Close by

Do I really need to travel far to make photos? Just last weekend I’ve discovered a hike which is only half an hour of driving from my house and yet it has some beautiful waterfalls, creeks and alpine lakes. Well, I have not got to the lakes yet. The two times I went to that hike I got caught up too much with the waterfalls. There are four(!) waterfalls in just the first two miles of the hike.

I still see several image to be made even with closer waterfalls and with the furthest I’ve got to so far I’ve just scratched the surface so to speak. Now I plan to make it all the way just to see everything that it has to offer.

I’m still in awe if the beauty of the place I live in.

Beauty is in Details

I’m still experimenting with this technique of multiple exposures over long period of time combined in one image and I like  results better and better. I think I’m onto something. Look at this image. Pretty trivial and  obvious composition. The first thing to note is that clouds look like they are painted.

Then I looked closely at different elements in the image and liked this technique even more. Here is a fragment of a field on the right:

And here is the tree enlarged:

Both elements look like painted. The road is the only element that remains looking as a photograph. This combination of photographic look and painting look creates quite an interesting effect. I’m eager to start printing this to see how it looks in full detail print.

Chasing the Wave

Photography for me is about having fun, experimenting, trying out. It jump starts my creativity. Many of the photographers of the past and of today talk about previsualization, trying to compose and envision photo in your head before taking a photo. For me trying to do that with every image would be a limiting factor because we can only previsualize based on experiences we already have and we won’t learn anything new, gain new experiences.

The element of “randomness” is very important for me. Seeing something for the first time is what brings me joy. So, when one evening when I was ready to photograph sunset that did not happen I looked around what else I might take pictures of. I saw waves running to the shore and surfers occasionally running the waves. And I thought what if I pan the waves by rotating camera horizontally on the tripod with long exposure.

I took one image there was something in it. I started doing more and more. It was fun since I could not predict ahead of time what the image would look like. Trial and error, trial and error. As Jai Maisel once said “there is a reason why it is not called trial and success”. Here is a couple of the best trials:

Persistence Pays Off

I’ve passed by Lake Crescent many many times. It is a large lake and one of the important features of Olympic National Park with its deep incredibly clean water. Over the years I’ve stopped at different places around it and taken several photos,  but have not got any really interesting ones.

Eventually I gave up and was just passing it by on my way to the beaches of the Pacific coast. But as you know persistence pays off. So, this summer I was driving from the beaches back home and as usual my way back was around the lake. This time was different…

I saw this beautiful scene. Finally the lake opened up its soul to me. It was calm and serene. Mist was hanging over the lake hiding the west bank. Mountain ridges were coming down to the lake becoming softer and softer in the distance with shades of pastel blue. The water was like a glass perfectly reflecting the mountains and the pastel pink sky. Two trees were standing aside on the right bank. And one small next to them. Like a family that came out to the lake to have fun by its side.

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Dawn at Lake Crescent

Art Fair Simulator

Some people build flight simulators at home. I’ve built art fair simulator. 🙂 Art fair season starts for me this weekend with Kirkland Uncorked. And I was practicing setting up booth at home. It is nice to have home large enough to do this.

I’ve tested tent, propanels layout, lights (not in this photo). I feel ready now. Just keeping fingers crossed that there will be no rain this weekend.

You can find more details about art fairs and exhibitions which I’m participating in on my website: http://www.vitphoto.com/?link=shows

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Stops Along the Way

One advantage of taking a road trip instead of flying is being able to see and photograph things along the way. At least that’s the theory. Once I’m in driving mode, I’m in driving mode, I want to zap as fast as possible to my destination. I still can see things around but I don’t stop to photograph.

That was the case up to my last trip to Palouse. I’ve made it rule to stop at any point I find interesting along the way. And I did, even if it meant turning around and driving back. It meant turning off my driving mode and being more aware of landscapes around.

It paid off with this photo.

Couple more images of the same place – horizontal:

And vertical:

Big Pine

Day 3, Noon

With a spare tire that I put the day before I could not get far, since it was not regular size. I needed to fix that problem first. The closest town – Big Pine – was over an hour away, especially with spare tire with a limit of 50 mph.

