Monday, December 20, 2010

Canyonlands Sunrise - Redeveloping Raw Files

I recently had a client who was interested in a sunrise shot of the Canyonlands, which gave me reason to review some raw files from my Canon 1Ds  (that camera is now long gone) that I shot in 2003. Much to my delight I came across a sunrise shot showing a sunburst coming through Mesa Arch. I think that I did not develop this image back in 2003 because there was not HDR (High Dynamic range) processing at the time, and I could not reconcile the frame that had the correct sky exposure with the correct arch exposure. Using Aperture I went back and re-developed the 2 raw files (one exposed for the sky and one for the arch) and combined them using Photoshop's pro-HDR. Voila, I now have a wonderful new image that would have been almost impossible to develop prior to HDR tools and the latest RAW processing tools. The image upsampled nicely in OnOne Perfect Resize 7. Maybe 10 years from now we will be able to re-process our earlier files to get rid of motion blur, all traces of noise, and severe under or overexposure. Be sure to hang on to all your RAW files, you never know when they will come in handy!

Canyonlands Sunrise

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Autumn Colors in Napa

I spent some time in Calistoga over Thanksgiving and went on a hot air ballon ride over the Napa Valley with my family. Autumn Colors are on the decline there but this is one of California's great locations for late season autumn colors. All the vines turn wonderful shades of red and yellow. Some unharvested vines still have grapes on them. I have added a few images to my Wine Country Prints portfolio from this trip. These images were all retouched with the new Photo Tools 2.6 Professional Edition by On One Software. This set of tools provides many options for giving images a boost in color and ambiance. Since the lighting was somewhat flat during the time we were ballooning I did quite a bit of retouching to the image Autumn Vineyards (which was taken from the balloon) to give it some pop and interest. I used the Hasselblad H4D handheld for my shots from the hot air balloon, with the 50-110 zoom. 

OnOne software has launched the Masters Page on their website which I am pleased to be a part of, in company with some wonderful fellow photographers.

Autumn Harvest, Napa

Autumn Vineyards,  Napa 

Grandmother Vine, Napa

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Making Large Prints Takes a Giant Leap Forward

I have been testing out the new Perfect Resize 7 program by OnOne Software by creating very large canvas prints (90"+) from files that are 30" tall at 240 dpi. This software replaces their Genuine Fractals I am amazed at the great image quality you can get using this new program when making large prints. I think OnOne has made a great leap forward with image upsampling.  In particular they have updated the algorithms used for image enlargement, added new sharpening tools, and added a smoothing feature that really makes a huge difference in image quality of enlarged files. You can get all the info you need on these new tools which are included in the Perfect Photo Suite 5.5 that was just released today. These tools all integrate with Lightroom, Aperture, and Photoshop CS5. OnOne has a very informative collection of how to videos  for using these new tools that are available online. The software is available as a demo to try out. The new Perfect Resize 7 also makes easy gallery wraps for canvas prints. Genuine Fractals used to leave a segment of the corners white that required manually refilling in photoshop, but now one click and the whole gallery wrap is done. This will be a huge timesaver. Below is an example of how the new gallery wrap feature looks on a print. It duplicates the sides of the image then reflects it onto the sides that are used to wrap around the stretcher bars.

(Disclosure: I have a professional relationship with onOne and provide them feedback on their software and also provide them images for their marketing).

Waterfall at Dusk Canvas Wrap

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Completed Zion Portfolio & Fun With PixelBender

We are buried alive with snow here in Truckee! At least 5 feet in the front yard so far, and it is still snowing. I hope to get out and get some shots of this epic storm as soon as it lets up.

I have completed all the Zion images from my productive trip to that amazing area in early November. All my portfolio images from that trip can be viewed on my new releases page at:
I am also offering 35% off all new release prints through Dec. 31 with the code new35, you can see all my holiday promotions at the Specials Page. 

Autumn Glow,  Zion Canyon

At Photoshop World in Vegas this year I learned about the amazing Pixel Bender plug in for Photoshop - Free from Adobe if you have Photoshop. This cool plug in makes your pics look like a van Gogh painting (well sort of) and is really fun to play with. The only problem is that there seems to be a size limit to the photos it can work with, so it will not process very large files. Here is a fun shot  retouched with Pixel Bender I did of an old truck I saw driving to Zion. You may need to click on the image to get it to display full size to see the effects. I enjoy doing this type of retouching to images with man-made subjects, it can add a little fun and attitude to the shot.

Pumpkin Truck

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Autumn Sunset Zion / November Carmel Gallery Newsletter

Check out my latest images from Zion in the Carmel Gallery E-News.

