After the Storm

The latest cold front has passed through along with the tremendous winds that accompanied it. The Sangre de Cristo Range was beautiful this morning and the bitter cold was not quite as biting as yesterday. Windchill of -7 instead of -13 for some reason felt much better! Big Dog was ready to go for a jaunt so I decided today would be a good day to try out the polarizer.

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range

I haven’t really used it much for a long time since previous efforts have resulted in disappointment. Somewhere I read that professional travel photographers always use these things and that there is no Photoshop substitute for replicating it’s effect. Previous attempts have resulted in unacceptable and irreparable digital noise so I just quit using it, but advancements in newer sensors have done a lot to reduce the noise that plagued early digital imaging technology. So the hope is that with my much newer camera the polarizer is a piece of equipment I can now put to good use. My polarizer is a top of the line B&W brand circular polarizer so there should be no worry of glass quality adversely affecting the image.

Armed with the necessary equipment and enough winter gear to fend off the cold, off we went. A couple of miles into the woods we were confronted with an excellent view of the magnificent snow capped mountains so I stopped to get the shots. White balance on daylight instead of auto so as not to negate the effects of the dark blue polarizer and +1/3 exposure compensation to make up for the slight loss of light from the dark glass. While looking through the viewfinder I turned the glass until I could see the most effect and I have to say it looked amazing!

But now in front of the computer the results are once again disappointing. There is an unacceptable softness in the images due to what appears to be loss of contrast, perhaps from light dispersion. I should have paid more attention to the aperture when I was shooting, but I don’t think a wide lens opening can be blamed for this much softness. Hoping for a quick answer, I went outside to photograph the gas company sign across the street using f11 as an f stop. In looking at those images with and without the polarizer, it does appear that there is some softness that I find unacceptable for my main purpose, which is the marketing of images as stock.

I do appreciate the beautiful saturated effect of the filter so I don’t think I’ll give up on it just yet, but next time I’ll definitely have to conduct a much more controlled series of pictures. Tripod, f11 and side by side images of the same scene with and without the filter. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the picture, the mountains are beautiful and the effect on a small version of the picture create a wonderful scene 🙂

Fly Like an EagleThis mystery raptor is as of yet unidentified. I have looked though every hawk, falcon, eagle and osprey picture on the internet that I can find and I can’t find a match. So, please, if anyone knows what this magnificent fellow is I’d be happy to hear from you!

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Sangre De Cristo Winter Sunset.

The smoke and haze this winter has pretty much ruined the chance for getting suitable mountain panoramas but luckily the same problem has been making for some great sunsets. I don’t like shooting sunsets all the time because they can quickly get cliché and boring but there is definitely a time and place for them. I was thinking, there is only one time of year when the sun is setting at this angle, right over the best part of the Sangre and I don’t want to miss it and have to think about it for an entire year!

 ome promising looking clouds and some free time the other night worked together to provide the opportunity so I headed out towards Victor to my favorite Sangre De Cristo viewing spot. Well before the sun began approaching the horizon I could detect some promising color in the sky and I knew it was going to be a good night. When the sun finally began to set the color didn't disappoint. As the sun went down and the colors changed I moved around along the viewing area to get some different angles and some different exposures. When the sun was far enough gone to make sure I didn't burn out my sensor, I tried some shots directly into the light, rendering some interesting lens flare, which won't be useful as stock but might make an artistic print for someone who likes that effect.
Now in Photoshop working on the images I remember one reason why I don't like shooting sunsets! Even using all my tricks, sometimes there remains some unsightly Chromatic Aberration which requires a good amount of tedious hand painting to correct. Thought I would use my best one so far and also one with lens flare in it for this article. As always these images are for sale on my website, which you can view by pressing the links in the menu. In addition to the sunset images, there were a couple of abandoned mines in that looked kind of interesting in the light and I was hoping to have them on my site as well, but a plethora of power lines that were not visible in the evening light have invaded the pictures beyond repair. Oh well, maybe I will have to just go in search of a less public mine for those shots. 

