Do you have a favorite photo that you made a while ago? Perhaps with an older camera? If so, you may want to see what new versions of software and your revised tastes and improved skills can do differently.
I had a request for a print of this image. It’s from way back in 2007, made with my first DSLR – a Nikon D80:
Littleton, Colo. cabin
I like this photo. A lot, and not just because of the subject. It reminds me of driving along the road between where my Mom used to live and my Sister’s house, and visiting them both. It’s been on the blog before: here and here. If you’re interested, please take a look at these two posts to see earlier versions.
Fortunately, I was saving my digital files in RAW format even back then, so I can take full advantage of any improvements in photo software. I decided to run this through my current imaging workflow before printing. Using DxO Optics Pro, Photoshop, and Lightroom, I was able to reduce noise, improve shadow and highlight detail, and tweak color, contrast, and brightness. I feel the new version is better.
Using current software on an image made with 10-year-old technology can be amazing. I even see a spider web hanging from the near door that I never noticed before.
What do you think? Do you ever reprocess your older images?
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make and / or reprocess some photos!
I was in Colorado last week and had a chance to go sightseeing in the mountains near Denver. Whenever I visit, I find it to be so scenic and photogenic that it overwhelms me. It’s different from what I normally see at home here in Florida and I want to make photos of everything.
Valley of sunbeams and shadows – Don’t miss Mount Evans if you ever get to Denver in the summer time. This is a four image panorama from near the summit, about 13,500 feet.
I find when I get back from a trip like this and go through my images, most don’t have the impact that I felt at the time. My “keeper” rate seems lower than from local trips. Maybe this is because I’ve photographed in Florida so much that I don’t see as many new things when I go out – so I make fewer photos. Luckily, I did end up with some that I really like from Colorado.
The Chapel on the Rock (Saint Catherine of Siena Chapel) – This is in Allenspark, Colorado, south along Route 7 out of Estes Park on the grounds of the Saint Malo Retreat. We didn’t know this was on our route. It’s wonderful to discover something unexpected like this while on a drive. Another 4 image pano.
I guess we humans are hardwired to find new and unfamiliar things more interesting. And familiarity can breed complacency. Do people in Colorado get used to the mountains and sleep in some days instead of getting up and out to see and photograph them? Like we sleep in here instead of getting up to go out into a world-class wildlife refuge like Merritt Island?
Bristlecone pine trees – Some of the trees in the Mount Goliath Natural Area are over 1,600 years old. I used my IR modified Olympus E-PL1 for this photo. Yes, it’s one more 4 image pano.
Wildlife is different out there too. Some non-Florida species I saw included six new life birds (Steller’s Jay, Gray Jay, Common Raven, Black-billed Magpie, Dark-eyed Junco, and a Broad-tailed Hummingbird) as well as plenty of Mountain Goats, Marmots and Chipmunks.
Broad-tailed Hummingbird – Behind my Sister’s house in Littleton, Colorado. These birds look very similar to the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds we have in Florida, but the Broad-tailed doesn’t have a black chin. No, this is not a pano.
I wonder if Florida’s unique landscapes and wildlife are as interesting to people visiting here as Colorado’s are to me when I’m out there?
Why do we photograph? For many reasons: To capture a moment and save it. To document something, so others can see what we see. To amuse or delight viewers with our images. To create art as a form of self-expression. To report facts as in a newspaper, or slant facts as in an advertisement.
Most of the time I’m trying to make something interesting or beautiful. To show viewers what I’ve seen and how I’ve seen it. I also like to record where I’ve been. And making family photos at gatherings / events is also important to me.
Great Gloomy Plains – Photographs often reflect the photographer’s mood. I made this photo during a break in a light snowstorm near the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Hudson, Colorado.
For the last couple of weeks, my photography has served another purpose – one that I hadn’t ever considered.
My Mother was 80 years old and apparently in worse health than any of us knew. She passed away while in the hospital for back surgery. Even though she hated to carry around her oxygen tank, she was sharp and active until the end. Mom was a great woman and much loved by everyone who knew her. She was a wonderful mother and I miss her terribly.