When I saw the clouds forming during the day I thought it would be a colorful sunset, so I lined up on the bridge 3 hours before sunset to get the primo position for this shot of Autumn Sunset in Zion. The locals were saying they had the best autumn colors seen in the area in 8 years!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Images from Toroweap, Grand Canyon

Toroweap is a remote area on the north rim of the Grand Canyon accessed via a 60 mile dirt road (each way) that takes off near Fredonia, AZ.  The last few miles of the access road are slickrock and not for the faint of heart or low-slung rental cars.  It is in the Grand Canyon National park and there is a ranger on duty so I suppose it would not be life - threatening if your car broke down out there, but you definitely want to take survival gear in case of the worst. I always carry a Fast Find PLB in my camera pack in case of an emergency. I picked a day to go out there when a storm was approaching to the north in hopes of getting good sunset / sunrise clouds, and I was not disappointed. My first image below is a sunset shot - this is an HDR (High Dynamic Range) capture since I needed to get light on the foreground canyon and still properly expose the sky, which took a very long exposure to capture. You will notice the blurring in the clouds from having the shutter open a long time (over 30 seconds). I was able to bring out the details of the foreground canyon walls during post processing in Hasselblad Phocus software and Photoshop CS5. The sunset image is looking downriver to the west. This is a spectacular location, perched thousands of feet above the Colorado River. There are no handrails here, no place to get dizzy or trip!

The sunrise shot below is looking East - it is amazing how similar the rock formations are looking both East and West. More light was available with this shot making for crisper clouds and more of a glow on the canyon.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Images from "The Subway" in Zion National Park

I just returned from a trip to Zion and the Grand Canyon to capture some "Icons of the American West" during the Autumn season. I hiked up into a remote slot canyon in Zion National Park to capture an image of a canyon formation known as the "Subway". The hike entails a lot of boulder hopping and creek crawling up the left fork of the Zion river. The National Park Service controls access to this area and only allows a limited number of hikers in each day through a permit system. It is an all day hike out and back, but well worth the effort to visit this very magical place. This formation is an area where the slot canyon narrows and the water has carved a tunnel that happens to be oriented in a way that glows in the midday sun. To add to this drama is a beautiful emerald green pool in the creek next to the rock formation. The Autumn leaves were floating in eddies in this pool making light streaks during my long exposure. I carried my Hasselblad H4D on the hike so I could capture the scene with my 28mm lens. There were other photographers at this location - some of them had rented drysuits so they could take an image of this formation from inside a 6 foot deep pool inches to the right of where I was standing to get this image. I was super careful not to step backwards or slip into this pool with my camera! As it was I had to stand in ankle deep water with my tripod. The day was a great adventure and I was pleased to come away with two new releases to my fine art print collection from the Southwest.

My next post will be on some sunrise and sunset images from a dramatic and remote area on the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Autumn Photographs

I have been traveling in Zion and the Grand Canyon area this autumn and will  have some exciting new images to post soon from this trip. Thanks to all the fellow photographers who stopped to say hi and introduce themselves! Before I left for my trip to Utah / Arizona I completed some new autumn releases from the Tahoe area. Hope Valley was amazing this year, and I was fortunate to capture an iconic location from this area in great afternoon light:

I also captured some shots of the aspen colors around Lake Tahoe which were brilliant this year. Shining Forest below was captured by shooting into the sun - In order to do this without lens flare destroying the image I shielded the lens with a large folding reflecting disk - a Photoflex Multi Disk 5 in 1.

Autumn colors can produce wonderful color combinations like this lime green mixed with the orange -yellows near Spooner summit. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Epson Announces New Canvas with Elizabeth Carmel Print at PhotoPlus NY

I am not able to attend Photo Plus in New York this year, however I am pleased to announce that one of my prints is being displayed on the "Signature Worthy" wall of prints at the Epson Booth. I am honored to have my print as part of this collection, especially since it was chosen to announce Epson's new line of Satin Exhibition Canvas. If you are at Photo Plus be sure to drop by the Epson booth to check it out, and say hi to my buddy Dano from Epson. The black and white image is from Virgin Gorda in the Caribbean.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lightboxes, Photo Murals, and TV Coverings

I have just added a page to my website at that describes the various custom photo murals,  lightbox displays, and TV coverings that I am able to do. 

These types of custom installations are often used in commercial / corporate environments. The following article describes the steps for selecting a custom art installation for a corporate environment.

The aesthetic of your workplace can convey so much. If executed correctly, the right design can successfully communicate your corporate culture, positively influence customer experience and even increase employee motivation. Done incorrectly, it can diminish your brand, detract from customer experience and hurt employee morale. Our environment not only speaks to who we are, but of what we are striving to achieve. For this reason, it is critically important that you create a work environment aesthetic that is in tune with your corporate objectives. If you are considering new design aesthetic, here are some tips for getting started, from defining the space to selecting the right corporate art consultant.

