Category Archives: OUTSIDE FLORIDA

Killer (Whale) Trip to Alaska!

Editors note: Today we have another awesome report from our roving correspondent MaryKate. She’s back in Alaska, this time in Seward. Just looking at this gives me some relief from our still hot Central Florida weather – enjoy!

Thanks for having me for my 10th blog post at CFPO, and for a recap of my 6th visit to the majestic state of Alaska!  Over Labor Day weekend, I visited Monette for Emergency Birthday Seven (our annual tradition of a last-minute birthday adventure, almost always involving a road trip, wildlife, eating and shopping).  We met in Anchorage, and road tripped down to Seward and Homer.

In Seward, we went on a 6-hour wildlife watching boat tour.  This time we opted for a smaller boat instead of going with one of the larger companies like we had in the past, and we were really luck that we found Bix from Seward Ocean Excursions to take us out on Missing Lynx!

Orca and Glacier

Orca in front of Bear Glacier

We headed out on the tour, but about an hour out, Captain Bix received word that a pod of Orcas was nearby, so we turned around to hopefully sneak a glimpse of these magical creatures.  That’s the great thing about being on a boat with only six passengers – the Captain is flexible and takes you where you want to go to see what you want to see.  Sure enough, we found the Orcas!

Orca

Orca Coming to Check Us Out

Captain Bix was careful to follow the Whale Sense responsible whale watching guidelines, so we approached the pod slowly and stopped 100 yards away.  We observed a pod of 2-3 adults and a baby.  The Orcas were very curious, and every time they noticed a new boat, they would swim over to check it out – including ours!  It was surreal watching these giant mammals swim towards us, underneath, and around the boat, getting so close that they made eye contact!

Orca

Up-close Orca Encounter

The baby in the pod was a bit of a show off, and not quite coordinated yet.  It was in a playful mood, practicing fluke slaps and exploring.  I did manage to get a fluke photo, but unfortunately missed a shot of one of his elders breaching!

Orca Fluke Slap

Baby Fluke Slap

The Orca Whale pod we observed were residents, meaning they eat mostly fish (likely salmon here) vs. transient Orca Whales that feast on mammals like seals, sea lions, and even baby whales (i.e. Humpbacks and Greys).  Resident and transient Orcas look the same though, so it wasn’t surprising that while the Orcas were out, we didn’t see any seals or sea lions in their normal resting spots.  But these seagulls were very interested in piggybacking on the Orca fishing party!

Orcas Fishing

Resident Orca Fishing with Seagulls

Interested in learning more about whales?  I recommend a book I got for my birthday: Spying on Whales.  It’s a very quick read for a science book, and talks about the past, present and future of these captivating cetaceans in a digestible way.

After observing the Orca pod, we moved on and enjoyed Alaska’s beauty for the rest of the tour, seeing plenty of Puffins, some Harbor Seals, and a Sea Lion.  More photos can be found in the album here.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – go be amazed by wild whales and make some photos!

©2018, MK Rosack and Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Flight 93 National Memorial

Some stories and emotions are too large to capture in photos.  Words too, can fail – so we’re left with thoughts. The Flight 93 National Memorial in Stoystown, Pennsylvania is such a place.

This Tuesday marks the seventeenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack. On that day, United Flight 93 had left Newark, New Jersey en route to San Francisco.  Hijackers seized control and were likely going to crash into the U.S. Capitol.  The memorial  commemorates the extraordinary courage and heroism of the 40 passengers and crew, who fought with the terrorists and saved many other lives.

“A common field one day, a field of honor forever. We honor the passengers and crew of Flight 93 who perished in a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001. Their courageous action will be remembered forever.” —Congressional Gold Medal

A Field of HonorA Field of Honor

Final restFinal rest – The Wall of Names, flight path, and large boulder that marks the impact.

The Memorial opened in September 2015, and today (9/9/18) they’re holding a dedication ceremony for the Tower of Voices – the final phase of the park.  It’s a 93-foot tower with wind chimes for each of the 40 heroes.

