Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Art Walk Premiering....HDR and other explorations
It's crunch time here in the space behind the garage. All those images I've worked on the last few months have to be printed, matted/mounted and ready for a show this weekend at the MAFA Art Walk this weekend here in Old Town Monrovia.

This show I'm going to be showing primarily my HDR work as it has been the focus of much of what I have been exploring the last few months. I've blathered on about it quite a bit, and to my pleasant surprise what I have done so far with it has been well received by viewers and collectors. Can't be too far off the mark and certainly something I will continue to work with as it gives me tremendous satisfaction. Just nice to get some reactions from time to time.

The image here is one of the ones I will be premiering that night. It is different from the others in that its intentionally taken down the extreme path to be very impressionistic much like the entire movement in painting early in the last century. The others being shown are very real or surreal but not as painterly as this one.

"Siene Dusk" was shot just as the sun dipped below the horizon our first evening in Paris this spring. I shot it from the Pont de Bir Hakeim near La Tour Eiffel (Eiffel you have had your French lesson for the day). I shot it with HDR in mind which means 3 bracketed exposures. I used Photomatix to generate the HDR file from the 3 raw files the camera generated. I used Photomatix as well to do the tone mapping as I prefer it to the version bundled with CS2. Once the tonemapping was done I converted it down to an 8 bit file, worked with color, fine tuned shadows, ran it through the virtual photographer and some arty filters to get this impressionistic view.

I will be at the Paint N Play Studio and Gallery that night as I am one of their featured artists that night. PnP will also be hosting an artists reception, open to the public and FREE concurrent to the art walk. Please feel free to stop in and chat with me!

The details on the art walk.
Monrovia Art Festival Association Art Walk
July 28, 2007 6:30Pm to 9:30PM
400-500 Block South Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia, CA 91016

Watch Metroblogging for the full blog on the entire Art Walk that is set to run 10AM Friday.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Love the detail preservation in HDR...
"Chapel of St John the Evangelist", Tower of London 4/9/07
For your enjoyment another installment on the European vacation shot RAW with HDR in mind this last spring. It is the Chapel of St John the Evangelist within the main tower at the center of the complex named the White Tower that dates back to the first millennium. The Chapel is on the first floor and is considered to be one of the most perfect examples of Norman architecture in all of London.
At the time I saw the chapel I knew it would benefit from HDR's ability to preserve details across a wide spectrum of light intensity. For this image I opted to use only 2 exposures choosing to allow some rich blacks void of most detail to add to the romantic view of the chapel. After the HDR file was generated with Photomatix the same programs tone mapping option was used to condense the final file into one a printer and monitor can reproduce. I opted to go very natural as well rather than the surreal. After that I cleaned up the color balance with CS2 and did the final adjustments with Virtual Photographer.
Why do I bring this up now you may ask? Well Paint n Play gallery here in Monrovia has a customer who wanted a companion piece to the "Abandoned Church Paris" that I blogged about here before. Actually they've been quite popular and I will have additional pieces for sale and display at the coming Art Walk on July 28th from 6-9PM on Myrtle Avenue in Old Town Monrovia.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

It's Old Timey Postcard Time
"Sour Lake"
"Old Faithful"
"Dragons Mouth"
"Old Faithful Wide View"
Working with HDR is fun. In a way the 3 RAW files needed to produce the HDR File for tonemapping isn't that much different than the way the early Kodachromes were deconstructed into color separations and reassembled for printing in magazines. The National Geographic was the first of the publications to use this technology to bring to us all the world had to offer in beautiful saturated color.
With the opening of Route 66 and the increased automobile ownership lead to the roadtrip family vacation. How else better to share with those left behind the amazing things you saw and tell them about your trip than to drop them a postcard.
Early postcards had wonderfully overly exaggerated colors and saturation. Today's project was to take HDR generated files, tonemap them to exaggerate things, then took it a step further with virtual photographer. So here you go, 4 examples or variations on the postcard theme.
Stark realism....HDR keeps the details clean
"Cody Sunset", Cody, Wyoming
"Fallen Soldiers" Big Horn County, Montana
"Custer National Cemetery" Big Horn County, Montana
Here we go shots taken at the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument and Custer National Cemetery. Pretty impressive, Col Custer sure had an ego and overestimated his own abilities which lead to the massacre by the Indians who were trying to protect their freedoms on their own land. (Not trying to be political here, but for the Indians from the Lakota and Cheyenne tribes this was an attempt to preserve their way of life outside the reservation system). More info can be gathered also from the official National Park System here.
And with that note...on July 5th we left Little Big Horn and ended the day in Cody in time to watch a storm develop over Yellowstone as the sunset.
All of these were shot with an ultrawide angle lens, bracketed with HDR in mind. The RAW files were combined into HDR files with the aid of Photomatix and adjusted with the Tonemapping plug in for CS2. The final images were created with the aid of Virtual Photographer.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sunsets and HDR, too good to be true in controlling demons.
"Amber Waves" Sheridan, WY

