Friday, November 4, 2011

Interview on Nik Radio

Here is a link to an interview I recently did about my photography on Nik Radio:

Friday, October 21, 2011

New Autumn Images from West Virginia

West Virginia is a wonderful state for autumn photography. I was there a few weeks ago and enjoyed some colors at peak in many parts of the state. I started at Babcock State Park where the often photographed grist mill is ( remember it's not a cliche until you have the shot..). There was also a very colorful small lake at Babcock that had great color and reflections, so many of my keeper shots were from that area. West Virginia is a wonderful state to drive through in October. I only spent a few days there so I plan to go back again. I find that the eastern states have better red and orange colored foliage, which can be elusive in California where I live. These images are now on my website and are available as fine art prints. I will be featuring a few large prints of my favorites in our Truckee Gallery. Be sure to follow me on twitter and Facebook since those venues are updated more frequently than my blog, which usually only gets updated when I am introducing a new image series. Hope you enjoy these new images:

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Print Releases from Hawaii

I returned this week from a wonderful 10 days on the big island of Hawaii. We had great weather and good diving / snorkeling conditions. This was my first visit to the southernmost island - my main goal was to try out my underwater camera system while scuba diving and also to get some volcano shots. Since the there were no surface lava flows I focussed on getting shots of the lava glow at the Kilauea Caldera - fortunately the night I was photographing there was a full moon and some clouds that reflected the glow from the lava cauldron - it was an amazing sight to witness but challenging to photograph. I did a 16 second exposure for this scene at f 4.5  with the Hasselblad H4D. I was able to pull enough detail out of the file to get the shot even though it was underexposed. This was my favorite shot of the trip. 

My underwater housing for the Panasonic GH2 worked perfectly (see my previous post on underwater photography). I realized I really needed some underwater strobes to properly illuminate the beautiful corals and fish - since I relied on natural light my files have a blue cast that is difficult to remove even with the raw files. I was able to swim with this sea turtle for a while and get some shots and video. I will post video of this graceful creature (the sea turtle, not me) soon.

Taken along the Kona Coast where there are beautiful corals

Any trip to the islands requires the Sunrise / Sunset and Palm Tree shots, so here are my contributions.

Taken at Kapoho tidepools area at low tide

Taken along the Kohala coast

Taken along the Kohala Coast

After visiting Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii Island I think the most dramatic landscapes are definitely on Kauai, however all the Hawaiian Islands have so much to photograph and experience - they are truly paradise. More of my Hawaii Photographs from previous trips are in my Hawaii Portfolio.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Lake Tahoe Print Releases & Workshop Update

I had a wonderful 4 days of photography last week with my Lake Tahoe workshop group. We had a fabulous group of 10 people - 8 women and 2 men (usually the ratio is reversed in most workshops!). Jerry Dodrill joined us as a co-instructor. Jerry is a talented instructor, an inspired photographer, and an all round magnanimous person who freely shared his photo locations. The time around the summer solstice is hard work for landscape photography, since the magic hour arrives very early and very late. We were all a little sleep deprived by the end of the workshop. Here are some of my favorite shots from the past week which I have added to my website / portfolio. All of the images can be seen in my new releases portfolio

aka "Jerry's Tree" since he shared the location with us

Summer Bloom, Lake Tahoe
This shot was taken with a 1 minute exposure and a split neutral density filter after the sun set (civil twilight) - the Lake turns very blue at twilight in this lagoon - I had to desaturate the lake since it looked so surreal in the raw capture file. 

A wonderful morning of unexpected clouds at Emerald Bay - I removed the contrails which appeared right as the sky was illuminating. 

This time of the year the sun rises right behind that tree. The water in Eagle Falls was the highest in years.

The blues of twilight are amazing

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Review of Some Lowe Pro Camera Packs

Good camera packs are some of the most important pieces of gear for an outdoor photographer. Most pro landscape photographers become experts on the various camera packs available since we constantly have to deal with the challenges of backcountry camera transport in the wilderness & weather, carry on luggage restrictions on airplanes, and the need to store lots of pricey lenses and cameras safely. Lowe Pro recently sent me some of their packs to evaluate so I thought I would share my impressions of these three products with my blog readers. All these Lowe packs come with an all weather cover to protect from rain and snow.