  • Define your budget. Be realistic about how much can you set aside for re-design. Will this endeavor be a couple of coats of paint and some new furniture? Or do you have a budget that can accommodate some high impact changes such as a panoramic photo mural or architectural remodeling?
  • Understand your corporate culture. What is your corporate brand personality? Are you fun and creative? Innovative and modern? Authoritative and reliable? Take the time to nail down your company personality as this will help define the artistic palette of your work environment.
  • Define the space in question. Is the space client facing? If it is, you must select an aesthetic that creates the mood you want the client to feel. Do you want them to be relaxed? Perhaps inspired or optimistic? What would the ideal client state of mind be? Likewise, if the space is intended for your employees, consider how you want it to affect them. Do you want them to have high energy? Or perhaps to feel inspired and appreciated? There are many ways to convey these emotions through design. Define who will be within the space, and determine the emotional responses you want to evoke. In some cases the space will contain both employees and clients and you will need to strike the appropriate balance.
  • Find the right inspiration. Many interior designers start their journey with a single inspiration piece. This is often a statement piece that sets the tone for the entire room such as a sculpture, painting or large landscape photography print. For some great examples of how the Ritz Carlton at Lake Tahoe used high impact nature photography to create a client-friendly commercial space check out my installment examples section. If you are not comfortable selecting your inspiration piece on your own, there are a number of fantastic professional corporate art consultants who can help you find that perfect piece that will not only fill the space, but also beautifully represent your business.
  • Partner with the right corporate art consultant and/or interior designer. I highly recommend bringing in a professional that can help you translate your ideas into a cohesive reality. Always review portfolios and ask which projects were similar to yours in budget and scope. This will allow you to not only view their work, but also gauge their taste level. Ask for references. Ask those references about the consultant’s professionalism, integrity, transparency, vision, creativity and ability to stay within budget. The ultimate goal to find a partner you can trust to help you realize your company’s distinct image.

I have had some inquiries from other photographers on how to do lightbox displays. Here is a quick guide to the materials that I have sucessfully worked with.
1. A good source for lightboxes in Blue River Digital. They have the eco-friendly LED lightboxes in different sizes and they seem to be very high quality. The printed image is easy to put into a lightbox with the snap open frames. They are available in a variety of sizes.
2. The material for a lightbox display is a printable polyvinyl. I have successfully used the Lexjext polypropylene in the lightboxes at the Carmel Gallery. I print on this material with an Epson 11880. The key is to darken the image substantially in photoshop prior to printing so it looks good with light coming through it. You will need to experiment to get the right darkening for each image. 
It is an easy process if you have the right materials - lightbox displays are easier than framing an image and can handle very large prints. The downside is that they are more expensive than framing but they do provide a light source in addition  to an art piece.

48x36" Lightbox Display

Friday, October 22, 2010

Autumn Color Panoramas

I have been trying to get to all my favorite Tahoe autumn color spots over the last few days since we are forecast to have a windy storm this weekend that may shorten the color season. One of my favorite spots is an aspen grove on the North shore of Lake Tahoe near Martis Peak, accessible via dirt roads. I was able to capture the panorama I have been trying to get for the past few years - The aspen trees were at peak color and full of leaves, with a beautiful sunny morning to illuminate them. This shot is a five 40 megapixel frames stitched together, native file size with no upsampling is 60" x 16". The trick to getting good panoramas is to follow the guidelines of photographer Jim Divitale, who told me about a great pano tool that is available in Adobe Photoshop CS5 as a free add-on from the Adobe website. Directions on how to do this are on Jim's Blog. The difference with this add-on is that the photo merge user interface lets you select an "interactive layout" where you can place the image frame and the software magically connects and integrates it to the others. I have been able to create these large panoramas much more easily than with the other photomerge tools, which always seemed to choke on the images or make crazy combinations. I have another pano that is about 12 - 40 megapixel frames stitched together, going from the South shore of Lake Tahoe all the way around 360 degrees. I now make it a point to always shoot enough frames for a pano in addition to the normal one frame shots when I am on location. 

Sunrise Panorama, Lake Tahoe

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Carmel Gallery Enews Describes Innovative Display Options

The Carmel Gallery October Email News describes the innovative print display options we have been working with - Here is the link if you are not a subscriber:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

2010 Autumn Color in the Eastern Sierra

I did a quick trip down to Mammoth a few days ago to drop of some of my large canvas prints for display at the Mammoth Gallery in the Mammoth Village. I also dropped off my books and new 2011 Calendars so if you are in the area please drop by and visit this wonderful gallery. The colors were not really peaking at Conway summit yet, but there were a few bright orange aspens starting to turn. I heard that the place to go was Rock Creek so I headed up there and found some wonderful colors higher up the canyon near the lake. Both of these shots were taken near the lake area:
I camped out in the Rock Creek canyon and it started to pour with rain on Sunday night and snow at the higher elevations. I hope the colorful aspens survived this week of rainy weather! I also did a series of autumn "camera paintings" of the wonderful reds and peach colors of some of the aspens. The colors here in the Tahoe Area are not peaking - I will post an update when they start to get going.

These camera painting images were done by using a slow shutter speed and moving the camera during exposure. The trick is to use a slow enough shutter speed so the image looks like a painting and not a blurry photograph. I love the impressionistic effect this technique creates. These types of images look great printed large on canvas. 

