Thursday, September 30, 2010

Back to the 'Dacks

With a forecast of heavy rains and wind from the storm working its way up the East coast, I decided to take another photo excursion to the Adirondacks yesterday before the weather knocks the leaves off the trees. Ironically the best photos I got yesterday really don't incorporate much autumn color. I got all the way to Keene Valley and ended up exploring some new (to me) views of Roaring Brook Falls. The one above is of the lower cascade and was taken from a rubble bank at the base of the falls.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Adirondack Autumn Color

Yesterday I went South into the mountains again in search of fall color. At the Plains of Abraham outside Lake Placid I met Carl Heilman who was running a photography workshop. He and I cross paths once in a blue moon but it has been more years than usual since we last bumped into one another. He is well known in this region for his panoramic photos of the ADKs, often from mountaintops. Check out his site (link from his name above).

I made my own panorama of the scene there yesterday. The yellow in the foreground is mustard in bloom which I presume the farmer grows for green manure. The small mountain at the far left is Mt. Jo with the McIntyre Range behind disappearing into the clouds. The notch just right of center is Indian Pass with Nye and Street Mts. to the right of that.

There is still quite a lot of green foliage so the fall color will last for a while yet. If you haven't gotten out to enjoy it (with or without your camera) you still have time to plan some 'leaf peeping'. The photo below was made next to the bridge in Santa Clara.

Friday, September 24, 2010

First Full Day of Autumn

I went in search of some autumn color today and found this on the Mountain Pond Rd. The color on the trees in the Adirondacks vary by location. Most areas are about 25-30% but a few spots are already nearing peak. I estimate that the color will explode around the middle to the end of next week. Remember that if you click on the image you will see a larger version. The color is somewhat muted above because of the blog software shrinking the image.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Another Mountain Pond Photo

When I posted the last photo I debated between that one and this one which was shot only a few feet from the other. Here I was looking down at the shoreline of the pond. I liked the red stems contrasting with the green leaves.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Early Color

I drove to Saranac Lake yesterday, just a quick trip to pick up something I'd ordered at an outfitter, and stopped by Mountain Pond on the way. Long time readers know that Mountain Pond is a frequent stop for me. It is a relatively small body of water but between the changes in season, weather and time of day it is different every time I go there. Yesterday what caught my eye was this bit of early autumn color.

Grand views are hard to come by in the Adirondacks. It consists mainly of trees and dense undergrowth with the occasional small opening through which you can see a mountain or waterfall. Move a few feet one way or the other and your view is obscured. We all like to photograph the grand views of course and all those trees and shrubs are frustrating when they get in the way but often they are worthy of attention too.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Making a Digital Pseudo-mat

I've been lax on doing any technical posts so I decided to explain how I make the photos on this blog look like matted prints. You need to start by downloading and installing a Photoshop plugin called Extensis Photo Bevel 2.0 Solo. A quick Google search will find it and it's free. If you are working in Corel Paint Shop Pro it should work there too or in any photo editing software that is compatible with Photoshop plugins.

For this example I'll be using a photo from my recent Shelburne Museum trip. It is a shot of two animal sculptures. I initially thought they were dogs (and they may be) but now I notice they have prominent whiskers and pointy ears. OTOH they have pointy noses too so maybe they are dogs. In any case the first step is to resize them to whatever you want for the web. Most photos I post here are 800 pixels on the long side but for this exercise I've gone with 500 pixels by 400 pixels to fit the space better. Be sure to sharpen the image after resizing. Every time you resize you lose sharpness.

Now add a border using Image>Canvas Size... The width you add now will represent the beveled edge of the mat. I generally add 12 pixels horizontally and 12 vertically for 6 pixels per side. Be sure the box by "Relative" is checked in the canvas size dialog. In the example below I've added a slightly grey border because I'm making a white mat.

Now we are going to make the "bevel cut" on the mat. Go to your Filters and open the Extensis Photo Bevel Solo dialog. It looks like this...

When I did that screen capture I had already applied my desired settings. The default settings were for a round bevel shape 25 pixels wide. I changed it to Flat bevel 6 pixels wide (half the added canvas size). I left the other settings at default. If you chose to add more to the canvas size to make the mat look thicker, you should set the width here to half whatever you added. The direction determines how the shadow is cast. For a recess like a mat opening the light has to be from above. You could make it from the upper right if you wish. I generally leave the light direction at the default. Click on Apply and you will get this...

