Burgess Falls

This past weekend we visited Burgess Falls State Natural Area. Nothing original here, in fact I had to wait 10 minutes or so while other photographers got this same shot. I only took one shot (the one above) and then switched lenses. When the sun came out there was a rainbow across the falls, but of course once I switched lenses, the sun didn’t come back out. It really was an impressive waterfall, the trails are just too crowded for my liking. Plus, the only good shot you could get of these falls is the same one everyone else has. We took this shot then we went back to the park area to cook out for lunch. After lunch, the kids went to the playground and I went back down the trails. By then, there were tons of people swimming in the water so I never hiked to the bottom because I wouldn’t have wanted a waterfall shot with lots of people in it!
Here are a couple others I got along the way:

This was the stairway leading from the top of the falls to the bottom

And of course, a couple of the kids enjoying the playground:

If you are interested in going to Burgess Falls, check out the map
[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=36.071857,-85.581779&spn=0.16428,0.494385&z=12&output=embed&w=425&h=350]
Fairly easy hikes (my kids made it!) and an impressive waterfall.

Thanks for looking!

This Week at the Lake – 25/52

Nothing too exciting this week. I visited Radnor Lake often, and got tons of deer shots this week. I also switched up my path there, making a loop that’s perfect for my lunch break. Starting in the east parking lot, head down Otter Creek Rd. Take the Lake Trail to the right. After a short distance, the lake trail meets the Ganier Ridge trail. Take that trail up the hill for a little while and then take the spur trail to the right, which heads back to the parking lot. It’s a perfect 30-40 minute hike.

I did this hike on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. There were lots of deer to see along the trail each day. Here is this weeks take:

I was hiding 🙂

a small woodpecker

A great blue heron by the lake shore

A whole lot of green, and a little bit of red

A bird (green heron?) flies across the lake early in the morning

A crazy looking wildflower

Saw this snake on Friday. I also found some snake skin only a few feet away from where he was sun bathing.

Thanks for looking!

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How I did it – Part 4

Another Tutorial! Don’t worry, I’ll get back to the photo posts soon!

I’ve had another request for a tutorial. This time someone would like to see how I convert to black and white. Believe it or not, there are TONS of ways to convert an image to black and white. However, there is one particular method that I use often. I believe I got it from a Scott Kelby photoshop book for CS2 purchased on Ebay. It’s a very easy process that makes for a great action.

Here we go…..
Here is what we are starting with:

Now, this is an HDR image and I am already finished with my normal processing. You can check out my other tutorials to see those steps. So now I decide I’d like to see it in black and white.

First step is to convert the image to LAB mode — Image, Mode, Lab Color:

Next, in the “Layers/Channels/Paths” box, click on the “Channels” tab. You’ll see all the channels are selected, select the “Lightness” channel (which turns the others off)

With the “Lightness” channel selected, we want to convert it to grayscale — Image, Mode, Grayscale

It will ask you if you want to discard the other channels, say yes:

Now, back on the “Layers” tab, do a CTRL+J. This duplicates the layer. Put that top layer in “Multiply” blend mode and adjust the opacity to taste:

And that’s it! Black and white complete. If you write this as an action, leave the opacity at 100%, that way you can adjust it differently for each image you convert.

An alternate to changing the opacity, you could add a layer mask:

and then grab a soft black brush:

And paint the areas that you think are too dark:
(this image shows where I have painted)

Here is the final result:

Now, to answer the question that was posed regarding my First Tutorial. If you’ve read that one, you’ve seen that I often layer a black and white image on top of a color HDR image to make it dark and achieve a dramatic look. When I do that, I do not copy the layer and put it in “Multiply” blend mode. After I convert to grayscale, I copy that layer and paste it on top of my color image.

Hope this provides some useful information.