New 2011 Calendar and Ipad Wallpaper App

I have 2 exciting new products to announce:
 Our 2011 Elizabeth & Olof Carmel Sierra Photography Calendar is now in stock and ready to ship. We have a limited number of these calendars printed and they usually sell out quickly, so get your order in soon if you would like one. These are beautiful 13 x 13" calendars featuring our landscape photographs taken in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Calendars are $16.95 and make great gifts. You can order them online and see the images included at our website page for the 2011 Landscape Photography Calendar, or over the phone at (888) 482-4632.
My new Amazing Sierra Ipad/Iphone wallpaper app is now available for FREE download at the itunes store. This app features many of my favorite images taken in the Sierra region of California and Nevada, and also has some information on the locations of the photos. You can also save the images to your photo album to use as wallpaper. Links are included on each image to take you to my website for more information on print sizes and pricing.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fine Art Print Installation Examples

I have posted a series of installation examples of my fine art prints on my website. These are installation examples from a private residence, the new Ritz Carlton Highlands at Lake Tahoe, and at the Truckee Rec Center where I installed a 10 foot high canvas wrap over the fireplace. The Ritz Carlton installation was coordinated by an art consultant specializing in hotel decor, and the other installations were coordinated by interior decorators. I have also worked with art buyers and art consultants who specialize in installations for casinos, health care facilities, and professional offices. I can custom size all my prints to fit a specific dimension, and specialize in printing on canvas and fine art papers using the large format  Epson 11880 printer. Recently I have been experimenting with LED lightbox installations that display fine art prints on Lexjet polyvinyl. I will do a blog post on this new display option soon.

The residential shots were taken by Ethan Rohloff Photography. Some of Olof Carmel's Photography is also included in the residential installation. I am collecting installation examples of my work from other venues - please email me any installation photos if you have one of my prints and would like to showcase it on my website. I keep all locations and collectors' names confidential.


©Ethan Rohloff


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Website!

I am pleased to announce my newly redesigned website with fully secure online shopping capability, easier image browsing, wish-list creation, gift registry, social network image sharing, image email capability, and many more features not available on my previous website. My new site is also fully compatible with the ipad and mobile phones. Please check it out at

To celebrate the launch of my new site we are offering 10% off all orders placed through the site for the month of September. Please click here for details.

My previous website was flash based and not very functional from an e-commece standpoint. I worked with Endo Creations to completely redo the site based on the Volusion e-commerce platform, which has been working well for the website. 

Flash makes for a lovely website with large image display, but it can be difficult to make a good e-commerce site with flash, and I am concerned about the long-term viability of that platform with lack of flash support on the apple iphone and ipad. I will keep my flash site for people that enjoy browsing using that interface. My flash site is still accessible at and from a link titled Flash Site under contact heading from my main site.

PLease take a moment to check out my new site and feel free to email or comment any feedback - we are still putting on the finishing touches.





Monday, August 16, 2010

Thunderstorms & Wildflowers in the Sierra

Summer in the Sierra brings dramatic displays of both thunderstorms and wildflowers. A few weeks ago we had a dramatic storm that started to clear at sunset, leaving a spectacular display of clouds and rainbows. I set up my tripod on a hill near my house to get these shots of rare mammatus clouds and a rainbow at sunset. 

Clearing Storm at Sunset, Tahoe Donner 

Clearing Storm at Sunset, Tahoe Donner

Thunderstorm at Sunset, Truckee
  Thunderstorm at Sunset 

I also visited one of my favorite locations for wildflowers - the Carson Pass area. Even though it was mid- august the flowers were still blooming due to the very cold & snowy early summer. These shots were taken at sunset. I was pleased to get a few shots that worked given that it was extremely windy. Wind and low light are not a good combination for wildflower photography. I had to crank the Hasselblad H4D iso up to 800, and underexpose by a stop, to get down to 1/15 of a second which only worked to stop blowing flowers during the infrequent pauses in the wind. Out of the hundreds of frames only these 2 were really usable due to wind blur. I was not able to get the depth of field I like since I could not shoot at f22  due to the need for a higher shutter speed, so the background is not as sharp as I would like, but it was the best capture possible given the conditions. 

These new images that are unmanipulated, just developed to maximize tonal range in photoshop cs5. Nature can sure put on spectacular shows!

Summer Meadow at Sunset 

Wildflower Meadow at Sunset

Evening Glow
 Evening Glow


Thursday, August 5, 2010

New Black & White Images from Paris

We spent a week in Paris in July. We rented a great little apartment on the left bank that gave us easy access to all the sites. I have edited the collection of images I took from about 500 down to 20 Fine Art Prints of Paris  that have released on my website. I decided to convert all of them to Black & white since I thought  that gave them a more dramatic and timeless feel. In particular, I thought the Eiffel tower was wonderful to photograph when lit up at night (the lights go on for only 5 minutes every hour, starting at 10 PM). We also staked out a spot in front of a view of the Eiffel tower where the tour de France riders would be coming by on their last day. I was pleased to get a shot of the yellow jersey of Contador riding into Paris. All of the statue images were from the Louvre, which still allows photography.

