My dog, Lacey, and I set out for a hike on the Pierson Creek Loop at Holden Arboretum. On the far side of the loop we came across a couple beautiful scenes where streaks of sun rays streamed through the trees, and this wonderful moss covered log. Lacey is not the best photo assistant so I didn't take as much time as I would have liked.
I've had Skylum Luminar software for a couple years, but use it sparingly. I have my workflow in Lightroom and Photoshop. Last week I had some Milky Way shots that I processed in LR, and I was happy with them, but decided to invest a little time in Luminar to see what I could get.
My original edits in LR/PS highlighted more of the magenta and orange tones. In Luminar I deliberately shifted to more blue and yellow.
When I edited in LR, I also used Photoshop more that usual. For me, PS is primarily used for cloning or removal of objects. For these shots I did a lot more layers and masks to bring out the detail in the foreground. I typically had a saturated layer with colors I wanted, a desaturated layer that I overlayed in PH, and a layer exposed for the foreground that I masked into the the sky layers.
In Luminar, I was able to do all the layering with the program. The only need for Photoshop was to remove a sign that was distracting.
My rough Luminar workflow starts similar to the LR workflow, but the first layer (sky magenta/orange) turns the saturation down just a bit. Then I add an image layer where I adjust the sky color for blue and green. I couldn't get overlay to work the way I wanted, so I used the opacity slider to blend the layers. Next I used one or more image/adjustment layers to edit the foreground. Once those layers were edited, I merged the layers and ran the denoise tool.
I like the results I got with Luminar. I'm not sure if it was the software, or just deliberately working toward a different result.
Friday night was perfect for stargazing. Lacey was at the sitter, 70 degrees, the sky was clear, the moon was hiding and the Milky Way is in view. So I took a drive out to Observatory Park.
Observatory Park has permanent distinction from the International Dark-Sky Association as a Silver Tier Dark Sky Park. As of December 2017, it was one of only 39 Dark Sky Parks in the U.S. and 55 in the world.
Most of these shots are composites of multiple exposures - one for the sky and one for the foreground. I set up with a Platypod Ultra to get low behind the rocks and my iPhone provided illumination for the rocks.
Sitting low in the sky, the planet Venus has been shining brightly the past week. Photographing the night sky at Lake Erie Bluffs, Venus is so bright it looks like the moon and leaves a reflection on the water.
Wrapped up a trip to Moab, Utah visiting Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, as well as, Dead Horse Point State Park. Pictures do not do justice to the extraordinary views. My goal was to get sunrise and sunset photos. During the day, the light is not great for photography. I took those shots to remember the trip.
My first night (Sunday) in Arches I didn't catch a great sunset, but did get a bit of color in the sky. I hung around until dark and took a few photos of the night sky.
Monday morning I headed to Dead Horse Point State Park to see the horseshoe bend in the Green River. I didn't get the sun, but watched the canyon walls light up as the sun came up.
Monday night I went back to Arches and took some sunset photos near Balanced Rock.
Tuesday morning I got up at 4:30am, drove 45 minutes and hiked 20 minutes in the dark to get my spot at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands. I walked with another photographer who parked at the same time - check out @ashtg_photos on Instagram. There was one other person at the arch when we got there. By the time the sun came up there were probably 40 people. I set up in an excellent spot and witnessed a fantastic sunrise.
Downtown Moab is only a few blocks. There are a lot of gift shops, several galleries, coffee shops, and restaurants. There are also a lot of rental outfitters for bikes, motorcycles, and off-road vehicles. I had dinner at The Spoke on Center and would recommend it to anyone visiting.
Sunrise and Sunset Photos
I recently took at hike at Hell Hollow Wilderness Area, one of the many Lake Metroparks. It was surprisingly green compared to other parks. I took some pictures out there, and the Lake Metroparks liked one photo enough to make it the feature photo on the top of the website. Also have the photo featured on Gully Brook Park.
This has been a great week for sales. I typically only sell a couple prints per year. This week I had 2 really nice print sales. 36"x20" black and white prints of the Marcus Center in Milwaukee. I also sold a license for a stock photo of the Milky Way.
One of my photos from Cleveland Public Library is getting published in Marketer magazine, a trade journal distributed to 7,000 members of the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS), thanks to my friend, Tom Townes, who asked for it to be included with an article he wrote.
And finally, I found out my first splash photo will be featured on KelbyOne for Member Monday.
The sunsets on the south shore of Lake Erie are not quite as brilliant in the winter, due to the position of the sun in the sky. The sun sets south of the lake and doesn't usually light up the clouds. Tonight was just pretty, because the water was so calm in the harbor. The puffy clouds in the sky picked up a little color, but were mostly muted.
The still water made for nice reflections of the light house. And the moon made an early appearance.
I finally put my new tripod and Platypod to use. A couple behind the scenes shot highlight the gear. Both are fantastic.
My old tripod is starting to show it's age., so I asked for a new one for Christmas. Scott Kelby regularly mentions gear by 3 Legged Thing. I looked into them and put a Leo model tripod with the AirHead Switch kit (ball head). I asked for a second AirHead Switch to use with my Platypod, and a QRII (quick release L-bracket plate). Thankfully my family is generous and got the gear I asked for.
