It’s a. . .

comments 36
California / Impressionism / Inspiration / Monochrome / Photo Log / Photography

_DSC2103_DxO11FC1Blog

November 10, 2019 — Wright’s Lake, California

Whatever it is, it feels no pain and it never cries. It spends a lot of time reflecting.

What do you do when you go out on your first shoot in several weeks and you’re not satisfied with your take? You crop ruthlessly and improvise in post-processing.

(Nikon D500, Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.0; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Landing

comments 42
California / Hawk / Nature / Photo Log / Photography / Point Reyes / Wildlife

DSC_8045_DxO11FC1Blog

December 8, 2018 — Point Reyes National Seashore

Mr. Red Tail sat on a rock about fifty yards down a ravine, in perfect view but with his back to the camera. I waited. And waited.

With scant warning he took flight, heading out to sea before turning a tight one-eighty and coming right at me. No. Not at me. At his next perch.

He picked his spot. Flared. And grabbed his rock. He gave me not one look.

DSC_8046_DxO11FCBlog

(Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR zoom. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.2; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

AMAGA Blog — Just a Year Ago Today

comments 36
Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography

IMG_0426FC1

November 5, 2019 — Home. It was just a year ago today / Mike, he taught the WordPress to play. / It’ll never go out of style / Still guaranteed to raise a smile.

Posts: 114. Views: 8,221. Visitors: 3,477. Followers: Quantity more than made up for by quality.

Click along with me as I look back before continuing into the second year.

The first post, on November 5, 2018, was titled Moving Forward. It’s the only one where neither photo is mine. (Grabbed from the Internet, they were.) It states the purpose of the blog and that purpose remains as it was and evermore shall be. It stresses my love of simplicity, and as time has gone on, that has become more and more the case.

1A02The second post marked the first entry of a photo log (a time machine was involved, the first of many such occasions) and goes further into answering the question, “how’d you get this way?” It also features one of my most minimalist images ever.

 

1A03Post number four was the only one of its kind — a discussion (with visual aids) about performance photography. For about five years I did the performance shots for El Dorado Musical Theatre, a (youth) musical theater group based in El Dorado Hills, California. “Youth” is in parenthesis because, despite the fact that the casts are made up of people ranging in age from seven to twenty, the quality is equal to or better than professional Broadway road shows I’ve seen. The shoots were a routine: shooting dress rehearsal on Thursday afternoon and evening and then pulling an all-nighter choosing editing the best thirty of about 2,500 shots, in time for rush printing and putting them up in the lobby for opening night on Friday. This is one of two posts that prove that I can take pictures of people. Can you find the other one?

1A04The very next post the was first of many wildlife shots — actually a series of five shots taken in the span of seven seconds. In the course of researching the copy for the post I learned that she (definitely she) is a Northern Harrier, not a hawk, and that Northern Harriers hunt by a keen sense of hearing as well as sight. Photography breeds ornithology. And a physical fitness program: camera and lens, together referred to as “the beast,” weigh eight pounds.

1A05On Christmas Eve, 2018, I posted what was to be the first of many explorations of ICM — Intentional Camera Movement. I also supplied the etymology of the word, “abstract.” No extra charge.

 

 

1A06The month of March was marred by the wanton slaughter of fifty Muslim worshipers in Christchurch, New Zealand. New Zealand is by statistic one of the most peaceful counties in the world. This is a photography website, not a political one, but I had to say something. To my surprise, this post was reblogged and linked several times and was seen in about thirty counties.

1A07Two days later, I had to say more. This was spread around too, and the message needs to be spread around even more.

 

 

1A11For a complete change of pace, on April first I posted a gag photo — except everyone thought it was real. Oops. This is why Photoshop has become a verb. A few days later I posted an addendum, because I couldn’t have people thinking that Highway 1 actually does that. It doesn’t exactly do that…

 

1A08Fast forward to the end of May. This was part of a series of abstracts that don’t use ICM. A stretching exercise. Stretching is good. Encourages more stretching.

 

 

1A09July 1. The first of many ICMs that include streaks. I was thinking of one my mentors who advised me to embrace changing conditions and things that seem to go counter to my original intention and use them as an invitation to greater creativity. In this case, I didn’t want anything unnatural in my shots. But, with apologies to James Brown, man made the electric lights / to give the image a spark.

1A10October. Deep into abstract territory, following the words of another mentor who said that if conditions aren’t right, use what you have in front of you and be creative. (Is there an echo in here?)

Along the way, there were quite a few flowers. Here, for instance. And here.

October was rich with abstracts, but in the next few days I’ll move on to other not-so-abstract photography. Because, contrary to recent posts, abstract is not all I do.

Thanks to all for your valuable comments, kind words, and humor.

On with the show.

A splendid time is guaranteed for all…

Mike

(Screen shots made on a 10.5 inch iPad Pro, edited in Photoshop.)

Abstract Series LT919-A 7 — A Touch of Grey

comments 32
Abstract / Impressionism / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography

_DSC9301_1_DxO11FC1Blog

September 7, 2019 — Lake Tahoe. f/16, 4 seconds, ISO 64. Pan to the left.