For Black & White conversions I used Nik Silver Efex, with some final touch up of the psd files in Aperture and Photoshop.

Paris is endlessly photogenic, and really overwhelms you with options. All of my shots were taken with the Hasselblad H4D which I used at 800 iso for the handheld images. The night shots of the Eiffel were on a tripod at 100 iso.

Eiffel I

 Illuminated Eiffel Tower at Night

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pottery Barn Collection & 2011 Lake Tahoe Workshop Announcement

I am back from a wonderful trip to Sweden & Paris and am working on editing images from the trip. All went well with my travels and I was pleased with some of my images, which I will be adding to my online & print portfolios soon. 

Pottery Barn has selected two of my images from Tuscany for their "Art to Collect" series. You can see them in the current print catalog and online at:

I will also be doing a Lake Tahoe photography workshop in 2011 with the Mountain Light Gallery. Here is a link to the workshop announcement:

We will be photographing all the great locations around Tahoe and some of my secret spots that have not been in the workshop before. PLease contact Mountain Light to sign up, they handle all of that. 

Tuscan Collection

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Few Travel Tips for Photographers

I am leaving for a few weeks in Sweden and Paris next week, so I thought I would share a few of the tips I have learned on how to travel internationally with a full set of lenses and medium format digital camera, along with laptop & all accessories.

 Never check your lenses or camera, either in your luggage or on those carts you sometimes have to put your carry-on on smaller planes - never let them leave your body unless they are on the security conveyor belt or in the overhead bin or under plane seat. I always carry a smaller camera backpack that will fit under the seat of any plane, which is a last resort if all the overhead bin space is taken. Better to have no foot room rather than have to check your camera bag. With the big backpacks or roll-ons you are at risk of having to check your camera bag if all the overhead bin space is taken by the time you get on the plane. The bag that I have found works well is made by Clik Elite - it is the new Escape pack that can fit a Hasselblad H4D 40 and 3 lenses, along with various accessories. The black version looks very un-photo backpackish, so it does not scream "I am carrying expensive camera stuff". With the streamlined look of the pack I am comfortable walking with it in more urban areas and don't feel overly dorky with alot of pack straps flapping around. 

Since you are allowed 2 items I also take my 17" MBP laptop in the Clik Jetpack, which has a shoulder strap and can look like a satchel instead of a backpack. It also doubles as a smaller camera backpack if needed, and can fit chargers, ipad, and other stuff to take on the plane. This & the camera back is a lot to carry through the airport but that is the burden of being a photographer I guess. Roll-ons are more convenient but come with the risk of being weighed by zealous airline staff. On one trip to France a few years ago all my carry ons were weighed, so I was busted for being over the with limit and had to check all my lenses in my  hard sided porter case roll on, which was very scary. In case the airlines are weighing carry ons I now travel with a ScotteVest, which I can stuff my lenses into if needed and then put back in my backpack after going through the check in. I have the kind with the zip off sleeves that can be a vest or jacket. What I like about these jackets is they don't look like the bulky photo vests or jackets, so you can be more of an in-cognito photographer while travelling. Black is better than khaki for travelling in cognito. 

Always have cf cards, battery and charger with you for camera & laptop, everything else including tripod & head goes in the checked luggage. If your luggage is lost or stolen at least you have a functioning camera & laptop. 

Since I am sometimes travelling alone I always carry a Personal Locator Beacon I can set off in case of emergencies - I have never had to use it but it is comforting to have along and small enough to fit in a camera backpack.

We will be in Paris on the final day of the Tour de France, so I hope to get some fun shots of that and of Paris that I will share when we return. 

au revoir! 

Venice III

Sunday, July 4, 2010

New Releases from Redwood National Park

In mid June I had a chance to do a quick trip up to Redwood National Park in Northern California, home of the magnificent Coastal Redwoods and the wild Rhododendrons. I was able to find one blooming grove of Rhododendrons amongst the Redwoods, and have added these new images to my Wildflower Photographs portfolio. I also had a wonderful sunset at the beach where a creek flows into the ocean, titled "To the Sea". 