Lynn and I went to Denver to be with family and help settle Mom’s estate. Her affairs were in good order, but there was still a lot to do. As you might imagine, it was an emotional and stressful time.
Of course this wasn’t a photo trip, but I did decide to bring a small point and shoot camera. I’m very glad I did. During the two weeks we were there, we took a couple of short side trips. I found that when concentrating on photography, I could exclude other things from my mind and feel almost normal for a while. It really helped me cope and get my emotions back toward a more even keel. These are three of the photos I made.
Sunrise over Chatfield Lake – I made this photo on the morning we left to return to Orlando.
Photography helps us remember. It can also help us forget. At least for a short time.
I’ve been to Mount Evans before and written about it here. I got a chance to go back this week and my second visit was as good as the first. Maybe even better, since I showed this wonderful place off to Sara, Mike, and Julie.
The highest paved road in North America starts in Idaho Springs, Colorado and winds for 28 miles around tight switchbacks to an altitude of just over 14,100 feet. There’s a small parking lot near the summit, and a short (but vertical) hike to the very top at 14,270 feet. The road is quite narrow in spots, and is exciting or scary depending on your attitude and its altitude / slope. There are many places to pull over that offer outstanding views of the surrounding landscapes and wildlife.
Bristlecone pine: This species of tree is the longest lived single organism on earth
Take I-70 west from Denver and exit at County Road 103. The first half of the drive from there is pretty but not too out of the ordinary. The fee station is around the halfway point, and this is where most of the excitement begins. Pick up a brochure so you’ll have a map and information about the park.
Both times I’ve gone have been in early July so I can’t say much about the rest of the year. Try to visit on a weekday to avoid crowds, and if you can’t go on a weekday – leave early. The only day we could drive up was the 4th, so we left around 7am. When we asked the ranger at the fee station, he said it wasn’t crowded yet but would be, and recommended we go up to the top and stop at places on the way down. If you don’t, you might not get a parking spot – they get very limited at the top as the day goes on. We saw lots of cars headed up as we were leaving.
Wildflowers are abundant in July. Even above 14,000 feet where the terrain seems barren – you can see flowers in between the rocks. July is also a great time to view wildlife. On this trip we saw a Deer, Chipmunks, Elk, Mountain Goats, Marmots, and a Pika.
Baby mountain goat – There were several families of mountain goats near the summit. This little one posed for me so I could frame him against the out of focus mountains in the background. It’s amazing to watch them scramble from rock to rock and never slip.
Pair of Marmots
At the summit, the average summer temperature is ~44 degrees (F) and the average wind is ~30 mph, so we were particularly blessed with a low temp of 55 and very calm winds. The winds were so calm that on the way down we decided to stop and hike to a couple of pools of water, hoping for a photo of the clouds reflecting in the ice melt. It seemed like a really short hike downhill from the road to this pool. When we turned around to go back uphill, the car looked really, really tiny and far, far away.
Catch pool reflection and Mike admiring the view
If you’re ever in the Denver area, you just have to visit Mount Evans. It’s spectacular and very accessible. Flatlanders like me shouldn’t do the trip on their first day at altitude. I’m not in the best of shape and at 14,000 feet I found I was out of breath even after short walks. A few days to acclimate at around 5000 feet may have helped.
Click on any of the photos above to go to Flickr where you can see a larger version. You can see the rest of my Mount Evans photos from this trip here, and you can see photos from my earlier trip here.
We had a family reunion of sorts in Denver last week for Thanksgiving. Mary, Mike and Sara met Lynn and I at my mother’s place and we were able to see most of the Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and in-laws. We had a great time and the Thanksgiving dinner was especially good, with 25 relatives at my sister’s house to consume two turkeys along with various gourmet attractions including sweet potato stuffed oranges.
We also had a chance to visit some Denver area photo attractions: Buffalo Bill’s grave and museum at Lookout Mountain in Golden, The city of Denver’s bison herd, Garden of the Gods, and Pikes Peak. We also got in a few minutes of browsing at the antique store along I-70.
