Metamorphosis of a Photo

Along the Las Llajas Trail (2 of 6)

I just spread out my mosen – planning on some sumi-e – but while it flattens out after dampening, and ironing – I am rummaging through some older pictures from hikes this summer.  One hike which produced dramatic skies was earlier this year – just last month?!?!? – along the Las Llajas trail in Simi Valley.  The picture above is straight out of the camera.  Sky exposure was great; the lower portion is way too dark.

This next one is just lightened up in LR using different techniques.  Not too interesting.

Along the Las Llajas Trail (4 of 6)

This next one is the raw file exported from LR 5.6 to Photomatix Pro – some putzing, not too horrible overall. Still, not quite to my liking.

Along the Las Llajas Trail (3 of 6)

Finally, black and white processing using LR and Silver Efex Pro 2. It works best, in my opinion, but the bottom portion of the picture, in the sand, could still use some help.

Along the Las Llajas Trail (1 of 6)

It never ceases to amaze me how we can manipulate photos on the computer.

What do you think?


Out Walking

Last night was the “super moon,” which I didn’t realize, until I went out to take some pictures with the Df and the Tokina 17mm. This morning, on my weekend perambulation, I took the Nikon V1 and the 6.7-13mm lens. Because I am hitting the Pacific Northwest in the near future, I am checking my cameras and lenses. If it weren’t for these cameras, I don’t think I would be “oot and aboot” as much as I am these days.

Last night, I was checking out the newest lens in the stable: the Tokina 17mm f3.5 AT-X Pro. I want a prime wide angle; research came across this one, and I found one on eBay that is very nice. I took this picture (below) with the Df and 17mm, using iso 1600! Turned out pretty good . . . the colors, though enhanced a bit, really did have this gentle glow.

Sunset Along the Trail

This next one is an HDR done from 5 images using the bracketing on the Df. Same lens. Bracketing is super easy to do – it sort of happened by accident, to tell you the truth. The moon is the little blob coming up over the crest of the hill. I really wish I had brought another lens with me to catch it. The moon was coming up while the sun was still going down.


This morning, a friend and I went to the other side of the mountains, just a few miles from our home town. Weird as it sounds, it was the sound of water that we found most attractive. California is in the middle of a drought at present, and since the first of the year, I think we may have had an inch or two or rain (like 5 cm!). Not much. So, the sight and sound of water in a creek is not the norm! Even the trail had a different smell, a bit more damp and not the herby, resinous smell I love along our local trails.

We leave around 7 in the morning, and head out. With hotter weather, it makes sense. It also adds a lot to the photos to be out so early. Here are pictures I took with the Nikon V1 and the Nikon 6.7-13mm lens, pushed a bit (or two much?) with HDR and other post-processing tricks.

The Sun is Up!

The funny thing about California, and the desert, is the temperature ranges which occur. Night can be chill – it was in the low 60s last night – but then it can easily change to over 90 by midday. As a result, you are cold in the shade, and too warm in the sun. We actually saw our breath as we started out along the trail! We were in a canyon, so the sun took its sweet time to lighten up the landscape.

Oak Trees at Sunrise

The contrast of light and shadow is so delightful in the early morning. And so different than the evening. Because we were along the creek, the scrub was dense, and so was the foliage. The light through the leaves was really beautiful. Eventually, we moved away from the creek, and found ourselves in a more typical (to my way of thinking) California landscape in the back country – grasslands and oak trees between scrubby hills.

The Living and the Fallen

A Spot of ShadeThis last one was a welcome spot on the way home . . .

A Look at the Nikon Df – Images

In reading reviews of the Nikon Df, there is a lot of controversy about the camera. Personally, I don’t care, because what any camera does is take pictures. And the quality of the picture will be dependent, in part, on the camera, and, of course, on the photographer.

I like this camera very much. I like the images, I like the way it fits in my hands so easily, and I like the dials and knobs and levers. The LCD on the back of the screen is bright and clear. There are other little things I like too, but first, I want to look at some of the images.

I went to the local botanical garden here where I live. The pictures below were taken with old lenses from the 70s, AI compatible. I also used a Tokina 11-16 DX, but that is for a later entry to IY&B.


First of all, the picture above is my breakfast this morning – yogurt, strawberries, and pecans. This was shot at iso 4000. Certainly a good reason to use this camera at night!  If you click on it, you can see it full-size – you may need to do it twice to see it at 100%.


The next few pictures are done using my Elicar 55mm macro lens. This is a lens that is about 40-50 years old and completely manual for focusing. There are complaints that, as a retro styled camera, a split-screen focusing screen should have been included. Maybe. However, I found that the focusing dot and the screen in the viewfinder both work very well together. This bee was shot, handheld, at iso 64 – one of the lower end iso settings – at 1/200 s. Not sure about the f/stop. Click it, too, to see it full size.


Another one from the Elicar macro lens. Here, iso is also 64; some contrast enhancement done 1/160 sec.


I like this one a lot. Again, the Elicar 55mm macro, iso 100, 1/100 sec. Enlarge it, and look for the ant on the flower in the right side of the picture. Pretty sharp!

Panorama of the Botanical Garden

This last picture is a panorama of about 8 pictures stitched together. Iso was 50; time varied. All hand-held. Exposure time was about 1/100. This worked quite well with a Vivitar 24mm prime lens from the 70s. I think the f/stop was most likely 6.3 or 8.