Rhododendrons & Redwoods
 Rhododendrons & Redwoods

© Elizabeth Carmel, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

Red Poppies & Olive Trees

I love Tuscany and was thrilled to find a batch of red poppies & olive trees in Napa Valley that look just like a shot I would
find in Tuscany. These are at the Castle Di Amorosa in the Napa Valley. The poppies are growing in amongst the vineyards there. This is a great photo location for autumn vine shots as well. These were all taken before 8 AM but the sun is still very bright, making for hi - key images. I did not use HDR, just some shadow highlight adjustment in Hasselblad Phocus to bring up the shadows and tone down the highlights. I also had to desaturate slightly to give them a more pleasant color. You can view all 3 of them in the wine country photographs portfolio on my website.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Camera Paintings of Lake Tahoe

I have released two new camera paintings of Lake Tahoe - these were done in-camera with minimal post processing. I have found shutter speed of 1/20 or slower works best with these, on some I have even used 1 second. Just pan the camera in the direction that makes sense based on the subject. These are of Lake Tahoe at sunset looking towards the west shore, camera panned left to right.


Lake Tahoe Sunset I

 Lake Tahoe Sunset II


Friday, May 28, 2010

Response to a few questions about Hasselblad

Question/Comments: 1) Do you use either of Hasselblad's zoom lenses?

2) What are your thoughts on the H4D-50 vs the H4D-60 cameras for your type of landscape photography?

Response to #1: I do use the Hasselblad HC 50-110 zoom. I would like to try the 35-90 zoom but canot really justify the cost since I already have lenses that cover that focal range. I really like the images made with the 50-110, in fact I think most of my shots that turn into fine art prints have been taken with this lens. It is a heavy beast for sure, but it takes wonderful images. It needs to be treated with care. I had to send mine in for repairs when the front lens element came out, so I never carry it as my only lens on a trip - I always take the 80mm as backup.

Response to #2: I have not tried either the H4D50 or 60. I was planning to upgrade to the 60 but went with the H4D 40 instead since that camera allows me to use higher iso settings and get great results. I do not think either the 50 or the 60 has the same high iso function. The 50 is available now, the 60 is not. I'm not sure of the delivery schedule for the 60. You can get fabulous deals now on the H3D39 cameras, so those are worth checking out if you are making the move up to MF, and once you have one you can get a great deal with upgrades.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Carmel Gallery May Newsletter just sent out - here is a link to online version.

You can sign up for the newsletter at

Monday, May 17, 2010

June 17 - Squaw Valley Institute Presentation

I will be speaking at the Squaw Valley Institute on Thursday June 17. Please attend if you will be in the area. Below is the press release for the event:

Photographer Elizabeth Carmel Speaks at Squaw Valley Institute Event


Olympic Valley, Calif. – Elizabeth Carmel’s new book, The Changing Range of Light: Portraits of the Sierra Nevada, takes center stage at a presentation on Thursday, June 17 at 7:00 PM at the UC Davis Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences in Incline Village.  A no-host bar reception begins at 6:30 PM.  Tickets for the event, co-sponsored by Squaw Valley Institute and UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, run $10.  Students and children ages 17-and-under are free. 


Carmel’s book combines the author’s remarkable landscape photography with important information about how the depicted landscapes are threatened by climate change.  Prominent climate change scientists Robert Coats, Ph.D. and Geoffrey Schladow, Ph.D. contribute insights in the book, and will join Carmel for the presentation.  The synthesis of art and science summarizes the changes that will occur in the Sierra from global climate change. Inspiring quotes and poetry by renowned authors are also included and play an important role in making this book an uplifting celebration of natural beauty.


Elizabeth Carmel is a Sierra-based photographer specializing in unique, expressive landscapes and “waterscapes.” Her prints combine dramatic photography, vivid colors, and artistic touches to create new, captivating visions of the natural world. She has spent years exploring and photographing the diverse landscapes of the world, often traveling on foot or skis in wilderness terrain far from roads in order to capture her unique images. Her award-winning images are featured in numerous galleries and private collections throughout the United States. Elizabeth and her husband, Olof Carmel, currently own and operate their own photography gallery in Truckee, California.


The UC Davis Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences is located at 291 Country Club Drive in Incline Village, Nevada.  Tickets for this presentation are on sale now on the Squaw Valley Institute’s website 


Squaw Valley Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting programs having artistic, cultural and educational values. The Institute presents lectures, performances, forums, exhibitions and classes in the unique mountain environment of Squaw Valley, North Lake Tahoe, Truckee and surrounding communities, bringing together visitors, residents and friends in the truest sense of community. 


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Shutterbug Article / Hasselblad H4D - 40 Impressions

This month's June issue of Shutterbug Magazine has a 6 page book excerpt of my book "The Changing Range of Light". They did a great job of reproducing the photos in a magazine format. The article is available in both the print and digital versions of the magazine. The print version is in almost every magazine rack in the country if you want to check it out.


