Sunday, April 29, 2012


85mm, ISO 100, f/8, 1/80 second
  When I bought my Rebel XS, part of the kit that came with it was a Zeikos lens attachment that was both a wide angle/macro attachment. I was never very fond of the wide angle part of the attachment but I always enjoyed using the macro part of the device.
  The attachment screws onto the end of a 58mm diameter lens just like a filter would. A few months ago I sold my Tamron 28-80 lens which is what I used to attach the macro to. Today, it dawned on me that my Canon 85mm 1.8 USM lens was a 58mm so I dug out the attachment, fastened it to the 85mm lens and went to work on my wife's miniature rose bush.
  One thing I had completely forgotten was that it was terribly difficult to capture pics with this attachment hand held. You have a small window that you have to move into to proper focus and when you are bent over looking down, it can get extremely hard to keep in this window. Needless to say, the first set of images I took were out of focus and disappointing.
  This afternoon, I pulled out the tripod and gave it another shot. Even though it took some effort to move the tripod around and into position, it was a whole lot easier than bending over and hand holding. I got two or three images that I really liked.
  The image today was quickly processed in Photoshop Elements and then imported into OnOne Software's Perfect Effects 3 Free package.  I applied the Dreamland effect with the Sloppy Joe border to the image and I really liked what turned out. It almost cast a abstract effect on the image combined with the tight layers of petals.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


19mm, ISO 400, f/11, 0.6 seconds
  Jocy and I hiked into the Bald River Gorge in the Cherokee National Forest today. When we got back to the Suislides approximately 1/4 mile into the gorge, Jocy found and pointed out an Eddy swirl forming right next to the falls.
  I immediately started setting up and firing off shots. The toughest part about shooting here was that getting a normal eddy usually requires 8 second shutter speeds. Most of the shots I was taking were completely blowing out the highlights at 1.5 seconds so I thought capturing this eddy was going to be difficult.
  I then took the ND filter off the lens and found out that with just the polarizer on lens and at normal 1/2 second speeds I could actually catch the eddy better than I did at the longer shutters.
  Pieced two images together in Photoshop Elements and then imported into Photomatix Essentials to capture details in the water.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


ISO 100, f/14, 1/4 second, 19mm, 3 image HDR @ -2
  This morning was a banner morning in Vonore, TN. After I dropped my daughter off at school I had enough time to drive to a close spot next to a bridge that spans Tellico Lake and capture a spectacular sunrise. Granted, I was about 20 minutes too late to catch the peak color of the morning but the clouds created enough blockage of the sun to make for some fantastic light even after it made it's way over the horizon.
  For those of you who are familiar with Vonore, this is just past the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum and at the very beginning of a small causeway. There are parking areas on each side of the road here right where the guard rails begin and on the northern side of the road there is a trail that allows you walk right over the water tunnel that lets boats pass through. This spot gives you a great view of the lake and in the mornings the sun rises right over the distant mountains to the east.
  This causeway blocks the wind in the mornings and allows for a calm lake and some great reflections as well.
  This morning was no exception and when I got to the end of the trail, there were these lovely purple wild flowers blooming right in front of me and they made for some great foreground elements. I bracketed the scene between two tall trees and Mother Nature provided the rest.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


22mm, ISO 100, f/14, 1/4 second
  Don't know if these are truly Daisies or not, but they sure did look like them all over the shoreline along Tellico Lake in Vonore, TN.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


ISO 100, 24mm, f/14, 1/50 second, 3 Exposure HDR @ -2 EV
  One of my favorite things about spring is the cool nights followed by the warm days. This produces morning fog that rises as the sun and temperatures do.
  Last week, as I was going to work, the fog was not disappointing and even though the sun had already cleared the horizon, I was very eager to catch a photograph.
  These pair of trees that sit at the lake's edge right in front of my workplace stand very tall so I positioned myself to catch a silhouette of them but still try to capture a sunburst peaking through the branches. I lucked out in that I also pulled a series of sunbursts on the sun's reflection in the water through the separation of the two trees trunks.
  The tree's ominous shadow provided a neat lead into the frame and also spanned the entire width of the shot.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


