Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Family Snapshot   7 comments

Two adults and a foal, the wild ponies of Shackleford Banks, Cape Lookout, North Carolina

Family Snapshot

I was going to lead off today with a different image from our kayak trip to Cape Lookout, but the wild ponies of Shackleford Banks keep calling to me today.

Just a few feet away from the male featured in Bad Hair Day, were these two adults keeping a close watch over the young’n. They never let her stray too far from the herd, and usually kept her positioned between adults.

I’m not sure what it is that draws us so much to babies, whether it’s ponies, puppies, people, or elephants. Is it just the cuteness factor? A sense of innocence and wonder? Perhaps there’s a certain freshness and playfulness to them, but I can never seem to get enough. I snapped quite a number of frames of this group and the foal as they walked toward and along the beach, disappearing into the sand dunes.

Hand-held single frame from Nikon D7000 with Nikkor 70-300mm lens at 300mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/500s

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Bad Hair Day   10 comments

The dominant male in a group of wild ponies on Shackleford Banks, Cape Lookout, North Carolina, NC

Bad Hair Day

This seemed like an appropriate picture for a Monday morning.

Last week in NC, we got a brief reprieve from stifling heat and the tides were just right, so we took our kayaks down to Shell Point on Harker’s Island for one of our favorite trips out to Cape Lookout.

The ‘interestingness’ factor is almost always high on the route, and we keep an eye out for loggerhead turtles, dolphins, a vast array of bird life, and the famous wild ponies of Shackleford Banks. It is suspected that the ponies first arrived on Shack’ from Spain via Hispaniola in the 16th century, swimming ashore from shipwrecked boats that ran afoul of Cape Lookout.

While we didn’t see any dolphins on this trip (Flipper, or Flip Her), as soon as we rounded the end of the Banks, we noticed a small herd of wild ponies walking along the sand flats caused by the low tide. This gave me the opportunity to approach within a reasonable but respectful distance, using my long lens to capture this and other shots that you’ll see coming up in the near future. The group included a young foal, and the adults in the group always seemed to position themselves to protect the young one.

This pony seemed to be the dominant male of the group, and when I shuffled one step closer, he dropped his head low, pawed the ground once, and let me know that I should back away slowly, which I did.

Hand-held single exposure, Nikon D7000, Nikkor 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at f/5.6, 1/640, 300mm

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GOALLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!   8 comments



Sorry, but I couldn’t resist a bit of levity on this Friday. It has been an eventful week, one that included the release of a new video tutorial (see previous post) and I’m feeling happy that the weekend is coming.

A neighbor of ours has a family farm near the coast. He suggested we might enjoy a day of wandering around the old property looking for photo opportunities. Now, I’ve long known that my neighbor has a son who has always been a soccer and basketball fanatic, but never did I realize the power of his kick.

Enjoy your long weekend, if it’s a holiday for you. Get out and kick the ball around.

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Posted May 27, 2011 by Rob Hanson Photography in Uncategorized

HDR Processing Techniques – A New Video Tutorial   25 comments

Pismo Beach pier sunset, image by Mark Patton, post-processed by Rob Hanson

Pier Pressure - Image by Mark "KonaFlyer" Patton


It’s finally here!

I’ve long wanted to create a video tutorial as a way of passing along ideas that others have contributed along the path of learning HDR processing. It took the urging of one Mark “Konaflyer” Patton to have me get down to business on the project. (Hence, the title of the image, “Pier Pressure.”) Mark had emailed, wanting to know how I achieved a certain “glossy” look to some of my HDR images. As it turns out, creating the video — and working on Mark’s brackets — was a lot more fun than I expected! Best of all, Mark has graciously agreed to let me post his image and the video for all to see in the interests of passing along knowledge to others. Thanks, Mark! Please be sure to visit Mark’s great Flickr photostream.

Perhaps… it was a bit too much fun. The resulting video turned out to be an hour long as I took Mark’s brackets from the original RAW files to the final product you see here. Although Mark has viewed this in its entirety, I had to break it into five different parts in order to satisfy the 15-minute restriction on YouTube.  That’s okay, I figure; In between segments you can get a cup of joe, slap yourself awake, or otherwise lift your spirits as we get down to some of the fine points of post-processing. I promise that next time I create a video, I’ll make it 15 minutes, or less.

I’ve included the embedded YouTube videos here. Later, when this blog post gets buried in the archives, you can access the videos via my Tutorials page. Or, if you’d like to subscribe to my YouTube channel, you can receive updates whenever new videos are posted.

You can view the videos directly from this blog page, or view them on YouTube. Either way, please remember to view them in 720p mode if your system is capable of that.

This is my first go at creating a video and posting it. So, if you see anything amiss, please let me know right away.  If you find anything useful or helpful in all of this, I’d love to hear about that as well. Comments and feedback are always welcomed here.

Cheers, and happy viewing.


Part 1: Includes Introduction, Image Analysis, Creating multiple tonemaps in Photomatix Pro


Part 2: Includes Layering & Blending Tonemap Files in Photoshop CS5, Image Cleanup Techniques


Part 3: Includes Defringing, Denoise, LAHR Sharpening


Part 4: Includes Nik Color Efex Pro, Color Fixing


Part 5: Includes Cropping, Finishing, Output Sharpening, Saving, and Conclusion

The Overachiever   11 comments

An early ripe strawberry in an old whiskey barrel

The Overachiever

Just a quick shot for today, and at that, we had to get to it before the squirrels took any more berries.

Our prime strawberry patch is in the large garden, but near the deck we have an old whiskey barrel containing plants from last season. We didn’t expect much from them, but to our surprise, the daughter plants are up churning out some delicious berries.

