New Image Release: Kirkjufell Mountain

After I landed at the Reykjavik airport, I booked a rental car and found a hotel close by to rest up before I started on my trip around Iceland. Kirkjufell was the first spot on my itinerary and I was eager to start exploring the amazing country that I have been dreaming about for years. I finally arrived in the town of Kirkjufell after a scenic drive up the west coast of the island. I stopped at a local cafe for a bite to eat and hot tea. I asked the owner of the cafe where I could find the famous triangle shaped mountain where I wanted to capture the first sunset of my trip in Iceland. After some quick directions for the shop owner I realized, the spot I was looking for was only a couple minutes up the road. I parked my car, gathered my gear and set out towards the river leading to the waterfall I wanted to use as the foreground in the photograph, After spending a couple hours exploring the area and trying different compositions, I found the perfect sport where the following river bended in the opposite direction and acted as almost a reflection of the shape of the mountainous horizon. I waited until the sun was setting and it casted a beautiful light onto the side of the mountain. I was lucky enough to have clouds roll in with a striking pattern and radiating from behind the mountain. I was nervous after getting this image that my luck was all used up for the rest of the trip, which was fortunately not true as I was able to capture more beautiful images for the next few days of my visit.

Taken with: NIKON D800, 14-24MM @ 22mm, f13, and 1/2 second with Gitzo Tripod, RRS BH-55 Ballhead, Fotodiox Wonderpana 5-Stop ND Filter.

 

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New Image Release: Chamber of Shadow and Light

I was recently looking back at some of my old images from my trip to the Lower Antelope Slot Canyon. I discovered an unprocessed set of vertical panoramic bracketed RAW files that I must of over-looked when culling through the shots of the trip. In order to stitch the picture together I first combined each of the bracketed individual images of the panorama into a 36-Bit HDR photo in Photoshop. This allowed me to pull back the highlights of the sky and the sun peaking into the canyon while keeping the detail in the shadows when processing the images in Lightroom. I synced the adjustments to each of the photos in the set and then brought them back into Photoshop to do a photomerge to create the full panoramic image. The resulting image brings me back to when I was standing in the chamber looking up to the sky to the smooth shapes and dynamic colors that surrounded me and in awe of this wonderful creation of Mother Nature.

Taken with: NIKON D90, 14-24MM, Vertical Panorama with Gitzo Tripod and RRS BH-55 Ballhead.

 

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New Image Release: Seljalandsfoss

Before my trip to Iceland, I invested in a 5-Stop Neutral Density filter for my Fotodiox Wonderpana system for a moment just like this. I knew I would be taking pictures during the day of waterfalls, and I wanted to be able to slow the shutter down enough to get this silky smooth waterfall look in the mid-afternoon. Normal filters do not fit on the end of the bulbous glass of the Nikon 14-24 lens. The Wonderpana system is an amazing tool which allows me to use a variety of filters on my lens that I would not otherwise be able to use.

It is very difficult to photograph Seljalandsfoss up close as the wind is usually spraying water all over you, your camera, and anything else in it's way. In order to get this shot, I hiked up the side of the mountain to a spot that seemed to be getting a little less wet than everywhere else. I also used my wool hat as a lens cover while i was waiting for the wind to turn a different direction for the 1/2 second I needed to take a shot. You would think this wouldn't be too difficult, but after a few dozen attempts of taking a shot, realizing I had a million drops of water on my lens, putting the hat back over the lens, wiping the lens down with a cloth underneath the hat covering the lens, and repeating...I finally got this clean shot which made all the trouble worth it.

Taken with: NIKON D800, 14-24MM @ 18mm and 1/2 second with Gitzo Tripod, RRS BH-55 Ballhead, Fotodiox Wonderpana 5-Stop ND Filter.

