Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 was for the Birds...

Looking back at my photography in 2008, I found many bird images. Here are a few of my favorites.

A windy day in April in a park outside New York
Easter in Spain together with the family was fantastic; with many photo opps including this vulture, but it is also the most expensive week for hotels...
A gyr falcon nest on solo trip to Northern Sweden
And in Southern Sweden the migratory birds are back from their winter in Africa and now have hungry mouths to feed

A week with my son Johan in Varanger, Norway resulted in thousands of images.
The loons in Sweden were busy with their young
As were a pair of cooperative great grey owls
Then a family trip to Norway with the in-laws in July brought great weather and impressive vistas
An August sunrise in Båstad, Sweden
A day off in Thailand after a business trip to India in October,
We ended the year with a week long trip to the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Monument National Park. See the separate post for more pictures of that trip...

12960 photos kept in 2008; I'm happy with that. Now I just have to find the time to do something with them.

All the best for 2009...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Grand Canyon in Winter

Since we live in Southern Sweden where the winters are dark, cold and wet, we often spend Christmas with my parents in San Diego, California, where the winters are about the same as a Swedish summer. But after 20 years of traveling to sunshine and beaches we were running out of things to see and do in the Southern California. So with a little arm-twisting and the promise of a good time in Las Vegas I managed to get the family to agree to a week long excursion including a trip to the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Monument National Park.

Las Vegas always lives up to expectations with the neon lights, comfortable hotel rooms, big-screen tv's, and plenty of good food. Johan and Kristina wanted to try their luck on the slots but thankfully the law said otherwise. So after a good nights sleep at the Luxor Hotel, we headed East to the Grand Canyon National Park where we had booked rooms at the Maswik Lodge.

A couple of good things about a winter visit to the Grand Canyon is that there are no crowds, and you are able to drive your car all along the canyon rim on roads reserved for buses during the summer season. For sunrise and sunset photography this saves you a few precious minutes and may you allow to visit and photograph several places when the light is at its best.

After checking in at the hotel we started with sunset at Hopi Point with several vantage points.

And then made some evening and night shots on the way back to the village.
Later when I got back to the hotel I discovered I my Blackberry was missing. So in the pitch black of the desert night I retraced my steps back to my where I had been photographing, and thankfully the little green LED of my Blackberry made it easy to find in the snow. Whew!

The next morning I was back before sunrise in -20F, while the rest of the family was snoozing away under their comforters.
 After a great breakfast we began our sightseeing trip east along the canyon rim before exiting the park and heading towards Page, Arizona to photograph Horseshoe Bend.
We arrived in Page in time to catch the sunset at Horseshoe Bend, but the light and clouds were not great, so I headed back the next morning to catch the sunrise instead. It's hard to see, but I am standing about one foot away from a 1000 foot sheer cliff. About the same as the two other photographers in the image below.
We would have liked to visit the Wave, but there were no spots available, so we will save that for another trip. Instead we also visited Lower Antelope Canyon before heading on to Monument National Park where we spent the night in the newly opened hotel at the visitors center.
Although we had planned on spending the entire next day at Monument Valley, a storm alert with threats of road closures and getting stuck chased us out as soon as we finished our breakfast. But I think the family was just as happy to be back in the sunshine of San Diego after a week of sub-zero in the high desert.
The images in this series are taken with the Canon 5DII and the 24-105L and 17-40L.In many cases I have taken multiple images and exposures to achieve HDR panormas. In the case of Horsebend the image is 9 images wide (portrait orientation) x 3 exposures of each image for a total of 27 images. Each set of three processed as HDR and then the finished HDR images stitched together in Photoshop.

A few more images from our trips in the Southwest can be seen at: 

Friday, August 22, 2008

Malmö Festival Fireworks

Diving into the archives of my firework images I found these images from the Malmö Festivalen that I was never satisfied with. The fireworks turned out great, but the background was too dark, and after various attempts to try to correct the problem in Photoshop, I finally gave up.

But this last year I have been using Lightroom as my main editing tool since it provides additional controls and best of all it saves the settings with the raw image. So I can save the adjustment as a profile and then reuse on multiple images saving lots of time. That in itself is great, but I also prefer the controls for adjusting the levels when working on an entire image. LR has sliding controls for whites, highlights, shadows and blacks which is enough for most images. For more control there is also a histogram adjustment. In any case on giving these a run though my post-processing workflow in LR I found the results much better than what I was able to achieve and PS and definitely how I had imagined them when I was shooting.

So now I am beginning to get the hang of fireworks photography, and post processing; unfortunately the Malmö Festival has stopped doing fireworks to reduce their environmental impact. That's a good thing of course, but I miss the photo opp.

All images where taken with the Canon 1D mkIII ,24-105L ISO 200, f/6.3 30 sec exposure, but covering the lens with a dark cap after a firework explosion to avoid the fireworks getting overexposed and runny, see my other post on fireworks for more details.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

50mm Super Wide Angle does Sydney Harbour Bridge

During a business trip to Telelogic's offices in Asia I had a few hours after work to do some night photography, and fortunately my hotel was a five minute walk from the Harbour. After a couple of evenings photographing the Sydney Harbour Bridge and skyline with my Canon 17-40

I decided to experiment with my Canon 50mm f/1.4. At f/5.6. The 50mm is much sharper than the 17-40 and by by taking multiple portrait images I would have a much higher resolution image. A full frame sensor camera would have been the perfect match for this lens, but all I had was the Canon 1Dmk3 with an APS-H (1.3 crop) sensor.

The squiggles along the top of the bridge are seagulls...

12 images in portrait orientation with about 50% overlap merged in Photoshop resulted in a 47megapixel image with excellent detail. Unfortunately I didn't have the foresight to take multiple exposures of each image, so I have something to look forward to next time I am in Sydney.

Photographing the Opera House from the front can be a challenge since there is no boardwalk in front and from a moving boat will only work day time when there is sufficient light, so instead I have used a macro lens; the Sigma 150mm f/2.8, from the other side of the Sydney Harbour. In this case 5 images in portrait orientation resulting in a 38 megapixel image.

And finally a shot with the 24-105 which is my walkaround lens. Just a bit too late here since there is no trace of blue left in the sky.

So nowadays although I have an assortment of lenses, if I want to limit the lenses I take out on a day trip I make sure to lean towards the telephoto side, since there is no good way to make up for too short a lens. But I can always find a way to get the wide angle shot.