From an extremely fun trip to Hokkaido for some skiing at Niseko and a little exploring in Sapporo, this being on top of Grand Hirafu resort after a small hike from their highest chairlift, classy little single seater.
It was a cold March night in Sapporo and the foggy storm told me it would be interesting to get out and take some shots despite it being late in the middle of the night, so I rolled out of bed with my camera and ended up with a few shots like this.
I was a little tipsy one night after eating out and ended up with a bunch of crooked, off kilter shots, but this decent one was found in that series.
I was packing for a badass trip to the Sangre de Cristo mountains for some paragliding, hiking, and photography when my wife gets a call on the phone. Time to go back to work. The bastards! We had a good 6 or 7 week run of no work, so I can’t really complain. Anyways I am taking out my frustrations on Lightroom. These were all taken at the Port of Yokohama on the Ōsanbashi Pier.
I have no idea who the hell Jack is or why that is there. It must be some kind of conspiracy against Jack Daniels for making liquor that tastes like ass.
Last week we took what I thought would be a grand paragliding odyssey to Utah, Wyoming, and maybe Colorado. We first went to the Point of the Mountain and quickly became demoralized due to our lack of skills in high wind and having to learn around a huge amount of people while trying not to cause collisions between others. So failing that, we thought it would be nice to go up American Fork Canyon and hike Timp from the Timpanooke Trail. I’ve hiked from the Aspen Grove side more times than I can remember, but only once from the Timpanooke side, which is also the prettier, but longer trail.
Anyways, we were only able to make it just under 3/4’s of the way from the peak due to thin snow bridges with no alternate way around them. I’ve never been stopped by snow before on the Aspen Grove side, but I guess there are very limited spots to ascend on the Timpanooke side. I don’t even care about the peak, but I was super bummed as I really wanted to show Amber Emerald Lake and get some pictures from there; one of the prettiest spots on the planet if you ask me. Here is a shot near the end of the trail for us looking back towards the backside of Alta and Snowbird. Yeah, I grew up just a few minutes drive from here near Aspen Grove. This makes me miss it!
The full sized panorama’s can be found by clicking on the pictures and going to the larger sizes in flickr, these small sized shots really blow..
Oh my god! Who ever gets tired of shots from Japan? Not me, not you, not anyone! I guess I will call these series of shots I post that are geographically minutes away from each other a “cluster”. I bring you a Shinjuku cluster. Post dated of course.
I’m like a monkey drawn to the lights I guess, but I mean, look at everything going on in this scene! It just makes me want to walk into all of these stores and buy stuff even though I don’t know what any of it is!
Every one of these shots from my last three posts were taken with a photo buddy who visited just before we packed up and left. He makes a ninja appearance in this shot.
Wow, over a year since my last post. My original excuse last year was that I was too busy with training at my job to take or process shots. Then during the last 2 months I have barely worked any hours at all and had more free time than I have ever had. Still didn’t take or process shots. Oh well, here we go again..
So here we are on Odaiba Island just outside of Tokyo. When you see this unique building with a giant sphere overhead, you’ve come to the right place for a light show once the sun has set. In fact, I see this spot on TV quite a bit, most recently the Black Eyed Peas used it as a backdrop for their “Just Can’t Get Enough” music video.
Just below the bay side of the building there is a wicked escalator that puts on a rather interesting, yet oddly psychotic light show.
I had shot this little area quite a bit while I was in Japan, but it was kind of challenging to get any usable shots as the lights change so often that it seems to wash out the highlights if you capture more than one color on the same neon tube. I had to bump up the ISO so my exposures were not too long and just hope my timing was synced to the color changes. I’m sure others have been able to provide much better examples!
Last May we took a quick trip over to the Hakone area to go to this crazy onsen that has everything from a coffee bath, a wine bath, sake bath, and a pool you dip your feet into and let little fish nibble off your top layer of skin. We also were able to see another side of Fuji I had not seen before once we reached the Gotemba area. The city of Gotemba has got one hell of a view! I took these shots from their shrine, which was also nearby an awesome camp spot we found that was cheap and had a pretty amazing view of Fuji as well. I think I actually enjoyed the Gotemba area a bit more than Hakone, which is probably blasphemous to even say as so many people love Hakone, but that is the problem.. So many people in Hakone!