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New Image Release: Tahitian Afternoon

While in the islands of French Polynesia this past summer I tried desperately to relax. The problem is relaxing does not come easy to me. On a vacation, there are some people who would like nothing better than to sit on a beach or by a pool and read a book or stare into space. While occasionally you will find me engaging in such activities, I get bored of it very quickly. I feel like I am wasting time, when I could be working on my website, writing a blog entry, going on a hike, or most importantly, taking photographs. Tahiti for me was no exception. While my wife was taking in the sun and resting by the pool, I was itching to do something, anything but lay by the pool all day.  Even though the Hinano Ambre (a locally brewed Tahitian Beer) I was drinking by the pool was slightly hindering my motivation, I decided to go get my camera gear and take out one of the hotel's kayaks to explore the lagoon near our over-water bungalow.

Since I do not own an underwater housing for my camera, I needed protection against an accidental flipping of the kayak. Luckily, I brought the dry bag with me that I bought right before my hike up the river of the Virgin Narrows in Zion National Park. While I was paddling in the kayak,  I left the camera in the dry bag and only took it out when I knew the coast was clear from splashing water. Another piece of important gear that I used was a circular polarizing filter which cut the sun's reflection on the water, allowing the camera to see clearly underneath the surface.

The image below is facing down the east cost of Tahiti. I love how the lush green mountains empty directly into the lagoon surrounding the island. I left the front of the kayak in the image to give the viewer a sense of being in a kayak and exploring the amazing scenery that Tahiti has to offer. To me, this is what it means to relax.

 

Taken with: NIKON D800, 14-24MM @ 14mm, f11, 1/200th second, Fotodiox Circular Polarizing Filter

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New Image Release: Morning Reflection

The weather near Fox Glacier is unpredictable and there are often clouds hanging over Mt.Cook and the surrounding peaks. The best chance of seeing the snow-capped mountains from Lake Matheson is early morning. I headed out to Lake Matheson while it was still dark out. We were only in the area for the day and needed to catch our flight to the North Island the next day. I needed luck on my side as this day was my only opportunity to get this image. The trail around the lake is an hour and a half loop and about 35 minutes to this viewpoint. As I was hiking around the lake the weather did not look promising and at one point there was a brief drizzle. I was getting nervous that the light and weather were not going to cooperate. Once I arrived at the viewpoint the clouds over the mountain started to part and the rain had subsided. I used my 70-200 telephoto lens rather than my wide-angle in order to compress the scene so that the mountains appeared as large guardians over the lake. Once I got the shot above, I experimented with my other lens and compositions, but this image was still my favorite of the set. I had about 30 minutes before the clouds started creeping back over the mountains and the rain started to drizzle again. That was my queue to leave. I headed back around the lake and drove back to the hotel to pick up my wife to start the drive back to Queenstown to catch our flight.

Taken with: NIKON D800, 70-200MM @ 70mm with Gitzo Tripod and RRS BH-55 Ballhead

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New Image Release: Bungalow Sunset

During one of our stops on our honeymoon this past summer, we were fortunate enough to stay in one of these over-water bungalows at the Le Meridien in Tahiti. Several nights we were treated to amazing sunsets, however this night was the best light show of the bunch. The clouds were on fire as the sun set behind the mountains of the neighboring Moorea island.

Taken with: NIKON D800, 14-24MM @ 16mm

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New Image Release: Watkin's Waterfall

I have been fortunate enough to visit Watkins Glen in upstate New York a handful of times. Because I have been  to Watkins Glen many times, I was used to getting the same shots over and over.  Most of my images of the gorge are using a wide-angle lens where I was able to capture the waterfalls as well as the towering walls of the glen. This time I was hoping to find something new, so I brought my 70-200MM to capture a more intimate shot of the waterfalls. I was drawn to the waterfall below because of the interesting details. Specifically, I liked the angles of the rock formation and the beautiful lines created by the way the water flows over the different levels of rock. I was only able to visit this time for about an hour, so I am looking forward to my next visit where I will continue to try and find more up close and detailed shots of waterfalls.