LowePro makes what I consider to be the ideal rolling camera pack with their ProRunner x450 AW. What is great about this pack is that it has very heavy duty wheels that allow you to roll the pack through airports, and it also has a very sturdy and comfortable backpack harness that allow you to wear it as a backpack when you are on location in rough terrain. It is a good size for transporting my Hasselblad H4D medium format camera and a selection of lenses. The backpack harness tucks away nicely behind a panel, making this case very stealthy. I like that is does not scream "I have lots of expensive equipment in here". I refuse to check my Hasselblad camera bodies or lenses in checked luggage for obvious reasons, so I always need to have my act together with the carry on baggage requirements for the airlines. With this rolling pack I can also carry another smaller backpack with me as a smaller carry on and I have all the valuable stuff with me in the overhead bin when I fly. In tiny airplanes I find that the smaller backpack can go in the overhead bin and the rolling pack will fit under the seat - this avoids having to leave the rolling pack on those carts where people leave their larger carry ons on smaller planes. LowePro does not skimp with the included accessories - this pack comes with a very nice padded laptop case that will fit a 15" laptop. There is also a nice extra front zippered compartment with lots of organizational pockets.

 Every photographer also needs what I call the "mother ship" case  where you can store all the lenses and other odds & ends photography requires in an organized way. Lowe Pro makes what has to be the ultimate mother ship with their Magnum 650 shoulder case. This bag is huge - you can even fit a laptop in here. It also includes an extra padded laptop case and a very nice CF card holder case. The top opening makes everything readily accessible. There are also numerous organizational pockets. I use the Magnum case to hold everything that is not in my camera backpack, so I can add and subtract from my pack whatever a specific shoot requires.

The other case I use a lot is a fanny pack design to hold my panasonic GH2 and all its lenses. I usually put this on when I take my dog for her morning walk so I have a great lightweight camera system with me. The LowePro Inverse 200 seems to be the perfect size for holding the GH2 and 2 lenses. It also has 2 waterbottle holders on the sides and convenient cf card pockets  in the top lid. The extra zippered pouch in the front holds odds & ends. What I like best about this is you can really snug it tight with the compression straps so it will not bounce around. This is a very well thought out and functional pack for active photographers.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Changing Range of Light Receives Indie Publishing Award

I am pleased to announce that The Changing Range of Light, portraits of the Sierra Nevada, has received an Eric Hoffer Excellence in Independent Publishing Award in the Art Book Category.

The Eric Hoffer Award Mission Statement
The Hoffer Award was founded at the start of the 21st century (with permission from the Eric Hoffer Estate) to honor freethinking writers and independent books of exceptional merit. 
The “Hoffer” honored prose is largely unpublished and the books are chiefly from small, academic, and micro presses, including self-published offerings. Throughout the centuries, writers such as Emily Dickinson, James Joyce, Walt Whitman, and Virginia Wolfe have taken the path of self-publishing rather than have their ideas forced into a corporate or sociopolitical mold. The books and prose of the Hoffer Award are nominated by the people and judged by independent panels. Winners of the “Hoffer” are given prizes, honors, and worldwide media exposure, as well as being covered in the US Review of Books and published in the annual anthology, Best New WritingThe Hoffer Award will continue to be a platform for and the champion of the independent voice.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Photographing Springtime Foliage in the Sierra

It has been  a long winter here in the Sierra Nevada. Parts of the Southern Sierra are starting to thaw out and show some spring foliage. I did a quick trip down to Bishop to photograph the wild Iris blossoms, but arrived a few days too late to get the best blossoms. Fortunately on my way back I drove the June Lake loop just north of Mammoth, and lo and behold came upon some wonderfully lit spring Aspen trees. In the early spring the light leaves of the Aspens have a wonderful glow similar to what you would find in Autumn, but a little more subtle.  I was able to get some nice shots of these Aspens illuminated in the morning sun. I added these images to the High Sierra Photographs portfolio on my website.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tiny Italy & Tiny Paris

I had a great conversation & impromptu training session with Brian Matiash of On One Software yesterday. He showed me how to get some great "tilt lens" photography looks using On One Focal Point. I love the look you can get with a tilt lens making landscapes look miniaturized, like you are shooting a small model of a landscape scene. I have seen some great shots by Vincent Laforet that use this technique. Even better than actually having to use the tilt lens is the ability to create the exact same look in Focal Point. I revisited some of my landscapes from Italy and Paris using this technique. Here are my results from converting them to tiny landscapes in Focal Point. I will likely refine my technique shown here further based on additional input from Brian. If you want to get the scoop on how to do this check out On One's archived webinar on this subject. The effect shows better at a larger size than I can show below, so click on each image to properly see the effect. This is a fun way to rework landscapes to create a different look. It is by no means a new technique but I think it is still a great look. I will be adding a portfolio of these tiny landscapes to my website when I have time. 

I am also in the process of evaluating some new photo packs from Lowe Pro so I be posting a column on that next week. I recently submitted my July column to Outdoor Photographer so be sure to check that out when the July issue comes out.