Of course, every time I go through my shots of Japan I miss it quite a bit, but it is easy to forget that during the spring time when I took these shots I had the worst allergies of my life! I could barely sleep at night for over a month during our last year there. I guess that is the price exacted by Mother Japan for so much amazing photography potential.
I am pretty sure this is in no way a unique shot as about 5 million people have probably stood beneath this sculpture with camera pointed towards the sky, but this is my take. I used a 7 shot DRI for the sky and HDR for the sculpture and building. I cheated a little bit and cloned out a small amount of some random building on the bottom left side of the shot.
More, more, and even more shots from the photography goldmine known as Shibuya Crossing. It is quite entertaining to browse through my shots from this location. A lot of them are not fit for posting, but the expressions on random strangers faces will keep me from ever discarding the files into the bit shredder. When I am shooting, I never realize how many people glance at me with my camera then become extremely shy or timid and look down towards the ground or towards their side with a big awkward smile. Sometimes I come across a pair of fashionistas that are eager to get themselves into a shot to hopefully one day be acknowledged for their chic taste in seasonal wardrobe.
So first you have the lineup between each succession of lights. This is were I begin my offensive planning and the other team begins their defensive posturing. I plot my victims and they plot their evasive actions, strategic placement behind others to block my view, and funny faces to be made.
My coach usually pulls up on his bike beside me and gives me some helpful advice, like pretending to take a picture of the street light above me, then quickly moving in for the capture kill when they least expect it. Thanks coach!
Some of them are tricky and can generally work strategic placement to their advantage. This is when you have to bump up the ISO, open up that aperture, and “snipe the gaps” as coach likes to call it.
Here is a perfect implementation of the photographer distracted by the street ligh.. not! technique. She never had a chance, caught out in the open.
Yes, I see you back there running with ear muffs.. You have bested me with strategic placement behind random stranger, but random stranger has wind blowing through long flowing hair. I win this time!
This post leads into the last shot I posted of the city. I took a couple of steps back and snapped off some shots of the other people enjoying the observation deck. There are usually quite a few people with DSLR’s pressed up against the glass, trying to find the right angle to eliminate glare from the sun and building lights while avoiding the atrocity I call window smudges! I messed around a bit in Lightroom to convert it to black and white, then just exported the unaltered shot into Nik Softwares Silver Efex Pro. This program is just amazing for black and white conversions. I don’t think any other software is quite a match for it! I thought my Lightroom version was looking pretty good, but Silver Efex Pro just seems to know something I do not and bested me and my Lightroom sliders.
Yesterday was quite a blizzard here in Alliance. I think it is the most snow I have had at any place I have lived since I left Utah. I definitely enjoy the hell out of it too, I wish I had a snow mobile, a snow cat, or skis and a mountain, but it was fun enough driving around the last two days busting on through drifts in my truck. I headed out east for about 35 miles to explore a little bit and look for some shots. It was really, really, really cold with the wind chill! It was actually painful on exposed skin within seconds in the area I took the shot of the do not pass sign. Also got a better shot of the trains. They were parked up and down the tracks today with no one in them. I think they picked up everyone and sent them back home in a van for New Years.
Anyways, in the next day or two I have a haphazard tutorial on my HDR/DRI process that I should be able to post. I was going to post a write up on these shots as well, but my HDR and DRI versions sucked pretty bad. These are just regular shots. *Edit, figured out why my bracketed shots sucked.. Was shooting at 800 ISO all day.. Nikon needs to make an option that resets the ISO to 200 after cycling the camera on and off for tards like myself!
I haven’t touched this blog in a while, but there is good reason for this. I took a conductor position with the BNSF railroad in Alliance, Nebraska. I am about to start into my 3rd week of training out of 15 weeks total before I shake baby noob status and become a regular full-time employee. I have been wanting to get out of working in an office and instead working outside and this position definitely offers this as well as the ability to work almost anywhere in the mid-west and western states.
Photography wise, Nebraska speaks to me a lot more than Georgia ever did. The sky is one of the few places in the country that has very little pollution in the sky, the sun starts to bake warm sunset tones onto the terra firma by about 1:30 pm, and there is a ton of interesting farm scenery and plenty of abandoned buildings sprinkled through out. The biggest problem I have will be finding time away from the volumes of books I need to study to pass all of my tests in between my OJT.