Taken with: NIKON D800, 70-200MM @ 14mm, f18, 2 seconds

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New Image Release: Falls of the Virgin Narrows

Back in April I went to Las Vegas to meet up with some of my best buds for my bachelor party. For one of the days we made a trip to Zion National Park in Southwest Utah to hike the Virgin Narrows. This was my second time at Zion, but I did not get to hike the narrows the first time as I had only a limited time scheduled and I was itching to get back. The Virgin Narrows trail requires you to hike up river in at times waist to chest high flowing water. The bottom of the river is slippery rocks that vary in height, so you need to be very careful where you step. A good pair of hiking poles is recommended. I did not have hiking poles but used my tripod as the next best thing. I also brought a dry bag  with me in order to keep my gear safe while I was hiking.

This image is from one of the forks off the main river where the flow of water was very shallow. I saw the triple waterfall at my feet and thought it would be a good foreground to the image. I got down very low and was able to capture the towering canyon walls as a backdrop to the mini waterfalls.

This was the best hike I have ever done and was even better to do it with some of best friends that I have known almost my entire life.

Taken with: NIKON D800, 14-24MM @ 14mm, f16, 1.6 seconds

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New Image Release: Rockefeller Sunset

Last week I was in New York City for the day and decided I would go to the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center to take a picture of the Manhattan skyline at sunset. I was lucky that I picked a night with excellent clouds and a colorful sunset.

You are not allowed to use a tripod at the Top of the Rock so I had to find  a way to stabilize my camera for a long exposure. I brought with me my Manfrotto Magic Arm connected to a Justin Clamp. I clamped the Justin Clamp onto one of the metal railings on the top most roof deck. I was first trying to use this set-up with my 70-200mm but the weight of the lens was too heavy to keep the camera stable when the wind was blowing. The rig however was stable enough for my 14-24mm lens which is what I used for the shot below. This enabled me to keep the shutter open for 20 seconds in order to capture the right amount of light for this shot. The image is one exposure which I developed in Lightroom. I was able to correct the distorted perspective that was created with the wide-angle lens using Lightroom's new vertical correction features. I also was able to bring back some details in the shadows and reduce the highlights in the sky so that I could make the image look like what I saw that night.

 

Taken with: NIKON D800, 14-24MM @ 14mm, f22, 8 seconds

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New Image Release: Tahitian Fire Dance

On our trip to French Polynesia, my wife and I were very excited to see a traditional Polynesian dance show as we missed seeing one during our visit to Hawaii a couple of years ago. In order to get good images of the dancers we reserved a table in the front row in the center. I had the idea for this shot as soon as I found out there would be fire dancers as part of the show. I used the table as a tripod in order to use a long exposure to capture the motion of the fire. I experimented with a few different shutter speeds to find the optimal length of time to capture the motion of the fire and adjusted the fstop to get a proper exposure. The coy pond in front of the stage was an added bonus as it successfully reflected the movement of the fire in the image. I took a handful of images of this fire dancer, but because of the fast movement, this was the only image where you could clearly make out the legs of the guy doing the fire dance.

Taken with: NIKON D800, 70-200MM @ 70mm, f22, 8 second

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New Image Release: The Blue Pools of Haast

The blue pools are located in the West Coast region of New Zealand. We stopped here on our way to the Franz Josef glacier for a quick hike to the Blue Pools after a recommendation from a fellow photographer that I had met earlier this day. The river of glacier-fed water in these deep pools is the color of deep azure blue and they so clear that you can see right to the bottom. It was such a beautiful area and I wish I had more time to spend there.

 

Taken with: NIKON D800, 70-200MM @ 70mm, f13, 1/2 second

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New Image Release: Peaks of the Southern Alps

This image was taken in the beautiful Southern Alps mountain range of the West Coast region of New Zealand. We hired a helicopter so we could get up close to the majestic snow-capped peaks this region had to offer. One of the most dynamic places I have had the pleasure of photographing.

 

Taken with: NIKON D800, 70-200MM @ 70mm, f5

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New Image Release: Overwater Oasis

Overwater bugalows, like the ones in this image, are an iconic symbol of French Polynesia. We stayed in the bungalow in the front right and have to say that it lived up to all the hype.

 

Taken with: NIKON D800, 14-24MM @ 14mm, F16, ISO 100

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