ISO 100, f/16, 1/4 second, 19mm
  Sometimes the simplest of compositions can be the most compelling images. Just capturing a simple reflection on the river with these two rocks in the foreground is a very satisfying image to me. You can see the blue sky reflect in the foreground and the opposing mountainside reflecting the rest of the way through the water. This shows just how great the reflected light was on Saturday.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 100, f/14, 0.6 seconds
  I can't count how many times I have been to Bald River Falls or the number of photographs that I have taken here. It is probably the most recognizable geographic feature of Monroe County and the Cherokee National Forest. At 90 feet tall and a constant, heavy flow of water, it is as picturesque a waterfall as there is in the Eastern US.
  The trouble with Bald River Falls is finding an angle that nobody has shot from. Back in July of last year I got what I think was a unique picture in my blog post ROCKIN' THE FALLS. Other than my buddy Tim Owen's shot from just to the left of where I was, I have never seen a shot of the falls from that angle.
  Last Saturday, my daughter Jocy and I found ourselves right back there and it was one of the few times I have been there in the early evening around 4:30. There was a lot of bright sunshine which usually doesn't lend itself to the longer shutter speeds that are necessary to get that silky look to the water.
  I solved this by climbing under the bridge that passes right in front of the falls and setting up in the shade and also using a foreground element, a large rock, that was in the shade. By metering and focusing on the rock I achieved the exposure I wanted but had to deal with the contrasting range of light from the shaded foreground to the extremely bright background.  HDR to the rescue!
  Knowing that Photomatix Essentials could process this and get the dynamic range I wanted, I bracketed all my shots at -/+2 EV.  Between adjusting in Essentials and Photoshop Elements, I had the natural look I was after with the entire image exposed from front to back.
  Think I may have made my favorite Bald River Falls image.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 20mm, ISO 100, f/16, 1/83 second
  I used my lunchtime today to run over the Highway 322 between Vonore & Sweetwater, TN where I knew this barn had a huge bunch of yellow flowers blooming just in front of it.  I had to maneuver myself around a barbed wire fence to get an angle low enough to place the yellow flowers up front and close in the foreground.
  There was a very stiff wind blowing and the flowers were moving and flowing from it which is why some are blurry right up close.
  As I was framing up the shot a pair of horses came rumbling around from behind the barn and stopped dead in their tracks when they saw me. They were inquisitive but didn't come any closer to me. This was fortuitous because they provided a neat element in front of the barn and by the time I actually tripped the shutter, another white horsed poked it's head out from the doorway of the barn and got in the picture as well.
  Due to the harsh light at noontime, I bracketed all my shots and then processed in Photomatix Essentials before general processing in Photoshop Elements.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 100, f/20,1/4 second, 3 image Panorama
  As I mentioned in the last post, the reflections along the river on Saturday were outstanding. Right before Jocy and I set out back home I happened to turn around and look downstream from the waterfall I was shooting and saw this view.
  The sunlight was striking the green trees in the distant background and creating this awesome reflection all the way back up to this rock that looked like it was pointing me right to the light. Would have loved to get a vantage point directly behind this rock but the water was just too deep so I framed it in the bottom right corner as a lead into the frame.
  Bracketed 3 images and stitched them together in Photoshop Elements Photomerge Panorama. I then processed them slightly in Photomatix Essentials to try and even out the light from foreground to background.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 20mm, ISO 100, f/14, 1/4 second
  This afternoon was as pretty a day as anyone could've asked for. Bright sunshine, blue skies with soft white clouds, and 78 degrees.
  With my wife out of town, my son out with friends, it was just Jocy and me at the house. I asked her if she wanted to go out to the Cherokee National Forest and take some pictures. With it warm enough for her to get her feet wet she definitely gave her approval.
  We ended up just past Baby Falls on River Rd shooting at a beautiful waterfall that is split down the middle by a huge rock cropping. I have been at this location before but just not in the afternoon. With the late afternoon sunlight the opportunities for reflections were all over the place.  At this waterfall there were several "pools" in these rocks where the water has dug out bowls in the rocks. These pools were reflecting the tree line from the opposing shore wonderfully and I just had to find an angle that I liked. I positioned myself where the largest of this group was directly in front of me and tried to exaggerate it low and up front in the frame with the rest leading the eye back to the left side of the waterfall.