Hiding in My Cave

The weekend before the big Fourth of July holiday week, also the time for the mass migration of city people to the mountains… Lol, the tourists are like, “where are all the fireworks booths”? Mountain people… there aren’t any, we kind of frown upon burning down the mountains for entertainment. My  town is on a major artery to the Continental Divide and there is now a steady stream of trucks pulling trailers with ATV vehicles aboard, camper trailers, RVs and cars by the thousands. As for me, I will not be participating in the festivities… not a fan of crowds and noise. I’m taking a break from summer and shooting, doing some cleaning, some chores and catching up on my computer work.

Stock photography is purchased ahead of time in preparation for the next season’s advertising campaigns so I am going through my fall and winter images to see what I may have missed uploading at the time I did the shoots. Earlier this year I finally upgraded to a modern version of Adobe Photoshop and I am exploring all the new capabilities. One particular tool I have fallen in love with is the Fx tool in Camera Raw. The dehaze tool has assisted me with cutting through the whiteness of snowfall and bringing out detail in the hazy mountains and trees of on a couple of shoots I did in snowstorms.

Frosty Aspen TreesI remember this particular image well… I was hoping that by snowshoeing to the top of Bald Mountain I would be able to climb above the snow and clouds in order to get some unique shots of Pikes Peak across the valley. However I was not able to get above the snow this day and the images with snow and fog in them were quite white with little detail. As you can see by the small patch of blue sky however, I was nearly successful in climbing above it… Maybe a couple hours later would have done it. Too long to hang out chillin’ on a frozen mountain top though, I had to shoot what I could and get back down! The screen on the camera appeared to show that I had had captured sufficient detail, but Photoshop was just too confused by the snowflakes and fog for me to be able to bring it out. However with the new Fx dehaze tool which operates on the linear digital data file, new detail is a piece of cake 🙂

So, there it is, the plan is to just hang out in my cave relaxing with the puppies and kitties while the city people ravage the high country with their four wheel drives and terrorize the wildlife with their explosives.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Photoshop

So I’m sitting around a few days ago thinking, “Man, it’s a long way to pay day.”. So the gears started turning and I was wondering what I could do get some regular income flowing in while I sit on pins and needles hoping for stock and prints to sell. That’s when I got the idea to reintroduce the mobile portrait service back into my repertoire. Back in the film days and early digital photography days I used to do pretty well bringing in business doing that.

swimsuit model

Model posing at the beach

So the other day when I was getting my shots of Crystal Reservoir there was a pretty good crowd of people there with their phones snapping away with the little fake sound card generated click of the shutter button to enhance the fun, which later on got me to thinking, people probably don’t hire many photographers anymore. Those little cameras are really good these days and every man woman and child on the planet has one… except for me of course 😦 And this is certainly the age of the selfie. Jim got a great one of us at the top of the Manitou Incline, and why not? Models are taking their own pictures these days for their digital portfolios and I imagine getting a family shot is just as easy.

So as I was fretting about that trying to imagine what else I could do to bring in some cash, it occurred to me that not everyone’s phone pictures turn out perfectly. Even mine with my high end DSLR often have problems that have to be fixed with Photoshop. That’s when another light came on for me, not everyone has Photoshop or knows how to use it. What if someone has the perfect selfie and it is marred by some unsightly object in the background. Or what if someone has a huge zit the day the get the perfect selfie? What if conditions on the day have confused the camera and the color is all wrong or the exposure is off?

So I’m in. I have been Photoshopping away since digital photography meant scanning a print on a flatbed scanner. I am an expert in color and exposure analysis, retouching, special effects and more. Is your favorite picture ruined because you have a tree branch growing out of your ear in the awesome selfie you took? Did a fly land on your nose the instant you got the epic shot of yourself on vacation? Well, I’m your man then. I can fix those things and I’m officially in the Photoshop business now! You are only an email away from the perfect picture 🙂

The picture I have supplied with this post originally had lots of problems. There was a boat and a buoy behind Deia that looked ridiculous. it was getting late so I had to use a flash and it caused a lot of shine straight on from the front that looked terrible. It had been a long photoshoot and some of my Deia’s makeup had smeared and the evening light with the flash had turned the water an ugly greenish blue hue. And I added a bit of soft focus for a more subdued mood. With a little photoshop the picture has made quite a transformation!