We went there to pay our respects back in July on our way from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.  Thinking about the courage and actions of those 40 souls is somber, moving and inspiring.  It’s an experience every US citizen should have.

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

 

Covered Bridges

The last time I wrote about covered bridges was way back in August of 2007 when we visited Indiana (The Covered Bridge Capital of the World).  I find them interesting, so maybe it’s time for another article!

When we were in Bethlehem, PA, we had some extra time and Lynn found a web page describing a tour of covered bridges in the area (Lehigh Valley Covered Bridge Tour). We printed out their PDF brochure (from this link) and set off one morning to explore.

Bogert"s BridgeBogert”s Bridge – Allentown, PA. Length: 145 ft; Built: 1841

We ran into trouble right away trying to navigate to Bogert’s Bridge using a street address.   We ended up pulling over while Lynn figured out the lat/long location for each one.  Using those proved much easier and we didn’t have any further nav issues.  If you go, here are the numbers we used.

Covered Bridges of Lehigh Valley Pensylvania

BridgeLocation
Bogert's40.56916667N, 75.49861111W
Manasses Guth40.62833333N, 75.55361111W
Wehr's40.62867N, 75.56972W
Rex's40.6348N, 75.6127W
Geiger's40.64645N, 75.62351W
Schlicker's40.66166667N, 75.62722222W
Kreidersville40.72361111N, 75.49305556W

The early morning weather was nice with blue skies and some puffy clouds.  But the sky got grayer the farther we went.

Wehr's Covered BridgeWehr’s Covered Bridge – Allentown, PA. Length: 128 ft; Built: 1841.

Geiger's Covered BridgeGeiger’s Covered Bridge – Allentown, PA. Length: 112 ft; Built: 1860.

By the end of our tour at the Kreidersville Covered Bridge, it was raining.  In the larger version of this (click on the photo to see) there are streaks of rain visible in front of the bridge opening.

Kreidersville Covered BridgeKreidersville Covered Bridge – Northamption, PA. Length: 100 ft; Built: 1839

Covered Bridges in Florida?  I got curious about covered bridges in our state and did some web research.  www.dalejtravis.com  has a huge amount of info on covered bridges (and round barns too) including state by state listings.  His page for Florida lists many covered bridges.  Unfortunately, the structures here in Florida are decorative and / or modern – there aren’t any  “authentic” / historical covered bridges listed in our state.  You’ll just have to travel elsewhere if you want to see some. Pennsylvania and Indiana would be good places to start!

For more information on covered bridges, you can explore the links on this National society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges page.

I have more photos from Pennsylvania in this album on Flickr.  And you can look at my Indiana covered bridge photos here.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Visiting Martin Guitar in Nazareth, PA

Guitars are another long-time fascination of mine.  It began when my folks got a piano and my sister started lessons.  I must have been jealous because Mom and Dad bought me a Harmony Guitar (but no lessons!).  I learned a lot with it and kept it for over 30 years.  I finally sold it at a garage sale sometime in the late 90s – wish I hadn’t.

When people ask, I usually say that I “play at” guitar.  I think the small amount of natural talent I have comes to me from my Mom’s side of the family.  Her father played in a band on the radio in the 1930s.

Granddad Harrison’s Band, about 1939. He’s the one in the middle with the fiddle.

Anyway, Martins are a sort of ‘holy grail’ for guitar players and I wanted to visit.  Since we were already in Pennsylvania, I talked Lynn into stopping by the C. F. Martin & Co. Factory in Nazareth.  They have a wonderful behind the scenes tour and I signed us both up.

Ed, outside the Martin Guitar FactoryEd, outside the Martin Guitar Factory. Lynn said I looked like a kid in a candy store!

We got there a little early and spent some time in their museum.  It’s interesting to see guitars that many of my favorite musicians played.  Martin started in 1833 and their  collection of memorabilia and more than 200 instruments show off the history and timeline of the company.