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Canon 50mm 1.8 II lens, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/125 second
  This morning I was walking around the yard looking at my wife Melissa's several groupings of plants and flowers around the yard. I came her miniature rose bush that sits right next to the drive way up against our garage.
  This month we will be married 17 years and this is the first rose bush that I can remember her having. Don't know why. It just is. Maybe she just doesn't like how a rose bush takes over and spreads all over. This particular bush has grown quite a bit since she planted it last spring.
  One thing I noticed when I looked at this bush this morning was that the first flower of the year was blooming on it. Beings that it was a miniature, this flower looked so cute because it was so small compared to the rest of the bush. I had to take a picture of it. The shade from the garage created a perfect even light to catch the contrast of the dark green leaves against the bright beautiful rose.
  After general processing in Photoshop Elements, I imported into OnOne Software's Perfect Effects 3 Free and applied the Brownie effect and neat border. It is the first time I have used this software and I think it really helped make it pop.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19 mm, ISO 100, f/20, 32 seconds
  Having an HDR software that does what I want it to is a whole lot of fun. I am going back and re-processing images that I had given up on for one reason or another and getting something a little more fun out of them.
  Today's post is a long, 32 second exposure from Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach, CA. My friend, Erik Kerstenbeck and I spent a glorious evening in February taking photograph after photograph from underneath, along side, and out on the beach of this wonderful pier.
  It rained quite a bit on us that afternoon but as the evening went along, the rain cleared and made for a perfect Pacific Ocean sunset. The clouds were moving extremely fast and as the golden hour light hit made for some great long exposures. The clouds blurred quite well and the surf was flattened by the long shutter.
  Processed this as a single image HDR in Photomatix Essentials and that brought out quite a bit of detail in the pier and the buildings that reside on top of it.  Even out at the very end that is quite a bit off in the distance.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Promaster 19-35lens @ 19mm, ISO 100, f/20, 1/8 second, 3 Exposure HDR @ -2
  One of the last mornings in San Diego, CA last February, I walked around the back side of the Hilton - Airport/Harbor Island and took some shots of the marina. It was one of the only mornings I was there when it wasn't overcast and the marina was bathed in golden sunlight.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 19mm, ISO 200, f/11, 1/3 second, 3 exposure HDR @ -2
  I was so looking forward to this morning. My buddy, Tim Owens, and I made plans to hike the Porter's Creek Trail in Greenbrier of the Great Smoky Mountains. I met him at his house at 4:30am and we took off.
  The directions to Greenbrier state that you have to turn right into the park approximately 5 miles east of Gatlinburg, TN. Well, we missed the entrance. Not that we weren't looking, we just missed it.
  We ended up in Cosby, TN where highway 321 came to a stop and we either turned left into Cosby or right. Since we didn't know we missed the turn for Greenbrier we turned right. Unfortunately, this was WRONG!
  We did end up in the Smokies. It was just in North Carolina at Big Creek. That wasn't the bad part. 9 miles of the road was up and down a mountain with switchback turns all the way. For the first time since I was a kid, I got car sick. To make matters worse, once we found out we were in the wrong spot, we had to turn around and go right back up that 9 miles of curves and hills.
  We did however make it back to Cosby and asked directions at a gas station. They directed us right back to the entrance to Greenbrier and we finally made it to our destination. Unfortunately, it was at 8:00am instead of 6:30am which was our intended time to get there.
  The when we got on the Porter's Creek Trail, we discovered that the name Greenbrier is very appropriate. The trail was lined with ferns, moss-covered logs, and numerous wild flowers. Sometimes even wildflowers growing on top of moss-covered logs. The 2 mile hike was very similar to the Grotto Falls hike we managed the week before. It was a steady incline but provided for several flat areas to catch your breath. It also followed Porter's Creek the entire way and had we gotten there when we intended, would have provided us with several photo spots.
  Our hiking destination was Fern Branch Falls. This waterfall was very neat and rolled along the face of a 50-60 foot cliff. The bad part was that we really couldn't put together a good composition to our liking when we got there. We did take some shots, though but didn't stay long and then made our way back.
  The best part of the hike were the 3 bridges that we had to cross on our way. Two of those bridges were foot bridges that at one time were logs that the park put in place, braced up, and applied hand rails so hikers could get across. They even laid asphalt on top of them for easier walking.
  Today's image is of the last bridge on the way to Fern Branch Falls. On our way back, we stopped and easily climbed out rocks that gave us vantage points with the foot bridge in the background.
  I used auto-bracketing with the intention of using HDR in Photomatix Essentials, which I downloaded yesterday, to process them.
  I really liked the way the software handled these images and I tried to get as realistic a shot and still pull details out of the entire image as well and was very happy with the result. Especially the detail int he water.
  Well, the long morning continued with us having to make our way back home through the traffic headache that is Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN. It took me 2 1/2 hours to get back home but I made it safely and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon with my kids.

