Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lake Tahoe Sunrise

Lake Tahoe Sunrise, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

Lake Tahoe is 12 miles wide, so even on a dawn that doesn't offer a lot of color you can take expansive wide angle shots or zoom in on a subject to fill more of the frame with what color you do have.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Crescent City Sunset

Crescent City Sunset, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

My last sunset on my way back from Oregon and Washington.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sunset Bay Oregon

Sunset Bay Oregon, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

As its name implies, Sunset Bay can be a nice place to catch a sunset, but it gets even better when low tide is close to sunset.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hyperfocal Landscape Photography: Maximize Your DOF!

Cannon Beach, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

To get a photo sharp from way close to infinity, just focus on the hyperfocal point for your camera, f stop, and degree of zoom (focal length). You can see from the charts here that at f/22 you can reasonably expect to have a photo sharp from least 2 feet to infinity!:

For a link to an Excel spreadsheet you can print showing DOF range for a given camera with various settings:

You can fake it by simply pointing your camera at something in the foreground with autofocus on, then after it focuses, switch off the autofocus. Then reframe on what you want to shoot, and let the camera re-acquire a reasonable exposure for that image you want to capture (but it shouldn't destroy the focus you just set).

I've been doing this with DSLRs like Canon XT/XTi/40D, and after I reframe the shot I often hold a graduated neutral density filter in front of the lens and have the camera set on self timer to take 3 exposures (Auto Exposure Bracketing). I simply have to avoid bumping the lens focus manual ring (or I could use masking tape to temporarily keep it set in one place, as I do for night shots once I achieve a good distant focus for star trails).

With a point and shoot camera that doesn't have manual focus, you might have to hold shutter button halfway while you reframe so it holds the close focus point, and you may need to exposure compensate to darken the photo a stop or two so it doesn't emphasize the foreground and overexpose the sky (or just do it on a tripod and take 3 bracketed exposures, which can be averaged in the free trial version of Photomatix).

It's a lot easier than it probably sounds... just focus close, reframe, shoot!

The effect is most dramatic when you use your widest lens setting, since you can see what's at your feet plus all the way out to the distant horizon. It's even better if you put the camera low to the ground (tripod on its lowest setting) since that emphasizes what's right there at your feet, while including as much as possible out on the horizon and in the distant sky.

If you use a compact point-and-shoot camera, it probably doesn't have an aperture setting as small as f/22. Don't worry... just use your camera's smallest lens aperture setting, even if it's f/8 or larger. It turns out that due to physics and geometry, smaller cameras with smaller sensors have much more depth of field for a given aperture setting, so you're probably getting the equivalent of f/22 on a 35mm camera from your camera's setting of f/8. Check the hyperfocal distance charts for similar compact cameras, or just set your camera to its smallest aperture and try a few shots out to see how much DOF it can deliver.

One last note: since small apertures let in less light, you may want to have your camera on a tripod in case it uses a long exposure to compensate for the small aperture (especially at sunset or sunrise when light is lower anyway). I also bump up my ISO setting to at least ISO 200 to keep exposure time reasonable.

Try it out. You may be pleasantly surprised at the enlargement quality results that your camera can produce with just a little attention paid to where in the scene you allow it to focus.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sunrise Moonset from Hurricane Ridge

I knew the nearly full moon would be setting shortly after sunrise this morning, and the forecast for the coast was for more overcast skies, so last night after Second Beach I headed to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. The only challenge was the drive after my twilight shots yesterday, putting me in this area at close to 1am for my alarm at 4:15am!

The flowers were good on the ridge, but they were even better down the access road a few turns.
I like the results better when I use layers in Photoshop to merge in an adjacent exposure optimixed for the moon rather than using HDR software. More complicated photos may be a different story.

Second Beach is #1 in my Book

Dinner on Second Beach, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

Second beach may be my new favorite shooting location! It's smaller than Yosemite, but the potential for stunning shots is very high under the right weather conditions. Unfortunately the weather and lighting conditions weren't all that good when I visited, but that just means that I have to return soon! I can't complain though... it wasn't raining.

Knowing I'd light a fire on the beach for photos anyway, I stopped by the grocery store in Forks and picked up hot dogs and buns on the way to the beach. It's hard to beat food cooked directly over coals. Next time I'll bring steaks & s'mores!

black and white image of Second Beach

My reaction to this beach can best be summed up as, "Second to what?"