"Under the Thunderhead" Sheridan, WY

"Just Before Sunset" Sheridan, WY

"Gathering Storm", Sheridan, WY

I got a rare treat, well rare for this California guy, while in Wyoming over the July 4th Holiday. We have 3 kinds of sky in the summer, "June Gloom" or overcast grey, Blue or Brown. To get to see clouds in the sky at sunset is a treat, to watch thunderstorms growing is an even bigger treat. So the evening of July 4th after dinner and waiting for dark to arrive for fireworks I grabbed the trusty camera and went shooting the storm building to the west over the Big Horn Mountains. Very cool watching the grey build and have the sun sneak below and send shimmering golden rays across the valley floor. Swatting the flies and mosquitoes wasn't fun but it too is part of being in the country.

I shot all four images with an ultra wide angle lens to capture as much of the sky as possible, to exaggerate the immenseness of the sky. The low sun added the drama. I shot 3 exposures knowing I'd use HDR to bring back the detail in the shadows and the ultra bright highlights created by the sun. After that its tonemapping with Photomatix and then cleaned up with PhotoshopCS2 and the Virtual Photographer plug in. End result sunset landscapes with details in the sky and shadows controlling those demons is so much easier when you can use HDR to real them in.

Not exactly an impressionist paint, not exactly pure photographs, but pleased with the results. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Race you for a pink slip?
Our boatThe other teams boat
Jillian, Will and his wife Susan brought up the rear
Not the best score but we still kicked our opponents arse
NOT doing the Hula to Don Ho's "Tiny Bubbles"
Lifes adventures can't be passed up. As I run through he mid-life years I'm bound and determined add a few extra adventures to my belt before I decide to slow down. (Sounds good but I'm way too hyper to slow down).
This weeks adventure was to attend the LA Lotus Festival in Echo Park. More specifically I was a rower in the Dragon Boat races and part of the Metroblogging LA Team. This is one of those events that celebrates one culture and the the diversity of Los Angeles a city I am quite proud to call home.
Anyway the race...we kicked ass. We raced a team from another division and it felt good to beat them but a good 40 feet...maybe 3 boat lengths. The first leg across the lake we were mismatched by rowing ability and coupled with a good head wind wound up making a big curve off course and lost a lot of our huge lead of 100 feet trying to correct it. We got it all back together to make a solid run to the finish line in time (well sorta) to Shannon's beating of the drum and the chanting "blog, blog, blog...". It was fun, a nice diversion to the weekend and a great way to meet new people that can only enrich our lives in the deal. Can't wait till next year to do this again!
final tidbit...these pics were all taken with the trusty old che-ez snap in all its glorious .3 megapixels!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Black Hills....and they were pretty green

Some more from the road trip as promised. We got to spend 2 days in the Black Hills National Forest in Southwestern South Dakota. I'm not sure how they got their name, probably because from a distance and approaching from the east they look Black. Likely due to the dense green pine forests contrasting with the amber waves of grain on the plains below. Just a WAG on my part but you never know.

Regardless the area is really pretty if you are into tall trees, lots of green and mans attempt to carve humongous statues out of mountains. The latter are actually quite impressive and more so when you understand their purpose like I blogged here and here.

All of these images were shot with HDR in mind. I hand held as it was just too hot and laborious to trek the trails with even a light tripod. They were all done RAW, EV was varied +/- 2 stops, merged and converted to HDR with Photomatix. Then they were adjusted further with Photoshop CS2 and further refined with the Virtual Photographer plug in.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Running down the impressionist path.....
"Moon over the Missouri" Pierre, SD

"Moonrise at the docks" Pierre, SD

I had some fun with these images. Big discovery today was that very long time exposures with digital media makes incredible noise. Along the lines of many, many multicolored dots, dashes and crosshatches all over the image much like the color shifts and accentuated grain you get with silver film when you "push" it. (Pushing is a technique where you expose the film at a speed higher than it is rated then increase the development time and temperature to push the film to that new speed).