Friday, April 6, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @24mm, ISO 100, f/14, 1.6 seconds
  Once our hike arrived at Grotto Falls the first thing I did was pose my daughter, Jocy, on the rocks just in front of the falls.  She rolled her pant legs up to wade through the relatively shallow pool the falls pours into but realized the water was just too cold this time of year to go in barefoot.
ISO 100, f/13, 0.6 seconds
   Jocy begged me to let her use my hip waders but I needed them to get where I needed to go to get my photographs. She eventually figured out that the trail continued behind the falls and walked behind them. I soon joined her to do some photography from back there.
Jocy Behind the Falls
  After switching my angle behind the falls I caught a little bit of a warm tone from the light and ended up getting my favorite shot of the day. One of my goals was to get a shot from behind the falls. There wasn't any blue sky to use as a backdrop from behind the falls but the the warm tones I got from the existing light was a great compromise.
19mm, ISO 100, f/14, 1 second
  Really enjoyed the hike up to Grotto Falls. Next up is in the Greenbrier area of the Great Smoky Mountains. Tim and I will be hiking the Porter Creek Trail up to Fern Branch Falls. It is a gentle, 2 mile hike with lots of wildflowers, old homesteads, and rushing water. Can't wait.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Canon 50mm 1.8 II lens, ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/200 second
  Dotted along the mountainside on the Grotto Falls Trail are several types of wildflowers. One in particular is Trillium. I have been wanting to photograph Trillium ever since I saw Richard Bernabe's Trillium Cascades image from the Smokies. If you read his ebook THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS-BEHIND THE LENS, he gives you an interesting background into the photograph.
  Trillium start blooming in early April and it being the 2nd, they had just started. Even though the ground wasn't covered with Trillium, there were several scattered around and I just couldn't turn down the opportunity to photograph them.
  They are very beautiful flowers and are one of the featured wildflowers in the Great Smoky Mountains in altitudes of 1000-3300 feet. Trillium are easily spotted by the 3 pronged white flowering petals with 3 green stems just behind and then blanketed by the 3 larger green leaves underneath. The white flowers will change to pink as they age later in the season as well.
  These two in the photo above looked like they were facing the opposite direction of each other like lookouts for the mountainside and the small white flowers below them.
Canon EOS Rebel XS, Canon 50mm 1.8 lens, ISO 200, f/4, 1/80 second

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Promaster 19-35 lens @ 22mm, ISO 100, f/20, 6 seconds  
  Monday, April 2nd, was my 46th birthday. For my birthday I took the day off of work and joined my photog friend Tim Owens and my daughter Jocy on a trek to Grotto Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  The Grotto Falls Trail is about a 1 1/2 miles on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and winds 1.4 miles up the mountain. It is actually one section of the Trillium Gap Trail which continues on further and ends up at Mount LeConte. The trail is a gradual uphill climb that is easy as backpackers are considered and a very well traveled trail.
  There are several neat things to view and photograph on the way up. The first thing you have to have to walk over and continue to walk over the entire trip up are tree roots that look as though they are hovering just on top of the ground like spooky fingers.
  We stopped to take a break when we turned a corner and saw this great long curvy straight away in front of us. Tim and I just had to set up and take some shots. I was intent on using these roots as a foreground element so I spread out the tripod and got the gear as low to the ground as I could. With this low angle it looks as though the roots are reaching at my camera almost like a scary warning to stop our ascent.
  There are going to be a few more from Grotto Falls and the hike up and down in the next few days.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Tamron 28-80 lens @ 80mm, ISO 100, f/14, 4 seconds
  This shot is from October of 2010. I was concentrating heavily on smooth river reflections where the sun was striking the opposite shore and reflecting on the river. This shot was a bit late in that the sun was shining on the river but was still providing a great fall reflection of the opposing bank.
  The rocks being illuminated by the sun actually brought some greater detail out of them although sacrificing the wonderful blue tint you would normally see from reflecting the blue sky above.


Canon EOS Rebel XS, Canon 85mm 1.8 USM Lens, ISO 100, f/2.2, 1/500 second
  When spring comes, my wife, Melissa, turns her attention to the yard. A couple of weeks ago a trip to Wal Mart's garden center resulted in new flowers for the several small flower garden spots around the house.
  With Melissa's several other purchases that day, this tulip was one of my actual requests. You see, I don't delve into the yard the way my wife does, but every once in while, I find a flower that I think is just beautiful and has photograph potential.
  The two-tone red and pink colors of the petals of this tulip are what created my interest in the flower. The edges where the two colors blend has a very intense red and really jumps out at you.
  When I stopped and took this shot it looked as though the petals were being shy and almost afraid to open and show their beautiful insides.