The Story – Arches

Our first morning JP (John Paul Caponigro) instructed us to find the story. He told us we should go so far as to write it down. Of course I cringed inside. Writing goes deep, it requires engagement of muscles that I seldom use.

But I did it.

After that first round of shooting, while I was waiting for the last couple people to finish I wrote the following:


the Story

nouns – actors

verbs – actions

- qualifiers

- acted upon

The Literal Story

The Virtual Story



The process of accumulation and erosion

Building up then tearing down

Slow, constant change

The beauty of ruined structures

I felt majesty – someone used the term temple and that felt right

The awesome majesty you feel as you approach these structures is what the builders of the cathedrals attempted to capture.

They captured some of that feeling – but these structures eclipse those.

Sounds of scuffling feet, tripod clinks and the chitter of the swallows in the cliffs, swirling around above as they chase one another.

Kid Portraits

For the third time in too many years I set up the lights, hung a backdrop on my new backdrop rig and shot with my new soft box.

The occasion was K’s baptism and A’s new suit. R has recently decided she doesn’t like her picture taken, so nothing of her.

She’s a beautiful young lady. My angel girl.

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Here’s a handsome young man.

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Best friends (most of the time), brother and sister.

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Fatherhood has its benefits.

Sky Panos

While we were in Moab we took hundreds of pictures of beautiful, powerful rock formations against plain, boring skies. A lot of blaa blue and slate grey – with the occasional cloud.  Sunday night we had a pretty good storm blow through, leaving a cold day on Monday and a new weather pattern – this one with clouds.

Just outside of Moab I stopped and shot a pano cloud shot. I stopped two more times between Burley and Boise and shot more clouds. Outside of town where the horizon was flat and there wasn’t a lot of clutter and there were wonderful cloud formations.

I didn’t do very well on the Moab set and it was still a bit grey. But the Idaho sets were clean and I kept the sequence simple.  I shot 3 1 stop brackets all the way around.

I wasn’t sure how well Photoshop would do stitching them together. Was there enough information in the images for it to hook them up? I included the ground as I shot, but not much. So I wasn’t sure how it would do. I was pleasantly surprised.

The first one I tried I processed via HDR. I did the HDR processing on each shot, before I merged them. I used CS5 and did a soft merge – enough to build a full exposure range. I saved the settings and processed all of the images with the same settings.  Then I ran it through the pano merge – using the auto method:

This is a 7 image merge, almost the entire way around. It merged beautifully. I didn’t do anything to help this – it was all Photoshop. It did a great job.

Then I processed the base images to see how it looked as a non-HDR:

I actually like this one better. The overall exposure range is less and it is less contrasty, but I like the look better.

The second one is a non-HDR from 13 images. On this one I followed a cloud formation up in the middle. I had 12 images even with the horizon and one shot up a level right in the middle. Again, I wasn’t sure if Photoshop would pull it in clean:

Again, it joined it without a problem.

I’m not into skies for the sake of skies. But they will be good resources for other shots that need something in the sky, like some of my Arches pictures. I dropped the last sky pano into the following Arches shot and it helped a lot. It was nice having such a big image – it let me drag the sky around until I found a good match.

The first one as I shot it:

The same image, with the clouds added:

Because the lines along the rock were well defined the selection was pretty simple using the quick select tool. But I had a halo around the inside of the arch, on the left side. I tried to feather that, a bunch of times at different settings, but that didn’t help. I was about to do the unspeakable and actually ask our Photoshop person at work for help when I found the solution in one of my Photoshop books. Just read it, didn’t even realize it was the solution until I tried it a few days later.

It was pretty simple – brush in white in overlay mode on the mask. Cleaned it right up.

Overall, I like the result.

I’m still going through my Moab images. I pulled out about 40 shots that might work. I’m through the first 12 or 13. When I get though them all I’ll put them together as a slide show and post it. Some pictures I’ve already posted and some new ones.

I’ll try to make it worth the wait.

We’ve moved – this is the right place

I’ve moved the site from to my hosted site.

This allows me to have more (full) control of my site and I can use Windows Live Writer to post. That alone cuts my posting time by at least half and looks better when I’m done.

This is a good thing.

I think I’ve got it all working – now I just need to figure out how to redirect my domain name. Until that happens I cleared the posts from the old site and added a link to the new site.