Tiny Rome

Tiny Tuscany

Tiny Village

TIny Vineyard

Tiny Paris
Tiny Paris II

Tiny Amalfi

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Visualizing Art in a Space

I have worked with many people over the years helping them visualize how a particular piece of art will look in their home or office. One tool I have been using more and more is photoshop simulation. This tool works well for both in office and home art installations. I have the client email me a jpg of the space in question, then based on a list of prints they like I will do mock ups of the art installation. Below are some examples of recent photo simulations I have done. The tool that is most important in photoshop is the distort tool, it will give you the ability to adjust the image perspective to fit the room picture. While my simulations are not perfect they can be done fairly quickly and help people select image groupings and sizes. I am happy to do one for anyone who has a space they want to put one or more of my prints in. The images below show unframed stretched canvasses. Showing the framing is possible but would be much more complicated. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Underwater Housing for Panasonic Gh2

I love my Panasonic Gh2 for video and for a lightweight camera when I am out biking or skiing and don't want to carry my big Hasselblad. It has excellent image quality and the video quality is superb. I just got certified as a PADI open water scuba diver and recently acquired an underwater housing for the Panasonic Gh2.  I have previously done underwater photography by putting  various cameras in an Ewa- Marine bag and snorkeling - this worked great with the Sea Turtles in Maui, but to get good underwater shots I think you need a proper housing and scuba gear. I have tried the various water proof pocket cameras but found the image quality lacking and they often are not really waterproof so I have ruined a few that way. We are headed to the Big Island of Hawaii in July so I wanted to get proficient with all this gear in hopes of getting some better turtle shots, and hopefully some colorful coral reef and dolphin shots as well. I purchased the 10 bar Gh2 Underwater housing from a very helpful company in Seattle called Optical Ocean Sales. I traded in the big dome port for a flat port that works well with the pancake 14mm lens and makes the system less bulky. I am still in the testing phase for this equipment but as soon as I have some new underwater images I will post them here. My next dive will likely be in the clear blue waters of Lake Tahoe - but I need to let the waters there warm up a bit before I take the plunge!

Sea Turtle Shots from Maui

Turtle 4 Photo
Sea Turtle Photo

Turtle 2 Photo
Sea Turtle Photo

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Release in Color and BW : Ocean Stones, Mendocino, & Link to OP Article

I have just returned from a trip to the Sonoma / Mendocino coast in Northern California. This is one of the most amazing places on Earth and is not as well known as Big Sur, but every bit as spectacular. It is very quiet and uncrowded compared to Big Sur. We hiked down to a place called "Bowling Ball Beach" and were the only people there during a rare sunny sunset (usually it is fogged in here). I had been wanting to photograph this area for a while since I had seen other images and really liked the unique smooth boulders in the ocean. I used a 3 stop ND filter to create very long exposures (20 seconds plus) to turn the movement of the waves into a soft mist around the boulders. I am releasing this image in both color and BW since I think it lends itself to both formats. I used the new Silver Efex pro 2.0 for my BW conversion. I love how this new software has many presets that allow you to quickly see how the image will look with many different conversion options, making the final conversion very precise and effective. The image is a stitched panorama done in Photoshop CS5.

Ocean Stones, Mendocino

Ocean Stones, Mendocino II

In other news, I am also very pleased to announce that I will be joining Outdoor Photographer Magazine as their new monthly columnist. I look forward to sharing my perspectives on landscape photography with readers. The current issue of OP has a feature story on my work - you can view it at this link:
My first article will appear in the July issue. 

I am also getting certified as a scuba diver to do more underwater photography - I will be doing a post soon on my new underwater photography setup with the Panasonic GH2.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

New China Landscapes Workshop Announced

I am partnering with Tours Abroad China to lead a workshop to "Scenic Sichuan" in October of this year.  I am really excited about the combination of autumn foliage and  the turquoise waters and waterfalls. This is a wonderful opportunity to explore some areas that many westerners have not seen or photographed, and to bring home some truly unique images. Here is some information about the region and about my workshop philosophy.

Sichuan Province is noted for its spicy food and varied landscapes. Eastern Sichuan is home to Chengdu and Chongqing, two great cities of the interior of China. Western Sichuan is ruggedly mountainous, with road access to Tibet. Northern Sichuan, where we will be, is home to two spectacular national parks.
Our first stop enroute to the national parks is Snow Mountain, a ski resort in winter, but snow-covered year round. We will stay on the mountain, and a cable car is available to take us to the top of the mountain.
The first of the national parks is Huanglong, which is noted for its colorful serried limestone pools of green, yellow, and turquoise waters, interspersed with waterfalls. Huanglong is famous for the Five Colored Pool which, true to its name, contains waters of differing colors, and is near Huanglong Temple.
Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve, which is both a national park and a UN World Biosphere Reserve, is much larger than Huanglong, and we spend the better part of a week here. The park offers many miles of walking trails and autumn is the best time to view the fall foliage which serves as a visual counterpoint to the deeply turquoise waters and the surrounding mountains. For traditional landscape photographers, this is spectacular country indeed.







