Tag Archives: travel

Reprocessing reminder

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. cabinLittleton, 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!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

The Great Wall of Photography

If there’s one person who loves travel as much as me (or more), it’s my cousin Phil. That’s why I was so excited for our whirlwind adventure to China! Our journey was just five days, so I had to pack lightly, but I wish I could have brought my Dad and more camera equipment with me: the photography conditions were tricky! Since he couldn’t be there with me, he processed my photos after, and has joined me in this post with photo hints.  So here it is: Central Florida Photo Ops official furthest-away post ever!

Great Wall - MutianyuMK and Phil on the Great Wall – Mutianyu

First, we visited Shanghai – If you have the chance to go, I highly recommend the Shanghai Museum, and then a meal at the Living Room restaurant on the 87th floor of the Park Hyatt Shanghai. From there, you’ll find sweeping views of the Bund and the Huangpu River, and on a clear day like we were lucky to have, you’ll gain an amazing appreciation for just how large the city is.

My Dad lent me his polarizing filter, but I enjoyed the meal so much I didn’t think to use it on this shot while we were indoors.

Shanghai SkylineView from the 87th: Shanghai

Editor:  A polarizer can be useful to darken skies, reduce the fog / haze in a photo, and eliminate reflections when shooting through glass.  It doesn't always work - success depends on the conditions (amount and direction of the light).  I always try to carry one with me and use it if I remember.   I processed this image through DxO Optics Pro for sharpening / noise reduction.  Then in Lightroom, I adjusted the exposure, and contrast, straitened buildings, and used clarity and dehaze adjustments along the horizon with a radial filter to lessen the haze.  Here is a "before version":

The highlight of Beijing was, of course, the Great Wall of China. There are several places along the wall you can easily visit from Beijing.  We chose Mutianyu for its sweeping views (and it’s reputation of being less crowded than nearby spots). While we had perfect weather in Shanghai, fog almost completely enveloped us at Mutianyu. But every once in a while the fog would shift and we’d get a quick but miraculous glimpse of just how Great the Great Wall is.

Mutianyu is about an hour from Beijing.  I recommend hiring a private driver – we used John Yellowcar – for about $150 USD, we had our own private driver/translator/tour guide for the entire day.  We thought this was a great value for a 10-hour day trip.  While there are restaurants and souvenirs at the wall, bring water/snacks and wear comfortable hiking shoes!  Also remember that haggling with vendors is accepted and expected at the Wall.

Great Wall - MutianyuMisty Mutianyu Watchtower

The fog was too thick for the polarizing lens, so I tried to take as many photos as I could and hoped my Dad could help when I got home! Here are some pointers from him on how he was able to save these photos, and in hindsight, things I could have done differently to make the photos even better.

Great Wall - MutianyuWinding Wall and Watchtowers – Mutianyu

Editor:  MK faced some tough photo conditions.  Fog greatly reduces contrast and the amount of light.  It also diffuses the light so that the polarizing filter won't be much help  (sorry MK!) and the filter itself also reduces the amount of light getting to the sensor by 1 or 2 stops.  About the only thing I could recommend is to be careful with exposure (sometimes fog can cause underexposure). I processed this photo like the previous one.  DxO Optics Pro and Lightroom.  In these conditions, clarity and dehaze adjustments are again very helpful.  I used quite a bit of dehaze in this image.  It's easy to go too far - be careful.  Here's the "before version" of this one:

More photos from my trip (with my Dad’s amazing edits) can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/marykate/sets/72157676855966605/

Thanks to our roving correspondent MK for our first ever opposite side of the globe post! And thanks to all for stopping by and reading the blog.  Now, go make some photos!

©2016, MK and Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Regarding image selection

Editors note:  Although I’m feeling much better, I’m still going to take a sick day.  I’ll repeat this post from September 2014.  If you haven’t read it before, I think it’s still very relevant and worth a look.  If you have – then I apologize for the repeat.


If you use raw format in your photography, they look different from jpg photos.  Raw format is just the data read directly off of the sensor with no processing by the camera.  Depending on how you configure your camera and software, raw image contrast and sharpening can be very low, white balance may not be optimized, and exposure is often set for capture / low noise instead of display / print.. This can make it tough to judge raw photos and decide which ones merit further processing.

When I returned from Maine and reviewed my photos, I bypassed some.  When I finished working on the ones I’d identified as “selects”, I went back and re-looked at those I’d set aside.  Some of them deserved attention.

