San Francisco, CA – Broadway Pier

San Fran - Broadway Pier

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR, Color Efex Pro 3.0

This shot was taken earlier this week.   It was chilly for April in San Francisco…about 42 degrees with a nice wind kicking around.   I ventured out for some nite photos.  This shot was my target.  The Broadway Pier – it is about a 3-5 min walk from the Ferry Building on the wharf.   It was late and quiet.  I set up my tripod and took this with a 10 second exposure using a cable release.  Post processed in my new favorite software plug-in Color Efex Pro 3.0.  The link is above and you can download a trial for 2 weeks.   The angular building in the background is the Transamerica building.  With a 10 second exposure you can even see the traffic streaks on the street ahead.    When I walked up to the pier I was happy to see some low clouds in the background of the city – that always adds a nice effect!   Always be safe when shooting at nite – later on I was so into taking a shot of the pier from a different angle and some Russian lady walked right up next to me and asked “Hey comrade, what camera are you using?”.  She startled me!   So always be sure to check your surroundings often when photographing at nite.   It sure was a cold war with the wind this nite!

San Francisco, CA – Golden Gate Bridge – Infrared


SF - GGB Infrared B&W

NIKON D70S (Modfied IR – LifePixel), Nikon 18-70

Here is my first Infrared Black & White shot.  This is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fran.  I will have lots of pictures from here in the next week or so as I get through them.  I have standard shots, HDR’s and a few IR pics.  I was lucky enough to have a mostly clear day and I found a great spot to take these pics!  I’ll post more details on San Francisco in my next few photo posts.  I do prefer the IR shots to have color, but a B&W looks decent as well!!  I was happy to see these IR pics of the bridge came out solid.   I used a couple new items on my trip as well – a Think Tank Modular camera pack and a new strap for my D300.  Both items were great!   I write up details in the next few SF posts.

Las Vegas, Nevada – Mirage HDR

Las Vegas - Mirage HDR

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR, HDR in Photomatix

Here is another HDR from Vegas.  Viva Las HDR!  Vegas is the land of the HDR possibilites.   So many choices down one little strip.   I took this one hand held just walking up the entrance to the Mirage with 5 exposures and used Photomatix.   If you have not been to Vegas….add it to your list.  Tons to do and lots to see!  We always fly in to Vegas and drive to SoCal.   Its only 4 hours to Los Angeles, CA.    You can even take a tour to the Grand Canyon from Vegas.  Never been…maybe one day? 

I just came back from San Francisco, hope to post some pics in a day or so.  I tried IR pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge.  I’ll work on them soon.  Hope they came out ok?   Photography is the best!  So many options we have these days – HDR, IR, Plug ins for Photoshop.   Not sure what is my favorite?  I now take equal amounts of HDR and IR shots.   Always remember in photography….  its not about what you see, its how you see it.

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder, CO - Flood

Photoshop – Flood plug-in

Here is the picture below from Boulder of the Flatirons modified with the “Flood” plug -in.  You can see I added an artificial lake!  And it was easy!  I think you can go crazy with any plug-in – just keep yourself in check.  The options you can make are never ending!   For this plug-in visit Flaming Pear.     Have fun with your reflections!

Boulder, Colorado – Flatirons

Boulder, Co

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR

Boulder, Colorado is such a beuatiful place.  Here is a picture of the Flatirons from a distance.  Driving into Boulder from Denver is breathtaking.  The mountains are amazing!  I enojy traveling to Boulder once every year and take a few hours to grab some shots.    This year I hope to get to Mirror Lake.  It about 50 mins north west of Boulder.  Looks like a great area for photographs.   Boulder is a cute little college town (University of Boulder).  You can drive to the Flatirons in 10 minutes.  There are trails you can hike and view the scenery.  There a lots of great places in the US to photograph – Colorado is in the top 5.  So many palces to visit.  Rocky Mountains, Aspen, Denver, Boulder, etc…   Anytime of year will be ok!     And if you remember the scary movie the Shinning…..Estes Park from Boulder its about 40 miles away!  There you can visit the Stanley Hotel.  Maybe I’ll head up there and get an HDR later this year??   I created a Mirror Lake above with the pug in Flood.  Have fun!