Martin Museum panoramaMuseum panorama

The factory tour itself was wonderful and lasted about two hours.  Our tour guide (Ben) was the retired plant manager.  He certainly knew a great deal about how they’re built.

Factory panoramaPanorama from a walkway overlooking the factory

The first thing I noticed walking in to the factory was the delightful aroma.  I won’t soon forget the smells of all the wood being worked.

I built a guitar (from a kit) once, so I’m familiar with how they go together.  But seeing the factory in action, with its blend of hands-on craftsmanship and modern machinery /  robots  was spellbinding.

Carving necksRobot Neck Carving

Using machines on some pieces (e.g. necks) increases the accuracy and precision of the parts and fit.  And they can apply finish and polish without exposing humans to the fumes and dust.

Robot PolishingRobot Body Polishing

There’s still a lot of hands on work, especially in their custom and Retro Series guitars.

Shaping bracingHand carving top braces

Custom back and fretboardsCustom back and fretboards

Almost doneAlmost done – these are waiting to be strung up and tested

They’re very photo friendly on the tour.  They don’t want you making any video, but photography is fine, except for a couple of locations (they’ll let you know).  The light is pretty good inside.  I used ISO 400, f/1.8 – f/2.8, and my shutter speeds varied from 1/13 sec. to 1/200 sec.  You’ll need to be careful if something’s in motion, but otherwise image stabilization should take care of the slower shutter speeds in dimmer light.

The 1833 shop is next to the museum and sells Martin branded items.  And their “Guitar Maker’s Connection” is located in the old Martin Factor a little bit away from the main site.  The behind the scenes tour is $25, requires a reservation and begins at 9:30.  Highly recommended if you’re anywhere nearby.  Check Martin’s site for more details.

I have more photos from our tour in this album on Flickr and more from Pennsylvania in this album.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go play your guitar – or make some photos!

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Pittsburgh, PA

Lynn and I attended this year’s Pressing Iron and Trivet Collectors convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  We like the Amtrak Autotrain and once again rode it from Sanford, Florida to Lorton, Virginia and then drove our car the rest of the way.

Pttsburgh pano 1Pittsburgh: Downtown along the Monongahela River

I’m still the “semi-official” PITCA photographer, so I spent a lot of time there photographing the people, activities, and displays.  I also presented a talk on “Collectible Photography” that seemed to go well.  But I did manage to fit in a bit of exploration time.

The first photo above is from a morning I spent up on Mount Washington  – what a spectacular view of the city!  Highly recommended if you’re ever nearby.

On another day, we went on a riverboat cruise that PITCA arranged for the group  and that’s highly recommended too.  Three different rivers converge in Pittsburgh, so there’s a lot of water and many bridges that add to the scenery.

Downtown PittsburghPittsburgh: From the junction of the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny Rivers

I didn’t get a chance to ride Duquesne Incline, but it looks like fun too.

Duquesne Incline

Duquesne Incline – from the river up to Mount Washington

When I was a kid, we used to visit my grandparents every year.  We’d usually travel to Cedartown, Georgia in the summertime where my Mom’s folks lived.   At Christmas, we’d go to Cannonsburgh, Pennsylvania  to be with my Dad’s family.  I remember Pittsburgh only as an “almost there” waypoint on the route to Cannonsburgh – I don’t think we ever stopped.  As an adult, I visited Pittsburgh on business once or twice and went to see my Dad’s brother (also named Ed) who lived in Ambridge (just north-west of Pittsburgh).  But this is the first time I’ve ever actually had a little time to go into the city and look around.  I wish I’d done it sooner – Pittsburgh is very picturesque!

Pittsburgh pano 2Pittsburgh: West End Bridge and the Ohio River

After the convention, Lynn and I spent a few more days traveling around other parts of Pennsylvania and I have some photos from that I hope to share with you in a future post.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Old Car City

Okay, I know the name of the blog is “Central Florida Photo Ops” and I usually write about landscape and wildlife photography.  But Old Car City (http://oldcarcityusa.com/) is a very cool place and I have a scouting report and some photos to show you!