A calm morning on Bubble Pond
A calm morning on Bubble Pond

It’s not just raw images that can be difficult to evaluate.  Infrared photos usually need processing to optimize too.

Bass Harbor Light
Bass Harbor Light

And multi image panoramas make seeing composition and field of view a challenge before the individual frames are stitched together.

Behind Sand Beach
Behind Sand Beach

I can’t tell you how to rate your images and select your best.  But what I can tell you is to be very careful not to discard something before you’re very sure that it’s not worth pursuing.  Give your photos a second chance.  Learn your software so you know how far you can go with adjustments.  And as with any thing worth pursuing, practice will make you better.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Close Call

It’s been a while since we’ve had such a strong hurricane pass so close to us here in Central Florida.  Matthew was a category 4 storm last Wednesday as it approached our east coast and had just roared through Haiti with devastating effects.  Luckily, it veered a little further away and winds were lower than forecast when it hit here.  We had strong rain and winds, power flickers, trees down, and some damage in our area on the North East side of Orlando.  But we were spared most of the dire effects that we worried about.  Friends from New Smyrna Beach stayed with us and they too reported very few problems from the storm, although they lost power for a day.

Anyway, I wasn’t able or even motivated to do any photography last week.  So instead I’ll show you an image that has nothing to do with storms, from our recent trip Shenandoah.

Bearfence Mountain PanoramaBear Fence Mountain Panorama – This is part of the vista from the top of Bearfence Mountain in Shenandoah National Park. It’s one of the few places there where you get a true 360 degree view. This image is a mutli-frame panorama stitched together in Lightroom.

Scrambling up this rock pile on the top of the mountain, I had to acknowledge  that my 64-year-old knees aren’t as good as I thought.  But I did make to the top and the view was awesome.

I hope all of you also came through hurricane Matthew ok.  If not, our thoughts and prayers are with you.  And thank you for stopping by and reading my blog.  If possible – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

 

Channeling the Beauty of our National Parks

Editors note:  Today we have another post from our roving correspondent,  MaryKate.  This time she travelled to the Channel Islands off the coast of California.   I hope you enjoy her report!


I’ve recently become even more enthralled with our country’s amazing National Park system. So when I headed to Los Angeles for an event with my friend Molly a few weekends ago, I jumped on the opportunity to visit two of our country’s jewels: Santa Monica National Recreation Area and Channel Islands National Park.

Just 35 miles from Los Angeles, the Santa Monica National Recreation Area is an escape from the bustle of the city. We headed to the Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center for some orientation (and souvenir shopping), and did the short but steep hike up to Inspiration Point. We saw lizards and birds along the way, and the dry landscape made for dramatic views against the Santa Monica Mountains:

Plant at the PinnaclePlant at the Pinnacle

That Saturday, we took a morning boat trip out to Anacapa Island – the smallest of the Channel Islands – with a company I’d highly recommend: Island Packers. For just $29 each way, the beautiful boat ride alone was worth the trip. On our way to Anacapa, we enjoyed stunning views of Oxnard Harbor, a few Harbor Seals “sunning”, and even an illusive Minke Whale (he was too quick to photograph and never came back up).

Seal ReflectionsSeal Reflections

The Channel Islands are truly a magical place, sometimes called the United States’ Galapagos Islands because there are 145 species of plants and animals only found there. We stayed 3 hours on the island exploring, seeing as much as we could, and eating the picnic we brought, but there are many arrival/departure options so you can stay as long as you’d like (or even camp over – although the smell of pigeon poop was rather strong!).

Anacapa LighthouseAnacapa Lighthouse

I also enjoyed playing with the fish eye lens I borrowed from my Dad – I thought it brought an interesting perspective to the Island.

Channel Islands National Park SignChannel Islands National park Sign

On our way back to land, we had the treat of a humpback whale doing acrobatics for us: for about 10 minutes we watched him partake in “pectoral slapping” – spinning back and forth and slapping his fin on the water – quite the site juxtaposed against a giant oil rig in the background.

Whale vs. ManMan vs. Whale

If you ever find yourself on the West Coast, it’s definitely worth the trip out to the Channel Islands (and a hike over in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area).  It’s amazing to find so much nature near such a large metropolitan area.  Check out the other photos from my trip in this flickr album (including a life bird: the Rock Wren!).


Thanks for stopping by and reading MaryKate’s blog post.  Now, go make some photos!

©2016, MaryKate. All rights reserved.