Texas Wildflowers – Painted Blanket

Painted Blanket

NIKON D300, Nikon 105 VR, Photoshop

As Texas Wildflower season is coming to a close soon I wanted to post a picture of my favorite flower – Painted Balnkets.  Here in Texas we sometimes have roadsides filled with these.  From a far they look nice, but up close they are beautiful!  I took a close up shot of this Painted Blanket and blacked out the backgournd in Photoshop.  Then I used a plug-in called Flood.  You can find it at Flaming Pear.  This plug-in is fun.  You can instantly  put anyone or anything in a lake!  I tried a mountain landscape shot I had and it came out great – with a new lake reflection added!  I’ll post it tomorrow. You can also download a trial of this software.  Give it a try if your inner artist will alow – enjoy!

Las Vegas, Nevada – Bellagio Gardens – HDR

Bellagio Gaardens HDR

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR, HDR in Photomatix

It is always fun to go on trips and take tons of photos.  Here is a prime example of re-visiting your pictures at a later date!  I was in Vegas a few weeks ago and posted some here.  I was organizing my pictures for a bit yesterday and noticed I did not get through all my HDR’s from the trip.  After I post processed this shot…I loved the colors!!!   I had never shot a flower as an HDR, not sure if a single flower would look ok?  But bunches of flowers look wonderful!    This was taken at the Bellagio Hotel – Botantical Garden.   In this area of the hotel they change the format every season.  This was for spring.   I actually did this hand held and used 5 exposures.   There were lots of people around and I didnt feel safe to set up my tripod – as someone might trip on it.   I will post another HDR from Vegas tomorrow.  Vegas must be one of the best spots for HDR – everywhere you look  there are colors that make for great shots!  If you havent tried HDR photography…I’d say try it and you will love it!   Hopefully in the next month or so, I will post a tutorial and settings I use in Photomatix.

Madrid, Spain

Madrid Spain

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR, Photoshop

I had a day last summer to enjoy Madrid, Spain.  It was my first visit to this country.  I stayed in the middle of the city and walked around for an hour enjoying the sights.  I then took a hop-on-hop-off bus tour.  It is a beautiful little city.  As it was a Sunday and there was a city-wide event going on – they closed off most of the streets for live music and sporting events.  It was nice to see everyone walking around enjoying life.  I had wanted to take a picture of the famous Madrid Post office, but most of it was covered by a big stage.  It still was very impressive!   Here is a picture of it with a little cool photoshop effect added to it using Color Efex Pro 3 (Nik Software). 

Lots to see and way too much for one afternoon.  I would enjoy visiting again.  The food and atmosphere was great and the Spanish people were so nice!   Some great places to visit in Madrid are Plaza Mayor, Royal Palace, Prado Museum and the Post office (above pic).   I really wanted to get a nite shot of the Post office….hopefully on my next visit!    This is one place I would enjoy exploring again!   Maybe I’ll get a chance later this year?

Orlando, Florida – Cypress Trees HDR

Cypress Trees - HDR

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR, HDR in Photomatix

This picture of the Cypress Trees is from Cypress Gardens park in Orlando.  As I am going through my pictures…maybe it was not a bad choice to check this park out.  A few nice pictures from here….thanks to these Cypress Trees.   On this one I used my tripod and a shutter release with 5 exposures.  When I post processed it in Photomatix I turned up the strength and it gave the Cypress trees some life!   The detail in the base of the trees makes them look almost spooky.    After I completed this picture all I could think about is the March of the Ents from Lord of the Rings (for those who have seen that movie you may know what I mean). 

Here is a little info on cypress tress I found on the net – The bald cypress has a pyramidal shape similar to other conifers, with a broad buttressed base. It reaches up to 100 feet in height in its native environment, but rarely more than 70 feet in culture. In wet situations it develops ‘cypress knees’: curious growths which rise out of the ground or water and are believed to help the tree breathe in swampy conditions. The short green needles turn brown and drop off in the fall. Its bark is fibrous and an attractive reddish brown. The small, rounded cones are of little decorative effect.

I think Cypress trees go up high on my list to photograph.   I’ll see if I can find more in FLA one day!   Then I will be “swamped” with pictures!

Orlando, Florida – Gatorland

Gatorland - Gator

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR

This guy is ready for lunch!!!  Glad it wasn’t me!  You get so close this this impressive creatures at Gatorland.  I lived in Florida for a few years…once we had a gator in the backyard.  Luckily it was only 4 feet long.  This big guy was about 9 feet.   Yikes!  Always remember – we were told if a gator is chasing you…run diagonally…gators can’t make fast turns (with such short stumpy legs).   This is the last post from Gatorland….Gator-done!