Photographers ParadisePhotographers Paradise

Old Car City calls itself a “Photographer’s Paradise”, and the “worlds largest known classic car junkyard”.  It’s hard to disagree.  It began as a general store in 1931 in White, Georgia.  Over the years it evolved into a forested refuge for 4000+ cars, most more than 35 years old.  Located about an hour from downtown Atlanta, it covers 34 acres with 6 1/2 miles of trails to explore.

The cars stay where they were originally placed.  Some are piled high.  Others rest alone or lined up.  Many are overgrown with vines and some even have trees growing right through them.  Admission is $25 (only $15 if you don’t photograph).  We spent 3 – 4 hours there and I was exhausted before the photo ops were.

Impala convertible - and treeImpala convertible – and tree

Walking through can be surreal – especially in infra-red.

Old Car City IROld Car City IR Pano

Photography here can be challenging in several ways.  I carried my tripod all around the place and the local cat kept showing up and rubbing up against it – not helpful!

Junkyard cat and VWJunkyard cat and matching VW van. It followed us around and liked to rub up against tripods. Not good, cat!

This isn’t a traditional salvage yard – no parts are sold.  It’s more of a museum, although there’s no effort to preserve exhibits.  The cars were saved from the crushing machine, but not from nature.

You can find much more than just old cars and car parts. There are school buses, and tractors, antique toys, wagons, bicycles, and more.  I even read there’s a Cartersville Grand Theater marquis, but I didn’t see it on my visit.

Doll and chairDoll and chair – You can find more than old cars at Old Car City. This was right next to the path – yet it looks like no one’s disturbed it in years.

Safety:  You’ll have to sign in when you pay admission, but there’s no lengthy rights waiver  and a lawyer doesn’t follow you around.  The place could be dangerous though – there’s broken glass, rusty metal and some sharp edges.  Just be careful, not stupid.  Heed the warning signs, stay on cleared paths and off / out of the cars and you should be fine.  Oh, and some insect repellent might come in handy.

Don't open hoods doorsDon’t open hoods doors

My tripod was helpful mostly for Olympus hi-res images – but if you’re not making those I think you can get by without one.  I used focal lengths from fish eye up to about 200mm equivalent and I’d say your wider lenses would be the most useful.

The number of photo ops in this place is huge.  If you go, my best advice is to do a little research before hand and plan out a strategy or two.  Get some larger framed intro shots, but think about concentrating on one or a few categories:  hood ornaments, door handles, dashboards, interiors, decay, rust, textures, vegetation on vehicles, etc., etc.  The possibilities are huge.

Click on these photos to see them larger on Flickr,  and I have more images from Old Car City collected in his album.  You can also look through many more photos from there via the Flickr “Old Car City” search page results.  And you can find out more on the Old Car City web page.  Here are a couple more links with info:

If you get a chance, go by Old Car City.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Grand vista or Up-close and Intimate?

Last week I mentioned that we spent time photographing Amicalola Falls during the Focus on Atlanta Workshop.  I was also there in 2014  and when I got home, I was curious to compare images from the two visits.  That led to some observations and questions.

This first photo is from 2014.  I reprocessed it, mainly to correct some blown highlights in the water.  First observation:  Blown highlights bother me a lot more today than they did back then.

I made this from the foot bridge near the top of the falls.  Second observation:  It’s quite a hike, especially with a load of heavy camera gear.  But it’s well worth it for the wonderful view!  With a wide enough lens, you can try to show the grand scale and sweeping power of the falls.

Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls – The grand view from the footbridge near the top.  Nikon D800, ISO 50, 16mm, f/22 @ 1/3 sec.

I really like this photo, and I’m glad I made it.  Third observation:  Four years later, I think that it was a bit too easy.  Probably everyone that visits these falls will try for an image that looks like this.

