iPhone Friday

A mosquito that I don’t mind at all!

Happy Friday to everyone! For this week’s installment, I opted for one of the images from my recent trip to Valley of Fire state park in Nevada…

Mosquito Arch

Even though I was predominantly shooting with my main camera on a tripod, I like using my iPhone to get a sense of the composition that I want, particularly to determine the height from which I want to capture the scene; it’s a lot easier to go low with your iPhone than adjust a tripod 5 times.

As the sun was getting very low behind us, the light became really saturated, so I actually reduced the overall saturation quite a bit in this shot.

iPhone Friday

Rock of many colors

In between work on the larger blog post, here’s a quick shot from the recent Valley of Fire trip…

Slot Canyon

This was one of my iPhone shots looking back into the slot canyon that is part of the White Domes loop trail; I use my iPhone to get a quick view of what a shot will look like at different heights, so I only set my tripod up once.

One of the things that struck me about this canyon is how some of the rock is just about grayish white and almost integrates with the red rock next to it. It gave me the sense of a selective color image, which I don’t expect in Nature.

Valley of Fire – ep. 3

Brilliant colors and fiery reds!

As a follow up to the image from Valley of Fire state park that I shared in this week’s Monochrome Monday, I thought it might be interesting to see the color version…

Sunrise on Striped Rocks

My mind was blown by the variety of colors that are in the rock formations in this park and how the red becomes the fiery hue that gave the valley its name when the warm light of early morning catches it.

Monochrome Monday

The majesty of nature on display

Valley of Fire State Park definitely merits a return journey at some point in the future, as there are so many more vistas to capture!

For today’s monochrome image, I’m going for a thoroughly modern approach…

Sunrise on Striped Rocks

These glorious rocks were just getting lit up by the sun in our backs, as the tips of the buttes in the foreground are just getting a bit of light, while in the background light is bathing those formations already.

To explain the modern approach of this image. This is a focus stacked set of 5 images to get the greater depth of field and overall sharpness. There was a bit of processing to get them together and properly adjusted. There’s one more aspect to account for; the sky was a lovely, bland shade of blue, so with the help of Luminar AI, I created something a bit more interesting.

I’ll share the color version of this image later this week, so you can compare notes!

Valley of Fire – ep. 2

An Elephant appears out of the dark!

I mentioned that the editing was about to start on my images from this fun trip, so I decided to tackle the most complicated task first! One of our sunrise shoots was at Elephant Rock, which is a magnificent sandstone arch formation in the shape of a Mastodon!

While doing this shoot, the sun was slowly rising behind the arch formation, which gave me an idea to create something like this…

Elephant Rock at Dawn

As the arch is formed of gorgeous red sandstone, I wanted to be sure to get its color represented in the image. However, backlighting would make this very difficult to achieve in a single shot; so I hatched a plot!

In order to expand the range of light captured by my camera I shot HDR sequences to feed into this image. One sequence to capture the color of the rock…

Elephant Rock – HDR Light

…and another HDR sequence to get color of the sky back into the image…

Elephant Rock – HDR Dark

The above two images are the in-camera JPEGs of the HDR sequence, which was shot at 0 EV, -2 EV and +2 EV.

So all I had to do was process the HDR images and then combine them into a single image. Simple enough except for the mask to combine the two HDR images, which took a bit of trickery and some cool tools from Tony Kuyper. To keep you in suspense, I will write a separate post about the entire creative process.

Valley of Fire – ep. 1

Sand and minerals turned to butterfly wings; now that’s geology!

During the week of January 30, 2023, I had the pleasure of spending 4 days in a stunning state park in Nevada: Valley of Fire. This first of Nevada’s state parks lies in the Mojave Desert and is known for its red Aztec sandstone formations that appear on fire when lit up by the sun.

My visit was part of a photo tour organized by Joseph Rosbach Photography and was a wonderful experience, as Joe really knows the park and area. Joe organized our day to be in the park by sunrise to catch locations that set up great for that time of day and spend 3-4 hours shooting until the light was not ideal. A break and time for some quick editing tips and lessons (I learned some cool techniques), and then back to the park by 2:30-3pm to shoot until after sunset.

The park has many features and lots of color in the rock, so as I start my editing, I’ll kick off with one of my favorites so far…

Rainbow Vista Butterfly Wing

The rock formations in the Rainbow Vista area of the park present a stunning array of colors, as seen in the image above. As the dunes turned to sandstone during the Early Jurassic period, various minerals were captured in the sand lending vibrant colors. The continued erosion and geological forces created exposures that are dramatic in their appearance and form.

As there is still a lot of editing to do, keep an eye open for future posts, featuring a variety of colors, arches and stunning landscape features, even including bacon strips!

Monochrome Monday

Connecting to a monochrome past

Photographing in Valley of Fire State Park over the past week gave me a sense of connection to all those well-known landscape images from photographers in the early part of the 20th century. While definitely not comparing my work with theirs, I did draw some inspiration from them for this week’s monochrome image.

Pancakes in Fire Wave

The Fire Wave trail leads to an amazing area of multi-colored red and white formations. Right next to the ‘bacon strips’ formation, I found this lovely view against a cloudy sky; it reminded me of a stack of pancakes that would go well with the bacon just over to the right of this image.

This image was captured using a Canon EOS R5 and Canon RF 14-35mm F4/L IS USM lens; as I shot at 14mm focal length, I used f/8 for an aperture at 400 ISO. This was a series of 3 shots to generate the HDR using Aurora HDR; B&W conversion was done in Photoshop.

Exploring a State Park

Photo ops are everywhere!

Over the past week, I enjoyed the pleasure of a photo tour of Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, which was led by Joseph Rossbach; it was a great way to learn more about this park, as well as picking up some new (for me) processing techniques.

Of course, being in this part of the country, there are the majestic landscape photo opportunities, some of which I will definitely share with you. One of the fun things to also explore are some of the details of the rock structures and formations.

Rock Structure 1

The structure of this rock gives a sense of an almost living entity or possibly the remains of what once was a living being, possibly a skull fragment of an ancient and wise dragon; or our mind might take us further, as if we’re looking at the landscape of a distant, alien planet.

One of the aspects of this rock is that the color appears to be there in myriad micro-dots, creating a fuzzy, almost unfocused feeling to the image.

This image was captured using a Canon EOS R5 and EOS RF 24-105mm F4/L lens. I used focus bracketing to increases the fine focus on this fuzzy-looking image.

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