 Note that the top and left are darker and the bottom and right are lighter creating the illusion of a recess. Now we need the mat width which is nothing more than another Image>Canvas Size... command. Use your judgment. I generally go with 288 (it has to be an even number to be even on both sides) but if you like wider or narrower mats feel free to experiment. As I said I was going for a white mat so remember to change the color on the canvas size dialog.

At this point I have to confess that I added to the canvass one more time after the 288x288 addition. I added a 2x2 pixel middle grey border. * Blogger ads its own cell outline several pixels outside the image so you are seeing a double outline in all these images but in an application or web presentation which did not automatically show an outline the mat would disappear into the white background of the white page. If you aren't adding a frame it is a good idea to have a one pixel/side border to separate the image from the background unless you know that the background will be a contrasting color/tone.

* I later changed the background color of the blog to a middle grey so this is no longer evident but it is something to remember if you will be placing your image against a background of the same tone & hue that you chose for the pseudo-mat.

That is your basic pseudo-mat. You can fancy it up if you want by adding a texture. Set your magic selection tool to "0" tolerance and select the surface of your mat then apply a texture with the texture filter. I often use the canvas or sandstone textures. Keep it subtle though, very low relief and scale about 50%. You can also chose to do a pseudo-metal frame like my recent postings have. It is nothing more than another Image>Canvas Size... using black for the color and add around 40-50 pixels to the canvas. So there you go. Have fun. You don't even have to change blades in the mat cutter to get a clean cut.

Final image with sandstone texture (50% scale - relief 1) and a 40 pixel "black frame".

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Shelburne Again

Our daughter was visiting this week and we took her over to see the Shelburne Museum. She hadn't been there before and I wanted to see the Ansel Adams exhibit one more time. I've posted a new album of photos on my Picasaweb pages. The above was taken on the ferry ride back as the sun was setting behind the Adirondack mountains.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

St. Lawrence Seaway Day

I live near the St. Lawrence Seaway and in years past I hung out at the locks several times each summer watching ships go through. After 9/11 they moved the fences back so far it became a lot less fun and I haven't been there in 3 or 4 years. Our daughter is visiting and wanted to go so we went today. There was no traffic when we arrived but a tall ship was due at 2:15 so we went to a late lunch and then went back to Eisenhower Lock to wait, and wait. Finally we checked the schedule and the ships had been delayed. The tall ship was now due at 3:15. At 3:15 it was finally on the horizon so we waited again and got to see it enter the lock. The light unfortunately was behind the ship, glaring off the water and that made for difficult photography. I knew of an unofficial observation spot down river and we drove there next where I got this photo of the Europa from the Netherlands.

Later: A second photo of the Europa sailing away in more flattering light.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

An Opportunity to "Have It All"...

... If you are an Adobe imaging junkie that is. David duChemin is having a drawing for the full Adobe Creative Suite on his blog. If that is something you aspire to, head on over to the Pixelated Image and check it out. David gets around more than I do, taking photos all over the world and he publishes some informative ebooks that are very inexpensive.

As long as I'm back here so early I'll toss another photo at y'all from yesterday's paddle. This one is from the Black Pond side of the road to the right after you enter Black Pond through the channel. It is an amazing sheet of moss that hangs over the rock at the pond's edge.

Another good blog (I follow it) is Guy Tal's. His is often philosophical. In yesterday's post he talks about the difficulty of expressing his intent in words. I know that feeling only too well. My hope is that my feelings toward my subject come through in the photos because, as the lyric in Cat Stevens' Foreigner Suite goes "There are no words that I can use, because the meanings are left for you to choose."

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

A Mountain Day

I went canoeing today on the waters around Keese Mill, NY. I first headed toward Lower St. Regis Lake from the Keese Mill dam. When I got to the lake I decided to turn back since the wind had come up and paddling on a large body of water in wind is no fun. But there was a large rock just off shore and something told me to paddle around that rock before turning back. On the far side of the rock I found this feather floating on the surface of the lake. The wind made it hard to position myself to get a photo but I got this one after several tries.

Photographing from a canoe requires a photojournalist approach, shoot a lot and hope you get a few good ones. The problem is that you can't use a tripod so you may have movement from hand holding the camera, plus the canoe is moving and if you are photographing something on the water, it is probably moving too. Use the highest shutter speed you can and take lots of "insurance shots". I shot this with my Canon G10 which I had on a wrist strap (another recommended insurance). When not actually shooting the camera rode in a Pelican case (yet more insurance).