I don’t usually go into churches on my own free will, but I spied this abandoned beauty right off the side of the road the first time I was in the area for my hiring session a few months ago. I made a couple of mistakes to chalk up to my list of photography foibles.
- The D700 remembers what ISO you shot at last in RAW or JPEG rather than just using whatever ISO you dial in, at least this is what I think happened. The camera was at ISO 1250 in JPEG when I pulled it out of the bag and I knew enough to dial the ISO down to 200. Then I switched to RAW to shoot Like a Boss and ended up coming home to discover all my shots were set at ISO 1250. I assume the camera remembered what I was using the last time I shot RAW, but I will have to test this to be sure.
- When I went inside the church, I started walking around like a clown not being cautious with my steps. Sure enough I stepped right onto the only piece of wood with nails sticking straight up. Lucky for me, the nail was not long enough to make it through the sole of my tennis shoe. FACT- Anyone who has ever been in the military has 1/4 parts blood and 3/4 parts random inoculations running through their arteries and veins. I now deplore inoculations and anthrax filled up the last remaining space that tetanus would need to occupy my circulatory system. This is why they now mist the flu vaccine straight into my brain via my nasal cavities due to all of the empty space up there.
- I left my polarizer back in Georgia with my wife who will not be moving out here until she separates in February or March 😦
The interior shots are HDR’s that I could barely sharpen due to the higher ISO creating noise problems during the HDR processing and the outside shots are just that, outside shots. Had I not taken the shot of the church from the outside, knowing it was taken in the middle of the day when the sun is the strongest, I would have guessed it was DRI processed, but it is just the Nebraska 5-hours-long sunset at about 1:30 pm with the sun behind my back!
This shot kind of reminds me of Blade Runner. I guess I am supposed to like Blade Runner, I have watched it multiple times and I just cannot get into it no matter which cut I watch, and this shot is exactly the same.. I have worked on it multiple times in the past and just cannot really get into it. This is my last attempt and I really am not sure about the selective coloring, but I put too much time into the shot and I might as well post it!
This also marks my last post from Georgia. As soon as I post this shot I am dismantling my computer and loading it up for tomorrows journey to Nebraska. This is the 2nd holiday season in a row that I will be spending away from my better half and hopefully the last!
We took a trip to a swamp in Southern Georgia with a crazy sounding name, Okefenokee. The swamp is pretty massive and full of spiders, alligators, snakes, and godless killing machines, aka bears. Consequently, I am not about to go camping here anytime soon! I took this 4 vertical shot panorama from the top of a lookout tower that was about 50 feet high. AutoPano Pro is pretty amazing software for stitching. I had a tripod set up for these shots, but the wind was blowing and 3 people on top of a lookout had the top swaying quite a bit, yet it still seems to have stitched even the foliage without a hitch.
Not Dodge as in the auto maker, but dodge as in a little dodging here and a little burning there really helped make this picture have an almost three dimensional feel to it. The four exposures ran through Photomatix HDR process helps with bringing out a unique look to the textures as well. I must say I love the new version. It is stupid simple to get rid of ghosted objects and even has a bunch of presets to get you to a starting point for getting your shot to look how you would like it. Anyways, I found this truck a while ago and wanted to come back with a camera during a sunset or sunrise. Got lucky on a trip to Andersonville and hit this as the sun was setting on our way back.
Believe it or not, but I spent a lot of time pissed off at Japan. The high road tolls, sneaky expensive train costs, super crowds, waiting in lines, waiting in trains, waiting in traffic, humidity.. I found a lot to frustrate me. Then I left for Turkey thinking I would not be back again, then our plans changed and I ended up getting to spend a couple more months back in Japan before leaving.
While I was away I guess I started to realize how great it was for photography alone. You literally go anywhere in the city and take a picture and you will usually end up with an interesting building, shrine, or human element. I could never get bored of surfing trains deep into Tokyo with all my camera stuff and an iPod playing the soundtrack to life. The amount of unique culture in Japan is astounding and seems to find its way into almost all said buildings, shrines, and human elements. The way the Japanese people conduct themselves with utmost integrity blows my mind. You can walk around alone with a bag full of money strapped to your back in the middle of the night almost anywhere in Tokyo and you would be okay. I would love to go back someday, but next time up north in the mountains since I am not a big city type of person. Then I would have the best of both worlds dipping my spoon into the big cities when I grow restless from chilling in natural springs with my snow monkey friends.