For More Information about this wonderful opportunity to photograph landscapes in China  please visit the Tours Abroad website. I also have some information on the Elizabeth Carmel Workshops page on my website. 

Some Information on my Workshops (written by Elizabeth Carmel)
I consider myself a  ”traditional” landscape photographer. I work primarily with the natural, unspoiled landscape when it is illuminated by beautiful light – primarily at dawn and dusk. I use a tripod and ultra-high resolution 40 megapixel digital capture with a Hasselblad H4D. During workshops  I help students go through the process of selecting the correct location to get the shot through scouting and pre-visualization of the desired scene. We will review the best ways to compose a dramatic image based on my philosophy about creating depth and drama in the image through composition.
I go through proper tripod technique, proper camera settings, and focus procedures to ensure maximum depth of field and sharp image capture. I often use a split ND Filter, ND filter, and polarizing filters since the effects created by these filters are difficult to duplicate in photoshop. I feel that the best light only happens for a few moments each day, so our primary goal will be to capture the maximum number of exposures in the best locations during the best light. This requires preparation not only of equipment but our physical and mental state so we are alert and inspired at the optimum time for photography. We will not run ourselves ragged all day, capturing mediocre daylight shots,  only to arrive at the sunset location exhausted. We will work a location with the urgency of a pro, and not just stay planted in one spot with our tripods. I would rather a student return from one of my workshops with five amazing shots rather than 500 mediocre ones. I will also review my image processing workflow, including my favorite plug-ins and special sauces to make images into stunning prints. Students should have a good tripod, cable release, backpack for all camera gear, and a camera they can use to capture once in a lifetime shots.
I am also leading a workshop in June 2011 at Lake Tahoe in partnership with the Mountain Light Gallery. More info on the Tahoe Workshop is at the Elizabeth Carmel Workshops link on my website.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Poppy Photograph Featured On Outdoor Photographer Cover

I am pleased to have one of my California Poppy photographs on the cover of Outdoor Photographer Magazine this month. This shot was taken in the Sierra foothills around the American River in early April a few years ago. Poppy season is fast approaching - hopefully it will be a good year. This cover shot was done with a Nikon D3x and the wonderful 14-24mm Nikon lens. I have previously written about how DSLRS can take more dramatic wide angle shots than the medium format digital cameras due  to the availability of super wide angle lenses. These types of super wide angle shots work really well with wildflowers. This shot was taken on the ground underneath the flowers, looking up. If you are not a subscriber to OP but have an ipad you can access their magazines via the Zinio app at this link. Zinio is a great paper-free way to subscribe to many magazines and get them delivered instantly.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Winter in Yosemite Prints

I was fortunate to be able to get to Yosemite right before a winter storm that hit the region a few weeks ago. Winter is one of the most spectacular times to photograph this National Park, but the snow melts quickly at the lower 4000 ft elevation so you have to be in the park during the storm and start photographing as soon as it clears. We were definitely not the only photographers there - I ran into fellow photographers from a number of other workshops including a workshop sponsored by Hasselblad. Here is a shot from the scene at Tunnel view:

Out of the hundreds of images I took I selected 9 to include in my New Releases and Yosemite portfolios. All of the snowy images I selected were taken in a 3 hour window the morning after the storm cleared, starting immediately at sunrise. When working a weather event like this there is no time to dawdle in one location - you have to get the shot and keep moving to the next location. Definitely do not waste time having a nice leisurely breakfast - by 10 AM this snow event was more or less over for photography - the light was getting too harsh and the snow was melting.

Yosemite Print - Full Moon Over Yosemite Valley

This image was taken the night before the storm came in - it was clear enough to see the full moon over the valley. I used a split neutral density filter to get the exposure correct in both the sky and foreground. All the images I took are of well known iconic locations. It was a goal of mine on this trip to capture the iconic snow covered scenes - I did not really have time to focus on the more abstract or close up shots, which I have gotten in the past when the grand landscapes were not in peak form.

Most of the images were processed with a small amount of HDR - I will usually use different raw exposures of the exact same frame to create an HDR exposure, which I then layer over a good exposure - then I reduce opacity of HDR layer to make the effect more subtle. I have found that merging 2 different frames can lead to ghosting of the images and does not really work well in landscape shots. Below is the classic snow covered rock foreground and El Cap background shot taken at valley view. The entire series can be seen in the New Releases portfolio on my website. Prints are available for anyone who wants to experience this spectacular event in the comfort of their home or office.