The next three images are from 2018.  I must have been anxious to get the grand view photo in 2014 and hiked right by these locations – I don’t recall noticing them.  On this  recent visit, Mike Boening pointed out several spots along the trail and I stopped at a few and set up for more intimate photos.

Light in the creekLight in the creek. Olympus OM-D M II, Hi-res mode, ISO 200, 28mm eq., f/8 @ 1 sec.

On the way back down, the last spot I stopped at was only a few yards from the parking area!

FlowFlow. Olympus OM-D M II, Hi-res mode, ISO 200, 40mm eq., f/8 @ 1.2 sec.

I like the grand view image I made in 2014, but I think I like these 2018 images even more.  There are probably quite a few photos of Amicalola similar to my first one.  I suspect that images like the second and third are much less common since the number of possible viewpoints and compositions is so much greater.

Sometimes, only one approach will work for a subject or your style of photography.  On the drive up to the falls, we stopped at an overlook and I was fascinated by the fog / mist and low clouds moving through the valley.  I was able to poke the small lens on my iPhone through the chain link fence to grab this frame.  At the time, I didn’t think about an intimate detail type of composition there.

Foggy mountain viewFoggy mountain view

But that’s just me.  I saw a photo later that showed Mike making an image of some graffiti on the road.  Last observation: Graffiti isn’t something I normally photograph and I didn’t even pay attention to it at the time. Our usual photo styles can limit the potential images we see.

So what’s the moral of this story?  Should we make grand scenic view images or intimate, up-close photos of the details?  You know what I’m going to say , don’t you?  “It depends”.

Actually, I’m going to say:  It depends, but try hard to get both.  You’ll grow as a photographer if you can teach your brain to see both ends of this spectrum.  Shoot whichever you prefer first, but force yourself to look for the other compositions before you leave a spot.

As always, click on these images to see a larger version on Flickr.  And you can see other photos from the workshop in this album and other photos from Georgia in this one.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some grand, and some detailed photos!

©2014 and 2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Atlanta at night

Focus on Atlanta

I enjoy listening to the Mirrorless Minutes podcast (audio on iTunes, video on YouTube).  It’s an interesting show on photography and since  Mike Boening and Jamie MacDonald  (the hosts) are both Olympus Visionaries, they often have good information and tips on Olympus camera gear.

So when I heard their announcement about a photo workshop in Atlanta I was eager to go – and It wasn’t too hard to talk Lynn into getting this for my birthday!  They coordinate using the Mirrorless Adventures page on Meetup.com so sign up was an easy process. If my post gets you interested, you can find out about their future workshops there.

Atlanta Marriott Marquis Interior 2Atlanta Marriott Marquis Interior 2

Our HQ was the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta and it’s an awesome photo-op itself – lots of interesting architecture, angles, and patterns to fill your memory card.  And if you get tired of the photo ops there, you can take a break at one of their restaurants or bars!

We met on Friday evening and then left for the Jackson Street bridge for some sunset and light trail photography.  It’s a popular spot.  There were lots of folks making photos and it’s easy to see why – the skyline view is awesome!  Here’s one of mine:

A little laterA little after sunset.

I made this image with the Olympus “Live Composite” mode.  I’ve used this once before, but it was great to get in some guided practice and I’ll be using it more in the future.

Other stops on the workshop were at Old Car City (http://oldcarcityusa.com/), Amicalola Falls (http://www.amicalolafallslodge.com), and Oakland Cemetery (https://www.oaklandcemetery.com).  The workshop was last weekend and I came home with hundreds of photos.  I’ve been going through them every day since then – but I’m not finished processing yet.  So today I’ll just include a few from Atlanta and maybe do another post later about the other locations.

Watching sunriseWatching sunrise.  We stopped near this park while we waited for the cemetery gates to open

Oakland cemetery was founded in 1850 and many of Atlanta’s prominent citizens are buried there.  It has a great deal of sculpture, architecture, and gardens to draw your eye.  And an interesting sign across the street!