Kodiak, Alaska

Editors note:  Today we have a special treat.  MaryKate has agreed to write a guest blog post about her recent trip to Kodiak Island, Alaska.   Sit back ,relax, and enjoy your vacation from my writing!


Five years ago, my birthday snuck up on me. A week or so before the big day, I called my good friend Monette and said “It’s a birthday emergency! I have no plans!” We booked a last-minute cruise, and ever since, our annual Emergency Birthday Trip has become a tradition I look forward to every year – exploring places as close by as the Florida Keys, and as far away as Oregon and Alaska. The trips always involve spontaneity, road tripping, shopping, National Parks (or the outdoors), wildlife, shopping, eating, shopping and exploring. This year, I returned to Alaska to visit Monette in her current location: Kodiak, the country’s second largest island.

[singlepic id=143 w= h= float=center]
These Boots Were Made For Traveling (Courtesy of Monette)

I take a lot of iPhone photos. But for this trip, my Dad let me borrow one of his many cameras since photo opportunities would be plentiful and I knew I might want to enlarge and print some wildlife pictures. He added an all in one 28 to 240mm equivalent lens to his Olympus E-M1 camera and programmed it with an iAuto setting (for fast-moving wildlife) and a P setting (for “Pretty much everything else”). While we had some rare Kodiak sunshine, the lighting was generally overcast and difficult. But with my Dad’s processing, I got some great shots!

[singlepic id=141 w= h= float=center]
Near Reflections: Boat harbor on Near Island

Saturday morning, we drove the Island road system and saw everything from a herd of wild buffalo to majestic mountains and mud flats. Monette said a lot of the vegetation had changed over the last week or so from bright and blooming to brown. I thought this picture eloquently captured the end of a season.

[singlepic id=142 w= h= float=center]The End of Fall

That night we took an intimate dinner cruise with Galley Gourmet. Marty and Marion Owen were amazing hosts on board the Sea Breaze, where Marion made a from-scratch dinner with fresh ingredients from her garden and Marty steered the boat towards captivating wildlife like Stellar Sea Lions, Horned and Tufted Puffins and Sea Otters. I would highly recommend this dinner cruise for anyone in the area!

Marty said they hadn’t seen whales in a week or two, but sure enough, it was a Birthday Miracle and we found some Humpback Whales to watch and enjoy for about 30 minutes. I have some Humpback pictures from when my Dad and I were in Maine, but I’ve never been able to catch the illusive Puffin (which fly faster than I zoom through an airport!). I found that the P setting on the camera worked a little better.

[singlepic id=156 w= h= float=center]Puffin Zone

We enjoyed watching this pair of baby Stellar Sea Lions play (the two smaller, darker ones near the middle). To our entertainment – but to the annoyance of the older residents – the babies kept jumping and splashing in and out of the water.

[singlepic id=151 w= h= float=center]Stellar Viewing

It was an amazing trip filled with beautiful views and memories. And like all Emergency Birthday trips, I’m already counting down the days until next year.

[singlepic id=153 w= h= float=center]You Otter Be Here

Here are more photos from the trip.  Click on any of the thumbnails to see them larger.

[nggallery id=7]


Thanks for stopping by and reading MaryKate’s blog post.  Now, go make some photos!

©2016, MaryKate and Monette. All rights reserved.

Flowers and Flyers

I hope you don’t mind a few more photos from Virginia.  The wildflowers and butterflies were beautiful, and the birds varied from what we normally see in Central Florida.

Wildflower Chicory bud wildflower. Thanks Charlotte Norton for identifying this for me!

There were butterflies everywhere, probably because wildflowers were everywhere.  We had a marvelous little meadow under the balcony behind our room.  It was fun and relaxing to sit there and watch all the activity.

SwallowtailSwallowtail

Bees and birds were busy too.

Wildflower and BeeWildflower and Bee B&W

We stood in line for the dining room at the lodge one night and the woman in front of us was carrying a large DSLR camera and lens.  She lived close by and had come up to photograph butterflies in Big Meadows.  I said we were enjoying them too, and then we started talking about birds.  I was all excited about the Indigo Buntings and American Goldfinches we’d sighted, since we don’t often see them in Florida.  She didn’t seem to care about such common birds – and was much more interested in getting to Florida to see some Spoonbills.  To each their own!

Eastern TowheeEastern Towhee (life bird!) – Thanks Kevin McKinney for the bird ID help!