 I had some time to head down to Big Sur a week or so ago and take my new Hasselblad H4D out for real world shooting. I was lucky to have some sunny weather since we were between April storms. Big Sur is one of my favorite places in the world - it is truly a photographer's paradise, especially this time of the year when the wildflowers are blooming. After reviewing my files from the new camera I can say that I am really delighted with the image quality and performance. The only problem I ran in to was an error message to restart the back when I used an off brand of CF card, so I think it is important to use the recommended Sandisk cards with this system - the problem was eliminated when I used the correct CF card brand. My unscientific analysis of the H4D files gives me the opinion that the image detail is better than the H3D - 39 - I find there is better detail in fine areas such as tree branches and leaves. The files also seem to accept sharpening better. The image below of the poppies along the coast in sunshine was shot at 800 iso due to the wind. This is an example of a shot I would not have been able to get with the H3D-39 since the poppies were blowing around and I needed to shoot the image at f22 for depth of field but at a high shutter speed to freeze motion. The flowers are tack sharp with no blur, and noise is minimal.  

Big Sur Poppies 

Here is another shot of one of my favorite places, McWay cove at sunset, shot with a split ND filter at 100 iso.

Mcway Falls at Sunset, Big Sur

All the files need to be processed in Phocus since Aperture and Lightroom do not support the files from this camera yet, but I am sure they will at some point. I also used the new Photoshop CS5 to do some post processing. CS5 is noticeably faster than CS4, and the content-aware fill tool is amazing. 

I also discovered that the Colorspace UDMA back up device will not accept files from the H4D (is does from the H3D). Colorspace needs to get with the program and update the firmware on this device. I called Hasselblad and they told me that they make the file formats available to all companies that request them so devices can be upgraded to accept the H4D files. Come on people get with it! 

I still have the H3D-39 kit available for sale, and an HC 35 mm lens, will consider all reasonable offers.



Saturday, April 17, 2010

New Images from the Caribbean

I have posted a new series of images from the Caribbean on my web site. These were all shot on the island of Virgin Gorda with the Hasselblad H3D. I developed these images with what I consider to be a more contemporary, slightly desaturated color palette. I used this color palette to emphasize the beautiful blues of the ocean and the natural forms of the rocks and sand. I am also working on a second series that will introduce more of the pastel colors of the sunset. All images were developed in Aperture with Photomatix HDR plug in. I then did final retouching and sharpening in Photoshop. I think the Photomatix effect should be used sparingly to give the image a little pop - the image should not scream "I used Photomatix".

I think it is good to work on images in a series and edit images according to groups that work well together. All editing should be a bit painful. I eliminated quite a few strong images that just didn't quite fit the color scheme and compositional content of the others in order to come up with the final grouping I show on my website. Hope you enjoy the photographic journey to this distant island!

Virgin Gorda I

© Elizabeth Carmel, 2010 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hasselblad H3-D 39 For Sale / Caribbean Images

I have been traveling in the Caribbean the last few weeks and am currently sorting through a few thousand images to pick the ones I will put in my portfolio. The editing process is relatively painless thanks to Apple's Aperture program. We went to St. John, which is a U.S. virgin island, and Virgin Gorda, which is a British island. Both had some amazing scenery. I particularly liked Virgin Gorda because of the large granitic boulders on the beaches. It was similar in many ways to the scenery of Lake Tahoe & allowed for some interesting compositions of rocks and water. I will be posting the final selections to my website and this blog.

I have decided to upgrade my camera system to the Hasselblad H4D-40 instead of the H4D 60 (which is still not available as of today). The reason is mainly that I can use the high iso functionality that is unique to the H4D-40 more than the increased resolution of the 60 mp. The H4-D 40 is designed with micro-lenses over the sensor that allow for great 40 megapixel shots even at iso 800, and it can be pushed to iso 1600 if needed. (see my previous post on this topic for more info). I like the freedom to do handheld photography if needed, and to freeze motion on a windy day. 

I will be selling my current H3D-39 megapixel with the 80mm lens  for $10,000. This camera is in great working condition with a few minor cosmetic blemishes on the back, and I will also include a day of training with the system here at my studio. Email me at if you are interested in purchasing this camera. I can take credit card payments, but will only ship within the USA. I will also be selling a Hasselbald HC-35 mm lens for $2500, with original box, lens hood, & leather case, in excellent condition. I am finding that I do not use this lens now that I have the 28mm, so that is why I am selling it.

I will do  review of the H4D-40 when it arrives soon, and will post image samples and impressions on this blog. I will also be doing a post on how I handle airline travel with heavy & expensive camera gear.

This image below is from "The Baths", a rock & ocean grotto in Virgin Gorda. It was processed in Apple Aperture using Photomatix Pro plug-in for HDR rendering. 


Monday, March 22, 2010

In-Camera Light Paintings from Wine Country

The Napa wine country is in full bloom with the mustard flowers now. I did a few in-camera paintings of landscapes in the wine country and have posted them on my website in the Camera Paintings Portfolio. It is still a mystery to me how to get the best effects - I try many different motions with the camera and a variety of shutter speeds to cover different options, but it seems a bit random what ultimately ends of making the best camera paintings. The best solution seems to be just shooting a few hundred frames of any subject and selecting the one that works. The key is to make them more blurry rather than less, because they end up looking more painterly that way. I am realizing how much more difficult traditional landscape photography is compared to doing these camera paintings. To take a traditional landscape photo you really need the convergence of amazing scenery in beautiful light with minimal wind- camera paintings require interesting colors and forms, which are easier to find. I think they are a fun way to explore the landscape, and people in our gallery seem to be enjoying the effect in large prints.