It's been way too cold for me to go spend time shooting outside which means I've only used the gear briefly in the house. However, my first impressions are off the chart.
3 Legged Thing Equinox Leo Carbon Fiber Tripod System & AirHed Switch Ball Head
First off, the Leo is stunning. It looks like a tool for work on Mars. Unlike traditional tripods, it comes with copper and orange accents (grey is available). The design is well thought out with exceptional engineering. The legs have 3 locking angles and have 5 extendible sections with friction locks. The lock handles are wider than on traditional tripods with rubber grips embedded in them. The leg shafts are made of carbon fiber and extremely stable, with little to no flex.
Not only functional, but a sculptural beauty.
Other features include a center column with two extensions. The center column is also easy to remove and install from the bottom for additional options when shooting. On top of the center column is a "tri-mount" developed by 3LT that includes multiple threaded connections and 3 rings for attaching accessories.
for various attachment options
Another unique feature is one leg is detachable for use as a monopod. It unscrews from the base and has a threaded connection to mount a camera, light or other accessory.
The package comes with a canvas carry bag, allen keys, and a unique tool clip with built-in allen key and screw-driver. The screwdriver is used to attached the mounting plate to your camera. They think of everything.
Comes in grey or blue and features a lock for the tilt as well as a swivel and lock for panorama. Arca Swiss compatible
The AirHed Switch is designed equally as well as the tripod. Like the Leo, the Switch has color accents. It comes in blue or grey. I have one of each. The locking mechanism is smooth and stable, it locks in tight. The clamp for the camera mounting plate is Arca Swiss compatible and uses a lever to lock-in the camera.
3 Legged Thing makes a quick release plate for regular and full-sized cameras. The plate is an L-bracket that allows for easy shifting from horizontal to vertical orientation of the camera. You can change the orientation with the AirHed Switch, but with a heavier camera, it's more stable to keep the camera over the ball head. The QRII has strap connectors to allow use of camera straps.
L-bracket for quick change from horizontal to vertical.
We normally don't like to contact customer support, but sometimes things happen. I'm not sure the reason, but my QRII didn't fit quite right on my AirHeds. The short side for vertical shots locked in fine, but the long side was loose on the AirHed Swtich. Apparently it would work fine on the other model of AirHed, the 360.
I contacted customer support at 3LT, because I wasn't sure if the QRII was designed this way intentionally, or if it was manufacturing issue. The plate is supposed to lock in on both sides. 3LT was fantastic in responding quickly and offering to send me a new plate. I received it in two days. I couldn't ask for more friendly and helpful support.
The weather is predicted to warm up soon and I'm looking forward to putting the 3 Legged Thing gear to use.
Last week I met a friend for dinner at the Mills Park Hotel in Yellow Springs, Ohio - excellent meal. After we took a ride over to see the holiday lights at the Historic Clifton Mill. Melissa had seen them before, but I've only seen pictures. It was a beautiful display.
The following is information directly from http://cliftonmill.com/
"The Historic Clifton Mill is one of the largest water-powered grist mills still in existence. The first mill at this site was built in 1802 by Owen Davis, a Revolutionary War soldier and frontiersman miller. The mill was built in this location to take advantage of the natural power of the concentrated water funneled into the gorge. Owen Davis and his son-in-law, General Benjamin Whiteman also built a saw mill and a distillery. Soon a village known as Davis Mills sprang up. The Little Miami River powered five other mills that were built within a mile of Historic Clifton Mill: a woolen mill, saw mill, paper mill, barrel mill and another grist mill. Historic Clifton Mill is the only one still standing.
The Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill was one of the nominees in USA TODAY’S 10 Best Readers’ Choice 2014 travel award contest!
For 28 years Clifton Mill has celebrated the Christmas season in a very special way. Our light display, featured in Midwest Living and Ohio Magazine, is one of the country’s finest with over 3.5 million lights illuminating the mill, the gorge, the riverbanks, trees and bridges. There is even a 100 foot “waterfall” of twinkling lights. The flip of one switch turns all the lights on at once transforming night into a fantastical winter wonderland which includes a Miniature Village, a Santa Claus Museum , a Toy Collection and a spectacular synchronized lights and music show that features the old Covered Bridge.
Every night until the night before Christmas Eve you can peek into Santa’s Workshop to see a live Santa at work and then, every 15 minutes or so, watch him check his list and go up the chimney to load his sleigh.
It takes 6 men most of 3 months to put up the display. The old covered bridge is a spectacular addition to The Legendary Lights of Historic Clifton Mill. The bridge, its windows, roof, sides and bottom are covered in lights of various colors as are pseudo trees which flank the bridge. Every hour, on the hour, all 4 million lights at Historic Clifton Mill go out leaving guests in total darkness. As a hush falls over the spectators, orchestral music softly begins to play a medley of traditional Christmas songs and some of the lights on the covered bridge begin to twinkle on and then off again. As the music builds and builds, more and more lights on the covered bridge blink off and on in time to the music, lights on the pseudo trees swirl around and change color in a way that seems impossible. By the end of the song, the music is booming through Clifton Gorge, the lights on the covered bridge have become mesmerizing and everyone watching is completely enthralled. Then the music ends and the bridge lights all go out, once again leaving guests in total darkness. Then, before most spectators can catch their breath, 4 million lights come on again all at once!"