After a brief hiatus, one more. This is not too different from what originally emerged from the camera — but a bit reduced in vibrancy as a salute to Jerry and Robert who were somewhat minimalist themselves at times.

Coming up on a year in the blogosphere. Thinking of a suitable celebration. Stay tuned…

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

For more abstracts, go to www.amagaphoto.com.

Abstract Series LT919-A 6 — You Say You Want an Evolution

comments 48
Abstract / California / Impressionism / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography

_DSC9298_2_DxO11-4FC1Blog

September 7, 2019 — Lake Tahoe. f/16, 4 seconds, ISO 64. Pan to the left.

This is the longest uninterrupted series I’ve done so far on this blog. Your comments have been interesting, informative, and gratifying. A number of people have asked in comments, email, and in person, to see a “before” image.

I don’t usually like to discuss technique because I think it’s potentially limiting: I don’t want it to come off as “do it this way.” So if this interests you, please look at it as “Here’s how I happened to go about it this time. If you try something like this, your process and mileage may vary.” The key thing is, all of this is experimental and if/when I come back to these images for another try, I’ll almost certainly do something different.

Here’s what came out of the camera: 14-bit NEF (Nikon RAW) file. What you see is what I got:

_DSC9298_2_DxO11Blog

First step was to straighten the horizon — because what good is a horizon shot with an off-kilter horizon?* I also used a healing tool to remove sensor spots because — shame on me — I didn’t clean my sensor before going out to shoot. By the way, all of these steps were done in DxO PhotoLab, up till the very last step which was done in Photoshop. DxO PhotoLab is similar in function to LightRoom. I’ve been using it for years; I’m familiar with it and I like it.

I noticed some interesting texture on the horizon, so I tried bringing it out by increasing Microcontrast. (Microcontrast is similar in function to Clarity in LightRoom and Adobe Camera Raw.) It brought out the texture just fine. It also shouted out some already visible artifacts of boats that were anchored in the water and I don’t want no stinkin’ boats in my image! You’ll see them as darker streaks if you look at the middle of the image, left of center:

_DSC9298_2_DxO11-1Blog

At this point I realized that this would be a good companion piece — at least in concept — to the image in my last post,** and that bringing the Microcontrast down would soften the overall image and blur the boats out.

Still in keeping with the last post’s image, I brought the exposure up 1.3 stops to make it delicately high-key. At the same time, I reduced both vibrancy and saturation by 20% each to be left with just a hint of color. I also applied very subtle graduated filters to the top and bottom and slightly reduced the exposure of each to better frame the horizon itself. As a last step I over-sharpened the overall image (unsharp mask) to emphasize the light streak and to recover just a little bit of texture for interest:

_DSC9298_2_DxO11-3Blog

Finally I exported the image from DxO as a 16-bit tiff and brought it into Photoshop to give it a 16×9 crop, reduce the image size for the blog, and output it as 8-bit sRGB jpg. And Bob’s your uncle:

_DSC9298_2_DxO11-4FC1Blog

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3; Final editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

For more abstracts, go to www.amagaphoto.com.

* In many of these images, the horizon is ambiguous. What exactly is the horizon? In this case I used the light streak as a guide.

** They were exposed only a minute apart.

Abstract Series LT919-A 5 — Nonobvious

comments 12
Abstract / California / Landscape / Photo Log / Photography / Sunset

_DSC9296_DxO11FC1Blog

September 7, 2019 — Lake Tahoe. Earlier in the evening. f/16, 3 seconds, ISO 64. Pan to the left.

In the past few days, many words on the subject of going in the nonobvious direction have passed through my eyes. Aside from being interesting advice for life, photographically this applies to both the initial creation of the image — click — and to the post-processing of the image.

A recurring theme for me has been playing with how far can I take something away from fine definition and still retain and enhance the essence of what is there. Or what I see is there.

Abstract comes from Latin abstractus “drawn away,” past participle of abstrahere “to drag away, detach, pull away, divert.”

Intentional camera movement already draws away from a faithful representation of what occurred in nature. It does this literally: you pull the camera away from it. Then what’s left? Form, light, color. And then?

Draw further way. There is richness in the nonobvious.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

For more abstracts, go to www.amagaphoto.com.

PS: WordPress’s color rendition might alter the delicacy of my end result. I hope not. In any case, each image in this series wants to be eight feet wide on a wall.

PPS: Never did think of Monet. Nor Turner. Nor Rothko. Not once.

Abstract Series LT919-A 4 — Embraceable Lights

comments 21
Abstract / California / Impressionism / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography

_DSC9333_DxO11FC1Blog

September 7, 2019 — Lake Tahoe. Getting even later. Getting even darker. Still at f/10. Now 15 seconds at ISO 64. Pan to the left and back to the right with a twist.

Luke’s mentor advised him to use the Force. My mentors have advised me to embrace and use the conditions before me.

There were lights before me.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

For more abstracts, go to www.amagaphoto.com.

