Happy Hunting Harrier Sequel: 6 Departure and Epilogue

comments 20
California / Nature / Photo Log / Photography / Wildlife


She flew off to try her luck further down the levee. We tracked her as far as we could see — far out of camera range — till she dove behind the next levee and disappeared.

For a few minutes.

Then she took off from the far side, rose over high the levee, kited, and dropped like a stone. A moment later she rose again, this time with her prey.

That was her Thanksgiving dinner.

And we went home to prepare ours.

(Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR zoom. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.0; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Happy Hunting Harrier Sequel: 1 Approach

comments 15
California / Photo Log / Photography / Wildlife


November 28, 2018 — Baylands, Sunnyvale, California

On Thanksgiving morning — a year ago — she and I took a walk on the levees to see what we could see. I had The Beast (Nikon D500 with 200-500mm lens — all eight pounds of it) in case we saw birds. And we did. I posted it on my brand new blog.

The past Thanksgiving we took the same walk with the same camera. And again, there was a northern harrier looking for a meal. Over the next few days, you’ll see what we saw.

(Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR zoom. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.0; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

The Solitary Search, With an Object Lesson

comments 19
California / Photo Log / Photography / Seascapes


November 27, 2019 — San Mateo County Coast

It was a dark and stormy day; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the bluffs (for it is on the San Mateo County coast that our scene lies), attempting to remove his hat, but barely agitating the stubborn photographer who hand-held against all odds…

Days later, through one of the obscurest quarters of his archive drive, and among outtakes little loved in the first cut, the photographer, evidently scraping the bottom, was wending his solitary way.

He stopped twice or thrice at different RAW files of a description correspondent with the appearance of the image he sought, and tended inquiry for some photo or another which did not seem easily to be met with. All the answers he received were couched in the negative; and as he turned from each frame he muttered to himself, in no very elegant phraseology, his disappointment and discontent.

When all seemed lost and the final oath was spat from his lips, he came across an artifact that had been overlooked, assumed meager, but on fourth look became a prize.

With patient development he brought forth the view you see here, not presented as a painting — as with an earlier image — but still with drama suiting the moment of acquisition, it is humbly offered, a testament that treasures can be buried deep.

Yr. obt. svt.,


(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.0; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Curtain Call

comments 14
California / Impressionism / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography


November 27, 2019 — San Mateo County Coast

The storm was on its way out, heading east to make headlines. This was its last hurrah; clear sky was visible through the last squall.

I’ve mentioned that many (most?) of my influences worked in paint, not pixels. Chief among them is JMW Turner. To me, his later work changed the world of art definitively — to me, he is the father of Impressionism.

Toward the end of August, my wife and I wandered the Turner galleries at the Tate in London. It was like swimming in Turner. I basked. I marveled. I studied from across the room and from inches away. I came out drenched.

A few days later, we were in St. Paul’s Cathedral. As I stood among the tombs, I thought that Turner must be buried nearby. I looked down in deep thought, and what did I see beneath my feet? JMW Turner.

This image unabashedly shows some of Turner’s influence. I used a post-processing technique I developed several years ago, but haven’t used so explicitly for quite a while. It just seemed right for this image.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.0; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Thankful Thursday

comments 26
California / Impressionism / Inspiration / Monochrome / Photo Log / Photography / Seascapes


May 8, 2015. Devil’s Slide, near Pacifica, California / November 27, 2019. Silicon Valley. Devil’s Slide revisited. Again. I sat at the computer today, looking forward by looking back. The image whispered, “noir” and I went under its spell. I’d have been a fool not to.

A strange image for Thanksgiving, but it it’s from a favorite shoot — for which I am thankful.

And I am thankful to all who visit, follow, read, view, and comment.

Happy Thanksgiving.

(Nikon D750; Nikon 28-300 f/3.5-5.6G Zoom. RAW processing in DxO Pro; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

For more Seascape Horizons, see www.amagaphoto.com

Try, Try Again

comments 25
California / Inspiration / Photography / Seascapes


April 6, 2013 — Sonoma coast. November 21, 2019 — Silicon Valley

What struck me about this scene was the texture of the water below the creamy sky. It still strikes me.

What struck me about the Sony RX100 was the notion of getting exhibition-sized prints out of a pocket camera. That notion stopped striking me years ago. The sticker on the front of the camera quietly proclaims Zeiss Optics. Zeiss. That means quality. Not so much — at least not in this case. The lens exhibited glaring chromatic aberration toward the edges. It’s as if its advertising tagline was, “You can have anything you want as long as it’s magenta.”*

What I got with this shot was a file with beautiful subtle tones in the center and an ever-increasing magenta cast toward the edges. Not what I had in mind.

I’ve tried post-processing this image half a dozen times over the years with no success. The magenta refused to die without ruining the subtlety of the rest of the scene.

I just tried again with the newly released DxO PhotoLab 3.0. Success. Here’s the thing: Although it doesn’t look like it, this is a color picture. The color is subliminal, but it’s there. I could have finished this years ago if I’d wanted pure monochrome — just kill all the color — but I didn’t want monochrome. So no win. Until today.

At long last, here it is.

And now you know the rest of the story.

(Sony RX100. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.0; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

* The newer versions are reportedly much better. But I’ve long since switched to Canon for my pocket camera.

Based on a True Story

comments 16
California / Landscape / Photo Log / Photography / Point Reyes / Sunset


November 16, 2019 — Blue hour, Point Reyes National Seashore

How many movies have you seen that were “based on a true story” or “based on historical events”?

This is based on an actual blue hour as seen from the south end of the Point Reyes Peninsula, looking north.

(Canon G5X II. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.0; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Breaking the Rules

comments 17
Abstract / Impressionism / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography


October 11, 2019 — Seat 14 F, Somewhere Over Texas

Rules exist for a reason. Rules are normally based on how things work, perhaps with a measure of caution dialed on for safety’s sake. It’s good to know the rules. It’s better still to know how things work.

Following the rules without exception can lead to creative imprisonment. Knowing how and when to bend, break, or utterly ignore them altogether because you understand the underlying reasons for them — technical and aesthetic — allows you to throw the shackles off without killing your shot, and often making it even better.

Rule: It is not safe to enlarge bitmap images. Hmmmmm… Sometimes yes, sometime no. It is true that it’s difficult to enlarge very detailed images without mushing details. Actually, the latest version of Photoshop does pretty well and Topaz AI Gigapixel can sometimes do an amazing job — but even with these, details can and do suffer. But this image has no details to speak of to begin with, so it can be dramatically enlarged: it started as a tiny crop of about 1/200 of the original 20 megapixel image. Practically just a speck. The original crop was about 380 x 300 pixels at most. Now it’s 1800 x 1440 and it could easily go way larger.

Rule: Noisy images are undesirable. Who says? I didn’t use all the noise reduction I had at my disposal because I liked noise in this shot.

Rule: Banding is bad. Depends. Granted — banding across a pure sky does look pretty bad. But banding in this image was intentional, giving it a bit of an impressionist feel.

In the end, the best rule is what you can get away with.

(Canon G5X II. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.0; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)