Here are some helpful links for learning more about Photoshop:

Photoshop Support Group
Photoshop Tutorials by Allan Gengler
Actions by Allan Gengler
CoffeeShop Actions

How I Did It – Part 3

I had a request from a fellow photographer for a “How I Did It” post. For this tutorial, I’ll show you everything I did to turn this:

into this


Once again, this is an HDR or High Dynamic Range Image. To create an HDR image you need to take multiple exposures (usually 3 but can be us many as you want) of the same scene.

To do this, I put the camera mode in Aperture Priority and set the auto bracket to (-2, 0, +2). This will make the camera take 3 consecutive shots, one exposed properly, one underexposed by 2 stops, and one overexposed by 2 stops.

Here are the 3 shots with their exposure values:

0 ev 0.6 seconds @ f/8

-2 ev 1/6 seconds @ f/8

+2 ev 2.5 seconds @ f/8

Always ISO 100 and always a tripod when shooting HDR

These 3 images are opened directly into Photomatix. I use Photomatix for all of my HDR’s. If you are interested in buying Photomatix, use the coupon code “malcolmphoto” for a 15% discount! It’s already at a great price ($99) and even better with the discount.
You are then presented with “Generate HDR – Options” – here is what I choose:

I always use the “Details Enhancer” option. Here are my settings there:

It’s important to remember that while I used these settings on this image, they may be completely different for my next image. You really need to play with the sliders and get a feel for what they do to your image. Then you can make adjustments that suit your taste. It’s also important to remember that is doesn’t stop here! There are many things that need to be corrected/adjusted in photoshop.

At this point I save it as a .tiff and head to photoshop……….


Now we are in Photoshop, here is what we have

Not too bad as it is, but could look a lot better!

As in my other tutorials, I start off with a levels adjustment:

I found that this adjustment blew out the Joe’s Crabshack sign so I grabbed a black brush and painted over the areas (on the layer mask) that got too bright. This image shows where I painted:

By doing this, you are applying the levels layer to the entire image EXCEPT where you painted on the layer mask.

Next I’ll do a curves adjustment layer:

Next is one of my favorite adjustments to do, a slight color balance adjustment for the shadows and highlights:

You can see I click the “shadows” dial and set it to -5, 0, +5. This adds a bluish tone to the shadows. In the case of this image, I also did the same adjustment to the “Highlights” dial. This helps get rid of some of the reddish, orange colors.

Next I did a saturation adjustment layer where I desaturated the yellows.

Again, I didn’t like what this did to the sign so I painted on the layer mask with black in these areas:

Now I do a “Stamp Visual” or CTRL-SHFT-ALT-E. This adds a new layer at the top of all the previous adjustment layers.
On this layer I run an Unsharpen Mask

Normally at this point I would run a noise reduction software, however, on this particular image I did not mind the noise. It’s a dark image (certainly a lot darker than an HDR could have been) but I liked it that way. This is because I wanted the big Joe’s Crabshack sign to be the focal point. I actually set the 0ev exposure for the sign. I knew it would be a dark image overall but that is what I wanted.

So, that’s it!
Here is out final result:

Thanks for looking! I hope you found this helpful. Please ask questions if you have them, I’ll try by best to answer.

If you want to know “How I Did It” for any photo on my flickr photostream, leave me a comment on this page or send me a flickr mail. I’ll be glad to make it my next “How I Did It” entry!

Also, as I mentioned in my first How I did It post, here are some helpful links for learning more about HDR:
Stuck in Customs
HDR Exposed
HDR (a flickr group)
Tutorial Collection at My First HDR flickr group

Helpful links for learning more about Photoshop:
Photoshop Support Group
Photoshop Tutorials by Allan Gengler
Actions by Allan Gengler
CoffeeShop Actions

This Week at the Lake – 24/52

Lot’s of photos this week! I visited Radnor Lake in Nashville Tennessee on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Wednesday morning was rainy, so I walked down Otter Creek Rd. I headed to one of the best spots at the park to get a lakescape. I’ve got shots from this spot on Week 13, and Week 16, and Week 19. This time it was different with the dark rain clouds:

Heading back to the car, I got this shot right before it really started raining hard:

