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Prairie

November 15th, 2010 2 comments

Some people may think that prairie landscape is boring.  Some folks even teased me - “Did you see grass moving there?” 

Actually prairie is quite a sight to see, not to mention it plays a very important role in our ecosystem.  Many species including birds, insects, and plants depend on it.  Sadly, these precious grasslands are disappearing from our landscape. 

With a good amount of rain this year, flowers were thriving.  Grey-headed Coneflower and Prairie Blazing Star were blossomed as far as my eye could see.   I closed my eyes and took a deep breath of fresh air.  All I could hear was the sound of grass waving in the wind. 

One late evening thunderclouds approached from the west.  I scrambled for my wide angle lens, a polarizer filter, and a graduated neutral density filter.  The light was fading fast and I knew I had less than a few minutes to capture the scene.  In fact, I didn’t know what I had until I got home and really took a look at the image.  And it took my breath away.

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Flowering Dogwood

September 30th, 2010 1 comment

After several sleepless nights because of my newborn baby, I was able to get out just in time to photograph these flowering Dogwood.  This Missouri state tree has such elegant flowers that I always wanted to produce good images of them.

I found that the Lake of the Ozark State Park located in Osage Beach always has a show of flowering Dogwood during springtime.  I arrived at the location well before sunrise and searched for a potential area, because I like to “really” spend time studying my subject to better understand it.  Normally, I would prefer to photograph flowers, especially white flowers like Dogwood, in overcast condition, but I decided to break my rule. Flowering Dogwood

I took this image at sunrise with a 70-200mm lens set a zoom at 150mm.  I framed it very carefully and waited until the light hit the top of the tree.

Flowering DogwoodAfter that I decided to try with a 600mm super telephoto lens (another 14 pounds to carry) to isolate the subject from the background.

Flowering DogwoodThis image was taken with my 17-40mm wide angle at 28mm.  I laid on my back pointing my lens straight up to the flowers with clear blue sky as the background.

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One Spectacular Sunset at Big Sur, California

November 13th, 2009 1 comment

After three cloudy days, I didn’t expect much from my fourth day in California.  Good landscape photography highly depends on one source-light, sun, and without it, even beautiful Pacific Ocean can be just flat and dull.

On the fourth day after patiently waiting all afternoon, finally my patience and persistence paid off.  As the sun was almost ready to set on the horizon, clouds started getting thin for sun to peek and reflect on the ocean and the sky above.

Graduated filter attached in front of the lens

This was the perfect condition for landscape photography.  I had one camera mounted on Canon 45mm TS-E (tilt & shift lens) for shooting panorama and the other camera with Canon 17-40mm wide-angle lens.

Graduated filter attached in front of the lens

For the one with wide-angle lens, I decided to put a polarizer filter to cut the glare of the ocean and add more contrast to the cloud.  In addition, I also used a Singh-Ray graduated filter (-2 stops) to correct exposure of the sky.  A duct tape comes in handy when shooting wild-angle lens, which already has a polarizer filter attached.

McWay Cove Fall, California (with 17-40mm wide-angle lens)

Right before the sun disappeared, I shot a panorama, which consisted of 14 images.  I shifted my lens (tilt & shift lens) downward 10 degree to get more of the ocean and McWay Cove Fall.  It took 4 minutes to shoot all 14 images.  The final result was stunning.  After printing the final image to 68 x 22 inches print and looking at the details of the print, it feels like I am there again.

One thing you have to be really careful with a long exposure like this is moving objects such as waves.  Each wave moves differently, which could create a zagged image later.  But if the exposure is long enough, it could create havoc when merging all images together.

Unfortunately, you can’t really do that with wildlife.  That’s why I’m wishing for a digital panorama camera at a reasonable price.  It will not only allow me to take a panorama with wildlife, but also save me a whole lot of time from stitching images together.

McWay Cove Waterfall

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Passion for Panorama

September 13th, 2009 1 comment
Ozark Mountain

Ozark Mountain

Ever since I have seen panorama images taken by Thomas D. Mangelsen (http://www.mangelsen.com) and recently his new book, “The Natural World,” I’ve always wanted to create such images.  Spectacular landscape and unusual long and narrow angle of panoramas are quite attractive and challenging at the same time.

In the past, most panoramas were done with a very limited and expensive camera equipment; namely the Fuji 6×17 – a large panorama camera that uses 6 x 17 film.  This wasn’t practical since I had to purchase a different camera system than what I already owned.

Ozark Scenic Riverways

Ozark Scenic Riverways

For years there has been much development in photo editing software, which allows merging images together into a panorama.  Especially now, a combination of large megapixel camera and easy-to-use editing software, such as Lightroom and Photoshop, have made it possible to create panorama images that are rival or even surpass what a 6×17 film format camera takes.

So these days, I’ve been spending a lot of time scouting good places for panorama, looking for good angles, and testing out my equipment and editing software.

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Macro Photography

July 25th, 2009 1 comment

Photographer in action

And the final result…

Purple Poppy Mallow

Purple Poppy Mallow

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