Travel photography at Second beach
Sea stack reflection on Second Beach

Friday, July 18, 2008

Temperate Rain Forest

Tree of Light, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

The last light of day lights up club moss covering a tree in the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park, Washington.

An elk in the rain forest near the town of Queets.

I need to re-edit this one for white balance (color accuracy), but I like the motion blur...

The overhanging forest coanopy on the way to Rialto Beach.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

for sunset I decided to try Rialto Beach. This site requires only a 20 minute walk, but it's an interesting scramble across a rock breakwater topped with storm debris logs, especially on the way back as it's getting dark!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park, Washington.

A sea stack reflects on the wet sand at Ruby Beach. Even without the colorful sunrise that I had hoped for, it was great to be out before the beach was overrun with visitors, and I still shot about 8GB of photos on this morning!

More later... I'm off to take more pictures!

Last Morning in Mount Rainier National Park

Reflecting, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

To successfully capture great images in a locaiton that you've never visited or haven't visited in a while, a lot much of your success depends on being in the right place at the right time. With dawn color well underway by 5am and sunset running past 9pm, logistical efficiency such as staying in a convenient location plays a role as well. I've been to this park before and I have a good photography guide to the park, but the days I've spent this week will set me up very well to crank out good shots on my next return. Hopefully I'll get some scenic weather!

This last dawn in Mount Rainier National Park offered the most intersting sky, at least for a few minutes.

The Paradise Ridge area still has about 10 feet of snow on the ground, but there were patches of flowers in places elsewhere.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tatoosh Range

The snow it too deep for most of the wildflowers that are normally out by this time of year, but the mountains themselves always make excellent subjects!

Pikas are small members of the rabbit family that inhabit rocky slopes in subalpine environments.

Mount Rainier reflected in Reflection Lake.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dawn at Sunrise Point

Dawn at Sunrise Point, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

It isn't necessary for every shot here to have Mt. Rainier in it, but then again, why not?

Tipsoo Lake with Mt. Rainier in the background.

Rainier National Park

Reflection Lake Iceout, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

My photography in Rainier National Park started with some night shot attempts under a moonless sky. I took a few short shots to confirm focus, then left the camera open with the North Star directly over Mt. Rainier. It would have been a great shot if I hadn't fallen asleep and overexposed it! I had to settle for this dawn view a couple of hours later instead.

Mt. Rainier received 950 inches of snow this last winter, so there's still a snowpack about 10 feet deep in the Paradise Ridge area where there usually are wildflowers by now.

Off to the Northwest!

Rachel the Pig, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

I finished moving out of my apartment a day late, and my legs were cramping from doing the equivalent of several thousand feet of vertical carrying things down from the third floor, but I finally hit the road.

My first photo stop upon entering Oregon was Silver Falls State Park. I arrived at 6am, too early for the quirky day use opening time of 7am. I stretched my legs with the short hike to North Falls and captured a few images.

Unfortunately I was still pretty disoriented from the days of packing and driving (and very little sleep), so I completely forgot to shoot the other falls that I intended to visit! No problem, it was a nice park and I'll be happy to revisit the next time I'm passing by.

My next subject in Oregon was Mt. St. Helens at dawn from Portland. I can sleep when I'm dead. Hopefully that attitude won't bring that about sooner rather than later!

Taking care of a few more move-out details via a wi-fi connection at a coffee shop, I left Portland with plenty of time to reach the "photowalk" group photo shoot in Seattle. Unfortunately commuters in Tacoma didn't know that I had an appointment to get to, so I arrived late adn missed the group. I did meet soem other attendees that had missed the group, so we had a very nice walk around town anyway.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Countdown to Blastoff!

I leave my apartment in a few hours to hit the open road and immerse myself in photography. No employer, no assignment, no expense account, no trust fund... just a sense, a conviction, that photography is what I'm here to do. Time will tell.

On Display at the California State Fair

This image has been accepted for the art show and competition at the 2008 California State Fair in August and early September. Only a small fraction of works are accepted for inclusion, and I am honored to have my work selected by the judges.

This has been a good week. This second shot was selected as "Photo of the Month" in the California Parks Foundation photo contest, and they're considering a couple more of my shots for possible inclusion in their calendar.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Are Your Photographs Being Stolen and Misused?