I went Thursday mid-day. The temperature and humidity have dropped considerably from last week, as you can see from this photo with the nice blue sky and fluffy clouds:

Then I went Friday early morning. I started off heading to the spot that I got shots for Week 15 and Wee 22 and I got this:

While setting up for this shot, I heard a loud crash maybe 10 feet away. I look over and there is a young buck staring at me. Then another comes to the shore and then some does arrive. I snapped this shot and then backed up from the shore and switched lenses. I’ve been looking forward to the fall, hoping I could get some shots of bucks. These may not be very impressive bucks but they are certainly the best I’ve seen so far. I ended up following them along the trail for nearly a mile, grabbing many shots:

This is one of the does

Got the idea for this shot from a Matt Hansen photo. I’m not sure I pulled it off nearly as well as he but I still liked it.

Loved this one too!

Last one!

On the way back to the car I stopped at the dam where I usually see green herons. Sure enough there was one there, I only grabbed a couple shots before he was scared off by other walkers:

Thanks for looking!

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Murfree Springs Wetlands – The Water Lilies

Seems like every time I’m at the Discovery Center in Murfreesboro, the water lilies are closed. I haven’t caught them open all summer. Do they close every evening?

Here is my small collection of (closed) water lilies:

Thanks for looking!

This Week at the Lake – 23/52

I struggled to pick a lead photo this week. I like the photos I got this week but nothing really seemed to pop.

I started the week of at the lake on a Tuesday lunch time visit. It was about 100 degrees though so I did not stay long. I saw an owl on the side of the road on the way in but was unable to get a shot of him. The only thing I got in Tuesday was this:

On Thursday I went before work. Usually I get a lot of photos when I visit in the morning, however, that morning I did not get much. I came across a doe and fawn but it was 6am and dark in the woods. Everything came out blurry. The only shot I liked from that day was this one:

On Friday, I dropped my son off at school. I wanted to be there to pick him up so I took the day off rather than go to work for only a few hours. So, with my son in school and my daughter in daycare, my wife and I headed to the lake. We hiked the lake trail and took the south lake trail back to make a loop. It was the first time I’d hiked the south lake trail.

We saw an owl…

The background in this is awesome!

The fawns are getting big and losing their spots…

In the middle of the woods, there is a bench with a plaque that says “Play Ball”…. I don’t get it. This was on the South Lake Trail

Another week down! I would like for it to cool down some but that gets me thinking about winter – I’m not sure how I’ll make it through winter….

Thanks for looking!

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The First Day of School!

Today is my sons first day of school…..EVER! I’ll be dropping him off for Kindergarten this morning. He’s a little worried about it but I’m sure he’ll enjoy it.

He and I went to his school last weekend to get some photos.

Murfree Springs Wetlands – The Ducks

More for my Murfree Springs Wetlands series. The last post for this series featured the Night Herons that can be found there, this post will feature the Ducks!

All these shots were taken this summer at the Murfree Springs Wetlands, in Murfreesboro Tennessee

Thanks for looking!

Lemonade Splash!

I’ve seen some really great “Cookie Splash” shots on flickr and I’ve been wanting to try it.

Now, I don’t drink coffee (or even own a coffee cup) so I had to think of something else. Being so hot lately, I decided on using a nice refreshing glass of Lemonade.

I also don’t even own a flash, so I had to do it outside in the sun to get the fast shutter speed.

I really liked the splash on this one but I wish there wasn’t so much motion blur. After this shot I upped the iso to get an even faster shutter speed (from 1/2000 to 1/4000)

This was my last attempt, I actually threw the lemon into the glass (instead of dropping) to try to get a huge splash – The lemonade shot straight up

I really had fun with these – I’ll probably be doing more soon!

The settings for these shots are virtually the same
Exposure: 1/4000s at f2.8
ISO: 400
Focal Length: 108mm (far enough away to not get splash on the lens!)
Put the camera on a tripod, set it to “Burst” mode (In this case I did a 6 shot burst)
Hold the drop item over the glass, when the burst starts drop or throw the item into the glass – easy as that!