And one more image to wrap up.  I made all the photos in this post with a micro four-thirds camera and 100 – 400 mm lens (200 – 800 mm equivalent).  I found it very useful for close up photography and even though I had a macro lens with me, I never used it.

Wildflower 3Wildflower 3

You can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them and more photos from Shenandoah in this album on Flickr.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Shenandoah – Starscapes, Sunsets, Storms, and Falls

Our visit to Shenandoah National Park this year  was extremely enjoyable (mentally not physically!)  relaxing, and cooler than back here in Central Florida (highs there in the 70s).   It was also interesting from a photography perspective and different from last year’s trip.  I did a lot of sunset / night photography and didn’t try very hard to get up early every morning for sunrise.

We were fortunate with seeing conditions on the night we arrived. There were no clouds, and the Milky Way center was above the horizon for about two hours after moon set.  Shenandoah has dark skies and the large cleared meadow near the lodge provides wonderful views all around the compass.  Lynn hadn’t ever really seen the Milky Way before and I’ve never seen it this well.  We were both amazed, and I was also impressed with how much detail my Nikon D800 was able to capture.

Big Meadows Milky Way Big Meadows Milky Way.  Three frame panorama, 24mm lens, manual focus and exposure, ISO 2500, f/1.8, 20 seconds.

Lynn is a big fan of meteor showers, and due to a gravity assist from Jupiter, the Perseid was predicted to be spectacular this year.  We set the alarm for 1am the night it was forecast to peak and went out to watch.  The area around Big Meadows was crowded with over a hundred people watching the show, and each overlook had cars parked with more people observing.  It was a good show.  Here’s one of my photos from that morning.

A Persied Meteor and a cloud in front of a portion of the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy A Perseid Meteor and a cloud in front of part of the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy – From Old Rag View Overlook on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.  24mm lens, manual focus and exposure, ISO 3200, f/1.8, 20 seconds.

I tried sunset photos on most nights.  The sky wasn’t as dramatic as I’ve seen it in the past, but there were many wildflowers in bloom helping to make up for that.

The end of the dayThe end of the day – Looking out over Shenandoah Valley from Skyline Drive. The wildflowers were beautiful when we were there.  Two frame composite, manual masking in Photoshop.

And storms also added interest.  We watched this one develop from the balcony outside our room at the lodge.

Shenandoah Storm #1Shenandoah Storm – A storm built up to the west at sunset. As seen from our balcony at Big Meadows Lodge in Shenandoah National Park.  Multi-frame panorama.

Dark Hollow Falls is one of the most popular places in Shenandoah.  When we drove by on Sunday, the parking area was overflowing with cars.  We waited until the next morning to hike down.  Last year, I didn’t make it to these falls and used one of my  20-year-old photos  to illustrate it.  For some reason, the hike (especially the return up from the falls) is more difficult than it was when I was 20 years younger.  Hmm – I wonder why?  This is from very near the same place, and a horizontal, wider view.  I like this one too.

Dark Hollow Falls Dark Hollow Falls.  14mm equivalent FOV, ISO 100, f/8.0, 1/13 seconds, Olympus hires mode.

We did a bit more hiking this year than last and went on trails we hadn’t tried before.   Rose River Falls and Black Rock Mountain were two new favorites.  Another one we hiked was Pocosin Trail.  It was interesting, although I didn’t like it as much as the others.  Maybe it was because of one sentence in the trail guide:  “Soon the trail flattens.”  It never did!

You can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them and more photos from Shenandoah in this album on Flickr.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Panama Canal

Our visit to the Panama Canal and passage through the Gatun Locks was the main feature of our recent cruise.   As an engineer, I’ve long been intrigued by the canal and it lived up to my expectations.  It’s amazing that something built over 100 years ago in such difficult conditions is still operating and remains an import part of global commerce.

The ship’s Captain planned well.  We arrived near the entrance just in time to view the day’s sunrise.

Panamanian SunrisePanamanian Sunrise – a pilot-boat paces us as we head toward the canal entrance

The crew opened up normally closed areas at the bow for viewing and many folks crowded there to watch the activity.

Entering the Panama CanalEntering the Panama Canal

At the evening meal the night before we arrived, Nino (the maître d’) promised us the “best seat in the house” if we came to breakfast at 7:30 that morning.  We thought we had a nice view up on the bow, but decided to follow his recommendation and go down to breakfast.  It was surprising how few people were in the dining room.  He fulfilled his promise and we sat at a table at the very stern of the ship right next to the large windows on deck 2 – and it did have the best view!!  Watching the locks filling and the canal walls go by from that vantage point was captivating.  It took longer than normal for us to finish our meal!