Six Feet Under BarSix Feet Under BarAtlanta Skyline from Oakland CemeteryAtlanta Skyline from Oakland Cemetery

I’ve always liked Atlanta.  My mother’s family lived in the area (in Cedartown) so we visited often when I was growing up.  I also went to college there (Go Tech!) and that’s where I met Lynn.  It was great to visit for a long weekend, and the drive from Central Florida isn’t too bad.

A photo workshop can be a big boost to your image making.  You might;

  • Learn or improve your skills:  I refreshed and practiced “Live Composite” mode and will likely use it more often now.
  • Go places you wouldn’t normally see.  I’ve been to Atlanta many times, but the only place from this workshop that I’d seen before was Amicalola Falls (mentioned in this post).  Trying new things is good for your soul!
  • Meet new people.  Hanging around with other folks passionate about photography is fun!  They don’t even get bored when you talk about lenses, cameras, technique, processing, etc.!
  • See different approaches / techniques.  On the last day, we spent a few hours processing images and each of us picked out several images to show the group and talk about.  I was floored by the variety and ideas that everyone shared.  It’s amazing how people can go to the same place and come back with such different photographs.

I really enjoyed this workshop – it was a pleasure to meet so many new photo friends! I thought the locations we went to were terrific and Mike and Jamie were extremely knowledgable, friendly, and always willing to help anyone with questions. They created a wonderful atmosphere for us to learn and make beautiful photographs.  And I liked the van they used for transport – it was a real pleasure to just climb in and have someone else drive us around to all these spots.  Well done Mike and Jamie!!!

I’ll be adding my photos from the workshop to this album on Flickr as I finish them.  Check back later for even more.  And if you want to see some of the photos the other attendees made, watch episode 95 of the Mirrorless Minutes podcast on YouTube.

And to all my new (and old) photo friends, If you’re in the Central Florida area, look me up.  Maybe we can meet at one of my favorite spots.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!  On a workshop!

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Majestic Maui Migration

Editors note:  Today we have another post from our roving correspondent MaryKate. She’s back in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but this time on Maui – enjoy!

I recently took the trip of a lifetime to Maui during whale watching season.  While I’ve been fortunate enough to whale watch in places like Alaska, Channel Islands National Park and Maine, I have never seen anything like the whales in Maui in February.  Each year around December/January through about March/April, North Pacific Humpback Whales migrate down from Alaska (bye, Monette!) to Hawaii to mate, give birth, and let their babies bulk up before the long journey back north.  These whales love the waters around Maui, and I’ve never been to a place where you can sit on the beach or at a restaurant on the coast and watch these amazing creatures from land.

Humpback Whale Tail

Tails from Maui

But you can get an even better view from the water!  I did two whale watching cruises, both with the Pacific Whale Foundation.  I’d highly recommend any cruise with PWF (and check out their amazing gift shop while you’re there!), because the money from your cruise goes to protect our oceans through research, education and conservation programs.  While all of their cruises are great experiences, if you have the time and the money and are an early bird like me, your best option is to go on a smaller boat as early in the day as possible.  We took the larger Ocean Discovery on a Saturday afternoon at 2 pm and there was plenty of whale watching, but it was nothing like the intimate photo safari experience on Sunday morning at 7 am aboard the Ocean Spirit catamaran.  With a  smaller, quieter boat, we could turn off the engine when we got 100 yards away from the whales, and sometimes they would come closer to us.  This humpback whale was curious and “spy hopped” right by our boat, poking its head up to check us out!

Humpback Whale Spy Hopping

Humpback Whale “Spy Hopping”

We were lucky to see many mom and baby pairs, which are easy to spot when you know what to look for: more frequent and smaller blows (the babies need to breathe a lot more often than the grownups), and a floating protective Mom beside them (Mom is always nearby!).

Humpback Whale Mom & Baby

Baby (left) and Mom (right) Humpback Whales

I really enjoyed the photo ops on this whale watch.  There was a photographer on board if you had any questions, and I was able to see and photograph whales in a way I never had before.  Fun fact – did you know Humpback Whales (and all baleen whales) have two blowholes side by side (kind of like a human nose) vs. toothed whales that only have one?