Another interesting phenom that I was prepared for was that the movement of the moon due to mutha earth's rotation would cause shifts in the position of the moon in the sky when you shoot long exposures. It even got funkier when I shot with HDR in mind as I wound up getting 3 images of the moon in the sky. At least the clone stamp was able to get rid of the extra moons for these images. Another time around I just may let them stay and make them a centerpiece but that's more than my tired brain is ready to handle at the moment.

These images were shot shortly after sunset as the moon was rising at Farm Island State Park in Pierre, South Dakota. I had the camera mounted on a tripod as the exposures ranged from 2 seconds all the way to 30 seconds in the bracketing +/- 2 stops from average exposure. I used Photomatix to merge the 3 raw files to create the HDR file. From there they were denoised, cloned and whatever else needed in Photoshop and converted to 8bit jpeg for here. (Pesky details but out there some geeky type like me likes that info).

Enjoy my little foray into the surreal from the real this morning!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Late afternoon shadows add drama....
"Campers and Clouds", Laramie, WY

"Dead Caddy", Beaver, Utah
"Country Living Estates", Beaver Utah

The long shadows, warm highlights and cool shadows of later afternoon and evening sun add their own drama to a scene. The shadows and highlights quickly get out of range for what your recording media can handle, whether it be digital or analog aka silver based.

Those of us venturing into the digital realm have a nifty tool that I've blathered on here quite a bit to help tame the demons of shadow and highlight detail. High Dynamic Range photography is the tool, a bit time consuming on the post processing end but with the range of tools available you can produce some really nice results. Today I stayed with the realists when working on this set of images. All of these were post processed from their raw state with Photomatix into HDR files that were then fine tuned in Photoshop CS2 and Virtual Photographer.

They paint Buffalo don't they?

A road trip always has some interesting things to see. In West Yellowstone Montana we ran across a really fun and interesting public art project similar to the Angels in Los Angeles a few years ago. The fun twist is that its all Painted Buffalo keeping in character with the area. This is only a few of the 25 Buffalo planted around the city. Visually stimulating and very diverse. Read more about them at "Where the Painted Buffalo Roam".

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th of July!!!

I got to visit Mount Rushmore a couple of times during our stay in the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota.

Interesting place, quite stunning, but a bit of a disappointment too. This was my first visit and some preset ideas and expectations. I can still remember reading about it in my Weekly Reader in elementary school and somehow thought it should be so much bigger. Maybe its those pics on the ashtray souvenir's that my grandmother who was born near there had that set it in my mind they would be so much bigger. Whatever its still pretty cool to see in person.

Anyway, I learned a lot about them during these visits and walking the various trails around the monument. Impressive for what they are. Moving to understand why each president was chosen (am too lazy to type so google Mt Rushmore and get to the National Forest Service's explanation and history for all those details).

I shot several different images of the monument bracketing for HDR. When I get back to a real pc I'll work them through. In the mean time enjoy the images and think about what each of these presidents contributed to our country's growth. Quite an appropriate moment of silence as you prepare to celebrate our nations Independence and freedoms.

Just a little flower not bigger than a quarter. Don't know its name. Just know that its a native prairie wild flower. I found it growing along the bike path near out campsite in Valentine Nebraska.
I applaud the Sioux....Crazy Horse is amazing

On the road trip we stopped in the Black Hills to explore a bit. Among the stops was the Crazy Horse Memorial. (Sorry for the lack of links but....wifi just blows, slow and takes forever to get much done).

The Memorial is part of a huge North American Indian Heritage site that will eventually include a university and medical school that will fill many acres at the base of the mountain where the statute is being carved out of the mountain.

The Sioux deserve a lot of credit in this. They had the idea some 55 years ago to build a monument to preserve the heritage and culture and move forward. They have been offered Federal and State money in the past to get the statute done faster but turned it down as they want to do it themselves. They rely on private and corporate donations to move this forward.

While at the visitors center I asked if the other tribes, especially those with gambling income have been contributing. I pointed out that I know from experience that the Pechanga children get 10 grand a month each and wanted to know if the Pechanga and Pala tribes have contributed. The answer I got was that no, the money is mostly coming from the Indian Nations in the Plains States so far and little of it comes from gaming revenue. I asked if they have approached the tribes raking in the gambling revenue to help build this North American Indian Heritage Center and he said there had been discussions and went on to tend to a customer looking a some paintings. So...I don't know if the gaming rich tribes are helping or not, or even if asked but it seems to me that such a noble cause to preserve their culture they should be all over that project.

Anyway, I have a few more things to post before its all over here. I do have a fairly decent wifi this morning and none of the local activities start until later today so I'll try to get it done....

Until then, Happy July 4th from Sheridan Wyoming!