Here are some of the photos from our visit – I’ve only posted a few of them here on my blog. Click on any of them to go to Flickr, where you can look at a higher res version. You can also see the rest of this set on Flickr at this link.
We drove up to Lookout Mountain last Monday to visit the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave site, which is only about an hour from my Mom’s place. The museum is nice, with a lot of information about Buffalo Bill and the wild west. We especially liked the dress up area, where you can don chaps and a cowboy hat, climb up on the legless horse and rope a plastic calf. There’s also some very scenic overlooks from the parking area.
A little further up the road (I-70, exit 254), the city and county of Denver has a herd of bison that you can stop and see.
On Thanksgiving morning, Lynn and I got up very early and drove down to the Garden of the Gods before sunrise. You might remember my earlier post about this place. Let me just say that it’s even more beautiful at sunrise and well worth the early trip.
Saturday, we drove down to Pikes Peak and rode the cog railway to the top and back. The visibility was much better this time than it was the only previous time we did this. That time we had heavy fog and weren’t able to see much of the landscape. This time, in spite of clouds – it looked like we could see forever.
It was a wonderful trip, we really enjoyed ourselves, and we’ll cherish the time we spent visiting these places with our family forever.
OK, gentle reader, our first TAS was HAC – Have a clue . So, once you have a clue, what’s next?
What’s the next thing you need to do to be successful in life and also in photography? TAS #2 is GAS. We’ll use the family friendly version here, which is GAH or “Give a Hoot”. In other words, care about your photography, be passionate, be motivated, take all the knowledge you’ve acquired and apply it. Get out there and make some photographs!
Are you a “serious” photographer? I don’t mean serious as in don’t have any fun with it (quite the opposite). I mean do you care about your photography? I suspect if you’re reading this blog you do. That’s really all GAH is about. It won’t make you a success all by itself, but it is necessary. And it’s the motivation you need – and combined with the knowledge you acquire with HAC, you’ll be much more likely to be successful.
OK, so TAS #1 (HAC) is all about acquiring knowledge and TAS #2 (GAH) is all about applying it. The more you apply your knowledge the more it becomes something you do instead of something you just know. Practice builds the skills you need to get the shot when you don’t have the luxury to think things through. This happens quite a lot in photography – the light or the situation changes quickly and you have to change quickly to capture it. Big secret here: I think most honest photographers would tell you that they have screwed up a photograph many times in the heat of battle. You will too. You need to try to minimize this.
Carry a camera – use it. Always look for scenes / subjects that would make a good photo. Make the shot.
Think about photography as much as possible. Mental exercises – how would I shoot that: framing, composition, lenses, ISO, etc. When you look at your finished photos, think about what you should have done different. When you’re getting ready to take photos, think through how you’re going to do it. Look at other people’s photographs and try to understand how they made them.
Try a new photographic technique as often as possible
Show your work to people. Accept feedback and use it constructively
There are the two photos that go with this post. I used the second one in a prior post , but this is the first time I’ve posted the other one. I think the pair together is a good illustration of TAS #2: GAH. I was very motivated and passionate about this particular photograph and went to a good deal of effort to make the image, edit it, and print it. It looks pretty good up on my wall.
This is the raw capture straight out of the camera:
And this is the processed image ready to print. It took a lot of knowledge (HAC) and a lot of passion (GAH) for the final print to come out like this.
As your homework for this session, you can point out things that are different between the two images and how you think they got that way. As before, I’ll grade your answers before I post TAS #3. Oh, by the way, I’ve added a comment to TAS #1 explaining what I meant about the photo in that post.
Be passionate about your photography . To help you with TAS #2 – Give a Hoot, and to help you stay motivated, here’s a few inspirational photo related links I’ve come across recently. Please take the time to explore these. They moved me, and if you’re at all interested in photography, I’m betting they will move you too.
I was lucky enough to go on a business trip to Denver last week. I stayed with my Mom and got to visit a bit with her and her friends. I also got to see my sister LaDonna and brother Jim and their families in Denver and my brother Rob and his family in Colorado Springs.
On the way to Rob’s, I stopped by the Garden of the Gods for a couple of hours. (Note: you can click on any of these photos for a larger version).