Abstract Series LT919-A 3

comments 22
Abstract / California / Impressionism / Landscape / Photo Log / Photography

_DSC9331_DxO11Blog

September 7, 2019 — Lake Tahoe. Getting later. Getting darker. I opened up to f/10 to let in a little more light, and let it go for 10 seconds at ISO 64. Click. Slow pan to the left and back to the right. Clack.

In dealing with abstracts, all of the hard-and-fast “rules” go out the window. The only consideration left in post-processing is “what do I want to show?” Something in the image suggests a direction and I explore it. Other things reveal themselves along the way. The paths often branch out, inviting more exploration. I can save out as many options as I want. They’re all equally valid.

But in the end, one stands out.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

For more abstracts, go to www.amagaphoto.com.

Abstract Series LT919-A 2

comments 21
Abstract / California / Impressionism / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography

_DSC9304_DxO11FC1Blog

September 7, 2019 — Lake Tahoe. Second evening. Five second exposure, f/16, ISO 64. Yesterday’s post was almost exactly what came out of the camera. A bit of color optimization, removing a tiny bit of extraneous light on the left, and a 16×9 crop. That was it.

Today’s image, on the other hand, received extensive tweaking, first in DxO PhotoLab and then in Photoshop. Most of the work went into bringing out the subtle color and tone gradations along the darker horizon band while balancing on the too much/too little tightrope. And after all that, it still looks very much like what came out of the camera.

I’ve been devouring Bruce Percy’s brand new e-book, The Creative Process. I unabashedly acknowledge that he is an influence, as are many others — with JMW Turner at the top of the list.

There are more coming. I do appreciate your comments. They inform the process more than you may know.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

For more abstracts, go to www.amagaphoto.com.

Abstract Series LT919-A 1

comments 24
Abstract / California / Photo Log / Photography

_DSC9269_DxO11FC1Blog

September 6, 2019 — Lake Tahoe. The sun was down and the conditions were perfect for some ICM (Intentional Camera Movement) work looking across and around the lake. As the evening progressed, the shutter speeds declined. This one was made towards the end of the first night of spin: f/16 @ 8 seconds, ISO 64.

This series is a test of my ruthlessness as an editor/curator. More to come.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

For more abstracts, go to www.amagaphoto.com.

Palate Cleanser

comments 27
Abstract / California / Impressionism / Photo Log / Photography

DSC_7915_DxO11DrkFC1-8Blog

May 8, 2015. Devil’s Slide, near Pacifica, California. For Chewy’s Birthday walk, we settled on two places: Land’s End in San Francisco and Devil’s slide. Chewy always loved the sea breeze.

Highway 1 had years prior been routed through a tunnel at Devil’s Slide (that portion having lived up to its name far too often), leaving the old Highway 1 free to be used as a park with long stretches for Chewy to run and unobstructed views of the horizon for me and Mr. Nikon to soak up.

DSC_7997_DxO10FCBlog

The boy had a great run — you can see him comin’ to papa — while the horizon had something special for me. Later in Photoshop, I had something special for it, too. As I worked away, Chewy lay next to me dreaming of the sea breeze blowing through his hair.

This post is a break before we go deep into AbstractLand. It might be a bit of a clue as to what’s to come. Sort of.

(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

Switzerland, August 6 One More Time

comments 19
Impressionism / Inspiration / Landscape / Photo Log / Photography / Switzerland

IMG_8177_DxO11FC1Blog

August 6, 2019; Vevey, Switzerland. I promised another shot from this dizzying, dazzling, drenching day and here it is. Looking south from Vevey, twenty-three minutes after the first shot posted on August 7, facing the same direction. As the weather speculators are fond of saying, “rapidly changing conditions.”

Quite a few pixels had their lives subtly but permanently altered on this one — all for a good cause.

 (Canon G7X II. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3, Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

East Sussex, August 25: Haven Brow — Dark Motion on a Sunny Day

comments 19
Abstract / Impressionism / Inspiration / Photography / Seascapes

_DSC9163_DxO11FC1Blog

August 25, 2019; Cuckmere Haven, The Seven Sisters, East Sussex. This is a follow-on to yesterday’s post. The day was such that we came to be standing quite happily knee-deep in the English Channel doing ICM (Intentional Camera Movement) shots of the water (yesterday) and the cliff named Haven Brow, which you see a vestige of above. Both shots are processed to a fare-thee-well — and done so with wild abandon equal to the shot iteslf, I might add.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

For more abstracts, go to www.amagaphoto.com.

Switzerland, August 6 Revisited

comments 42
Impressionism / Landscape / Photo Log / Photography / Switzerland

IMG_8086_DxO11FC1Blog

August 6, 2019; Vevey, Switzerland. While archiving shots from Europe, I came across this gem. It harkens back to the August 7 post. It was taken about two hours before the blue one near the bottom of that post. It pays to go back over old shoots: I’m still discovering work from that trip. There are more images of this magic two and a half hours and you may well see some in the future.

One of my all-time favorite color combinations is a green leaf against a grey sky. Subtle though it may be, this one does it with water. Unfortunately, WordPress seems to dull colors, so the green is not so apparent in this rendition.

I was thinking of JMW Turner during post-processing.

 (Canon G7X II. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3, Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)