Your shots may be getting stolen more often than you think. In his article "How Every Flickr Photo Ended Up on Sale This Weekend" Jim Goldstein provides several examples of how everyone's photos on Flickr get exposed to possible theft. Joy Elizabeth Effie's comment #94 after the article provides the additional example of how some creep stole her child's photo and used it for their online profile.

Congress is about to make someone stealing and misusing your photo of your children perfectly legal, as long as they can say that they made a reasonable attempt to identify you. The examples in the article clearly show that photos are increasingly being automatically shared among Web sites and that your identity and other key information will often get stripped out in the process, so the Orphan Works Act will simply reclassify your work as "orphaned" and make any and all use of it perfectly legal.

Here are some sample photography industry statements opposing the proposed Orphan Works Act:

Please pass on news of this pending legislation and encourage family and friends to contact their elected representatives by email. The easiest automated form to accomplish this that I've found so far is at this link:

If you fail to contact Congress, don't be surprised to find your child used for the profile photo of some swearing, drug-using MySpace or Facebook user advocating illegal sexual acts, and there's nothing whatsoever that you can do to stop it.

I was shocked to learn that several of my representatives support the bill. I will be letting them know that I will be doing everything in my power to educate other voters in their district that their re-election should be vigorously opposed.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Your Photography in Yosemite National Park

Here's a short list of good places to shoot in Yosemite National Park, organized by time of day:

No rush for sunrise... consider Cook's Meadow from the Sentinel Bridge parking lot area shooting towards Yosemite Falls, as the sun first hits it about an hour after dawn. Walk to the bridge a short way downstream and come up the far bank, shooting in any direction that looks interesting. Ahwanee Meadow can be interesting around this same time if there's a ground fog.

In late morning you can catch a rainbow in Vernal Falls from the mist trail, then again from above Vernal Falls 1/2 mile back on the alternate return trail.

Mid afternoon is a good time to shoot Half Dome from Ahwanee Meadow, and El Capitan from the field near its base, from Cathedral Beach, and from the opposite bank of the Merced River.

In late afternoon you can often catch a rainbow in Bridalveil Falls from the parking lot.

A little before sunset Valley View is great, then as you start to lose light on El Capitan you can move up to Tunnel View.

Sunsets can be good at Glacier Point, Tunnel View, Sentinel Bridge, and Ahwanee Meadow. Sentinel Dome is even better than Glacier Point, but have a spare flashlight and spare batteries to make sure you can hike the mile back to the car in the dark.

Night photography in Yosemite can be great when the moon is about half full or more. Just return to the same spots you shot when the sun was roughly where the moon is as you're shooting. In the Spring and early Summer while there's enough flow and mist you can catch moonbows (lunar rainbows) in Lower Yosemite Falls shortly after a full moon rises.

Near Tioga Pass consider going to Saddlebag Lake and catching the water taxi 2 miles down the lake and going for a day hike around the 20 Lakes Basin. It's up at 10,000 feet though, so don't count on going very far if you're not acclimated to altitude (staying nearby or at Tuolumne Meadows would be good).

Mono Lake is an amazing spot for sunrise, but you have to arrive at South Tufa well before dawn to make the short hike to the shore and get set up for the best approaching light to the east, then move to catch the sun's first rays painting the mountain peaks towering 6000 feet above to the west. The ghost town of Bodie is another interesting option if you head out that way.

Some other places... The whole Tioga Pass road can be great in afternoons when afternoon thunderclouds are forming. Tenaya Lake is always worth a stop, especially at the West end on a calm afternoon, shooting east. Olmstead Point can be interesting at dawn or dusk, but mainly if the weather gets interesting. I wouldn't drive the hour from the Valley for it, but if you're driving by at least stop and see if the yellow-bellied marmots are climbing around the rocks looking for food (don't feed them). Tuolumne Meadows can be interesting at dawn or dusk.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tempted to Self Publish?

Now you can with Amazon's Createspace.

Yes, I've seen Blurb, but it seemed too expensive, resulting in unrealistic retail prices if you actually want to sell some copies of the book yourself. CreateSpace seems to have a better pricing structure:
Trim Sizes
Prices & Revenue Share

Check it out, and let me know how your book turns out!

If anyone has advice on how to obtain maps for publishing, I'd like to get some books out myself.