Humpback Whale Blow

Humpback Whale – Two Blows Up!

We also saw Maui by air via a Maverick Helicopter Tour.  It’s a lot tougher to get good photos from a helo, but it was really amazing to see whales from such a different perspective!  Below, a mom and baby (on the right) are “escorted” by a male (not the baby’s daddy!).

Humpback Whale Mom, Baby & Escort from Helicopter

Humpback Whales by Air: (From right to Left) Mom, Baby, and Male Escort

Click on any of the photos above to see a higher res version on Flickr, and click here to see the entire photo set from the trip.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – go make some whaley good photos!

Editors note 2:  
Thanks again MK – it was wonderful to read about your trip and see your photos.  Hawaii is still on my bucket list!  Also readers, if you’re going to visit, you might want to take a look at the Hawaii category on my on-line friend Jeff Stamer’s blog.  He’s been there several times and has some amazing photos and tips. 

©2018, MK Rosack and Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

More Computational Photography

As an Electrical Engineer and a long time photographer, I’ve been interested in computational photography for a while.  You can read some of my  earlier posts on the subject at this link. Here’s Wikipedia’s definition:

…”digital image capture and processing techniques that use digital computation instead of optical processes.”

I’d change this slightly from”instead of” to “instead of or in addition to”, but that’s a small quibble.

Moore’s law keeps driving the computing capabilities in phones and cameras ever higher and it’s fascinating to see what companies do with the extra potential.

Towalga River below High FallsTowalga River below High Falls, Georgia. Composite – iPhone default live view and Long Exposure, merged in Photoshop

I made the image above on our recent trip using an iPhone 8+ and Apple’s “Live Photo” mode. After I made the photo, I edited it on the phone and enabled the “Long Exposure” effect. The Long Exposure effect of blurring the moving water is computed from ~3 seconds worth of frames that Live Photo captures.  This is Apple’s web page explaining the feature.  Here’s what it looked like before I changed the mode – it’s not nearly as photogenic:

Towalga River below High FallsDefault iPhone live view

Until iOS 11 added this feature, I wasn’t too interested in Live Photos.  Now, I’m watching for places to use it. You can get a better image with your high-end camera and traditional optical techniques, but this is easier and a lot of fun to play with.

Here are some hints:

  • Pick a suitable subject:  moving water, traffic on a road, blurring people in a crowd, etc.
  • Motion blur with a traditional optical approach requires a slow shutter speed – either low light or using filters.  Since computational methods works by processing multiple frames, you can use it in bright light without filters.
  • Apple says it works on their newer phones (6+ and later).  You’ll need to have iOS 11 (or later) installed.
  • The Long Exposure effect has to align Individual frames and then crop where there’s no overlap so you’ll lose pixels around the edges.  Ideally, use a tripod – but that sort of defeats the idea of pulling your phone out of your pocket, doesn’t it?  Just hold the phone as steady as you can to minimize cropping.
  • Make several exposures and pick the best one later.
  • Long Exposure resolution seems to be lower than default iPhone photos.  This isn’t a huge problem for the moving parts of the frame – they’re supposed to be blurry.  For the static portions, you can load both versions into layers in Photoshop and use masking to paint in higher resolution where you want it.  I did this for the first photo above.
  • You can set a Long Exposure photo as your wallpaper.  You’ll see the static Long Exposure version until you press on it from the lock screen.  Then it changes to show the three-second animation – cool!

I hope Apple enhances this in future updates.  It’d be good to have some control over the blur effect.  3 seconds is nice, but some subjects will look better with less (or more?).

iOS 11 includes other updated computation photo capabilities (e.g. portrait lighting) – but that’s a subject for another day.

Photography’s changing fast – it’s a wonderful time to be a photographer, isn’t it?  In today’s digital world, many advances are likely to be computational and not optical.  Keep up – don’t be left behind!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go compute some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.