The drive to Big Pine turned out pretty interesting and picturesque. From there I decided to drive along Sierra Nevada mountain range south and re-enter Death Valley from west. That way I would have entered the valley from every road available.

The road was very nice. If I were to go to Eureka Dunes again that’s probably the way I would approach it. And for convenience I could even stay in Big Pine for a night.

The drive to Big Pine and then driving west of Death Valley turned out very picturesque. Here is a road from Eureka Dunes with snowy Sierra Nevada in the distance:

Road from Eureka Dunes

Here is a nice roller-coaster ride to the west entrance to Death Valley with mountains in the distance hidden behind dust storm:

Roller Coaster

And here are the curves of road descending into Death Valley with its colorful mountains (click on the image to see it larger):

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Eureka Dunes

Day 2, Sunset

Here they are – Eureka Dunes. This is the first time I went there. Their size is magnificent and awe inspiring.

Eureka Dunes

Just as I approached Eureka Dunes a low pressure indicator came up on console. I stopped and stepped outside. I could here a fizzing sound coming from a punched tire. Photography aside I had to replace the tire first.

Changing tire in heat and dust is not fun. At first I thought it was kind of lame that I had made all this way without a problem and got a flat at the destination. But in retrospective I think it was good it happened there and not in the middle of the road. It was easier to change tire on a leveled camping site than a rough road. And there were other campers there who were more than happy to help.

Once the tire was replaced I was ready to photograph a sunset. And what a sunset it was!

Here is the last light on the highest dune. The clouds are still white and soft.

Eureka Dunes

And here are the clouds lit up.

Eureka Dunes

Badwater

Day 2, Sunrise

Badwater

My first sunrise on this trip was at Badwater. That’s a large flat with lots of salt deposits from drying out water. The salt is brought by streams running down the mountains surrounding the valley in those rare cases there is a rain in Death Valley.

I wanted to capture psychedelic twilight and early dawn colors that I saw long time ago here but now with better techniques. This time colors were too weak, so I had to put gold-n-blue polarizer to give them a punch. I use this filter very rarely because it saturates and shifts colors too much for my taste. The only exception when I use would be photographing sunrise or sunset when rich orange colors would be expected and I don’t get those colors without this filter.

I liked how sky came out with gold-n-blue polarizer but I did not like the color cast on salt flats. Thus in post-processing I removed the color cast and put back the color of salt flats without gold-n-blue polarizer.

My first attempt to remove cast was to do color balance. Unfortunately, I could not color balance uniformly across the whole field. That’s because gold-n-blue polarizer produces different color casts depending on an angle to light source (Sun in this case). Given that this is more than 180 degree panorama the color casts produced by the filter in the middle and on the sides was significantly different. As I color balanced middle of the photo, I’d have unpleasant green color cast on the sides. As I color balanced sides I’d get magenta cast in the middle.

After that struggle I decided that the only way to fix color cast on the salt flats was to get rid of color information completely and bring back color from a photo without polarizer. The first step was putting a black and white layer on top of salt flats to remove color completely. Then I put photo filter with color picked from photo taken without the gold-n-blue polarizer. The last step was blending that with original color of this photograph to add variation and make smooth transitions between colors.

Walk into Fall

This post was supposed to be about fall and beautiful foliage colors I captured last fall during my visit to my home town in Ukraine. But as I was preparing an image to include in this post the topic of the post changed because of my struggle to fit large image with lots of details in a small viewing area of a screen and make it as enjoyable as original.

Here is the image I’m talking about (you can click on the image to see it in a bigger size):

Walk into Fall
Walk into Fall

In full size it has every leaf with its unique color and details. The whole image is vibrant and lively. You practically want to follow the dirty trail covered with foliage and walk into fall. After reducing it to such small size all the colors blended together into something more or less average.

That’s just another reason I still enjoy more prints over images on a screen. Just to show what I’m talking about here are a couple of snippets at full resolution.

Foliage

Foliage