In the Panama Canal Gatun LocksIn the Panama Canal Gatun Locks – view from the Main dining room on deck 2

The MS Zuiderdam is 106 feet wide and the canal is only 110 feet, so there’s very little clearance.

MS Zuiderdam in the Panama Canal - showing the 2 foot clearance
View from our balcony on the 6th deck – 2 foot clearance!

The operation, control, and precision while in the canal is very skilful.  The photo above shows the 2 foot clearance between the ship and the canal.  One of the “mules”  (center left) is helping to position us and move us safely through.

Once past the locks, we anchored in Gatun Lake so people taking excursions could disembark.  Then we sailed back out through the canal and tied up for a port visit in Colon Harbor, where the excursions re-joined us that night.

Colon Harbor at nightColon Harbor at night

Colon wasn’t our favorite stop, although I was able to buy a genuine Panama Hat there.  Interesting fact:  Panama Hats are made in Ecuador!

I’ve posted a short video that we made in the canal here on YouTube.  It shows our entrance followed by a time-lapse as we descend into the Gatun Locks on our return.  Take a look if you get a chance.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Cruising Wildlife

Lynn and I returned last week from a wonderful visit with her brother Arthur, and his wife Michele.  We cruised together around the Caribbean on Holland America’s MS Zuiderdam. I’ll post more about the rest of our adventures later, but this time I’d like to write about wildlife photography from cruise ships.  Here’s one earlier post about this (North to Alaska, Ch. 1: Intro and Wildlife) but it’s a subject worth discussing again.

Our route went by the Bahamas, Aruba, Bonaire, Panama, and Costa Rica.  Many of the animals in these places are only inside zoos in the US.  It’s wonderful to see them wild in their natural habitats.

Sleepy SlothSleepy Sloth – A wild, two-toed sloth napping In the rain forest, along the Tortuguero Canal, near Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. They seem to be common there. We saw three on our tour – although they were hidden in trees and hard to find.

If you’re on vacation with your family,  the main reason for going isn’t wildlife photography, so you’ll have to improvise and stay alert for wildlife photo ops.  Since Lynn and I hadn’t ever been to these places, we took advantage of several “highlight” excursions offered by the cruise line.  The one to the Tortuguero Canal in Costa Rica was especially nice and we enjoyed seeing a variety of flora and fauna.

Masked Booby in flightMasked Booby in flight – These birds were feeding on fish (flying fish, and others) that were stirred up by the ship’s wake

The morning before we arrived in Aruba, we noticed “sea gulls” flying near the ship.  After breakfast I spent a while watching what turned out to be scores of Masked Boobies catching fish stirred up by the ship’s wake.  It was fun to watch (and photograph!).

American FlamingoA wild American / Caribbean Flamingo – Bonaire is famous for its flamingo populations and has one of only four nesting grounds for flamingos in the Caribbean.

On excursions, it’s helpful to have a good guide.  Our Costa Rican guide (Porfilio) was exceptional at seeing and pointing out the wildlife in the canal.  You could tell he liked his job, and we enjoyed our time with him immensely.

Howler MonkeyHowler Monkey – A wild monkey In the rain forest, along the Tortuguero Canal, near Puerto Limon, Costa Rica.

Here are a few pointers if you go on a similar adventure:

  • Do your research ahead of time.  Look into the wildlife that lives in each place.
  • Search for reviews and critiques of the excursions offered and pick ones that give the best photography opportunities.
  • If possible, schedule your excursions for early in the day.  Animals are more active then, and it’s cooler.  I found the Masked Boobies at breakfast and we left for the Tortuguero Canal at 6:30am.
  • Question the guides.  They’re very helpful and can let you know the best place to sit, etc.
  • Have your camera out and ready to go, not in your backpack.  Many times the sightings will be brief, so pay attention and be ready to shoot instantly.
  • The animals will likely be far away and you’ll have to hand hold your shots, so you’ll definitely want a long lens with stabilization.  I used an Olympus E-M1 M4/3 camera and a 200 – 600mm equivalent lens for the photos in this post.

Hard core wildlife photographers will want to spend much longer in places like Costa Rica, but if you’re on a cruise don’t overlook the opportunities.  A few hours in a new place can lead to wonderful memories and unique images.

I’m collecting photos from the cruise in this folder on Flickr.  Please check back as I finish processing and add more.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.