Welcome and enjoy.

Moab – back at home

I’m home. We walked through Fiery Furnace yesterday morning. The nice thing was we didn’t have to get up so early – we did a normal 7:30 departure (actually 7:40 since I held everyone up checking out). The not so nice thing was it was friggin cold. A storm came in the night before and the sky was a lead grey when we went through Park Avenue. I got one really nice shot from there. Haven’t gone through the rest yet. Anyway, it rained over night – just a bit – and cleared the sky very nicely. But it left a bitter cold wind behind. So we bundled and wandered. I’ve downloaded those shots but haven’t looked through them yet.

We did our final review, which like all of them was great. Then goodbyes and head for home. The drive was uneventful and I got home, got back in the car to drive Rachel somewhere and mowed the lawn. So much for my artistic aura.

Here’s my last group of pictures that we reviewed yesterday. I’ll go through the last couple of batches and post any that look decent in the next couple of days.

(click an image to see it full size)

This was on the first day, on the back side of the Windows as the sun was coming up.

This is Pine Tree Arch in Devils Garden. It was the first one on the hike. Hit it just at sunrise.

This is a pano I did of Delicate Arch. It was an amazing arch – way bigger than I thought it was (huge captures the thought better) but it’s hard to do anything new with it. I like the pano, but the overall image needs some work.

This is on the walk back down from Delicate Arch.

This is Pine Tree Arch in Devils Garden.

This is another view of Double Arch, looking up.

I took these two on the way up to Double O Arch in Devils Garden. I was getting tired of arches and started fixating on texture details. I like them both but the second one needs some work.

This is the one shot I’ve pulled out of our walk through Park Avenue. The light was seriously strange that night due to the storm coming in. This one was a great texture shot.

And this was an accident that worked. I think I was clearing a bracket. That would be a shadow of my skinny leg. At least it spares you the glowing white nature of the subject leg.

As I mentioned before I’ll through my last couple of batches and see if there is anything worth sharing.

Also, some time this next week I’m going to port this over to my hosted server and redirect the traffic from here to there. If you come by while that is happening you might get a link to the new site. When that is done I’ll be able to do much more interesting stuff and do it with a great deal less effort.

Sometime after that, and probably overlapping a bit, I’ll go through the entire shoot, pick out the better images, many of which you’ve seen here, work them better and put together a more polished presentation of the entire experience.

I’m also going to put together a produce/publish scheduled that will (I hope) push me into keeping the muse alive and going. This weekend was great and I’d like to keep the momentum going, despite being home with all of the challenges that provides.

Hope you enjoy these.

Moab – Day 3 (I missed a day)

This will be short – but I’ll post some pictures. Got in last night at 10:30 – up at 4:00. Now it is 11:30 and I have to be up at 4:30. I haven’t had much time to post. It’s been fun, but a lot of work. Have some decent pictures to show for it.

Here you go:

These are from Goblin Valley Last night:

This is in Canyon Lands this morning:

This is from Window Arch in Arches:

This is a view of Double Arch in Arches:


Moab – Day One

I survived the trip. I had one exciting moment when I semi blew a tire just as he was going by me. Thought someone had shot something.

The car ran great – my biggest challenge was staying reasonably close to the speed limit. It handles VERY nice. Really like this machine. Here’s a shot of it just outside of Moab.

Mom told me that I should check out Dead Horse Point. She said it was really impressive. So, after I got settled and wandered around town I jumped back into the car and headed up. Got there about 6:30. Wandered around a little then made my way over to the west side, set up and watched the sun go down, taking a few pictures every few minutes so it looked like I had a purpose in being there. I did – but I most enjoyed the just sitting there listening to the wind and the birds and watching the shadows grow, define then disappear.

Here’s my view point while I was sitting and watching.

This is a shot I took when I first arrived, looking east off of Dead Horse Point. This little spire caught my fancy.

More to come.

Now I need to get to bed. I have to be ready to go at 5:00 am. ugh.

The adventure begins tonight

As immediatly after work as possible I’m throwing the camera bag and some worn out clothes into my trunk and heading south to Moab/Arches and what ever else is down there. I’m going to wander around in the desert with a famous photograpic artist and take pictures of rocks. And I’m going to have fun, **mn it.

I’ll try to post at least once a day with some images. So stay tuned, maybe it will be worth it.