I really enjoyed this composition, between the various shades of the strawberries, the old wood barrel and rusted hoops, and the dried leaves from the previous year’s parent plants. I only wish we could share them with you. This year’s crop is about the best we’ve ever had.


Thanks to the suggestion of a friend, Mark “KonaFlyer” Patton, I’ve finally gotten down to creating a video showing some of my HDR processing techniques. So far, it’s coming along well. Please stay tuned here for the (free!) release of the video. It should be interesting.

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Posted May 16, 2011 by Rob Hanson Photography in Uncategorized

Still Mill Wheels   16 comments

Rural scene at Old Mill of Guilford, North Carolina, with steel mill wheels


The sign near the register said:

Breakfast without grits is like a road sign without bullet holes. It just ain’t Southern.

While cruising toward Hanging Rock State Park (NC) looking for opportunities, I came across the Old Mill of Guilford, which dates back to 1767. The 18th century grist mill is water powered and fully operational. Toward the back of the mill, along the stream that powers a turbine and 24′ water wheel, I came across this interesting setting. I enjoyed playing with composition, setting the round wheels against the straight lines of the bridge, stream, the feeder on the left, and the gazebo.

As is the case when people are kind enough to let me on their property, I picked up a few things from the mill store while there, including some really fantastic white grits and dried cranberries. If you’d like to visit, here’s a link to the Old Mill of Guildford.

Nikon D7000 with Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 lens, f/22 at 26mm, 9 exposures using Promote Control

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When Outside Comes In   14 comments

An interior HDR image of a collapsed, abandoned farm house in eastern North Carolina

Today, we present a wonderfully creepy shot taken at the same location as The Approach and Open Door Policy.

Since I’ve not yet gained permission to go inside the old farmhouse (and perhaps I wouldn’t want to), for this shot I stretched my tripod out to maximum height, jamming the lens over a window casing and taking my best guess for focus and brackets, all while dodging broken glass and rusty nails. Lucky guess. This is toward the back of the house, where a sunroom/porch fell into the main part of the house. I was delighted when I saw the brackets, as the window was so high off the ground that I couldn’t even see in.

I think we could call this a Redneck Solarium.

Nikon D7000 with Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 lens, 38mm at f/6.3, using 9 of 15 shots taken from Promote Control, including a second tonemap of the bottom three to bring the luminosity of the ‘skylight’ to reasonable levels.

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Investing in Strawberry Futures   7 comments

A close up HDR image of strawberry blossoms and young fruit.

Susan suggested that I should get the camera out to the gardens soon, as the strawberry blossoms were starting to drop, giving way to this year’s crop of yummy fruit. Trying my best not to trample the little guys, I brought the lens close in to the blossoms to get this set.

There is nothing like fresh-picked, organic strawberries to make the day a bit brighter. The trick is keeping the mockingbirds, catbirds and squirrels away from the fruits while they ripen.

Initially, the HDR I was working on was much brighter and more detailed, but when I took a look at one of the darker original exposures, it informed me to treat this with a low-key, glamor glow effect. I like the result, and hope you do as well.

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 lens, 55mm at f/5, 9 exposures from Promote Control

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Posted April 11, 2011 by Rob Hanson Photography in Uncategorized

Spring Has Sprung   7 comments

The view from under the seat of a rusted farm tractor in Pollocksville, NC


One more from Clyde Jr’s place in Pollocksville, NC.  I’ll probably leave the series here unless something else arises as a good candidate.

As for the ride, I can’t imagine how uncomfortable this must be, bouncing through farm fields all day on this sort of contraption, but if it makes for good veggies, I think I’d endure.

My apologies for being so quiet, lately, but spring has sprung and I’ve found myself occupied by many tasks, few of which seem to involve photography.  We have some larger gardens going in this year, which takes a lot of time and effort, along with the usual spring-related house maintenance stuff. I’m beginning to see some breathing room, though, and hope to post and comment on a more regular basis.

You can see other images from Clyde’s property at Entangled, Reclamation, Clyde’s Rides, American Ickers, Gentlemen: Try to Start Your Engines, and Carolina Cosmetic Surgery.

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Posted March 7, 2011 by Rob Hanson Photography in Uncategorized

Artisan Series: The Forge   4 comments

Kirk Davis at ArtForms Studio in Morehead City, NC, takes a piece of red-hot metal out of the forge.


Artist Kirk Davis removes a red-hot block of metal out of the forge at his studio in Morehead City, NC, prior to taking it to the anvil for hammering.

Kirk operates as ArtForms Studio in Morehead City, NC.

The “Artisan Series” serves as a testament to those people who still create high quality, one-of-a-kind products in a world of cheap, mass produced garbage. In my experience, these artists can be hard to find, although I think that their numbers might actually be increasing. Whether people are looking for an alternative to the corporate way of life, or just need to create something unique with their hands, leaving the Wal*Mart mentality behind to make something real is a satisfying experience.

If you run your hands under the edge of a table top that has been planed by hand, or put two of Kirk’s Carolina Shucker oyster knives together to notice that they are not perfectly identical, the mark left by the hand of the artisan tells you that the object is truly unique in the world. As mentioned in a 2009 article about Kirk, “Nothing leaves the shop until it receives a seal of approval from Davis’ discerning eye, and each individual piece means something different from another. Davis said that this meant everything that leaves his shop had his heart and soul sculpted in.”

Another picture of Kirk working in his studio can be found at Artisan Series: The Metal Artist.

To see the kind of art that Kirk creates in his studio, please visit the gallery I’ve set up for him, Located Here.

Posted February 28, 2011 by Rob Hanson Photography in Uncategorized

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