The Garden of the Gods park is run by the city of Colorado Springs and is about an hour south of Denver. You take I-25 south and exit right onto Garden of the Gods road. I hadn’t been there before. The rock formations are spectacular and unlike anything we see in Florida. If you go, early morning probably has the best light. I wasn’t able to arrive until around 10 am and by then the lighting was pretty harsh. I wish I had been there earlier or that there had been some nice clouds in the sky to work with, but you take what you get and I was happy to be able to see it. I did some bracketed exposures to work with in HDR and converted some photos to black and white. I like the way they turned out.
Rock climbing is allowed and I made a few photos of a couple of climbers.
While in Denver, I also took a walk through Waterton Canyon and made a few photos.
And one night, my nephew Jared and I made this panorama of the night-time skyline visible from my Mom’s place.
My other photos for this post are here
Here is a gallery of three more pictures from our recent Denver trip.
The first image in the gallery is a colony of cliff swallows nesting under an overpass near my Mom’s place. Lynn first noticed these birds during our frequent trips in and out. They’re very hard to photograph since they seem to be in constant motion. When I tried to get close on foot, they grew very agitated and noisy. I finally got a not very good photo by using the car as a blind and taking the shot through the sun roof. I was zoomed in all the way with my 70 – 300mm, but didn’t have enough light to stop the motion, even though I upped the ISO to 400 to take this at 1/250 sec. Lesson learned: It’s better to get the shot, even with some noise in it – so up the ISO as much as you need to stop the action.
I saw this cabin along the side of the road between my sister’s and Mom’s places, and really wanted to make a photo of it. I didn’t have time to go by at sunset, but this late afternoon shot captures the mood pretty well. I had to play around with curves in Lightroom to bring out detail in the clouds without losing it in the trees and cabin. I also cloned out a TV antenna on the roof and a power line on the right side. With those gone, it’s more appealing to me and could almost be a high definition window into the past.
The final shot in the gallery was taken from the balcony of my Mom’s place. The sunsets weren’t very colorful while we were there, since late afternoon thunderstorms covered the mountains to the west nearly every day. We finally saw a little color and this shot, especially the cloud shadows on the lower left, turned out pretty well.
Lynn and I just returned from helping Mom move into her new place. She’s now in a unit at Windcrest in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. We flew out on July 4th and returned on the 11th. She had quite a list of chores for us to do, including painting, hanging curtains / blinds / paintings, unpacking boxes, chopping tables in two, installing media centers, programming phones, and numerous shopping trips (yes, Home Depot won as the most visited store). Lynn and I both had fun and enjoyed spending time with Mom.
At the end of the trip, we had to leave before she had everything unpacked and put away, but the place was starting to come along nicely. And Sis and Dean said they would take care of the rest on Thursday.
Mount Evans is about 35 miles west of Denver. We left early (before 6) and were up on the mountain by 9, but we stopped quite a few times on the way. It could take you more or less time depending on how many stops you make and what the traffic is like. since we went up on a weekday, we saw very few cars. To get there, take I70 west out of the city, to the 3rd exit for Idaho Springs (route 103 south).
The Mt. Evans road is the highest paved road in north America and is 14,200 feet at the top. I’ve been to Denver many times but hadn’t heard about it before. I’ve been listening to the Nikonians Image Doctors podcast and they recommended this place a couple of times (ID#39 adn ID#45) so I wanted to see it while I was out there. It is very much worth the trip! If you go, try to make it on a weekday. The weekends are supposed to be very crowded. This Mt. Evans website has a lot of helpful information.
Our drive was quite spectacular. It started out very cloudy, with some light rain, but the top was above the clouds and on the way down, it began to clear. We saw a lot of wildlife and July is apparently a very good time for wildflowers.
Lynn and I are both flat-landers from Florida and we were out of breath at the top at even the slightest exercise. You’ll want to plan carefully and prepare for any hikes you want to do. There are some very spectacularly fit people out there. We saw several riding bicycles all the way to the top.
You’ll probably use a wide angle lens the most. A long lens will be helpful for some wildlife, although you can get very close to the goats and marmots.