With a heavy cloud layer, the sunset was not very dramatic, but there was a little color in the sky. A large flock of gulls took off and I captured them in flight with a slow shutter speed. The motion created an interesting texture over the background. These photos look like multiple images layered in Photoshop, but they are each made of one image. Cropping and color adjustments were completed in Lightroom and give the photos a painterly quality.
A couple weeks ago we had very strong winds blowing in from the North, creating large waves on Lake Erie. I drove to the new pier installed at Painesville Township Park. It was cold and wet, but worth it for my favorite shot of the day.
At last weekend's Worldwide Photowalk in Cleveland the group leader arranged to have performers at Voinovich Bicentennial Park for us to photograph. Brianna and Dixie performed with hula hoops and fire.
I don't normally do a lot of people photography, but knowing there were performers on this particular walk, I chose it as a personal challenge to work on shots with people.
I probably took 250 shots and kept these. I'm happy with the composition, but figured out some camera settings and technical things I would change next time.
Last weekend was the 4th time my sister Kerri and I toured Milwaukee for this annual weekend event. Our friends Kate & Dave joined us for their second year, and Andrew had his first tour on Sunday. We didn't see as many buildings this year and had a few repeats, but it was still a fun weekend.
From the DoorsOpenMKE website...
Doors Open Milwaukee is a two-day public celebration of Milwaukee’s art, architecture, culture and history. This event offers behind the scenes tours of more than 150 buildings throughout Milwaukee’s downtown and neighborhoods and in-depth tours led by community leaders. Doors Open sites include commercial properties, sacred spaces, apartment buildings, breweries, art galleries, community gardens and more stretching from downtown to the surrounding suburbs, and the neighborhoods between. The sixth-annual Doors Open Milwaukee, held on September 17 and 18, 2016, attracted more than 31,600 attendees who made 138,680 site visits to unique places throughout Milwaukee.
Historic Milwaukee is proud to share our decades of architecture and history expertise with a growing audience of curious Milwaukeeans and visitors through Doors Open. Doors Open was brought to Milwaukee by Historic Milwaukee tour guide and local librarian, George Wagner. Doors Open is part of the international Open House concept, and aligns with the mission of the Open House Worldwide movement to showcase outstanding architecture for all to experience. These initiatives invite everyone to explore and understand the value of a well-designed built environment. Doors Open Milwaukee is now the 4th most highly attended Open House-type event worldwide, following Chicago, London, and Toronto.
Doors Open Milwaukee’s goals:
Showcase the architecture and community stories of Milwaukee’s downtown and culturally diverse neighborhoods
Raise awareness of the critical role design plays in a vibrant and livable city
Welcome exploration and improve perception of new neighborhoods
Foster pride in Milwaukee and the built environment
Yesterday I explored a park that is new to me. Observatory Park in Montville, Ohio is part of the Geauga Park District. It's a wonderful educational park with exhibits on weather, seismology and astronomy. At its dedication in 2011, Observatory Park received permanent distinction from the International Dark-Sky Association as a Silver Tier Dark Sky Park. As of May 2016, it was one of only 25 Dark Sky Parks in the U.S. (one of only five east of the Mississippi) and 34 in the world.
I went out to the park in the morning to scout it out during daylight. Took a nice walk through the Woodland Trail. With the clouds clearing in the evening, I decided to go back for stargazing and to try to get some shots of the Milky Way. The sky wasn't quite as dark as I had hoped, especially around the horizon.
I tried star shots one time several years ago, without much success. The camera and lenses I was using at the time were not adequate for night shooting. After upgrading my gear, and learning about the Dark Sky site, i decided to give it a try. I did some internet research to find out the proper settings and technique for shooting, and additional research to learn how to process the photos.
Here's my first real attempt at Milky Way and star photography.
Over the holiday weekend I did a photowalk in Cleveland Metroparks Viaduct Park where I had the opportunity to put my new Platypod to work.
My regular tripod is fine in many situations, but a few shots I wanted to be down close to the water and the rocks made use of a tripod challenging. The Platypod with spike feet installed provided excellent support for my Canon 5DS R with a 12mm lens attached.
Thanks to rubber caps on the opposite end, the spikes are easy to adjust and provide grip on the uneven surface of the rocks. It is important to make sure the surface is stable. You don’t want the rock (or whatever surface) to move after you setup your camera.
The Platypod has a hole for attaching a carabiner clip. This was really helpful when moving to new locations. I attached the Platypod with the ball-head to my gear bag (backpack), saving the hassle of detaching the ball-head each time. For transport and storage the ball-head unscrews and fits nicely in my bag.
A few days prior to this hike I used the Platypod at the beach to hold my iPhone while recording a timelapse of the sunset. It setup beautifully on a piece of washed up driftwood.
So far I am very impressed with the build quality and usefulness of the Platypod. I have a trip coming up later this month and plan to use it a lot there.