Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I've never been skunked...

Ha! Well I got your attention, didn't I? But it's true! You just have to let me finish my sentence! I'll do that in a couple of minutes, a bit further down.

New Stuff
I'm getting a couple of new goodies! Well it was my birthday, and I decided to buy myself a few things. One of them is the Wacom Intuos4 Digitizer tablet. I've been using a tablet for a couple of years and can never go back. But the one I have is the little "Bamboo" and while it's excellent, it doesn't live up to the professional standard that the Intuos does. The second thing is a fixed 10-stop Neutral Density filter which will allow me to do waterfalls and other moving water long time exposures. If you've followed my blog, you might remember that I bought a variable, adjustable ND filter and I was being a cheapskate and bought a lousy one. This time I didn't compromise, and I got the German-made B&W filter brought to you by the wonderful folks who make glass for Leica (I think...). I also ordered a proper sensor cleaning kit — I've been rather negligent in that area up to now. And finally, I'm going to buy a new TV. I don't need a big fancy one, just a regular $400 flatscreen. I thought my eyes were going on me: but Rosa was watching TV with me a couple of days ago and asked if I realized that my TV was all fuzzy! It's that time — I've had this Sony Trinitron for probably close to 20 years!

I do need a new laptop computer, but I decided that would have to wait a bit. Ditto those lenses I've been looking for. I've squirrelled away some money for the lenses, but not enough. I'd still like to sell my studio strobe lights, that would help! Anyone interested? Send me an email.

What else is new?
Not that much. As I said a couple of posts ago, I've been trying to participate in life instead of just observing it, if that makes any sense. I'm trying to do some meaningful things with my photography. Rosa (she's the artist friend I mentioned a while ago) bought me a couple of wonderful art books and I'm diligently but slowly working my way through them. That said, my images aren't art yet... by my definition. I'll get there. I'm still stuck in HDR mode but there's the occasional flash of other stuff seeping through. I am working on a couple of new Blurb books, hopefully I'll be able to get something printed before Christmas. I'll tell you more in a little while.

So here are a couple of images from the past couple of weeks (still waiting for the 'skunked' thing? Be patient!)

This is a really old image. It dates back to 2007 but I reworked it a few days ago, after looking at that F800 rider's Montana picture (I still haven't been able to get in touch with him). I used the "cutout" filter in Photoshop CS5 to simplify it.

This is a digital painting from an image shot a couple of weeks ago on the Lake. The sky was plain white, so I added the textures (and the matching reflection in the water) and then did the whole thing as a watercolor in Photoshop. Technically it was an HDR at one point...

Last weekend I participated in the NAPP September Rally competition. Two of the categories were "Low Key" (underexposed) and "High key" (overexposed) and my submissions are above. I actually like the second one a lot and you'll see it in my book on the Haliburton Highlands!

All right, all right. The "skunked" thing. No, I didn't get sprayed, it's an expression that comes from Cribbage and Backgammon. It means to lose, big time!

Whenever I drag myself out of bed and go out to shoot at dawn, I ALWAYS come back with at least one image that I like. I've never been skunked. It's an effort to get out there but it's worth it every time. Last night I heard that there were supposed to be 'fog patches'. So even though I didn't go to bed until after 2am, I happened to wake up momentarily at a little before 6:30 and I said, "what the Hell" and got up.

I drove over to Janie's house on Kushog Lake. She said I could shoot there when I wanted to (thanks, Janie!). And here are a few images from this morning, hot off the presses!

"Red Canoe on Dock". Kind of an overused cliché, but it works! HDR done with Nik HDR Efex Pro.

A few minutes later, the sky coloured up. Not as intense as this, but hey, that's what Topaz and Nik Color Efex Pro are for!

This little island was quite far away, so it's a bit of a crop. By painting it, I minimized any unsharp effect due to the finished size.

And finally, down on Janie's beach, I wanted to capture the mist in the distance, the dock and boat, and the detail of the sand and rocks on the beach. The wide angle lens is ideal for this. I used Photomatix Pro to render the HDR toning, then Nik Color Efex Pro and a bunch of control points to achieve the effect I was looking for.

So that's it. I'm going to bed early tonight! Only 4 hours of sleep last night. The fall colours are starting up here (we're at around 20%) and next week is our trip to Algonquin Park! Watch for some cool seasonal shots.

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