my Star Photography Post Processing Video Tutorials & Presets.

Click here for event time and details

As promised in my last blog post I just updated my Free Star Photography Tutorial to include a section on Star Trails. Of course the Milky Way stuff is still over there as well.

While in Big Sur last week I recorded a bunch of new Behind the Scenes Videos which include tips & tricks you can use while out shooting. I have included the first of these videos below which covers the skills required to get nice dynamic water movement in your landscape photography shots. I shot this on my Google Nexus 5, but just ordered a Go Pro that will assist me in making even more of these videos. I still think the Nexus 5 does pretty damn well @ 1080P so click that option for the best video quality! Don't get scared of my buddy Paul that pops in at the end haha!

The Shot
Crater Lake has a bunch of great destinations in which to shoot the Milky Way & it seems that over the years many of the compositions have been exhausted. Looking around online you will find a bunch of pictures of this same tree, but I haven't seen any from this exact angle as of yet:) We arrived here an hour before dawn as the Milky Way was starting to face in the Northern Sky, thankfully there was still enough darkness left to snap off a few shots.
from www.DaveMorrowPhotography.com

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wild World - Cannon Beach, Oregon

It's been a year and a half now since I took my first Milky Way shot, and around a year since the original version of my Free Star Photography Tutorial was posted online. Until 3 days ago I had never taken a star trail shot or processed one for that matter. On this recent trip I decided those days should end, so star trails it was. After doing a bit of messing around in the field and getting some stuff I liked on the camera and in post processing it's due time that a star trails section is added to the Free Star Photography Tutorial. After clicking "Publish" on this post I'll start writing it, so you can look for it in the next day or two, I'll also provide a link in the next blog post! Just like the current star photography tutorial for Milky Way shots, this will be very in depth and provide everything you need to know.

The Shot
Another morning on Cannon Beach, I thought this one was gonna be a dude, and then.... Thankfully we waited a bit after the sun came up and things started to get a bit more interesting. The one nice thing about this place, no matter how many times you go, there is always something different to shoot or explore. The tides seem to play a huge roll in this and constantly changes the visible landscape. On this particular morning I found this rock and the little tide pool that had formed around it. As usual I took a little walk around the thing to get a glance from all angles and tried to nail down an interesting composition. When the light started to get nice and contrasted the clouds and water I started clicking away. If you look closely at the rock on the right you can see a star fish clinging for his life.

In terms of post processing this was mostly carried out in Lightroom, with some final vignette and contrast adjustments in Photoshop & 10 minutes later the photo was done. This is one advantage of shooting away from the sun. A single RAW files easily does the trick:)
from www.DaveMorrowPhotography.com
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Monday, December 2, 2013

Forbidden - Beijing, China

Paul & I just touched down in Seattle from a week long trip up the California Coast starting in Los Angeles on to Big Sur, and then San Francisco. The weather was nothing less than great. I've  never seen 6 perfect sunrises and sunsets in a row up until this point, add some amazing Milky Way action to the equation and you can call the trip a success.

Along the way we stopped at some really cool spots including Griffith Observatory, McWay Falls, Pfeiffer Beach, Garrapata State Park and one of my favorites Point Lobos Reserve. Our home base in Carmel / Big Sur was Carmel Mission Inn which is a great setup for photographers or anyone wanting to explore the near by beaches of Big Sur. They also have a hot tub and all your can eat breakfast buffet, so you really can't go wrong there!

Here are a few of the Behind the Scenes shots I took with my Google Nexus 5 while out exploring. I like the camera included with the phone, but I find it to give some pictures a strange green tint once in a while. Not sure what that's about, but hopefully there is a white balance setting I can change some where or another. Anyone else having this issue?
Paul Weeks / www.PaulWeeksPhotos.com shooting sunset at McWay Falls in Big Sur, CA
Paul Shooting Sunset @ McWay Falls in Big Sur // Nikon D800
Sunrise in Big Sur // Google Nexus 5

After taking some Milky Way shots in Big Sur we drove through the night to San Francisco and stumbled upon an amazing sunrise overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge where the fog was perfection and the crescent moon was just starting to rise.
Foggy Sunrise at the Golden Gate Bridge under the Crescent Moon // Google Nexus 5

From there we checked into the La Luna Inn which I would also highly recommend to photographers staying in the area. It has great access to lots of awesome locations and comes with a cheap price. This isn't a fancy hotel, but it is clean and provides some really comfortable beds with in walking distance lots of food and shooting locations + free wi fi.

I hope to post a few D800 shots from the trip in the coming weeks!

The Shot
After living in China for 3 months back in 2010, I was really excited to return with my camera and capture as much as the country as possible in a 10 day time frame. We started out in Beijing and stayed for 3 days getting up for at 4:30AM each morning to make the walk to which ever location we decided to shoot.

The Forbidden City, where this shot was taken, is located about 1.5 miles from our room at the Days Inn. We arrived an hour before sunrise to get some nice blue hour action and plan out the best spot to watch the sun come over the smoggy horizon. Here is one of the shots I took after the sun came up. There were some nice clouds in the sky but I added a bit of texture blending on my own! Enjoy.
from www.DaveMorrowPhotography.com
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