Wine Country Spring 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New Carmel Gallery Website Launched

We have been working on our new Carmel Gallery website over the winter months and are finally ready to unveil our new e-commerce enabled website. This new site has many great new features we are excited to share - such as easy, secure ordering of fine art prints, books, notecards, calendars, and jewelry. The new site can even handle gift certificate orders that are instantly delivered to your recipient via email. There is also a "wishlist" feature that allows you to save your favorite images on a list to share or print. Images can be easily shared to your favorite social networking site, and emailed or printed. There is more detail about our images and the gallery - even a cool new slideshow video of the gallery interior. Please stop by the new site and check it out. All orders placed off the website during the month of March are eligible for a 10% discount using the checkout code TCG10. If you live in the northern California area and do not want to pay for shipping, you can select "GALLERY PICK UP" during the checkout and you will not be charged for shipping. Otherwise, all prints are shipped insured via Fedex Ground.

The new Carmel Gallery site features our top-selling images. We have many more images on our individual websites at and We will also extend the 10% off special to phone orders on any images not available on the new website. Please call the Gallery toll free at (888) 482-4632 to place a phone order for items not on the website.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Nikon & Cinema Display Questions, & A Few Product Recommendations

I get many questions emailed to me and try to answer a few on this blog - here are 2 recent ones with my responses:

Question:  In your opinion, has there been any significant improvement in the D3X vs the D3?  I realize the D3X has 24 mp while the D3 has 12.1, but both have full frame sensors.  It is my understanding that image quality improves with more mp, but is also very much dependent on sensor size.  My question to you is whether the D3X is worth the additional investment over the D3.   I saw you mentioned something about Genuine Fractals on your website, and do you think the D3X combined with Genuine Fractals will produce a decent 20 x 30 print?  I am a semi-retired architectural photographer who has shot film throughout my career, so I am not as well versed in digital as my younger counterparts.  I have enjoyed viewing your website and have bookmarked it in my favorites.  Again, thank you so much for your time.  

My Response: I think the D3X files can be enlarged slightly more than the D3 files, but not as much as you would expect given the resolution difference.  I have used both cameras and ended up preferring the D3 (same sensor as D700) because it gives much better high iso performance than the D3x. For my needs it is more important to have the high iso than the higher resolution since I shoot primarily with the Hasselblad H3D 39 and needed the D3 (actually I now use the D700) for high iso work. Below is an image I took of Michelangelo's poignant La Pietà  in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican with the D700 -  I was not using flash and had to really crank the iso up to 1250 (image was retouched using Mystical Tint Tone & Color, a great program for adding extra mood to a shot). There is also a shot below of poppies on a very windy day taken with the D700 that would have been impossible to get with the H3D39 at iso 50. I have sold numerous prints of this one, American River Canyon in Spring,  at the 20x30 size, so the D700 paid for itself with sales from this shot alone, making it a worthwhile investment that has earned it's keep.  I have taken a number of images with both the D3x and D3/D700 and find that they can be enlarged nicely to make 20x30 prints, but will start to fall apart under close inspection if you go much higher. I use Genuine Fractals for all my enlarging, it works wonderfully. The reality is that they look nowhere near as good as 20x30 prints made with the H3D39, but they are usable and better than nothing in situations where it would be impossible to get a clear shot with the H3D 39 (such as windy wildflower landscapes and interior shots). All this being said, the new H4D 40 takes really great shots at iso 800 so I think that gap is narrowing and medium format is becoming more usable at higher isos.



Question #2: I saw your info page on Apples website. They say that you use the 24 inch Apple Cinema display. I figured if it's good enough for a pro of your caliber (Gee thanks...) than it must be a pretty good display?? So I guess my question is, do you actually use this display for photo editing? Love your work!!

My Response: I use the Apple 30" Cinema Display for all my color critical developing and print proofing. I have had this for a few years now and it works wonderfully. I use an xrite color munki to calibrate it with. I actually hook it up to my macbook pro 17" with 8 gb of ram. I don't use a desktop computer system anymore since I would rather invest the $ in a high end laptop that I can use anywhere. I have the new 24" LED cinema display I use at the gallery for more utilitarian purposes, but it is so brilliant and bright that I have a hard time getting it to match the output of my Epson 11880 printer so I do prefer the 30" cinema display with the Matte screen that I use in my studio where I do my printing. One item that I recently got that I really love is the 8 terrabyte OWC Raid - I have everything I have ever shot on this thing (of course other drives duplicate all the content as a backup and are store offsite) and so far it has worked perfectly and is very fast. For the price it can't be beat. 

Next week I will post on some new things I will be trying out for traveling with my camera gear on upcoming trips to the Caribbean and Europe .